Tag Archives: food

Best of 2016: Restaurants

I wrote about my best photos of 2016 on my sister blog here… and honorable mentions .. here.  As I went through my photos and refreshed my memory of all the great experiences we had throughout 2016, I also ran across photos of restaurants we had been to… some of which you have read about in this blog.

So while I’m doing the ‘Best of’ series… why not include BEST restaurants we went to in 2016.  We had some amazing meals throughout 2016, so it’s fun to go back and Mmmmm and Ahhhh about their yumminess.  So here goes (in no particular order):

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  1. Twist, Las Vegas.  Wow!  It was an expensive restaurant to be sure, but the food was amazing… and the best part was the staff.  The servers could see how much we were enjoying our meal as we savored every bite.  So they offered to take us back in the kitchen to meet the chef!  They even gave us a Thank You card for dining with them (can you imagine?!).. and a little parting gift all tied up in a bow of sweet treats.  Fantastic!

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2. Raku, Las Vegas.  I just love this place.  Every time we are in Vegas we go.  I can’t help myself.  It’s reasonable priced, and the food is fantastic.  It changes from time to time, and is inventive, beautifully presented, friendly, and absolutely delicious.  I love their tasting menu.  It always includes things I would never order otherwise, but just love… like their tofu.  I am NOT a tofu fan… but Raku’s homemade version could make me one.  Great spot!


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3.  Mon Ami Gabi, Las Vegas.  I’d be remise if I didn’t include the best eggs benedict with smoked salmon I have ever eaten.  I love eggs benedict, it is my go-to breakfast meal on the off occasion we splurge on breakfast.. so I’ve tasted a lot.  But none better than this mainstay french restaurant in Vegas.


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4. Social, Costa Mesa  CA.  This charming little place in Costa Mesa had memorable little plates that had perfect balance.  I loved the way they brought different textures together for wonderful, flavorful bites.


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 5.  Pok Pok, Los Angeles  CA.  We had a fabulous meal full of ethnic flavor and spice at Pok Pok in LA.  Their glazed wings were to die for… crunchy spicy yumminess.


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6. Trois Mec, Los Angeles  CA.  Trois Mec is a very difficult ‘ticket’ to get, but we were thrilled when we did.  The food was interesting, cutting edge, and fun.  The staff with engaging and interactive, and the whole experience fun.

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7. ANQi, Costa Mesa  CA.  This restaurant is part of the Thanh Long family of CA restaurants.  If you haven’t eaten at one and have the chance, you should.  They are famous for their chili crab and garlic noodles.  Outstanding.


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8. The Bite House, Baddeck  Nova Scotia.  Outstanding! Simply Outstanding!  This very small  tucked away place outside of Cape Breton was perfect.  The tasting menu was fantastic.  Each bite was perfectly balanced, fresh, and beautiful.  The chef has mastered the art of color, texture and balance.  Each little plate had a edible flower, some kind of crunch, and some element of freshness.  Each and every one was terrific.  I’d go back in a heartbeat given the opportunity.  Really great.



9. Elvira’s,  Tubac AZ.   Years ago we used to frequent  Elvira’s in Nogales.  It had the best true Mexican taco’s and burritos.  But then the son came to work there and the food went all upscale… and Nogales fell into crime, drug lords, and despair.   So Elvira’s moved to Tubac.  While we were in Tucson, we opted to make the drive to Tubac to see how Elvira’s had evolved.  I’m glad we did!  Their Mexican food is just stunning.  This dish of squash blossom stuffed poblano with a red chile sauce was fantastic.  They were kind enough to share the recipe, so I’ve had a few lucky friends get to enjoy this fabulous dish in my own home.  I hear they opened a new Elvira’s in Tucson.. you can bet when we next are in Tucson, we will be checking it out.


10. Escalante Outfitters Cafe, Escalante  UTAH.  First off, sorry for the terrible cell phone pic.  But I just had to include this one, albeit a bad photo.  We had this Eggs-in-a-nest breakfast at this little cafe in Escalante, Utah, and have made it at least a dozen times at home since.  This photo represents the original dish that we have replicated over and over for ourselves and our friends.  It is a great breakfast, and easy to make, and has definitely been added to our repertoire.


Wow!  This makes me hungry.  We had some amazing restaurants out in all our travels this last year.  It was great fun to remember every bite.

Check out my best photos here  and  here and here.




The Bite House, Baddeck NS

We just got back from a great trip to Nova Scotia.  You can check out my posts here and here.

While the scenery was beautiful and the drive pleasant, I’d be remise if I didn’t talk about the food.  We had many good meals, great seafood and fresh lobster.  Ryers Lobster Pound in Peggy’s Cove is lobster at it’s best; and Baddeck Lobster Suppers in Baddeck for their mussels was great.  But our BEST meal hands down, without hesitation or question was from The Bite House.


Bryan & Mary Isabelle are making fantastic food in this small little unimposing spot truly off the beaten path in Baddeck, Cape Breton (Nova Scotia, Canada).  They have only a fixed tasting menu (60 CAN /person), so no need to fuss with choosing what to eat… they do it for you.  And I’m so glad they do.

To begin, you are brought little snacks, like the ‘haddack, basil mayo, dulse’, which is a crunchy ball of delight.  Crispy on the outside and smooth and creamy on the interior.  It’s light and tasty finger food.

As a matter of fact, there are no forks served.  The first three snacks are to be eaten with your fingers.  The ‘coldwater shrimp, spinach, chives’ is as tasty to eat as it is to look at.  We have to make this at home.  It’s so simple, yet so delicious.  A simple chive yogurt ‘glues’ the bay shrimp to a fresh spinach leaf dressed with the perfect chive flower.

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The final snack, just as before is eaten with your fingers.  This time using a buckwheat pancake for the carrier of fresh herbs and butter.

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As we start the parade of 4 main courses and dessert, I am struck by the beautiful presentation, simple fresh flavors and great textures.  All the courses have a perfect balance of freshness, crunch, color, and texture.  I love Bryan’s use of flowers for that nice added color and floral element, and the crunch of greens or cracker make for the perfect bite.

The next course may be my favorite, and it’s so surprising… roast radish with sesame, mint, and sea chickweed.  It would convert even the radish ney-sayer.  It’s not only beautiful, it’s crunchy, herby, and creamy.  I loved it.

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We move on to a fish course of ‘hot-smoked trout, pickled pumpkin, and crispy rye’.   The salad of fresh greens has a lovely buttermilk dressing.  The trout is perfectly tender and vaguely smoky.  The chards of rye cracker bring that terrific crunch to the party that finishes this tender luscious mouth feel with just the right textural crunch.  It’s perfect.

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The next course is called ‘goat dumpling, bacon thyme broth, sunflower shoots’.  In reality it’s more of a de-constructed preparation with meatballs in a flavorful broth with a pancake-ish dumpling cover on top.  Staying true to Bryan’s perfect balanced bites, it is topped with a fresh crunch of sunflower shoots.

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Our final main course is a perfectly cooked boneless chicken meat served with fiddleheads, a green sauce and hakurai turnips.  The green sauce adds a wonderful freshness and sauciness to the dish, while the fiddleheads and turnips give it that fresh crunch.  Together with the tender flavorful chicken, it’s a beautiful combination.

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By now I think I was just swooning over the inspiration of these wonderfully balanced bites.  I took no photos of the beautiful dessert of ‘grilled rhubarb, lemon balm ice cream, woodruff’.  So you’ll just have to take my word for it… it was a beautifully delicious closure to a very fine meal.

If you find yourself in Baddeck, Nova Scotia… do yourself a favor, and stop in at The Bite House.  You’ll need reservations in advance, as the word is out.  They are making inspirational delicious bites, full of freshness and creativity.  It is not to be missed.  Thanks, Bryan and Mary Isabelle for a terrific evening… our best of the whole trip.