Nico Osteria

1015 N Rush StChicago, IL 60611 • (312) 994-7100 • nicoosteria.com

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Nico is probably much better for lunch or dinner than it is for breakfast, so to be fair, please take this review with a huge grain of salt, after all, I had plenty to spare considering how insanely salty my eggs were. Between the prosciutto and capers I think my blood pressure rose a good 50 points on the spot, not to mention the salt they probably used in the dish itself. It was so strong I had to scrape off all of the mix-ins and just ate the eggs by themselves so that my arteries didn’t pop like water balloons.

On the plus side, the orange juice and the tea were both good and the décor is chic enough to hold up to the Thompson hotel it calls home. As for service, it was a touch non-attentive considering I was only one of two people in the restaurant.

1 tooth

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Pomme Palais

New York Palace Hotel • 30 E 51st St. New York, NY 10022(212) 888-7000 • http://www.lottenypalace.com/dining/pomme-palais

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Midtown has no shortage of great patisseries, but please add one more to the list, located inside the New York Palace Hotel, and loaded with some of the best eclairs (pictured), tarts and danishes one could ever hope to pork out on. Everything is so diet-cheating good, you will be 10,000 calories in the hole before you even know what hit your waistline. But things are not just a feast for the stomach, Pomme will have your eyes drooling as well, with treats so stunningly designed you almost feel guilty biting into them, like gnawing on the side of the Mona Lisa.

They also have a handsome array of savory options as well, and an assortment of interesting teas and coffee to wash them down with, but I can’t vouch for any of them, nor how deep the bench is here, but of the four desserts I did try, all were merveilleux! That’s apparently good according to Google Translate.

Even the store itself is a jewel, making you feel as if Louis Vuitton has gone into the restaurant business or something. So skip Paris Baguette and Le Pain Quotidien down the street and fork over the extra coin for something well worth it. In fact, I love this place so much I’ll probably be upping it to five knives soon, after a little more “research.” Mmmm… research…

4 teeth

 

Bel Cafe

801 W Georgia St. Vancouver, BC V6C 1P7 Canada(604) 673-7000belcafe.com

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Just off the corner of the Rosewood Hotel there is a café of cool, because apparently that’s just how the Rosewood rolls. Average don’t play in these walls. Granted the Bel isn’t quite as refined as the hotel it calls home, but what it lacks in posh, it makes up for in vibe, with young, hip, attractive shoppers huddled around the lattes and noshes.

Of the lattes, I tried the chocolate chai latte and sadly it was a far cry from the one at Bread and Cocoa in San Francisco, but to be fair, that’s the best latte I’ve ever had in my life. On the upside, the blueberry scone was mighty good. Fresh and not too dry, which is the bane of scone existence.

Can’t say much beyond that though, but from my limited sample of eyesdropping (eavesdropping with the eyes), I noticed quite a few lookers on the plates of my fellow patrons, not to mention in the glass case (pictured). Enough to feel comfortable with giving this place an assumptive three knives.

3 teeth

 

Alice’s Tea Cup

102 W 73rd St. New York, NY 10023 • (212) 799-3006 • alicesteacup.com

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New York can be so annoying with its Stalin-esque reservation rules, which seem so out of character for a place like this. Charming, whimsical, themed like something pulled straight out of Alice in Wonderland, hence the name. But unless your tea party is six people or greater, prepare to wait, because the Queen of Hearts is apparently running things.

That said, should you have a party of six or simply wait long enough to get a table, you are in for a treat that will have you grinning wider than the Cheshire Cat. It starts with their “wonderful” assortment of interesting and unique teas such as apple-cinnamon and chocolate chai, each served in its very own color-coded pot the size of your head. Which you then pour into a mixed English tea setting comprised of hand-painted floral china. None of the teas were amazing, however. It was actually the food that stole the show.

Stolen with a surprisingly limited brunch menu, but if everything’s good, then who really cares, right? The scones are excellent (pictured), some of the best I’ve ever had. Thick, not too dense, moist and yummy. The French toast is also very good, served in cubes, casserole style, with an amazing drizzle of chocolate, syrup and berries around the perimeter of the plate.

The salmon benedict isn’t too shabby either, although the eggs were a touch overcooked, which is benny blasphemy and borderline worth docking a knife, but because they served it over one of their amazing scones I’m gonna let it slide.

The tower of breakfast is pretty great too, if you’re looking to try a bit of everything, adorned with a poached egg, scone and a nice homemade granola served with fresh berries and vanilla yogurt.

But Alice is also a bakery, making it an ideal place to celebrate birthdays, particularly if you have young birthday girl with you, deep in the princess phase. Mine is a bit of a chocoholic, so we obviously went with the chocolate cake, which I thought was just okay by comparison to the rest of the meal, but that didn’t seem to stop my daughter from wolfing it down like a champ.

All in, a highly successful outing worth the wait and the special trip, because that’s exactly what Alice’s Tea Cup offers… A special experience.

4 teeth

Chateau de la Chevre D’or

6 Rue du Barri, 06260 Eze, France • +33 4 92 10 66 66 • chevredor.com
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This is easily amongst my top five restaurants of all time. The setting is incomparable. The food is wonderful. And the experience is unforgettable, unlike anything before it, or since.

It starts with a winding drive up the side of a mountain, overlooking the crystal blue Mediterranean Sea. And with each and every switchback, you rise higher and higher until you ultimately arrive upon the idyllic medieval castle town of Eze, perched at the summit.

Taking up a sizable portion of this castle is a hotel and restaurant by the name of La Chevre D’or (The Golden Goat), and while a goat might not sound like the most luxurious of beasts to enshrine in 24 karat bling, you’ll feel like you were dipped in gold the moment you enter, that’s how special the setting makes you feel. Like royalty, you sit atop an expansive terrace taking in the sun and view almost as if it they were the realm over which you rule.

Yet, with such posh stature, they manage to show vital restraint, because while the service could easily be snooty, that would only serve to break the illusion. After all, what servant would ever turn their nose up at a king or queen? Thus the waiters are impeccable.

And speaking of flawless, the meal is like something out of a storybook. I’m not really sure what that even means now that I’ve just written it, but let’s just assume it means really, really good. For example a lobster tail served over a bed of turquoise salt. Turbot presented almost like the sails of a ship. And every bite as magical as if Merlin himself were in the kitchen.

If you are ever within a 90 minute drive of here, be sure to make a reservation. It’s worth every last kilometer. And if you can’t get a table, at least stop by for tea or cocktail. You get the same gorgeous view and impeccable service, along with some of the best snacks your mouth could ever dream of.

5 teeth

The Smith

956 2nd Ave. New York, NY 10022 • (212) 644-2700 • thesmithnyc.com
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I gotta say, they make it pretty damn hard to hate on this place. The décor alone makes me happy. So cool and open with a vibe about it that is social and fun. And I’m not sure what happened with me, but unlike so many other reviews I actually had terrific service. Friendly and attentive and quick.

On the food front, I only had breakfast, so I can’t speak yet about the other two squares of the day. But from what I did have it was a solid good.

The teas seem to be homemade and home packaged. And therefore home good. Much better than the Tazo and Twining crap you find virtually everywhere else.

And the French toast with caramelized bananas (pictured), while not as impressive as the tea, managed to hit the spot, regardless of the fact that it wasn’t soaked through. A major pet peeve of mine. Okay, one of many peeves. Regardless, however, the taste was still solid and so I can only ding it for consistency.

It’s like I stated from the beginning, it’s a hard place not to like, so guess what? I liked it.

3 teeth