Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Three Latest and Best: Tour of the North

Lunch at Bistro de Paris: Had a lovely lunch last week with fellow blogger, parent of Winecanine.com. We popped over to the new Bistro de Paris on Carmel's Main Street in the former Pizza King location. Once inside, the restaurant is a pleasant space -- if a bit noisy. We enjoyed a rich French onion soup with blue cheese and crepes. Mine was chicken and mushroom with a vevelty cream sauce all perched on a bed of shoestring sweet potatoes. Good enough to get me back for dinner.

Chicken Salad from Joe's Meat Market: I couldn't hit Carmel's Main Street without popping in to say "Hello!" to Joe Lazzara at Joe's Butcher Shop. This bustling meat market and gourmet shop is stocked with more goodies every time I stop in -- complete with a good selection of moderately priced wines. But meat here is still the star of the show here. (I even met some of the team from Morristown's Viking Lamb.) Look for his summer schedule of local chef cook-outs and his newly sourced closer-to-the-real-deal Kobe. (And of course, I've already devoured the chicken salad -- it's my favorite!)

Margaritas and Guac at Adobo Grill: Sure, their avocados come from points far south by the traincar-load, but where else can you get pretty damn good fresh gaucamole year round? After some not-so-great tableside guac at other places, I'm even more in awe of how the gauc makers at Adobo get it right pretty much all the time. Summer's coming although they've just posted new hours with no lunches except Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Two-Minute Warning: Ladies and Gentleman, as an example of the gross mediocrity of the upscale chains populating the 86th Street corridor, I present to you El Torito Grill. Once, the elegant Keystone Grill, the interior now looks pretty much the same, only a little shabbier. Think Don Pablo's minus the fake town decor complete with waiters singing happy birthday songs and a birthday candle stuck in flan. While it's packing 'em in on the northside, like every other place at Keystone these days, there were a few strange things. It's nice that they have an extra person to open the door for customers when they come in. So, how can I say this delicately. Maybe it's not such a great idea to have your most dermatalogically-challenged teenager doing it. Not a great *face* to put on your establishment. Bar service seemed to have a blind spot on my side of the bar. I did order a drink, but could never catch the chips and salsa guy's eye although everyone else was immediately served. I did, however, get openly leered at by a server as he waited for his drink order, so there was that. Our tableside guac was way oversalted but our meals were generally fine although not like the cool presentations on their website. To his credit, our waiter was a trooper dealing with a large group, people switching seats, splitting the check in a complex number of ways. But *what* is the deal with the flour tortillas with *honey* butter? That's just plain weird.


Jim said...

Bistro de Paris' menu looks to be a bit on the pricey side. I love bistro food, but isn't the traditional purpose of that sort of cuisine to provide good quality food at a reasonable price?

Greenthumb Guthrie said...

I agree with your thoughts about what I have deemed as El Terrible Grill...for the price Adobo is a thousand times better. Somehow they've managed to make my visits (2) mundane or entirely bad. They get one more chance--but it's not likely they'll pull it together.

Hannah said...

I am SO over El Torito. I have tried it three times, gotten different entrees each time, and yup, been disappointed each time. I am such a Mexican food junkie, it is tough to make me mad when you are serving me avocado, meat, and carbs, but congrats El Torito, you did it again. Pair that with the poor service each time and I am done and done. Adobo is better. But for real Mexican, Pancho's Taqueira is the best!

James said...

El Torito.

Tried it once.
Didn't much care for the experience.

DMC said...

I can't disagree more about El Torito Grill. We've been twice for dinner and once for the Sunday brunch. Each time we were quite pleased with the food and value.

And our four year old loves the honey butter.