Well Dined

14Apr/160

Miami Pt 1 – Fontainebleau Resort

Well Dined | Miami Beach

The husband and I just spent a week in Miami Beach!!!  He went for work training and I tagged along.  The training didn't get approved until 1 week before, so we booked everything in a rush and, I have to say, I kind of loved it.  I didn't have time to over-analyze everything, over-plan, or over-book.  I just did a quick check on what seemed like the best restaurants, booked those, and that was it!  No time to stress about anything.  It also worked out that it was just after all the Spring Break madness, so it wasn't too crowded and reservations were easy to get.

Well Dined | Fontainebleau Miami

image courtesy of Fontainebleau

We stayed at the Fontainebleau Resort in Miami Beach (which is also where Jasper's training was).  It is huge, and gorgeous, and reminded us of Las Vegas (which is apparently what they are going for, so good job).  On one side of the hotel is the pool complex and the beach.

Well Dined | Fontainebleau Miami

image courtesy of Fontainebleau

The other side of the hotel is the, also beautiful, marina.  There are four towers of rooms, and we stayed in the tallest one - the Tresor.  This was actually a complementary upgrade given to us at check-in, because it was our first time in Miami.  Check-in was super fast and easy and the employee who we dealt with was incredibly friendly and helpful.  Major points to service, there.

31Mar/150

Inn at Little Washington – Birthday Surprise

You guys - I have a computer again!  Yay!!!  We are still in the process of settling in, but I at least have a place to post from now.  Right before we moved was my 30th birthday, and I was kind of bummed because I had wanted to do a big trip to New York but the timing with the new house meant that we couldn't.  Jasper told me that he was going to plan a smaller trip to a surprise location, so right in the middle of packing we hopped in the car and head to... The Inn at Little Washington!  What a great surprise!

Well Dined | Inn at Little Washington

Welcome Cocktails

It also worked out nicely as a pre-anniversary trip because it was almost to our 5 year wedding anniversary!  I can't even believe it - time flies!

Well Dined | Inn at Little Washington

We arrived just in time for afternoon tea, which was lovely.  Both the sweet and savory bites were delicious and I love that they make all of their own accompaniments.  I had a delicious caramel tea that I ended up buying from the store because it was so good.

6Nov/140

San Francisco

Well Dined

You guys, I have been in such a writing funk since I have gotten back from vacation.  I don't know what is going on!  But I do want to tell you about the restaurants we visited while we were in San Francisco, and I will try to post more frequently from now on.  Kailey, my sister-in-law (who we were visiting), is a chef in SF (here; that's her at 0:35 and 1:35), so we let her take us on a culinary tour of her favorite spots.  But I determined on our first day that I was just going to enjoy the vacation and not worry about taking photos.  So I don't have any food photos to show you, sorry!

Well Dined | View from Hotel Drisco

View from our room

Before we get to food, I should mention that we stayed at the Hotel Drisco and really enjoyed it.  We had a corner room on the top floor and the views were amazing - we could see Alcatraz, the Golden Gate Bridge, and most of the city.  All the windows really helped because, like many older buildings in the city, Drisco has no air conditioning.  Opening all the windows made for a lovely cross-breeze, though it was too noisy to leave them open at night.  The hotel includes a continental breakfast, and I am not talking about just cereal and muffins.  They have all kinds of pastries with homemade jams, spreads, and toppings.  Also fresh juices, cereal, yogurt, bagels, fruit salad, hot oatmeal, smoothies, salami and cheese, hard boiled eggs, and antipasto style veggies.  In addition to various coffee blends, they will also make espresso drinks to order.  It is a very nice perk.  They also have a wine tasting every evening with cheese and salami, coffee all day, free wifi, free bikes, and the staff are very friendly and helpful.

Well Dined | View from Hotel Drisco

View from our room

12Jan/140

Holiday Roadtrip Restaurant Reviews

Well Dined | Inn at Biltmore Estate

We had two different events planned in two different states in the weeks before Christmas: a weekend-long birthday party in the Outer Banks and a family get-together in Nashville, TN.  We decided it would be fun to connect the events via a long roadtrip, stopping at the Biltmore Estate in NC before continuing on to TN.  Biltmore is HUGE.  The house is the largest privately owned house in the US, and the grounds cover 8000 acres.  It takes 30 minutes to get from the Inn on the property to the house.

Well Dined | Inn at Biltmore Estate

We stayed for two nights at the Inn, which is a really nice hotel and spa.  They were all decked out for Christmas, and had a gingerbread house replica of the Inn.  There are multiple restaurants on the Estate - we ate at the Inn Dining Room the first night, and like it so much we decided to eat there the second night too!

The Dining Room is seasonal, farm-sourced fine dining.  I really liked their small plates and respectful treatment of produce.  The amuse bouche was a different cream based vegetable veluote both nights and they were both outstanding.  I could have eaten a bowl of that for dinner and been happy.

My favorite dish was the fried brussels sprouts with a farm egg, frisee, and bacon.  This is seriously the BEST brussels sprouts dish I have ever had.  It was eye-rolling good.  I ordered it both nights and asked for the recipe, which they gave me!  I'll post it at the bottom.

Another standout was the roasted corn and lobster soup with piquillo peppers.  This has been added to my list of favorite lobster dishes, and is in the top 3 lobster bisques for sure.

The pork belly with apple tart and goat cheese ravioli appetizers were also very good and I would highly recommend them.  The gnocchi with brie, figs, and bacon was not enjoyable, though.  The brie overpowered everything else and the bacon was way too salty.  It sounded great on paper, but didn't work.

The artisan meat and cheese platter was very satisfying, with lots of variety and good portions.  I didn't order any entrees, and Jasper ordered specials both nights.  He really enjoyed the seafood special the first night, but did not like the steak special the second night.

Overall, the good outweighs the bad here and I would recommend trying it out if you are ever in the area.

4Nov/130

Harth at Hilton Mclean Tyson’s Corner

I'd been meaning to try this restaurant for a while, but it is inside a hotel which always makes me wary - overpriced and mediocre quality are the norm.  The website claims that the chef is devoted to farm-to-table cooking and that they have an organic garden that provide herbs and produce and that they use local meats - I'm a sucker for all of that.  So I finally just went over there for lunch to try it out.

My first impression was that the space is GORGEOUS - modern, impeccably designed.  The hotel is very modern and upscale on the inside, too - which you cannot tell from the outside.  The restaurant is long and narrow, with huge windows that run down the entire length of one side and provide lots of light during the day.  When you enter, you walk past the kitchen with wood burning stove (hence the name) on the right and a large, glass-encased wine room on the left.  The dining room is decorated with pearlescent white leather, pale green, and purple alligator print - very modern and luxe.  There are glass fireplaces set at intervals throughout, just in case you forgot the name of the restaurant.  It's very trendy and modern and I totally love it.

Now, the food - good quality with inconsistent pricing.

Well Dined | Harth

The lobster roll is what brought me here over the summer.  The quality of the lobster salad was good and the buttery brioche bread was tasty, but as usual the ratio of bread to lobster was too high.  Red Hook Lobster Pound really has spoiled me for life.  I wasn't a big fan of the house chips - nice crunch but no flavor.  The pickles, however, were fantastic - and served in an adorable tiny jar with a tiny spear fork.

Well Dined | Harth

This turkey sandwich is very much Thanksgiving-esque with caramelized onion, cranberry mayo, and their signature bacon jam.  That isn't deli turkey, either - it is big slabs of roasted turkey breast.  Huge, delicious, good value.

Well Dined | Harth

The fall agnolotti was very good, too, wit brown butter, crispy sage, lemon ricotta, and walnuts.  I didn't see any figs though, which are listed in the description.  Here's where the prices here get a little wonky - that giant turkey sandwich was $13.50, and this tiny appetizer sized pasta (which is billed as an entree) is $16.  I mean - what?

Well Dined | Harth

My husband said he liked this turkey chili with white beans, cheddar, creme friache, and hot sauce.  But I thought it was overpriced - $20 for a bowl of chili, just because it's listed as a main instead of a soup or appetizer.

Well Dined | Harth

Here is an example of the uneven pricing that swings the other way, thank goodness.  This giant dessert of fresh made butterscotch pudding (served warm) with scotch soaked pound cake, salted caramel sauce, and fresh whipped cream is enough for 4 people, easy - and it's priced the same as the other desserts!  It is ridiculously decadent and delicious and I love that they serve it in a pot with the little Le Creuset spatula.

Well Dined | Harth

We also got to try a free dessert that the chef was working on - angel food cake with more of that salted caramel and whipped cream.  When I saw it I thought - boring.  But it was actually really good.  The thing with simple dishes is that each component has to be top notch, and that was the case here.  Now I get why the chef wanted people to try it for free - you might not order that if you saw it on the menu, but once you knew how good it was that would change.

Well Dined | Harth

Here's an insider tip - if you check in using the Yelp app, you will get a coupon to take home a little jar of bacon jam!  Do it - it's fantastic.

My takeaway from Harth is that the main plates are overpriced, so stay away from those.  Stick with the creative sandwiches, huge salads, and wood fired flatbreads.  If you are with a group, definitely get that butterscotch pudding.  And take advantage of the fact that Mon-Fri any glass of wine is $8.

http://www.hiltonmclean.com/Harth

17Sep/121

Labor Day 2012 Inn at Little Washington

Last year we made our first trip to The Inn at Little Washington over Labor Day weekend and we had a wonderful time.  This year we were debating whether to spend the holiday weekend at the beach, or return to the Inn.  Eventually our taste buds won out and we decided to head to Washington, VA.

Unlike the year before, we decided to stay at the Inn itself (instead of one of the less expensive B&B's nearby) and our room was absolutely gorgeous!  We stayed in the Norman House Garden Room with a living room, wet bar, huge bathroom, and private garden - just wonderful!  We also upped the ante this year by having 2 dinners at the restaurant - one of which was at the chef's table in the kitchen!

Here we are with Chef Patrick O'Connell in the kitchen!

10Aug/120

Las Vegas 2012 Pt 2: The Food

The Cosmopolitan Hotel has lots of great food options which was a nice bonus for staying there.  My favorite has to be Holstein's Burgers, which has a huge selection of glam burgers and adult milkshakes.  They also have a good bar with a whole menu of drinks based around my favorite liquor - St Germain.

This was my first meal at the trendy burger spot (yes, I went back) - The Billionaire Burger with Kobe beef, foie gras, port onion marmalade, frisee, and truffle mayo. Fan-freaking-tastic.  I got it with sweet potato fries and the Drunken Monkey Shake (Reese’s, banana, malt, Frangelico).

6Aug/120

Las Vegas 2012 Pt 1: The Hotels

So sorry for the long break!  Being in Las Vegas and then recuperating from the trip have taken some time.  Every year at the end of July, my husband gets sent to Vegas for training.  Since the hotel room is payed for, I like to tag along and relax while he is working hard (poor guy).  The food scene in Vegas is pretty stellar, so we always like to try some new places in addition to hitting up old favorites.

The first half of the week of training is located at Caesar's Palace.  Sometimes we stay there, but this year we wanted to try out the brand new Cosmopolitan Hotel.  The photo is the amazing view from our balcony out over the Bellagio fountain show (which I totally love).  Yes, the Cosmo decided to be risky and is one of very few places in Vegas with balconies!