Categories: "Restaurants & Bars" or "Athens, GA" or "Atlanta, Ga" or "Boston, MA" or "Chicago, IL" or "Dallas, TX" or "Detroit, MI" or "Las Vegas, NV" or "Caesar's Palace" or "Mandalay" or "Mirage" or "New York New York" or "Venetian" or "Miami, FL" or "Napa Valley, CA" or "New York, NY" or "Portland, ME" or "San Diego, CA" or "Scottsdale, AZ" or "Toronto, ON" or "Washington, D.C." or "Winston-Salem, NC"

Sumo Sushi - Rochester, MI

March 9th, 2012

I do not want my sushi cooked. Sumo Sushi offers only a few raw items on its specialty sushi menu and that is a turn off for me. I know many people who don't want raw sushi, and if you are like them, this is your place.

We have been a few times, and I find the sushi generally unremarkable. I did like their Rainbow Roll, which is raw. And their Lobster Roll and Three Musketeers Roll (both cooked) are good. Unfortunately, compared to Sakura which is just up the street, they are probably the only reasons to eat here.

http://sumosushiandseafood.com/

Sakura - Rochester Hills, MI

February 22nd, 2012

Sakura is a sushi restaurant tucked away in an awkward corner of the Papa Joe's shopping center. It might be difficult to find, but it is worth the effort. This has become my favorite restaurant. Yes, I called this my favorite restaurant, not just my favorite sushi restaurant. The fish is just of a higher quality than that offered at other sushi places. The freshness is the pride of Sakura's owner, who is frequently on site interacting with customers.

At any sushi restaurant, I need to eat a lot to eat my fill. Our standard order contains at least 1 Bom Bom Ba Roll, 1 Manhattan Roll, and 1 Spicy Scallop Roll. Their Volcano Roll is pretty awesome, too. I think sushi is expensive, generally speaking, and Sakura is no exception. They did, however, just start a program with Oakland University where students get a discount on their bill. That doesn't do me any good, but maybe it will save you a few bucks.

This place just can't be beat. I highly recommend it.

6866 North Rochester Road, Rochester Hills, MI (248) 608-3867
www.sakurafusionsushi.com/

Antica Pizzeria Fellini - Royal Oak, MI

November 29th, 2011

415 S. Washington Royal Oak, MI (248) 547-2751

This pizzeria is awesome. They import their ingredients, their process, and even their pizzaiolo from Naples, Italy. (Pizzaiolo is roughly Italian for "pizza maker.") The dough is just crusty enough on the outside and pillowy soft on the inside. The cheeses are fresh and delicious. I cannot write about this place without yearning for another bite.

When you eat at a restaurant that uses higher-quality products, you will pay more. You will have to decide for yourself if $15-$17 for a plate-sized pizza is too expensive. Let me offer this suggestion, however, have one first and then decide if it was worth the price. You can get pizza that costs less from many other places, but pizza from Antica Pizzeria Fellini is an entirely different experience. And it is an experience that I say is worth the price, but probably not even once a month. As much as I loved the food, this is still not a place where I will eat with any regularity due to the price, but it is a place to which I cannot wait to return because the food was so good.

For four of us, we started with two orders of Bruschetta. Our server suggested that for four people, one order might not suffice. For thinly-sliced, lightly toasted bread topped with chopped tomatoes, extra virgin olive oil and some Italian herbs and spices...it was just delicious. The consensus at the table, then, was that we would each forgo our pizzas for more Bruschetta. I don't like to think of what might have happened if we'd only had one order...

Calzones and strombolis were much more available along the Atlantic coast than here in the Midwest; I've never understood why. When I saw that a calzone was on the menu, I had to have it. I am sure that you have a list of ingredients that you feel make any dish better. One of the items on my list is ricotta cheese, which also happens to be a staple in calzones. The dough was so good. The cheeses were so good. The salami/ham (Artisan Salame) was so good. I lie awake at night thinking about this calzone. If only it were bigger; I was still hungry when it was gone (though I eat more than the average person, generally).

Our friends suggested that the pizzas here were big enough to order three pizzas for four people, so keep that in mind when you go. I would consider that to be a fair assessment, unless you want leftovers to take home. It might make more sense to just let everyone order their own, which is what we did.

In addition to my calzone, there were two orders for the (house specialty) Fellini and one for the Sofia. The Fellini, I'm told, was very good. The presentation sets it apart from the other pizzas on the menu; it is a star-shaped pizza and each of the star points is a pocket full of sauteed vegetables. When I told my coworkers about the Fellini, I believed at that moment that I had helped this pizzeria sell a few more.

I was given a piece of a piece of the Sofia, piled high with prosciuto and arugula. How can you go wrong with those toppings? Ok, let me expand on that. I have had this same pizza from another local brick-oven chain (one known for its pizza and wine, if you know the place) and it was good, but the Sofia from Pizzeria Fellini is major league and that other place plays double A ball. Honestly, I will have a difficult time choosing between the calzone or the Sofia next time. I cannot stress enough how important the right ingredients are and how much better they can make your food taste.

Leave room for dessert? We shared a cannoli and a light but flavorful pistachio/custard gelato dish called Coppa Pistachio. I recommend the cannoli. And the pistachio dish was good, but not worth the money.

And if you are still reading and are not already on your way to Pizzeria Fellini, grab a bottle (or two) of wine. The place is BYOB and there is no corking fee. So they will open your booze and pour it for you and not hit you with fees. Glorious.

I cannot speak highly enough of my meal at Antica Pizzeria Fellini. Keep that brick oven warm, I will be back.

Nobu - Dallas, TX

October 11th, 2011

I had incorrectly assumed that Nobu is a higher-end Teppenyaki restaurant and Sushi bar, like a boutique Benihana, if you will. The place is much more than that and now happens to be one of my all-time favorite meals. The menu is laid out how they suggest you order: cold appetizer course, soup/salad, hot entrees and finally sushi (the dessert menu is entirely separate).

A neat offering is omakase, which is a chef's selection. Your server apparently asks you a series of questions about preferences and potential food allergies and then depending on how much you want to spend, they will just bring food to you. We did not choose this option, but it sounds like a fun way to spend a night out. I will list everything that we did get.

Toro Tartare. Toro is a marbled piece of tuna belly. That's right, fatty fish. I had heard and read that this is a uniquely wonderful way to enjoy tuna. I'm still new to sushi, but I've had some amazing tuna. I felt that this was exactly the place where I should try a dish like this and I was not let down.

Hearts of Palm Salad w/ Jalapeño Dressing. This was topped with some micro greens, but otherwise it was...hearts of palm with a jalapeño dressing. There was not much to this salad, but it was delicious. In my experience, hearts of palm is supporting cast, but in this dish it stood alone very well. The dressing wasn't too spicy, but just added good depth to the hearts of palm.

Edamame. Admittedly, in my experience, edamame is edamame is edamame. The edamame at Nobu was good, but this isn't something that you must have if you eat here. Nothing set it apart from an order of edamame at any other restaurant.

Seared Sea Scallops. These scallops were incredibly well seared. I've not seen a crust on the scallops like this before and it added a slight textural variation that was nice. You get two scallops for like $28, so unless you are out celebrating a special occasion, this is a hard dish to recommend. That said, they were served with these wonderfully nutty brussels sprout leaves that almost outshone the scallops.

Seared Chilean Sea Bass. This was probably the best thing I have ever eaten. It was served with hunks of black truffles and a mushroom reduction sauce that was sweet and earthy. The fish was perfectly seared and cooked throughout. After getting just two scallops, I was expecting a tiny little piece of fish, but it was a good-sized portion. I think it was about $36, and I hate to say it, but probably worth a good deal more than that. There were so many things on the menu at Nobu that I decided would have to wait until the next time I'm lucky enough to eat there, but they no longer appeal to me after having had this dish.

Spicy Scallop Roll. Awesome. Raw scallop, and I understand that some people will be deterred by that, but this was so very good.

House Special Roll. This had some of everything: tuna, yellowtail, whitefish and even more that I can't remember. The roll was huge. I think I preferred the spicy scallop roll, but this was still very good; it was just a lot.

From what I can tell, there are a lot of great restaurants in Dallas and they will compete fiercely for your appetite, especially if you aren't too concerned about how they will lighten your wallet. I had a blast and the food was divine. For the sea bass alone, memories of my meal at Nobu line the walls of my "happy place."

Weber Grill Restaurant - Chicago, IL

May 23rd, 2011

Backyard grilling and smoking from the people who make backyard grills and smokers. This sounds like a winning concept. We even sat at the bar looking in on the "open kitchen," A/K/A the giant charcoal grills. Being one who loves me some backyard bbq, this really was the ideal situation in which to find myself. But in practice everything fell apart. Watching the burger-and-steak assembly line was neither educational nor appetizing. Maybe my expectation for food prep was out of line with the location. Maybe I wanted fine dining and maybe they have the efficiency goals of a place with a drive-thru window.

To start, the pretzel rolls and cheddar-garlic-onion spread were awesome.

Next, the Fire-Roasted Artichoke & Spinach Dip was very good. My recommendation is to have them leave off the hefty dollop of sour cream that tops the dip just prior to service. I'm probably the only one who would have them leave tomatoes/pico de gallo off as well. But I found it a strange contrast of cold veggies to fire-roasted dip. I'm like that. But the dip itself and the grilled pita wedges comprise what is probably my favorite spinach-artichoke dip.

I ordered a three-item combo plate. I wanted their "signature" bbq ribs, brisket and pulled pork. The pulled pork was either good or just soaked in too much bbq sauce...or both. The ribs were overcooked and not what I had hoped for as a signature item. The brisket was awful. It would be more accurately listed as jerky than brisket. It was tough, dry and unimpressive all around.

The two biggest standouts are the artichoke dip and the brisket. Together, they make me ultimately say this: This is a fun place to meet for happy hour and some appetizers. As bbq goes, there are just better places to eat.

Texas de Brazil - Chicago, IL

May 19th, 2011

Texas de Brazil is a Churrascuria, or Brazilian steakhouse. This is more of a concept restaurant, and that concept is meat. The servers, or Gauchos, swarm over the dining floor delivering freshly cut slices of heaven slow roasted beef, pork, lamb and chicken. Diners signal their appetite with a marker - a green marker means Gauchos will bring you what they have and a red marker means you are not interested. Even if your marker is green, you can turn down anything offered at any time. You do not HAVE to take what they bring you. The wait staff is also great about asking if there is anything you want sent to the table.

The house specialty is Picanha, a prime cut top sirloin served wrapped in its own rendered..."marbling." Texas de Brazil also offers (in no particular order) garlic picanha, flank steak, parmesan chicken, leg of lamb, parmesan pork, pork loin, Brazilian sausage, chicken breast wrapped in bacon, pork ribs, beef ribs, lamb chops, filet mignon and filet mignon wrapped in bacon. My favorites were the beef ribs and the Brazilian sausage. My mouth is nearly watering just remembering them.

They also offer a stocked salad bar with an incredible number of fixings. (But we all know that's just the ploy to fill you up so you can't eat as much slow roasted deliciousness.)

We drank an awesome Rioja (Marqués de Cáceres 2001 Rioja Gran Reserva). We stuffed ourselves silly. And then, for good measure, we ordered dessert. I do not know how I was able to even consider dessert, but I am glad I did; the pecan pie was so good.

The interior had low lighting offering privacy and a romantic atmosphere that contradicts both the hustle and the bustle of the Gauchos. I do not know that I would go here as a date-night destination or with clients. With friends it was a great night out.

Tango Sur - Chicago, Il

October 9th, 2008

I recently vacationed in Chicago, staying with my best friend (awwwwwww). One thing we discussed was going to a dinner somewhere that might be worthy of a review. Without hesitation he picked Tango Sur. I have experienced American steakhouses where dark wood and dim lights create ambiance for big steaks; and Brazilian steakhouses where meats (on swords!) are brought to the table in waves; and Japanese steakhouses where I get cranky if my Teppen chef does not transition the onion volcano into a choo-choo train. Tango Sur was my first Argentinian steakhouse.

No gimmicks, just good food.

We started with what my friend told me was basically an appetizer ritual when he goes to Tango Sur: Spinach & Cheese Empanadas. Not to detract from the rest of the meal, details still forthcoming below, but the empanadas we heavenly. The entire meal was delicious, but the appetizers stole the show.

Luckily we ordered the appetizers and our entrees at once, so I did get something else to write about. I had the Bife Vesuvio - steak stuffed with spinach, cheese and garlic. It may seem slightly redundant to get something stuffed with spinach and cheese after the empanada, but I was tantalized by the garlic (I believe it was the only item on the menu that specifically listed garlic. What was a guy to do?). Ultimately it was the right order; it was delicious. The steak, actually, was fine. I feel like it was a hunk of flank steak or something similar -- tough and plain. It was seasoned perfectly so that I almost forgot how dangerously close it came to being dry. The stuffing was out of this world. I feel like garlic and cheese on anything is almost cheating, but I won't complain. I loved it.

We both ate an incredible amount of food, but it is hard to pass on dessert so we decided to split a slice of carrot cake. Even the dessert was great. It was slightly more dense than what I consider a traditional carrot cake, which was right up my alley.

We bought wine from the over-priced wine store across the street from the restaurant. Tango Sur is b.y.o.b. and they charged (I believe) no corking fee. As a practical matter, the over-priced wine from the store was still less expensive than it would have been off a restaurant menu, so take that into consideration if you go to the same store.

This was a great restaurant and without his suggestion, I never would have found it on my own.

Tango Sur is located at 3763 N Southport Ave, between Grace and Waveland.
773.477.5466

Hy's Steakhouse - Toronto

July 8th, 2008

Link: http://www.hyssteakhouse.com/

I first heard (or read) the name Hy's before I left for Toronto when I was researching places to go for a nice dinner. I read about a handful of places and ultimately settled on Hy's due to the location and its relative proximity to my hotel, but do not discount that it was one of the more highly-praised steakhouses in Toronto according to my online research and conversations with the concierge.

The restaurant itself was nice inside, but as I was traveling alone I contented myself to sit at the bar. This was a great decision because I had good conversation with the other patrons and the bartender and there was a man playing piano in the bar. And I still had access to the full menu.

The Sautéed Garlic Shrimp were a good appetizer, but expensive. I got four shrimp for $17, which I will shrug off and say that any appetizer in a downtown area will be pricey.

The Bone-In Rib Steak (which I believe to be Canadian for Ribeye) was my main course. It might be the AAA Alberta beef used, but the steak was not impressive. And the chefs didn't help when they over salted it. It even came with a side of mashed potatoes, which were UNDER-seasoned and I felt that if I ate them together they might balance but there was still too much salt.

I was hoping that the saving grace would be the Thick Cut Beer Battered Onion Rings, which looked more like donuts than onion rings. I love fried food, and a nice thick batter on an onion ring excites me. And they were good, though an order is too much for one person to finish alone.

This was my first steakhouse in Canada, so maybe this is what I should expect. Or maybe the restaurant's food is on the decline like its attendance - the bartender told me that the place used to do a lot more business. Then again, maybe if they were less heavy-handed with the salt more people would go to Hy's in Toronto.

Overall the place was decent. The food I ordered was average, but the garlic toast that comes to the table was divine. I would say that the garlic toast was worth the trip alone, and it was fantastic dipped in the sauce left over on my shrimp plate. But next time I'm in Toronto and I want a good steak I will try someplace new.

Blue Duck Tavern - Washington, D.C.

April 30th, 2008

Link: http://www.blueducktavern.com/gallery/blueduck/home.html

The Blue Duck Tavern welcomes you with wholesome American fare prepared through simple, time-honored cooking methods such as roasting, braising, preserving and smoking. The new contemporary neighborhood tavern, designed by Tony Chi, evokes the warmth and convivial setting of a residential kitchen and gathering place.

Fresh produce and ingredients, arriving daily from regional purveyors and artisans, are an integral part of the seasonal menus featured at the Blue Duck Tavern.

Executive Chef Brian McBride and new Chef de Cuisine Michael Santoro prepare many dishes in the wood-burning oven, a focal point of the inviting open kitchen and the heart of this restaurant.

If the restaurant owners actually cared about this review, they couldn't be happier with the night I was there. It was an absolutely beautiful spring evening which allowed us to have dinner seated outside at Blue Duck.

Blue Duck features one of the more interesting menus that I've seen. You have appreciate the freshness that comes with the seasonal ingredients they feature, but I'm a little gunshy about a few items offered (e.g. "hot pigs trotter"). And I definitely was thankful for the plate of freshly sliced prosciutto that was given to us shortly after our basket of bread.

I'm not normally one to indulge in the seafood selections when I have other options, but I figured when I'm that close to Maryland I would do myself a disservice by not getting the Jumbo Lump Crabcakes. The crab cake entree was two substantially-sized crab cakes with plenty of crab meat in each. They were very good, but I must admit that they were nothing compared to the Wood Fired Diver Maine Scallops, which were easily the best scallops I've ever eaten. Consider that I've already stated I don't eat much seafood, but I love scallops.

For sides we went potato times two. The Roasted Fingerlings with bacon and onion were maybe a little under seasoned, but nothing that couldn't be addressed table-side. Or maybe they were very good but overshadowed by the Hand Cut BDT Triple Fries which were delicious, though I did wonder what might be a fun dipping sauce for them.

When you walk into Blue Duck, you are conveniently herded past the station where their popular apple pies are prepared. They recommend one to share, and it is plenty big enough for two people. "Would you like vanilla ice cream with that?" Of course I would. A small, nearly-personal pie with a delicious caramelized brown sugar top served with three big scoops of vanilla ice cream.

I guess I should mention the bottle of 2005 Montes "Alpha" Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile that we had. It, as well as everything served, knocked my socks off.

Neros - Las Vegas, NV

May 18th, 2007

This steakhouse is located within Caesar's Palace and is not contained in the Forum Shops. We have eaten many times in the Forum Shops and wanted to try something "local" to the casino.

I had obtained a reservation for 7:30pm through the toll-free number provided by Caesar's to reach any restaurant in the casino. After wasting time sitting at the bar we were finally taken to our table shortly after 8:15pm! We were basically ignored and had to constantly ask when our table would be ready. I can be as cool and care-free as the next guy, but this was a business dinner, so I thought the wait was excessive. (To be fair, they eventually did get the manager who came to us and offered to buy the round of drinks we had in front of us. This was a kind gesture, but we wished we had ordered cocktails instead of the round of Cokes. And to that, we would have just preferred our table.)

I would like to say that once we were seated our experience improved, but I cannot. I have been to nice restaurants when there is an understanding that it will be a long meal and you may as well get comfortable. Neros is not that type of a place, but our meal took forever. They may have been understaffed, but it was impossible to get ahold of our server.

I started my meal with a bowl of the Lobster Bisque, which was the only highlight of the night. To credit Neros, it might be the best Bisque I have had in Las Vegas and was certainly one of the best I have ever had.

I had my "go-to" bone-in ribeye for dinner. I was very glad that it was served with the house steak sauce because the steak was dry. That is the restaurant's fault. What is not necessarily its fault was the fact that my steak was just a bad cut. I happened to get a piece that was replete with "bad spots" that were too tough to cut through and certainly not edible. That happens and I may have said something if the service had been better or if that hadn't been futile once before in Las Vegas.

I spoke with a few other people who had eaten there and their feelings were better than mine but lukewarm overall. I cannot see any reason why this would not be my ONLY dinner at Neros. There are too many good restaurants in Las Vegas to go back to one where you have had a negative experience.