iNG — Chicago (5/2013)

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This restaurant came up on a search.  I did not realize it was part of the same group as Moto restaurant (it is right next door).  But unlike most places that serve this style of cuisine, it felt a little less formal.  The theme for the tasting menu for the season was “The Wonder Years” – how we built our food experiences up as a child.

 While there was a wine list, they offer both alcoholic and non-alcoholic pairing s.  I decided to go with the non-alcoholic one.  They are both the same price and are included in the posted price.

For the full write-up, click here.

Kitchen Table — London (4/2013)

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I found out about Kitchen Table in a travel magazine about new restaurants in London.  It has been open for about three months, and is located downstairs from the main restaurant/bar establishment called Bubbledogs (which, uniquely, serves hot dogs and champagne).  Kitchen Table is a 19-seat counter where dinner is served in the form of a tasting menu. They take reservations on line and split the seating into two sessions.

 The menu is really just a list of primary ingredients posted on the chalkboard.  These can change daily (and can even change on the fly, as the cheese served that evening was not the one listed for the course).

 The kitchen was interesting as there were no open flames.  The entire burner section was induction heating.

For the full write-up, click here.

Saison 2nd visit — San Francisco (4/2013)

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My first visit to Saison was almost a year ago.  I decided I needed to pay another visit soon after they reopened in a new location with a new format (hence the version 2.0).  I was really looking forward to the meal as my past visit was one of my favorite food experiences.  Last time, I had signed up for the Chef’s Counter experience, which was about 22 courses with wine pairings.  For this visit, there was just one menu option (although you can eat at the bar with an abbreviated menu) with a choice of taking the wine parings or not.

The new space is very open, with a large open kitchen, high ceilings and original brickwork.  They only seat 18 for dinner, although it is done in shifts.

When I arrived, they were not ready to seat me yet, so I sat in the bar and looked at the drink offerings.  There were separate menus for wine and for specialty cocktails. 

For the full write-up, click here.

Spur Gastropub — Seattle (4/2013)

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Spur Gastropub was another restaurant that popped up on the molecular cuisine radar when researching Seattle.  It was on Opentable.com, and so was easy to make a reservation.  Their policy is to seat people to make the best use of the small space, so they sat me at the bar.

I wasn’t quite sure what options I would have at the restaurant.  Fortunately, they had tasting menu options of 5 and 8 courses.  All the items are on the a la carte menu as well, so I could have constructed my own meal, but I decided to go with their sequence and selected the 8-course option.

For the full write-up, click here.

The Jewel Box at Mistral Kitchen — Seattle (4/2013)

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When planning my trip to Seattle, I ran across an article that talked about molecular cuisine techniques and Seattle restaurants.  One of the restaurants mentioned was Mistral Kitchen.  When I visited their website, I saw they had a couple of ways to dine – a la carte and a restaurant experience called The Jewel Box (I discovered later that they also had a Chef’s Counter experience, which I will discuss later).  The Jewel box seating is a separate room in the restaurant with a quiet, more elegant setting.  In that setting, they offer a couple of testing menu options only.  Given my general dining objectives, I went for The Jewel Box, which was available as a separate entity for booking on OpenTable.com.

When I arrived, I was taken to a small alcove in the back of the restaurant that had two tables.  It looked out on a relatively quiet part of the restaurant.  However, it did not look like the pictures I had seen for The Jewel Box.  My primary server (who handled my seating) said that originally, I was the only one who had booked a seat in The Jewel Box, and he thought it might be a little awkward being the only one in there, so they thought it was better to seat me out in the main restaurant (they subsequently seated two walk-ins in the Jewel Box).

My menu options were to have 4, 6, or 8 courses.  I went with the longest menu.  No preparations were described.  The menu just listed the ingredients for the evening with which the chefs would feature during the meal.

For the full write-up, click here.

Sous Rising — Chicago (3/2013)

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Sous Rising Chicago is a “guestaurant” I read about in an email newsletter article about pop-ups and guestaurants around the world.  In this case, the people behind Sous Rising Chicago have a waiting list/subscription where  you can sign up for notifications when table slots are available for the selected evenings they serve (usually twice per week now).  From the description of past meals, I thought this would be in line with my cuisine palate these days. You purchase your slot in advance for a specific date (PayPal or credit card), and on the day before (at least in my case), you get an email with directions to their location (their apartment in urban Chicago) and the planned menu (so you can bring your own wine or other beverages).  Dinner starts at around 7 pm.

For the full write-up, click here.

wd~50 — New York City (3/2013)

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I had been to wd~50 several years ago.  It was in the same location on Clinton St., but the format was different.  Wylie Dufresne (the “wd” in the name) continues to be a notable presence in New York, and his food creations incorporate molecular gastronomy techniques, so I decided I had to go back some time.  It’s a Michelin one-star restaurant.  OpenTable.com does provide a way to make reservations, but it was difficult to secure a table for one (while it would have booked a table for two), so I decided to call and was successful in making a reservation.

 The diner has two options: the Tasting Menu and the Vault Menu.  The Tasting menu is the current selection of dishes offered by the chef of about 13 items.  The Vault is a shorter selection of favorite dishes from the past 10 years.  I decided to go with the full Tasting Menu. They ask for, and will accommodate allergies and food preferences, but I decided to leave the menu as is.

For the full write-up, click here.