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Archive for the ‘Restaurant’ Category

Dining at Lasarte

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Before the most recent trip to Barcelona, I spent a lot of time researching various restaurants to dine at for a good friend’s birthday. In a city known for its food, narrowing down the choices was not an easy task. Obviously, the first place to look was anywhere with the name Adrià, either Ferran of elBulli fame or his brother, Albert, who runs the much-raved about Tickets, along with Enigma.

Making reservations turned out to be somewhat vague, with no clear confirmation a table would be available once in Barcelona. In the end, decided it was important we had a confirmed table to make sure it was an amazing birthday celebration. Running through various travel guides and, especially, the Michelin guide, found out about Lasarte, a three-Michelin star establishment located just off the Passeig de Gràcia.

The reservation process was straightforward and when inquiring about their menu, with regard to dietary restrictions, their response time was remarkable (they are very accommodating when it comes to dietary restrictions). The reservation process alone was just about enough to confirm the birthday would be celebrated at Lasarte.

The day arrived and we took a walk down the Passeig de Gràcia, even stopping for tapas on the way.

Upon entering the establishment, it was amazingly clean and modern. We were seated right away and noticed a few of the other tables with elegantly-presented dishes and just as elegantly-dressed patrons. It was already exhilarating walking into such an establishment, it got even more exciting once the menus arrived.

The evening began with an array of ornate appetizers, each served in a unique way, with a variety of textures to start the evening. The first course began with an oyster dish served with an iced watercress slush, parsnip, and sea mist. For molecular gastronomy fans, seeing anything with foam arrive to the table automatically get the senses going.

Probably the most beautiful of the 11 courses was the red curry dish. Described as scarlet shrimp royal with red curry, raw artichokes, celery, and apple, the dish offered a variety of colors and textures. It’s the typical go-to photo when telling people about the dinner.

Scarlet shrimp royal with red curry, raw artichokes, celery, and apple.

If I were to name the most memorable dish, there is no doubt it was the charcoal grilled pigeon with citrus, capers, black olive, and smoked sauce with galangal. The idea of eating pigeon was a rather foreign concept, which made it the most striking option when first perusing the evening’s menu. There was a red meat quality to the flavor and texture and, overall, it tasted good – it was mostly about getting over the idea of a pigeon being on the plate.

Charcoal grilled pigeon with citrus, capers, black olive, and smoked sauce with galangal.

Dessert was amazing – and gorgeous. Almond and salt praline, apricot, and rum ice cream. It’s cliché to say “it was too beautiful to eat,” but this, in fact, was; and it was all worth it once getting that first bite.

Almond and salt praline, apricot, and rum ice cream.

There’s a reason places like Lasarte are acclaimed. The aesthetic really makes a difference in the overall experience. A quiet and relaxed room with perfect lighting made the dinner all the more appealing. Very attentive staff – who even walk you to the bathroom – add an appreciation for the care the restaurant puts into service.

Then, there’s the food. 11 courses, each with its own unique taste and beauty, it truly presents the soul of the restaurant itself.

All of it comprises the “dining experience,” and this was one of the most memorable ones.

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Filetto di Manzo con Foie Gras

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Taking a break from the various Shanghai fare, the suggestion to go Italian one night brought forth a visit to Va Bene, in Shanghai’s Xintiandi district. According to their website, “Travel+Leisure” ranked them in the Top 5 restaurants in Shanghai in 2009. After dining there, it is well-earned distinction.

Ordered the filetto di manzo con foie gras (fillet of beef with foie gras) for a main course and it was incredible. A well-prepared fillet is always an amazing experience, but include a beautiful piece of foie gras, it takes the dish to a whole new level.

Clearly, the Chinese food scene throughout Shanghai offers a great variety of cuisine, but those times when one wishes to take a break from local dishes, Va Bene is a great destination for those international cravings.

Gorgeous foie gras at Va Bene Shanghai

Gorgeous foie gras at Va Bene Shanghai

Written by Paulo Loreto

June 10, 2015 at 6:36 AM

Carmine’s

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It’s been over a year and a half since living and working in New York City. Had the opportunity to catch a Broadway show with family; got tickets for “Rocky” at the Winter Garden Theater.

After the show, decided to dine at a classic spot, an old favorite, Carmine’s; one of the best known restaurants in New York City. An icon, known for delicious Italian cuisine served in large family-style portions.

Upon being seated, caught sight of one of the greatest draws of the place, the calamari.

Every previous visit to Carmine’s has been highlighted by the mountain of delicious, fried squid that leaves both a memorable sight and taste. Hot, fresh, crispy – all keys that make the calamari at Carmine’s so extraordinary. The huge appetizer is, typically, enough to satisfy one’s appetite, but the entrée offerings usually keep you craving more.

Carmine’s boasts locations throughout New York City, along with Atlantic City, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, and Atlantis-Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

Carmine’s boasts locations throughout New York City, along with Atlantic City, Washington D.C., Las Vegas, and Atlantis-Paradise Island in the Bahamas.

Written by Paulo Loreto

June 24, 2014 at 11:06 AM

The Terraces

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Located within the massive Ayala Center Cebu complex, the Terraces offers several dining establishment over multiple floors.

Completed in 2008, constructions costs came to around ₱600 million (roughly $13.5 million).

The options range from local fare to a range of multicultural selections. International chains like Red Mango and Bon Chon have also set up at The Terraces.

The Ayala Center Cebu also offers outdoor movie screenings at The Terraces.

The Ayala Center Cebu also offers outdoor movie screenings at The Terraces.

Written by Paulo Loreto

April 22, 2014 at 10:59 AM

New White Gold House

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One of the long-standing establishments in Cebu, it remains in my Father’s memory as an epic stopover during his many visits to the Queen City of the South.

Today, it’s regarded as one of the most lavish and grand Chinese restaurants in the city; hosting large banquets that can accomodate hundreds of guests.

During my Dad’s visits in the late 70s, he remembers it as a happening discoteque that boasted four dancefloors.

Located on General Maxilom Avenue, it's a few blocks from the Robinsons Galleria site.

Located on General Maxilom Avenue, it’s a few blocks from the Robinsons Galleria site.

Written by Paulo Loreto

April 9, 2014 at 7:39 PM

The Viewing Deck

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Located in Bacolod City’s Punta Taytay, this series of restaurants sits along the water and gives visitors a breezy and tranquil view as they enjoy their meals of freshly prepared seafood.

The entire complex is called the Viewing Deck and each restaurant is annotated by a number; regular visitors have their preferred deck.

Nearby, there is a small beach area where visitors can stay cool in the quiet waters, but keep an eye out, there are periodic visits from jellyfish.

Nearby, there is a small beach area where visitors can stay cool in the quiet waters, but keep an eye out, there are periodic visits from jellyfish.

Written by Paulo Loreto

June 1, 2013 at 7:02 PM

The Palm

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Established in 1926, The Palm restaurant opened its first location at 837 Second Avenue. Today, the restaurant has about 30 locations.

The restaurant was founded by Pio Bozzi and John Ganzi, natives of Parma, Italy. The restaurant’s name came about when registering their restaurant. Originally hoping to name the restaurant La Parma, through a misunderstanding from their accents, the license was issued for “The Palm.”

Bozzi and Ganzi’s grandsons currently run the business.

The restaurant is also known for the caricatures all over the walls. In earlier days, artists would paint on the walls as payment for their meals, a tradition that continued throughout the years.

The Palm has a loyalty rewards program for frequent guests called the 837 Club. For 15,000 points, one can have their caricature placed at a Palm Restaurant.

Written by Paulo Loreto

November 21, 2012 at 9:20 PM