Monday, March 16, 2009

Top Ten (x2): H & B's Favorite Restaurants on the Planet

La Palapa, photo taken on New Year's Eve 2004 (one of a few New Year's Eve's there)

Back pre-kids we used to go out to eat a lot. I'd venture to say that we (especially I) were getting very close to the edge... the edge of what might be considered Food Snobiness. We were getting a little too close for comfort to that category of people labeled 'Foodies.' You know, people who are totally up-to-speed on the latest trends in food, wine, and Zagats. I read cooking magazines and cookbooks as if they were engulfing novels of literature. They were stacked up on my bedside table with sticky notes and pens in piles neatly beside them. I watched The Cooking Channel. We dined at fine restaurants regularly. Very regularly. I knew wine. Like, really knew wine. Like, we spent a few days exploring the vineyards of Burgundy, France and I was not at all intimidated or overwhelmed. Well, times have changed. Oh, how times have changed. Back then I would not have touched a hot dog with a ten foot pole. Tonight, I just grilled hot dogs for dinner. Back then I would have poured the bottle out if the wine wasn't tasting just so (regardless of how pricey that bottle was). Right now, I'm sipping a glass of mediocre (very mediocre) wine. Back then I would not have stepped foot into a Red Robin if you had paid me (let alone a McDonalds!). But now... well... Red Robin is one of the boys' favorite restaurants (and although they refuse to eat the food at McDonalds --other than the french fries; they will eat those-- they LOVE the playspaces at "Ronald McDonald's" and we go there sometimes... not out of desperation but totally voluntarily and with smiles on our faces [and yes, I eat a Quarter Pounder With Cheese about 3-4 times a year]). Yes, yes, yes, times have changed. Oh, how they've changed.
The one thing I'm proud of though is that even in our food snobbiest of Foodie days we were always adventurous eaters, and we still are. Ethnic food? Yes. Holes-in-the-wall with mis-matched metal chairs? Yes. Restaurants that nobody 'who knows' has heard of because they are never reviewed in The New York Times? Yes. We have been there, and we go there. And we will admit, too, that we have dined in some of the most exquisite places on earth. Literally. And we're not ashamed to tell the stories with sparkles in our eyes (and memories of unbelievable fois gras and champagne). So, when it comes to restaurants, we're kind of a mixed bag. And proud of it. Or, at least, not ashamed of it. Here is our Top Ten (x2) Favorite Restaurants on the Planet List.

{in chronological order based on our own discovery of them... websites linked whenever the restaurant has one; some of these places are, unfortunately, now out of business}

  1. Slates ~ Hallowell, Maine

  2. Pinckney Street Cafe ~ Charleston, South Carolina (sadly the husband-wife chef team that owned this place divorced and dissolved the restaurant in the process... this is especially sad because this is/was our favorite restaurant of all time... such fond memories of sitting outside, on the porch, under the ceiling fans, pouring the house white wine out of a carafe, enjoying the view from this side-street-off-the-beaten-path in downtown Charleston... and they had the most unbelievable basil salad dressing [made with fresh basil from their own pots] and the most incredible fresh seafood stuffed ravioli and the most divine bourbon-glazed-bread-pudding... seriously it was PERFECTION-- especially since I don't think we ever had a bill there that was over $40 and that included the whole works from drinks to dessert)

  3. Sticky Fingers ~ Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina (walking distance from our little apartment)

  4. Sullivan's Restaurant (not Sully's-- that's where the tourists eat; Sullivan's is where the locals eat) ~ Sullivan's Island, South Carolina (gotta have the fried shrimp [B] and the fried oysters [H])

  5. Pho Pasteur Vietnamese ~ Brighton, Massachusetts

  6. Border Cafe ~ Harvard Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts (only the Harvard Square location; only with friends from grad school; only the queso dip and [lots of] the mixed margarita drinks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

  7. Shalimar of India ~ Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts

  8. Vinny Testa's ~ Brookline, Massachusetts (preferably the Brookline location; preferably with Beth and/or Maria)

  9. JP Seafood Cafe ~ Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts (during my dissertation I became addicted to this place/the sushi... and I still crave it to this day)

  10. Garduno's of Mexico ~ Albuquerque, New Mexico

  11. Eccoqui Italian Bistro ~ Bernardsville, New Jersey (we have been 'regulars' at a bunch of restaurants, but we were really Regulars here - they knew us by name, made us special dishes not on the menu, and always gave us after-dinner-drinks-on-the-house; we were Regulars with a capital 'R')

  12. The Corner House Inn ~ Center Sandwich, New Hampshire (in the chronology this is not when we discovered The Corner House -- my parents have been taking me/us there forever, and this is where Braydon got their 'blessing' to propose to me [while dining there alone with my parents for his birthday one year -- I was away at a conference], but this is, in the chronology, when we had our Wedding Rehearsal Dinner there)

  13. La Palapa Cocina Mexicana ~ East Village, New York, NY

  14. Joe's Shanghai ~ Chinatown, New York, NY (for the soup dumplings!)

  15. L'Esperance ~ Vezelay, France (ate there; stayed there; best.night.ever. -- for real; and we have never been the same since)

  16. 3 West ~ Basking Ridge, NJ (preferably with Stacey & Matt; but just us will do just fine too)

  17. Pasion Latino Americano ~ Philadelphia, PA

  18. Ooka Sushi ~ Doylestown, PA

  19. The Flying Iguana ~ Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands

  20. Blue ~ Bethlehem, PA (our current date night fav)


Ani said...

Mmmm, soup dumplings at Joe's Shanghai... we made the mistake of visiting the mid-town location first. Didn't understand all the fuss, UNTIL WE WENT TO THE CHINATOWN locale. Still savoring those dumplings. We almost plan our visits to NYC around lunch there!

Patricia said...

I'm really enjoying reading about all this food stuff! Brings back some good memories and also gives some new ideas. Apparently you guys have taken food to a whole new level since leaving Boston! Oh, if you can't find Pho Pasteur online, it's probably b/c they changed the name. It's called Le's now (with an accent over the e). There was some conflict with another restaurant that had the same name. All this food talk is making me hungry. Time to eat! xo,P.

Anonymous said...

I LOVE the Border Cafe´!! We lived right up the street (Harvardstr.) Oh my did we have some wonderful times there!
Thanks for bringing back the memory.