Eden Roc Grill – Hotel du Cap

Boulevard John Fitzgerald Kennedy 06160 Antibes, FR • r+33 4 93 61 56 63 •  https://www.oetkercollection.com/destinations/hotel-du-cap-eden-roc/restaurants-bars/

Built in 1869 as sanctuary for writers in seek of inspiration, Eden Roc suffices. I say this with heavy doses of understatement because by all accounts Du Cap is a stunner. Like a mini version of Versai, nestled on the shores of a majestic Mediterranean cove. And while the hotel is a veritable feast for the eyes, the restaurant is regrettably not a feast for the mouth.

But I suppose that’s not why people flock here. They do so to feel special, for the view and the lavish opulence. But this is food blog and I’m sorry to say that you can get the exact same experience at Chateu de la Chevre D’or in Eze without having to compromise on the food. Whereas, if you ask me, Eden Roc is basically a nicer version of the Hotel Belle Rives down the rue.

In terms of food, the risotto with leeks was passable, but slightly flavorless. Granted, that was much more forgivable than the sea bass, which was overcooked and dry. And to be fair, even the bread and olive oil they served at the start of the meal was a big whatevs.

Thus, if it is a gastronomic feat you are looking for, keep heading East on A8 until you reach Eze. But if you’d rather gorge on architecture and affluence, you could do a lot worse.

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Four Seasons Sultanahmet

No. 1, Cankurtaran Mh., Tevkifhane Sk., 34122 Sultanahmet-Eminönü/Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey+90 212 402 3000 • fourseasons.com/content/fourseasons/en/properties/istanbul
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For those of you still hung up on Midnight Express, the notion of dining in a Turkish Prison is probably not high up on your Istanbul bucket list, but rest assured, your fears would be sorely misplaced, because this prison is the Four Seasons of prisons. No, seriously. It’s actually a Four Seasons. With prison yards turned into lush gardens, cells turned into rooms and the cafeteria turned into an expansive restaurant atrium.

Like all Four Seasons restaurants, the food falls somewhere between good and great, although I would temper your expectations toward the lower end of that spectrum, because compared to the Four Seasons in New York it’s not even close. I mean that food-wise. In terms of décor it blows New York out of the water. Crazy to say about a prison, I know, but true nonetheless.

The food itself is a classic array of the usual suspects, mezes and iconic Mediterranean dishes ranging from whole sea bass (levrek), to dolma (stuffed grape leaves), to kufte (meatballs), to lentil soup (lentil soup). And while they all hold strong, there are better to be had throughout the city. But the food is not why you’re heading here, it’s for the one-of-a-kind experience, and on that The Four Seasons Sultanahmet delivers in spades.

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Karakoy Lokantasi

Kemankeş Karamustafa Paşa Mh., Kemankeş Cd No:37/A, İstanbul, Turkey • +90 212 292 4455 • karakoylokantasi.com
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Karakoy is the dark horse of Istanbul if you ask me, which suits it nicely since the direct translation of its name is “dark village.” Such an unlikely, industrial waterfront turned so hip it could easily give Brooklyn a run for its money, filled with one incredible restaurant after another, a stunning, refurbished Hamam turned spa, and unique boutiques speckled throughout.

Yet, amidst all of the funkier, cooler restaurants there lies a much lower key option, not trying too hard to live on the edge, delivering all your classic meze with excellent service and a simple, inviting, understated (comparatively) décor.

That said, the mezes themselves were a bit on the hit and miss side, not quite living up to the raves. My favorite being the smoked bonito fish with red onion (lakerda). Perhaps it’s the latent Jew in me, responding to the reminiscent flavors of sable and red onions atop a bagel and cream cheese… Cue Homer Simpson drooling noises.

After that, both the mustard pickled levrek (sea bass) and the grilled octopus proved to be a solid yum, while the yaprak sarma (stuffed grape leaves) and sigara boregi (phyllo dough stuffed with feta) proved to be nothing memorable.

The only flat out miss was the midye dolma (stuffed mussels), which is normally my favorite meze of all mezes. But I have to say these might’ve been the worst I’ve ever had. I mean they really shat the seabed on this one. So much so that they should foot the bill to fly in Sehmus, the Midye Whisperer of Bodrum, to teach them how it’s done.

But back on a positive note, the cacik (yogurt and herbs) was thick and creamy, just the way I like it. Granted I like the more soupy version well- okay, I like practically anything with yogurt, but this was definitely on the better end of the cacik spectrum. In fact the only other I can claim was as good was at Beyoglu in New York. Also, the fig dessert (pictured) with kaymak was pretty tasty as well.

So not exactly an out-of-the-way must. And I can’t say I’m even sure that it’s better than the scads of much cooler looking places all around it, but after a glass or two of Ala Yeni Raki who even cares?

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Le Moulin de Mougins

1028 ave Notre-Dame de Vie 06250 Mougins, France • 04.93.75.78.24 • moulin-mougins.com

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Moulin just might be the easiest three Michelin Star restaurant to get a reservation at in the world. We’re talking 24 hours notice on a Friday night kinda easy. Suspiciously easy. Like as in “is this place really as good as they say?” cause if it were, shouldn’t it be harder to get a table? Or is it simply the fact that Cannes goers don’t even have it on their radar? Thinking it’s too far or too expensive, neither of which are true.

Inside the décor is lovely with exposed parts of an antique mill poking through the walls here and there. However, the garden is truly the place to be, set on multiple levels with beautiful flowers triangulating every table. My one gripe would be on the lighting system, a lamp at the table’s center with the cord cutting across the top, dangling over one side. Can’t a brother get a candle up in this bitch? Or drill a hole in the center of the table and run the cord through? Or what about cordless lighting? Or overhead? I know I seem really distracted right now by something so seemingly trivial, but drawing even more attention to this problem was the fact that the lamp was attracting a horde of flies, which doesn’t exactly make for the most aesthetically pleasing centerpiece in the world. But dropping the subject since I can tell you’re annoyed, let’s get on with the review…

At the onset, things definitely started off cold, both figuratively and literally. The cold soup amuse bouche was so unimpressive I didn’t even bother to finish it, which had me nervous for a spell, but then a second amuse bouche hit the table and this one was very good. A spinach, bacon and cheese dip that when combine with their fresh baked fig bread was like a ballet of savory and sweet.

After that the hits were fast and furious with all three appetizers killing it! The seared foie gras with cherry compote and marinated slivers of cherry was excellent. As was the spider fish stuffed zucchini blossom and the asparagus risotto.

The two entrees I tried both rocked it as well. The duck, while served in an inventive, tubular presentation, was regrettably a touch on the dry side, but because it came with the dreamiest Ultimate mashed sweet potatoes, whipped into silk, this sidekick swooped in like Robin to its Batman, handily saving the day (and the dish).

Opposite the duck, the other main course was a moist, citrusy sea bass packed with favor and a touch of sweetness, also made special by it’s companion, an earthy black rice, that when placed together on the same fork was like a happy marriage between land and sea. Which, in a lesser-known ruling that the Supreme Court also legalized last week along with same-sex marriage.

Sadly desserts had the weakest showing of the night (other than the cold soup). The lemon tart was flat out terrible. The macaroon was okay and the chocolate, espresso tart was an imperceptible notch above the macaroon.

But all in all, one of the best means to be had in Cannesland. It’ll make you happier than winning a Grand Prix. Well, almost.

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Ink

8360 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles, CA 90069(323) 651-5866mvink.com

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A fellow foodie recommended this place to me, which is always a risky proposition because, well it might surprise you to know it, but I’m kinda hard to please. And I was pleased as punch. Never understood that expression, but it seems fitting now. From start to finish it was one inventive concoction of yumosity after another.

To kick things off we had the scallops, which they serve raw, along with pickled papaya and chili kicker to give it some nice heat. And the textures were tremendous. The scallops being soft and tender and the papaya being dense.

After that came one of the best beet dishes I’ve ever had. I hate to double down on the “dense” word, but the beets were so meaty they almost gave the sensation of steak. Just bodacious.

And speaking of steak sensations, the wagyu beef cheeks were sensational. Tied for my favorite thing of the night. So buttery soft it melted in your mouth.

Also, the perfect side to go along with the wagyu would’ve been the potato polenta with bone marrow. It’s incredibly creamy and equally delicious, but because it came before wagyu it felt like a supporting role without a main act, unable to truly stand on its own.

Right on the heels of that came the weakest dish of the night, the sea bass with chicken skin. Its description impresses far more than its flavors, but it was cooked well and offered a nice textural playfulness between the flaky, buttery fish and the crispy, salty chicken skin. Hmm, I’m making it sound so good I almost tricked myself into ordering it again.

But just when Ink started to show signs of mortality, the dessert chef closed things out like Mariano Rivera. The yam dessert being the best thing yams have ever accomplished since the dark ages. Served in an inventive array of dollops that I can’t recall because I was too busy horking it down. All I know is that there were flavors of cinnamon and toffee and it was off the charts.

And while the second dessert might’ve been more “chartable,” it was still extraordinary. A chocolate pudding unlike any I’ve ever had. Served almost like slices of cake set amidst ice cream and dried coconut.

Easily a five-knifer had the service not fouled it up. First, by trying to seat us at the shittiest table in the place, right at the front between the bar and the host station. And this was with the place 60% empty, which it remained from the start of our meal to the end.

The other nit, which is a big pet peeve of mine, is when you ask a server for recommendations and they give you the ole non-committal cop out, “everything’s good.” Which he was mostly right about, everything was good, except the service.

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The Muses

Gialos, Behind the bridge, 85600 Symi, Greece • +30 6958734503
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While the location is rather unfortunate, across the street from a playground full of screaming kids, the setting is quite lovely with it’s basket lights and lattice work overhead. I just recommend eating at 9:30pm or later, once the screaming has abated.

That said, you might start screaming with delight as the watermelon amuse bouche explodes in your mouth. Not to be outdone by its cheese puff chaser. Right away you know you are in gourmet hands as every single presentation from these two Argentinian brothers is like something you’d expect to see on the plates of Manhattan’s finest. Granted they tend to go a little crazy with the foams, but I’ll forgive them because at least everything was good.

For starters we had a yogurt dish that was so thick and creamy it was almost like cheese, loaded with dried figs, apricots and an assortment of nuts. The other was a tuna sashimi with wasabi, peaches and of course, foam.

For entrees we went with the octopus in a, you guessed it, ouzo foam, placed over a bed of leeks and an orange puree. And while it was good, the real winner was the sea bass with mushrooms, spinach puree and a citric acid- yup, foam. The combination of flavors was perfection.

As for dessert, the chocolate 5 ways was a bit of a let down for me as I was only partial to one of the five ways. Luckily the other dessert was truly something special. Asparagus ice cream with jellied fruit and citrus. So inventive. So unique. So not having anything to do with foam. And such a high note to end on.

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