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update on Jim's picks from a left coast visitor

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Vanessa Jul 19, 2000 12:46 AM

Bought the book. Here's where and what we ate:

Moustache Pitza lunch:

Lentil bulgar salad with fried onions was delicious, if a bit dry. Wanted more of the onions.

Hummus was good and very different from the places out here. Lemony and tahiniey, but not very garlicky. The pita bread with was outstanding.

Chicken pitza was good with complete rounded balanced flavors. Lemony, garlicky, sweet peppery. Some sort of dried fruit. Moist chicken. Good crisp crust.

The drink that Jim says tastes of furniture polish was oddly compelling.

All in all, good meal, not overly memorable.

Rinconcito Pervano:

The menu was rather limited. No tacu tacu or ceviche. I really wanted ceviche. They were very nice, though not particularly friendly. The place had a very good vibe. The customers seemed to be regulars and seemed to be having a great time.

Potatoes hauncaina:

I've had this dish with potatoes and other vegetables (like beets) This version was all about potatoes with a little egg. I like the sauce a little spicier, but it was good.

Papa Relleno:

This is a dish that I wanted to buy a ton of and take on the plane with me. Should have. It was killer. Stuffed with flavorful ground meat and hard boiled egg and raisins, and all wrapped up in fluffy yummy potato. I want some more now!

Meat empanada:

Merely OK. I've had better versions.

We had two fish dishes:
One had tender calamari, cod??, and shrimp in a creamy pinkish sauce. Maybe a reduced fish stock? Good perfectly cooked fish. Pretty salty.

The other was the same white fish fried with a bright yellow chunky garlic sauce. Delish and very garlicky, almost harsh, and again, pretty salty.

The purple corn drink was wonderful and great with the food.

The menu had little price stickers stuck over the old prices. It looked like everything had recently gone from 8 to 12 dollars. It was worth the money anyway.

Cafe Con Leche:

Loved the updated diner atmosphere. The rum/sugar cane cocktails were delicious and potent.

The black bean soup was great and balanced with cilantro. Very flavorful. A squeeze of lime put it just right, but I kept wanting to avoid the too numerous raw red onions. Fewer would have been great.

Roast Pork. This was the winner. Thin juicy slices. Yum!! I'm a fat picky person, but found myself cutting off the fat and then eating it anyway.

Chicken Chiccerones: What can I say? Great fried chicken. Love thighs. Just as delicious the next night at 1:00 AM out of the mini bar fridge.

The black beans and red rice were so delicious we finished them even with all that great meat. Waitress said they were spicy and they weren't but, oh well. Still yummy.

The only clunker: Fried plantains. Not ripe and sweet at all, but hard.

The waitress was very nice and friendly and the service great. This place should have been busier than it was.

Casa Adela:

Sadly, only hubby made it here not me, as he said it was most memorable. He had the Pernil Asado. He was wowed by the giant plate of shreddy pork that would feed two with the melt in your mouth pink beans and plain white rice. He said they were standoffish until he ate his whole plate, tipped and started speaking Spanish, then they were quite nice.

Our one more expensive dinner not in the book:
The Tasting Room:

Wonderful innovative yet simple food. Very nice down to earth staff and owners. Fair prices. Great service. Beautiful tiny tasteful room. Young seemingly food serious crowd. Standouts: Lamb carpaccio with tiny cucumber balls, mint, and creme fraiche, Rabbit, Squab. Extensive mostly California wine list.

Random notes not in book:

Cuban sandwiches on 8th Ave somewhere in Chelsea around 14 or 15. Don't know a good Cuban sandwich from my a__. Thought they tasted good though. Don't know the name. Sign says "Best Cuban Sandwiches" Charming diner counter. Great to walk around with on our way to the next watering hole. Good and garlicky.

Why oh why don't we have Utz potato chips on the left coast? The closest thing here is Lay's classic. Not close. It's hard to find anything here without awful fake flavoring agents. Are you east coasters more purist when it comes to potato chips?

See Queens board for reports on Sriprabhai and The Arepa Lady.

Thanks for the tips Jim. We felt well equipped and taken care of during the whole trip. Our friend who is new to NY will cherish the book.

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  1. j
    Jim Leff RE: Vanessa Jul 19, 2000 01:38 AM

    "The drink that Jim says tastes of furniture polish was oddly compelling"

    I think I wrote something to the effect that "considering it tastes like furniture polish, it's oddly compelling!"

    Thanks for the great report, Vanessa. Glad you had some luck. Obviously, the book badly needs an update; lots of stuff you wrote (even some of the positive stuff) made me want to say "no, wait...eat THIS instead!!" I'm sure other local hounds will have the same reaction.

    I am surprised about the prices at Rinconcito. But they'd undercharged before, IMO. They cook great, and deserve more than greasy-spoon profits. As I say in the book, though, you've must go on a weekend if you want to find more than a minimal number of available dishes

    ciao

    7 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff
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      Vanessa RE: Jim Leff Jul 19, 2000 01:44 AM

      How embarrassing that I copied your prose without meaning to. I use that expression all the time. I guess I truly thought I thought of it. Oops. sorry. By the way, who is more on it than you? I literally just posted like a half an hour ago on west coast time.

      1. re: Vanessa
        j
        Jim Leff RE: Vanessa Jul 19, 2000 02:46 AM

        No, no...didn't mean you "stole" anything...just to say that I liked the juice as much as you do (despite my weird analogy).

        JIM

      2. re: Jim Leff
        v
        Vanessa RE: Jim Leff Jul 19, 2000 01:47 AM

        I thought most of the stuff I wrote was positive. We truly enjoyed our experiences. Hope you didn't think I was being a snot, just honestly critical. I did think Rinconcito was worth the money. It was a Sunday night.

        1. re: Vanessa
          j
          Jim Leff RE: Vanessa Jul 19, 2000 02:46 AM

          Not "snotty" at all! And I realize you were posting positive, it's just that I wish I could've provided slighlty more up-to-date advice. But, hey, if you'd inquired pre-chow on these boards, you would've gotten the latest opinions. You can't beat our message boards for the best current info.

          ciao

          1. re: Jim Leff
            v
            Vanessa RE: Jim Leff Jul 19, 2000 11:27 AM

            Waitaminute. I did post and was told to "buy the book" I realize that if I'd asked about specific places and dishes, that I would have recieved more help, but I don't carry around a laptop or plan that far ahead, so we just ended up eating in the places in your book that sounded great right then and were near where you were.

            Really, its OK. We had great experiences. I only posted so that you would know if things had changed at some of these places. Chowhounds are adventurous right? As much as I think I trust most of these hounds, it wouldn't be much fun to just eat what I'm told. I didn't want to come up with an itinerary and menu plan for the entire trip. Sometimes it's fun to find out on your own.
            So Jim, don't fret that I didn't have the most up to date info. Having the book as a guide is way ahead of where I usually am in a place I don't know. Thanks though.

            1. re: Vanessa
              j
              Jim Leff RE: Vanessa Jul 19, 2000 12:31 PM

              Vanessa--you're taking my riffing entirely too seriously! As for taking your laptop around...funny you should mention that. Chowhound will soon be available via mobile browser, so you can check for prime chow from on-the-go.

              Glad you did well here. And I'm especially glad you found the Sainted Arepa Lady (in your report on the Outer Boroughs board!).

              ciao

              1. re: Jim Leff
                v
                Vanessa RE: Jim Leff Jul 20, 2000 11:31 AM

                Not at all Jim (taking too seriously I mean). Now, can you just mail me some Arepas and some papas rellenos?

      3. a
        anil RE: Vanessa Jul 19, 2000 02:33 AM

        You wrote:

        Rinconcito Pervano:

        "The menu was rather limited. No tacu tacu or ceviche. I really wanted ceviche. They were very nice, though not particularly friendly. The place had a very good vibe. The customers seemed to be regulars and seemed to be having a great time."

        I've been there many times for lunch (mostly to go), a
        few times for dinner - cerviche,(with chilean sea bass)
        to be done right needs to be fresh. The way it was
        explained to me (Chowhounds please correct me if I'm wrong) is that fresh Chilean sea bass is difficult to get on a regular basis, if you cannot examine its head and gills then avoid buying. Hence many good places
        plead forgiveness if its not available that day.

        The restaurant's weekend dinner menu is slightly more
        varied.

        The only beef I have is when they put french-fries in
        their beef dish ;-)

        anil

        2 Replies
        1. re: anil
          j
          Jim Leff RE: anil Jul 19, 2000 02:47 AM

          Woah.....there are several Peruvian (and Ecuadorian) dishes that MUST contain french fries!!!!! It's not a shortcut, it's the Way It's Done!

          ciao

          1. re: Jim Leff
            a
            anil RE: Jim Leff Jul 19, 2000 03:12 AM

            jim: I know, that is why I put a smiley. The thing is
            that by the time (the togo part), I have opened the
            lunch at work (a few long blocks away) the fries are really disintegrating and mushy.

            anil

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