Bernard’O restaurant in San Diego

Yesterday evening a colleague pushed me to go to Bernard’O for dinner.
The dishes in the menu appeared overly rich in the list of ingredients for my general preference when I took a glimpse before entering but looks like it is a fairly common practice in this area making the choice hard for someone looking for simple food.

I was not very hungry so I went for something small and that should fit well with the fact that the cook is french: a french onion soup.

While waiting we were offered bread and butter:
the bread was hot but fairly undercooked (at least for the italian standards) and the butter was absolutely sub par: almost perfectly tasteless.
If I decide to hit my health I want it to be worth and I think this should be a general guidance for everyone.
Skip the butter altogether at Bernard’O.

Then the onion soup arrived.
The first thing that I noticed as soon as I raised the first spoon is that the broth was heavy on taste enhancers.
I wonder if it actually ever had the opportunity to see some actual meat.
The taste was very heavy on pepper while the onion test was almost completely missing: ridiculous for an onion soup.
It’s a classical french dish: it’s not acceptable to have it made like this in a french restaurant.

The restaurant site claims that they won the “best french restaurant in San Diego” in 2008.
Either they changed cook in the meanwhile or I don’t want to try any other french restaurant in the area.

Save yourself the money (the place is not cheap) and the time and avoid it as long as you can.

Dinner @ The Balcony Restaurant of the Bella Sky in Copenhagen

On Tuesday I’ve had a very fatiguing day and I’ve decided to have the dinner with a colleague of mine in the restaurant of the hotel where we were for work.

I sat down at 9pm and after a few minutes a very kind waiter came to pickup the orders.
I selected one of the two available menu (starter+main course+dessert) and my colleague got a starter and a main course with a side dish.

Starters:
My salmon tartare had almost no salmon taste left after the preparation and was in the range of the 35 grams. Given the taste the small quantity was a benefit.
The salad with roasted goat cheese was good and a fair amount.

Main courses:
I had a beef steak and my colleague a tuna steak; when asked we both said we wanted our grilled food made rare.
Unfortunately it looks like the concept of rare is not shared across the globe as we had only a light hint on pink in che very center of the steak.
The grilled vegetables were ok albeit nothing to write home about and the same is true for the fried potatoes.

The dessert (Crème brûlée with pear sorbet) tasted good, but to arrive to the dessert it took over 90 minutes and the time was split into 75 minutes of waiting and 15 of eating: really too much!

Cost of the dinner: 128 euro with water and without any wine.

Summary.
Do yourself a favor if you happen to stay in the Bella Sky hotel: take the metro and go to eat somewhere else.

Sushi @Akai Hana

Often time when I stay in Rancho Bernardo I enjoy the sushi bar of this restaurant.
I usually seat near mr. Hiro-san when I’m dining alone as looking at him preparing the food is a great view and an additional bonus to the food.
The best position to have a good vision is his left hand side and not directly in front of him.

I keep away from the americanized dishes and stick to classical ones (ikura, ika, ama ebi, toro, tamago etc.) asking every time for a suggestion for something that is new for me.
I’m always satisfied with the raw fish quality and the cook is very kind even when sometimes I ask for something that is not supposed to be served at the bar.

I strongly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area that likes japanese food.

If you can’t afford a relevant bill do like I do: little quantity but great quality.
Your mouth and your body will both thank you.

Dinner @ Bar SU-shin in Hannover

First of all the key message: you can safely skip this place.

I picked up the place based on the review on Tripadvisor and it turned out to be a bad decision.

The selection of sushi is fairly narrow and non everything in the menu was available.
The food tasted ok (better than oriental pseudo-sushi fast food), but nothing to write home about or to warrant another visit.

Getting the bill split correctly was a challenging task: I surrendered after the third failed attempt at getting the right amounts.

Tagliatelle al burro @ Mangiari di strada

Sometimes it makes sense to blog about a food that is supposedly very mundane like pasta with butter.
In this specific case because it was not a common mass-produced pasta and it was not an industrial butter.

The tagliatelle were hand made in front of the guests.
This makes all the difference in the world: the freshness and the process ensure a very special texture that commercial products can’t match.
If you never tried the fresh pasta I feel sorry for you because you can’t appreciate the difference and are missing a great experience.

I’ve already commented a couple of weeks ago about a great butter: it was great with the anchovies back then and it was great on tagliatelle today.

Dinner @ Al pompiere

In 1999 and 2000 I used to eat at this restaurant quite often and with good satisfaction: I wondered if the place was the place still worth the visit after 12 years.
I was in Rome on a business trip and took the opportunity to test it.

I got the 3 classical fried starters baccalà, fiore di zucca (zucchini flower stuffed with mozzarella cheese and a salted anchovies) and carciofo alla giudia (artichoke), as main course I got costolette di abbacchio panate (fried suckling lamb ribs) with puntarelle as a side dish. Withe wine of the house.
Last but not least the dessert: a very nice cake, crostata di ricotta e visciole.

I was overall satisfied with only a couple of exception:
The flower was only acceptable, not great.
The wine gave me a headache the day after.
The bill was a relevant one (55€): skipping the flower and the wine it would have been a good deal for the quality.

Do I recommend the place? If money is not an objection yes, if your budget is limited and your hunger is not I’d say no.
If you happen to be in the area it’s worth to jump in and see if you can get the crostata di ricotta e visciole only: 6.5€ invested very well.

How good a “five star” food is really?

A few days ago I’ve posted about a very nice crème caramel I had at Mangiari di strada and I defined it “delicious”.

I started to think how to put in perspective the pleasure I had from it.
It was for sure one of the best, if not the best, crème caramel I ever had, but was it worth driving 30 miles for the sole purpose of eating it?

My answer is no and it’s a relatively easy one ’cause I’m more into appetizers and main courses than into desserts.

My reasoning did not stop there and I continued to think of foods and places evaluations based on the distance I would be happy to travel to taste them.
It’s really the complete package of distance plus direct cost that I take into account.

A few examples:
Once or twice a year Lo Dzerby is worth a 200 miles trip.
Mangiari di strada for me is worth a 30 miles trip (even on a weekly basis, given the great number of different great dishes they offer) as a complete eating experience but the single crème caramel is not. Even if it’s five stars without any doubt.