Category Archives: Restaurant

1770 House

Without a doubt 1770 is one of the most romantic restaurants in the Hamptons. The small elegant and intimate dining room has beamed ceilings and fans and thick crown moldings above walls half painted beige and half covered with a subtle grass cloth. Wall sconces and antiques clocks adorn the walls and the dark hardwood floors are covered with Oriental rugs. Antique dining tables are surrounded by brown wicker chairs with comfortable cushions. When the fire is going, there is no more romantic room around. The menu is limited in number of choices, but long on innovation and flavor. Some highlights: Montauk Sea Scallops with yellowfoot mushrooms, sweet peas, spring onions and ham hock jus, Braised Veal Osso Bucco with saffron and escarole risotto and Heritage Pork Ragu with cavatelli, Calabrian cilis, leeks and local carrot.

Not much of a dessert eater, I usually like the cheese course (of which 1770 has an excellent one), but ricotta cheesecake with a graham cracker crust is quite amazing.

This is a well crafted wine list by someone who really knows their wine. Not too many people know the Gruet Brut Blanc de Noirs from New Mexico (an excellent sparkling). The list is excellent with California, Long Island, France, Italy, Australia and Spain well represented. Prices range from reasonable to very expensive, but there are plenty of selections under $75.

Tables #5 and #6 are the most intimate at the front of the room, overlooking the tree lined street and near the fireplace.

A cozy, but more casual Tavern, also with a fireplace, offers burgers, meatloaf and other comfort foods.



Wine Spectator Award Winning List

“Charming, elegant environs whisk diners away to an earlier time at this East Hampton standout an intimate inn set in a 1663 home dishing out fabulous American fare with a local leaning; the very special surrounds and gracious service fetch expensive tabs, but a cozy, fireplace-warmed tavern downstairs offers a more casual escape from the typical buzz.” ZAGAT


Set in a renovated Federal house in Georgetown, 1789 has always been a favorite of locals and tourists alike. Six separate dining areas are decorated in wonderful American antiques, equestrian and historical prints. My favorites are The John Carroll Room and the Pub. The John Carroll Room is decorated with Currier and Ives prints, early maps of the city, and paintings and prints of Georgetown University. A wonderful fireplace makes for a very cozy meal here. The pub has a 5 stool bar, oak banquettes, a gas chandelier, 19th century caricatures and authentic hunt prints. Both are wonderfully intimate and warm.

Tracy O’Grady helms the kitchen and comes to 1789 after owning her own restaurant and from stints at Kinkaid’s and The Watergate.

The menu changes often, but we enjoyed some staples; a plump crab cake with jalapeño creamed corn and a grilled pepper salad had wonderful flavors and just the right amount of “bite” to it. Steamed clams with Portuguese chorizo, grilled bread and basil was everything the ingredients promised it to be. I couldn’t resist a Beef Wellington special with a delicately flakey crust, flavorful mushroom duxelle, and perfectly cooked tenderloin with a burgundy sauce. A marinated rack of lamb with a lamb merlot sauce was extraordinary.

Dessert was a decadent flourless chocolate cake served with homemade coffee ice cream. All the ice creams and sorbets are made in-house. While we didn’t order it, the cheese course looked delicious.

The wine list is a Wine Spectator, Award of Excellence recipient and it is a wonderful wine list both for its selection and amazingly fair pricing. It would be worth it to come here just to drink the wines. There are about 24 wines by the glass and also about 24 1/2 bottle choices.

Service was flawless and our white jacketed waiter was pleasant and fun.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. Dark and sexy. Small dining rooms. Very intimate.

Diners salute the “quiet elegance” that pervades this fine-dining American in Georgetown, a “perfect mix of old-world service” and “new-world food raised to the next level” ; an “intimate, candlelit” setting and “famous guests” galore make the “expensive” price tags easier to swallow. ZAGAT

1799 at the Clifton Inn

You would not have experienced the best Charlottesville has to offer if you missed dinner at the Clifton Inn during your stay. Housed in a magnificent 18th century building on 100 acres of wooded beauty, the restaurant sits perched above a private lake in a setting sure to set hearts aflutter. The evening should begin in the chic Veranda bar for a sample of its fantastic martini list and then it’s on to dinner in the stylish dining room or the preferred glass enclosed veranda. When the weather is nice, the doors are thrown open and the romantic quotient hits a new high.

Tables were set with white linens topped with grass cloth place mats and sea foam colored frosted glass chargers with a fresh orchid and votive candle. Servers were dressed in white shirts with black aprons and “team” served each course. Snack on some pimento cheese and crackers while you sip one of their creative cocktails. Then try the Shrimp & Grits wit lamb sausage, goat cheese and mint oil. The seared pork tenderloin entree was served with red wine apple butter and pickled mustard. Yum. The bourbon brown butter apple crisp was served with almond cream and we paired it with a wonderful Domaine Bordenave, Cuvee des Dames.

The wine list is a nice mix of French, Italian, California, Spanish and Virginia wines. There are about 14 wines by the glass and about 8 half bottle choices. A favorite cab, Darioush, seldom seen on a wine list was here, and a $49 Louis Latour Chablis was a bargain. You’ll find plenty of good choices here under $60. Hurray!

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Very high, this is what romance is about.

“Indeed, the Restaurant at Clifton is among the best dining options in the Charlottesville area, providing an international a la carte menu (main courses $20-$32) as well as fixed-priced tasting dinners (a relative bargain at $65 per person, $90 with paired vintages). You can partake in the main dining room, which overlooks the back yard through a wall of paned windows, or at a table in the kitchen.” Frommer’s

22 Bowen’s Wine Bar & Grill

Can a steak house be romantic? If it’s 22 Bowen’s it can be. A waterfront setting with great views, soft lighting, small dining alcoves, beamed ceilings, white linens, sparkling crystal, with great food and an amazing wine list, all add up to a superb experience.

I love the Bubbles & Oysters to start with six market oysters, hackleback caviar, lemon-chive créme fraïche, 1/2 bottle Lanson Rosé Champagne. The Clam Chowder with potato, bacon, light cream and dill is wonderful, and unusual for a steakhouse, you’ll find Escargots with RI mushrooms, tarragon-white wine cream, puff pastry.

For entrees, their prime steaks and chops are fantastic but it is the non-steak items that set this place apart; Murray’s Chicken Fricasee, RI mushrooms, pearl onion, carrot, fingerlings, garlic-mustard cream sauce; Duck Duo, duck breast, confit leg , baked white beans, guanciale, pomegranate gastrique; Pork Tenderloin, braised greens, cannellini beans, bacon, onion, port wine demi; Lobster Thermador, shrimp, scallop, crab, sherry cream sauce, choice of side

There is an extensive (@25) list of wines by the glass and reasonably priced. The regular wine list, a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner, numbers 250 labels. There are nearly 30 half bottle selections which is a wonderful option. This is an exceptional wine list that is very fairly priced. Lots of good choices under $50 and even the higher quality wines are good values.


Wine Spectator – Award of Excellence

2491 Restaurant

“Dramatic” only begins to describe 2941, a remarkable restaurant located in an unlikely spot, an office park, in Falls Church, Virginia. Picture palettes of rich blues, golds and browns, floor to ceiling windows, 30 ft. ceilings, soaring columns, fireplaces and views of a lake and waterfall. The walls are faux finished and topped with wood paneling and huge slanted mirrors give you a peak at everyone around you. Quite extraordinary.

Be sure to leave some time before dinner for a cocktail. The bar, set to the far left of the dining room, looks out onto a beautiful waterfall and pool. Have one of their specialty martinis and prepare yourself for an amazing evening.

We sat in one of the booths set on a raised platform with a great view of the rest of the dining room and the lake beyond. Our server was smartly dressed in all black; suit, shirt and tie and the service was impeccable.

The setting would be worth the trip alone, but the food is more than a match for the beautiful surroundings. First taste of what is to come is the basket of homemade bread (baked twice daily). Served with sweet butter, these delicious breads include 10 choices with items like garlic and chive, olive rosemary, golden raisin pine nut and more. We started with a blue crab risotto, set in lobster broth with a lemon verbana sauce and the most wonderful and rich roasted wild mushroom soup served with aged sherry. My entree was a spiced Millbrook venison loin with roasted porcinis, sage spaetzle and blackberry vinegar. Jen enjoyed a roasted Japanese sea bass with caramelized shallots and a lobster red wine sauce.

A delightful cheese course (4 types) with more homemade bread and fruit ended a very memorable meal.

The wine list is quite extensive with some outstanding selections. Sadly, there are few wines under $50 and most are over $100

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Amazing views, fireplaces and soaring ceilings make this a very romantic place.

AAA Four Diamond Award

Finding this “entrancing” oasis in a Falls Church office park may give your GPS a “good workout”, but the payoff is “creative, beautifully presented” French-American fare served in a “gorgeous” room equipped with a fireplace, high ceilings and huge windows overlooking a lake; it works for everything from a business lunch to a “romantic” rendezvous and is considered “one of the top restaurants in the area.” ZAGAT

45 Bistro

45 Bistro was originally built in 1852 and completely renovated in 1992. The restaurant lies in No photo description available.the heart of town adjacent to the Marshall Hotel and is a favorite of locals and visitors alike. The lively bar is the place to be for Happy Hour and a good start to your evening. Fun bartenders and a place locals frequent. Brick and pale green walls are accented with colorful local art. Tables are set on hardwood floors and adorned with crisp white linens and gleaming tableware.

The menu has a little bit of everything and here’s a sampling; Fried Green Tomatoes, Shrimp & Grits and Escargot and Wood Fired Pizza as appetizers; North Atlantic Salmon, Duck Two Ways, Wet Aged Rib Eye as entrees, Vanilla Creme Brulee, Flourless Chocolate Tore and George PecanImage may contain: food Dacquoise as desserts.

Decent wine list with very fair pricing.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not so much, but it’s fun.

This “casual yet upscale” bistro adjacent to the Historic District’s Marshall House Hotel is a “constant favorite” say fans of its “reliably delicious” fare offered in a “delightful setting” with plush upholstery and local art on the walls; tabs that can be “a tad pricey” are mitigated by a “very knowledgeable” staff, and a “big bar” with “fun bartenders” dispensing “on-target” cocktails makes for “good times.” ZAGAT

75 Main, Southampton

Scarcely a week goes by, particularly in season, without a mention of 75 Main in Page Six of the New York Post. A celebrity sighting, maybe there was a photo shoot, or perhaps someone got overserved. Whatever the reason, 75 Main is a popular spot with locals and tourists alike.

I like it because it is laid back, it is open year round, you can sit outside in nice weather, the food is outstanding and you can get lunch/brunch or dinner. Surprisingly, for a Hamptons restaurant, the pricing is very reasonable.

The kitchen is helmed by James Beard Award winning chef Mark Militello, who, a few years back, was named one of the “10 Best Chefs in America” by Food & Wine Magazine.

At Lunch/Brunch enjoy items like The Famous Brown Derby Cobb Salad, grilled chicken, tomatoes, avocado, smoked bacon, gorgonzola, black olives, hard boiled eggs;  Mezze Rigatoni Bolognese, ragu of beef, veal, pork with brocollini; Traditional Maine Lobster Roll, toasted pull apart bun; and Black Bean Corn & Quinoa Burger, quinoa, black beans, corn, cilantro, rolled oats, eggs, red onions, tomato paste.

It is the dinner menu, however, that really shines. The Shrimp Scampi is the best I ever had, made with garlic, tomatoes, olives, capers and feta over grilled bread. Our pasta course was an amazing Ricotta Pillows, with porcini cream, black truffles and Telaggio cheese.

Our entrees were a Grilled Long Island Swordfish with a mango BBQ sauce, black beans, sweet plaintain and a rum avocado puree. and a Roasted Branzino stuffed with lemon and fresh herbs, caponata, toasted garlic and lemon mayonnaise.

Good wine list with interesting Old and New Wold choices and fairly priced.

Weekend entertainment in the Lounge, in season.

Inside can be loud, but outside can be intimate and romantic.

A relaxed dining room and, in the summer, a fun, nightlife feel coexist at 75 Main. In fair weather, the restaurant offers outdoor tables where diners can people-watch on the venue’s namesake street. GAYOT

A.R. Valentien

A.R. Valentien was a talented 20th century California artist and is the namesake for the signature restaurant at the Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla. Many of the artist’s works are displayed throughout the restaurant. Serving regional San Diego cuisine, the timbered and elegant restaurant features both indoor and patio dining with views of the 18th green and the Pacific beyond. The restaurant itself is a tribute to Southern California heritage and craftsman architecture, with a metal-strap post-and-beam structure, handcrafted wood-framed windows, stained-glass lanterns and a frieze painted with pine boughs.

Jeff Jackson runs the kitchen and was an early proponent of the farm-to-table movement, although he hates that phrase because it is so overused. He attended the Culinary School of America and trained under Jean Banchet at Le Francais in Chicago, considered by many to be one of America’s greatest chefs.

Here’s some menu highlights: Carmelized Onion and Potato Knish, Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad, Cranberry, Mustard Vinaigrette; Salt Spring Island Mussels, Green Farro, Dill, Shallot, Garlic, White Wine, Cream, Charred Pain au Levain; Crispy Skin Sablefish, Bok Choy, Turnip, Seaweed Broth, Asian Pear and Cashew Relish; Chimney Roasted Brisket, Butternut Squash Kugel, Braised Escarole, Pomegranate and Orange Relish; Root Vegetable Tarte Tatin, Stone Ground Mustard, Cider Vinegar, Puff Pastry, Heirloom Carrot and Frisée Salad; Red Wine Poached Pear, Almond Shortbread, Pomegranate, Lemon, Burnt Honey Ice Cream; Doughnut Bread Pudding, Raspberry Preserves, Lemon Crème Anglaise, White Chocolate, Pistachio

Award of Excellence – Wine Spectator
AAA Four Diamond Award


Addison, at the Fairmont Del Mar Resort, is San Diego’s most acclaimed restaurant earning two Michelin stars, AAA Five Diamond and Forbes Five Star Awards and Wine Spectator’s Grand Award. Chef William Bradley is a Grand Chef of Relais & Chateau and was the winner of the Culinary Master Competition.

The formal dining room is elegant with rich fabrics, traditional furniture and Oriental carpeting. Tables are beautifully set with crisp white tablecloths, crystal, sterling silverware and china.

The Contemporary French menu is a prixe fix at $295 for 9 courses. Menu changes often.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Very high. This is a sexy, sophisticated restaurant.

 “Chef William Bradley’s standard-setting dining room is exceedingly ambitious and his team is cooking world-class ingredients with exceptional skill, leaving you hungry for more. The tasting menu is marked by glorious presentations and enhanced by the harmonious application of global flavors.

Addison’s cuisine while constantly evolving also retains the chef’s signature of incredible precision and polish. A quintet of opening bites show finely tuned flavors that are assertive but never overbearing. Imagine the likes of sake-cured kampachi with dashi meringue, Kumamoto oysters with pickled green strawberry, or potato rösti with Wagyu tartare. Other enticing entrées, like chawanmushi with sea scallops as well as caramelized cod with battera kombu, exemplify his masterful control over technique, flavors, and textures. Your meal may conclude with a selection of visually stunning small bites, including a petite peach tart with a fluted fruit leather “shell” and milk pudding filling.

The rarefied mien of this setting suits the cooking beautifully—with plush marble columns and inlaid floors. Service is at its peak, combining genuine hospitality with gracious pacing.” Michelin Guide



As the story goes, tapas style dining began when an 13th century Spanish king attributed his recovery from illness to eating small bites of food with wine between meals. So convinced was he of the merits of this style of dining that he decreed that no tabernas could serve wine without being accompanied with food.

Today that wonderful tradition is alive and well at Amada, a delightful Old City restaurant created by acclaimed chef, Jose Garces, that serves truly authentic Spanish tapas style food. The look is clean and crisp with hardwood floors and white and partial brick walls. There are two hardwood tables set in loose stones at the front, a raised platform table surrounded by flowing curtains (for 6 or more), red leather banquettes down one side of the room and seating around the open kitchen.

You’ll want to begin your journey here in the intimate bar. It’s a narrow room with dark wood and hardwood floors with a marble topped bar and barrels of sangria behind it. Have a cocktail, we loved the watermelon, basil mojito and the rosemary, lemon martini and then try some charcuteria y quesos (cured meats and cheeses), sliced right in front of you. The Serrano ham and manchego cheese served with a truffled, lavender honey was wonderful.

The fun of tapas is that you get to try a lot of things, not just one meal. Here’s what we tried; clams and chorizo, beef shortribs with horseradish, parmesan and bacon, chicken and beef brochettes served with lemon, garlic and parsley, charred green onions, spicy potatoes (fries with a sauce that tasted like the smell of burning logs, wonderful) and the signature lobster and seafood paella with fava bean salad and piquillo pepper aioli. What a fantastic adventure. Each dish better than the last.

For dessert, a port or sherry paired with a delightful chocolate concoction served 5 ways, a Spanish custard or a selection of artisanal cheeses is the perfect way to end the meal.

The 40 glass/bottle wine list is primarily Spanish and South American with a sprinkling of California, Italy and France. Some very interesting selections and all reasonably priced. The sangria, however, is something you must try. Served either with a spicy red or a crisp white, fresh chunks of seasonal fruit, herbs, orange liquor and Spanish brandy it is light, not too sweet and perfectly balanced.

The food here is so wonderful and the setting so comfortable that I urge you to have one meal here, lunch or late afternoon snack (Friday only) or dinner any weekend night.

If you are lucky, you might even see some Flamingo dancers.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. There is something intimate about sharing food with someone and in this sexy environment it’s even better. The tables in the bar are very intimate, the front tables at the window would be my next choice or if you have a group, there is a raised platform table in the middle of the dining room with a curtain that encloses your table.

Jose Garces’ flagship Spaniard in Old City “never disappoints” with its “fabulous” tapas, “delicious” sangria and a wine list “built to please”, served by a “knowledgeable, courteous” staff; although some report “loud” conditions and caution “your wallet can empty quickly”, most say it’s “worth it for a special occasion.” ZAGAT

American Hotel

The mood at The American Hotel is set with crisp linens, sparkling silver and crystal, soft candlelight and fresh flowers in four elegant rooms decorated in Empire and Victorian antiques and furnishings.

What’s nice about this place is when you eat alone here, it has the feel of an old men’s club, comfortable and cozy. Sit at the bar and drink in the local color. If it’s a romantic dinner you are seeking, an intimate table beside the fireplace in the bar or a table in the adjacent Atrium will do the trick. You might even sit next to Billy Joel or Uma Thurman.

My quest for the perfect veal chop ended at the American Hotel. Well, I didn’t really know I was on a quest until I had this perfectly seasoned, perfectly cooked delight. It was called a “special” and special it was. I started with a salad of endive and watercress with toasted chevre, aged balsamic and grape tomatoes and enjoyed a very good local Long Island merlot from Bedell.

The menu changes often but you can expect fresh seafood appetizers, including shrimp, oysters and chilled lobster, various kinds of caviar, tuna tartar, oak smoked Irish salmon and a more.

Long Island Duck, roast chicken, fresh fish, prime steaks and chops and game, in season, highlight the list of entrees.

The wine list is superb, earning the Hotel the coveted, “Grand Award” from the Wine Spectator, an award that has been bestowed on the restaurant for 20 years in a row. The cellar offers 1700 selections and has over 30,000 bottles. The list is some 85 pages long and is very fairly priced with many bottles under $40.



Wine Spectator Award Winning List

“Charming, elegant” environs whisk diners away to “an earlier time” at this East Hampton “standout” – an “intimate” inn set in a 1663 home – dishing out “fabulous”American fare with a local leaning; the “very special” surrounds and “gracious” service fetch “expensive” tabs, but a “cozy”, fireplace-warmed tavern downstairs offers a more “casual” “escape from the typical buzz.” ZAGAT


Most restaurant owners toiled for others, honing their skills and working on the plan to open their own restaurant. This was true for Angele partners Bettina and Claude Rouas. Bettina started her career as a manager at The French Laundry restaurant and refined her skills as general manager of  Bistro Jeanty and Bistro Don Giovanni.

Claude Rouas opened the legendary French restaurant L’Etoile on Nob Hill in San Francisco. Less than two decades later, he again redefined haute living with world-class Auberge du Soleil, a Relais & Chateaux resort in Rutherford before opening Angele in 2002. He is also a partner of Chef Richard Reddington in the Yountville restaurant Redd.

Angele is a delightful French bistro set on the Napa riverfront in the heart of downtown. The restaurant is located in the historic 1890’s ship chandlery now known as the Hatt Building. The outside patio is one of the most pleasant places to dine in the Valley. Inside exposed beams, hardwood floors and colorful artwork evoke images of a country restaurant in Provence.

The bar is a popular spot for Happy Hour either with friends or alone. If you are by yourself

Angele Restaurant, Napa, California

there’s a rack beside the bar with newspapers and magazines for your reading pleasure. Nice touch.

Start with fried deviled eggs, with a crème fraiche mouse and pickled jalapeno or the pork belly fritters, boquerones and a lemon Champagne aioli. Our main course was a delicious braised half chicken Provencale; with nicoise olives, capers, Yukon gold potatoes and English peas. Paired with a crisp local Chardonnay, it was a particularly satisfying meal.

For dessert we chose a warm apple and walnut bread pudding, almond streusel and bourbon crème Anglaise and paired it with a Chateau Roumieu-Lacoste Sauternes.

The California/French centered wine list has interesting choices and reasonable pricing.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Any meal on the outside terrace beside the river is charming.

You’ll “feel like you’re in France” at this unique bistro in Napa known for its “terrific” takes on French country classics and “delightful” riverfront setting; add in attentive service and a “wonderful” wine list for a “not-to-be-missed” experience that’s “destination dining for locals and tourists” alike. ZAGAT


Located just off the market, Anson’s is a sexy and romantic restaurant with hardwood floors, dark walls, chandeliers, crisp white table linens and sparkling taand pimento cheese.ware. beloved by locals and tourists alike, it is a must stop for your trip to Charleston

Start with a drink at the handsome oak bar and sample one of their interesting martinis. Downstairs ask for a booth, upstairs a table by the fireplace or overlooking the street.

This is low country cooking at its finest. While not a huge fan of grits, as they say, “when in Rome” so had to try the signature appetizer, shrimp & grits, a delicious concoction of shrimp, roasted tomatoes, bacon, shrimp stock and house ground grits. Gave me a whole new perspective on this southern staple. Also tried the She Crap Soup laced with sherry and the Fried Green tomatoes with bacon jam

For entrees, I some wonderful Southern Fried Chicken with grilled street corn and a fall off the bone Braised Pork Shank with creamy polenta.

There’s a lot to like about this wine list with about 60 white wines, a third under $40 and about 16 by the glass. 16 of 70 reds are priced under $50 with about 10 by the glass. As always we wanted try something new and our server suggested a Albarino, Burgan from Spain, a delicious and crisp white at $34. The list is almost evenly divided between California on the one side and a mix of French, Spanish, Australia and Italian on the other.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT-High in a booth or next to the fireplace.

For fresh and local, there is no better choice than Charleston’s beloved Anson.” ~Gourmet Magazine Restaurant Guide

“The most romantic restaurant in Charleston … it is also the city’s best example of high class Lowcountry cooking.” ~Wine Spectator Magazine

USA Today – “For dining, the talk of the town is Anson”

Anton’s at the Swan

Anton’s is located on the main floor of the historic Swan Hotel, just a few blocks from the center of Lambertville. A secluded, comfortable patio (on which you can enjoy cocktails) leads to a dark and cozy two tier bar area. The lower area has intimate tables along the paned window overlooking the patio. Antiques abound, the walls are adorned with oil paintings and collectibles and you feel as if you have been transported to another time. This delightful hideaway is a wonderful choice for a romantic and delicious dinner.

Chef/owner Chris Connor bought the restaurant from its founder Anton Dodel in 2001 after working as the sous chef since 1998. With no formal training, Chris is essentially self-taught, laying the foundation for his unique style in the kitchens of some of the state’s best restaurants; Toto in Summit, Joie de Vivre in Madison, Doris and Ed’s in the Highlands and the Frenchtown Inn.

Monthly menus are developed based on the availability of seasonal ingredients. On a recent visit, I started with the crab cakes with sweet and sour cabbage and tartar sauce. A great combination of flavors and the cakes were chock full of crab. My companion had a Thai themed, grilled shrimp with coconut rice and peanut sauce. Delicious. Have to try and recreate this one at home.

As an entrée, I had the grilled swordfish, with broccoli rabe and lemon and my companion had the rack of lamb, garlic mashed potatoes and red wine sauce. Simple and not terribly creative, but expertly prepared and presented.

The homemade dessert selections change frequently and are presented by long time pastry chef Brian Scott. We passed on dessert, but the ones carried to other tables looked awfully good.

The 100 bottle wine list is excellent in its breadth of choices and value. I applaud Chef Connors for avoiding the trend of wine list gouging. There are about 20 wines by the glass with modest $7-10 prices.

“Tucked away in Lambertville’s historic Swan Hotel, this romantic New American charmer also earns kudos for chef-owner Chris Connor’s consistently good seasonal menu in the dining room and more casual offerings in the coziest bar around; top-notch service and a pretty patio seal its rep as a special-occasion place.” ZAGAT


The yellow flag on the white clapboard building above two bay windows on Duval means you have found one of the best Italian restaurants in Key West, Antonia’s. Owners Antonio Berto and Phillip Smith (also the chef) have created a comfortable, yet sophisticated restaurant in a candlelit wood paneled room with a cozy bar, creative food and the freshest of ingredients. Everything is made from scratch and the owners travel to Italy every year to seek out new recipes and ingredients.

The menu changes daily but some recurring items are worth a try. All the pastas are freshly made(you can watch them each morning in the front window) and at the very least should be tried as an appetizer. Any veal dish is succulent and perfectly cooked. I’ve had a delicious grilled veal chop and veal marsala. Linguine Cousteau, home-made linguine with shrimp, scallops, clams, mussels, yellowtail, fresh tomato sauce, olive oil, garlic, and a touch of red pepper and finished with Italian parsley is a delight and the rack of lamb cooked with rosemary was mouthwatering.

The New York Times called Antonia’s Key Lime Pie the best in Key West, quite an accomplishment in a town where everyone makes an attempt. My favorite was a Chocolate Fondant, a melt-in-your mouth delicate chocolate cake served warm with raspberry and mango sauces.

The wine list is extensive and heavy on good Italian choices. Pricing is very reasonable.

After dinner, the bar has a nice selection of after dinner drinks, port, grappa and single malt scotches.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Medium. Ask for a table in the window, it’s a little more intimate than in the bustling center of the room.

“One of Key West’s all-time favorites is this haute Italian that gets much amore for its heavenly fare, polished service and elegant setting that provides a respite from rowdy Duval Street; it’s been charming locals for over 25 years, and given the praise from all corners, it’ll be a winner for many more…” ZAGAT

Aretsky’s Patroon

We have said often that the best dining experience is when food, ambiance and service come together to create a magical experience. That doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, but it did when we visited Arestsky’s Patroon in NYC.

Two of our favorite authors, Stuart Woods and Linda Fairstein use Patroon in their books as the backdrop for dinners with their friends, so we thought we needed to try it.

The dining room is warm and inviting with hardwood floors, camel colored leather padded walls, wonderful booths and banquettes and stunning artwork. Tables are set with crisp linens, gleaming tableware and wonderful oversized wine glasses. The small bar tucked away off the dining room is cozy and intimate. There are stylish private rooms throughout the townhouse and in the warmer months there is a fantastic roof top bar.

We enjoyed a light and fresh baby lettuce and herb salad with lemon, olive oil, sea salt and manchego. Our entrees were a wonderful roasted chicken breast with a Parmesan crusted thigh with vermouth jus and pan roasted halibut with chanterelles, corn, saffron-onion and lobster yuzu butter. Paired with a crisp, 2014 San Giovanni Della Sala Orvieto Superiore Classico, it was a terrific meal. For dessert try the beignets with pumpkin butter and vanilla creme anglaise. Next time? Lamb tartare and jumbo crab cakesveal chop or Dover Sole.

As good as the food was and as cozy the atmosphere, the service was particularly extraordinary, led by the charming captain, Frenchman…Stephan. Much of the serving, whether for salads, carving a steak or de-boning a fish is done table side and Stephan is a master. We watched as he carved a steak for two and made two Baked Alaskas while keeping up a steady stream of humorous anecdotes. Great fun.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: This is a beautiful restaurant for a romantic evening.

Ken Aretsky’s “polished” East Midtown “business” “oasis” remains a place to “impress clients” with “well-prepared” American fare and “first-class service” in “men’s club” digs done up with “classic photos”; “especially nice” are the private rooms and roof bar, but just “watch out for those prices.” ZAGAT

Artisans at the Lake Placid Lodge

The ’05 fire that claimed the main building, its restaurant, bar, wine cellar and wine collection was a blow to all who had enjoyed this magnificent restaurant on the banks of Lake Placid. My wife and I got engaged here just two months before the fire, so it had special meaning to us.

How do you improve on something that was so good to begin with? You design a dining room that is cozier and more intimate than the original, making sure that maximum advantage is taken of the lake and mountain views and you call it Artisans. You add a much larger pub for pre and post dinner cocktails and you build stone terraces with outdoor fireplaces that allow for open air dining through October.

A wonderful environment only takes you so far and fortunately Executive Chef Derek Leinonen’s food takes you the rest of the way. Leinonen makes use of local ingredients, in fact, the restaurant is part of Adirondack Harvest, an organization that helps small farmers find larger local markets, and connects restaurants, grocery stores, and individuals with the fresh local produce, farm products, meat and poultry they want and need.

Here’s a sampling of the delicious menu: appetizers: Artisan’s Lobster Bisque, Maine lobster, creme fraiche foam, tarragon essence, Battenhill cream, Jumbo Lump Crab & Shrimp Cake, white shrimp. smoked tomato jam, wilted leeks, Champagne butter sauce. Entrees: Moulard Duck Breast, Juniper Hills farm sweet potato puree, pomegranate, exotic kale, autumn squash, Maple Lacquered Cedar Planked Halibut, leek risotto, Shisito peppers, pickled mustard seed. Desserts: Apple Tart A La Mode, cinnamon ice cream, maple crumble, cider reduction.

A quite incredible wine list with lots of “big guns” and their accompanying high prices, but there are also a lot of good choices under $100.

Maggie Pub, the more casual of the two restaurants, offers hummus and cheese platters, sandwiches, salads and burgers.

Sit outside, overlooking the lake, with a fire going couldn’t be more romantic

Atlantic Fish & Chophouse

On my last visit to the Vineyard I was pleasantly surprised to find a new restaurant in Edgartown, the Atlantic Fish & Chophouse down at the end of Main Street. The ambiance, food, wine and entertainment were so enjoyable that I ended up eating there twice during my short stay.  Created by restaurant veterans, Eli Levy and Jamie Zambrana, the 200 seat venue offers a variety of unique indoor and outdoor dining spaces and can accommodate groups of varying sizes.

The comfortable bar is a lively gathering spot for locals and tourists alike and the extensive list of craft cocktails and wines by the glass will please just about anyone. Whether you are looking for drinks and apps or a serious sit-down dinner this menu can accommodate and it’s serious food.

Whatever meal you choose, start with some Katama Bay oysters or any fresh raw bar item and a glass of Dom Perignon ($39) or Veuve Cliquot ($22). Now, that’s how to start a meal!

Lunch offers a raw bar, pizza, salads and burgers, but also items like Grilled Bacon, Peter Lugar style with whole grain mustard,  Street Style Shawarma Tacos with rotisserie lamb and veal, cilantro tahini and amba sauce and a Stuffed Goat Cheese Lamb Burger  with shaved cucumber and roasted red bell peppers.

Dinner features many of the same items but also steaks and chops and fresh seafood. Start though, with one of their interesting appetizers. Maybe the A5 Hokkaido Japanese Beef Sushi with foie gras, wasabi and barrel aged maple syrup or the Merguez Sausage; spicy lamb sausages, frisee salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, radishes, green onions, pine nuts and pomegranate citrus oil.

For entrees I loved the grilled swordfish, seared calamari steak, squid ink Hollandaise and green onions and then on the second night the Osso Buco, Tuscan style osso buco, crispy cavatelli and a red wine pan jus.

For dessert, the Ottomon Phyllo; shredded phyllo, creamy mild cheese, orange blossom vanilla syrup and goat’s milk ice cream was absolutely fantastic.

This is a serious wine list for serious wine drinkers constructed by someone who knows their wine. Rex Hill Reserve Pinot Noir “Shea Vineyards” is just one example. It has won the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence. It is a bit pricey, but there are also plenty of choices under $100.

Weekend entertainment through the season.

Auberge du Soleil

The Auberge setting may be the best in the Valley, high atop a hill overlooking neighboring vineyards. It is the perfect place to watch the setting sun each day. I’m not sure which meal I enjoy more here. The food, wine and panoramic vistas lend themselves to long leisurely meals.

The dining room has a kind of rustic elegance with exposed beams, wood furnishings , rich yellow walls and abstract artwork. A wood burning fireplace centers the room.

The 120 seat Michelin rated restaurant is under the direction of Executive Chef Robert Curry who has crafted a Mediterranean inspired menu using house made ingredients and local products. Breakfast on the terrace is one of life’s great pleasures. Do not miss the Duck Confit Hash, Slow Cooked Farm Eggs, Mache and Red Wine Sauce. Lunch brought a wonderful Sonoma Chicken with Haricots Verts, Yellow Wax Beans and Fingerling Potatoes with a Sherry Vinaigrette. For dinner I enjoyed a Sweet White Corn Soup with Maine Rock Crab and Chervil Oil as an appetizer and Bacon Wrapped Veal with White Corn, Mad Fritz Parmesan Beignet, Chanterelles and Caramelized Shallots. Desserts like Crispy Cornbread Pudding with Delta Blueberries, Lemon Marmalade and Husk Ice Cream were tempting, but I opted for the selection of 5 cheeses  with house baked breads, marcona almonds  and fresh and dried fruit.

The wine list, presented on an IPad with lots of information to help you decide, is one of the largest and most extensive in the Valley and features over 40 wines by the glass. It is a wonderfully diverse list with plenty of choices under $75. It may be the best selection of Cabernets we have ever seen.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Possibly the most romantic spot in the Valley.


Wine Spectator Award Winning List

 You’ll never want to leave given the ‘wow factor’ at this wine-country experience within a luxurious Rutherford resort, where a panoramic patio with magnificent views of the Napa Valley vineyards lends a sensational backdrop for seasonal menus of top-flight Cal-Med fare and a 1,500-label wine list; graciously overseen by a first-class staff, it’s a splurge-worthy destination to put on your “bucket list. ~ ZAGAT


Chef/owner John Besh is a nationally acclaimed chef and a certified rock star in New Orleans. He was named “Top 10 Best New Chefs in America” by Food & Wine Magazine, won the prestigious James Beard “Best Chef-Southeast” award and is a frequent guest on The Today Show. He owns no less than nine restaurants, with August as the flagship.

Set in a gorgeous 19th century French Creole building in the business district, the restaurant has maintained many of its old architectural details with hardwood floors, mahogany paneling, tall columns and antique mirrors. The bar is particularly stunning with high ceilings, rich paneling and huge bouquets of flowers.

The food is contemporary French and while the menu choices are somewhat limited they are delicious. Handmade potato gnocchi was tossed with blue crab and black truffle, sweet corn agnolotti was served with grilled Gulf shrimp and Honey Island chanterelles. Breaded trout Ponchartrain came with shrimp, blue crab, and local chanterelle and an amazing Chappapeela Farms duckling was paired with roasted foie gras, muscadine and boudin. Dessert was a Meyer lemon soufflé tart with lemon curd and raspberry sorbet.

Named by Gayot as having one of the Top 10 wine lists in New Orleans, the list is interesting and fairly priced.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: The Gravier Room is intimate and conducive to a little romance.


AAA Four Diamond Award

John Besh’s “rarified” CBD flagship is a “masterpiece” whose “beautiful”, “Gone With the Wind” style interior and “invisible but omnipresent” staff set the scene for a “genuine dining experience” focused around a “wonderfully creative” French menu with a “Nola twist” (it also boasts “sublime” wine pairings); the “cost is high” for such a “memorable experience”, but fans say it’s “worth the splurge”; P.S. Friday lunch is a “great deal.” ZAGAT


There’s a reason chefs become celebrities…they start out being very good at what they do and Charlie Palmer was no exception. Trained at the Culinary Institute of America, he cut his teeth at the River Cafe where he earned 3 stars from the New York Times. He then created a new style of cooking at Aureole, reinterpreting classic European cooking using American artisanal products and small farm producers. Today he manages an ever growing empire, but is still very involved in cooking at his restaurants.

Housed for 20 years in an elegant old brownstone on the Upper East Side, Aureole moved in June 2009 to new more spacious digs in the Bank of America building at 1 Bryant Park on 42nd Street. I loved the intimacy of the original space, but there is a vibe here that was missing uptown. The bar area is spacious, with huge windows looking out onto the street and anchored at one end by a sophisticated bar that appears to have become a local favorite after work. It was packed at 6pm when I was there recently. Overlooking the bar area is a dramatic glass enclosed wine “cellar”. The main dining room, as in the original space, is beautifully decorated and elegant, yet infused with the vibrant bar scene viewed through glass windows separating the two rooms.

Executive chef  Gabrielle Carpentier continues the tradition at Aureole and turns out terrific food, beautifully presented. Service was crisp, friendly and efficient. To start I had the wonderful Bay Scallop Ceviche with chive broth, lily bulb, rice chip and followed that with Slow Cooked Organic Chicken Breast with  rainbow swiss chard, purple potatoes and parsley aïoli. The Variations of Dark Chocolate dessert looked tempting, but I opted for a cheese course (from Murray’s, the best cheese store in the world) and a glass of the Pinot Noir. If you like an after-dinner drink try the Aureole Elixir, their own delicious blend of of herbs and spirits.

The wine list is extensive, some 1700 choices and 15,000 bottles and includes all of the major regions, with a little heavier accent on French wines. There are also wines produced exclusively for the restaurant. 35 wines by the glass, start at about $10 and include sparkling, white, red, rose and dessert wines. There are about 25 1/2 bottles ranging from $38-$240. Plenty of white choices under $60 but few reds under $80.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: This is an elegant, sophisticated restaurant, equally good for an afternoon rendezvous as for dinner.

AAA Four Diamond Award
Wine Spectator Award

An “oasis of calm” in Times Square, Charlie Palmer’s “classy” flagship “sets the bar” with “exquisite” New American fare “presented like art” by a staff “with finesse”; the “beautiful”, “modern” dining room is a natural for “special occasions” and while dinner tabs are “over-the-top”, lunch is a relative “bargain.” ZAGAT


Towering ceilings and lots of windows make Avenue seem somewhat cavernous at first glance, but then you notice the warming fireplace, the long stainless bar, the booths in the bar area, a raw bar right out on the floor and of course, the amazing ocean views. The beige palette is soothing, the staff young and attractive and even early on a Sunday evening there’s a kind of buzz here.

The menu is classic French brasserie with daily specials like Coquille St. Jacques, Bouillabaisse and Dover Sole. You’ll find standards like charcuterie and fromage, onion soup, escargot and steak frite on the regular menu. But, you’ll want to start with the excellent raw bar, one of the few around, which is strange for an area by the sea. Fresh East and West Coast oysters, shrimp, King crabs, clams and lobster will satisfy just about anyone’s need for fruits de mer.

My standard for roast chicken has always been Hamersley’s Bistro in Boston cooked by the acclaimed chef Gordon Hamersley, but I have to tell you this was equally as good, with a crisp skin, tender meat, a pommes puree and fava beans. Paired with an excellent Muscadet, it was a terrific meal.

Jen enjoyed a succulent boeuf bourguignon that literally fell off the fork it was so tender. Served with fresh parpadelle, red wine sauce, braised vegetables and lardons, the flavors were rich and savory.

The desserts are sinful, but don’t miss the crème brulee or the flourless chocolate torte served with a fresh raspberry sauce.

The wine list is very good with some excellent choices and I particularly like the presentation where the wine style is described clearly. While I would like to see more, there are ample choices under $50 in just about every category.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Sit outside on a balmy, moonlit night and you just might get a proposal.

A “sexy”, “French Riviera”–esque vibe draws “lively”, “hip” types to this “swanky” French seafooder in Long Branch’s Pier Village, touted for its “scrumptious” raw bar and “excellent” craft cocktails; “picture-window ocean views” and “terrific eye candy” help distract from the “noisy” decibels and “expensive” price tags. ZAGAT

Avra Estiatorio

Avra is a wonderful Greek gem on the East Side and a favorite for fresh Mediterranean seafood. The beautiful space is so cozy and warm you feel transported to a Greek Isle home. Whitewashed walls, limestone floors, fresh flowers everywhere, comfortable couches in the bar area, intimate booths, a bountiful raw bar, rough hewn woodwork and a wonderful outdoor patio on a not very busy street make this a very special place.

What is unique and wonderful about this restaurant is that they specialize in freshly caught fish purchased through select European exporters and with special arrangements with local purveyors at the New York Fulton Market. Fish is grilled on charcoal with fresh lemon-olive oil and herbs in cages whose handles are bent away from each other. This done so that the fish is kept elevated from the fire, therefore cooked evenly with crisp skin. The fish is then cleaned of all the bones and seasoned with salt, pepper, oregano and a light lemon and olive oil sauce. The head and tail are left on.

Many of the fish are species of which you have never heard, like Loup de Mar a white, mild, moist, sweet, fish very popular in Europe especially France & Greece or Rouget: a Mediterranean Red Mullet, very bony but extremely tasty and sweet when pan-fried.

Don’t feel like fish? The grilled organic chicken with oregano fries is to die for.

The wine list is interesting with many Greek choices (ask for help) and very reasonably priced. After dinner there are many single malt scotch, grappa, port and coffee drink specialties.

Weather permitting, ask for a table outside. Inside, ask for a wall booth. This restaurant has it all; ambiance, great food and wonderful value. Don’t miss it. Additional location on the Upper East Side.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Medium, this is a lively place, not necessarily the most intimate for romance.

The Mediterranean meets Manhattan at this fabulous upscale East Side Greek seafooder that’s always jammed with seekers of meticulously prepared meze and perfectly grilled fish; look past the noise and Olympian per-pound pricing  just focus on the fresh catch. ZAGAT


Balthazar is my favorite all around restaurant in the City. I have eaten every meal here, breakfast, lunch, brunch and dinner. When we are New York for the afternoon, we always stop for wine and a cheese platter or some delights from the raw bar. When we want really good bread, we get it from the Balthazar Bakery.

The look is as close to a Parisan bistro as you will find outside of Paris. The space is a converted wearhouse with high ceilings and columns and gold walls covered with antique mirrors. Small bistro tables and chairs sit on black and white tile floors and waist high partisans with brass railings divide the room into intimate sections. Waiters in long aprons scurry about and even after 10 years, there’s still a buzz here. Odds are pretty good you’ll even see a celebrity or two.

The food is classic French bistro. I’ve eaten here so many times that it would be impossible to remember all the meals so I’ll tell you some of my favorite dishes; any croissant in the morning, an omelette with herbs, Gruyere and home fries, brioche french toast, warm goat cheese and carmelized onion tart, steak frites, toasted French ham and Gruyere cheese on country bread, escargot in garlic butter, grilled chicken paillard, and sauteed skate to name just a few.

The wine list, as might be expected, is all French, but surprisingly very affordable French. There are about 17 wines by the glass, and about 18 1/2 bottles, Lots of full bottles under $40 and very little over $100. This is a fun list and an opportunity to try some good French wines without taking out a mortgage.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not in a traditional sense, but there’s something sexy about wasting an afternoon here.

Keith McNally’s “legendary” SoHo brasserie “still delivers the goods” with its “magnifique” French fare (“blissful” breakfast, “oh such wonderful” breads) and atmosphere straight out of “Belle Époque Paris”; it’s “always buzzing” with “locals and tourists alike”, plus a “celebrity or two”, meaning the “tight quarters” can be a “madhouse” – but that’s part of what makes it “a New York classic.” ZAGAT

Bar Boulud

Daniel Boulud.jpgThere are few chefs as accomplished as Daniel Boulud. The author of eight cookbooks and the recipient of multiple James Beard Foundation awards including “Outstanding Chef” and “Outstanding Restaurateur,” chef Boulud has also been named a Chevalier de la Légion d’Honneur by the French government. He is chef-owner of restaurants around the globe including the three Michelin-star New York City restaurant DANIEL.

Bar Boulud, Boston is a French style bistro and wine bar serving all meals, including weekend brunch. This is a wonderful place for any meal or just for an afternoon snack of oysters or charcuterie (which comes from renowned Parisian charcutier Gilles Vérot). The Burgundy and Rhone heavy wine list is worth the trip alone.

Bar Boulud’s design features vaulted ceilings inspired by wine barrels and a feature wall fashioned from wine crates. Seating includes a row of rich burgundy leather booths, a 7-seat marble charcuterie counter, a glass enclosed wine cellar and a 17-seat backlit zinc top bar.

The restaurant offers classic brasserie fare with classic menu items like; Gougeres, choux pastry, gruyère, espelette; Escargot Persillade, half dozen burgundy snails, garlic almond herb butter; Boudin Blanc, truffled pork sausage, pomme purée, mustard jus; Coq au Vin,  red wine braised chicken leg, herb spätzle, bacon lardon, mushroom pearl onions; Duck Breast a L’Orange, red quiona, braised kale, orange supreme, duck jus; Tuna Crudo, yellowfin tuna, preserved lemon, capers, croutons, fines herbes.

This is a lively fun place not given to romance, but still thoroughly enjoyable.

AAA Four Diamond Award
“Even those “skeptical of celebrity-chef restaurants” admit Daniel Boulud has “delivered” with this “hip” (and “expensive”) brasserie in the Back Bay’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where the “approachable fine French” fare and selections from a “wonderful” marble charcuterie bar are stewarded by a “professional” staff; the “fairly extensive” wine list is referenced by cask-shaped vaulted ceiling panels in a “rustic” yet “classy” dining room that typically boasts a “nice buzz.” ZAGAT

Bernardus Lodge

Bedrnardus is a chef’s dream; your own vineyard, gardens brimming with fresh herbs and vegetables, strong relationships with local purveyors and the freedom to create innovative menus. Chef Cal Stamenov has cooked with some of the greats of the culinary world; Alain Ducasse, Pierre Gagnaire, Masa Koboiashi, Jean-Louis Palladin and Michel Richard. Before Bernardus he was the Executive Chef at Highland Inn’s Pacific Edge and before that the Chef de Cuisine at Domaine Chandon in Napa.

Breakfast and lunch are served in Wickets Bistro and when the weather is nice, the outside patio is delightful. Breakfast offers delicious fruit smoothies, freshly squeezed juices and excellent omelets, quiches and paninis. Call ahead if you have to, but don’t misss the chicken hash, it is amazing with their farm fresh eggs.

The casual, bistro style menu is pretty much the same at lunch and dinner. Good choices at lunch: wood fired, grilled artichoke with balsamic vinegar and basil aioli, mini raviolimwith Chanterelle Mushrooms, swiss chard and Parmigiano-Reggiano and brick oven pizza with Prosciutto, leeks and arugula.

Dinner at the acclaimed Marinus is an event. Diners can choose to eat in the cozy Main Dining Room (where we ate) with its 12 foot wide raised hearth fireplace and views of the gardens or the mountains, at the Chef’s Table in the kitchen (up to 5 people) or in the stunning Wine Cellar (up to 8 people).

Our meal began with two delicious appetizers; fresh local chanterelles with celery root agnolotti and a black truffle sauce and red abalone with fuji apple and a parsnip puree. Entrees were a California white sea bass served with Yukon Gold potato and leek and an amazingly lean and moist Sonoma, smoked and grilled with pancetta and a tarragon-mustard jus. Dessert was a selection of three cheeses, two from France and one from Italy.

One word sums up the Wine Spectator Grand Award winning list: spectacular. 1800 labels and 34,000 bottles showcase some of the greatest wines in the world. It is not an inexpensive list, but rarely will you have the opportunity to sample such great stars. A lengthy wine-by-the glass menu and lots of ½ bottles softens the blow a little. Since we were at a winery, we opted for a ½ bottle of Bernardus Chardonnay, Ingrid’s Vineyard for our appetizers and the Marinus Meritage for our entrees. Both were excellent.
Appetizers: $11-$45, entrees: $30-$52. Tasting menu; $85-$150.

Forbes 4 Star

“It’s a bit of a drive if you’re not staying at the lodge, but worth every mile for some of the best food on the Monterey Peninsula swoon foodies who trek to this elegant classic in Carmel Valley to be coddled and bask in the glow of its cheery fireplace-lit old-world ambiance; chef Cal Stamenov’s exquisite nouveau French Californian tasting menu is the star here, and for special occasions when price does not matter, let the sommelier guide you to wines perfectly paired to your dinner. ” ZAGAT

Bistro Don Giovanni

Bistro Don Giovanni typifies what a Napa Valley restaurant should be; a warm and comfortable place to enjoy good food and wine. Owner Giovanni Scala is the consummate host and his personal touch has made this landmark a favorite of local winemakers, winery owners and anyone who enjoys food and wine. When it is cool outside, the flower filled dining room with a wood burning fireplace takes the chill away. As the days warm, the gorgeous outside terrace (also with a fireplace) sits amid olive trees and vineyards and the air is fragrant with the aromas of the land. This is the perfect place to while away an afternoon or linger over dinner with friends.

I started my meal with a roasted red pepper and tomato soup with mozzarella di bufala. Tomato with a pepper kick and creaminess from the mozzarella. The pasta course was a pappardelle with braised rabbit cacciatore, mushrooms, tomato and parmigiano. Lamb shank with a tuscan bean ragu, natural jus and gremolata was perfect for this chilly day and when paired with a Tenuta di Arceno, Chianti Classico, Toscana, it was a near perfect meal.

Dessert is a treat unto itself. Perhaps a rustic fruit tart or a warm raisin bread pudding? Or maybe just some biscotti paired with a wonderful Antinori, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico, Toscana dessert wine or a 20 year old Tawny Port or a house made Digestivi?

There are 27 wines by the glass and 20 in half bottles. The full list is diverse and the pricing makes for some exceptional values. Wonderful selection of Italian wines.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: A warm summer’s day out on the patio can be magical.


A true wine-country experience, this seductive Cal-Italian is quintessential Napa, from its excellent food and lengthy wine list to the lovely setting and lively atmosphere; top-notch service and spectacular views of the vineyards make for destination dining at this escape to perfection.~ ZAGAT


Bistro Jeanty

“In every day French life, it is the Bistro that is woven into the daily pattern of meals and celebrations. The Bistro is that little neighborhood restaurant where they know who you are, greet you warmly, and serve you satisfying foods that change with the seasons and define regional homey French cuisine.” Philippe Jeanty

Jeanty was born in the Champagne region of France, his father worked for the great Champagne house of Moet & Chandon and Moet is where the young Jeanty got his first culinary job. He came to California in 1977 with the first team from Epernay, France to open the Chandon Restaurant in Yountville. In a year’s time he was made executive chef. The next twenty years of accolades, awards, and praise from customers and critics proved that Jeanty was one of America’s finest chefs. His creative style introduced new flavors and dishes to the thousands of diners at Chandon during this time.

In 1997 Jeanty decided to create a bistro where he could recreate all those favorite foods of his childhood and opened the doors of Bistro Jeanty in April of 1998.

Today, in a town known for its excellent restaurants, Bistro Jeanty is a stand-out earning a Zagat food rating surpassed only by the venerable French Laundry.

The menu includes bistro classics like Soupe a l’Oignon, Pike dumplings with lobster sauce, Escargots, Boeuf Bourguignon, Coq au Vin, Sole Meunière and Cassoulet, all expertly prepared and presented. I had a Quiche Lorraine that was the best I ever had. Splurge on the Crêpe Suzette for dessert. The mostly French wine list is fairly priced and has some interesting  choices.

Charming inside dining room and a terrace under a canopy outside for nicer weather.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Outside terrace is more intimate than the dining room


Wine Spectator Award Winning List

Francophiles declare Philippe Jeanty’s “iconic bistro” a “real star” in Yountville, where “consistently delicious”, “very traditional French countryside” meals are delivered by a “very agreeable” staff in a homey setting that’s “très charmant”; all-day hours and a communal table make it ideal for dropping by “on the way to Napa” or “after a long day of wine tasting”, particularly on the patio that “overlooks the vineyards.” ZAGAT


Bix is a throwback to the days of the old supper club. It would have been called “swanky” back then. It’s a place for ice cold martinis, cool jazz and meeting people. Tucked down an alleyway, it almost feels like you’ve come upon a speakeasy. The two story venue has a main floor and a mezzanine that oversees all the action. Soaring columns, wood paneling, cozy banquettes and stunning artwork create a wonderful vibe. Bartenders in crisp white jackets serve up some of the best classic cocktails in the City. Service is professional, but friendly. Live jazz entertains every night.

The menu has a lengthy list of appetizers making it equally appealing for just drinks and apps or as the start of a complete dinner. There are Fresh Oysters and Shrimp Cocktail plus Potato Pillows, Crème Fraîche, California Sturgeon Caviar; Deviled Eggs with Truffles, Radish; Dungeness Crab Rolls, Toasted Brioche, Chive; Fried Green Tomatoes, Burrata, Comeback Sauce, Green Tomato Chutney and Steak Tartare, Shallots, Capers, Parsley, Mustard, dressed tableside.

For entrees you can enjoy Alaskan Halibut, Tomato Dashi, Pickled Japanese Cucumber, Fennel, Dill, Radish; Lobster Spaghetti, Cherry Tomatoes, Jalapeños, Basil; Chicken Hash à la Bix, Mascarpone Vodka Sauce, Cherry Tomatoes, Chives; American Wagyu New York Steak, Creamed Spinach, Pomme Dauphine, Truffle Aïoli, Horseradish Cream and more.
For dessert, don’t miss the Gold Street Foster with dark rum, bananas and vanilla ice cream.
Nice wine list with about 20 choices “by the glass” and reasonably priced. The full list has plenty of selections under $75. Any wine list that has Spottswoode Sauvignon Blanc (my favorite) is a good list in my book.

This is a very romantic restaurant and after a couple of martinis….who knows?

2023 Best Sexy Restaurants in San Francisco. Gayot
2023 Best Romantic Restaurants in San Francisco. Gayot


Almost every time we travel, we are introduced to something new on a tip from a local. Such was the case during our last trip to Charlottesville when someone recommended Bizou. Housed in a former dive bar on the Downtown Mall, this eclectic restaurant was the “find” of our last trip. Much from the old bar remains; red leather booths, juke boxes and old time theater posters on the walls. But that is where the similarities end….this place is serious about food and wine.

Arrive early to enjoy a cocktail. The Rouge Rita is a Sauza Gold, Cointreau, fresh lime-agave sours, red wine float. The Bizou 75 is Botanist’s Herbal Gin, St. Germain, fresh lemon and Potter’s Grapefruit Hibiscus Cider. Both fantastic drinks. There’s also about 10 wines by the glass and a nice selection of beers and ciders.

Take your time with the menu because there’s lots to try. Start with the Dinner Company rolls with honey butter. Then try the Mushroom Tart with shiitake, crimini and Portobello mushrooms, caramelized and pickled onions, arugula, parmesan, balsalmic reduction drizzle..all in a puff pastry. For entrees, the bacon wrapped pork tenderloin was served with a crispy ricotta gnocchi, braised kale and a Dijon cream sauce…so good. Can’t resist meatloaf on a menu and this was fantastic served with smashed potatoes, chipotle ketchup and baby greens. Dessert was a Lemon Curd crepe with warm berry compote and vanilla ice cream.

The Wine Spectator Award winning wine list has some wonderful choices and the pricing is very fair. There’s even a separate list of about 12 wines all priced at $45 and a Champagne list of a dozen wines priced from $32. We enjoyed a glass of a 2017 Molise Campi Valerio “Fanni” with the mushroom tart and a glass of 2015 Cotes du Rhone Village, Plan du Dieu Domaine de L’Arnesque with the meatloaf. Perfect pairings.

Serves lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. Outside patio seating.

Blackberry Farm

This is where Blackberry really shines. They’ve coined the phrase Foothills Cuisine to describe its cooking; a blend of Tennessee country food and haute cuisine and seldom have I so eagerly waited for the next meal as I did during my visit here. They have the unique ability to take a standard dish and transform it into something entirely new and often spectacular. Produce and herbs are grown on the property and they make their own cheese and sorghum infused butter. Breads and rolls and muffins are so delicious you’ll never think of a low carb diet again.

Breakfast is not your usual experience here because so much is homemade or produced right on the property. Here’s a sampling; Cornmeal Pudding with Maple Cream Cheese, Blackberry’s Grain and Nut Cereal, Blueberry Cottage Cheese Griddlecakes with Pecan Butter and Spiced Maple Syrup.

The juices are freshly squeezed, the butter creamy and sweet and the muffins and fresh breads so tasty you’ll have to fight the urge to eat the entire basket.

Lunch is an adventure every day because it can be served in the dining room, at the boathouse down by Walland Pond or at the Yallarhammer Pavilion around Singing Brook Pond on the other side of the property. They’ll even pack you a picnic lunch and provide you with a back pack and blanket if you wish to go off and explore the property on foot or bike.

The weather cooperated when we were there in October, so lunch was served at the pavilion around the pond. A bluegrass duo provided the background music and the smell of BBQ wafted through the air as we arrived on our bikes. While cocktails and wine were available, the home-made apple cider, pressed while you waited, was perfect for this crisp autumn day. There were lots of delicious salads, grilled chicken on skewers with three different marinades and scrumptious homemade desserts. My favorite dish was the BBQ sundae; three layers in a mason jar of pulled BBQ pork, baked beans and cole slaw. Yum!

Upon departure, a box lunch was prepared for us that had pressed grilled chicken salad with ricotta and sun-dried tomatoes, roasted root vegetables with shiitake mushrooms, a toasted orzo salad, blue cheese prunes and walnut blondies. What a send-off!

Dogwood Bar
The Dogwood Bar sits just off the veranda in the Main House and is open each afternoon until everyone has gone to bed. They have a wonderful selection of American whiskeys (the surrounding area produces America’s best), but it’s their homemade Blackberry vodka that you have to try either straight up or in one of their innovative cocktails like a Blackberry Cosmo. Sitting in one of the rocking chairs on the veranda with your favorite cocktail overlooking the mountains is surely one of the great pleasures of life.

Dinner is served in two dining rooms, the more formal Main Dining Room and the clubby Laurel Room. The Main Dining Room has beige pastel walls adorned with striking hunt oil paintings. Soft light illuminates from brass chandoliers and table lamps. Heavy drapes frame pine paned windows that look out to the mountains. Chairs and banquettes are covered in a rich green brocade.

The Laurel Room has beamed ceilings, wood paneled walls, illuminated oil paintings, wall sconces and brass chandoliers. The angled banquettes have views out to the mountains. This is my favorite of the two rooms, it is intimate and romantic.

Dinner was a choice of a Tasting Menu or an A La Carte Menu. We opted for the A La Carte so we could try more things. An additional $60 gets wine pairings for each course.

We both started with wild sturgeon wrapped in country ham with a warm BBQ vinaigrette. Not something I would normally choose, but was it ever good. Jen’s second course was a field salad made special with a sesame cheddar wafer, spiced pecans and a blackberry sesame vinaigrette. I had a marvelous country ham wrapped goat cheese with cornbread croutons, radiccho slaw and a sorghum vinaigrette.

For entrees I enjoyed an unusual sweet tea cured pork chop with onion jam jus, mustard mashed potatoes and tobacco onions. Jen’s grilled Angus filet was served with a thyme jus, smoked Portabella mushrooms, crisp fried carrots on mustard glazed Yukon Gold potatoes.

Unbelievably we still had room for dessert and shared a Tennessee chocolate whiskey cake with mint chocolate sauce and whiskey ice cream.

The wine list is magnificent, one of the best I have ever seen for a number of reasons. First, the sheer depth of the list is breathtaking, second, there are wines even the most sophisticated wine buff won’t know, third there are tons of half bottles and finally, there is a wonderful balance between the high end and more modestly priced wines. It is obvious that this list is a labor of love between Sommelier, Andy Chobot and Proprietor Sam Beale. Chobot was particularly helpful during our stay, leading us to some delicious wines, all priced under $50. Go for the wine list alone!
After Dinner
Each evening a huge bonfire is cast in the fire pit, just a short stroll from the Main House. Guests congregate on stone benches surrounding the fire and the pit area is stocked with hot chocolate, cider and blankets. One night when we were there a guest entertained with a guitar and songs as coyotes howled in the distance.

Dinner is included in the room rate. Liquor and wine is extra.

Forbes 4 Star-The Barn


Breakfast is served from 7:30am in the Conservatory or you can enjoy it in the privacy of your room from 7am.The Conservatory is a beautiful room in the rear of the mansion with delightful views of the sweeping lawns. When the weather is nice, breakfast is also served on the terrace where you’ll be surrounded by colorful flowers and lush greenery.

We opted for breakfast in our room and had the weather been a little warmer could have enjoyed it on our terrace overlooking the grounds. It arrived promptly in baskets tied with fresh roses and trays with hot croissants and muffins, creamy butter, fresh squeezed OJ and delicious coffee. In an attempt to eat healthy I had whole wheat pancakes with lemon poppy butter, fresh berry compote, English sausages and maple syrup. Jen had scrambled eggs (somehow they just tasted better than most) English sausages, Applewood bacon and turkey hash. What a start to our day!

Lunch is available in the dining room or on the terrace or they will make you a magnificent picnic feast to enjoy on the grounds or elsewhere. Priced at $45-$67pp it is well worth the tab.

We had a drink in the Music Room before dinner and enjoyed some delicious canapés; fish & chips which was actually battered lobster with shoe string potatoes and a chicken ballotine with mushroom salad and an olive tapanade and red pepper foam. We could only marvel at what dinner was going to be like.

The Dining Room is reminiscent of the marvelous old Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel in New York. The small room (about 36 seats) is anchored at one end with a large stone fireplace and a carved wood mantelpiece. Dark paneled walls are offset with pink tablecloths and massive flower displays of hydrangeas and peonies. The walls are adorned with beautifully lit oils in gold ornate frames and the floors with rose carpets and hardwood floors covered with Oriental throws. Candles everywhere create an intimate and warm setting.

The tables are set with mix and match of high quality china, silverware and stemware. Different colors, different shapes may seem at first glance to be somewhat contrary to the formal room but actually reflect the charming whimsical nature of the owner.

Dinner, served by white jacketed waiters and tuxedoed captains was a synchronized masterpiece. It began with a wonderful Hamachi with orange and avocado amuse bouche and just went uphill from there.

Appetizers were a savory wild watercress soup with a stuffed morel mushroom and a sautéed Scottish langoustine with preserved Meyer lemon risotto. For entrees I enjoyed an olive oil poached Halibut with spring vegetables, green grapes and verjus. Jen chose a rack of lamb with ricotta tortellini, Swiss chard, Picholine olives and romesco.

Dessert, offered with an excellent array of ports and sweet wines, was a St. Andre cheese tart with blueberry jam and lemon verbena sorbet and a delicious classic crème brulee. Next time I will sample what looked to be an incredible selection of imported and domestic cheeses.

The wine list is quite remarkable and an obvious hobby of the owner. The cellar has some 18,000 bottles and 2500 choices. True wine lovers will really enjoy the depth and breadth of this list. Virtually every major wine region is represented and while there are certainly expensive wines here, there is also plenty under $60. 14 wines by the glass and an amazing 100+ ½ bottles.

3 courses $125.00, 4 courses $145.00

With a romantic, intimate setting that conjures Gilded Age luxury and staffers who give patrons the royal treatment, this outstanding prix fixeonly French New American dining room in a Lenox inn earns The Berkshires No. 1 scores for Decor and Service; the fare makes you swoon as much as the megabucks needed to pay for it, yet it’s worth every penny for an experience that’s special in every sense; P.S. it’s formal, so jacket and tie required at dinner, and no children under 12. ZAGAT

Blue Duck Tavern

Housed in the Park Hyatt Hotel, the Blue Duck Tavern is a lively and comfortable spot for an after work drink, some delicious apps (their resident Cheese & Charcuterie Specialist will custom prepare a cheese platter for you) or a wonderful dinner. We have also enjoyed their Sunday brunch where the Short Rib hash is about the best brunch item I have ever had.

But it is at dinner where this restaurant shines. The emphasis is on wonderfully slow cooked and wood fired roasted meats and fish. Braised Beef Rib, Wood Oven Roasted Whole Fish, Wood Oven Roasted Bone Marrow, Sauteed Soft Shell Crab, Pork Loin Confit to name a few dishes. Try the Morello Cherry Cobbler for dessert.

Fantastic wine list with about 50 wines by the glass. All the major regions are represented and some surprises too. A little pricey, but still plenty of choices under $100.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: The “Capitol Hill” glass-enclosed booths are surprisingly intimate

One Star Michelin Guide
Wine Spectator Award

A magnet for “Washington establishment” types, this “sophisticated” West End American turns out “consistently excellent” farm-sourced meals served in a “beautiful” designer-rustic setting that permits “conversation without shouting”; an “excellent” wine cellar, extensive tea selection, “incredible” brunch and “Anthony Bourdain”–ish bone marrow appetizer are further reasons why it’s “well worth the hefty price.” ZAGAT

Born & Raised

Born & Raised is a fantastic steakhouse opened in 2017 in Little Italy. The $6.5mm project created a 10,000 square foot restaurant with 250 seats that pays homage to the mid-century and art deco eras. Downstairs is classic steakhouse décor with leather booths, wood paneled walls, green marble table tops and lots of brass. Makes you think of old Hollywood glamour. Upstairs is a delightful open-air rooftop dining room, overlooking Little Italy, with a rectangular bar centering the room and booths around the perimeter.

You can get all the usual steak cuts, many dry-aged on the premises, but what really sets this steakhouse apart is its throwback to years past, both in service and menu items. Tableside carts offer a rotating selection of dishes prepared while you watch, including beef tartare and Shrimp Louis, plus Martinis, Manhattans and Rob Roy cocktails shaken at the table. This is one of the few steak restaurants we’ve encountered that offer classics like Steak Diane and Beef Wellington.

After dinner, you can enjoy more classics with drinks like a Brandy Alexander, Grasshopper, Stinger and more.

Service is crisp and efficient from tuxedoed servers and captains, wearing Converse sneakers. Makes it elegant without the stuffiness.

The wine list is broad with many good choices, but it is expensive. Have to search for options under $100.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not so much. This is a lively and loud steakhouse.

WHAT OTHERS SAY…“There are tons of phenomenal restaurants in San Diego, but I’ve never been so impressed, well taken care of, and stuffed, than I have been at Born and Raised Steakhouse in Little Italy. Set in the 1920’s with table side preparation, old school classics, and stiff cocktails, Born and Raised is part show and complete excellence.”


Newport might seem an unusual place to find a classic French restaurant, but the Bouchard story makes sense. After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, Chef Albert honed his skills working at four-star restaurants such as The Dupuy Canal House in High Falls, New York, Chez Hosten in France for 2 years (one of 60 2-star Michelin restaurants in all of France) and Le Chateau in South Salem, NY for 15 years.

Albert and his wife Sarah loved the ocean and decided to settle in Newport, RI with their classic motor yacht once owned by Humphrey Bogart and start their own restaurant. With its proximity to Boston and New York, they felt Newport was an ideal place to be. With Albert as chef and Sarah managing the dining room, Restaurant Bouchard grew to become a culinary destination in New England.

Served in warm and cozy dining rooms, the menu is classic French, executed with precision by a talented kitchen and an expert dining staff.

Our menu for the evening will give a capsule of the menu:
For starters we had: Vol au Vent d’Asperges et de Homard, Asparagus and Lobster in Puff Pastry, with a Lemon Beurre Blanc and Tarte à la Tomate et au Fromage,a Warm Tomato Tart with Boursin and Goat Cheese Topped with a Truffle Aioli
We paired these with a 1/2 bottle of Réserve Durand, Sancere Loire Valley

Entrees were Coquille Saint Jacques “L’automne”, Seared Scallops Served Over a Brown Butter Celeriac Puree, with an Apple and Fennel Sauce and Sole de Douvres à l’Oseille, Dover Sole with a Classic Sorrel Sauce. These were paired with a 1/2 bottle of  Louis Jadot Pouilly-Fuissé.

For dessert we enjoyed a Crêpe au Chocolat, Chocolate Crepe Stuffed with White Chocolate Mousse, Vanilla Sauce paired with a glass of Les Hauts de Trintaudon, Medoc, Bordeaux.

Relaxing and satisfying, this was a wonderful meal.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High, this is an elegant restaurant with special service.

Newport has a high concentration of great restaurants — like Bouchard, a French fine-dining gem inside a quaint 10-room inn. ZAGAT

Bouchon Bistro

Bouchon is an opportunity to experience Thomas Keller’s cooking without the price tag of a visit to The French Laundry. This charming bistro on Washington Street in Yountville offers the same attention to detail as its upscale counterpart in a more casual, laid back atmosphere.

The brick and burgundy colored wood building is surrounded by planters filled with bright flowers and bushes. When the weather cooperates, dining outside is a delightful option.

Renowned designer Adam D. Tihany created Bouchon’s interior that includes  a French zinc bar, a mosaic floor, antique light fixtures, and a handpainted mural by French artist Paulin Paris. Huge bouquets of flowers, brass topped banquettes and crisp linens complete the bistro look.

Nice list of cocktails and wines by the glass. Try the Tequila Thief, Reposado Tequila, Creme de Cacao, Hibiscus, Lemon, Mezcal Rinse. For wines, you can get a glass, a carafe or a bottle. Vin de Carafe are wines sourced from regions surrounding  the restaurant. These wines are selected in barrel from the cellars of the finest California winemakers and are only available in the restaurant while the barrel lasts. Very cool idea.

The menu changes with the season, although favorites like roast chicken, leg of lamb, and trout amandine are available all year and deservedly so, the roast chicken we had was fantastic.

Start with something from the fresh raw bar, or try the deviled eggs or French onion soup and the escargot comes in an incredible puff pastry from the Bouchon Bakery. Any one on the staples above works well as an entrée, but we also loved the Steak Bouchon, pan-seared eye of the rib & sauce Béarnaise, served with French fries and the Moules au Safran, Maine bouchot mussels, steamed with white wine, Dijon mustard & saffron and served with French fries

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Inside can be noisy, but the outside patio is very intimate.


One Michelin star

“Fans of this “delightful” “little sister to the French Laundry” in Yountville find it a “bistro extraordinaire” for “bubbles and oysters” followed by “carefully crafted” French classics and “amazing” wines (both local and from across the pond); the petite dining room “fills up quickly” and diners are packed in “like sardines”, but the “charming” “Parisian feel” and “accommodating” staff add to the “sheer Keller excellence”; P.S. there’s also a “popular bakery next door.” ZAGAT

Bouchon LV

Bouchon is the Las Vegas iteration of Thomas Keller’s wildly successful French bistro in Napa. Keller, the Chef/Owner of the world renowned French Laundry, also in Napa, has created a near perfect restaurant where guests can enjoy breakfast, brunch or dinner, inside or on the patio.

Located in the Venetian Hotel on the 10th floor of the Venezia Tower, the space was designed by Adam D. Tihany who created the look of the original Bouchon. Soaring ceilings, mosaic floors, a beautiful pewter bar, antique lights and hand-painted murals by French artist Paulin Paris combine for an exciting French replica.

Breakfast is served Monday-Thursday from 7am, brunch Friday-Sunday, also from 7am and dinner daily from 5pm.

Menus change often, but some staples like roast chicken, steak frites and more carry over to new menus. Start breakfast/brunch with a beignet from Bouchon Bakery. Bet you can’t eat just one. Then try the Hachis de Merguez, house-made merguez sausage hash served with two eggs any style & whole wheat toast or the Poulet et des Gaufres- roasted chicken with bacon-chive waffle. Crown maple syrup & sauce Chasseur.

At dinner, the Poulet Rôti – roasted chicken with potato purée, bacon lardons, melted savoy cabbage & chicken jus is as perfect as roast chicken gets. Gigot d’Agneau is a slow roasted leg of lamb with garden squash, glazed chestnuts, pearl onions & lamb jus, just perfect for a cool night. The onion soup is wonderful and the fries are to die for.

The wine list is carefully curated with selections from around the world. By-the-glass selections come in 1/2 or full glass pours. The restaurant offers a program called Vin en Carafe with wines sourced from the wine regions surrounding their restaurants. These wines are selected in barrel and are only available in the restaurant while the barrel lasts. These wines are delicious and very affordable.

The oyster bar opens daily at 3pm and is a great place for an afternoon snack.

This can be a loud, lively place. Not particularly conducive to romance.

Thomas Keller’s “civilized” Venetian offshoot of his Napa original still gives “foodies” a “thrill” with “beautiful presentations” of “exceptional” French fare and “well-chosen” wines offered in an “elegant”“true bistro environment” designed by Adam Tihany; it may be a “splurge”, but “effortless”“knowledgeable” service contributes to a “top-notch” experience that’s “worth every cent. ZAGAT


Opened by acclaimed chef/owner Nancy Oakes in 1993, Boulevard is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. The restaurant has received local, national and international accolades, including The James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef in California and Outstanding Restaurant in the United States, as well as the Filiale des Etats-Unis in France.

Housed in a glorious Beaux Arts building, a survivor of the 1906 fire, the restaurant is decorated with artisanal mosaics, iron work, hand blown glass and hardwood floors, the look suggests a bygone era. It is warm and comfortable and the vibe exudes a wonderful energy. The large bar is always full for drinks and dinner and you are likely to start up a conversation with the diners around you.

Apart from the wonderful food is a fantastic wine list. It was my first exposure to the Corovin Wine System that preserves wines after they have been opened. For about $100 I was able to enjoy 3 amazing wines that I would never spend on for a full bottle. The list changes but here’s a recent sampling: Puligny Montrachet, Francois Carrillon, 2020, $45, Chateauneuf- du-Pape, Chateau de Beaucastel 2006, $45. The rest of the list is varied and very fairly priced.

Speaking of food, however, Oakes pioneering farm-to-table menu blends traditional French culinary styles with regional American flavors from local farms and purveyors. The $119 prix fixe menu is innovative and exciting and features Oake’s takes on some traditional menu items; steak tartare is paired with burrata; roasted beets with figs and Roquefort and Dungeness Crab is served with galia and Korean melon, cucumber, avocado and gooseberry mint yogurt. Entrees

include a Wolfe Quail with a buckwheat blini shortstack, fresh cherries & sunflower seed butter, herbed ricotta, red chard & crispy sage and a Berkshire Pork Chop with Japanese sweet potato, cauliflower fiorentino, pickled peach, piggyback rye & wild pecan relish. Try the “A Very Cherry Mess” for dessert; pavlova crumble, cherry balsamic swirl ice cream, sour cherry sorbet & rose hip creme fraiche. A la carte dining is available in the bar, lounge and Chef’s Counter.

This is just a fun place where everyone is enjoying themselves. Kind of an upscale “Cheers”. Not much for romance, but who cares.

“22 Restaurants We Go Back to Over and Over” GQ Magazine


There’s two reasons locals love Brandl. The first is that the food is awfully good and the second is that everybody likes chef-owner Chris Brandl himself. We’ll talk about the food in a minute.

Brandl is one of those guys who never stops giving of himself and his talent. He’s involved in virtually every local event be it charitable or otherwise. He’s an astute marketer and just an all-around nice guy. As nice as he is though, the restaurant wouldn’t be as popular without great food and that’s why it’s the choice of many for a good evening out.

Located in a strip mall, the space is decorated with bold colors and striking artwork which adds a touch of whimsy to a very serious restaurant.

in late 2019, Brandl re-vamped his menu and transitioned to a steakhouse. He bought a special oven from Spain for cooking the steaks over a charcoal fire. Now, Bone-in NY strip steaks, Filet Mignon, Veal Chops, Lamb Chops and Porterhouse steaks are all cooked in this special oven that produces a delicious crust and juicy, tender interior.

For starters, the crab cakes are a must. My wife who is something of a crab cake aficionado, thinks they’re among the top few she’s had.  The new “escargot” line-up offers the traditional garlic butter sauce, but made with escargot, lobster, shrimp or oysters and they are fabulous.

My wife will take lobster served out of the shell any time she can get it and Brandl’s Lazy Lobster fit the bill. Served with asparagus scallion risotto and orgasmic vanilla bean butter.

Dessert was a pre-ordered raspberry chocolate soufflé that was wonderful.

Excellent food, skillful presentation, wonderful tastes, we left pleasantly full and talked about when we would return to sample more dishes.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: When the weather is nice sit outside on the brick patio, under an umbrella amidst the flowers and twinkling lights.

WHAT OTHERS SAY: “Chef Chris Brandl demonstrates his enormous skill at this unpretentious New American BYO hidden in a Shore strip mall; true, it’s somewhat pricey for Belmar and the downscale decor and not-that-great service could be better, yet most feel this little gem has special occasion written all over it.” ZAGAT

C & O Restaurant

Driving by you’ll almost miss this brick former railroad flop house on East Water Street until you see the C&O Pepsi Cola sign out front. You begin to wonder if this is the right place until you step inside the dark and intimate mezzanine area with its brick walls, hardwood floors and beamed ceilings. With light splashing on the wonderful artwork, the room is cozy and warm and other than the casual Bistro downstairs is my favorite of the five different rooms.

The restaurant has been a favorite of locals and visitors since 1976 and it is easy to understand why. It can be a wonderful special occasion destination in the cozy mezzanine room or a fun spot for a casual meal, a glass of wine or a late night snack in the Bistro. The people are nice, the service is excellent and the food is terrific. It is the restaurant most often mentioned by locals when you ask them for dining recommendations.

The menu changes frequently, but here’s a sampling: Rag Mountain Trout Almandine caramelized lemon, brown butter, toasted almonds and capers, Applewood Smoked Duck Breast with creamy risotto, sauce L’orange, Steak Chinoise, gruyere-thyme smashed potatoes, tamari-ginger pan sauce and scallions

For dessert there’s a wonderful cheese course where you select two cheeses that are served with grapes, apples and bread or try the “Coupe Maison” 3 scoops of vanilla bean with warm Belgian chocolate whipped cream and toasted almonds. So good.

There’s a lot of attention to detail that makes this a very satisfying experience; the breads are homemade and served hot, the drinks are made with freshly squeezed juices, the menus are hand written and much of what is served is sourced from local producers. They don’t just mail it in here.

The wine program is run by Elaine Futhey and it is great list for its quality, depth and very fair pricing. There’s a whimsy to the list that is fun, “wines to charm and intrigue you…” Most wines are under $50 or not far from it which makes it the best place in town to enjoy this many wonderful wines. There’s even a wine from Crete! Where? The restaurant has received the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for many years.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High in the mezzanine area.

“…this unprepossessing brick front might make you think twice, but don’t be deterred, for this unusual setting has been home to acclaimed fare for more than 2 decades. From all appearances, the creaky floors in this charming old building were around in Jefferson’s day. Changing monthly, the menu is basically country French but ranges across the globe — from Thailand to New Mexico and Louisiana — for additional inspiration. Many patrons stop in the downstairs Bistro, a rustic setting of exposed brick and rough-hewn barn wood, while others proceed upstairs to a more formal venue or to the covered garden.” Frommer’s

Cafe Marquesa

Warm yellow/gold walls, accented by dark mahogany molding and large mahogany framed mirrors create an inviting atmosphere for Cafe Marquesa, an intimate 50 seat spot about two blocks from Duval. Add wide-paned windows with views to the street, shaded table lamps, crisp linens and you have the makings for a very romantic meal. The open kitchen adds a bit of theater and the buzz in the dining room tips you off that you are in for something special.

Start with a cocktail at the small six seat marble-topped bar and watch the evening unfold. Celia makes a killer dirty martini.

Susan Ferry’s cooking is creative and innovative. Some think it is the best in Key West. My last meal there was fantastic and started with seafood potstickers with a spicy pistachio sauce and kim chee. The potstickers were full of seafood chunks and the sauce had just the right amount of kick to it. As an entrée I enjoyed a green onion crusted yellowtail snapper with a porcini mushroom broth, roasted wild mushrooms, pasta purses and a delicious truffle butter. The onion crust hid a delicate fish and the woodsy flavor of the mushrooms was a great accompaniment.

Loath though I usually am toward dessert, I couldn’t resist sampling one after reading the description; chocolate, pumpkin and almond cheesecake with ginger crème anglaise topped with chocolate granache and an Oreo cookie and almond crust. Quite a mouthful to say and eat. Let me tell you, though, it’s worth the trip just for this dessert. Sinful but I didn’t eat it all.

The wine list is heavily slanted toward California selections with some very good values. International selections are varied and also fairly priced. There are 10 Special Limited Selections including Sassicaia, Caymus, Silver Oak and Plumjack, surprisingly well priced as well.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Medium. While the overall restaurant is sexy and intimate, individual seating is not. Opt for a window seat, tables #14 or #15, on Simonton Street side for the most privacy.

“For a taste of sophistication Key West-style, this superb 50-seat eatery in the Marquesa Hotel offers beautiful presentations of outstanding New American-seafood fare, a relaxing ambiance and excellent, unfussy service; if you find a few rebels railing against unnerving prices, royalists trumpet this oasis and want to make her a queen.- ZAGAT

Cafe Sole

‘A meal in Provence’ is how Café Sole describes itself and that is a very apt description. The setting and the wonderfully prepared seafood with a French influence can transport you to the French countryside. Owners John and Judy Correa have created a very special place that is will be a highlight of your trip to Key West.

You enter the garden through a high white gate into a lovely haven where the aromas from the kitchen heighten your anticipation. Sit in the garden, the small bar area which has two tables or an intimate back room. The garden is beautiful, the bar area a bit hectic but in the center of all the activity, and the back room is private and cozy.

My meal started with blackened shrimp served with a mango salsa made from mangoes, jalapeno, onion, cilantro and lime juice. The shrimp was just slightly blackened to capture that flavor but not to overwhelm and combined with the delicious salsa, was a flavor explosion.

I followed that with Chef Correa’s signature and award winning hog snapper dish. Seldom available outside the Keys, I have come to love this delicate fish with a taste almost like shrimp. It was perfectly cooked and served with a very tasty red pepper zabaglione. Coupled with a glass of a crisp white Bordeaux, this was one of the best meals I had in Key West.

There is a noticeable difference between a staff that is just doing its job, even if very well, and one where you sense their work is a labor of love and devotion. Café Sole is that kind of place. Everyone seems to really enjoy what they are doing.

The wine list is very well constructed and has been recognized by the Wine Spectator for its excellence. Happily, prices are reasonable with some excellent values.

Also open for lunch and Sunday brunch.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. While the garden area is very nice, I actually prefer the more intimate back room.

Award of Excellence – Wine Spectator .

Just relax and forget everything else at this little French-Caribbean hideaway in Key West, where the locals go for inspired seafood, particularly the incredible hog snapper, enhanced by a tropical ambiance and charming service; it’s slightly pricey and the location away from the noise of Downtown can make it a bit difficult to find, but wayfarers assure it’s worth the search.- ZAGAT


Nearly floor to ceiling windows capture the spectacular ocean vistas from Cara’s elegant dining room. White walls, striking artwork create a backdrop for coral colored chairs adding a splash of brightness. Chandeliers and candles cast a warm glow on a room with beautiful crown moldings, a marble fireplace, crisp table linens and sparkling tableware.

Our menu for the evening is indicative of “New England with French Twist” style of cooking. We started with North Atlantic Oysters with sorrel, meyer lemon,vodka creme fraiche and Peekytoe Crab
with daikon radish,cucumber and avocado.
Entrees were a fresh Lobster with apple,celeriac,truffle crustacean emulsion and Venisonwith black garlic, pumpkin, horseradish and endive. For dessert we chared a wonderful Olive Oil Cakewith tarragon, black pepper, lemon and truffle.

If you are feeling adventurous, Cara offers an 8 course “blind” tasting menu which can be paired with wines.

The Wine Spectator award winning wine list is extensive and diverse. It features an excellent selection of “by the glass” and half bottle choices.

The list has a particularly good selection of Champagnes and Sparkling Wines. It is a bit pricey, but there are plenty of options under $100. Hard to find fault with a list that has my favorite Sauvignon Blanc, Spottswoode, from Napa and Oregon Pinot Noirs.

This is a delightful dining experience in every way; the views, the setting, the service and the food. Well worth a trip.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Wonderfully romantic, particularly with a window table overlooking the ocean.

AAA Four Diamond – Dining
1 of 12 “Spurge Worthy” Restaurants – Bon Appetit
Wine Spectator Award of Excellence
“20 Burgers to Try Before You Die” – GQ Magazine

Castle Hill Inn

As you look around the bar and restaurant at Castle Hill, it is evident that this is a special occasion destination. Everyone is dressed up and everyone seems to be celebrating something. Most of the people at the bar, waiting for a table, were there for a special event.

There’s good reason to come here for a celebration. The setting is spectacular, with water views from both dining rooms, and the food is equally as special.

The restaurant makes use of local seafood, local farms and their own herb and produce garden

Start with a drink on the terrace or take your drink down to the lawn, relax in one of the Adirondack chairs and enjoy a magnificent sunset. This is the best place in Newport to watch the sun go down.

Yellowfin tuna carpaccio came with a sesame, garlic, ginger and coriander dressing, wonton chips with wasabi, sea salad and crushed peanuts. Lots going on here and each ingredient provided another taste level. It was wonderful.

For my entrée, I chose a pan roasted halibut with a crushed basil and shaved garlic crust served over a sweet potato ratatouille with a saffron infused foam. The delicate white fish, the pungency of the basil/garlic crust, the sweetness of the potato, the acidity from the tomatoes and the hint of saffron made this a marvelous taste sensation. I won’t be so quick the next time to judge a menu by its cover.

Ended the meal with some wonderful cheeses from Maine, Vermont and one from Spain, ruby port macerated sun dried cherries, fresh berries and toasted rustic bread.

The Lawn offers al fresco dining, seasonally with casual favorites and amazing views.


Forbes Four Star

AAA Four Diamond
Wine Spectator – Award of Excellence
“Absolutely the finest. Welcomed graciously, treated knowledgeably and courteously, provided exquisite menu options, seated with a spectacular view of Narragansett Bay and passing boats. The best.” ZAGAT


Charley’s of Bay Head

January of 2017 saw the opening of Charlie’s of Bay Head, a sophisticated and intimate restaurant overlooking Twilight Lake in Bay Head. The beautiful two story building has dining rooms on two floors, plus outside dining on the lake level. The main level dining room has an open kitchen and fireplace. There’s a 20 seat bar serving 20 handles of local beers and an excellent wines-by-the glass menu. There’s also a fantastic wine room for private parties.

The staff is very knowledgeable about the food and wine and are a delightful addition to the dining experience, fun and engaging.

The food is outstanding with raw bar selections, burgers, pizza and pasta and more. The Lobster Roll is amazing with a Golden Brown Buttered Brioche Roll, Brown Butter or
Tarragon Mayonnaise and House-Made Chips. The Coffee Rubbed 18oz Rib Eye oozes flavor and is served with Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, Caramelized Onions, Shallot Butter, and Horseradish Cream. My favorite is the Hot Honey Glazzed Roasted Chicken Breast with Wild Rice Pilaf, Shitake Mushrooms, Shaved Celery and Fennel Salad with a Pomegranate Vinaigrette.

Don’t miss the Donuts for dessert. Soft puffs of dough and sugar served warm with Raspberry, Chocolate Nutella and Salted Caramel Sauces.

The Wine Program is outstanding with an excellent “wines-by the glass” menu and a full menu that is interesting, fun and very fairlyl priced. Lots under $50

Lunch Wed-Sat. 11:30-2:45pm
Sunday Brunch 11-2:30pm
Dinner Mon-Tues 4-10:30pm, Wed & Sun. 5-10:30pm, Thurs 5-11pm, Fr & Sat 5-11:30pm


Sitting outside on the patio overlooking the water with a full moon is about as good as it gets.


“We had the most wonderful dining experience last night – the food was great, the views of the lake were peaceful, and Katie was the best waitress we ever had. Nice too that Brian came by to ask how everything was.”


Located a block from town, adjacent to the Vineyard Square Inn, Chesca’s is a comfortable restaurant enjoyed by locals and visitors alike. It is mentioned often by people who live here as one of their favorites.

Start with a cocktail from the bar and sit on the outside porch in a rocking chair and watch the people go by. It’s part of the ritual of dining at Chesca’s.

The interior is very cozy with beamed ceilings, columns, comfy banquettes, small tables, wall sconces, and an open, airy feel. Bottles of colored glass line the window shelves and various artifacts adorn the walls.

Our server was friendly and helpful in describing menu items and brought us wonderful soft and hot oregano bread to start our meal.

The Tuscan white bean soup was delicious as was the Pizzetta Margharita. Loved the Farmhouse Greek salad, the Braised Beef Ribs and the Pappardelle Bolognese.

The wine list is limited, but fairly priced. A Brancaia Super Tuscan at $56 was a good buy.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Fun, but noisy.

There is truly something for everyone“ at this seasonal Edgartown ”must“ whose ”yummy“ Italian-American menu features a ”nice mix of seafood, chicken and red meat“, which is paired with ”excellent“ wines by a ”polished and professional“ crew; just ”get there early to beat the regulars“, as there are ”no reservations except for parties of six or more”, and the bright dining room with an enclosed porch can fill up fast. ZAGAT

Clarke Cooke House

The Candy Store at Clarke Cooke on Bannister Wharf has always been a favorite for cocktails. It’s bright and airy with great drinks and bartenders and when the weather is nice and the back windows are open to the water, it just doesn’t get any better. Still the best Dirty Martini in town.

For some unknown reason, I had never eaten in the restaurant and a recent visit made me realize what I was missing. This delightful spot has it all; atmosphere, food, service and a wonderful wine list.

When the weather is nice, the place to eat is the upstairs Porch. With its tented ceiling and comfortable banquettes strewn with pillows, it is the most elegant and stylish place to be. The harbor views, particularly at sunset are breathtaking. On this visit, on a cold November evening, the cozy Bistro with its beamed ceilings and huge wood burning fireplace was perfect to take the chill off. Linen clad tables with glistening tableware and leather chairs surround a central bar. White paneled walls are adorned with the owner’s collection of America’s Cup prints and other sailing memorabilia.

The kitchen has been run by Chef Ted Gidley for 20 years. Gidley has worked with renowned chefs like Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert. Start with something from the raw bar, perhaps the Le Petit which has 6 oysters, 6 littlenecks, 4 shrimp and a half lobster. Always get the fresh swordfish when available or try the braised lamb shank or the wood grilled filet mignon. vinaigrette….just delicious.

If you have room for dessert you won’t want to miss the decadent chocolate fudge layer cake with an espresso creme anglaise or the warm apple and walnut tart served with walnut frangiapan, pate sucree and vanilla ice cream.

The wine list is a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner and deservedly so. U.S., France, Italy, Spain, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Argentina and even Rhode Island are represented. There are about 25 1/2 bottle choices which I always like. What is striking about this list is that while there is a good representation of the big guns; the Latours, Lafites, Haut Brions, Silver Oaks and Heitzs, there are lots of really great values like a $65 Amarone, a $50 Barolo and much more. Bravo for such an approachable list.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Wherever you eat, it is conducive to intimate conversation.

“One of the top ten outdoor dining spots…”
“Probably the best and most consistent restaurant in town…”
“Of all the restaurants in Newport, Clarke Cooke is by far the most enchanting…”
“The Essence of Newport…”
“By far the most sophisticated restaurant in Newport…”


Cole’s Chop House

Cole’s is a wonderful steakhouse and is a favorite of locals particularly those who live in the town of Napa. The 100 seat restaurant (plus 12 at the bar and 50 outside) sits in the center of town and occupies a unique stone building circa 1886. Inside, the two tier restaurant has the original open truss ceiling and Douglas fir floors. The golden plaster walls are decorated with antique French advertising posters and the bar is an antique mahogany from the Honduras.

Excellent cocktail  list and this certainly seems the place for Happy Hour drinks. Try the Napa Manhattan – Woodford #1 Reserve Bourbon, Antica Vermouth, Peychaud’s, Port Cherries  or the Prohibition – Buffalo Trace Single Barrel Bourbon, Orange Slice, Port-Soaked Cherry, Sugar & Bitters.

The menu features 21 day dry-aged prime steaks, Midwestern corn-fed Black Angus Beef, formula fed veal, New Zealand lamb and fresh seafood. Their Cole’s ‘Famous’ U.S.D.A. Prime – 21 Day Chicago Dry-Aged New York is exceptional and when paired with creamed spinach and house hashed browns you’ll feel like you’ve died and gone to heaven. Finish it off with a flourless dark chocolate cake with raspberries and whipped cream.

As wonderfull as the food is, it is the wine list that draws me here. Recognized as one of “America’s Best Wine-Driven Restaurants – Award of Unique Distinction” by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, its concept is one of the most unique we have encountered. First they offer about 14 regular wines by the glass, but then they also offer another 16 ‘ultra premium’ wines poured through the Coravin system in 2 or 3oz pours. You can sample Kistler Vineyards, Chardonnay, Oliver Leflaive Puligny Montrachat, Overature by Opus One, Shafter Vineyards Hillside Select Cabernet, Domaine de la Conti La Tache Grand Cru Vosne Romanee, Screaming Eagle and Chateau d’Yquem to name a few.

There’s always a featured wine and they tell you all about it. The rest of the list is excellent and fairly priced. Cabs are organized by appellation and there are great descriptions of the characteristics of each. Keep the steak (well, not really), bring me the wine list!

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not so much, but it is lively and fun.


An “elegant” chophouse that “rivals the best of Chicago and NYC”, this red-meat specialist from Greg Cole (Celadon) located “right in the heart of Napa is where to go when craving a “big, juicy steakand some “delicious sides” to go with that big Cab you brought”; set in a historic stone building, it boasts a full bar for cocktails and “incredible service”, making it a prime, if “pricey”, “pick for any celebration.” ZAGAT

Commander’s Palace

For many, myself included, Commanders Palace is the quintessential New Orleans restaurant. I mean how can you not love a place that offers $.25 martinis at lunch. Owned since 1974 by the legendary Brennan family, Commander’s Palace launched the careers of renowned chefs Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse and current chef Tory McPail was recently named a James Beard “Best Chef.” Garnering top ratings from Zagat and others and with a Wine Spectator Grand Award wine list, Commander’s is a must stop when you are in New Orleans.

Located among the mansions in the Garden District, Commander’s serves lunch and dinner Monday-Friday and an amazing Jazz Brunch on Saturday and Sunday. Hard to decide which meal to enjoy when you only have a few days in town.

The cooking here is described as modern New Orleans cooking meets haute Creole. McPail’s dirt to plate within 100 miles policy means they strive for 90% of their ingredients to come from within 100 miles. They even grow 1403 herbs on their own roof!

There’s so much to like on this menu, but here are some things you won’t want to miss; Soups 1-1-1 where you get a small taste of turtle, gumbo and the soup du jour; Cornbread Panzanella, Covey Rise Farm greens,drunken blueberries, cornbread croutons and pistachio crusted goat cheese with blackberry St. Germain vinaigrette; Pecan Crusted Gulf Fish with crushed sweet corn, spiced pecans, petite herbs, and Prosecco poached Louisiana blue crab. For dessert try the Louisianna Blueberry Buckle, Ponchatoula blueberries with pecans, white chocolate, and Creole cream cheese gelato.

The wine list is quite spectacular as you might expect with a “Grand” award, but it also has “60 Great Wines for Under $60” which is a great feature. Be sure to arrive a little early so you can enjoy one of the creative cocktails at the bar.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: This is a loud and lively place. Not too romantic, but who cares?

AAA Four Diamond Award
Wine Spectator Grand Award

The “nostalgic”, “old-world” ambiance will “make you feel like a king or queen” at this “genteel” Garden District Creole icon (the city’s Most Popular restaurant), as will the “first-class” staff (considered the Big Easy’s best) that treats “everyone the same: spectacularly”; “rich”, “leisurely” dinners are an “experience to savor”, and made even more “epic” by a “phenomenal wine list”, so it’s a “splurge” that’s “worth every penny”, though some “prefer” the “fabulous” lunch (could it be the “25-cent martinis”?); P.S. no shorts or T-shirts; jackets suggested for men. ZAGAT

Company of the Cauldron

I couldn’t write a better description of Company of the Cauldron than Malcom A. Willson of Cape Cod Times. “This little Nantucket restaurant has charm written all over it — from its dark red, ivy-framed, single-story front, pierced by small-paned windows, to its darkly handsome, romantic-as-a-novel interior.

The inside’s post-and-beam and rough plaster construction seems more like a stage set than interior design. And careful decoration gives Company of the Cauldron one of the prettiest dining rooms around.

Copper pans hang on the walls, along with a full-rigged half model ship. Pie-plate sconces are set with flickering candles, and, overhead, there are pierced antique tin lanterns and large, gracefully curved chandeliers for soft lighting.

Antique ship paintings on the walls and boat models hanging from the ceilings seem secure in their antiquity. Tables are covered with flowered cloths, and there are real candles in brass holders and tea roses in vases.”

We couldn’t have said it any better when we when we first included this quote. It is still an apt description. The restaurant oozes romance and if you can sit in the window booth (stop by during the day after 11:30am to make your reservation and request the window seat) your view of passersby on a tree-lined gas lit street is just wonderful.

In 2017, the restaurant was purchased by Joseph Keller, who at one time was the Sous Chef at the Club Car and then the Chef at Cliffside Beach Club and the Woodbox Inn. He went on to help his brother Thomas open the acclaimed French Laundry and Bouchon in Napa.

Each night a single prix fixe dinner is served, that’s right only one. The restaurant posts its nightly selections a week in advance. A sampling of the ever-changing menu is testament to the creativity of the Chef. This is a wonderful experience, complimented three nights a week by the delightful harp music of Mary Keller.

The service is excellent and the wine list while modest in length is also modest in price. Dress is casual. Credit cards accepted. Check the daily posted menu, pick the night that looks best to you and don’t miss it.


“Every meal is an experience” at this pricey, “tucked-away” spot where a “knowledgeable” staff serves a near-“perfect”, “imaginative”, “constantly changing” New American prix fixe menu in two seatings each night; the courses are posted weekly out front and online so you can “check what’s being served before making reservations” – which are “a must”, as the “romantic, very quaint” dining room “sells out quickly”; P.S. closes after the island’s popular Christmas Stroll and reopens in spring. ZAGAT


There may be no more perfect restaurant in New York for a very special occasion than Daniel, Daniel Boulud’s eponymous Upper East Side salon. Earning near perfect marks for food, decor and service from Zagat, Daniel stands at the top of a very impressive list of world renowned New York restaurants. If you are truly a lover of food and wine, this will be your Mecca.

The main dining room is dramatic and nothing short of spectacular. Fashioned in a Venetian Renaissance style with soaring 18 foot ceilings, massive chandeliers and marble columns, it is bathed in soft light and decorated in hues of silvery gray and chocolate brown. The dark carpet sets off the creamy wall panels and rich red leather chairs add a splash of color. The main dining floor is surrounded by intimate dining knooks and there are fragrant bouquets of flowers everywhere. The artwork, personally selected by Boulud, is quite remarkable.

Cocktails are an art form at Daniel, so you’ll want to be sure you arrive early enough to enjoy one in the bar, a fashionable UES haunt in its own right. Perhaps a DB Blini; Grand Marnier, OJ, peach and Champagne or a fig and cinnamon infused vodka with lime juice or even a White Cosmo; vodka, Elderflower St. Germain, lime juice and white cranberry.

No expense has been spared to make this a truly extraordinary experience. Crystal, china, silverware, candle votives and linens have all been custom designed just for Daniel and are elegant and substantial at the same time.

Boulud has a wide ranging culinary empire from the U.S. to London and China, yet he seems to keep a firm grasp on his operations. He still cooks and you will never hear he’s stretched too far as you do with other celebrity chefs.

Boulud’s acclaim comes from delivering quality ingredients, expertly prepared and presented in a way that dazzles. The presentation is so terrific, you hesitate to disturb it. Unlike many high end restaurants, there is no obsession here with obscure ingredients. Rather, the obsession is with wonderful seasonal items paired with items that perfectly compliment the main item. Imagine Carolina shrimp with a basil pistou, toasted pine nuts and thyme croutons and a tomato confit. Delicious!

I love when Boulud offers one item prepared a number of ways; a trio of sea scallops, a duo of Abalone (where other than the West Coast can you get Abalone?) or a quartet of milk fed pig Provencale to name just a few. It’s like getting multiple meals in one.

For dessert we shared a chocolate upside-down soufflé served with pistachio ice cream and paired it, at our server’s suggestion, with a 2004 Maury Mas Amiel. Just amazing.

The service is impeccable and manages to be both efficient and unobtrusive. Often, in places like this, the service is somewhat stuffy, so I was pleasantly surprised that our wait staff was pleasant and had a sense of humor.

The wine list is remarkable both for its depth and very fair pricing, unusual at a restaurant of this stature. 15 countries are represented in over 2,000 selections and 25,000 bottles. There are about 15 wines by the glass, starting at $12, lots of half bottles and 100 full bottles priced at $50 or less. Of course, if money is no object, there’s a Romanee Conti for $10,000 and a Lafite that dates to 1798. Daniel takes its wines seriously and it is evident in the knowledge of its wait staff.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Very high, this is a wonderfully seductive restaurant.

Michelin 3 Stars
AAA Five Diamond Award
Forbes Five Star Award
Wine Spectator Grand Award

A “wow every time”, Daniel Boulud’s “luxurious” UES “icon” “sweeps you into another world” with “masterly” New French fare and a “rarefied atmosphere” defined by “magnificent” decor, “VIP” service and a “dressed-up” clientele (jackets are required); granted, the prix fixe–only tabs are “Himalayan”, but “you’ll understand why” – and the bar provides the “same stellar” quality à la carte. ZAGAT

Del Posto

Del Posto is an exciting collaboration between restaurateurs Lydia and Joseph Bastianich and Mario Batali that in 2010 received a coveted 4 stars from the New York Times. DP is the first Italian restaurant to receive 4 stars from the Times since 1974. This was as near a perfect dining experience as I can remember.

The space is huge at 24,000 square feet…..and dramatic….with soaring ceilings, marble columns and a central staircase leading to the balconies. But soft lighting, candles, area rugs and piano music transform even this vast space into a warm and cozy haven. The stage could not be better set for what is to come.

Del Posto describes its menu as “the concept of trans-generationalism which manifests itself in a cuisine that combines the creativity of contemporary culinary sensibilities with the powerful draw of classic Italian dishes…….(it) represents the food that Italians still eat”. Unlike so many restaurants of this caliber, it is utterly unpretentious.

Seldom have I eaten a meal in which each course was such a revelation. Abalone (no one has this anymore) carpaccio with grilled asparagus and young ramps, handmade orecchiette with lamb shoulder sausage, crispy morels and minted soybeans and wood-grilled lobster with artichokes, hazelnuts and basil. This is exciting dining where the anticipation of what is to come is only rivaled by the satisfaction of what has come before.

For dessert the flavor parade continues with items a chocolate ricotta tortino, with toasted Sicilian pistachios and extra virgin olive oil gelato or a selection of cheeses like robiola due latte bosina, Piemonte 40 day, eggplant crostata and chocolate or my favorite four chocolates and four rums.

The wine list is remarkable both for its depth (some 80 pages) and understandable Italian focus but also for the surprising number of bottles under $100 and even under $50. Finally, a premier restaurant that doesn’t gouge on the wine list!

To say that the service was near perfect would be an understatement. It was not overpowering, there was not someone hovering around the table at all times. What it was was seamless…the wait staff seemed to float around the room. They appeared when you needed them and then retreated when you didn’t. It may have been the best service I have ever experienced.

AAA Five Diamond Award
Forbes Five Star Award
New York Times 4 Stars
Wine Spectator Grand Award

“Hard to top”, this “magnifico” Chelsea Italian showcases the Batali-Bastianich “magic” with “inspired” cuisine and an “extraordinary” wine list in a “glamour palace” setting where “gracious” servers leave you “feeling totally pampered”; just expect to “spend a whopping amount”, or try the lunch prix fixe for “a true bargain.” ZAGAT



It’s not often that food, ambiance and service all come together at the same time. But when it does it can be a magical evening. Such was the case when we visited Detente. Tucked into a corner of Nevin Square just off Water Street, this wonderful husband and wife owned delight has it all working.

There’s a small, but bustling wine bar, a main dining room and a cozy outdoor patio. When the weather is nice, the patio is the place to sit. The fenced in courtyard with tiny sparkling lights all around is intimate and quiet and perfect for a romantic escape.

The main dining room has hardwood floors and beige/gold walls accented by wine country pictures and dark wood framed mirrors. The mirror frames match the dark mission chairs surrounding tables set with crisp white linens. Rust colored banquettes add some color to the room, willowy beige curtains grace the windows and wall sconces cast just the right amount of light across the room. The result is casual elegance and comfort.

Kevin Crowell’s food is a blend of American, French and Italian cuisines utilizing fresh island ingredients. While the menu is limited to a half dozen appetizers and a half dozen entrees, you are guaranteed to find something delicious and unusual.

We started with an appetizer portion of the pulled pork bolognese with goat cheese raviolis over a basil puree. It was so good we were tempted to order another. Ric

h and flavorful, yet still light enough for this summer night. Our other appetizer was fresh island peaches, sprinkled with white truffle oil and vergus, covered with warm tallegio cheese served on a bed of peppery arugula. Quite remarkable in texture and flavors.

I could have eaten any of the six entrees available this evening but selected slow roasted rack of lamb over curried white beans with local zucchini, ginger and mint in a lamb jus. Amazing. My guest had a roasted bone-in beef tenderloin set on a fresh corn puree and sauteed spinach with fois gras torchon. A wonderful take on an old standard.

Dessert was a delicious blueberry bread pudding and had I had the room would have sampled some of the unusual artisanal cheeses.

We were served by one of the regular, very competent, black clad wait staff, assisted by Suzanna, one of the owners, so we wanted for nothing. It’s clear that people enjoy working here with the Crowells.

This is a wonderful wine list for many reasons. I love the way it is organized; dry white, aromatic, other great reds and so forth. There are a healthy 13 wines by the glass and 9 1/2 bottle choices. The care with which the list was developed is evident. We enjoyed a delicious Argiolas “Costamalino” Vermentino Di Sardegna and a quite amazing Cline “Ancient Vines” Mourvedre. Couldn’t resist a second glass.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Inside is small and can be noisy, but the patio has fewer tables and is more quiet and intimate.

“Exquisitely prepared New American cuisine is the raison d’être of this refined Edgartonian where the menu is built around seasonal, local foods, served in a stylish manner by helpful, engaging staffers and worth the high prices; the romantic, nicely decorated interior has recently expanded to the second floor, but the best seats are in the garden (you need to request it when you make the reservation).” ZAGAT


Domenica, which means “Sunday” in Italian is another John Besh restaurant and is the perfect place for a casual meal and an alternative to the local Cajun and Creole food. High ceilings and communal tables evoke a traditional Sunday supper in a rustic Italian village.

Located in the renovated and historic Roosevelt Hotel, the friendly bar is a lively after work spot and a draw for locals working downtown. Custom brewed beers, an Italian oriented wine list and delicious pizzas and other small plates make it ideal for a quick bite or a light dinner.

Pizza headlines the menu and it is delicious. 17 varieties include traditional margarita, but also spicy lamb meatballs with tomato, ricotta, rapini and mint; wild mushroom with tomato, fontina, bacon, sweet onions and yard egg and duck with porcini, mascarpone, sweet potato and scallions. There is a nice selection of imported and house cured meats, excellent soft and hard cheeses, a nice antipasti selection and nine pasta choices offered in small and large plates. The garganelli with Maine lobster, tomato, burrata and bread crumbs was fantastic. There are a few entrees like wild snapper and wood oven goat and some great desserts like oven roasted peach cake with Louisiana blueberries and salted caramel.


Housed in the CBD’s “beautiful” Roosevelt Hotel, John Besh’s “casual, cosmopolitan” Italian eatery features “heavenly good”, wood-fired pizzas (toppings range from “simple and delectable” to “foodie fabulous”), plus “house-cured meats and sausages” and other “contemporary Italian” dishes, all crafted by “talented” chef Alon Shaya and served by a “well-trained” team; the chic, “high-energy” establishment is “always packed” and “can get a bit loud”, especially during the “can’t-be-beat” happy hour, but “that’s part of the charm.” ZAGAT

Drifthouse By David Burke

Acclaimed celebrity chef David Burke is a Jersey Shore product (he worked at the original Fromagerie) and he came back two years ago to open Drifthouse by David Burke in Sea Bright on the second level of the Driftwood Cabana Club. Burke’s 30+ year career began at the Culinary Institute of America and has included stints with some of the cooking greats around the world. He is known as a culinary pioneer for his revolutionary products and cooking techniques. Over the years, Chef Burke has become one of the most recognized chefs on television, including appearances on two seasons of Top Chef Masters, guest spots with Rachael Ray show, NBC’s TODAY Show, Fox and Friends, Bloomberg’s small-business television series The Mentor and more.

Drifthouse offers superb views of the Atlantic Ocean and sunset views over the Shrewsbury River. The dining rooms are elegantly decorated and feature many pieces of Chef Burke’s own artwork. The smaller dining room, often used for private parties, features a warming fireplace with a stone mantel.

Arrive early enough to enjoy a creative cocktail at the bar as you watch the waves crash on the beach outside. The Winter Spiced Old Fashioned is made with Asbury Park Double Barrel Bourbon Whiskey with an almond-vanilla winter spiced syrup and is perfect for a winter night. The Apple Harvest Pisco Punch is made with Pisco 100 a colorless Peruvian Brandy, Apple Cider Liqueur, lemon juice, cinnamon-honey simple syrup and a cinnamon sugar rim. Yum!

Burke’s creative genius shows throughout the menu with unique items not found elsewhere. Consider Bacon, served on a clothesline glazed with maple and black pepper, or Angry Lobster Dumplings served with Angry Sauce and a lobster reduction. Or perhaps his signature Pastrami Salmon “Carpaccio” served with a cucumber salad and buckwheat blini. Oysters are harvested fresh from an oyster tank, as are fresh lobsters from a lobster tank.

The pastas are delicious, particularly the Bolognese and the Organic Roast Chicken is wonderful. For a real treat, though, have the 40 day salt aged porterhouse for two. It is a process using Pink Himalayan Rock Salt that has been patented by Burke. Add some “Hipster” fries and Spinach & Mushrooms, and perhaps a glass of 2017 Treanna Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles to complete the meal.

For dessert, have the Apple & Caramel Tacos; sea salt caramel ice cream, sweet crème fraiche or the Cheesecake Lollipop Tree; cherry pink cashmere, three chocolate tuxedo, toffee top hat
whipped cream, berries.

Excellent wine list with good choices and reasonable pricing.


East Hampton Grill

We were big fans of Della Famina and were sorry to see it go, but the East Hampton Grill, opened in 2011, is a wonderful addition to the dining scene in the Hamptons. Part of the Hillstone Restaurant Group, the restaurant joins the Rutherford Grill in Napa and the Palm Beach Grill in Florida among others. We loved the Rutherford Grill during our visit last year and were so impressed with the East Hampton Grill we ate there twice during one weekend.

The formula is so simple you wonder why others don’t get it; warm and cozy decor, great staff and wonderful food. The bright, white decor of Della Famina has given way to a darker, more intimate patina with dark woods, striking artwork and fresh flower displays. The open floor plan is now smaller with more intimate dining nooks. The lively bar area remains mostly the same.

The menu is not particularly elaborate, but what is there is done exceptionally well. This is good old American comfort food at its best. Start with an order of Heavenly Biscuits with rosemary, butter and honey. Try also the deviled eggs, I had them twice! The pan fried true Dover Sole was lightly breaded, perfectly cooked and fresh out of the water. BBQ ribs fell off the bone and were served with hand-cut french fries and a fantastic coleslaw. Jumbo lump crab cakes were pan fried blue crab with Pommery mustard, french fries and that wonderful coleslaw. Can’t wait to try their prime rib and rotisserie chicken.

Good wine list with some excellent choices, albeit a bit pricey, but hey this is East Hampton.


“A HOT new spot, the East Hampton Grill, which opened in May, is lighting up the summer on the East End. It’s a scene, but with good reason, the food is terrific.”

Owned by the Hillstone Restaurant Group, which also runs the Palm Beach Grill in Florida, the East Hampton Grill has taken over the space that was home to the restaurant Della Femina for nearly 20 years. It breaks the light, airy Hamptons mold with an enticing dark, woody look, reminiscent of the Arts and Crafts style.”

There is a stunning floral bouquet at the dining room entrance. Walls are wood-paneled; a room divider with shelves holding books, baskets and pottery breaks up the space. New York Times.

“There’s something for everyone at this happening East Hampton American from the group behind Houston’s, specializing in upscale comfort food heaped in large portions; dark lighting and wood-accented decor are warm to some, un-Hamptons to others, while a few take issue with expensive tabs and service that can be in a rush.”  ZAGAT

Elizabeth on 37th

Housed in a dramatic turn of the century Greek Revival mansion, Elizabeth on 37th, is the brainchild of Chef Elizabeth Terry with a focus on regional cooking using traditional recipes and making use of local seafood and produce. Decorated with antiques and historic (dark) colors, the dining rooms have fireplaces and are festooned with fresh bouquets of flowers and the tables are set with gleaming crystal, china and silver.

Our meal began with some delicious and warm cheese drop biscuits served with a homemade orange marmalade. A mozzarella and tomato salad was served warm with balsamic and truffle oil and a green salad came with refreshing watermelon slices and goat cheese. A very interesting combination.

A delicate grouper entrée was sesame and almond crusted and served with a tangy peanut sauce and a pork tenderloin was juicy and tender and marinated in orange and ginger. We shared a serving of Elizabeth’s wonderful pecan almond tart, the recipe for which is on her web-site. This is one dessert you don’t want to miss.

The service was excellent has been consistently voted the best in Savannah.

The wine cellar holds some 10,000 bottles with about 250 selections. The wine list is very complete and organized (I like this) by taste; Dry Smooth, Full Bodied, Crisp & Dry, Dry with a Hint of Fruit. Pricing in the $40-$90 is very fair with some good values.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. Ask for the table for two in the front dining room at the window.

Fans agree that Elizabeth Terry’s “impeccable” Southern American set in a circa-1900 Thomas Square mansion is “the gold standard” for Savannah dining, capturing the “essence” of the city for “locals and tourists alike”; few grumble at the “pricey” tabs, touting the “fresh Lowcountry take on classic dishes”“outstanding” service and “million-dollar” wine cellar as “worth every penny.” ZAGAT


One of my favorite restaurants in New York, is a wonderful Greek/Mediterranean called Avra, which is featured in our New York Profile. Coincidentally, on my visit to Estia, I found that it is owned by the same family. One brother is in NY, the other in Philadelphia. I’m told the brothers are quite competitive, so I won’t get in a discussion of which restaurant is better, they are both delightful.

Architect Yianni Skordas has done a magnificent job in re-creating just what you would imagine a Greek taverna would look like. You can just picture it set on a hillside with its doors wide open and views to the blue Aegean Sea. An impressive display of fresh fish laid out on crushed ice greets you upon entering through iron gates and the open kitchen beyond expels delicious aromas. To the right of the entry is a wonderful sitting area with couches, plump chairs and a fireplace, ideal for a drink or just to wait until your table is ready. Limestone floors in the entryway and bar area give way to wide planked floors covered with rich area rugs. Vaulted ceilings overhead, some with deep blue ceiling tiles, others with exposed beams draped in flowing sailcloth create an open and airy atmosphere. Iron chandeliers and sconces add a rustic touch. Arched doorways separate intimate dining areas with rustic farm tables and white cushioned ladder back chairs. Cozy dining nooks are created with upholstered banquettes. Whitewashed walls are covered with luxurious tapestries and olive trees are strategically placed around the rooms and to lend a kind of courtyard feel.

The menu features obscure fish species from the Mediterranean, sold by the pound and simply charcoal grilled with a lemon, olive oil, salt and fresh herbs like oregano. Servers are very knowledgeable about the fish and will guide you according to your tastes.

Before you get to the entrees though, try the Estia chips, thinly sliced zucchini and eggplant, lightly fried, salted and sprinkled with oregano and served with a cucumber, dill yogurt dipping sauce. Another delicious option; Spanakopita; leeks, scallions, spinach and feta cheese wrapped in phyllo.

If you are not in the mood for fish, the lamb chops, marinated for 3 days in olive oil, lemon, and fresh herbs or the roasted organic chicken served over caramelized onion and yogurt orzo with a lemon chicken thyme jus are both terrific.

When in Greece, you must have the Baklava, layered phyllo with almonds and walnuts with a honey syrup. Delicious.

The 300 bottle wine list features mostly Greek choices but also selections from Europe, Israel and Lebanon. Most choices are under $60. There are about 20 wines by the glass priced from $9-$13. I do not have a lot of experience with Greek wines, but our server was very helpful and thoroughly enjoyed her suggestion of a crisp, floral white.

Open every day for lunch and dinner. Excellent value 2 course $17 lunch menu and $30 pre-theatre menu. All credit cards accepted. Dress is upscale casual. Live music on Friday and Saturday.

The downstairs wine room is spectacular and ideal for larger groups.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Grab a booth, sip some wine, enjoy the Mediterranean music and imagine you are on vacation. You’ll find it hard to leave.

There’s “no plate-throwing” – only “high-end” Greek dining “without the cliches” at this “intimate” destination off the Avenue of the Arts, where the staff makes diners “feel special” while serving “hard-to-find”“fresh” seafood and lamb shanks “like yaya used to make”; while some quip “each entree comes with a loan application”, others point to the $19 express lunch and $33 pre-theater special. ZAGAT


With the sun setting over the city, the view from our table at Everest on the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange was nothing less than spectacular. It was the perfect start to an incredible meal at this acclaimed Jean Joho restaurant. The menu and wine list are inspired by Joho’s roots in Alsace, France and brought to mind the legendary André Soltner from Lutece in New York City also from that region of France.

The dining room is bright and airy with high ceilings covered in a white flowing fabric to resemble clouds. Tables are positioned to take full advantage of the magnificent views. Beautiful flower arrangements and stunning artwork featuring the works of Ivo Soldini, Adam Seigal, Cavalier Virginio L. Ferrari and Tim Anderson complete a picture of elegance and style.

We began with a roasted Maine lobster in Alsace gewurztraminer butter and ginger and Maine peekytoe crab with celery root Granny Smith apple rémoulade. Entrees were a delicious filet of venison with wild huckleberries and Alsace knepfla (a kind of dumpling) and an amazing hazelnut crusted skate wing in a brown butter caper emulsion. For dessert we chose a “Selection of Five Chocolate Tastes” paired with a 2007 Banyuls, M. Chapoutier and a “Composition of Ice Creams and Sorbets” that was paired with a 2009 Moscato d’Asti, San Giuliano.

The wine list has some 350 choices and is considered by many to have the finest selection of Alsace wines in the world. We took full advantage and had the sommelier pair each course with a glass of wine from that region.

A gorgeous dining room and amazing views from the 40th floor make this one of Chicago’s most romantic restaurants.

AAA Five  Diamond Award
Forbes Four Star Award
Relais & Chateau Restaurant

“Unmatched” views from the 40th floor of the Chicago Stock Exchange set the backdrop for a “grown-up dining experience” at this “elegant” Loop “classic”, luring “high-fliers” with chef Jean Joho’s “finely turned out” French “haute cuisine” and a “wine list that fills a binder”; it all comes at the price you’d expect, but “over-the-top”“white-glove” service helps make it “truly memorable.” ZAGAT

Fearrington House

The property offers three places for meals and/or food. Breakfast is served in the main restaurant from 7:30am. We enjoyed it on the outside terrace under a trellis covered with wisteria. Fresh OJ, delicious coffee, Applewood bacon and perfectly cooked eggs. The homemade breads and muffins could be a meal themselves. It was a wonderful way to start the day.

Lunch is served in the Old Granery, a few steps away. Inside, the walls are covered in wonderful folk art, but we chose to eat outside in the garden at an umbrella covered table. It was a warm day with a slight breeze and we enjoyed a few glasses of a delicious Sancerre, The Granary Salad – Chicken, Mesclun Greens, Belgian Endive, and Fresh Herbs with a Champagne Vinaigrette and a terrific Quiche of Parmesan, Goat and Feta cheeses, served with a green salad.

The Belted Goat, also in the complex, is the place for a casual or quick breakfast or lunch and has a great selection of sandwiches and salads for a picnic. You can also pick up a bottle of wine for your room and there are some excellent choices at very reasonable prices.

Dinner, however, is the main event and one not to miss. Colin Bedford heads a stellar team and draws on his experience at Michelin restaurants in England and Canada. It’s a dream job where he gets to grow his own herbs and vegetables and has the freedom to realize his vision.

The restaurant, which was the former Fearrington home, is divided into three intimate dining rooms and a bar. Two of the rooms look out large paned windows onto the lush gardens. The lighting is soft, the walls a soothing gold framed by flowered draperies. As with the rooms, the restaurant is decorated with interesting antiques and local art. Tables are classically set with white linens adorned with fresh flowers in small silver vases and candles in cut glass Waterford globes.

There were three of us dining, so we got to try a number of menu items; seared scallop with slow braised pork belly served with a cauliflower puree, peanuts and bacon was an unusual but delicious pairing. A poached lobster with a terrific rosemary butter was another winner and served with fresh asparagus. Philip suggested the bacon wrapped saddle of rabbit with barley risotto, cippolini onion and a prune sauce and the combination of flavors was marvelous. Angus beef tenderloin with smoked bacon, spring garlic and a red wine jus and Alaskan halibut with a red wine braised salsify and a Yuzu butter sauce rounded out our amazing entrees.

We ended a completely satisfying meal with a tasty rhubarb cheesecake with ginger ice cream and enjoyed a selection of European and American artisanal cheeses back in our suite.

The wine list has been recognized for its excellence by the Wine Spectator and is notable for its depth, unusual offerings and very fair pricing. Such a nice departure from many fine restaurants who feel compelled to gouge diners with their wine list.

We had a wonderful waiter, Philip, who was both knowledgeable and fun. The Sommelier was off this night and Philip recommended a bottle of wine to my specifications. Just to be sure, he called the Sommelier on his day off to see if there was a better selection. Turns out there was, it was from Austria and we thoroughly enjoyed it. Other examples of their attention to detail; the temperature in the Wine Room is kept quite cool, so they have Pashminas available for the women in multiple colors. If you forget your glasses, they have plenty, again in numerous colors.

We were dining this evening with my wife’s cousin, so I asked Philip to have a cheese plate sent over to our suite to go with a bottle of wine I purchased that afternoon at the Belted Goat. When we arrived in the room, 3 glasses were set out with napkins and silverware on the coffee table in the living room. The wine was in an ice bucket and a wonderful cheese course was waiting to be enjoyed. As I always say, the difference between good and great is in the details.

3 courses, $69, 4 courses, $79, tasting menu $95. Add $75 for wine pairings.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Small intimate dining rooms, a roaring fire, great views and wonderful food and service make for a very romantic evening.

AAA 5 Diamond
Forbes 4 Star
Wine Spectator Award of Excellence


Everyone has their “go to” restaurant, that place where you feel so comfortable, it comes to mind every time you think about dining out. Fratello’s is one of our “go-tos”. The atmosphere is cozy, the staff is well-trained and fun, the owner is always there to greet you and the food is delicious

You can sit at the lively bar, which we often do, in a cozy booth when you have more people or outside on the patio when the weather cooperates.

Start with one of their huge martinis like the Mango Martini; Bacardi Mango, Pineapple Juice, Cranberry Juice and Triple Sec. or, opt for a glass of wine like a Fleur de Mer, rose from Provence or an Antinori Sangiovese “Santa Cristina”

We always start with an Eggplant Rolletini appetizer, stuffed with creamy, ricotta cheese and swimming in their award winning tomato sauce. The Garlic Shrimp is wonderful with jumbo shrimp sauteed with garlic, diced Roma tomatoes, scallions, capers and fine herbs in a chardonnay white wine and served over a crostini. The Rigatoni Baresi is a favorite with the pasta tossed with sweet Italian sausage, roasted peppers, garlic and oil and cannellini beans. The dish we come back to time and again is the Chicken Scarpariello; boneless chicken and sausage sauteed with garlic in a balsamic and white wine reduction. Big fan too of the Cesari “Mara” Valpolicella priced very reasonably at $39.

Delightful private room that can accommodate up to 40 people for a private party. See menus here.

Serving dinner daily and lunch Friday-Sunday. Live music on Fridays.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: The booths are cozy and intimate and there’s something about a balmy night on the patio with the lights twinkling in the trees.

Fulton Five

Ask the locals where their favorite place to eat is and more often than not, the answer will be Fulton Five. Hidden away on a small street off of King, this charming ivy covered trattoria has a big reputation for food, but remains casual and welcoming.

There are only about 15 tables and a small 5 stool bar, but the dark walls, Tuscan art, wall sconces and a sunken dining room make for a very intimate setting. Everyone seems to feel they’ve found Charleston’s best kept secret.

I started my meal with a wonderful pumpkin ravioli cooked with pancetta and sage in a brown butter sauce with pine nuts and shaved Parmesan. I could have eaten two servings it was so delicious. For my entrée I chose the Osso Buco, marinated and slow cooked veal shank that literally fell off the bone. It was accompanied by whipped Yukon Gold potatoes, oven roasted carrots and a saffron-tomato reduction.

The one page wine list is heavily Italian and mostly the in the $40 range. Premium Italian reds were very fairly priced with a delicious Amarone at $75 and a Super Tuscan at $40.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High on the upstairs terrace.

For “exceptional Italian cuisine” that’s both “innovative and classical”, locals head to this “upscale” King St. Historic District mainstay with an “amazing” wine list and desserts that “will not disappoint”; the “courteous” servers work the “intimate” dining room (reservations recommended) that’s “romantic” but “comfortable.” ZAGAT


Another New Orleans institution, Galatoire’s, has been open in the heart of the French Quarter since 1905 when Jean Galatoire came to New Orleans from a small town in France. He brought classic French cooking and married those techniques to fresh ingredients from Louisiana. Now the fifth generation of Galatoires and their descendants continue to serve New Orleans.

The high ceiling room with white wainscoting below hunter green wallpaper and hanging gold ceiling fans helps contribute to the high noise level, but the mood is festive as tuxedoed waiters glide through the room. This is where New Orleans high society dines, particularly Friday at lunch when the place is packed with locals in their seersucker suits, bow ties and suspenders.

But the restaurant would not have served all these years were it not for its exquisite food and service. It is said that wait staff jobs get passed from generation to generation. In 2014, the restaurant honored 17 employees who had each served for 20 years or more. Their combined service was 557 years!

You could eat here for a week and still not sample all the great dishes, but we’ll give you a start. Appetizers and Soup: Soufflé Potatoes – crispy potato puffs, béarnaise sauce; Shrimp Remoulade – boiled Louisiana shrimp, classic spicy remoulade sauce, iceberg lettuce; Crabmeat Maison Louisiana jumbo lump crabmeat, green onions, capers, lemon, and creole mustard aioli; Turtle Soup au Sherry turtle, trinity, tomatoes, veal stock, medium brown roux, sherry; Duck and Andouille Gumbo andouille sausage, shredded duck, trinity, rich duck stock, dark brown roux.

Entrees we loved include; Chicken Bonne-Femme half roasted chicken, cottage fries, bacon, caramelized onions; Shrimp Etouffée – Louisiana Gulf shrimp, shellfish stock, trinity, green onions, light brown roux, steamed rice and any fish (we liked the Redfish)
with one of the many sauces (we loved the lemon caper beurre blanc.

For dessert try the Black Bottom Pecan Pie or the Sweet Potatoe Cheesecake.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Romance is not why you come here

Wine Spectator Award of Excellence

This century-old “bucket-list” French Quarter “institution” offers “a true New Orleans dining experience” thanks to “decadent”, “utterly superb” (albeit “not cheap”) French-Creole standards and “truth-serum libations” served by “waiters in dinner jackets” who “have been there for years” (“take their recommendations seriously” insiders advise); “a place to see old New Orleans society”, the main dining room is “complete with black-and-white tiled floors”, “white tablecloths” and “loud, raucous” “laughter in the air”; P.S. jackets required after 5 PM and all day Sunday; reservations only accepted . ZAGAT

Galley Beach

Galley Beach is our final night tradition during our stay on the island. It is the best combination of food, ambiance and service on the island. What makes it particularly fun is that everyone seems to know everyone, or you do by the time dinner is over. One night Stiller and Meara sat at one table and worked the room on their way out, only to encounter John O’Hurley (J. Peterman from Seinfeld) at another table.

When we made our reservation we were encouraged to make it for just after sunset and to come early for a drink first. When we arrived we were escorted through the restaurant to a deck out on the sand. With two glasses of champagne, we watched one of the most amazing sunsets we have ever seen, including Key West…which seems to be everyone’s standard for sunsets. The colors in the sky lasted almost an hour after the sun set.

The restaurant has a barrista coffee bar and a fantastic sit-down cocktail bar steps from the sand. The open air dining room has views on three sides of the beach and harbor and if it gets windy, rainy or cool see-through flaps are lowered to protect the diners and radiant heat lamps add warmth. Banquettes line the walls, tables are surrounded by blue and natural wood resin wicker chairs and set with crisp linens. A single red Gerber daisy added a dash of color.

Dinner began with two delicious appetizers; jumbo lump crab cakes and a special lentil soup. The crab cakes had little filler and were served with a cucumber, tomato and mint salad and a lemongrass beurre blanc. Jen, who has crab cakes everywhere we go, thought it was the best she ever had. My lentil soup was delicately seasoned, served with a touch of bacon and perhaps a hint of balsamic.

My entree was an amazing veal chop, simply grilled with mushrooms. Jen’s steamed miso marinated halibut was served with sweet potatoes, tatsoi (also known as rosette bok choy) and a lemongrass vinaigrette. A terrific meal in a wonderful setting.

The 4,000 bottle wine cellar has a French bent and while the pricing is on the high side, we found some good choices under $60. Service was excellent with many of the staff returning year after year. Unusual for a resort restaurant

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: If you find sunsets and rolling waves steps from your table romantic, this is the place.

“Breathtaking” sunsets visible from a wall of windows in the dining room or the “wonderful” beach bar (“literally in the sand”) make for “quite the experience” at this “magical” Nantucket place with an “excellent”, “carefully selected” New American menu; service is “attentive without being overbearing”, and while the “expensive” tabs seem to be “only for the one-percenters”, they’re “worth it for a special occasion”; P.S. summer only. ZAGAT

Garabaldi’s Cafe

It would be hard to find a more intimate and romantic restaurant than Garibaldi’s Cafe,  located in the heart of the historic district in an 1871 firehouse. Dark woods, curved leather banquettes, a tin ceiling, marble columns, fresh flowers and perfectly set tables set the stage for a memorable dining experience.

A diverse menu with some very interesting choices. Here’s what we enjoyed; Twenty-One Bean Soup with Andouille Sausage, Celery, Assorted Beans, Beef Broth topped with Sour Cream and Applewood Bacon; Poached Pear Salad with Arugula, Toasted Walnuts, Goat Cheese Fritters and Port Vinaigrette; an unusual Denver Lamb Ribs with Sweet Ginger Soy Glaze and Pear Cabbage Relish; Crab Cake Super Lump Crab, Lima Beans, Corn and Sausage; a dish I haven’t had in years, Steak Diane, with Tomatoes, Mushrooms, Brandy and Dijon, Mashed Potatoes and Asparagus; Veal Chop Au Poivre, Pepper Seared, Wild Mushroom Brandy Sauce, Mashed Potatoes and  Haricot Vert.

There were some great looking desserts, but we chose the Almond Berry Basket that was just fantastic. Caramelized Almonds & Benne Seeds, Cinnamon & Vanilla Ice Creams, Fresh Berries and  Chocolate Sauce. Amazing.

Good wine list with an Italian tilt. Fair values and pricing.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. Grab a booth along the wall, enjoy wonderful food and wine.

“There’s something to be said” for this Historic District “favorite” housed in an 1871 firehouse that’s “maintained its popularity for over 30 years” and continues to impress with a “superb” menu of Italian standards and seafood dishes presented with “top-notch” service in a setting that’s “inviting yet grand”; the house specialty crispy flounder in apricot sauce is a particularly “outstanding catch” say fans, while “the bar offers wonderful potables”, and couples find it “the most romantic place” for date night. ZAGAT

Gary Danko

Gary Danko is one of the most award winning restaurants in San Francisco. It has garnered Five Stars from Forbes, Four Diamonds from AAA, a Michelin Star and has also earned several James Beard Awards, including Best New Restaurant, Best Service and Best Chef – California. The restaurant has also been awarded the Wine Spectator Grand Award for one of the best wine lists in the world.

Restaurant Gary Danko is the ultimate special occasion restaurant boasting a warm and romantic dining room festooned with lavish flower displays and stunning artwork. Cozy booths and dining nooks enhance the intimate appeal.

The food is classic French cooking, made with fresh, locally grown and raised foods from the region. There are 3, 4 and 5 course pre-fixe menus with wine pairings available. A recentsampling of the menu includes:
Thai Lobster Salad with Summer Melons, Mango, and Smoked Eggplant; Seared Ahi Tuna with Avocado, Nori, Enoki Mushrooms, and Lemon Soy Dressing; Branzini with Fennel Purée, Niçoise Olives, Pepper Chermoula, and Saffron-Orange Emulsion; Moroccan Herbed Lamb with Mechoui Butter, Chermoula, and Farro; Quail Stuffed with Quinoa, Leeks, Marsala Mushrooms, Spring Vegetables, and Green Garlic; Warm Louisiana Butter Cake with Roasted Apples, Huckleberry Compote, and Vanilla Ice Cream and Baked Alaska with Orange Creamsicle Ice Cream, and Raspberry Sorbet.

The service is as near perfect as you can get. Servers are knowledgeable and friendly and leave you to enjoy your meal.

The wine list is quite spectacular and runs nearly 100 pages. It is not for the faint of heart, however, as there are very few bargains.

Very high, you’ll fall in love again.

“There’s a reason that after 18 years this restaurant is still one of the hardest reservations in town: The service is exemplary, the 94-page wine list is exceptional, the ambience is refined, and the food produced by Gary Danko and his crew is consistently excellent.” San Francisco Chronicle

Gaslight Brasserie du Coin

Gaslight, Brasserie du Coin is a wonderful reproduction of a classic neighborhood Parisian brasserie. A hand crafted Parisian zinc bar, reclaimed wood floors, mosaic tiles, beamed wood ceilings and antique mirrors create a warm and comfortable setting. Guests can dine at the bar, at cafe tables, at communal tables and in booths and banquettes. When the weather cooperates, there is a delightful outdoor patio.

The menu offers classic brasserie fare; bacon and onion tart, escargot, French onion soup, moules frites, steak frites, Boeuf Bourguignon and more and all are quite good. Wonderful roast chicken with garlic fries, mustard crusted salmon was wonderful and  I love the daily specials  like Tuesday’s Pork Schnitzel, Alsatian potatoes, spring onions & Meyer lemon

The all French wine list has over 20 wines by the glass, ½ carafe and carafe with additional 60 selections on the reserve wine list. All reasonably priced.

Open daily for brunch and dinner and for a Saturday/Sunday prix fixe brunch which is an incredible value at $11.95.

“Consistently good fare including a terrific weekend brunch attracts Francophiles to this chic, bohemian South End French staple (and Aquitaine sibling) in a subway tile-lined setting evoking an old-world brasserie; despite being always hopping with a fun buzz, it feels well managed thanks to solid service, with relatively reasonable prices plus quiet courtyard dining and free parking adding to the joie de vivre.” ZAGAT

George’s at the Cove

I never miss an opportunity to visit George’s at the Cove in La Jolla when I am in San Diego. It’s cliffside location with views of the ocean is nothing short of spectacular. It’s a great spot for lunch, for drinks or for dinner.

George’s is actually three restaurants in one, all have great ocean views. The lower level is the elegant, fine dining, California Modern (temporarily closed as of 12/21) which offers a unique dinner called TBL3 (table 3) a one-of-the-kind 12-14 course tasting experience. There are no choices and no substitutions. Instead, you will be at the whim of the chef. California Modern’s Fish Tacos were also featured on the Food Network’s “Best Thing I Ever Ate” show.

Level 2 is a cocktail bar featuring all the classics and innovative modern creations. It also offers a casual lunch and dinner menu.

With wonderful weather year round, the open air Ocean Terrace is my favorite of the three. Life is good sitting outside, under umbrellas with heaters to take off the night chill. You certainly won’t sacrifice food quality here as the food just enhances the experience.

Chips with fresh guacamole and salsa and herbed fries are a perfect snack when you are just there for drinks. Beyond that, here’s some menu highlights; Butternut Squash Soup, lentils, apple, pepitas, chive; Shrimp & Grits, Anson Mills polenta, grilled broccoli, salsa verde; Braised Short Rib, potato purée, red cabbage, crispy onion; Crispy Mahi Mahi, avocado purée, pickled carrots, watercress, tortillas; Warm Chocolate Cake, caramel crunch ice cream, dulce de leche espuma; Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée, salted chocolate buckwheat cookie.

Excellent cocktail list, Wine Spectator award winning wine list and a fantastic list of digestifs.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: There’s something about sitting high above the water, watching the waves crash against the cliffs that is very romantic.

Award of Excellence – Wine Spectator
AAA Four Diamond Award
One of the “Top 100 Best Al Fresco Dining Restaurants in America” Open Table
“Best Outdoor Patio” and “Best View” San Diego Magazine

Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse

There may be better steaks in town, but it is tough to beat the vibe at Gibson’s in the heart of the Gold Coast. A favorite of locals for years, it is also a “must stop” for visiting celebrities and sports stars. Seldom will you dine here without seeing someone famous. You just can’t help having a great time.

The decor is classic “steakhouse” with the walls filled with autographed pictures of celebrities, entertainers, athletes and rock stars, hardwood floors, red leather booths and lots of wood trim. There’s a fireplace, a piano bar and an outdoor patio dining in nice weather.

The martinis are huge, the steaks prime, corn fed, 40 day aged Angus beef and the seafood fresh off the boat. The menu is traditional steakhouse with salads like the “wedge”, the usual cuts of beef and delicious sides like creamed spinach and sauteed spinach and mushrooms with garlic. The “local’s favorites” like meatloaf, chopped steak and baby back ribs are particularly good and reasonably priced. Make no mistake this is a serious steakhouse and you won’t be disappointed.

This is an excellent wine list with wonderful choices and about the best wine list pricing I have seen in a top steakhouse. Where can you find 12 Cabs under $60? Even the higher priced wines like Silver Oak, are a bargain at $99.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: It’s loud and fun, not much time for romance.

“martini and red meat haven”, this “iconic” Gold Coast “staple” and its suburban offshoots “always come through” with “juicy”“top-notch” steaks, “excellent” seafood and “rich” sides the “size of your head”, all set down by a “professional” crew; an “old Chicago vibe” and a “vibrant”“see-and-be-seen” atmosphere are further reasons to “empty those pockets and splurge.” ZAGAT


Glenmere Mansion

The kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Rob Stella whose culinary career includes having worked in New York City with Chef Jean Georges Vongerichten of JoJo/Jean Georges/Spice Market/Perry St. etc.; at Aureole and Patria restaurants; and in Boston for the chefs, Edward Gannon at Aujourd�hui /Four Seasons and Chef Mark Orfaly at Pigalle. Chef Stella apprenticed with Johanna and Ditmar Maier at Michelin-rated Hubertus in Salzburg, Austria.

Guests can enjoy breakfast, brunch and dinner in The Supper Room or outside on the Terrace. Lunch is served in the Cortile or the Frog’
s End Tavern.

Breakfast is served in The Supper Room or the outside Terrace with wonderful views of the sun rising over the lake. French press coffee, fresh fruits, juices and yogurts and home baked muffins start you off before a selection of full breakfast entrees that change daily.

Lunch is available in the Cortile in nicer weather or before the fire in the Tavern when its colder. menu highlights include braised short rib and grilled Fontina cheese sandwich, a turkey burger with red cabbage apple slaw, lobster mac & cheese and Glenmere fish and chips. Don’t miss the truffled fries.

Dinner in The Supper Room or out on the Terrace is a magical experience. Tables are set with luxury linens, sparkling glassware, beautiful china and candles set the mood. Gorgeous custom made hand painted Eglomise panels depicting the hills of Tuscany surround a room anchored with a massive fireplace. Leather banquettes line the room facing French doors that open onto the Terrace. To start we had plump, oysters on the half shell served with an ice wine mignonette and an agnolotti of pumpkin with crispy pancetta, Swiss chard and sage brown butter. Our entrees were a wonderful bacon wrapped monkfish with Brussels sprouts, roasted garlic, Yukon gold potatoes and whole grain mustard and espresso rubbed short ribs of beef with sunchoke puree, hen of the woods mushrooms, braising greens, au jus. Desserts were a selection of sorbets; raspberry, green apple and concord grape and a rich and decadent flourless chocolate cake.

There are few things in life as satisfying as a meal where all the key elements come together to create a memorable experience; food, wine, service and ambiance. Glenmere Mansion delivers on all counts and can only get better.

The Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winning wine list has been compiled by Sommelier Michael A. Cimino and while it is not a deep list by many standards, it is very well thought out and fairly priced. Most of the major wine regions are represented as well as New York wines. I found lots of favorites on the list: a Domaine Serne Pinot Noir, a Chateau Montelena Cab and a Bernardus Chardonnay to name just a few. When we told Cimino we were having a bacon wrapped monkfish, he suggested a “smokey” Foppiano 2005 Petit Syrah which couldn’t have been more perfect.

Prix-fixe at $65.

Gramercy Tavern

There is good reason for the Gramercy Tavern to have been rated among the Most Popular Restaurant in New York by Zagat’s for the last few years. First, it’s not stuffy or pretentious, second the atmosphere is warm and inviting and third, well, third, is the amazing food.

With soft jazz playing in the background, your first sensation upon entering are the wonderful aromas of the wood burning oven in the large, comfortable tavern area. A large curved wood bar with copper shaded lamps anchors this wood beamed section which serves a more casual menu and does not require reservations. At the front of the restaurant are two cozy tables surrounded by two couches suitable for 4-6 people, ideal if you want to be in the center of all the action.

Complimenting the rustic décor are two huge pails filled to overflowing with fresh flowers and a farm table and hutch with kitchen bric brac and plants. The immaculate rest rooms carry the theme with stone tile floors, twig flower arrangements and real towels.

The main, more formal dining room is actually a collection of rooms with intimate tables and banquettes, china, crystal, soft recessed lighting and burgundy draped walls.

We suggest Tables #200 or #275 as the most intimate for a couple.

The food is a simple celebration of fresh, quality ingredients and perfect preparation. The wine list is moderate in length and has a fair selection under $50. In the Tavern, you can sample wines by the glass (5oz.) or the taste 3oz.

To assist in your wine selection, the list is organized into categories, which I think is a great idea; Champagne, Rose/Savigion Blanc, Aromatic Whites, Soft & Versatile Whites, Spicy Reds, Full Flavored Reds, Sweet Wines

On a recent visit, I started with a Portobello Salad, a mixture of portobello mushrooms, arugula, roasted tomatoes, shaved parmesan and balsamic vinegar. What an incredible combination of flavors; the steak like portobello, the peppery arugula, the intense, concentrated roasted tomato, the nuttiness of the parmesan and the tartness of the balsamic. Wow!

This was followed by a grilled half chicken, with a crispy and seasoned skin and a juicy flavorful and delicate meat. Served in a red wine broth over spring vegetables it was both light and filling.

Other menu highlights; Maine Crabmeat Fondue with Sweet Pea Puree, Bacon and Pink Peppercorn, Black Bass with Farro, Procuitto, Spring Onion and Aged Balsamic and Roasted Sirloin of Beef with Salsify, Wild Mushrooms, Bacon, Ramps and Germolata.

For dessert try the Milk Chocolate Ganache Tart with Barley Malt, Chocolate Ice Cream and Sorbet or the Maple Roasted Pear with Pine Nut Tart and Pear Sorbet.

I love the cheese course, especially when paired with a dessert wine or port.

Dress is upscale, jackets for men.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: – High. This is what a restaurant should be; warm, comfortable and pleasing to all the senses.

AAA Four Diamond Award
Forbes Four Star Award
Wine Spectator Award

You can rely on “top-class” dining with “no gimmicks” at Danny Meyer’s enduring Flatiron New American, where chef Michael Anthony’s “outstanding” set menus are presented by “eminently suave” staffers in an “upscale-country” dining room arrayed with “gorgeous” flower displays; it’s “not cheap by any means”, though the front tavern offers a “reasonable” à la carte menu in a “colorful” walk-in setting; P.S. gratuity is now built into menu prices. ZAGAT

Green Truck Pub

We came upon the wonderful Green Truck Pub on our last visit to Savannah because everyone was talking about it. We kept hearing, “Have you been to Green Truck yet?” Too many people open restaurants with no real vision as to what they want to be or how they will differentiate from others. Not so, Josh and Whitney, founders of the Pub. They wanted to create a place where Savannahians could eat and drink well and they accomplish that by hand making everything from ketchup and pimento cheese to salad dressing and veggie patties and by sourcing everything from meat to cork boards close to home.

Here’s how they set themselves apart (in their own words)
• source absolutely all of our grass-fed all natural, hormone free, beef from Hunter Cattle
Company in nearby Brooklet
• work with area farms to get produce in season
• caffeinate you with small-batch coffee from Perc Coffee right down the street
• print menus and t-shirts from local menu-ers and t-shirt-ers
• use booths, bulletin boards, mirrors, tables and chairs made, or salvaged and resold, by locals
• serve and imbibe beers from small American craft brewers owned and operated in the USA.
• recycle everything we can: glass, plastic, paper, cardboard, metal and cooking oil
• compost food waste when possible

So, the menu….these are things you have to try:
-Pimento cheese platter
-House made fries with house made ketchup
-Papa’s Salad. Warm roasted potatoes, ham, Gorgonzola and cheddar cheeses, topped with a
sunny-side up egg and dressed in (Homemade) oregano red wine vinaigrette.
-A burger….any burger
-Chicken & Apples. Grilled Humane-Certified chicken breast with Dijon, thinly sliced apple,
provolone, onions, Ranch and the most unoriginal name on the menu.

30 bottled beers, 6 on tap, and a selection of wines available by the bottle and glass.

“Offering a “truly cool spin on farm-to-table” eats, this former “old fast-food joint” in Thomas Square draws everyone from locavores to “regular bros looking for a damn good burger”, thanks to its grass-fed beef patties with “from-scratch” ketchup and pickles plus other “locally sourced” pub grub; diners finesse “long waits at peak times”with an “impressive selection of American craft beers” and some jukebox tunes.” ZAGAT

Hamilton’s at First & Main

Hamiltons, located on the Mall is the perfect place for lunch or dinner especially in the warm months when you can sit outside on the patio and people watch. Inside it’s bright and cheerful, decorated in yellows, blues and pinks with hardwood floors, an oak bar, exposed duct work and funky artwork. Floral fabric booths line the walls and make for an intimate diversion from the crowds on the Mall. This is another local favorite in part because everyone seems to like the owners.

The menu changes often and it is not lengthy, but what is there is delicious and perfectly prepared. Some highlights:
Duck Confit Springrolls with Collard Green Kimchiand Apricot-Ginger Sauce, Carolina Jumbo Shrimp, Poached in Chardonnay and Lemon with Woodson’s Mill Creamy Grits, Smoked Roma Tomato Confit and Fresh Arugula,Herb Basted Polyface Farm Chicken Breast with an Herb Risotto, Almond-Currant Tapenade and a Cider Jus

For dessert, opt for the chocolate sampler and the cheese board and pair it with a Virginia dessert wine, Rockbridge V D’or Late Harvest Vidal Blanc

The wine list favors Virginia and California with a touch of France, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and Oregon. There are about 18 wines by the glass. Because there were so many Virginia choices, we decided to give them a try and were pleasantly surprised. The Blenheim Chardonnay and the Barboursville Merlot were delicious.

Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: This is a lively and fun place….the romance can come later.

“Marble-top tables, crisp linen napkins, and fresh flowers let you know you’re in for some high style at this urbane bistro in the Downtown Mall. It’s the kind of place you’d take a special date, but not necessarily propose marriage. The menu changes frequently, but if offered, the pan roasted crab cakes on Jasmine rice and red pepper purée will demonstrate the chef’s prowess. Frommer’s

Hamilton’s Grill Room

Make your way to the river end of Coryell Street, turn right at the Blue Raccoon and follow the tree covered alley, first to the Boathouse for cocktails. The Boathouse is open just for cocktails, no food; not even peanuts, but the setting is so comfortable and charming that you wouldn’t want to miss it. Just across the courtyard is the delightful Hamilton’s Grill Room, a small, intimate Mediterranean style bistro with an open kitchen and nestled beside the flowing canal. The food is simply prepared, mostly grilled, presented in natural juices and very delicious. While seafood is their signature, they do equally well with meat and poultry.

At a recent dinner I started with North Atlantic oysters, fresh and sweet and they filled my request for a red wine and shallot vinaigrette. Jen had the sautéed crab cakes with an avocado salad – loaded with crab meat and just crispy on the outside. For my entrée I had a perfectly roasted farm chicken cooked in its own juices with a honey bourbon glaze and Jen had a grilled rack of lamb with a delicious mustard chutney. We skipped desserts, but enjoyed the rest of our wine and coffee as we watched the lights dance across the waters of the flowing canal. What a satisfying experience.

This is a BYOB restaurant and we suggest stopping at Welsh’s Wines on S. Union Street in Lambertville for a bottle of wine. Excellent selection and good values.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. An outside table next to the railing and overlooking the canal is private and romantic. Tiny strung lights add sparkle to the setting. In the colder weather opt for a table in the open kitchen room.

“Tucked away” on the canal in “charming”“arty” Lambertville, this “enduring local favorite” BYO features a “frequently changing menu” of “delicious” Mediterranean dishes, though regulars “stick to the grilled options”; the setting’s “cozy” enough, but an after-dinner drink at the adjacent boathouse makes for a “perfect evening.” ZAGAT

Harrison’s Restaurant & Bar

Kathy Kneale and her son Andrew Kneale opened Harrison’s Restaurant in December of 2003. Their goal was to create a restaurant that was a reflection of each of their lives growing up and working in Stowe, they wanted a place where locals and visitors alike could enjoy comfortable, creative and affordable food in an environment that was casual yet upscale and unique to Stowe. That goal has been accomplished in a wonderfully cozy restaurant on the bottom level of a historic building on Main Street.

Wood beamed ceilings and posts, cozy booths, banquettes with plaid cushions and a wood burning fireplace create an intimate setting that is both comfortable and elegantly rustic.

The menu is upscale comfort with excellent preparation and presentation. Some menu highlights; Crab Cakes, pan seared crab cakes, dill and caper remoulade, marinated tomatoes, fresh lemon; marinated Tomato Brushetta, grilled ciabatta, marinated mixed tomatoes, pesto, scallions, basil, capers, crumbled feta cheese, balsamic syrup drizzle; Statler Chicken Breast, pan seared Statler chicken breast, Cabot cheddar cream sauce, carmelized apples, mashed potatoes, roasted broccoli; venison Flank Steak, grilled marinated venison flank steak, red wine vinaigrette, crumbled blue cheese, roasted potatoes, wild mushrooms, bacon, grilled onion, baby spinach; Harrison’s Burger, local Boyden Farms beef, toasted brioche bun, Cabot cheddar, shredded romaine, tomato, special sauce, hand-cut fries, pickle. For dessert, try the Peanut Butter Pie, creamy peanut butter pie, chocolate ganache, Oreo cookie crust, crushed peanuts, fresh whipped cream.

A surprisingly good wine list constructed by someone who knows wine. La Vielle Ferme Rosé is my favorite rose, Domaine Fournier “Les Belles Vignes” Sancerre ’18, is a delicious Sauvignon Blanc, Ken Wright Cellars Shea Vineyard Pinot Noir ’17 Willamette Valley, OR, Shea Vineyards produce the best Oregon Pinot Noir grapes and Michael David “Petite Petit” Petite Sirah/Petit Verdot ’16 Lodi, CA is a wonderful wine.


Cozy booths, a roaring fire…doesn’t get much better.


Hen of the Wood

A tip from a local in Stowe, took us to a quite amazing restaurant in Waterbury, about a 15 minute drive from Stowe. Hen of the Wood, is a collaboration of two old friends, both trained at culinary institutes, who talked for years about the place they would someday open.

Using locally raised meats and game, organic produce and artisan cheeses they have created a menu that is both creative and so flavorful you will find yourself savoring every mouthful.

The owners have certainly learned from their experiences because everything from the setting to the food to the wine and the service has been artfully conceived. Set in an old grist mill, the restaurant has retained the charm of the historic building with its huge beams and stone walls and red wall accents, dark wood mission chairs, crisp linens and flickering candles bring elegance to the room. Add a rushing waterfall just outside the window and you have a most romantic ambiance.

The menu changes daily but here is what we enjoyed. I had to try the Hen of Woods mushrooms and they didn’t disappoint. Mixed with garlic, parsley and pancetta and served with grilled red hen bread the flavors were quite delicious. We also had perfectly grilled asparagus, wrapped with proscuitto and served with a mustard crème fraiche.

I am somewhat of a short rib aficionado; it’s one of my favorite dishes. The ones I enjoyed here are among the best I have had. Braised in red wine with roasted shallots, they were perfectly seasoned and fall-off-the-bone tender. Served with garlic mashed potatoes, I was in heaven. Jen’s tender NY strip was accompanied by fingerling potatoes, braised chard and a rich and flavorful cabernet sauce. Wonderful texture and depth of flavor.

Hard for me to pass up a cheese course and I was delighted to find such a wonderful selection of unusual cheeses. I picked two, added a glass of vintage port and that completed one of the best meals I had in quite some time. Jen, who seldom has dessert, had a strawberry rhubarb crisp with house made buttermilk ice cream that she talked about for days.

I love this 60-some bottle wine list for a lot of reasons that many other restaurants just don’t get. Someone really took the time to think about what constitutes a good wine list. There are nearly 20 selections by the glass, about 10 ½ bottle choices, very interesting selections in each category and most importantly reasonable pricing.

DO NOT miss this wonderful gem when you are in the Stowe area.

What Others Say…

“The menus change daily at these laid-back Americans dedicated to serving farm-to-table fare sourced from local Vermont purveyors and paired with a thoughtful wine list. Lots of wood paneling, stone details and cool lighting create a rustic-chic atmosphere.” ZAGAT

High Cotton

High Cotton gets my vote as the best overall restaurant in Charleston. They serve a delicious lunch/brunch on the weekends, have a excellent wine list (Wine Spectator Award of Excellence), a beautiful mahogany bar (where they serve a killer Bloody Mary and Bloody Bull with Low Country Spice Rub on the glass rim) and outstanding comfort and Southern style cooking served in two elegant rooms. Top all that with live jazz every night and at Sunday brunch and you can see why it’s a favorite with locals and tourists.

The menu changes often, but these are some of the things we have enjoyed; Lobster bisque with huge chunks of meat and scallions and a blue crab butter bean soup with sausage, yellow squash and cornmeal crumb topping. A simple Iceberg lettuce salad was made spectacular with blackened bacon, fried green tomatoes and a buttermilk blue cheese dressing.

Pan roasted Carolina trout with a lump crab and spinach casserole, roma tomato confit and a sweet corn vinaigrette was wonderful. For game lovers there’s venison, quail and duck and the Black Angus steaks come with your choice of Henry Bain steak sauce, peppercorn garlic butter, truffle blue cheese, béarnaise, red wine reduction and bourbon bacon sauce. Don’t miss the Vidalia, bacon creamed sweet peas as a side dish.

Lots of interesting desserts including a cheese course, but the Charleston Praline Souffle with chocolate sauce isn’t something you will soon forget.

There nearly 20 wines by the glass, priced $6-$16. These wines are also available by the bottle. Particularly noteworthy is the Darioush Cab@$16 and the Ridge “Three Valleys” Zin at $10. The rest of the list is interesting and very fairly priced. There’s also some real values like an $88 Puligny Montrachet and a $180 Silver Oak. Even the Reserve List, which has some great selections, is very reasonably priced.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Medium. Ask for table #14 in the window and for waitress Amy Frye if she’s still there. She’s traveled the world and ended up in Charleston. An interesting story.

WHAT OTHERS SAY: “first-rate” Low country “favorite”, this “elegant” French Quarter mainstay supplies “generous portions” of “excellent” Southern fare sourced from “local ingredients” with a side of “charm and seamless service”“amazing” cocktails and a “well-rounded wine selection” help keep things “vibrant” (or “noisy”, depending), and with regular live music and a “don’t-miss” Sunday jazz brunch, it’s no surprise fans feel “prices on the high side” are “worth it.” ZAGAT

Hugo’s Cellar

Hugo’s Cellar is a somewhat unlikely choice for dinner. It doesn’t show up on any “lists” of the best restaurants in town, it has been around forever and it is located underneath the Four Queens Hotel, a decidedly down market casino on Fremont.

This is “old school” Vegas. It’s dark with cozy booths, candles, artwork in gold frames splashed with light and waiters in tuxedos. The walls are brick and the tables set with crisp linens and sparkling tableware. The menu is classic with items like escargot, duck flambe, rack of lamb, charbroiled steaks, prime rib and more.

Salad arrives on a cart where you get to select the ingredients. The Captain then tosses the salad, adds a dressing of your choice and serves it on chilled plates with hot bread.

For an entree, I selected a Beef Wellington that was perfectly cooked and seasoned with a mushroom duxelle. It was delivered on a cart and sliced at the table. After dinner the Captain returned with a hot towel and then made a wonderful Bananas Foster table side. As they were preparing my bill, a server brought a plate of chocolate covered strawberries and figs.

Very nice wine list with plenty of choices and reasonable pricing.

Very high. One of the most romantic in town. Women are given roses when they sit down.

“Divine” Continental plates and “old-school ambiance” provide a taste of “Las Vegas as it used to be” at this “romantic” Downtown den at the Four Queens casino where every lady receives a rose; the “classy” package has “high-end” prices to match, but “incomparable” service helps make it a “favorite among locals”, particularly “for a special occasion.” ZAGAT

Inn at Dos Brisas

The Inn has made a major commitment to the organic movement and has a one acre organic farm of heirloom season vegetables, a berry patch, an orchard, an herb garden and an organic hybrid heirloom rose garden. All organic meats, poultry, eggs and dairy products are sourced from local purveyors.

Our stay was on a Sunday and Monday, so we were able to enjoy the Sunday Brunch and our dinners were to be a “box” dinner as the restaurant is only open Thursday to Sunday. Meals can be served anywhere on the property; your casita, the dining room or around the pool.

Brunch is served in the elegant dining room with pitched ceilings and dark wood beams. French doors open to a patio with views of the rolling pastures. A grand 1760 fireplace from France’s Loire Valley region anchors the room and designer “Ritz” lamps at each table deliver an inviting and elegant glow. Custom-made leather and richly upholstered chairs provide a rustic touch, as does the handsome bar, handcrafted from alder and mahogany. By the way, you won’t want to miss the candied spiced pecans served at the bar.

The meal started with warm pastries and fresh fruit; cheese and regular croissants, chocolate and banana muffins, blueberry and cranberry muffins, a pluot and nectarine coffeecake and a fresh melon salad with vanilla syrup. Next up a succulent blue crab salad with an apricot puree over micro greens accompanied with a decanted, chilled and delicious Kerpen, Riesling, Kabinett, Wehlener Sonnenuhr, Mosel, Germany 2005. A mixed berry sorbet cleansed the palette and we were on to a poached Maine lobster & truffle risotto (the chef came out and shaved the truffles onto the dish) served with fava beans and a pan seared wild striped bass with an organic tomato salad and balsamic glaze. Dessert was unusual but amazing caramelized onion beignets with warm NY maple syrup and macerated and whole raspberries, blueberries, blackberries and strawberries on a toasted pound cake with vanilla Chantilly.

We didn’t expect much for our “box” dinner but boy were we surprised. It arrived at our door in an elegant picnic basket with table and silver ware, small brown take-out boxes and a cooler with Voss water. The meal was warm sliced filet of beef with a pasta salad, a green salad, veggie chips, warm bread knots, a cheese course of brie, blue and parmesan cheeses with crisps and a fig tapenade. Served with a bottle of Domaine Calvet Thunevin and a Volnay Les Aussy, it was quite an unexpected treat. Dessert was individual carrot cakes with a vanilla bean cream cheese icing and a carrot juice dip. This is living…

Our “box” dinner the second night was equally as good with a terrific lobster roll with huge chunks of lobster mixed with celery and cucumber in a spiced mayo served on a house made ciabatta roll, salads, a cheese course and an amazing crunchy, woodsie cole slaw.

A soft knock on our door alerted us to the arrival of our breakfast the next morning, set out on our patio. Fresh squeezed OJ, delicious coffee, sliced smoked salmon, ruby red grapefruit, fresh muffins on hot stones and yogurt and homemade granola was the perfect way to begin our day.

The wine list is the best I have seen in some time because of its depth and approachability. The pricing is unbelievably fair and should be a primer for others. Working your way through this list during a weekend, is reason alone to come here. The 8,000 bottle wine list is a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner and has the most extensive ½ bottle, large bottle and sweet wine collection I have seen. The list is available on their site, so I won’t take time or space here to highlight specific items, but you have to see it to appreciate it.

Seasonal three course meal $75, $85 with wine. Eight course, $115, with wine $125. Chef’s Grand Collection eight course tasting menu, $135, $145 with wine. Brunch $59.

Forbes 5 Star

Inn at Little Washington

Every once in a while, you come across an experience so sublime, you feel the need to tell everyone about it. Such is the dining experience at the Inn at Little Washington, about an hour and a half outside of Washington in the Virginia countryside. This is a truly remarkable place and I suggest you spend your last night here and stay in the Inn. If that is not possible, then take a car service and make the trek to this mecca of amazing food.

Chef/owner Patrick O’Connell has been called “the Pope of American Cuisine”. He and the restaurant have won virtually every honor available from Michelin, Zagat, James Beard, AAA, Forbes, Wine Spectator and more. He is currently President of Relais & Chateaux North America and is as close to dining royalty as we have in this country. Remarkably, he has no formal training and is self-taught.

The dining room is warm and comfortable, awash in deep colors of hunter green, burgundy, brown and gold. Rose colored silk lampshades hang above each table creating an intimate and private setting. Having read all the accolades for this restaurant, there is a sense of anticipation in the air, of something special to come. And it does not disappoint for one second.

We were led to our table and presented with personalized menus that welcomed us by name. Our server, William, was gracious, helpful and fun and gave us ample time to peruse the menu. As we placed our order I asked if it was possible to taste a tiny morsel of the rabbit entrée. I’m usually pretty adventurous, but didn’t want to take a chance on something I had not had before. William assured me he could accommodate and to my surprise brought a nearly full portion with our entrees. (at no charge) It was wonderful, delicate, juicy, wonderfully textured and seasoned and it was a white meat which surprised me.

Just reading the menu fills your imagination with the varied flavors and textures; Salty Virginia country ham, sweet D’Anjou pear, peppery baby arugula and tart parmigiano-reggiano to name just one. I started with an herb crusted baby lamb that was sliced carpaccio style and served with tabouli and rosemary mustard, a perfect example of O’Connell’s creative take of a restaurant standard. Jen had freshwater prawns over charred Vidalia onions with a mango mint salsa. Great flavors. As we finished our first course, we were served a chilled vichyssoise with fresh sorrel in a small demi-tasse cup. The sorrel added a wonderful pungency to the potato and leek soup. Sadly, I have tried to duplicate these wonderful flavors unsuccessfully so far. For the second course, Jen chose the fricassee of Maine lobster with potato gnocchi and curried walnuts. Who would think to marry curried walnuts with flour dusted and sauté chunks of lobster? I like the combination of poultry and fruit and the marinated pan seared squab on garlic polenta with a fresh blackberry sauce was a perfect choice for my second course. For the main event I had a duet of veal; pan roasted loin of veal and braised veal cheek with raviolis of Virginia country ham, asparagus and forest mushrooms. I love the use of the salty Virginia country ham with the mild veal flavors. Jen had prime tenderloin of Angus beef on red wine risotto with morels and baby white asparagus. Cooked perfectly and the risotto was rich and wonderfully seasoned.

Even I, who seldom eats dessert, couldn’t resist the temptation, on this day. We started with “Seven Deadly Sins”, a sampling of the Inn’s most decadent desserts; chocolate cakes, flans, tarts, homemade ice cream and sorbet. Next we tried the southern butter pecan ice cream sandwich with hot caramel sauce and ended with a selection of imported cheeses. Wow!

As we finished dinner, William asked if we would like to visit the kitchen and meet Chef O’Connell. Just the chance to see this magnificent multi-million dollar kitchen was worth the trip. A gracious and, I am sure tired, O’Connell gave us a mini lesson in how the kitchen works. There is a Chef’s Table available for dining in the kitchen and an opportunity to watch a master at work.

The restaurant has an extensive wine cellar of nearly 14,000 bottles and includes selections from California and France, of course, but also Italy, Spain, Portugal, Australia and local wines from Virginia. There are a couple dozen choices by the glass and nearly three dozen 1/2 bottles, which I think is a wonderful idea as it allows for two wine choices for different courses. My one criticism, as it is with many other restaurants, is that the wine list is overpriced. I do not believe that 3 or more times retail pricing is necessary or fair on a wine list.

Dining here is a special occasion, even if you have nothing to celebrate. As such, dress is semi-formal to formal. Two gentlemen, celebrating anniversaries, wore tuxedos the night we were there, and it seemed perfectly normal in this glorious setting.


ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Very High. Ask for a corner table in either the Loggia or the Garden Rooms. They are the most private and overlook the garden and patio.

AAA Five Diamond Award
Forbes Five Star Award
Wine Spectator Grand Award
2 Michelin Stars

“About as close to heaven as you can get while still alive” gush gourmands who swear “you won’t find a better meal” than at the “unbelievable” on-site Relais Gourmond restaurant at this “fabulous” inn 90 minutes from the Capitol; almost everything is “beyond perfection” – from the “oveer the top decor”to service that “consistently anticipates and fulfills your needs” to the “uniquely furnished rooms” so- “sell your first born” if you have to and “be prepared for a shock when you get your bill.” ZAGAT

Inn at Palmetto Bluff

The River House in the main building serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. There is also a porch menu with some lighter fare for late afternoon into the evening. Breakfast begins at 7am. The May River Grill at the Golf Club serves lunch from 11am-4pm. Had a turkey club there that was excellent. Try the Boursin Kobe Beef Burger too. Buffalo’s across the square in the Village serves breakfast and lunch and dinner (in season) in a casual setting. They bake their own breads and they are delicious. This is the place for breakfast if you want something lite and quick. The newest addition is the Canoe Club, a classic grill with views of the May River on one side and the Palmetto Bluff Water Trail on the other. Fun variation on typical strakhouse; you select the base item (meat, fish, dessert) and then have a choice of sides or toppings. Very cozy setting.

The River House restaurant is an elegant and charming room with high ceilings, a large fireplace, soft lighting and great views of the May River. Tables are spaced comfortably apart and service is crisp and friendly. Cuisine is low country based and many of the ingredients are sourced fresh from local vendors.

The menu is not extensive but what is there is excellent. Sweet Carolina corn soup was thick with lobster with an overlay of bacon and chili oil. Absolutely delicious. Local grouper was sweet and tender and served with Carolina gold rice in a bouillabaisse broth and a Carolina shrimp risotto was made with sweet corn and white truffle essence.

For dessert, go the wine companion route, wonderful desserts paired with dessert wines. We shared a 1988 Warres “Cavadinha” Vintage Port with chocolate, black currant and sweet pepper. Tremendous!

The wine list is magnificent with some 4000 bottles. There are about 25 wines by the glass with some excellent choices like Silver Oak and Kistler. The list is organized either by grape or region which is fun and has just about anything you can imagine and some things you may never have heard of before like Grignolino or Mourvedre. Sommelier is very knowledgeable and will help find something unusual for you. Pricing is very fair with some real values.

Appetizers: $10-$19, entrees: $45, desserts: $9-$12


Inn at Phillips Mill

Built in 1750 as a stone barn, the Inn at Philips Mill was purchased in 1972 by architect Brooks Kaufman and his wife Joyce and meticulously restored as an inn and restaurant. There are three dining rooms, all charming, warm and romantic. The upstairs room is lined with bookshelves and the tables are interspersed with loveseats next to the fireplace. Downstairs my favorite table is in the alcove just before the garden next to the stone archway and door. In nicer weather, the stone wall enclosed patio is magical with its flickering candles and sparkling tableware and the place to eat.

The menu is a refreshing throwback to the more formal French style cooking. It’s been some time since I have seen a menu like this, but it was like running into an old friend. Escargot Bourguignon, Belgian endive salad with blue cheese and walnuts, Steak Diane, rainbow trout with watercress butter and Coquilles St, Jacque were just some of the old favorites. Try the homemade pates with the wonderful warm, baked bread.

BYOB. No credit cards. Dress is upscale casual. Reservations are taken after 10:30am each day.


The “super-romantic, Euro-style charm” is tough to beat at this long-running French in an 18th-century inn just north of New Hope; “high-quality” cuisine, in a “wide array of choices”, is “appealing to both the eye and the palate” (“maybe not the wallet” some say), and served by an “adept” staff. ZAGAT



Irene’s was a wonderful little find from a local who suggested it after I said I had had my fill of Cajun and Creole food. Tucked away on a back street, it quickly became clear that this was a local’s favorite. Even though they take reservations, you’ll still have to wait, in fact the joke seems to be how long did you have to wait?

Set in an old paper warehouse, it has an odd assortment of dining rooms from a dark, intimate room with stained glass ceilings, to the room lined with wine bottles to the bright, airy front dining room with its eclectic décor. Wherever you sit, the service is great and the small of garlic and herbs intoxicating.

I had a wonderful escargot in mushroom caps and garlic butter as an appetizer (haven’t seen this on a menu in a long time), a chicken rosemarino, a fantastic half chicken roasted with garlic and rosemary as an entrée and one of the best Tiramisu I’ve had for dessert. Other notable items; lamb Provencal and cioppino.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not so much, but lively and fun.

Garlic lovers are “unable to pass” by the “delicious” scent “wafting” from this “very special” French Quarter spot without stopping in for some truly “terrific”, “authentic” Italian fare complemented by “world-class” wines; “everyone becomes friends after a few cocktails” in the piano bar, which is an “enjoyable” place to wait for a table (a common occurrence, even with reservations) in the “charming”, “romantic” dining room patrolled by a “wonderful” staff.  ZAGAT

Kanu at The Whiteface Lodge

Soaring ceilings and huge hand cut timber beams, massive iron chandeliers decorated with antlers, enormous stone fireplaces and floor to ceiling windows overlooking the wooded area beyond create a dramatic, luxurious and rustic setting for a meal at Kanu that you won’t soon forget.

Twig style Adirondack tables and chairs sit atop beautiful Oriental carpets and are set with elegant crystal, china and silver. Tables are placed to take advantage of the view or the fireplace and in nicer weather, the patio is open for dining outside.

For appetizers the Smoked Salmon Dip with a Grilled Baguette, Pickled Scallion and Citrus Creme Fraiche and the Bison Short Ribs were winners. Chicken Blanquette, Poached Chicken, Pearl Onion, Wild Mushrooms and Roasted Leeks and Pork Cheek Ragu, Gochujang, Sweet Soy, Scallion, Ginger, Bean Sprout and Ramen were unusual preparations that scored on many levels.

For dessert try the Chocolate Souffle with mint ice cream or the Flourless Chocolate tort.

The wine list is a Wine Spectator Award winner with some 400 selections. Interesting choices and reasonably priced.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT-A table on the patio in warm weather, or a table in the side room, just off the Great Room is perfect for an intimate dinner.

Keens Steakhouse

In 1885 Keens Chophouse was opened by Albert Keen, a noted figure in the Herald Square Theatre District. Keens soon became the lively and accepted rendezvous of the famous. Actors in full stage make-up hurried through the rear door to “fortify” themselves between acts at the neighboring Garrick Theatre.

Keens Steakhouse owns the largest collection of churchwarden pipes in the world. The tradition of checking one’s pipe at the inn had its origins in 17th century Merrie Old England where travelers kept their clay at their favorite inn – the thin stemmed pipe being too fragile to be carried in purse or saddlebag. Keens’s pipe tradition began in the early 20th century.

The membership roster of the Pipe Club contained over ninety thousand names, including those of Teddy Roosevelt, Babe Ruth, Will Rogers, Billy Rose, Grace Moore, Albert Einstein, George M. Cohan, J.P. Morgan, Stanford White, John Barrymore, David Belasco, Adlai Stevenson, General Douglas MacArthur and “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

Today, Keen’s is considered one of the premier steakhouses in NYC and is the home of the legendary “Mutton Chop” . It is hard to find a more perfect setting for a steakhouse. It is every male’s idea of what a steakhouse should like like. Interestingly, it was a male only restaurant until 1905 when actress Lillie Langtry took Keens to court for having denied her access to its gentlemen-only premises. She won her case, swept into Keens in her feathered boa and proceeded to order one of our famous mutton chops.

History aside, the food here is fantastic with fresh oysters, Maryland lump crab cakes, steaks, prime rib, authentic Dover Sole, lobster and more. Wonderful creamed spinach and perfectly crusty hash browns. Splurge on the Bananas Foster with dark rum and vanilla ice cream.

Classic cocktails and a very good wine list with some very fair pricing. Open for lunch and dinner. Fantastic group of private rooms.

Low ceilings, paneled walls, oil paintings contribute to a sexy vibe, unusual in a steakhouse.

The “granddaddy of all NYC steakhouses”, this circa-1885 Midtown “temple to meat” remains “rock solid”, with “sinful” “Flintstones-size” mutton chops and other “succulent” slabs of beef in “masculine” “museum”-like surrounds with “lines upon lines” of antique pipes on the ceiling; it’s “not for the weak of wallet”, but “welcoming” service and an “endless” scotch selection are other reasons you “won’t regret splurging.” ZAGAT

Kokkari Estiatorio

Close your eyes and breathe in the scents of oregano, a wood burning fireplace and fresh flowers. Your mind takes you to a small Greek Island and an intimate taverna. This is Kokkari Estiatorio.  Wood beamed ceilings, colorful pottery, flower vases and hardwood floors complete the picture. Candles and shaded table lamps cast a golden glow across the rooms. Crisp white linens and gleaming tableware lend an upscale feel to the cozy rooms.

The menu, showcases seafood and game and features many of the most popular traditional Aegean dishes. Start with Maroulosalata, a chopped salad with a creamy feta dressing, pine nuts and Kalamata olives. Or maybe grilled octopus garnished with lemon juice and olive oil or calamari stuffed with feta, fennel and orange. Also love the Soutzoukakia – grilled lamb meatballs with spiced tomato sauce & Greek yogurt. Fish is flown in daily from the Mediterranean and feature species of which you have never heard and cooked over wood fires. Entrees include favorites; Kotopoulo Souvlas – lemon-oregano roasted chicken with briami, cilantro yogurt & Kokkari potatoes. The chicken is cooked on spits over a wood fire. Arnisia Paidakia – grilled lamb chops with lemon-oregano vinaigrette & Kokkari potatoes is another favorite. Have the Baklava for dessert, it’s quite amazing.

Wine list has a Greek bent as you might expect, but good choices from all over. Good selection of wines by the glass and the list is primarily priced under $100. Opt for the Greek wines, they are delicious.

With flickering candles, a roaring fireplace and wonderful aromas this is a place for a romantic dinner.

“A perfect choice for a date or large party, this upscale Mediterranean stalwart with cozy-chic environs never disappoints”. Frommer’s

L’Auberge Chez Francois

When I lived in the Washington area in the late 70’s L’Auberge was one of the highest rated restaurants in the DC area and amazingly after over 40 years, it still is. They are now celebrating their 64th year. What a testament to Monsieur Francois and the Haeringer family to have maintained this kind of consistency for all these years.

Great Falls is about 45 minutes outside of DC, depending on traffic. The trip is an adventure and the drive to the restaurant evokes thoughts of an excursion into the French countryside. In fact, “auberge” refers to little Alsatian, countryside restaurants where the chef is the owner and “the guest is served like a neighbor”. The décor, a kind of upscale Bavarian, hasn’t changed much since I was last there; stucco walls, stained glass windows and dark wood beams. In this age of sleek and stylish, it is a throwback to another time and may seem a little eccentric at first glance. But, not long after we were seated, we slipped into the warm contentment of visiting an old friend.

We enjoyed a complimentary glass of Champagne and Chambord, with fresh raspberries while we perused the menu. This is classic French cooking, seldom seen anymore. Rene G, our delightful and helpful waiter, guided us through the choices, inquiring about what we liked and steering us in the right direction. We started with homemade veal, chicken and rabbit sausage and a scallop wrapped in bacon on a bed of lentils and medallions of beef tenderloin on toast with tomato and onion confit and garlic butter, both very satisfying. Other choices included; escargot, frogs legs, foie gras, an assortment of pates and terrines, quenelle of lobster, pike and shrimp mousse and much more.all the classics.

It is so seldom that I can get authentic Dover Sole that when it is available my choice is made. This fresh Sole was sautéed with lobster, asparagus and wild forest mushrooms and was the best I have ever tasted. Jen chose the veal scallopini, with jumbo lump crabmeat, local Virginia ham, wild mushrooms and a Madeira cream sauce. Amazing.

Lots of classic dessert choices, but the soufflé, in four flavors, is really the only choice.

The wine list features selections from California, Virginia, Alsace and Italy and is very reasonably priced. We asked Rene to suggest something new for us, but something dry and he selected Reisling Barth Rene Alsace 2001 Grand Cru Mambourg which was delicious.

When the weather cooperates, the place to sit is on the wonderful and romantic terrace. Inside, ask for a table by the fireplace.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High on the Terrace. Medium in the other rooms.

AAA Four Diamond Award
Wine Spectator Award

“Everything clicks” at this “charming” country French setting in Great Falls, where the staff is “really glad to see you” and you “want to love everything” – the “plentiful”Provençal comfort classics, the “picture-perfect” garden dining and the all-“inclusive”prix fixe pricing; “dated in a good way”, it’s been a “favorite special-occasion” choice for decades, though for more relaxed dining, there’s also an “adorable” brasserie downstairs. ZAGAT


L’Etoile has consistently been rated one of the top restaurants on the island and for over 20 years served wonderful meals from its space in the Charlotte Inn. In 2006, the restaurant moved from the Charlotte Inn to 22 North Water Street. The chef and most of the staff remain the same.

I loved the space at the Charlotte Inn, but this is equally as good and with the addition of a small bar and a delightful outside patio, may be even better. The interior has a small room to the right of the entry and a larger one to the left that overlooks the garden. Colorful china sits on white linens and the crisp tables are accented with copper colored leather chairs and draperies creating an elegant yet comfortable setting.

The food is sensational and a pleasant diversion from the normal items or preparation on most menus. Oysters for example, were served two ways with a cranberry mignonette and a Champagne Limoncello cream. Delicious. Or, a sautéed spice crusted foie gras with a crispy exterior and delicate interior was served on a pumpkin leek puree with pear dice and brioche with Sauternes, leek and verjus glaze. A wonderful taste sensation.

My entree was a grilled, herb rubbed Australian lamb rack with purple potato gnocchi with roasted chestnuts, favas, blistered tomatoes, port, shallot, black pepper, Shiraz and rosemary jus.

I was full by this time, but the Farmstead cheese platter caught my eye and with a glass of port was a great ending to my meal.

I like the wine list for its interesting mix of French and “New World” but prices are high. Wines by the glass are average $15 and you have to look hard to find full bottles under $50. Too bad.


“If you live to eat instead of eating to live”, this “marvelous dining experience” in Edgartown is a “must” with “beautifully thought-out, well-balanced” New French fare from an “amicable” (“without being intrusive”) staff; the “lovely setting” “nestled in a charming house with an inviting porch” and bar is likewise “special”, but “be prepared to spend your monthly dining budget”; P.S. open seasonally. ZAGAT

La Chaumiere

On that rare occasion when you experience the culinary equivalent of the “perfect storm” you want to shout about it from the rooftops. Such was the case of our recent dinner at the Georgetown French bistro La Chaumiere.

A rustic country dining room, centered with a fireplace, outstanding food, a great waiter and one of the best value wine lists we have ever experienced in a restaurant made this an extraordinary experience.

The menu is classic French with wonderful items like escargot, lobster bisque, French onion soup and pike dumpling with lobster sauce as appetizers. Entrees included fresh boned trout, marinated duck breast, fish stew, roasted rack of lamb, steak au poivre and more. We had two amazing specials, fresh Dover Sole and pheasant, stuffed with a pheasant mousse. Dessert was, of course, a classic Grand Marnier souffle.

The restaurant takes pride in offering an eclectic selection of wines at affordable prices. The exceptional wine list has some wonderful choices at quite amazing prices. We enjoyed a wonderful 2011 Gevrey-Chambertin Les Jeunes Rois, Domaine Tortochot priced at only $80, a steal. Or how about a Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Memora Domaine Julien Masquin at $73 or a Chablis 1er Cru Fourchaume, Château de Maligny for only $55. Worth going just to drink the wine!

Our French born waiter, whose father was a chef in France, could not have been more attentive. He made an exceptional experience even better.

We will never miss this restaurant when we are in Washington.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Sit around the fireplace and enjoy the warm and comfortable ambiance.

Longtime Washingtonians frequent this quaint, quiet Georgetown home of classic French cooking that specializes in old-school dishes like escargots, quenelles, soufflés and magret de canard; the warm, welcoming service, excellent martinis and perfectly paired wines keep its well-heeled coterie loyal, even if younger types compare the dining experience to being a kid out with grandma. ZAGAT

La Dolce Vita

La Dolce Vita is a delightful oceanfront restaurant in Belmar serving lunch and dinner every day.

Outside is a canopied patio with about 20 tables which can be closed in during inclement weather and is a delightful place to enjoy the beach beyond and people watchand there are sure some characters around! While the inside is very nice, we’ll save that for the cold weather, outside is the place to be.

Inside, a marble bar with redwood wine racks behind it, is separated from the dining room by a ½ wall. The walls are done in a beige patterned wallpaper and the room has marble columns, funky hanging globes in a track lighting arrangement and tile floors. The 14 or so tables in the dining room are elegantly set with white tablecloths and sparkling accessories. Large windows on two sides allow you to take in the scene outside.

I have an old adage, when the bread is warm, good things are to come and that was the case here. The pastas are delicious and could be meals unto themselves. Pappardelle Amatriciana sautéed onions, pancetta, garlic, extra virgin olive oil, fresh basil, San Marzano tomatoes and parmesan cheese. Or the Tortolini ai Funghi Graitinati filled with goat cheese and tossed with wild mushrooms, asiago, proscuitto, scallions and cream.

Entrees, served with roasted potatoes, string beans and carrots, were equally satisfying. I had a wonderful Pollo Savoya, tender chicken breast with sweet peppers, cherry peppers, garlic, rosemary and a balsamic demi-glaze. Jen’s Veal Fiorentina was sautéed in a lemon white wine sauce, topped with spinach and melted mozzarella and sprinkled with roasted tomatoes.

The wine list is small but very fairly priced. Most whites are under $35 and reds under $40. We had a wonderful Gavi at $24 on one trip and a surprisingly well priced Amarone at $48 on another.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Can be a little loud, but an outside table on a comfortable night can be pretty romantic.

La Grenouille

Sadly, the era of the formal, traditional French restaurant seems to have passed. Lutece and my old favorite, La Cote Basque are just two of the standards who are no more. Happily, however, La Grenouille remains and flourishes. For a glimpse of old New York/Park Avenue money, this is the place to go. Everyone is impeccably dressed and coiffed. A jacket, without a tie, even at lunch, seems oddly out of place. There’s air kissing, name dropping and obvious sugar daddies, all the things that make a power restaurant interesting.

Many of the guests appear to be regulars and are warmly greeted by Armel, Maitre d’ Hotel. No one is rushing back to the office or anxious to leave their table. This is a place for romance and for catching up with friends.

The small 8 seat bar anchors the front of the room and serves as the place to wait for dining partners. Peanuts and chips are offered with your cocktails. The dining room is stunning with the most breathtaking flower arrangements you will ever see. The walls are decorated with oil paintings in gold frames and sconces provide soft, romantic lighting.

Waiters are dressed in white waist jackets with black bow ties and the service is effortless. It is so enjoyable to see tableside service where your meat is carved or your fish de-boned. It has become a lost art.

The Le Potage Saint Germain was the best split pea soup I have ever had (sorry, Mom), perfectly flavored, and velvety with tiny croutons. It is not often you find authentic Dover Sole on a menu anymore, so my entrée choice was not difficult to make. Served with a mustard sauce, de-boned at the table and perfectly cooked, I was reminded why these restaurants were so popular at one time. The fish was served with crisp delicately herbed green beans that were the ideal accompaniment to the meal. A delightful Riesling with the meal, a small cheese course with a glass of port and my meal was complete.

Cavier and Foie Gras appetizers, Frogs Legs and Pike entrees and Chocolate Mousse and Souffles are just some of the other traditional dishes you can enjoy. This is not a restaurant experience you will soon forget.

Lunch upstairs beside the fireplace is about the most romantic spot in New York.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: The perfect seduction restaurant.

AAA Four Diamond Award
Forbes Four Star Award

Ever “intoxicating”, this Midtown “bastion” of “fine-dining nonpareil” remains a “top-tier” source of “fantastique” French classics and “exemplary service” in a “dressy”, jackets-required setting heightened by “stunning floral displays”; the “steep tabs” are “not for the timid”, but the consistent “level of taste” makes you “feel special.” ZAGAT

La Toque

Chef/Owner Ken Frank came to love French cooking while living in France as a teenager. He first achieved national acclaim in 1977 when he was Chef of La Guillotine Restaurant at age 21. He was the original Chef at Michael’s in Santa Monica, considered the Los Angeles birthplace of “California Cuisine,” which he left in 1979 to open the first La Toque on the Sunset Strip at age 23. He moved the restaurant to wine country in 1998 and to its current home in Napa in 2008.

The quality, preparation and presentation of the food has earned the restaurant a Michelin star, Four Diamonds from AAA and 3 Stars from the San Francisco Chronicle. The restaurant is one of only 90 restaurants in the world to have won the Grand Award from Wine Spectator.

This menu is an extraordinary value for this caliber food. A 4 course dinner with wine pairings is $175. Here’s a sampling of dishes and pairings from a recent menu:
Summer Melon and Cucumber Salad with Maine Lobster, Shiso and Yuzu
2015 Riesling Kabinett, Friedrich-Wilhelm-Gymnasium, Graacher Himmelreich, Mosel
Chesapeake Bay Soft Shell Crab with Fregola Sarda and Pesto
2012 Albariño, Adega Eidos, “Contraaparede”, Rías Baixas
Hawaiian Swordfish and Baby Spinach a la Plancha with Flavors of Picada
2013 Arrels de Clos Pissarra, Sangre de Garnatxa, Montsant
Milk Fed Veal Chop for two with its own Jus,
Red Onion Bone Marrow Marmelade
2004 Cabernet Franc, Estate, McKenzie-Mueller
Gateau Concorde au ChocolatDow’s Trademark, Finest Reserve Porto
Caramelized Apple Croustillant with Speculoos Ice Cream
Chambers Rutherglen Muscat, Victoria, Australia

This is a “don’t miss” in Napa.

One Michelin Star
AAA Four Diamond
Wine Spectator Grand Award
Chef Ken Frank “still reigns in the kitchen” at this New French “Napa favorite”, a “must” for its prix fixe menus of “unbelievable”, “expertly crafted” dishes served with “phenomenal wine pairings” by a “top-notch” team; the “quietly elegant” space is “pleasant” (adjoined by the Bank Bar for more casual dining), and while it’s a “high-end” choice, the quality makes it “one of the best values around.” ZAGAT

Lacroix at the Rittenhouse

Lacroix is the signature restaurant of the wonderful Rittenhouse Hotel, but it is as far from a “hotel” restaurant as you can get.

There’s so much to like here. Let’s start with Bar 210, sophisticated lounge perched above the dining level that offers an amazing list of hand crafted cocktails like a Blackberry Bourbon: Maker’s Mark bourbon with muddled blackberries, Thai basil, lemon and a splash of ginger ale. Excellent list of craft beers, cognacs, single malts and more. The small plate menu is ideal for a snack or a lite meal.

The elegant dining room with marble columns, plants, flickering candles and glistening tableware has wonderful views out onto Rittenhouse Square. Executive Restaurant Chef Jon Cichon, a French native, has created a wonderful “fusion” menu drawing on past experiences with Spanish, Portuguese, Thai, Japanese, and American cuisines.

Some highlights include: escargot with red kuri squash and curry, Scottish salmon with medjool date, beet, brown butter-miso tapioca, beef short rib with potato-horseradish terrine, pearl onion and cranberry. For dessert, try the maple bacon souffle with pumpkin Anglaise, cinnamon cream and white chocolate or the “pumpkin martini”, warm pumpkin bread pudding, croissant chips, pumpkin seed marshmallow and whiskey-pecan ice cream.

The wine list is a wine lover’s treasure and Lacroix has assembled a list that is both interesting and fun. Lacroix is a recipient of Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence with more than 650 selections from all over the world. The best part: 220 vintages are available for under $60.

AAA Four Diamond
Forbes Four Star
Wine Spectator Award

“Superlatives” flow for the Rittenhouse Hotel’s “elegant” Eclectic whose “lovely”cuisine, “over-the-top” (but “not stifling”) service and “amazing views” of the Square create the “memory of a lifetime” – especially during “magnificent” Sunday brunches when you tour the kitchen to select your main course; it’s predictably “pricey”, but most agree it’s “worth every penny.” ZAGAT

Lakeside Wynn

I am kind of a stickler when it comes to seafood. If it has been frozen, I can tell with the first bite and I am done with it. That makes Lakeside at Wynn the perfect seafood restaurant for me. Lakeside serves Hawaiian seafood, line-caught by family fishermen in Hana and flown daily, directly to Wynn.  You couldn’t get any fresher if you ate it in Hawaii. The Lakeside venue adds an intimacy that is hard to duplicate anywhere in town.

Chef David Walzog elevates traditional seafood menu items to new levels. Take, for example, Dover Sole, which is served with haricot vert, citrus chicken Jus, and an almond crust or a Maine Lobster Bake with King Crab, shrimp, pancetta, roasted corn, fennel and saffron toast. The Lakeside Seafood salad is a great starter with shrimp, scallops, octopus, baby calamari and fingerling potatoes all in an olive sauce.

Hawaiian Day Boat preparations include Snapper with coconut rice cake, pickled vegetables and seafood curry; Mahi, Mahi with coffee and cocoa spice, butternut squash, chioggia beets and pomrgranate syrup; and Shutome (swordfish) with basque peppers, squid ink polenta, crispy bacon and citrus agave.

Sunday Jazz Brunch with live Dixieland jazz and blues is held every Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m and is one of the most popular brunches in town. Guests enjoy items like chilled Alaskan king crab legs and oysters on the half shell along with brunch specialties like crab cake eggs Benedict and char-grilled flat iron steak frites. White Pineapple Bellinis, Bloody Marys and handcrafted cocktails flow.

Any time you can sit by the water and enjoy dinner it is romantic.


Another “win” at the Wynn, this upscale destination provides “fabulous” meals starring “fresh seafood” that’s “cooked to perfection” in a “gorgeous” setting with “beautiful water views” (including “animatronic shows”) alongside the hotel’s Lake of Dreams; factor in solid service and it’s an overall “pleasant place to be.” ZAGAT

AAA Four Diamond
Forbes Four Star

Le Bernardin

Fish is not usually my first choice for a meal when I dine out, but that may be because I had never experienced Eric Ripert’s cooking before. This is unlike any seafood you have ever had. But, I’ll get to the food in a minute.

I knew that Le Bernardin has been the top rated New York restaurant for food in the Zagat’s survey for a number of years and that it ranked near the top for décor and service as well. What really intrigued me though, was a panel in New York Magazine who were asked where would you have your last meal on earth. Two of the four said Le Bernardin.

To describe the décor as modern might suggest surroundings somewhat austere or sterile. Le Bernardin is anything but. While the style is modern, the feel is one of warmth and elegance. Rich blue walls offset by light oak furniture and paneling, stunning artwork, huge vases of flowers and soft lighting create a mood of romance even at lunchtime.

My meal began with a delicious smoked salmon and herb spread served with thin sliced crusty bread. The first course was an almost raw thyme crusted yellowfin tuna with mesclun greens and a truffle vinaigrette. The thyme added a wonderful flavor layer to the tuna and the vinaigrette the perfect accompaniment.

What came next was probably the best fish I have ever had. Wild striped bass, steamed in a delicate ginger, scallion and tomato broth. The thick pieces of bass were so perfectly cooked, so tender, so juicy that I began to cut it into tiny pieces so that it would last longer. The broth added a hint of flavor that enabled you to taste each of the flavors without any overpowering the dish. I was truly sad when it was gone.

Dessert was a salted cashew and chocolate tart, red wine caramel banana and a malted rum milk chocolate ice cream. Small tastes of each, just enough to stimulate the senses. It was wonderful.

Some other menu items that caught my attention; progressive tasting of fluke; four different cerviches; layers of thinly pounded yellowfin tuna, foie gras, toasted baguette, shaved chives and extra virgin olive oil; pan roasted codfish, sautéed baby artichokes, pistachio and parmesan in a sage and garlic perfumed broth and a whole red snapper baked in rosemary and thyme salt crust, extra virgin olive oil and a casserole of market vegetables.

The wine list is excellent, but heavy on the more expensive selections. Not too many choices under $60. Expect to pay $80-$100 for a decent bottle.

Jackets for the gentlemen. All credit cards accepted.


AAA Five Diamond Award
Forbes Five Star Award
New York Times 4 Stars
Wine Spectator Award

Prepare to dine on “a higher plane” at this “dazzling” Midtown “star” where Eric Ripert’s “world-class” tasting menus highlight “transcendent” French seafood, earning it No. 1 Food honors in NYC for the eighth year in a row; a “deep” wine list, “exemplary” staff and “soigné” surrounds further justify the “sky-high” tabs, so for a “dream-come-true” meal, this is “as good as it gets.” ZAGAT

Le Bouchon

I have a soft spot for French bistros and they don’t come more authentic than Le Bouchon, a low-key, relaxed, bistro, which from the outside, looks like a traditional Irish/European pub. Inside, the tiny restaurant is intimate and classically decorated with warm booths, colors of beige and red, wicker baskets, floral arrangements and historical French artwork. Mirrors make the space seem larger than it is, but it is still warm and cozy. While the atmosphere is upscale the mood is anything but pretentious. The tavern style bar sitting alongside the back of the restaurant, added a lot of character and serves as the place to wait for your table.

Located in Bucktown area of Chicago, just southwest of Lincoln Park, the crowd is a mix of neighborhood folks and followers of Chef Jon Claude Poilevey. Originally from France, Poilevey came to the US over 40 years ago to start his restaurant business with friend. He opened Le Bouchon in 1993, and currently has 3 other restaurants throughout the city.

The menu is right out of the Left Bank with classic bistro dishes, wonderfully prepared, like Moules Marinières, teamed mussels with white wine and herbs, Escargots au Beurre d’Ail et Persil, snails in Burgundy wine, Boeuf Bourguignon, beef braised in red wine, Bouillabaisse “Le Bouchon”, fish, clams, mussels and shrimp in a saffron brothand Les Ris de Veau, sautéed veal sweetbreads with a mustard sauce. For dessert, try the tarte of the day.

Interesting cocktail menu, we enjoyed Le Metro, a very refreshing Grey Goose Citron, with Chambord and the Bouche Manhattan, which was served with a twist and absinthe. The wine list has roughly 60 choices, ranging in price from $40 to $250, with a lot of great wines in the $50 price range.

TIP: Have at least one meal at the marvelous restaurant when you are in town. Go very early or very late, and avoid Saturday nights. Even with reservations, you are going to wait.

As close to a Parisian bistro as you can get in Chicago“, this ”fairly priced“ Bucktown kitchen on ”Rue Damen“ serves ”tasty“, ”traditional“ dishes like escargot and steak frites; tables are a ”bit cramped“ in the ”cozy“ space, but it offers ”real French character.  ZAGAT

Le Diplomate

If ever there was a “go-to” restaurant in Washington it is Le Diplomate, a charming French bistro that has no pretension and is the toughest reservation in town. It is perfect for an after work drink, a mid-week supper, a weekend brunch or a romantic evening for two on the weekend.

The difference between Le Diplomate and other like French bistros is that their classic dishes are prepared so well and are served by a staff that clearly relishes their job. They are pleasant, helpful and knowledgeable about the menu and the wine.

Here’s some menu highlights; Onion Soup Gratinee, caramelized onion, crouton, gruyère; Moules Frites, marinière style mussels, pommes frites, sauce mayonnaise; Escargot a la Bourguignonne, parsley-garlic butter, demi-baguette; Half Roast Chicken, rosemary, pommes purée, jus de poulet; Trout amandine, ROUT AMANDINE, toasted almonds, haricots verts, lemon brown butter; Steak Frites, herb roasted, maître d’butter, pommes frites; Vanilla Bean Creme Brulee, warm madeleine.

The wine list is a three year winner of Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence. The cellar has some 350 choices and nearly 5,000 bottles. leaning heavily French, it is nonetheless, modestly priced.

Despite the high volumes, this is a sexy restaurant and if you are sitting outside on a balmy night, drinking good wine, you just may pop the question.

Maybe the “hottest address in town – after 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue of course” – this French brasserie on the 14th Street Corridor transports diners with a “classic” menu, “adept”“no-attitude’” service and a “beautiful”, camera-ready setting; although this “winner” may be a victim of its own success (i.e. the “loud” acoustics, “teeming bar scene” and the need to “reserve early”), most “thoroughly enjoy” every visit – the flavors alone will “make you want to come back.” ZAGAT

Le Languedoc Bistro

We never miss Le Languedoc Bistro when we are on the island. Eating at the downstairs bar is like coming home to friends. Give me steak frites and a good bottle of red and my trip is complete.

There are a number of dining choices here; outside on the terrace, downstairs in the intimate cafe with low ceilings and blue checkered tablecloths, at the downstairs 8 person bar (this is where the locals congregate) and in the upstairs elegant dining rooms where crisp white wood trim and ceilings are offset by gold or burnt rust walls, iron chandeliers and well spaced tables set with dark mission chairs and formal table settings. Where you choose to sit will depend on your mood for the night.

The regular menu has classics like steamed little necks in garlic broth, braised escargot with parsley risotto and a red wine jus, filet of beef, and pan roasted lobster and some interesting choices like venison loin au poivre with seared Chatham scallops and Vermont poussin with a savory bread pudding.

This night however, we opted for the more casual bar menu and sat at the cozy downstairs bar. A chopped salad with Great Hill Blue, buttermilk dressing was fantastic. In the world of great salads, this was right up there. That was followed by steak- frites with a Béarnaise sauce and truffle greens and accompanied by a Chateauneuf Du Pape, 2004 Saint Benoit “Grand Garde”. The steak had great flavor, the frites crisp and tasty and the bernaise, light with a slight edge to it. A chocolate cinnamon torte with cardamom anglaise rounded out a most satisfying meal. Add some pleasant conversation with our bar mates and it was a wonderful evening.

The wine list is a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence recipient for many years. There are about 13 wines by the glass priced from $8.00 and 14 half bottle choices priced from $22. The list leans toward France as you might expect, but has some nice representatives from Italy, the U.S., Australia, New Zealand and Spain.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Downstairs is fun and lively, the patio can get noisy in season. The charming upstairs is the place for a romantic meal.

“Each morsel is worth savoring at this magnificent French splurge on Nantucket, whether you dine in the casual downstairs bistro (where there’s a small, friendly bar too), the quiet, elegant dining room upstairs (some say it’s a bit stiff) or outdoors (the only way to go on a warm evening); wonderful people graciously serve the fare and lovely wines, but just remember to reserve early if you want to experience them or don’t expect to get a table.” ZAGAT

Les Nomades

If pedigree means anything to the success of a restaurant, then it explains Les Nomades perch atop the list of Chicago restaurants. Owner Mary Beth Liccioni and her husband Chef Roland spent a portion of their career working with acclaimed chef Jean Banchet at Le Francais in Wheeling and later bought the restaurant from Banchet. A 70’s dinner I enjoyed at Le Francais remains the meal against which all others are measured.

Housed in a gorgeous brownstone, steps from Michigan Avenue, Les Nomades, like Le Grenouille in New York, is part of a dwindling breed of haute French restaurants in major cities. Let’s hope they continue on because this is a dining experience no one should miss. The softly lit dining rooms, one with a fireplace upstairs, are decorated in shades of gold and beige with hardwood floors, stunning floral arrangements and extraordinary artwork. This is dining as it should be.

The terrific staff appears to float around the room and is at once attentive and unobtrusive. There is no pretension here, but warm and personable service.

Here’s a sampling of his exquisite menu, appetizers: herb roasted Maine lobster, fines herbes gnocchi, English peas, summer truffle and roasted veal sweetbreads, Spanish chorizo, smoked paprika and potato; entrees: lobster ragoût, preserved Meyer lemon, Cognac and roasted venison loin, Hubbard squash, compressed apple, sherry gastrique; desserts: classic soufflés, Grand Marnier, lemon, raspberry, hazelnut or passion fruit, warm chocolate tart with raspberries, white coffee bean ice cream, vanilla froth and chocolate sauce and fresh apple tart with green apple sorbet.

The wine list is a recipient of the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence. There’s nearly 20 wines by the glass and an excellent selection of half-bottles, which is a way to enjoy both a red and a white with different courses. Surprisingly for a restaurant of this stature, there are plenty of choices of full bottles in the $50 range.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: May be the most romantic restaurant in Chicago

AAA Four Diamond Award
Wine Spectator Award

An “oasis of civility” for “grown-ups”, Roland Liccioni’s Streeterville “institution” offers “exceptional” French haute cuisine “without trendy gimmicks” complemented by a “superb wine list” and “white-glove service”; an “exquisite townhouse” setting with “luxurious Parisian decor” and floral arrangements adds to the reasons it’s perfect for a “celebration” – or just a “vacation from the present” that “justifies the cost”; P.S. jackets suggested. ZAGAT

Little Palm Island

I knew we were in for something special when we ordered margaritas and chips and salsa for an afternoon snack. The margarita came with freshly squeezed lime juice, the salsa homemade and the chips right out of the oven.

Making time for drinks at the bar before dinner and sampling one of their terrific house martinis is a must. Everyone is relaxed and in vacation mode and the conversations are fun and entertaining. Try the Paradise Found, Parrot Bay Passion Fruit Rum blended with mango, Midori Liquor, and topped with 151 Rum or the resort’s signature Gumby Slumber, coconut rum, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, tropical juices, and finished with fresh coconut soaked in Bacardi 151 Rum.

The views would almost be enough to make this an amazing experience, but Executive Chef Luis Pous’s seasonally fresh menu with French and Latin influences make it a truly extraordinary one. The menus change daily but we enjoyed tuna tartare with a wasabi foam, Berkshire pork chops with an arugula and red onion salad and blue cheese and a delicious roasted organic chicken with a wonderful black bean salsa.

The wine list is excellent, with all the major regions of the world represented and surprisingly (for a place of this stature) there are lots of reasonably priced choices. We enjoyed an excellent Tocai Friulano, Bastianich, priced at $50.

Breakfast, served on the outside terrace overlooking the water featured freshly squeezed juices and excellent coffee. Our French toast made with homemade bread coated in corn flakes and served with mascarpone cheese and fresh fruit was absolutely amazing.

“It’s a short boat ride to paradise, aka this restaurant in a private island resort off Little Torch Key that surveyors rate No. 1 for Food, Decor and Service in the Keys; expect amazing gourmet French and Pan-Latin cuisine served by an attentive staff in an elegant dining room or on a torchlit, secluded romantic beach that’s straight out of a tropical movie set you’ll need a full wallet, but the only drawback is a yearning to stay longer.” ZAGAT

Little Pearl

When you come to Key West you are going to want some seafood and The Little Pearl is a wonderful neighborhood wine bar and seafood restaurant. Brought to you by the owners of sister restaurant Thirsty Mermaid, Little Pearl shines with creative cooking and a killer wine list.

The small, intimate dining room has a casual, relaxed look with exposed beam ceilings, hanging Edison lights, white walls and blue banquettes.

If you are a raw bar person that’s where you’ll want to start here. Choose the ceviche or poke du jour, some chilled King Crab or a selection of East/West Coast oysters.

If not, sample the Wild Mushroom & Blue Crab Bisque or the Shrimp Bruschetta with
heirloom tomatoes, white balsamic and basil.

For entrees, the “Little Pearl” Lobster, Shrimp, & Crab Pot Pie is something you will dream about when you get home. The Grilled Local Swordfish  prepared with sesame garlic broccolini, fingerling potatoes and miso brown butter was fantastic. Make sure to get a side of Key West New Potatoes with parsley & Key Lime butter.

For dessert we shared the delightful Moscato & Ginger Poached Pear with vanilla gelato, walnuts, and salted caramel and paired it with a Royal Tokaji Late Harvest for a perfect ending to a great meal.

The wine list is reason alone to visit here. There are about 15 wines by the glass and about a 1/2 dozen half bottle selections. The list has some well thought out selections under $50 and even some of the more expensive wines are fairly priced like a Chateau de Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru en Remilly Saint Aubin, Burgundy France at $95 and an Archery Summit Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley at $98. We enjoyed a Vincent Mothe Chablis from Burgundy at $58

I don’t know, doesn’t great wine and food make you feel romantic?

Magical two-year-old Little Pearl is the kind of spot that feels at once like a special-occasion treat and somewhere you want to be all the time. TIME OUT

Lodge at Glendorn

The culinary team is led by Executive Chef Joe Schafer whose pedigree includes stints at The Lake Placid Lodge, Triple Creek Ranch and The White Barn Inn, all extraordinary Relais properties. The team blends classic French technique with fresh local ingredients and much of the produce, herbs and flowers are grown right on the property. Every meal is an occasion and may be served at various locales around the property. A Wine Spectator award winning cellar adds to the fantastic experience. This is a “foodie” paradise.

Breakfast is served in the Big House dining room and weather permitting on the outside terrace. You’ll start with fresh baked muffins and fresh squeezed OJ and then breakfast choices include; homemade granola, buttermilk pancakes topped with Pennsylvania maple syrup, fresh local cage free farm eggs, breakfast sausages made in house from Heritage breed pork and more.

Lunch can be enjoyed in the Big House dining room, by the pool or on the terrace. If you would like to explore the property the staff will prepare a back pack lunch and they will also do a BBQ lunch along Fuller Brook.

Dinner is served in the Big House dining room with soft candlelight, a roaring fire and tables set with crisp linens and gleaming tableware. It is a most intimate and romantic setting. Dinner is a four-course prix fix at $105 and while the menu changes often it might include Ricotta Ravioli with peas, parmesan and tomato; Venison Carpaccio with cherry, hazelnut and Stilton; a veal chop with wild mushroom risotto and for dessert, =banana with pecans, Dulce de Leche and vanilla ice cream.

The wine list offers some 350 selections and is well conceived, if a little pricey. After Dinner, guests relax in overstuffed couches in front of the Main Lodge fireplace or play a game of pool in our billiards room. There is an excellent selection of choice hand-made cigars in the humidor should you wish to top off a great meal with a fine cigar.

On Saturday evenings, there is a bonfire at Skipper Lake with complimentary smores and beer and tall tales about the fish that got away.

Lola 41

Lola 41, The “41” in the name represents the 41st parallel on which Nantucket sits as well as other influences in the kitchen; Spain, Italy, Greece, China and Japan. They call themselves a “global bistro”, I call them just plain fun. This is a “hot” spot on the island, busy every night.

Housed in the building on South Beach Street, a short walk from town, that was formally the Blue Fin, the exterior is typical Nantucket cedar shingled with two prominent bay windows. Inside is sleek and stylish tin ceilings, a handsome marble topped cocktail bar and separate, semi-circular sushi bar surrounded by about a dozen tables. The walls and banquettes are shades of taupe with mirrors and contemporary art adorning the walls. The effect is a sophisticated bistro that would be comfortable in any major city.

Before you even get down to the food, you’ll find the best drink menu on the island. In fact, you could come here and be perfectly happy to indulge in more than one specialty drink and save the food for another time. If at all possible though, call ahead and see if they will make some drunken wings for you, one of the great all time appetizers, marinated and cooked in white wine, garlic and vodka. All the drinks are made with fresh ingredients and since we were a group of 4, I can share a number of experiences; a pear mojito, prosecco and fresh strawberries, a Ruby Red (Absolute Ruby Red, Mathilde Poire Liquor and ruby red grapefruit juice, and a Blueberry Martini (Triple 8 Cranberry Vodka, blueberry syrup and fresh blueberries.

Now if that is not enough, there is a wonderful Sake menu with various grades and tastes that the bartender will happily help you navigate. I said fun didn’t I?

The menu changes every two weeks and it is not lengthy but what is there is delicious. There is a complete sushi menu which my friends tell me is complete and wonderfully fresh. I’ll take their word for, sushi is not my thing.

This year we went on our first night and Jen enjoyed the Gnocchi Bolognese she dreamed about since last summer. I had a wonderful burger with a fois gras dipping sauce and wonderful fries. The menu isn’t lengthy and changes every few weeks, but what is there is very good. Get the Osso Buco if they have it.

The wine list has about three dozen nicely chosen bottles, evenly split between reds and whites. Unusual for Nantucket, half the list is under $50. Yeah!

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not so high, but this is a place for fun.

“Celebutantes and ordinary young people alike have no reservations bestowing raves upon this contemporary Nantucket hot spot, as everything on the Eclectic menu is unique and tasty, from the excellent burger to the phenomenal sushi; just know that you need reservations to get a seat, plus lots of dough and elbow pads, because it’s pricey and crowded, especially at the hopping, noisy bar.” ZAGAT

Louie’s Backyard

Picture white tablecloths, candlelight, tiny lights sparkling in the trees, the soft rush of the water hitting the dock and maybe a full moon and you begin to understand the lure of this perennial outdoor favorite. There is no more romantic setting in Key West. Ask just about anyone and they will tell you that Louie’s is the place to go for a wonderful and romantic dinner.

If ambiance was all it had to offer, it would be worth the trip, but the food is just as exceptional. The menu changes often, but the opportunity for taste sensations remains constant. Last visit I started with whitewater clams steamed with bacon, potatoes, bell peppers and cream as an appetizer and followed that with a salad of Boston lettuce and watercress with Maytag blue cheese, apples and spiced pecans. Imagine all the flavors. My entrée was a delectable veal loin gently sautéed with a parmesan cream, arugula and Jerusalem artichokes. Again, the mix of taste and texture is quite wonderful.

I eschewed dessert on this trip but did have an opportunity to taste the chocolate brownie crème brulee, their own recipe, and it was as wonderfully decadent as it sounded.

The wine list is well stocked with choices from all the major wine areas with a French emphasis. About a dozen are available by the glass and there is a limited selection of 1/2 bottles. Pricing tends to be on the high side.

Make two requests with your reservation; Table #38, a private spot for two along the water and Tommy as your waiter. He’s been there 18 years, is very knowledgeable and great fun.


It doesn’t get any better than the sea, the sun, the food at this classy, romantic longtime winner in Key West, voted Most Popular in the Keys for its magnificent ocean view, superb Caribbean-American cuisine and informed service; dinner can be a wallet-bust and a few cite snooty treatment, but to its legion of champions there’s just no other place like it; P.S. make reservations well in advance.- ZAGAT

Mamma Luisa

A simple “what’s your favorite restaurant in town”? uncovered Mamma Luisa, a gem I had missed on previous visits. A long time resident somewhat reluctantly revealed this delicious Italian located at the far end of Thames Street in a residential neighborhood.

Opened in 1992 in a former residence, the restaurant has three charming and intimate dining rooms. Although there is no bar, there is an upstairs “waiting” room if your table is not quite ready. The room I dined in was steps down from the entry way and had only 5 tables. Two of them were in small alcoves that looked out onto the street. Gold painted walls adorned with kitchen artifacts and ivy, a single pink rose on the table and crisp linens and tableware created an atmosphere that was at once homey and elegant. With opera playing in the background, candles flickering on the table and wonderful kitchen aromas, the setting is ideal for a special night.

The cooks are all women and most are vegetarians (there’s also a vegetarian menu). As such they understand how to slow roast vegetables and it was evident in my first course, an amazing pasta fagiola, one of the best I have had. Served with hot bread and evoo, it was a great start.

My entree was a grilled veal chop served with a porcini mushroom sauce and rosemary roasted potatoes. The chop, which often comes overdone, was expertly cooked and the mushrooms and rosemary were a delicious and earthy compliment. I skipped dessert, but my server brought some homemade biscotti to enjoy with the rest of my wine.

Speaking of wine, this is a terrific list with mostly Italian choices from the major regions in the country. I enjoyed a delicious Barbera D’Asti “L’Orme” 2003 at only $32. There a few Amarones and Barolos on the list for under $80 which is unusual. Love the Gavis and Orvietos represented and some nice selections from California and Spain.


Mamma Maria

Set in an old townhouse and tucked into a corner of the North End, Mamma Maria is one of my favorite Italian restaurants, in a town of excellent Italian food. I like everything about this place; it’s location on a square, its elegant decor and small, intimate dining rooms, its welcoming spirit and its wonderful food.

I particularly like to sit upstairs at a window table overlooking the square, where you can gaze through iron paned windows over window boxes filled with flowers to the street below and Boston beyond. The Verdi dining room, with its fresh flowers, warm, pastel colors, long draperies, interesting artwork and gleaming crystal and silverware is intimate and romantic. Add smart service and a leisurely dining pace and you have the makings of a wonderful evening.

The food is amazing and atypical of many Italian restaurants. It is more regional in nature, more rustic, more country. Last visit, I started with an appetizer portion of rabbit (my new favorite thing, it tastes like chicken) roasted with pancetta and rosemary and served over hand rolled pappardelle pasta. I followed that with a mouth watering osso buco which I never miss ordering when it is available. It was served with a saffron risotto and was one of the best I have ever had. Jen had the carpaccio which was good, but pretty standard. Her country style roasted chicken with crisp roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables however, was outstanding.

The wine list is relatively small, about 120 wines, but very well developed. It concentrates on Italian (go figure!) and American selections and has some unusual wines. The choices are very good and the pricing is very reasonable.


AAA Four Diamond – Dining

“Longtimers have been sopping delicious sauces and sipping from the nice wine list at this genuine-feeling North End Italian for decades, while those who’ve recently discovered it can’t wait to go back either (despite what a few say are expensive tabs); the quiet dining room tucked away in a historic townhouse offers romantic ambiance, leading to an upscale but not pretentious must-visit experience.” ZAGAT


Marcel’s is a favorite of the Washington elite, whether you are a Congressman, lobbyist or someone with a niece in town. Robert Wiedmair’s flagship restaurant never disappoints. First stop is the sleek and sexy lounge that embraces the color of white chocolate with a crisp white palette, bar stools and chairs covered in white leather, open glass shelving against a mirrored back and, a luxurious white leather sectional.

Guests are greeted warmly at the door and ushered either into the lounge to directly to your table. The  elegant dining room is decorated in soothing shades of beige with mirrors lining the walls and vases of fresh flowers offering a splash of color.

On my visit between Christmas and New Year’s the menu was scaled back a bit. I really wanted to try the Osso Buco. But, nevertheless, I found plenty to my liking. To start; a baby arugula and frisee salad with caramelized balsamic shallots, rocca cheese, eggs and a hint of an aged sherry vinaigrette. My entrée was a sweet and tender roasted pheasant breast served with braised tart cabbage over chopped and smoky Applewood bacon. Wonderful.

I like this wine list. It’s predominantly French and tends toward the expensive, but there are still lots of choices under $50 in both reds and whites, particularly from the Rhone Valley and Provence. There are about 18 wines by the glass and about a dozen ½ bottles.

Marcel’s offers a wonderful twist to pre-theatre dining; a $48 pre-fix, 3 course meal that includes car service in a Cadillac or Mercedes to and from the Kennedy Center. Guests often return to the restaurant for dessert after the show.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Perfect for a romantic evening.

AAA Four Diamond Award

Chef-owner Robert Wiedmaier upholds “haute-cuisine” traditions at his West End flagship offering “exceptional” French-Belgian “classics with a twist” served with “panache” in an “elegant but not pretentious” atmosphere; the package includes a “luxurious” contemporary space, and while its expense-account pricing leads some to reserve it as a “special treat”, there’s an “excellent” pre-theater deal that includes transport to and from Kennedy Center. ZAGAT

Marigold Restaurant by Jean George

The cuisine at Marigold by Jean-Georges reflects a passionate commitment to fresh, local and organic ingredients. The menu changes often to offer sustainable and seasonal produce that is at its peak – much of it grown at their own nearby farm. Meat, fish and dairy are locally sourced, where possible, from humanely treated, pasture-fed animals free of antibiotics and hormones.

The restaurant features 130 indoor seats, 20 bar seats and 70 outdoor seats. The design is a comfortable textural “rustic chic” with a mix of black and white stone and rustic hardwood floors, a distinctive bar with a fluted tile design, a stone fireplace and exquisite hand-wrought lighting fixtures from L’Observatoire International.

Menu items may include: Black Truffle Pizza, fontina cheese, frisee; Whiskey Poached Lobster,  passionfruit butter, glazed carrots; Peppercorn Crusted Waygu, gnocchi, brussels sprouts, sriracha; Black Forest Bar, chocolate sponge, chocolate mousee, cherries, whipped cream

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Very romantic especially on the Terrace on a beautiful night.

“With its stunning, panoramic views and seasonal Southern fare elevated by French and Asian influences, Marigold is more than a restaurant, it’s an event.” Virginia Living Magazine

Mas Tapas

Sometimes when I am on the road, I need a break from the upscale restaurants we go to every night and just want to kick back, drink some wine, have a casual meal….and a bill that doesn’t break the bank.

Mas Tapas is just that kind of the neighborhood restaurant we all wish we had. Casual, laid back, a place to meet friends, to linger over a bottle of wine on the patio. Mas was conceived by Chef Tomas Rahal as an opportunity to feature slow cooked, organic, artisinal foods and wines, especially those from Spain.

The tapas here are just amazing and paired with a great selection of Spanish wines makes this a wonderful stop. Here’s a sampling; Yukon Gold potatoes roasted w/ a spicy rub, served w/ our own hand-made aioli, grilled pork terrine served w/ mango chutney, warm artichoke and goat cheese spread w/ brick-oven bread, jamon Serrano, Manchego cheese and aioli on wood-oven bread, roasted spicy chicken wings tossed in mojo verde w/ creamy blue cheese dressing, grilled, marinated chicken tenderloins w/ garlic-yogurt dressing, flatbread, Niman’s Ranch pork shank slow braised w/ sweet onions, juniper berries, and anise served w/ brick oven bread to name just a few.

Wonderful Spanish wine list. Order from the “Very Special Wines” list for the best of Spain, many only $50-$60. There’s a killer cheese plate and a great selection of vintage ports.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not so high, but that’s not why you came here.

Mayflower Grace

Guests can dine in the casual Tap Room which has a fireplace and a piano for Saturday night entertainment or Muse by Jonathan Cartwright, a more formal setting. The Tap Room offers small bites, oysters, salads, sandwiches, lobster rolls, burgers, pizza, steaks and more. Muse, was created by acclaimed Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux Jonathan Cartwright. Cartwright is the award winning chef at The White Barn Inn in Kennebunkport, Maine. When Grace Hotels purchased the White Barn, The Vanderbilt in Newport and The Mayflower, Cartwright created The Muse brand for these hotels.

The White Barn is a Forbes Five Star and AAA Diamond restaurant and one of the best dining experiences we have had.

Muse is an elegant room with a soft gray palette, accented colorful artwork and fresh flowers. The restaurant has fantastic views over the lawn to the Shakespearean garden maze and in warmer weather guests can dine al fresco on the terrace. Muse showcases Cartwright’s considerable talents with items like seared venison, smoked potato puree, roasted shallots, butternut squash and red wine veal reduction.


Oddly for a town with such French influences, there are few French bistros, but Meauxbar is a local’s favorite and its latest incarnation is under the guidance of restaurateur Robert LeBlanc who operated the Poydras Street restaurant Ste. Marie, which has closed. He has brought his entire staff over to Meauxbar including executive chef Kristin Essig.

With its gold hued walls, mirrors, tile floor and wonderful dark wood antique bar, Meauxbar looks like a classic French bistro and turns out delicious bistro food. Arrive early for one of their excellent cocktails like the Pecan Old Fashioned; pecan bourbon, vanilla, toasted orange oil.

Menu fare is classic bistro with an interesting take. We loved the Goat Cheese Tart; pork fat pastry, caramelized onions, niçoise olives and bocquerones and the Foie Gras Torchon; blueberry jam, brioche and walnut crust as appetizers. For entrees we enjoyed the Louisiana Gulf Fish Amandine with rice pilaf and haricots verts and the Hanger Steak au Poivre with parmesan frites. For dessert we choose a decadent Marquise Au Chocolat: caramelized oats, smoked salt, bourbon chantilly and raisin.

The French leaning wine list is compact but with some very good choices like a 2014 Jean Luc Colombo Rosé ‘Cape Bleu’, a 2013 Berthier Coteaux de Giennois Blanc, a 2013 Delas Freres Ventoux and a 2013 Domaine Jean-Jacques Girard.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: More conducive to lively conversation

Vibrant and effortlessly chic, this sleeper turned hot spot brings you to Paris through creative, high-end French bistro classics with Asian accents that provide an excellent departure from New Orleans standards; the discreet staff’s attention is not compromised even when the small dining room gets crowded, and though it’s kind of pricey, hey, it’s the Quarter. ZAGAT


Menton is that rare opportunity to experience the culinary mastery of one of America’s best chefs in Barbara Lynch and the brilliance of its Wine Director, Cat Silirie.

Lynch is a James Beard Award winner, has won the coveted AAA Five Diamond award and Forbes Five Star award for Menton. The Boston Globe gave the restaurant 4 stars and Lynch is currently the only female in the United States to hold the distinguished title of Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux.

Silirie, recognized by The New York Times’ Kay Rentschler as “Boston’s pre-eminent sommelier”, and by Bon Appetit as “one of the country’s best sommeliers.” oversees the wine program for all the Lynch restaurants. She received the James Beard Foundation Award for “Best Wine Program” at No. 9 Park.

We are big fans of two of Lynch’s other restaurants No. 9 Park and B&G Oysters and Menton is

Cocktail & Food Photography for Menton Restaurant & Drink Bar

just one further feather in her culinary cap.

A six-seat bar, with additional seating for ten at tables along a banquette, features wines by the glass and craft cocktails. Wine selection includes a section of  “rare and discovery” wines like a 2015 Dauvissat-Camus Chablis Grand Cru “Les Clos”. An opportunity to try some great wine by the glass.

Menus include an A La Carte Menu and a “Chef’s Whim” Menu. The menu changes throughout the year, but recent offerings included Seared Foie Gras, apple, cinnamon cap mushroom and slow roasted fig; King Crab, bergamot, cauliflower and shiso; Duck Breast, rhubarb, muscat grapes and swiss chard; Ricotta Cheesecake, thyme, kumquat and Meyer lemon sherbet. The artistry of the presentation and the precision in which it is served enhance an already wonderful experience.

Food Photography for Menton Restaurant

The wine list is carefully thought out with an ample representation of old world wines from France, Italy, and Austria, but also a selection of beautiful American wines from small growers. You will find wonderful wines on this list of which you have never heard,

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. This is a place for romance, to wine and dine, to enjoy the good life.


AAA Five Diamond Award
Forbes Five Star Dining
4 Stars Boston Globe
Relais & Chateau member
Grand Chef Relais & Châteaux – only female in U.S

“The theater of a perfectly crafted restaurant unfolds” at Barbara Lynch’s “fabulous” French-Italian in the Seaport District’s Fort Point, thanks to an “impeccable” team that “accommodates individual preferences” and provides an “educational experience” throughout each course; the “over-the-top” experience in the “romantic”“formal” space is a “wallet emptier”, but it’s “worth the obscene amount” to be treated like “an oligarch for the night.” ZAGAT


There was a time when hotel dining was a last resort, but that has changed. Today, many hotel restaurants can hold their own against the best in their city. Such is the case of Meritage which can actually stake its claim as one of Boston’s best.

By day, the room seems anything but romantic, but at night it is transformed. Hardwood and tile floors, modern art, eclectic overhead lighting and sleek modern furniture all come together into an intimate and warm delight with huge windows overlooking the sparkling harbor.

Start with a drink at the bar, I suggest a Berritini, vodka infused with blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, shaken and served ice cold straight up.

I love when a chef does something truly innovative and Chef Daniel Bruce has done just that. His entire menu is available in either a small plate or a large plate and matched to six primary characteristics of wine. So, there are menu items that work well with Champagne, light whites, full bodied whites, fruity reds, spicy, earthy reds and robust reds.

I opted for the small plates, so I could try more things. I began with a duet of Champagne mignonette laced Duxbury oysters and fried oysters with smoked pepper mayonnaise and paired that with a glass of Nicolas Feuillate, Brut Premier Cru Champagne. A delightful Vernaccia di San Gimignano “Ab Vinea Doni,” perfectly complimented a sweet pea and shallot filled cannelloni with braised rabbit and pea sprouts. I selected a Meritage “Seña,” from Chile to go with a Kobe beef duo of tartar and charred carpaccio and served with a crispy potato cake and sweet garlic aioli. Finally for dessert a chocolate tasting plate of white chocolate chiffon cake with green tea ice cream, milk chocolate ganache tart and dark chocolate Boston éclair paired with a Barbera d’Asti “Panta Rei,”

This was one of the most satisfying and fun meals I have enjoyed. Every course, every wine was an adventure. Add to that the glorious view on a summer Friday evening and an attentive staff and you have one very special night.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. Ask for a table by the window.

AAA Four Diamond Award
Forbes Four Star Award
Wine Spectator Award

Chef Daniel Bruce’s upscale waterfront New American destination at the Boston Harbor Hotel has undergone an extensive renovation, retaining the awe-inspiring harbor views but updating the environs with a more modern, stylish decor and a centerpiece wine bar where flights are poured from a 750-label collection. A tweaked menu concept stresses “vineyard to table” dishes designed for pairing, and even features a monthly rotating olive oil used to prepare the fresh, delicate cuisine. ZAGAT

Michael’s on the Hill

Michael’s is the most romantic restaurant in town and one we never miss when we are in the area.

You enter the old converted farmhouse down a stone walk bordered by colorful flowers (or snow!). The living room, has comfortable seating while waiting for your table and it’s where a pianist entertains behind a baby grand on weekends.

The walls are a soothing taupe, arched doorways and wall openings provide a line of sight from room to room and fresh flowers and vivid artwork provide the color. Stickel style tables and chairs are set with crisp linens, silver, crystal and china.

Chef/owner Michael Kloeti was born raised and trained in Switzerland. After stints in NYC, Hawaii he opened Michael’s on the Hill in 2002. An early proponent of the farm to table movement, Kloeti is a member of the Vermont Fresh Network, Slow Food & Local First Vermont.

The menu changes seasonally, but here are some recent highlights: Crispy Rhode Island Calamari with Frisée, Reggiano & Capers, Skillet Chicken with, Smoked Cheddar Polenta, Roasted Asparagus & Shallot Confit, Local Pork Shank Pot au Feu with Pickled Mustard Seeds and Warm Carrot Pistachio Cake with Vermont Cream Cheese Ice Cream.

There are about 16 wines by the glass, priced reasonably at $9-$16. The rest of the list is varied and interesting and very fairly priced.

The 4 table patio is the place to sit when the weather cooperates. The sunset over the mountain range is breathtaking.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. In the nicer weather sit on the patio. Otherwise opt for the side porch.


Wine Spectator Award Winning List

“The Green Mountains provide the romantic backdrop at chef-owner Michael Kloeti’s atmospheric Continental, set in an 1820s farmhouse in Waterbury Center, with an enclosed wraparound porch. The locally sourced fare changes with the season, and dishes like herb butter-poached lobster with white beans and preserved lemon can be ordered à la carte or as part of a tasting menu.” ZAGAT

Minetta Tavern

Keith McNally and his team have a particular genius in creating themed restaurants fashioned after another time or place. Balthazar, Pastis Pravda and Schiller’s to name a few. Excellent food, a casual atmosphere and moderate prices make these restaurants favorites of many New Yorkers. Testament to their popularity is that they are always busy, any day, any time of year. In fact, we never miss stopping at Balthazar when we are in that part of the City and Minetta now joins that group as one of our favorites.

Minetta Tavern was opened in 1937 on MacDougal Street in Greenwich Village. Over the years it became a hang-out for various literary types including Ernest Hemingway and Dylan Thomas. The McNally group took over in 2008 and despite extensive renovations, the restaurant looks like you would imagine it looked in the 30s, mahogany bar, black and white tile floors, wood paneled walls covered with photographs, tin ceilings, red banquettes, crisp white tablecloths and gleaming stemware. Today, the restaurant is one of the most sought after reservations in the City.

Menu highlights include appetizers like classic beef tartare, roasted bone marrow, salt cod, potatoes and summer truffles and entrees like their to-die-for Black Label burger, a selection of prime dry-aged beef cuts with caramelized onions and pommes frites, roasted free range chicken with braised chard and pommes aligot and of course the bone-in New York strip which is one of the best steaks I have had in New York. A selection of farmstead cheeses and a glass of port end a truly memorable meal.

About 18 wines by the glass priced in the $15-$22 range and with good selections. The full wine list has good choices but is a bit pricey. Great tap and bottled beer choices like Old Speckled Hen and St-Feuillien Saison and an excellent assortment of spirits, many of which you probably haven’t even heard about like Wray and Nephew rum and Basil Heyden’s bourbon.

“Nostalgia trip” meets “trendiness” at Keith McNally’s “energetic” Village “standout” that revives a circa-1937 tavern with “vintage” knickknacks, “snappy” service and “excellent” French fare including a “mind-blowing” Black Label burger (“holy cow!”); the prospect of “famous” faces in the back room keeps it a “tough table”, despite digs “more crowded than the subway.” ZAGAT

“The best steakhouse in the city” Frank Bruni, New York Times

“Another McNally Time and Again Mirage. There’s pleasure in everything we’re eating.”  Gael Greene, The Insatiable Critic

“The setting itself is classic McNally genius and feels as it did 60 years ago.” Mimi Sheraton, former food critic, New York Times.

Mister A’s

Wow, inadequately describes the view from Mister A’s 12th floor restaurant overlooking the in downtown SD. You’re so high up, planes are actually landing below you at the airport.

Whether you are there for lunch (Fridays) or Brunch (Sundays) and sitting on the delightful patio, or for dining in the evening with the City all lit up, this is a San Diego experience you won’t want to miss.

Created by renowned restaurateur Bertrand Hug, owner of the popular Mille Fleurs in Rancho Sante Fe, this Modern American restaurant with French and Mediterranean influences is about as special occasion as you can get.

Chef de Cuisine Stephane Voitzwinkler, helms the kitchen and his Alsatian upbringing infuses his cuisine with this region’s unique mixture of cultures: while French ingredients and techniques dominate, the Alsatian German influence makes itself evident in Mister A’s dishes like spaetzel, choucroute and house made sausage. As an example of this, we enjoyed a wonderful Pork Schnitzel with brown butter sauce, lemon and capers at lunch one day.

Nice cocktail list and wines by the glass. Try the Burnt Orange Old Fashioned,
Templeton Rye And Buffalo Trace Whiskies, Burnt Orange Reduction, Orange Angostura.

Some menu highlights: Saltspring Island Mussels “Provencale”, Garlic Herbs ”Gratin”; Blue Fin Tuna Tiradito, Cucumber-Jalapeno Aguachile, Sesame, Sunchoke Chips; Braised Prime Beef Shortribs, Cabernet Sauvignon Reduction; Roasted Rack Of Lamb, Herbes De Provence, Cannellini Beans, Thyme Garlic Jus; Hazelnut Crusted Local White Sea Bass, Lemon Thyme, Asparagus, Champagne Butter; Spiced Chai Creme Brulee, Shortbread Cookie, Seasonal Fruit; Vanilla Bean Cheesecake, Poached Pears, Champagne Gelée, Walnut Brittle, Rosemary, Pomegranate

 “For decades, this venerable 12th-floor dining room with panoramic views and polished service, led by the restaurant’s namesake Betrand Hug, has reigned as a celebratory fine-dining destination. Chef Stephane Voitzwinkler’s California-luxe seasonal cuisine is complemented by a popular happy hour that draws an after-work and pretheater crowd for cocktails and bites.” Fodor’s

Best of Award of Excellence – Wine Spectator

Mustard’s Grill

There are a lot of pioneers in the Napa Valley, on both the food and wine sides and Cindy Pawlcyn, owner of Mustard’s Grill and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, is one of them. Born in Minneapolis, she received a degree in hotel and restaurant management from the University of Wisconsin and received further training at Le Cordon Bleu and La Varenne in Paris. Her first job was at the renowned Pump Room in Chicago and in the early 80’s she went on to be the opening chef at Meadowwood. She opened Mustard’s in 1983 and has helped spawn a number of other Bay area restaurants. She is an inductee of Who’s Who of Cooking in America, has also been twice nominated for the James Beard Foundation award for Best Chef in California and is the recipient of the Robert Mondavi Award for Culinary Excellence.

Pawlcyn was one of the first chefs to build  an organic garden where she could draw seasonal inspiration for her dishes, as well as treat her diners to the pure flavors of produce picked fresh just hours before arriving on the plate.

Today, after 30 years, Mustard’s is still a favorite with locals and is a ‘must’ stop for tourists. Its fresh flavors and warm ambiance, have diners returning over and over.

Everything on the menu is good, but try the Dungeness crab cakes, with espelette aioli, garden greens and sherry vinaigrette. From the wood burning grille, the ribs are legendary and I loved the many mustard rabbit, with proscuitto, brussel sprout leaves, sage roasted butternut squash and currants. Don’t leave without enjoying an order of onion rings with a tomato apple ketchup.

This is a place to drink wine. There are about 27 wines by the glass, some interesting flights and an excellent selection of ½ bottles. The general list has selections from all over the world, with some unusual wines/grapes you don’t see very often. See not so common whites and not so common reds. All unbelievably well priced.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: This is such a lively and fun place, you aren’t really thinking about romance

A must-stop when in Yountville, this longtime favorite from chef-owner Cindy Pawlcyn offers a scrumptious Cal-New American menu (highlighted by a legendary Mongolian pork chop) along with an extensive wine selection; a casual, comfortable setting and accommodating service add to the overall enjoyable feel. ZAGAT

Nemacolin Woodlands

Nemacolin offers the most extensive line-up of dining options in this group of Great Resorts. On the casual side, The Tavern is a popular English style pub serving lunch and dinner year round. Great beer selection, TV’s and pool tables and you can dine in the bar or an indoor sidewalk cafe around a free standing aquarium. Cut above the normal pub food. Try the double crunch homemade potato chips, the chili, the black and blue chicken or steak salad (blackened chicken or steak with sweet blu cheese dressing) and the grilled chicken fontina with proscuitto, tomato, lettuce, parsley caper aioli on ciabatta.

The Wildside is also open daily and year round and is part of the entertainment emporium featuring 8 lanes of bowling, an indoor climbing wall, 65+ arcade games, pool tables and more. Pizza, burgers, 20 variety of wings and 16 draft beers. Also the only custom blended ice cream shop in the region.

P.J.”s is a 1950’s style ice cream, pizza parlor and deli located next to Kidz Klub. Pizzas, salads, sandwiches and old-fashioned ice cream floats. Kids will love this.

Elements, located at the Spa, offers healthy fare like smoothies, wraps and salads and is open Wednesday-Sunday. Orville’s is located at the Shooting Academy and open depending on how busy the Academy is that particular day. The Hungry Moose Cafe, the Gazebo (Links Golf Course), Mulligan’s (Mystic Rock Golf Course), Amber (Mystic Rock lobby), and Paradise Pool are seasonal and all offer casual menus.

On the fine dining side, Autumn, located in the Lodge, offers delicious Italian fare in a rustic dining room with peach walls, a colorful patterned carpet, large gold framed artwork and tres ceilings. The feel is reminiscent of a Tuscan trattoria. Open year round and every day for breakfast and dinner. The menu changes seasonally, but the delicious Autumn’s meatballs are always available as an appetizer and shouldn’t be missed. We also enjoyed a baked mozzarella tart as an appetizer; an herb shell filled with fresh mozzarella, fresh arugula and served with a tomato sauce. Our pasta course was wild mushroom and ricotta ravioli with a fresh spinach pasta and a whole grain mustard sauce. Entrees were a wonderful veal osso bucco served with potato and herb gnocchi and a delicious polenta crusted salmon with wild mushrooms, fava beans and spring garlic. Dessert was a tasty vanilla panna cotta served with strawberry compote with a basil drizzle.Good wine list, although a little expensive. 28 by the glass at $9-$25. Only a sprinkling of reds under $90. Appetizers $8-$16, pastas, $12-$16, entrees, $26-$35. Dress is resort casual.

The seasonally (April-November) available Aqueous, a AAA Four Diamond award winner, is a marvelous steakhouse set in a room with comfortable booths and tables that take full advantage of the with spectacular views of the Mystic Rock golf course. This restaurant has everything you would expect from a good steakhouse but with some interesting twists to it. The shrimp “cocktail” is actually a spicy gazpacho with croutons and balsamic, lobster bisque is served in a puff pastry and the traditional iceberg lettuce salad is served with beets, pickled red onion and marinated tomatoes. Dry aged steaks are wonderful and served with choice of sauces; classic bernaise, brandy-green peppercorn, roasted hot pepper, bordelaise, bleu cheese butter or my favorite, a house made steak sauce. Sauteed mushrooms and caramelized sweet onions and creamed spinach were delicious sides. Dessert was a sampling of house made ice creams (4) and a wonderful creme brulee served with house made blueberry ice cream. Good wine list with some interesting choices. Appetizers-$9-$19, entrees-$26-$44. Dress is resort casual.

The shining star of the group, however, is the AAA Five Diamond, Lautrec, an elegant gem with a French flavor that will be one of the highlights of your visit. Plan to spend your entire evening here and it will be one you will not soon forget. The comfortable dining room is a circular space with wood paneled walls, wine racks, red/burgundy carpets and chair fabrics and recessed lighting. Tables and banquettes are set with crisp linens, gleaming tableware and fresh flowers.

I usually leave pricing to the end because while important to note, it has little bearing on the experience. Here it is important to highlight right up front. Four courses are available for $98. A tasting menu is $115, with wine pairings $185. The Grand Tasting is $135, paired with wine is $245. The ultimate experience, which we enjoyed, is the Grand Tasting with the Sommelier’s Grand Pairings at $295. This is an extravaganza for the senses with some 13 courses paired with absolutely amazing wines. It is expensive, but I can assure you it is worth every penny.

There are too many courses to go through them all but the menu included caviar, scallops, sweetbreads, lamb, Wagyu beef and foie gras among others. The wines included Champagne, Sancerre, Riesling, Santenay, Chateaunuef-du-Pape, Barbaresco and more. Service was impeccable with at least three servers working our table at all times. The Sommelier, Terry Sekura, was very knowledgeable, explained each of his selections and clearly enjoyed being able to select each of our wines from his cellar. It was an astounding experience.

If you opt for the 4 course meal or the Tasting Menu, you won’t want to miss the wine or beer pairings with cheese as a dessert course. Here’s a sampling; Abbaye de Belloc & Cabernet Sauvignon, “This pairing reads like a romance novel: the sweet yet complex lady meets the brawny, intense gent, and the two of them together are a beautiful force of nature! The undeniably delicious Abbaye is a natural match for a big, beefy red and Cabernet Sauvignon fits the bill to a tee.” Or, Epoisses & Guinness, “Two heavyweights make a fitting pairing: the creamy texture of Guinness along with its notes of chocolate and coffee bring out the sweetness of this complex and captivating washed-rind cheese. The weighty palate of both the beer and the cheese match each other beautifully!”

Nicholas Barrel & Roost

After 20 years as the best fine dining restaurant in New Jersey and one of the best in the country, Chef Nicholas Harary and his wife, Melissa have introduced a bold, new concept, Nicholas  Barrel & Roost, that has raised the bar for casual style restaurants. They continues to produce outstanding food, but in a more relaxed setting. Gone are the white tablecloths and formal service. In its place is a modern farmhouse interior with a delightful al fresco patio. Lunch and weekend brunch are now served. The select drinks menu makes use of the season’s freshest ingredients and highlights liquors from Nicholas’ private-barrel stash, made exclusively for him under his direct guidance. The well-appointed bar also features craft beers on tap as well as an expertly curated wine collection.

The menu features some wonderful bar snacks like crispy chicken and Alabama white sauce, fried house made pickles and a raw bar with East and West Coast oysters and cavier.  Fans of the restaurant will notice menu item carry-overs like prime steaks, bourbon braised suckling pig, pan roasted King salmon, butter poached Nova Scotia lobster tail and more. New items include a sirloin, short rib burger, artisan pizzas, fresh pastas and salads.

You will not be able to resist one of the decadent desserts like the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie with Nicholas Creamery Bourbon Aged Coffee Ice Cream.

Nice selection of moderately priced wines by the glass like a Domonique Crochet Sancerre at $13. There’s also a selection of “Nick’s Top Picks Under $50.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: A table on the outside patio is private and intimate.

That first name, Nicholas, will be familiar to NJM readers, who have seen it grace every Best Restaurants list since the first one in 2007. But after a 20-year run, Nicholas and Melissa Harary have transformed Restaurant Nicholas, the avatar of contemporary fine dining in the Garden State, into a new, family-friendly eatery tailored to these times. New Jersey Monthly Magazine

Nick & Toni’s

I like anything roasted or grilled over a wood fire and Nick & Toni’s has taken that kind of cooking to a new level. Despite its reputation as a celebrity favorite, there is no pretension here, this restaurant is really about the food.

The décor is crisp and clean, white walls and tablecloths, oak and cane chairs. Color is introduced in the artwork and the flowers. The burning wood oven aroma is intoxicating and a portent of wonderful flavors to come.

Nice pasta selection including a wonderful Hand Cut Tagliatelli with Spring Lamb Ragu, Fava Beans and Percorino Romano. As an entrée, order anything cooked over the natural wood fire like the roasted whole fish or the incredibly satisfying wood roasted free range chicken with roasted potatoes, pancetta, garlic and rosemary. Paired with a Pecorino Fattoria La Valentina, a crisp Italian white, this was a fantastic meal.

There are three comfortable rooms in which to dine, the bar area which centers the restaurant and two side rooms. There is also a delightful patio available in the good weather. Table #10 in the bay window, table #29 in the bar area and table #6 are the most romantic in my view.

There are about a dozen wines by the glass ranging and a nice selection of half bottles. The wine list is excellent with choices from all over the world.  Pricing is a bit on the expensive side, but there are still plenty of choices under $75.

Keep your eyes peeled because you are very likely to see someone famous….or at least someone from Page Six


“A popular landing pad for celebrities and the see-and-be-seen crowd, this trendy, farmhouse-style East Hampton icon turns out brilliant Italian-Med fare that’s the real star, featuring local produce and top-notch dishes from a wood-burning oven, plus an exceptional wine list; gracious staffers are poised to deliver dishes priced for the rich and famous, provided you get past the reservation desk.” ZAGAT

No. 9 Park

Located in a townhouse in Beacon Hill, just across from the Boston Commons, No. 9 Park is on just about everyone’s list of favorites. It is a small (@16 tables) and intimate spot with wonderful food and wine and near perfect service.

The restaurant and Chef/Owner Barbara Lynch have been awarded numerous accolades over the last few years. She was named one of the “10 Best New Chefs in America” by Food and Wine Magazine, The James Beard Foundation named Lynch “Best Chef Northeast” and Boston Magazine touted her as “Best Chef in Boston.”  The restaurant was named among the “Top 25 New Restaurants in America” by Bon Appetit and Travel & Leisure named No. 9 one of the “Top 50 Restaurants in America.”

You enter the restaurant into the bar area which has a long bar and tables for cocktails or to enjoy a bar menu. Straight to the back through an arched doorway is the main dining room with about 10 tables. A large mirror flanked by green curtains, lamps and flowers centers the room. There are two tables down the middle and the others in taupe banquettes along the walls. Beaded hanging lights create an intimate feel. Crisp whites, gleaming china and crystal complete a picture of casual elegance. To the right of the entry is another dining room with about six tables and while the Main Room is beautiful, the front tables in the side room are more intimate and offer romantic views of the street and the Commons beyond.

Begin your evening with a cocktail at the bar, because Ms. Lynch has taken as much care in assembling a drink menu as she has for her food. The signature drink, Palmyra, is a delightful concoction of Rain vodka (made in Kentucky from white corn), mint simple syrup and fresh squeezed lime juice.

Chef Lynch is renowned for her pastas, having learned technique directly from women in Italy, so the choice for a first course was easy, a Shrimp Tortellini with fava beans, green garlic and spiced pistachio. A wonderful Grilled Swordfish was  prepared with tarragon cream, porcini mushroom and pickled cherry. For dessert the Banana Bread Soufflé with milk chocolate and crème anglaise was fantastic.

This is how Cat Silirie, Wine Director of No. 9 describes her wine list, “Our wine list features wines of France and of Italy and represents only the most interesting American wines from small producers. There is also a small selection dedicated to the wines of Austria and Germany. The process of selecting these wines is very personal, representing not the standard categories, but rather a collection of wines from the direct experience of myself and our staff.” I found the staff to be very knowledgeable (I usually ask for a red or white suggestion under $50), the selections interesting and the pricing very reasonable.

ROMANTIC QUOTIETNT: Very high, this is a sexy and sophisticated restaurant equally good for a special occasion or just a fun night out.

AAA Four Diamond Award
Forbes Four Star Award

Barbara Lynch deserves sainthood for her consistently great Beacon Hill classic, a stellar French-Italian destination where each elegant dish is beautifully presented and served with style and grace in fancy but comfortable surrounds; though tabs are expensive, you get what you pay for all substance, not flash. ZAGAT

North Fork Table & Inn

The summer of 2006 may well become known as the beginning of the food revolution on the North Fork. That’s when the North Fork Table opened and if it is the precursor of what is to come, the area will be a food mecca in no time. How can you go wrong, with a restaurant pedigree of its owners that includes Aureole, River Cafe, Gramercy Tavern and Hearth? In a business with a high failure rate, the odds are stacked for these folks.

The first thing you notice upon arrival is the buzz. People are happy to be here…this is the place to be on a Saturday night., even on the night we were there in the pouring rain. The second thing you notice is the soft elegance of the decor, a bit of a Gramercy Tavern feel, which is understandable. Pale blue walls, white wainscoting, thin plank pine floors, beamed ceilings, Andrew Wyeth like artwork, a black slate bar and an antique white armoire. Tables are dressed with crisp linens and comfortably spaced. There are a number of intimate nooks like table #31 for two or a table for six toward the back of the bar room.

Chef Stephan Bogardus makes use of local resources for a menu with a French flair. He likes to subtly blend flavors by braising and roasting. As evidence, a wonderful braised pancetta crusted rabbit loin and a grilled aged sirloin with a red wine braised short rib on the menu and enjoyed the night we visited. Delicious ragouts and caramelized vegetables complemented these terrific entrees.

Desserts from Claudia Fleming, formally the pastry chef at Gramercy are amazing marriages of scents and tastes, warm sugar and spice donuts with hot buttered rum and an upside down caramelized apple tart with cider sorbet and creme fraiche to name just two.

The wine list starts with about 15 wines by the glass, each with compelling tasting notes. They are available in a 3oz. taster or a 6oz. glass. While you are seeing this more often today, it is still somewhat unique and a wonderful way to try a number of wines.

An interesting wine list with about a third  from local Long Island wineries and representations from the other major wine regions. Best of all the prices are incredibly reasonable. Bravo for not getting caught up in the wine gouging frenzy.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: It can get a little noisy when full (which is usually) but pick a table like #31 and you’ll feel like it’s just the two of you.

“Always a pleasure”, this Southold “gem” of chefs Gerry Hayden and Claudia Fleming is “everything an East End restaurant should be”, rated Long Island’s No.1 for Food and Service while offering “the freshest locally sourced ingredients” “from farm to sea” transformed into “awesome, savory” New American prix fixe menus with desserts that double as “works of art”, all accompanied by a “superlative” staff; the “simple but elegant” setting lends added appeal, completing an experience devotees declare “the best around” and “well worth the price”; P.S. the adjacent Lunch Truck is “the bomb.” ZAGAT

North Pond

North Pond offers one of the most delightful settings in the City, nestled in Lincoln Park overlooking a Pond. When the weather is nice, dining outside is a treat and even in the winter, inside beside the fireplace it’s warm and cozy. The interior is decorated in light woods, with hardwood floors, high ceilings and lots of windows. Crisp linens and gleaming tableware grace the tables.

Longtime chef Bruce Sherman stepped down in 2019 and turned the reins over to his chef de cuisine Tim Vidrio. Vidrio, 34, has been with North Pond since 2011 after working in kitchens including Le Francais, Moto and NoMi at the Park Hyatt Hotel. Sherman remains a partner.

Some menu highlights: appetizers: warm watercress-potato soup, goat cheese custard, smoked bacon-parmesan palmier, cress and ash-crusted monkfish loin medallion, maple-braised leek bâton, arugula pesto, crisp shallots, pine nuts, herbs; entrees: roasted Alaskan halibut, baby artichokes, butterball potato smoked brandade, sausage, tomato confit, barigoule broth and marrow-crusted charred flatiron steak, rutabaga-langue cake, rainbow chard, horseradish butter, glazed beets; desserts: banana, pineapple, caramelized pineapple, warm banana cake, Szechuan ice cream, tapioca pearls, macadamias and 80% dark chocolate mousse, Meyer Lemon, seville and moro orange, satsuma sorbet, ancho caramel, “cake”.

The wine list has about 17 wines by the glass ranging from $14-$19. The full list is not lengthy, but has lots of good choices in the $50 range. Nice selection of ports, sherries, Madeira and dessert wines. Excellent collection of craft beers.

On a warm summer night under the stars, the City seems miles away.


“pastoral” “oasis of fine dining” on a pond inside Lincoln Park, this “top-notch” New American offers “creative”“locally sourced” fare that’s “artistic on the plate” in a “gorgeous” “Arts and Crafts building” with “jaw-dropping views of the city”“subtly attentive” service that “makes you feel special” adds to the reasons it’s “worth the splurge”, especially “for a celebration.” ZAGAT

Oak Steakhouse

When a steakhouse is done right it’s dark and sexy, with a touch of elegance, has intimate seating and great food and wine. It’s as perfect to close a business deal as it is for a romantic interlude. Not too many get it right these days….but the Oak Steakhouse in Charleston does. I’ve been lamenting the decline of the old steakhouses in New York in favor of sleek, cavernous upstarts, but after my experience here, I am heartened that some people still get it.

Start with the design. Housed in a 150 year old former bank, the space retains much of its old charm; 18 foot ceilings, arched doorways, mahogany paneling and pine floors. There are three floors of dining. The main floor houses the antique bar and wonderful circular leather booths (I’m a booth guy!). The room is dark and intimate with brick walls, antique mirrors, jazz inspired artwork and splashes of light. There’s an exciting vibe here. The second floor and third floors are divided into small, cozy dining rooms, with working fireplaces on the third floor. The best tables look out the huge front windows overlooking Broad Street.

The menu reminds me of The Palm in New York, classic steak with an Italian component. But that’s where the similarity ends. This was the best steakhouse meal I have had in some time. Classic Steak Tartar came with capers, cornichons, parmigiano-reggiano and crostini. For once my steak came out right the first time…just pink…with a crispy crust and Oak’s house made streak sauce. Absolutely perfect. Classic creamed spinach had just the right amount of cream and spices and Parmesan that still allowed the flavor of the spinach to come through. Truffled pomme frites was a perfect accompaniment.  I paired my meal with a delicious Frank Family Cabernet Sauvignon at $23 the glass.

Dessert was an utterly decadent, a Creme Fraiche Cheesecake, almond crust, cherry white chocolate macaron, with a goat milk dulce de leche center.

The wine list is solid with some 200 bottles, @ 20 wines by the glass in the $9-$23 range and good representation from the major regions.Would like to see more Cabs under $100.


“A 150-year old former bank has been transformed into a three-level stunner [Oak Steakhouse].” Bon Appetit,

“As much of the local food gossip these days centers on who serves the best beef ” the Oak Steakhouse” The New York Times

This “upscale” Broad Street steakhouse set in a renovated 150-year-old bank building offers “exemplary”, locally sourced beef and “impressive” wines in a “lively environment” that’s “classy yet comfortable”“attentive” service completes the special-occasion experience, which is priced accordingly, but “worth every cent.” ZAGAT

Ojai Valley Inn & Spa

Maravilla is the award winning signature restaurant at the Inn. Decorated in rich oranges, browns, golds and reds, the space is easy to sink into and makes you want to linger long after you’ve finished your meal. Well spaced tables ensure you aren’t forced to hear the conversation going on at the table next to you, and the table linens and candles on each table provide further intimacy. Mirrors and rustic chandeliers punctuate the cozy space, and a fireplace adds a dash of hominess that just makes you sigh in lazy contentment. In the summer, guests can dine on the balcony which overlooks the golf course and the rugged mountains beyond. The restaurant staff could not have been more courteous and attentive, ensuring that I understood the menu and suggested wines appropriate for my dinner choice. The extensive wine list guarantees that there is a vino perfect for every palate, and to pair with every item on the menu. The selection includes a myriad of local options, as well as an impressive selection from France, Australia and New Zealand. Prices are very reasonable whether you choose a glass, a half bottle or a bottle. My appetizer was a decadent choice of crispy, deep fried artichokes with lemon thyme hollandaise sauce that I enjoyed every bite of. Another option that I observed but did not partake in was a creative squash soup, lit from beneath to release the aroma of cinnamon sticks that garnished the heaping bowl. My main dish, pan seared river trout was garnished with veggies grown in the chef’s garden, and a festive swirl of bacon festooned the plate with panache. Never have I experienced a better piece of fish. Light and fluffy and not swimming in butter or greasy sauces, this fish was the epitome of delicious. Appetizers $10-$15, entrees $29-$39

The Oak Cafe serves breakfast featuring regionally grown fruits, house made granola, organic egg dishes and freshly squeezed juices. The Oak Grill serves lunch and dinner in a casual atmosphere and is decorated in a Spanish Colonial motif with a central fireplace and outside dining. Jimmy’s Pub is a great place to watch sporting events and enjoy California micro-brewed beers, signature margaritas, Central Coast wines and single malt scotches. Delicious thin crust brick oven pizzas and burgers. Café Verde serves lighter Mediterranean fare for lunch; salads, smoothies, sandwiches and desserts are available all afternoon

One If By Land, Two If By Sea

Housed in a restored carriage house once owned by Aaron Burr, One If By Land is a favorite romantic restaurant in the City. Piano music in the background, fireplaces, brick walls, French windows onto an illuminated garden and tables with a single candle and a bouquet of fresh pink roses make you want to pop the question, even if you are already married.

The service is impeccable and unpretentious. Long-timer Juan Miguel took care of us on our last visit and he was both professional and fun. When I asked him to suggest one of two entrees, he just smiled, wrote something down and walked away. The choice he brought was perfect. We enjoyed a house cab so much we wanted to order a bottle, but it wasn’t on the wine list. Minutes later, he arrived with a bottle for the table.

I started with a delicious Parmesan Gnocchi with pancetta, English peas, basil pesto, pine nuts and a truffle oil and I tasted the Tart of Seasonal Mushrooms which was wonderfully aromatic and earthy. I come here specifically for the individual Beef Wellington, a tender Black Angus creation with mushroom duxelle and pate under a buttery puff pastry. The Roasted Maine Lobster and crabmeat risotto is equally as good, as is the Roasted Monkfish with clams over fettucine with a yellow tomato-fennel confit.

For dessert, you cannot miss the decadent Chocolate Souffle.

The wine list has won the prestigious Wine Spectator Award of Excellence since 1993 and deservedly so. Plenty of choices in virtually any category and very fairly priced.

The main dining room is my favorite (tables #51-72) and table #63 sits in a corner, at a window overlooking the garden. They’ll take table requests, but won’t guarantee a particular table. Tell them it’s a special occasion and you’ll have a good chance.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: May be the best in NYC.

AAA Four Diamond Award

“Steeped in history” and “romance”, this “historic” Village “rendezvous” set in Aaron Burr’s former carriage house offers “excellent” American cuisine delivered by staffers who “take their job seriously”; “mood-setting” touches – “candlelit rooms”, four fireplaces, a piano bar – distract from the “special occasion”–level tabs. ZAGAT

Oran Mor Bistro

Two friends, Chef Edwin Claflin and Jon Tancinco, who met in culinary school, took over the reins of this island institution in 2016. Oran Mor  has been an island favorite from the time Peter Wallace opened it and Chris Freeman continued the tradition. The transition has been seemless and the restaurant remains an island favorite.

The restaurant is housed on the upper floor of a traditional New England building. Entry is into a delightful bar area with a half moon shaped bar. Dining rooms broken up into are small, intimate spaces.

Start with one of their craft cocktails like the signature Mortini, Plymouth Navy Strength gin, Dolan Blanc (a rich, slightly sweet vermouth) and Lemon Express. Good selection of whiskies including, when available, Pappy Van Winkle bourbon by the glass.

The menu makes use of local produce, seafood and other products. Lobster Gemelli features lobster, chanterelles, lobster cream, tarragon, corn and leeks. Razor Clam Gargeneli is made with chorico and chopped clam bolognese, sweety drop peppers, stinging nettle pasta and onion cream.

Chicken Under a Cobblestone was served with rosemary marble potatoes and chicken jus. A Roasted Berkshire Pork Shop came with herbed spatzle, sweet and sour red cabbage and a mustard jus.

The Millfoiffle was an amazing dessert; waffled puff pastry, apple confit, black cardamom cream and smoked cinnamon ice cream.

The wine list is a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner with great choices and reasonable prices.

High. The small dining rooms are intimate and cozy and dining outside is even more private.

Outermost Inn

At the western tip of the island, beneath the Gay Head lighthouse and with sweeping views of the ocean is a very special restaurant. The Outermost Inn, owned by Hugh and Jeanne Taylor (brother of James and Livingston)  offers spectacular sunsets and wonderful food.

While it is 18 miles from Edgartown, the trip takes about 45 minutes each way. With tip, the taxi ride, round trip, is about $80. If you haven’t brought a car over, I suggest renting one for a day or two. You’ll save money going to our favorite restaurant at the western part of the island and there’s plenty to see and do outside of Edgartown. However you get here, it’s worth the trip.

You arrive at the front of the Inn and make your way to the back patio where there is an outside bar. Complimentary snacks are set out for the guests and on this visit included a delicious bluefish dip and crackers. Comfortable Adirondack chairs overlook some 20 acres of open land that drift down to the water.

The look is a clean and crisp country with beamed ceilings, wide plank pine floors, white woodwork, near ceiling to floor windows, ladder back chairs and white tablecloths with green straw placemats. Soft jazz plays in the background, the tables are set with fresh flowers and candles and the mood is set. The start of dinner is delayed a bit as guests rush outside to take

pictures of the amazing sunset.

Chef Christopher Gianfreda helms the kitchen and he brings a solid background having done stints with renowned chefs Jean Georges in NYC, Frank McClelland of L’Espalier in Boston, and most recently Susan Spicer in New Orleans. The restaurant makes use of their own vegetable and herb garden and the menu features locally sourced product.

Start your meal with some fresh Katama Bay oysters, served with mignonette,

cocktail sauce and rose granita. Then try the wonderful Butternut Squash soup with pepitas, bacon, cider and  brown butter. As entrees we had the Halibut with tomato braised beans, spinach, herb crust and rouille and the Beef Tenderloin with a manchego fritter, asparagus, squash, bacon jam,  brown butter hollandaise. For dessert we shared a fantastic Poached Peach with almond cream, tuile and peach sorbet.

Wine and beer is served and the wine list has some interesting choices like a Graham Beck, Brut Rosé, South Africa, Trimbach, Pinot Gris Reserve, France, 2010 and Ridge, “Geyserville”, Zinfandel, Napa, 2012.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. Eat on the porch and sit by one of the windows to get the most of the view.

“Come for dinner, stay for the view at this New American whose magical setting perched on the Gay Head Cliffs in Aquinnah earns Martha’s Vineyard’s No. 1 Decor score; sip a drink on the patio during a spectacular sunset before indulging in a fabulous prix fixe meal, which is served by a seasoned staff that aims to please, helping to make the pricey fees seem worth it.” ZAGAT


Like Balthazar in NYC, Parc is that wonderful restaurant that serves as a great choice for any meal. Modeled after a French bistro, authentic design elements like antique brass fixtures and vintage framed artwork were imported directly from Europe. Red leather banquettes topped with frosted glass provide a sense of intimacy. French doors open to the sidewalk where tables afford wonderful people watching. This is the kind of place that you could easily linger after your meal to enjoy just one more glass of wine.

The food is wonderfully prepared and served by a staff that clearly enjoys what they are doing. At breakfast you can enjoy freshly baked breads and croissants, an omelette with
fine herbs, gruyère and more. For lunch, perhaps Onion Soup Gratinee, Moules Frites, with white wine, shallots and garlic. In the afternoon enjoy a cheese and charcuterie platter and at dinner maybe Roast Chicken, Steak Frites or Trout Almondine.

Excellent and modestly priced wine list. With cheese, oysters and other snacks to compliment the wine list, this is a great place to stop at the end of the day before heading back to your hotel before dinner.

On a warm summer night or a crisp Fall evening, sitting at an outside table looking on Rittenhouse Square is a pretty romantic evening.

Stephen Starr “out-bistros most Parisian bistros” with this “très jolie” “people-watching” perch, where those lucky enough to nab an “outside table facing Rittenhouse Square” feel “transported” to the “Champs-Élysées” (but “without the smoking”); inside, the “happening scene” can reach “daunting noise levels”, but given the “first-rate” French classics – from “sophisticated brunches and lazy lunches to fancy dinners” – and “polished” service, to most it’s a “delightful experience” all the same. ZAGAT

Pascal & Sabine

If Pascal & Sabine were in my neighborhood, I would probably eat there a couple times a week. Wonderful decor (who doesn’t like booths?), excellent bistro food, a very good wine list, a fantastic Sunday brunch with live jazz and a really enjoyable staff makes this a favorite at the Jersey Shore.

Pascal and Sabine are characters from French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse’s signature work, The Red Balloon. In the film, Pascal finds a red balloon with a mind of its own that follows him around the city. You’ll see that red balloon outside the doors of the restaurant.

Inside the French inspired brasserie has a wonderful metal topped bar with small red shaded lamps, huge circular dark leather booths and the stunning artwork of Paolo Ventura. There is also an expresso bar at the front of the restaurant.

The bar offers a wonderful selection of bourbons, whiskeys, single malts, tequila and craft beers. Hand crafted cocktails include items like the Red Rum; pilar vanilla rum, red wine, lemon juice, simple syrup, brandied cherries and Peach Bourbon Ice Tea; Bulleit bourbon, peach purée, honey simple syrup, ice tea, mint. There’s also nearly 50 wines by the glass with some excellent choices.

But ultimately, it is the food you go for and it is richly satisfying at Pascal. You can enjoy classic appetizers like French onion soup, escargot and beef tartare, There’s a wonderful selection of charcuterie and cheese and caviar from around the globe. Bistro fare includes Coq Au Vin: chicken stewed in red wine with mushrooms, pearl onions & bacon, with pommes purée; Roasted Breast of Chicken: asparagus, fried duck egg, jambon de bayonne: Steak Frites: pan-seared snake river farms kobe sirloin flap, au poivre, hand-cut frites; Lobster Bouillabaisse; lobster, scallops, shrimp, mussels, bouillabaisse broth, rouille and Moules Frites; blue bay mussels, white wine, garlic, shallots, thyme & baguette.

If you still have room for dessert the creme brulee and the St. Stephen cheesecake;  hazelnut cookie crust with seasonal berries are excellent.

The wine list, with a decided French bent has a nice mix of higher end wines and bottles under $50.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. Tall , cozy booths envelop the diner and make for intimate conversation.

Small plates and elevated bistro staples are the draw at this French kitchen in Asbury Park, which also serves brunch in stylish digs with a busy bar mixing classic and creative cocktails. ZAGAT

Peninsula Grill

From the minute you walk through the curved iron gate of the Peninsula Grill opening onto the side garden patio, you sense you are in for something special. Entering through a side door, you pass the beautiful dark bar, and reach a subtly lit, elegant dining room that reminds you of a very exclusive club. The walls are covered in rich velvet with antique Cyprus woodwork, 19th-century oil paintings and contemporary renderings of local plantation life.

The staff is friendly, knowledgeable and utterly professional; there when you want them, not when you don’t. You marvel at the expert choreography of the staff as they move effortlessly through the room. We watched in awe as a table of 8 was served, exactly as one, with the help of four waiters.

I started with a glass of Tattinger and a half dozen oysters, so fresh you could taste the sea. They were arranged on the plate, three on the left from the West Coast and three on the right from the East Coast (makes sense, huh?) and served with a tangy Champagne Mignonette. Jenny had Lobster ‘3 Way’…Ravioli, Tempura and Sauteed with Warm Tomato-Basil Vinaigrette and it just may have been the best appetizer she ever had. The appetizers were served with steaming hot bread that was soft and fluffy inside and thick and crusty out. Perfect for getting up every last ounce of sauce.

For my entrée I chose the Yellow Fin Tuna that was perfectly cooked and lightly doused with an incredible toasted pecan, rosemary butter, a combination I would not have thought of, but worked so well. A side order of Vidalia mashed potatoes was the perfect accompaniment. Jen selected the benne crusted New Zealand rack of lamb with wild mushroom potatoes and a coconut mint pesto. It was juicy and tender and pink on the inside with a delicate crust outside.

The menu offers steaks and chops and salmon and grilled swordfish with 8 sauce choices; blue cheese-balsamic glaze, fois gras truffle butter, béarnaise, brandy peppercorn, ginger-lime butter, horseradish cream and maitre d’ butter. This is a great idea. And certainly beats the standard sauces offered by so many restaurants.

The wine list is extensive and interesting and is a Wine Spectator Award winner. While once we thought this list was an incredible value, prices have creaped up dramatically over the last few years. Still values to be found but not as many.

We are not much for dessert, but we couldn’t resist former Chef Carter’s signature Coconut Cake from an old family recipe. It was indescribably delicious, enough to convert even us to dessert eaters.

Weather permitting, I would suggest eating outside. The patio and garden is beautiful and with the flickering candles, quite romantic. Inside we like tables #71 and #72, along the wall and next to the windows that face the patio. Even in a bustling room, these tables seem to be more private.

It was a magical evening with people who felt like friends. This is a very special place, owned and managed by people who really care. It is not a place to be missed when you are in Charleston.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High. See table recommendations above.

What Others Say
– AAA Four Diamond Award – Dining
– Forbes Four Star Award – Dining
– “America’s Top 50 Best Hotel Restaurants” Food & Wine Magazine .

This “classic dining room” in the French Quarter’s “historic” Planters Inn offers “gastronomic bliss” via “sublime” interpretations of Low country classics; diners are “lavished with attention” from servers who are “amazingly in sync” as they work the “elegant” but “not over-stuffy” velvet-walled space, which features “loads of Southern charm.” ZAGAT


Las Vegas is less than 10% the size of NYC, yet it has only one less Five Star restaurant than the Big Apple. This is a foodie town! The point is, there are lots of choices for an over-the-top meal, but Picasso is my favorite for a host of reasons.

The gorgeous dining room is rustic, yet elegant with vaulted ceilings and exposed wood beams, terracotta tile, and hanging pottery. The dining room has 11 paintings and 14 ceramics by Picasso. 74 miniature security cameras protect these works of art. Where else can you enjoy dinner with near priceless artwork spread around the room? The outdoor patio, open seasonally, has 16 tables overlooking the Bellagio Fountains. This may be the most romantic spot in town.

Executive Chef Julian Serrano was born in Madrid and studied in Marbella. He is a two-time James Beard Award winner and has earned two Michelin Stars at Picasso. His cuisine is a blend of Spanish and French flavors and textures.

The menu changes often, but I selected the Prix Fixe and started with Jamon de Bellota, Iberico, Cinco Jotas with toasted bread, fresh tomato. This incredible cured ham is made from free-range, acorn-fed pork and cured for over two years. Next up was Sauteed Ruby Red Shrimp with roasted zucchini, crispy artichoke, tomato confit and piquillo pepper vinaigrette. My main course was an exquisite Roasted Milk-Fed Veal Chop served with rosemary potatoes and au jus. Never had a better veal chop. Dessert was a Blueberry Panna Cotta – with strawberry compote, pistachio sable, pistachio-lemon meringue, blueberry-olivares soup and creme fraiche lemon sorbet.

The wine list, a Grand Award winner from Wine Spectator, has some 1,500 selections.

At $122, this meal was a steal for this quality food and service. Even the wine pairings were reasonable at $63 or $128 with premium wines.

The outside patio overlooking the Bellagio Fountain may be the most romantic in town.

Who wouldn’t want to eat surrounded by original Picassos?“ wonder fans of chef Julian Serrano’s ”life-changing“ New French at the Bellagio, where the ”unsurpassed“ setting complements its ”astonishing“ art collection with ”spectacular views of the fountains“; meanwhile, a ”top-notch“ staff serves prix fixe dinners as ”opulent and rich“ as the locale, and if this ”masterpiece“ commands a ”master price“, it’s earned for delivering the ”meal of your dreams.” ZAGAT

AAA Five Diamond Award
Forbes Five Star Award
Michelin 2 Stars
Wine Spectator Grand Award Winner


Like Balthazar in NYC, Pierre’s in Bridgehampton is my favorite all-round restaurant in the Hamptons. You can eat any meal here, or just stop in for wine and cheese. The food and atmosphere are wonderful. Pierre’s is like having St. Tropez, St. Barts and the Hamptons all in one restaurant,

A mahogany bar festooned with fresh flowers lines the left side of the room as you enter. The rooms are all decorated in white with burgundy accents (booths and curtains) and colorful artwork. Diners can enjoy a fireplace in the back room or outside dining in warmer weather.

Pierre’s Gourmet Market opens at 7am and is stocked with delightful pastries, tarts, croissants, quiches, sandwiches and more.

Breakfast brings fresh organic smoothies and juices, pastries and croissants from the market, omelets with goat cheeses, and herbs and vegetables, French toast and wonderful special items like Oeufs en Meurette; Poached eggs with caramelized onions, bacon, mushroom, veal stock Served with toasted brioche.

For lunch/brunch add burgers, salads, oysters, lobster, sandwiches like the Croque Monsieur, Tarte flambée Alsacienne aux lardons et oignons; thin crust topped with fromage blanc, onions, and bacon and more.

The dinner menu features a wonderful variety of beef, chicken, shellfish, fish and more. Some highlights; 2 lb Maine lobster fricassée, flambé with Cognac and tarragon. Served with French fries, Grilled tuna steak with an olive oil and lemon juice dressing. Tabouleh salad & shoe string potatoes, Roasted ORGANIC free-range chicken, with ratatouille and potato purée, Aussie Free-Range Natural rack of lamb prepared with mustard and “herbes de Provence” Served with French string beans and gratin Dauphinois and Grilled Pasture raised hanger steak with Béarnaise sauce, watercress and French fries.

The wine list, though heavily French, has representatives from the major wine regions of the world. There are some great choices here, albeit somewhat pricey, but there are also plenty of reasonable choices as well.

“You almost feel Parisian at this posh Bridgehampton bistro say Francophiles high on chef-owner Pierre Weber’s seafood-focused menu, brimming with traditional French fare and outstanding desserts that generate good buzz among the see-and-be-seen crowd; though some contend it’s a bit pricey with spotty service, sidewalk seating and excellent pastries from the adjacent bakery are summer delights that make it hard to ignore.” ZAGAT

Plume at The Jefferson Hotel

Start your evening in Quill, a dark and intimate cocktail lounge with an excellent drink menu. Tuesday through Saturday, legendary Peter Robinson entertains at the piano. Hotel guests can also enjoy their drinks in the cozy Book Room beside a roaring fire.

The signature restaurant, Plume, is the only Forbes Five Star restaurant in Washington and receives the highest Zagat ratings for service and décor. Executive chef Ralf Schlegel is a classically-trained chef in French cuisine and hails from Germany and a long line of German hoteliers and restaurateurs. The elegant and sophisticated dining room offers cozy dining nooks or tables surrounding the fireplace. Menus are inspired by the harvest from Thomas Jefferson’s kitchen gardens at Monticello.

Menu highlights include an appetizer of truffle arborio risotto; perigord truffle, Parmigiano Di Vacche Rosse, slow-cooked Amish hen egg, entrees like Seared fallow deer saddle; chestnut steamed bun, brussel sprouts, sweet and sour cabbage and cranberry deer jus and desserts like lemon blueberry sable Breton blueberry cremeux, lemon curd Tahitian vanilla ice cream.

Service is impeccable and seamless. Drinks and meal courses appear out of nowhere and whisked away when finished.

The exquisite wine list boasts some 1,300 labels and spans more than a dozen nationalities and dates back to a rare 1720 Borges Madeira. The list highlights wine selections called, “Hidden Gems,” wines of rare quality and distinction.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: One of the cozy dining nooks or around the fireplace offer the ultimate in intimacy.

Forbes Five Star Dining

This elegant hotel dining room near the White House serves an excellent seasonal American menu that’s inspired by what was grown in Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello garden; it works equally well for a special romantic evening or a high-power business rendezvous, and the really expensive tabs are reflected in its marbled, gilded and chandeliered setting. ZAGAT


They had me at bacon.. Sat at the bar before dinner and lo and behold one of the apps was a bacon bar; Double-Cut Nueske’s, Wisconsin  Snake River Kurobuta, Idaho; Durham Ranch Wild Boar, Wyoming, Benton’s,Tennessee, Candied Hobbs, California. You can buy them individually or do a tasting for $22. I just knew this was going to be a good night.

The décor has been called ‘farmhouse chic’ with soaring ceilings, big picture windows framing the vineyard hillside, large fireplaces and both indoor and outdoor seating. It is sophisticated, yet very comfortable.

The prime dry-aged beef is grilled over almond and cherry wood, chickens are cooked on a wood-fired rotisserie chicken, and the restaurant uses locally raised lamb and pork. Fresh fish and seafood are offered daily.

This is a steakhouse, but the free range organic chicken brined with bay leaves, garlic, thyme, salt, brown sugar and black pepper stuffed with lemon, onion, garlic, sage and thyme will keep you up at night dreaming about having it again.

The wine list is extraordinary, PRESS has the largest collection of Napa Valley wines in the world. The all Napa Valley wine list celebrates current vintages as well as older wines going back over 50 years. It starts with about 40 wines by the glass and includes a good selection of ½ bottles and large format wines. There are big names and prices here, but also plenty of excellent choices under $100.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: This is a sexy restaurant, particularly outside on the terrace.


Wine Spectator Award of Excellence

Match “phenomenal” steaks with a “fabulous” Napa wine list and “you’re in for a terrific meal” at this St. Helena American, an “elegant but not stuffy” destination styled as a chic farmhouse; while the “lofty space” (boasting a “great patio with fire pits”) signals equally “lofty prices”, service is “stellar” and it’s a prime pick for a “romantic evening.” ZAGAT



One of our favorite authors, Linda Fairstein, writes crime novels based in NYC. Her lead character and friends frequent a number of restaurants in the City and Primola is one of them. She made the Clams Oreganta and the Chicken Parmesan sound so delicious, we had to try it.

Known for its celebrity, politician and mob clientele….and its great food, this iconic upper East Side Italian is always packed and most people appear to be regulars. It is a wonderful clubby atmosphere and very comfortable.

In fact, when we got our menus, there was no Clams Oreganata or Chicken Parmesan on it. Turns out these are items for “regulars” off the menu. When I ordered them, the bartender said, “sure, welcome back”. On another occasion when I ordered the same thing, the owner came over and bought us a drink. Guess it pays to be “in the know”.

This was the best Chicken Parm I have ever had. Perfectly round on the plate, about a 1/2″ think and a little crispy. I dream about it…. Other great items on the menu that we have tried: Filetto Di Vitello Harris, thinly sliced veal with mustard sauce and radicchio;  Costoletta Di Vitello Piemontese, veal chop with black truffles and puric of wild mushrooms; Petto Di Pollo Alba, breast of chicken with truffles and fontina cheese. Prices are surprisingly modest for a NYC restaurant.

Somewhat limited wine list and a little pricey, but we always seem to get some kind of special on a wine.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not so much, but it is fun.

No stranger to “Page Six” mentions, this “clubby” Italian satisfies its “moneyed UES” clientele with “dependable” pastas at “steep prices”; count on service “with a smile” if you’re a regular, a “celebrity” or “wearing dark glasses”, though first-timers may find the “attitude” “intimidating.” ZAGAT

Quality Meats

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love a good steak and in New York a new steakhouse pops up virtually every day. The pure male bonding haunts still draw them in, but a new breed is emerging that keeps the basic tenets intact, but adds some nuances that expand the appeal to a larger audience. Quality Meats, from the people who bring you Smith & Wollensky, The Post House and others, is just such a place. How can you not be enamored with a classy place that serves Pabst Blue Ribbon beer in cans at the bar?

The decor is a take on 19th century New York butcher shops. This is a very cool design that manages to be contemporary, yet still warm and inviting. The use of brick, walnut plank walls, butcher block, vintage scales, bare filament light bulbs and meat hooks cleverly create a butcher shop mind image that isn’t really there.

First departure from the norm is a Charcuterie Bar with delicious cheeses and hams and Parmesan fries that are to die for. Great start to a meal or as a snack after a show or game.

Oysters, shrimp and lobster cocktails are fresh and perfectly chilled. A tomato and mozzarella salad with roasted red pepper aioli and country ham crisp is excellent. Try the Meyer lemon calamari too.

Steaks come from two legendary family butchers, Milton Abeles and Strassburger Meats and they are delicious. I’ve enjoyed the aged bone-in sirloin, the three filets and the long short rib. All expertly cooked, juicy, with great taste. Another departure and a great touch are the tasty steak sauces whipped up tableside. For sides don’t miss the Parmesan fries, corn creme brulee and the Cipollini onions.

8 choices of ice cream and 4 toppings are a nice change on the dessert menu, but the blueberry cobbler I had was amazing. I’ll get it again.

A strong wine list is a staple in Stillman restaurants and it’s no exception here. I like this list a lot for a number of reasons; interesting choices, wonderful descriptions and side notes about the wines and very fair pricing. If you are looking for the big dogs they’ve got some terrific choices, but you can also find value. My favorite idea though is the Sommelier’s Bin. Every time they update their list and clean up the cellar, inevitably they find some odds and ends around. These are wines that normally sell for $150 or more. They put these wines in the Sommelier’s Bin for $75. It’s a roll of the dice because you don’t know what your getting until it comes to the table. Great fun and I’ve never been disappointed.

Service is friendly and efficient. On one trip our server even gave us a complimentary glass of port after our meal.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Hey, it’s a steak house! But dining upstairs is a little more intimate.

Wine Spectator Award

A “steakhouse for the modern era”, this “energetic” Midtowner “proves itself” with “really solid” beef plus more “offbeat” sides and apps served in “hipper than average” surroundings (“no mahogany here”); “high” prices are a given, but you do “pay for quality.” ZAGAT.


It’s easy to miss Queequeg’s as you walk around town as it is tucked away on a small street, but not if you talk to the local’s. It’s one of the favorites, both for great food and reasonable prices.

Inside, the small, intimate dining room is cozy and comfortable and decorated with faux finished rust colored walls with dark wainscoating and trim. An eclectic art collection adds color and whimsey to the space. Black and white tile floors compliment the dark wood trim and a huge picture window brings light or a views out onto the street. Mahogany tables center the room and booths ( I love booths) surround the floor.

A great little bar sits at one end of the room and judging by the fact that we could never get a seat, it is a hot spot for drinks…..mostly locals, they know what time to come and get a seat. The drink menu is unusual and worth the trip alone….even if you have to stand.

You can eat at the bar, in the dining room, or as we did, on a delightful little deck outside. There were just a few tables, it was quiet and perfect for an intimate conversation. Summer of ’11 introduced a new outside bar which is shared with sister restaurant Town.

The menu has about 8 appetizers, two can also be entrees, and 6 entree choices. My tuna tartare appetizer was served with a wonderful homemade guacamole with tortilla chips. Jen’s lobster and crab cake was filled with meat and served with a cucumber mint slaw and homemade tartar sauce. A Burgundy style braised short rib was cooked to perfection in a red wine sauce and served over sour cream mashed potatoes and Jen’s mushroom and sweet corn risotto was sprinkled with Pecorino cheese and a mushroom cream. Simple but tremendously satisfying.

The wine list is small but has some wonderful selections and may just have the best prices on the island. Oggi Pinot Grigio was priced at $28, a Chateau Vitalis Pouilly Fuisse at $48 and a Castle Rock Pinot Noir at $35 ( I buy this at home for $15, so there is none of the usual gouging here). Even the reserve list, called Captain Ahab’s list has choices under $50. Hats off to the owners!

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Great on the patio or inside in a booth.

“Queequeg couldn’t have imagined” Eclectic–New American dishes as “amazing” as those presented at this “Melville-inspired” spot in Nantucket, each of which is served up in a “whale of a portion” for a relatively “reasonable” sum year-round; the “quaint” space is “cozy” (read: “small”), though you can always “harpoon a table outside in the summer.” ZAGAT

Rancho Valencia

The kitchen is under the direction of Executive Chef Jarrod Moiles where the cuisine is crafted using fresh, seasonal produce, herbs grown right on property and local Temecula honey. The steaks come from prime and grass-fed, pasture-raised beef.

Veladora is the signature restaurant serving delicious Coastal Ranch cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner in a warm hacienda atmosphere. Dine inside with valley views or in the intimate fireplace lit courtyard. We enjoyed a delicious prime tenderloin steak tartar, grilled swordfish, lobster risotto and a bittersweet chocolate soufflé. A wonderful Spotswood Sauvignon Blanc was the perfect meal pairing.

“Inventive” seasonal Cal cuisine is served in “chic, elegant” surroundings with stellar valley views at this on-site restaurant at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa helmed by chef Jarrod Moiles; “outstanding” service helps justify the pricey bills.” ZAGAT

The Pony Room, the resort’s casual tavern, sports a rustic interior and a two level terrace outside. The sunset views, often with hot air balloons sailing by, are breathtaking. With over 100 types of tequila, craft beers, an excellent wine list and a creative casual menu, there’s something for everyone. Don’t miss the Maine lobster sliders or the Sassy Sangria.


Rao’s was opened in 1896 in East Harlem, NY and is, today, one of the oldest family owned and operated restaurants in the country. Its 10 seat NY restaurant is the hardest reservation to get in town. In fact, unless you have “table rights” (a standing reservation for a particular night) or are invited to dinner by someone who does….you won’t get in. On any night the restaurant is filled with politicians, sports figures, Hollywood stars and mobsters. It’s quite a show.

I had never been to the NY location, so I was thrilled on my last visit to find that they had opened a Las Vegas outpost (LA, now too) in Caesar’s Palace. And, you can get a reservation! I must admit, I was a little apprehensive as years of hearing how great it was made me wonder if it would live up to the hype. It did…and more.

The leather backed booths, the framed pictures of celebrities on the walls, the hardwood floors and the dim lighting scream “old school” Italian. It is warm and comfortable and the people are delightful.

Here’s my perfect meal at Rao’s. Start with an order of Rao’s Traditional Meatballs. Ground Veal, Pork and Beef, Italian Breadcrumbs & Seasoning with Marinara Sauce. They were as good as everyone said they would be. Then get some Baked Clams. Little Neck Clams with Oregano Bread Crumb Stuffing. This pasta course was fantastic. Ravioli Purses. Beggar Purse Ravioli with Bartlett Pears and Ricotta Cheese, Brown Butter, Sage, Dried Cranberries. My entree was Uncle Vincent’s Lemon Chicken. Charcoal Broiled, Bone-In Chicken with Uncle Vincent’s Famous Lemon Sauce and I got an order of Rosemary Roasted Potatoes to go with it. Dessert was a Cannoli. Fresh Ricotta Cheese, Cointreau, Candied Orange, Chocolate Drops.

Good wine list with reasonable pricing. Happy Hour 4-6:30 at the bar. $8 drinks.

This is a dark and sexy restaurant, perfect for a little assignation.

“If you can’t get into” the storied Gotham original – and “who can?” – this “larger” outpost in Caesars Palace is the “next best thing”, replicating the East Harlem site’s “down-home” Neapolitan cuisine and “wonderfully atmospheric Old New York” setting; cynics argue that “its reputation’s far grander than the experience” and cite “jaw-dropping” prices, though others insist the “warm” service and overall “quality” are reason enough to snag a “rezzie.” ZAGAT



River Cafe

Just across the Brooklyn Bridge, a short cab ride from Manhattan, is the magical River Café and the best view of any restaurant in New York. Go an hour before sunset and watch the skyline transform itself from daylight to evening. Sun splashed buildings give way to a twinkling light tableau. It is quite spectacular.

You arrive at the River Café entrance and drive down a narrow cobblestone road leading to a circular driveway lined with lush foliage, ivy covered walls and gardens. Tiny lights sparkle from the trees. The entry way is filled with giant bouquets of flowers and you are led down a hallway to the dining room. The first look of the Bridge above the restaurant and the buildings of lower Manhattan across the river is stunning.

This is everything you would expect of a sophisticated New York restaurant.; a lively bar, elegant surroundings, piano music, attentive waiters and oh, so good food. The outside Terrace is the perfect place for a pre-dinner cocktail and even serves a light menu.

The menu is superb. I started with a warm pear salad with a braised beef shortrib croquette, blue cheese fondue, baby bibb lettuce and a red wine vinaigrette. Sweet, tart and rich all at the same time. Brent had a wonderful Buffalo tartare with quail egg, cognac gelee, capers and onion on toast points. One Jenn had the spring asparagus soup with chanterelle mushrooms, herbs and a black truffle cream and the other Jen had an amazing sautéed foie gras with carmelized ruby grapefruit, cracked pistachios and a natural pan sauce.

As an entrée I had a red snapper fillet with chanterelle mushrooms, root vegetables and a fresh herb sauce. It was delicate, light and perfectly seasoned. Brent had a crispy duck breast with light pink meat, served with a delicious proscuitto and duck Bolognese sauce. Rich and very satisfying. One Jen had a king salmon with ginger tempura bay scallops and sake and soy glazed shitake mushrooms. The other had a lobster special, small tails out of the shell with a delicate shrimp sauce.

For dessert I opted for the cheese plate with a tasting of two dessert wines. It was wonderful. Jen had a raspberry linzer torte with glazed raspberries, vanilla bean ice cream and surprisingly a delicious basil syrup. The other Jen and Brent split the double chocolate tart with caramel ice cream paired with salted Spanish peanuts. An interesting combination.

The wine list is small by some standards, 500 bottles, but well constructed and thankfully, fairly priced. The restaurant has been a recipient of the Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence for over a decade, was recently inducted into Wine & Spirit magazine’s Wine List Hall of fame. In 2001, The River Café wine list also won the prestigious Diamond Wine List Award from the International Restaurant and Hospitality Bureau.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High on the Terrace, less so inside due to the noise, but this view is magical.

Wine Spectator Award
“Is there a more beautiful setting in NYC?” swoon fans of this Dumbo waterfront “classic” whose “romantic” dining room offers “unbeatable” views of Manhattan, as well as a fairy-lit “Garden of Eden” just outside; “elegant” prix fixe–only American cuisine and “exceptional” service complete the “high-end” experience – for which an “expensive” price tag is “to be expected.” ZAGAT

Rutherford Grill

In almost every town, there’s a place that people, locals and visitors alike, seem to gravitate. It becomes a favorite for any number of reasons, but mostly because it feels good to be there. Rutherford Grill is just such a place. Owned by the Hillstone Restaurant Group who have restaurants all over the country, we became fans when we first visited the East Hampton Grill in New York. Here’s the very simple formula; limited but well done casual menu, a fun vibe, great décor, a warm staff and an excellent wine list. We enjoyed the EHG so much on our last visit, we went back a second night!

Rutherford Grill is right on Rt 29 in the heart of the valley. Anchored by a big island bar and an open kitchen, you can dine inside in cozy booths or outside on the patio. There’s a wonderful energy here and odds are good you’ll sit next to a winemaker from the valley at the bar.

The burgers are delicious, the prime rib outstanding and the ribs are fall off the bone tender. I love the rotisserie chicken and mashed potatoes and never miss an order of deviled eggs or the cornbread.

The basic wine list is interesting and varied with virtually nothing over $100. The reserve list has some outstanding wines with prices to match. However, should you decide to bring your own wine, there is no corkage fee.

: Not so much, but it is lively and fun.

“Delicious and consistent”, this “reasonably priced” Napa Valley “gem” wins fans with its “awesome” Californian cuisine including “to-die-for” cornbread and a “must-try” grilled artichoke delivered by “attentive yet not overbearing” servers amid “mid-20th-century roadhouse” decor; “lovely” outdoor seating and an “extensive” wine list plus “no-cost corkage” are added reasons this “busy” favorite is deemed “absolutely worth the wait.” ZAGAT


San Ysidro Ranch

Dining at San Ysidro is like a perfect storm of dining where ambiance, food and service come together to create a memorable experience. The Stonehouse Restaurant is located in a 19th century citrus packing house. Wooden beamed ceilings, a sizzling fire in the hearth and picture windows offering views of the property’s babbling brook make this one of the coziest restaurants you’ll ever experience. Entrees include items such as five spice seared big eye tuna and honey coriander glazed Muscovy duck breast. The wine list is as superb as the surroundings, offering many local wines from Santa Barbara’s wine country as well as a broad selection from Europe and South America. For a more relaxed ambiance the Plow & Angel is a comfortable alternative with a large fireplace, stone walls and hewn wood tables. Santa Barbara locals and guests alike flock to the Plow & Angel for its hearty mac and cheese and melt-in-your-mouth ribs. Add the chocolate soufflé for dessert and your overwhelmed palate may just scream for mercy.


Sardella’s is another local’s favorite. They love the Monday/Tuesday Special: Dinner for 2 with a bottle of wine for $32.00, that’s right $32.00 for 2 with wine!

Specials aside, this is a warm and romantic place, serving basic, but very good Northern and Southern Italian food. My favorite appetizers are the Zuppa di Vongole, Littleneck clams steamed in olive oil, clam broth, onions, garlic and white wine or the Crustini Fagioli, grilled Italian bread with shrimp, white Tuscan beans, garlic, plum tomatoes and herbs. Next I like to get an appetizer size pasta and the Pasta Bolognese does the trick. Gound beef and pork, garlic, a light fresh plum tomato sauce and fresh herbs over linguini. As an entrée, I suggest the Petti di Polo Romano, chicken breast stuffed with mozzarella and sautéed with garlic, parsley and white wine. Or, the Saltimbocca all Romana, veal medallions filled with proscuitto and sage and sautéed in a demi-glace.

The wine list, while not particularly creative, is adequate with some good choices and is very reasonably priced.

If you want some local color, ask for a front booth in the bar. In colder weather, I like the Tuscan Room or the side porch room with its candlelit tables. When it’s warm, the garden patio is delightful.


Scalini Fedeli

Slightly off the beaten path, downtown, the romantic Tuscan delight, Scalini Fedeli, embraces you from the minute you enter. The warmth is reflected in the greeting at the door and the vaulted ceilings, recessed lighting, soft background opera, huge Corinthian columns and hanging tapestries set the mood. The elegance of the room is further carried by fresh flowers, oil paintings, antique sideboards and plush furnishings.

There is no celebrity chef here at this highly rated Italian and it is just as well. The attention is on the food and no one is running off to a book signing. The menu offers plenty of choices with some 17 appetizers and an equal number of entrees. As with most great restaurants, the selections reflect a creativity not available in lesser establishments.

Consider pappardelle in a game sauce with venison and rabbit finished with a Barolo wine and bitter chocolate. Chocolate? But, oh did it work! Also tried a delicious shrimp in a Roma tomato, mustard and basil reduction with prosciutto, marinated melon and buffalo mozzarella. And these were just the appetizers.

For entrees we selected a perfectly seared tuna with short rib braised lentils (Worcheshire, capers, balsamic) and a parsnip puree in a red wine reduction that was magnificent and a melt in your mouth braised short rib with a cherry pepper glaze and fried potatoes.

While we normally skip dessert, two items caught our eye and for once we couldn’t resist; a warm carmelized apple tart was baked in a fillo crust, served with a brown sugar crumble and cinnamon gelato and a chocolate tart in a vanilla flecked crust with thinly sliced carmelized orange peel. Now I understand why people eat dessert.

Waiters in black tuxedos provide effortless service, attentive, not too obtrusive. Our waiter on this visit was particularly helpful, explaining complicated dishes and suggesting an unusual wine to accompany the meal.

Meals are a modest (by NY standards) $75pp prix fixe with very few supplements. The wine list is understandably heavily Italian

Best tables for intimate conversation are #1 by the window, #16/17 between the columns or #19 next to the column.


AAA Four Diamond Award

This TriBeCa class act from Michael Cetrulo matches “marvelous” Italian cuisine with “top-notch” service in a “lovely”, “traditional” setting exuding “Old Europe” vibes; with prix fixe–only menus starting at $75, it’s “not cheap”, but “worth it for a special occasion.” ZAGAT

Sergeantsville Inn

Just a short 8 miles from the center of New Hope or Lambertville, an evening at the Sergeantsville Inn is a step back in history.

Rebuilt after a tragic fire, the new Inn has maintained the charm of the historic building while adding in modern conveniences. Stone walls, beamed ceilings, tile or clapboard floors, fireplaces and small intimate dining rooms create a most romantic setting. Crisp linens and gleaming tableware add a touch of elegance.

Arrive a little early for your reservation to enjoy a drink in the cozy pub. There’s a remarkable martini menu, some 13 beers on tap and a nice selection of wines by the glass.

The menu is uber comfort food with a fantastic selection of game like an Elk Rack, Venison London Broil, Seared White Pheasant, Buffalo Hanger Steak and Texas Boar Rack. But you can also enjoy Australian Lamb Shank, Braised Boneless Beef Short Ribs, Soy Duckling, Pork Cassoulet, Shrimp Jambalaya and more.

This is a wonderful wine list, both for its variety and pricing. There are about 30 wines by the glass and @ 15 ½ bottles. The main list offers something from most wines regions in the world and the prices are pleasantly reasonable.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Very romantic, sexy lighting, a warming fireplace and intimate rooms.

“Dripping with atmosphere, this Colonial-era structure in Sergeantsville features enough fireplaces and stone walls to lend a rustic feel to the swooningly romantic mood; the can’t-go-wrong American menu also includes out-of-the-ordinary game dishes, while the less expensive tavern has neighborhood hangout written all over it.” ZAGAT

Shipwreck Grill

When you go for dinner in the middle of the week and the parking lot is full, the bar crowded and all the tables occupied, it’s a pretty good tip-off that the food is going to be good and the Shipwreck doesn’t disappoint.

It’s become kind of the “go to” place for locals, a restaurant that delivers consistently and one where you are likely to run into some friends. Trying new restaurants is fun, but when you want to be guaranteed a delicious meal, you won’t go wrong here.

The feel is casual with a touch of elegance. A soft color palette and exposed ceiling duct work are coupled with linen table cloths and china. The bar, which occupies almost half of the space, is always lively and the bartenders are competent and friendly. There’s an open kitchen and some interesting artifacts on the walls and in display cases from Bill’s salvage dives.

This is the place to enjoy extraordinary seafood from salmon to tuna to lobster and more. Chef Terry is a master at taking a piece of fish and creating a masterpiece of flavors and textures around it. It is the only local place that serves fresh Dover Sole and it is priced below market at $39.

There’s an excellent raw bar with varieties of oysters and clams and fat jumbo shrimp. Try the Ship Wreck Shellfish Sampler. You can get lobsters fresh from their own tanks, a number of different cuts of beef and lamb. The beef is marinated and served with garlic mashed potatoes, onion rings and creamed spinach.

The wine list is about 50 bottles strong with some good choices and excellent values. There are plenty of options under $50.

The bar, the food, the service and the ambiance all combine to make this a must stop when you are at the Jersey Shore.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Not so much. Can be loud.

winner for:
Outstanding Restaurant: Fine Dining
Outstanding Restaurant: Seafood
Outstanding Restaurant:Cocktail Program
Outstanding Restaurant: Wine Program
Chef of the Year
Surf ‘n’ turf “done at an elevated level” is the lure at this “only-game-in-town” Brielle seafooder with “driftwood”-enhanced decor and “pleasant” service; although it’s “priced like Manhattan” and “noisy” at the bar, distractions include “exceptional views of the boats” sailing on the Manasquan River. ZAGAT

Slightly North of Broad

I read an article recently where a New York restaurateur was complaining that restaurants that had been around for a long time get little attention from the press and critics. Everyone, he said, wants to talk about the “new, hot” place and they don’t give any credit to longevity. Such is not the case in Charleston, where despite lots of newcomers to the dining scene, old favorite Slightly North of Broad (SNOB to the locals) still gets the attention it deserves.

I must admit that I had skipped this restaurant on previous trips in favor of the latest dining addition. Now I know what I was missing. SNOB is a favorite of many in Charleston and for good reason. It feels comfortable to be here. You sense the locals view this as “their place”.

The restaurant inhabits a 19th century brick warehouse. A cozy 6 person bar sits to the right of the entrance with a view of the entire dining room. The dining room itself is somewhat narrow but deep, with high ceilings painted dark and exposing stainless duct work. The walls are painted a beige faux finish and adorned with iron sconces and colorful local art. Hardwood floors are strewn with carpet runners. The back wall is brick and frames an open kitchen. Recessed lighting throws just the right amount of light and large pillars break up the room into smaller dining areas. The effect is what you might expect when turning a warehouse into a restaurant…part rustic, part elegance.

Executive Chef Russ Moore makes generous use of fresh, local ingredients and combines that with traditional French techniques and creative use of low country spices and seasonings.

On this night I started with the Steamed Clams, Clammer dave’s clams, parsley, roasted garlic cream and a grilled baguette.

I couldn’t resist the signature BBQ tuna which was really more of a mustard glaze and served with oysters,country ham, green onions and fresh tomatoes. Easy to see why they are known for this dish.

Really nice wine list with some great choices and very, very reasonable prices. About 20 wines by the glass and about 18 half bottle chocies.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Pick a table along the outer wall or in one of the left side corners and you’ll enjoy a decidedly romantic evening.

“Charleston institution”, this French Quarter classic offers “fine Southern dining”with a “slight touch of elegance” and an “innovative” “taste of the Lowcountry”“always-on-the-mark” waiters, an “extensive wine list” and a “cozy atmosphere” add to the “top-notch dining experience.” ZAGAT


The setting for Spiaggia couldn’t be more dramatic. Tables in the two tiered dining room face huge windows looking out on Michigan Avenue and the lake. The dark, intimate room with flickering candles and fresh flowers is the perfect place for a special occasion.

Spiaggia has been a Chicago institution for nearly 30 years. It is considered by many to be one of the premier Italian restaurants in the country. Chef/Partner Tony Mantuano has been at the helm the entire time and has won virtually every culinary award imaginable including James Beard Foundation nominations for Outstanding Restaurant in America in 2006, 2007, 2010.

Here’s some menu highlights: appetizers: wood roasted diver scallop with crispy dewlap, abalone mushrooms and Parmigiano Reggiano and finely diced raw Wisconsin lamb loin with white truffle essence, fava beans, truffle pecorino frico, Il Traturello Extra Virgin Olive Oil and rosemary sea salt; pasta: organic Acquerello risotto with nettles, crispy veal sweetbreads, fried quail egg, and mascarpone and potato gnocchi with ricotta sauce and Savini black truffles; entrees: wood roasted Alaskan halibut, cuttlefish and king prawns in lobster saffron broth with fresh chickpeas and whipped house cured baccala and wood roasted Broken Arrow Ranch sika venison loin and sausage with wild spring onions, shaved artichokes and roasted polenta. The desserts all looked delicious, but you cannot come to Spiaggia without having their signature cheese course. Paired with a wonderful port, it is the perfect ending to a memorable meal.

Make no mistake this is a wonderful experience, but it will cost you dearly.

The wine list is very extensive, very well assembled and very expensive. We chose to have the sommelier select a glass for each course which perfectly complimented the meal and lessened the financial blow. In the tradition of many fine Italian restaurants, full bottles are brought to the table and decanted.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Very high. Sitting in the tiered dining room with the twinkling lights of the city and the lake beyond is spellbinding.

AAA Four Diamond Award
Wine Spectator Award

It may be cheaper to fly to Rome than to dine at Tony Mantuano’s Gold Coast destination, but surveyors succumb to the breathtaking cheese selection, delicate, handmade pastas, velvety sauces and entrees that sing your name matched by a superb, extensive Italian wine list; the quiet, elegant, multilevel dining room offering exquisite views of the lake alone an experience has attentive yet unobtrusive service, but as astounding as it is, some favor the less formal cafe next door; N.B. jackets are required. ZAGAT

State Bird Provisions

State Bird is one of the most unique and fun places to dine that we have ever encountered. Not surprising, it is one of the toughest reservations to get in town. The restaurant has garnered accolades from Bon Appétit Magazine and the James Beard Foundation. They have earned a Michelin star, and Zagat even named the restaurant one of the Top 10 in the world.

The globally inspired menu changes constantly and is meant to be shared. This is the perfect place to dine with a bunch of friends. About half the menu is served dim sum style on rolling carts, so you’ll get to try many different things. You are charged by what you select. The atmosphere is casual and communal and there is seating at the bar.

The wine list is relatively small, maybe two dozen selections but as The World of Fine Wine puts it, “…what it lacks in scale it more than makes up for in depth and imagination…it never takes the expected path, offering Cinsault and Albariño from Calfornia and Altesse from Savoie alongside much-loved producers such as Thivin in Beaujolais and Lopéz de Heredia in Rioja.”

The menu is unusual and creative and worth highlighting:
Blackberry Marinated Beets w/ Goat Cheese $5.00
Guinea Hen Dumplings w/ Aromatic Broth $5.00
Eggplant ‘Fries’, Sun Golds & Pimenton $6.00
Pickled Egg Salad, Nuts & Seeds $8.00
Steak Tartare w/ Grilled Pepperoncini $9.00
Kimchi Pork Belly w/ Tofu $9.00
Sweet Corn & Garlic Chive “Short Stack” w/ Mt. Tam $7.00
Yeasted Sesame Pancake, Creme Fraiche $12.00
Mendocino Sea Urchin Ginger/Scallion Pancake, Soy Lime $12.00
CA state bird w/ provisions $8.00
Glazed Pork Ribs w/ Spigarello & Togarashi $10.00
Cumin Lamb w/ Scallions, Grapes & Zucchini $15.00
Red Currant White Peach Granita Ginger Tapioca $8.00
Double Chocolate Pudding Birdseed Crunch, Plums. $8.00
Chocolate Mint Ice Cream Sandwich, Blackberries $2.00

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Nope, just great fun.

Michelin Star 2021
“40 Most Important Restaurants of the Decade” Esquire Magazine



Straight Wharf

Straight Wharf is one of the most romantic restaurants on the island and when coupled with its wonderful food, it’s the perfect “special occasion” restaurant. Located right on the wharf overlooking the Harbor, you can dine under the stars in good weather or enjoy the view through large paned windows from inside.

The interior has a kind of rustic elegance about it. Vaulted ceilings are strewn with hanging fabric. Two walls are weathered cedar shingles, two glistening white trimmed paned windows looking out onto the Harbor. Walls are covered with colorful brightly lit abstract art and the tables are set with white linens covered in a brown paper and set with a pot of fresh herbs and hurricane lanterns. Wonderfully romantic and intimate.

The menu changes often, but makes great use of local produce and fish. Amanda Lydon has a wonderful pedigree with stints throughout Europe and Boston and she and partner Gabriel Frasca bring a fresh perspective to this delightful 30 year old restaurant.

On this night in September, we shared a parpardelle Bolognese that someone in the lounge raved about from the bar menu. They were kind enough to make it for us in the dining room and it was magnificent. Rich, flavorful with a hint, I think, of nutmeg.

For entrees, Jen chose a chicken cooked under a brick with farro (a kind of barley), spiced pecans and red grapes. A wonderful combination of flavors and textures. My braised short ribs were served with truffled heirloom grits, maitake (a mushroom) and tiny carrots. The meat fell off the bone and to my surprise the grits were the perfect foil for the rich meat.

Not usually dessert eaters, but a “French toast” with maple walnut ice cream caught our eye and we happily shared it.

A glass of port and we were good to go, the perfect end to our time on the Island.

The wine list is very good, but expensive. As usual, especially here on the Island, I would like to see more choices under $50.

The service was excellent; efficient and crisp. Serving is a team effort with meals served by more than one waiter. This kind of service is somewhat surprising for a seasonal restaurant, but a testament to the training. Two nice touches; we were asked if we were celebrating anything and when we mentioned we had gotten married the week before, they quietly brought us champagne. When the bill came, it was handwritten, not a computer print-out. Just seemed nice to us.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High….. dark and sexy and conducive to intimate conversation.

“Locavores and fish lovers” are “never disappointed” by this “unparalleled” Nantucket spot right on the harbor and open only in high season, when “always-fresh”, “delicious” seafood is “simply prepared” using area-sourced ingredients; a “lovely”, “eclectic” dining room and deck are manned by “courteous, professional” servers pouring “wonderful” drinks and selections from the “good wine list.” ZAGAT

Tadich Grill

Tadich Grill is the oldest continuously operating restaurant in California and the third oldest in  the United States.  Their servers average 33 years in the industry and 16 years at Tadich Grill. It’s quite incredible that a restaurant that is 174 years old has maintained its popularity and reputation through all those years.

Tadich Grill epitomizes the term “old school” from its white jacketed servers to the crisp tablecloths to the classic martinis. Guests can dine at a very large oval counter or in cozy booths spread throughout the room.

But the food is pretty special too. Much of the seafood is cooked over a mesquite wood grill, a technique they claim to have invented. You won’t find a better Cioppino or Crab Louie in town or enjoy favorites like Sand Dabs, fried and served with a wine, butter and caper sauce. There are classic dishes as well, like Lobster Thermidor, Oysters Rockefeller, Dungeness Crab Cakes and New England Clam Chowder.

Decent, all-California wine list with interesting choices and very fair pricing. Lots of bottles under $100.

The romance here is for a bygone age when life seemed simpler.

“Crossing the threshold feels like walking into a men’s club, with dark wood, brass accents and private booths that over the years have seen more than their share of deal-closing lunches and occasional indiscretions.  The menu of seafood, creamy casseroles and hearty stews may be the draw for many, but continuity and nostalgia is what brings most back day after day, week after week, year after year.” San Francisco Chronicle

“Tadich Grill One of the World’s 10 Great Classic Restaurants Well Worth Visiting.” Forbes Magazine

Taste Bistro

For a more casual, less “fancy” dinner, Taste Bistro & Bar at Mirror Lake Inn is a favorite. It’s a cozy, dark little nook, located off the bar area with a wonderful fireplace and great views of the lake and mountains. The basic menu is comfort food personified. Try the Lobster Risotto Fritters. Maine lobster, creamy fontal risotto, panko breading, pickled vegetables, yuzu vinaigrette, their signature Fried Brussels Sprouts with Fresh lemon and sea salt. The burger is very good and the “The House Favorite” Kilcoyne Farms Pot Roast is like Grandma used to make. Pasture-raised local beef, caramelized root vegetables, and local potatoes. Also loved the Chicken Prosciutto-Marsala. FreeBird chicken breast, mushrooms, tomato, garlic, sage and marsala wine, crispy prosciutto, whipped potatoes and green beans

Anything you select can be paired with wines from their wonderful award winning wine list.

The Allison Inn & Spa

JORY, is the 100-seat signature restaurant led by Executive Chef Sunny Jin. Jin began his career at the famed French Laundry where he worked under Thomas Keller, then spent a season at El Bulli, the world’s top rated restaurant, located in Catalonia, Spain.

The décor in shades of burgundy and gold and highlighted by natural Oregon woods, is elegant yet casual. Guests can dine in the restaurant, at the Chef’s table, at the kitchen counter or outside on the terrace.

The menu makes great use of Oregon’s locally produced products. A celeriac soup with smoked ham, guanciale croquette and watercress oil was wonderful and a tasting of Pacific oysters with an apple mignonette was a great twist on a standard dish. A trio of rabbit, leg, loin and confit, was expertly prepared, juicy and tender. A corn polenta was the perfect accompaniment.

Tom Bean has assembled a wonderful wine list, heavy on Oregon Pinots as you might expect, but also with excellent choices from around the world, including some hard-to-get cult wines.

The Boarding House

When I want an excellent meal, but something a little less formal, I head to the Boarding House. You have three choices on where to eat; in the romantic candlelit wine cellar, on the patio or at the lively bar. Weather permitting, I like to eat outside and do a little people watching. This is a local favorite. Also a good spot for weekend lunch or cocktails in the afternoon. Learned a new Bloody Mary recipe there one rainy day, add a shot of Guinness to a regular Bloody Mary mix. Takes the acidity out.

The food here is relatively simple, but excellently prepared and served by enthusiastic waiters. At a recent meal I started with basic mesclun salad with a sherry vinaigrette and Jen had a lobster chowder that was incredible; chunks of fresh lobster, sweet corn, leeks, cobb smoked bacon and fingerling potatoes. We followed that with a Black Angus ribeye with marinated red onions, garlic fries and a béarnaise aioli and grilled jumbo shrimp over pappardelle with a roasted garlic crème and charred sweet tomatoes. Both meals were wonderful and just the right amount of food.

Try the chocolate chocolate chip cookies with a malted milk shake or the cobbler du soir for dessert.

The wine list is excellent with some good selections at very fair prices. There are about 15 wines by the glass. For after dinner, they have an excellent collection of dessert wines, cognacs, Armagnacs, grappas, single malt scotches and ports.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: High with a table outside on a balmy evening.

Despite its location on such a “quaint”, quiet island, this “always-busy” “must” is “exciting”, delivering “distinctive, delicious” Mediterranean-influenced New American dishes, “professional” service and a “warm” ambiance whether at the bar, in the basement dining room or on the sidewalk-corner patio; most find it “pricey”, but it’s “still a value (by Nantucket standards, of course)”; P.S. open seasonally. ZAGAT

The Boulders Resort

The Grill, located at the Golf Club is a classic steak and seafood house with an open kitchen and views of the fairways. Try the three onion soup with caramelized Gruyere cheese or the short rib ravioli with burnt sage butter as appetizers. The famed Boulders “Kobe” Burger infused with Boursin cheese, served with chives and Applewood smoked bacon and on a brioche bun is amazing as are the ribs with a maple BBQ sauce.

The Palo Verde restaurant offers breathtaking views of the Sonoran Desert overlooking the 6th fairway of the award-winning South Course. Known primarily for its excellent breakfasts, the restuarant also serves a Mediterranean-inspired lunch and a small plates dinner.

Bogey’s is a sports bar decorated in a Southwestern theme and also located at the Golf Club and the Spotted Donkey serves Southwestern/Mexican fare with a terrific margarita list. The Bakery Cafe and the Spa Cafe serve an assortment of pastries and bakery items and a spa menu respectively

Good wine list with excellent choices at pretty reasonable prices.

The Downtown Grille

Every town needs a really good steakhouse and Charlottesville’s is The Downtown Grille, located in the heart of the Downtown Pedestrian Mall. Serving Midwestern corn-fed beef and fresh seafood in an elegant setting, the restaurant also boasts a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.

In what appears to be an old bank building with soaring ceilings and arched doorways and windows, the dining room is anchored at one end by an open kitchen. Tables are set with white tablecloths and gleaming tableware. Waiters are dressed in white shirts, black pants and tie and aprons.

There is a 10 seat bar at the front of the restaurant with an excellent cocktail menu, and the outside patio is a dining option in nicer weather.

Start with an order of their Candied Bacon; Crispy Pork Belly, Maple Brown Sugar BBQ Glaze, Apple Slaw or the surprisingly  good (this far from the sea) Steamer Clams: White Wine Scampi Broth, Shallots, Baby Heirloom Tomato, Toasted Baguette. Strange as it seems, it is possible to screw up a good steak, but not here. My 12oz. NY Strip (very fairly priced at $34) was perfectly seasoned and cooked exactly to medium (just pink!). One of the best steaks I have had in some time. Crispy fries and a wonderful AERena cab made for a delicious dinner.

There are some big dogs on the wine list (Harlan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon $1,295) but also some good wines at good prices; Priest Ranch Cab at $68, Phillippe Milan & Fils Pommard $70 and Ridge Three Valleys Zinfandel at $55.

The Grand Del Mar

Addison is the only Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond restaurant in Southern California. Under the direction of William Bradley, a Grand Chef Relais & Château, dining at Addison is an extraordinary experience. The service level is impeccable, the food sublime and the wine list is a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner. La Salon offers cocktails and small plates, but you will not want to miss the 4 course dinner in the Addison Rotunda.
Amaya is the Mediterranean inspired restaurant with Spanish, French and Italian influences, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, in the elegant main room or on the shaded terrace.
The Clubhouse Grill at the golf course serves breakfast, lunch and dinner in a casual atmosphere and more casual menu.
Lobby Lounge. Warm fireplaces and elegant furnishings highlight this San Diego luxury resort’s beautiful lobby centerpiece, flanked on one side by the handsome Library “an intimate setting with antique books and comfortable chairs” and on the other, a commanding marble bar and rich colors set a sophisticated mood.
Cenn’ Anni is a gourmet café offering organic iced teas, steaming espressos, breakfast on-the-go, pressed sandwiches, seasonal soups, fresh salads, gelato and daily special offerings.
Snacks, fresh fruits and ice cream delights add to a menu of salads, sandwiches, grilled favorites and a host of refreshing, specialty drinks offered at Poolside.
Club M is the resort’s elegant nightclub, featuring live music, DJ’s and dancing.

The Greenbrier

There are three restaurants serving dinner at the Greenbrier; the formal Main Dining Room, the new Prime 44 West steakhouse and the casual Sam Snead’s at the Golf Club. The wine list is the same throughout the resort.

The Main Dining Room is the most elegant and formal of the resort’s restaurants. Dining in this cavernous space is what it must be like at a state dinner in the White House. Huge chandeliers hang from the high ceiling and towering pillars are scattered throughout the room. Illuminated oil paintings and huge mirrors hang on the walls and soft piano and violin music is provided by live performers. Captains are in tuxedos, waiters in white jackets with black epaulets and ties and servers in black dresses with white lace collars.

Tables are set with heavy china, monogrammed silverware, a vase of red roses and a candle with a shade. Dark period furniture is used throughout the dining room.

The menu changes daily, but on our trip we started with a wild mushroom and chicken terrine with proscuitto, baby tomatoes and a tomato caper coulis that was very tasty and an even better salad of baby greens, a spiced pecan crusted goat cheese, oven roasted tomatoes and Virginia ham.

As entrees, we had a soy tamarind glazed duck breast served with a jasmine rice cake, sautéed sesame sugar snap peas and a ginger aioli. It was also served with tempura fried shrimp. I thoroughly enjoyed the duck which as tender and not fatty and delicious with the glaze and the rice cake and peas. Shrimp and duck didn’t seem right to me, so I passed on that part. The other entrée was a crispy seared grouper which was delicate under the outer layer served with pan fried gnocchi with truffle butter that had a wonderful earthly flavor to it. It was also accompanied by mussels and Nantucket bay scallops in a light fennel cream.

Dress is jacket and tie for the gentlemen, dress or suit for women.
Dinner in the Main Dining Room is included in the room rate.

Prime 44 West. Prime 44 West is a classic masculine steakhouse decorated in dark and natural woods and burgundy walls with leather and suede fabrics. The result is both elegant and intimate. Chef de Cuisine Michael Treanor, formerly of Ritz-Carlton has created a delicious menu featuring prime, dry aged angus beef as you might expect, but with some interesting twists. Fresh Dover Sole is flown in daily and served tableside with lemon and brown butter. Kumomoto Oysters are served with fresh wasabi, pink champagne and caviar. Great sides include: sweet potato casserole, with a pecan crust, 44 fries, with rosemary salt, lobster whipped potatoes and Guinness beer batter onion rings. Try the chocolate souffle with mint ice cream for dessert. Jackets recommended. Appetizers: $12-$25, entrees: $36-$65, desserts: $10-$14.

Sam Snead’s at the Golf Club is the most casual of the dining rooms and the one with the best view, overlooking the golf course.

It is a clubby room with an open kitchen, oak furniture and moldings, beamed ceilings, dark green carpeting and yellow walls adorned with Sam Snead memorabilia.

The menu is limited, but very good, with a kind of bistro bent to it. Corn and crayfish chowder and chilled poached shrimp and crab with avocado, grapefruit and horseradish aioli headline the appetizer list.

The rotisserie chicken with cipollini onions, the grilled pork porterhouse and the mixed grill with a lamb chop, petite filet and rosemary and garlic sausage were entrée favorites.

This restaurant is included in the base room price.

The Grey

Owners Johno Morisano and Chef Mashama Bailey joined together to transform a 1938 art deco Greyhound Bus Terminal that had fallen into disrepair into The Grey, the hottest restaurant in Savannah. The designers modernized the property but kept the elements of the historical building that serve as the foundation for its charm.

They describe their cooking as “Port City Southern” which is southern ingredients with European influences. Bailey is largely self-taught (from the women in her family) but her experience extends to Prune in NYC and she was a finalist for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef Southeast award in 2018.

Start with one of their creative cocktails or one of nearly 50 wines by the glass. House (1892 Atlantic Buccaneer, rum, cacvhaca, babana, OJ and milk nectar) and Vintage (New York Sour, bourbon, lemon, sugar and red wine) and a fun selection of Atlantic Trade Flights like a Sloop John, Vintage Plantation Rum from Barbados, Trinidad and Jamaica. For snacks try the Corn Nuts or the Pickled Egg.

The Diner Bar is open for lunch and offers some wonderful items like Ham and Potato Croquettes, Hot Dogs, Chicken Fried Schnitzel Sandwich and amazing Beignets for dessert.

For dinner the diverse menu includes these favorites;  Shrimp Boil with watermelon, tomato and  basil; Whole Ro

asted Trout with fresh sweet onion relish, tomato and habanero; Chicken Country Captain with curry, almonds and currants. For dessert try the Beignets (again!) or the Frozen Chocolate Souffle with espresso almond crumble and benne seeds.

Nearly 50 wines by the glass with most priced in the $8-$16 range. Some interesting choices including Port, Sherry and Madiera.

In a renovated Greyhound bus depot from the 1930s on MLK Boulevard, chef Mashama Bailey (a vet of NYC’s Prune who grew up in Savannah) offers contemporary Southern dishes with Italian influences, along with a slate of raw oysters. The land marked space has a skylight, preserved art deco features and an outdoor area, as well as a refurbished ticket booth that now stars as an open kitchen. ZAGAT

The House of Prime Rib

Originally opened in 1949, the House of Prime Rib continues to be a San Francisco favorite for its 21 day dry aged beef. There’s only one thing on the menu – prime rib, in a variety of sizes. (well, they do have a daily fish catch) Served with a tossed salad, mashed or baked potato, creamed spinach (best ever!). Yorkshire Pudding and three heats of horseradish. They offer
The City Cut : a smaller cut for the lighter appetite.
House of Prime Rib Cut : a hearty portion of juicy, tender beef.
The English Cut : some feel that a thinner slice produces the better flavor.
King Henry VIII Cut : extra-generous, thick cut of prime beef, for king size appetites.

They don’t take reservations for only one diner, so I took my chances and arrived at 5:15pm…there was a 2 hour wait for a table. Got a seat at the bar after 45 minutes and enjoyed the best Prime Rib dinner I have ever had.

The decor is an elegant, somewhat dated English Club look with traditional furniture, white tablecloths, area rugs over hardwood floors and English hunt artwork gracing the walls.

Old school, vested servers in long white aprons mix salads tableside and the main course and accompaniments are served from strolling silver carts where each order is individually sliced.

The wine list is modest, but with fair pricing. Nice selection of 100 point rated wines.

Not so much. One reviewer called it “controlled chaos, but in a good way.”

“The scene is gloriously fun to watch, but the food itself is also a big reason why every room in this palace is always packed.” The Infatuation


The Marine Room

Since opening in 1941, The Marine Room in La Jolla, has become renowned for its beachfront location, spectacular sunsets and high tide surf that creates incredible activity right outside your window. In fact, when the tides are right the restaurant offers special High Tide Dinners. All tables are positioned to take advantage of the remarkable sights.

Executive Chef Mike Minor comes from Las Vegas where he gained a reputation for innovation and creativity. He has worked with the likes of Wolfgang Puck, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger.

The menu is billed as “Coastal Flavors of La Jolla” and it does not disappoint. Some menu highlights; George’s Bank Diver Scallops, pecan crust, citrus celery root, sea beans;  Ahi Tartare Cones, serrano soy, kaluga caviar, chive; Local Foraged Farm Mushrooms, black garlic, madeira, truffle; Baja California Swordfish, potato puree, spring onion, shrimp, aji amarillo; Red Walnut Venison, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, balsamic, bread pudding; Spendrift Cappuccino Cobblestone Pie, hazelnuts, chocolate nuggets, maker’s mark bourbon sauce; Organic Lavender Lemon Cake, strawberries, wildflower gelato, mint crystals.

Nice cocktail list and a very good “wines by the glass” list.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Whether the waves are pounding the windows or there is a glorious sunset, this restaurant is warm and intimate.

The Marine Room lures a well-heeled crowd to its sleek environs. Set within a luxury beach resort in the exclusive La Jolla enclave, it feels every bit the posh club. It’s also a romantic spot to celebrate a special date, thanks to those dramatic sea views at sundown—when a spectrum of colors light up the sky. Land a table at high tide, when the waves come crashing against their westward-facing windows, for a truly enchanting experience.

AAA Four Diamond Award
Wine Spectator Award of Excellence
Most Romantic, Best Special Occasion, Best Chef, Best View and Best Service (La Jolla) – San Diego Magazine


The Mill Room at Boar’s Head Resort

The Mill Room is the signature restaurant at The Boar’s Head Resort, but its wonderful lakeside setting and creative menu make it a worthy stop even if you are not staying at the resort.

This AAA Four Diamond restaurant offers cozy inside dining with hardwood floors, beamed ceilings and intimate booths. Outside the terrace overlooks the lake and is the perfect spot for a balmy summer night.

For breakfast quality ingredients make a huge difference and the restaurant uses local, cage free chicken, Kite’s Ham, Edwards Sausage, their own garden grown produce, Meadow Creek Dairy products and Greenberry coffee.

At dinner you can feast on unique items like Wild Mushroom Toast with sherry goat cheese cream & basil; Mountain Apple Salad with apple, arugula, goat cheese, rice wine vinaigrette; Corn Meal Fried Virginia Oysters with fennel salad and caper remoulade; Molasses Roast Duck with braised cabbage and leeks with smoked bacon and duck fat potatoes; Beelers Farm Duroc Pork Chop with sweet potato fondant, pearl onion, red pear, mustard demi and Braised Rabbit with Carolina dirty rice with gumbo sauce, rock shrimp, mussels, andouille and rabbit.

Very nice wine list with interesting choices and very fair pricing. Excellent selection of Virginia wines from Barboursville, DuCard, Michael Shaps and more. Multiple pinot noir choices from Oregon (my favorite) and a good selection of red Zinfandel including Turley and Ridge.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: On a balmy summer night on the Terrace, there is nothing better.

“…the Mill Room lives up to its outstanding reputation…The wait staff is professional, the food is exceptional…”Piedmont Forum

The Pitcher Inn

About 30-45 minutes south of Stowe on Rt. 100 is the picturesque little village of Warren, Vermont, just outside the Sugarbush ski area. A little bit of a trip, but I assure you it is worth the drive.

I think there must be a “perfect storm” for dinners when everything comes together to create an amazing evening. Such was the case when we went to the Pitcher Inn in Warren.

We were visiting friends whose vacation home is outside of Middlebury about a 30 minute drive over the mountains. It was one of those softly snowy nights in March, no wind, with a kind of hush over the small village we got to over a quintessential Vermont covered bridge.

Tray ceiling lighting and two large stone fireplaces cast a warm golden glow over the two dining rooms. Wide plank pine floors and gold and green painted walls adorned with striking oil paintings were set against crisp white trim, doors and green Windsor chairs. Fireplace flames flickered in crystal stemware and flower filled vases. Both dining rooms overlook a brook rushing to a small waterfall.

With Sinatra in the background we were ready for what the evening had to offer…and it was quite spectacular.

Our server was a young woman whose extensive knowledge of both the menu and wine list helped us navigate the waters and resulted in some great selections. She even had us taste an open bottle of the wine we selected to be sure we would like it.

The menu changes often dictated by the availability of fresh local products. On this night we started with truffled potato ravioli with fall-off-the-bone braised short ribs, butter poached lobster with a warm vanilla sweet potato salad and seared foie gras with a caramelized apple-sweet potato gratin, pistachio brittle and Calvados sauce. Each so good we were reluctant to share.

For entrees we selected a pan roasted duck breast with leeks served with roasted sweet potatoes, pistachios and a cipollini onion jus; braised lamb shanks with a Flageolet bean ragout; parmesan gnocchi with baby carrots, mushrooms, spinach and roasted peppers and a grilled Vermont grass fed beef tenderloin with Colcannon potatoes and a blue cheese fritter.

We ended with a delightful Vermont cheese course, a decadent chocolate pot, an apple tart and a maple crème caramel.


High, particularly on the outside patio beside the rushing falls.


Conde Nast Reader’s Choice Award

Maggie Maloney describes in the San Francisco Chronicle;  the Pitcher Inn as “a cozy and charming retreat perfect for a romantic escape”



The Point

Breakfast begins with a soft knock on your door and the arrival of coffee at a time you pre-determine. You may enjoy a full breakfast in bed, on the patio or in the Great Hall. The choices are limitless, from Eggs Benedict, to the poached eggs and homemade hash we enjoyed to smoked salmon to kippers. One guest told us of requesting shrimp grits on a previous stay. The kitchen apologized that they had no grits, but it was on the menu the next day and remains there today.

Guests are seated “en famille” or family style at two large circular tables surrounding another fireplace. We enjoyed the company of a couple who were making their 17th annual visit (he develops shopping centers) and a “Sir and Lady” from London.

Lively conversation ensues as a delicious beef tenderloin and shrimp lunch with a light horseradish sauce is served and complimented with a wonderful red Bordeaux. Guests linger over coffee and a decadent apple crumb crisp.

You can also opt for the kitchen to make you a box lunch to take on a hike or out onto the lake in one of the boats. We heard a great story about a guest request for homemade lemonade for a lake picnic. She was dismayed when she opened the picnic hamper to find no lemonade. Suddenly a staffer arrives in another boat holding the lemonade, and declares, “we didn’t want the ice to melt.”

Dinner at The Point is an event whether you enjoy it with the other guests or in the privacy of your room. It begins with a note slipped under your door inviting you to 7pm cocktails and hors d’ouevres at a specified location on the property; on the launch on the lake, in the Pub or in the dining room. Black tie is requested for Wednesdays and Saturdays. It all just seems so civilized.

Our dinner companions included a TV personality and her new husband (son of a famed prosecutor) who had just been married at The Point that day, a young writer who was honeymooning with her European husband and a delightful couple from Connecticut celebrating a milestone anniversary.

Dinner was a marvelous 7-course affair paired with wonderful wines. It began with a shitake and egg custard and a 1998 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin followed by a lump crab salad in a citrus sauce. A delicate fillet of turbot with a sauce Noilly Prat was paired with a 2003 Kitstler “Les Noisetiers.” A watermelon sorbet cleansed the palette and prepared us for the roast rack and loin of lamb, served with 2001 Paradigm Oakville Cabernet Sauvignon. A wonderful Crème Vanille and a selection of cheeses was joined with a 1999 Chateau Rieussec sauternes.

After dinner guests retired for the evening, changed and headed to the lean-to or enjoyed a lively game of billiards in the Pub.

Meals, liquor, wine and cordials are all included in the room rate.

The Polo Bar

In a city with hundreds if not thousands of restaurants, how do you stand out from the pack? ….attention to detail. Seems easy, but few get it like Ralph Lauren’s Polo Bar on East 55th Street.

Start with the decor; just what you would expect from Lauren; wood paneling, leather booths, hunt pictures and murals, dark green walls, brass railings, fireplaces and more. Table settings are elegant with hunter green rimmed china with the restaurant’s name engraved on the plates and even the salt and pepper shaker’s are substantial and heavy. Small table lamps with shades add an element of intimacy.

The staff, all smartly dressed in custom made Ralph Lauren grey flannel trousers, leather wingtips, silk rep ties and white jackets….all could be models….but they have personality too!

But it was the food and drink that was a revelation here, starting with the complimentary warm spiced nuts and stuffed olives on the bar. And how can you not love a place that has “pigs in a blanket” as a bar snack? There are about a half dozen craft beers on tap, unique cocktails like the Polo Bar Winter Punch; Mr. Katz’s Rock & Rye, Clear Creek Cranberry and Ginger and the by the glass wine list has some interesting selections like an excellent Jean-Charles Boisset, Cremant de Bourgogne Rose at $18.

What is interesting about the menu is that it can suit whatever your mood. Feel like a big dinner with a steak or veal chop? They can do it. Want something less substantial like a Reuben or a burger? They can do that too. Best of all, everything is perfectly prepared. Our raw oysters were ice cold with a wonderful mignonette sauce, our friend’s Reuben was “the best they ever had”, my wife’s Dover Sole was better than our favorite at a haute cuisine French palace and my roast chicken was as good as it gets. Finally that barometer of all great restaurants….the french fry….was off the charts, crispy and firm and perfectly seasoned.

We opted out of dessert, although the word is Ralph’s coffee ice cream is fantastic. A small aside; when I made the reservation they asked if it was a special occasion. It was my birthday. After dinner they brought out a delicious chocolate cake with Happy Birthday and my name on it. Nice touch.

Big celebrity quotient here (Oprah was two tables away and we met Ralph and his wife Ricky when we went back upstairs), but everyone is respectful and make you feel a part of the club.

Reservations are difficult to get, but so worth the effort.

ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: Tucked into a corner table, even with the heightened buzz in the room, the sumptuous surroundings make for a romantic evening.

AAA Four Diamond Award

“Ralph Lauren–ness” runs high at the designer’s subterranean Midtown lair, where a “well-groomed” crowd “relishes” the “posh hunting lodge” decor and “dazzling people-watching”, not to mention “solid” American “country-club” fare ferried by “Polo model” staffers; reservations are an “ordeal” and tabs “mortgage payment”–size, but “yes, darling”, it’s “worth it.” ZAGAT

The Prime Rib

The Prime Rib, with outposts in Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, is rated the #1 steakhouse by Zagat in each of those cities, quite an accomplishment when the competition includes the Capital Grille, Ruth’s Chris and Morton’s.

But the Prime Rib is the perfect blend of excellent food, wine, service and ambiance. The atmosphere harkens back to another age when supper clubs were all the rage and dining out was an event. It’s more casual today, but the feel is the same. Dark walls and soft lighting lend an intimacy to the rooms and live piano music injects just the right amount of gaiety. Leather banquettes and leopard print carpeting complete the clubby décor.

Happy Hour is popular here and during our visit the bar was packed. Why not, when there’s $5 Stoli martinis and a $6 bites menu with deviled eggs, prime rib minis and Kobe pigs in a blanket. Great way to end the day and start the evening.

The menu is classic steakhouse with the usual cuts of beef, chops and seafood, but the prime rib was so perfectly cooked and so delicious that I have been dreaming of my return. Lamb chops were meaty and tender, Maine lobster bisque was thick and loaded with pieces of lobster and the mashed potatoes were creamy and smooth. All in all, when you need your beef fix this is the place to go.

The wine list is not particularly extensive by steakhouse standards, but has some good choices, a section of 30 wines under $50 (yeah!) and sections of underappreciated reds and whites. On the night of our visit, all wines under $200 were half price. We enjoyed a delicious Mettler Petit Syrah, priced at $63 for only $30.

Dark and sexy, this is a place for romance.

“Dean and Frank would dig” this Rittenhouse Square “carnivores’ heaven”“a step back in time” with a “retro dinner-club feel”, where “impeccable” servers bring out an array of “fabulous” steaks “big enough for three meals” while live piano plays in the background; you may need a “corporate expense account” for the bill, but “you get what you pay for”, plus there are “bargains” to be found at happy hour or on the prix fixe menu. ZAGAT

The Sagamore

Lots of options in-season, June-August, fewer options in May and September. La Bella Vita: New for 2009, the Sagamore’s main dining room has been completely transformed into an elegant yet comfortable space that serves as the resort’s signature restaurant offering breakfast, lunch and dinner daily with Italian inspired dishes. The restaurant is open from 7am to 10pm daily. With dark wood touches and a color scheme of cream accented with warm yellows and browns, the new La Bella Vita allows the panoramic lake views to be the focal point for guests. Running along the entire side of the restaurant is a brand new outdoor deck for guests to enjoy meals on while admiring the scenery. Excellent menu and wine list, and oh, the views!
Caldwell’s Lobby Bar: Also added in 2009, the Bar serves morning coffee, as well as light fare throughout the day and evening. Caldwell’s features an old fashioned mahogany bar, beautifully finished hardwood floors and large columns. Great drink menu and appetizers. Mister Brown’s Pub: An Adirondack style inspired eatery, the casual setting serves a pub style menu for lunch and dinner, in addition to providing evening entertainment. The Club Grill: Perched on a hill overlooking the picturesque first tee and Lake George, this New York style steakhouse sports a rustic décor and casual atmosphere for lunch and dinner. The Veranda: Located in the Historic Hotel, this glass enclosed room affords a panoramic view of Lake George and offers afternoon tea, raw bar and sushi, and creative drink specials.
Pavilion: Lunch and dinner in July and August right at lakeside.

The Terrace

The Terrace is located within the magnificent Charlotte Inn, one of the most beautiful inns we have ever seen. Set in a candlelit conservatory dining room and during the warmer months, garden