Onyx — Budapest (9/2013)



I found Onyx through a standard search on the Internet for modern cuisine.  They are a one-star Michelin restaurant, and they took reservations by email.  The cuisine was described as modern Hungarian, so I thought it might be a good fit.  Their website also had an English version, so I didn’t think language was going to be an issue.

The restaurant is located very near the Vörösmarty tér metro stop in central Pest. It’s not a big restaurant, with about 12 tables in the front and a banquet room in the back.  It was a bit formal looking and highly decorated (I thought it might be a more attractive room if the wallpaper was simpler).

 While I was looking at the menu, they brought the aperitif cart by.  For champagne, they had a Bollinger, but they also offered a sparkling Hungarian white, which is what I decided to have.

For the full write-up, click here.

Degustation 2nd Visit — New York City (8/2013)



I had dined at Degustation only a few weeks prior.  But I returned on a business and opted to try it again with a colleague/friend who had expressed an interest after reading the write-up from the first visit.  Instead of a very late dinner on a weekend, this was an early dinner on a Tuesday night.  We were seated at the center of the counter will full view of the cooking and prep areas.  It also was not full, so the noise level was not very high. My friend was feeling adventurous, so we went with the tasting menu.  I started off with a glass of the offered Riesling.

 I didn’t get a picture of the wine list last time.  It is part wine-tasting bar, so the list is pretty extensive for a small place.

For the full write-up, click here.

Annisa — New York City (8/2013)



My visit to Annisa came at the recommendation of a friend.  I was able to secure a reservation for a recent business trip using Opentable.com.  Several of the menu items looked interesting, and the tasting menu options made it even more appealing.  With only 12 tables, it probably is difficult to get a reservation sometimes.  But they were open on the Monday that I wanted to go.  It is also very conveniently located on Barrow St. just down from Sheridan Square in the West Village. It’s not a molecular restaurant, but my expectations were for a nice solid dining experience.

I was seated at the rear of the restaurant.  There is a small bar area at the front as you walk into the restaurant.

For the full write-up, click here.

Frances 2nd Visit — San Francisco (8/2013)



A couple of days earlier, I decided to see if I could get in on a Saturday night.  I was fortunate enough to get a 5pm reservation for an early dinner.  I wanted to try Frances again after about two years (and one Michelin star) since my first visit.  Last time, I picked four non-entrée dishes for my meal.  This time, after a look at the menu, I decided to order more traditionally.  There were some items on the menu from my first visit.

 I order a glass of the Riesling to start off the meal.  I was disappointed there were no roasted cocktail almonds this time.  I remember I really liked them on my first visit.  I could have used them too.  The wine I ordered was by far the sweetest Riesling I’ve ever had (which says a lot since I generally don’t mind wines on the sweeter side).

For the full write-up, click here.

Degustation — New York City (7/2013)



I read about Degustation a few months ago, and for a trip to New York, I needed a late dinner spot for my flight arrival date.  The website described an appealing, informal place specializing in Spanish tapas-style cooking.  It’s not really a molecular cuisine restaurant (although there was foam on one dish).  But I liked the food and the experience, so I wanted to write it up anyway for the collection.  I made a reservation for 9:30 pm.  The restaurant is small, with only seating for about 20 at a counter surrounding the kitchen area.

 My seat was not free when my reservation time came.  However, they offered me a glass of wine while I sat and waited for about 10 minutes.  As the menu shows, the format is all small plates.  On the flip side of the menu was an extensive wine list.  They offer a 7-course tasting menu which was described as a collection of the chef’s daily creations.  A few were from the a la carte menu.

For the full write-up, click here.

Kitchen Table 2nd Visit — London (7/2013



Since I was to be in London almost in mid-summer, I decided to visit Kitchen Table again.  My first visit was a few months ago in early spring.  I wanted to see how the menu changed.  On my first visit, I had the early sitting at 6:00pm.  This time, I booked a place for the second sitting at 7:30pm. 

Instead of starting off with champagne this time, I ordered a glass of white wine.  I wanted something like a Riesling, and the host/sommelier pointed out the white wine by the glass from Wachau.  It was exactly what I wanted.

 As before, there was no menu.  There was just a list on the chalkboard of the principle ingredient they would feature for each course.

For the full write-up, click here.

Maaemo — Oslo (6/2013)



Maaemo is a two-star Michelin restaurant that was not on my radar until a friend had mentioned reading about it.  After reading an article and a couple of reviews, I saw that it was a place I very much wanted to experience.  It gave me a good enough reason to work in a visit to Oslo and Norway, where I had never visited.  I decided to plan a week-long visit to Norway, see the fjords and culminate my trip with a visit to Maaemo.

Maaemo specializes in presenting organic/biodynamic Nordic cuisine.  The majority of ingredients are local (to Oslo and to Norway), with the balance coming from other Scandinavian countries based on availability and quality.  They do not appear to turn over tables during the evening – they just stagger the reservations throughout the night.  They have around 10 tables of different sizes, although they are planning an expansion next year to include more tables, a test kitchen and a chef’s table.  The restaurant is located in an unlikely part of town, in an area of large office buildings next to the central train station and bus terminal.  However, it was extremely convenient for me, as there was a tram that practically ran door-to-door and made the restaurant only minutes away. However, the restaurant is not intuitively easy to find – it’s not on street level, there are no directional signs, and it’s located at the end of the building whose address it shares. But it was well worth finding.

For the full write-up, click here.

The Molecular Tapas Bar 4th Visit — Tokyo (5/2013)



I returned to the Molecular Tapas Bar because I was visiting Tokyo with friends and I wanted them to have the experience.  A couple of my favorites were no longer on the menu, which surprised me a little.  Still, the overall experience was what I had expected it to be. Instead of champagne, I started out with a nice glass of Riesling. And I was almost certain I took notes, but they are nowhere to be found on my phone.  So, the descriptions may be a little lacking this time.

 The aperitif course was called Cherry Bonbon and it was a semi-frozen morsel of cherry and sake on a stem.  We picked it up by the stem and consumed it like a cherry. This was the same aperitif as the last spring menu I had a couple of years ago.

For the full write-up, click here.

Corton — New York City (5/2013)



Corton came up on a Google search when I was planning a quick visit to New York.  I had forgotten that someone had told me about it before and thought it was just okay.  The setting looked nice and it was easy to get to, so I thought it was worth a try.

 They start you off by taking your beverage order and asking if there are any allergies.  They come back quickly with some small bites to start you off while you contemplate which tasting menu to order.

 In the center, there was a nettle financier, soft and a little sweet, served with Meyer lemon jam.  Then, from the left, there was a dipping sauce for the warm croquet filled with clam chowder and served with a thyme crisp; a sweet berry cracker; and an oyster cracker with a warm mornay sauce inside.  I went with a dry Riesling instead of champagne as my drink for the evening.

For the full write-up, click here.

Benu — San Francisco (5/2013)



This was my second visit to Benu.  The first time I dined there, it was a few months after it first opened, and it was probably the first restaurant on this type of food that I had ventured to try.  It was also before I started trying to document these dining experiences.  So, about two years and two Michelin stars later, I decided I needed to go back.  Instead of a dark December night, it was a bright May evening this time.

 From the wine-by-the-glass list, I chose just to have a Riesling with dinner.  They also offered still or sparkling water.

The restaurant is not very big (maybe about 15 tables), and as I had an early reservation, not very crowded yet either.

For the full write-up, click here.