Thursday, April 26, 2012

Les Deux Magots - Paris, France

Les Deux Magots was one of our Hemingway restaurants to dine at while in Paris.  We are big fans of his, so we hunted down a bunch of spots Hemingway was known to frequent and this was one of our favorites.  This was a breakfast spot for us and it was fun to sit at a table outside on the sidewalk and watch all the world go by on Saint-Germain-de-Pres.  We would typically order cafe au lait for us and hot chocolate for our son and pain au chocolat or brioche with butter and jam.  The hot chocolate was rich and thick and it came in its own little pan.  The cafe au lait here was also the best and the coffee was served in its own little pot and a pot of hot milk so you could mix your coffee and milk to your taste.  I still dream about breakfast at this cafe, oh my.  

6 place Saint-Germain-des Pres
Paris, France  75006

Cafe Procope - Paris, France

Cafe Procope is supposed to be one of the oldest operating cafes in Paris, opening in 1686.  It has had visitors such as Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and Voltaire.  The cafe is decorated in an understated elegance and the walls are covered in portraits of famous people.  The servers here are a little impatient and not inclined to answer too many questions about the menu, but we were able to make our way through the meal quite happily.

We started off with a nice wine from Burgandy.  We skipped appetizers and went straight to the main course.  Our favorite entree was the veal that was served at the table in a little pot of its own with plenty of gravy and roasted vegetables.  The gravy was so good that we ate more bread than was good for us.  Also lovely was the roast chicken.  The salmon entree was also nice, but overshadowed by the veal. We ordered the crepes suzette for dessert which included a small glass of Grand Marnier.  The crepes were so good that I could have gone back for them alone.  This is another one to visit if you find yourself in Paris.

Cafe Procope
15 rue de L'Ancienne Comedie
Paris, France  75006

Polidor Restaurant - Paris, France

The Polidor Restaurant had to be one of our funnest restaurant finds while vacationing in Paris.  We came across this place while doing laundry of all things.  While waiting for our laundry cycle to finish, my husband wandered across the street to check out the menu and he discovered a picture of Woody Allen on the window.  Turns out it was where they filmed a scene from one of our favorite movies a Midnight in Paris.  After checking out the menu, we just knew we had to dine there.  The inside of the restaurant is awesome and from what we understand the inside hasn't changed much in the last hundred years.  They even had an Indian style toilet in the floor, so even if you don't feel adventurous enough to actually use it, go check it out.  The restaurant has communal tables, so expect to share your table as the dining rooms fill up.  They have a regular menu and the specials are listed on a board.  I loved the wine menu which had from inexpensive to exorbitantly priced wines.  We found a nice red on the menu that we enjoyed.

The food at Polidor is not gourmet food, but it is french comfort food at its best.  The beef bourguignon is awesome and a must try.  The chicken and mushrooms and cream sauce were also excellent.  Both of these dishes were served with potatoes and of course plenty of bread to soak up that delicious sauce.  If you have any room left for dessert after all of that, try the Tarte Tatin, otherwise know as apple pie.  The pie was great and an excellent end to our meal.  The service here was brisk, but polite.  We liked the restaurant so much that we dined there one more time before leaving Paris and if we ever find ourselves back in Paris again, we will be back at Polidor.  Before I forget, they only take cash, so make sure you have enough cash before sitting down to eat and they do not take reservations.

41, rue Monsieur Le Prince
Paris, France  75006

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Le Colonne - St Armand's Circle, Sarasota, FL

I held off writing this review for a while because I just didn't know what to do with it. I went there with my family for lunch one afternoon and the food was awful. Normally, I suggest going back for a second or third time to a restaurant because the next time could be really good and you could miss out on a great restaurant. However, there were just so many things wrong that this is one of the few times I would most likely not go back again, especially as it is not located conveniently near to me and I would rather try other restaurants in St Armand's Circle.

The weather was nice, so we took a table out on the sidewalk. This should have been a give away because there was only one other table with customers seated there and the inside of the restaurant was mostly empty, while the other restaurants on St Armand's Circle were bursting at the seams and there were waits to get a table at other places. We ordered wine, and along with that we ordered pizza, seafood risotto, and a vegetable soup. Everything went downhill from there. Our server left us mid-meal to go fold napkins inside and another one took over. The soup was awful and tasted like vegetables in water with no flavor of broth. The risotto was beyond al dente with no flavor and the seafood was rubbery. The pizza was the only thing that tasted good, but I always think one can't go too wrong with pizza.

The final thing that just topped it all off was when the server came out at the end of the meal. My bowl of soup was literally full, the risotto had about three-fourths of it still left on the plate and the server didn't ask any of the obvious questions. The obvious questions should have been can I get you a box to take home your leftovers or how was your food, or is something wrong with you food? No, they only asked if I was ready for the check. They could have salvaged a potential future customer if they had made the effort, but it was not to be. So, just make your own assumptions from that.

Le Colonne
22 South Blvd of the President
Sarasota, FL 34236

Le Colonne on Urbanspoon

Ratchada - Downtown Saint Petersburg, FL

I went to lunch at Ratchada's the other day and had a very pleasant time. The restaurant is comfortable with some nice big booths to relax in or tables, if you prefer. You can also grab a bar stool at the big half-moon sushi bar along one wall. There was a great special at lunch time for $6.95 that allows you the soup of the day, a spring roll, and an entree. The soup that day was a nice vegetable broth with delicately crunchy vegetables and tofu and some yummy spring rolls with dipping sauce. For entrees, we tried chicken pad thai, chicken katsu, and chicken teriyaki. The chicken pad thai would have been good if I had ordered it with mild heat instead of medium, which turned out to be too hot for me, but I just never know what I am going to get with a medium heat. The breaded chicken katsu was lovely, but my favorite was the smokey tasting chicken teriyaki.

Altogether a good dining experience and I loved the good value lunch special. My only complaint was at the end of the meal was there was a bit of a lag to get the bill paid and change back. It was okay for me because I didn't have to get back to work, so I had time to wait, but it could have been a bit of a problem if I was on a work lunch break. Other than that little hiccup, everything went smoothly and I wouldn't hesitate to go back again.

270 1st Avenue North
Saint Petersburg, FL 33701
Ratchada on Urbanspoon