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Unforgettable Restaurant Experiences

What was one of your most memorable dining encounters you've had? Feel free to share any you deem fit. They can be incredibly lovely, wonderful, delicious-OR-horrible, appalling-even downright terrifying. O=:)

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  1. Just last week we had a fabulous dinner in Mendocino, California at a restaurant called Cafe Beaujolais. They served a homemade truffle butter over a grilled fillet that absolutely melted in your mouth. They also served a "ham and egg" appetizer: grilled Black Forest ham slice served over a piece of toasted rye bread and topped with a mini fried egg. To die for wine list, too.

    1. A couple of years ago we were visiting Paris with friends. Our first night we dined at a Michelin two star restaurant (Les Ambassadors) and were naturally blown away by both the food and the bill. (I knew the cost would be high, but not twice what I paid for my first car in college.) The next evening I selected a humble restaurant called "Paprika". (Via a referral from a food resource I trusted.) The menu had been translated from Hungarian into French which, of course, made it completely indecipherable in English. Nothing was remotely recognizable. The owner saw our dilemma from the kitchen, came out and said in broken English: "Let me make you dinner". We gave him our menus and our trust and said "Go ahead". It was the most memorable meal of our trip. In addition, his brother played the violin for us while the family dog worked the table for handouts and the kids helped in the kitchen. By the end of the evening we were virtually family and have memories we'll never forget.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Walters

        Can you describe any of the dishes you had? thanks.

        1. re: conniemcd

          Connie, Dinner started with a "cold sour cherry soup" with cream. I've searched cookbooks and web sites and never found anything like it. The initial taste was incredible. Dinner finished with rounds of Slivovice which is a Hungarian prune brandy I sincerely believe is derived from Sterno. I've traveled a lot and I've never experienced the true warmth and hospitality we received that night. It was magic.

          1. re: Walters

            That sounds like the fabulous cherry soup at the late lamented Cafe Budapest in Boston.

            1. re: dfan

              And one we used to get at a place in Hollywood, also called "The Paprika". That was the best meal deal in town for college students in the early '70s.

            2. re: Walters

              I think it's called Meggyleves. I bet you could find the recipe, it gets 14 thousand hits on Google, sites such as http://www.recipesource.com/ethnic/eu... and

              http://www.epicurious.com/members/mem... One website that each family has its own recipe, so you might never find one exactly as good as what you had... but you might!

          2. re: Walters

            Wow, I love experiences like that! How very coooool!! That's what I love about "Mom & Pop" establishments. Sadly a lot are losing out to the chains, etc...

          3. We went to Can Fabes outside Barcelona and had an unbelievable tasting menu. Each course was delicious and each came with a different type of bread. Dessert was a festival with many extras. I can't wait to get back to Barcelona one day.

            4 Replies
            1. re: ztarsh

              Funny you should mention Barcelona, as we also had one of our most memorable meals there. It was Los Caracoles (The Snails). Not haute cuisine, but really good traditional spanish food. Very popular restaurant, with many beautiful rooms, gorgeous wood carved snails on the stair cases. It is known for their snail dishes (obviously) and pig roasts, which I had. It was a feast for the senses all around, warm and cozy, and filled with people having a great time. It was everything I expected to find in Barcelona and more.

              I too, hope to get back to that city one day. It was without a doubt, the best trip my husband and I ever took!

              1. re: sivyaleah

                I had a memorable dinner at Las Caracoles in the fall of 1951- they've been around a while. Our group was told by the French wife of the U S Naval Attache who was showing us around that it was considered one of the top ten restaurants in Europe.
                Mike

                1. re: MikeLM

                  We didn't know that :-)

                  We stumbled upon it one night while walking the streets in the area. It looked so appealing - it had a spit with chickens roasting on the street level and the smell of them pulled us closer to take a look. It just had the most appealing feeling to it and we figured we'd take a chance, after all, isn't that what traveling is all about?

                  We were led upstairs to one of the topmost levels so we were able to peer down and have a great view of all the other diners. It really was a wonderful experience and of course, the food was wonderful too.

                  Always nice to hear about someone else sharing a similar experience, expecially in a place that has been around for a long time!

              2. re: ztarsh

                Great restaurant. El Raco de Can Fabes, about 45 mins outside of Barcelona, is one of the few 3 star Michelin restaurants in Spain. Wonderful place. Wasn't it amazing to find a place like this in the little village its in? Unlike El Bulli, you can go to Can Fabes once or twice a week (if you lived there and had the money). Great choice.

              3. EL BULLI!!! Can Fabes was good too, just not blown away good - but at least I was much fuller after that meal than at EB! Barcelona rocks.

                3 Replies
                1. re: torta basilica

                  El Bulli (another 3 star) is one of the toughest reservations on the planet. Just getting there on the winding roads is an adventure (but a great one). I like El Bulli very much and just gave kudos to Can Fabes above. For those that haven't been... these are 2 completely different places. El Raco is more traditional, earthy fare. El Bulli is a wild adventure. Unusual, intellectual fare with combinations, textures, flavors etc. that you've never had before. This guy, Ferran Adria is an amazing guy that never stops pushing the envelope. Each year he comes up with a new menu after closing for 5 mos or so to develop them in his food lab. So, the type of place that you only need to go once each season. Doesn't matter, can't get a table anyway. Can Fabes you can go to many many times... and want to. BOTH GREAT.

                  1. re: WineTravel

                    Then there's Cellar de can Roca in Girona to further complicate things...

                  2. re: torta basilica

                    I am sorry to report that, since this post, El Bulli has closed to the public. The owner has decided to turn it into a private thinktank.

                  3. Recently I was reminiscing about places my precious Mommers and myself used to visit and the restaurants we ate at. I remember one time my Mom taking me to this (what I thought was posh) French restaurant. Besides teaching several different subjects at the local college, she also taught French, so it was fun to hear her speak the language like a native.

                    I remember being so amazed how our waiter kept our table spotless using this "little metal thing" to scrape crumbs off our table-seemingly every 5 minutes. It felt like he was at our side constantly, treating us like we were the only customers there. It was such a treat to be spoiled! We laughed and laughed and had such a grand 'ol time feeling like royalty! We went for lunch, instead of dinner (I imagine the cost for dinner was exorbitant!) but I didn't care, I had my Mom all to myself! Being a community college professor, my Mom didn't make a ton of money, but she always liked to expose me to the "finer things" in life. She took me to musical, artistic and cultural events and to various restaurants and eateries. She truly taught me how to appreciate all that life has to offer.

                    A couple things I remember most that day:
                    1) Sweet potato soup with creme' fraiche on top
                    2) Pousse-Cafe' (Barely 21, I was enthralled!)
                    3) AMAZING bread and pastries
                    4) Spending time with her...priceless!

                    Going places with my Mother always made everything that much better...