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Estela – New York, NY

We heard about this restaurant from our chef friends in Seattle and weren’t able to go last year so we made it a priority this time.  Definitely worth it.  Such a cozy intimate spot that makes for a relaxing dinner.

My husband LOVED the beef tartare.  There were crispy bits of sunchoke in it which gave it great texture.  I can never say no to burrata when I see it on a menu.  This one was topped on a delicious piece of grilled bread surrounded by bright salsa verde.  So good!

Our mains included the fried arroz negro with squid and romesco and the swordfish with avocado, Meyer lemon and almonds.  Both were outstanding.  Not one bit was left on our plates.  Dessert was just as incredible.  Panna cotta with vinegar and honey – perfection!

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Burrata with salsa verde and charred bread

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Beef tartare with sunchoke

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Fried arroz negro with squid and romesco

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Panna cotta with vinegar and honey

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The Grey Plume – Omaha, NE

On a recent trip to visit my college girlfriend, she and her husband took me to The Grey Plume located in Midtown Crossing, a new and upcoming mixed use urban area with contemporary architecture and now, a restaurant to compliment that style.  The interior is minimal but not cold with subdued colors and pieces of art adding subtle splashes of color to the walls.

Every dish was so beautifully composed.  Truly works of art!  And delicious too:)  My favorite were the duck fat fries to start (nothing healthy about those but so tasty) and my trout…so good!  Overall if I lived in Omaha or were there more often I would definitely go back here.  It’s not your typical Monday night neighborhood joint but rather somewhere you’d go for a special occasion.

Beautiful amuse bouche – deconstructed dill pickle – yum!

Duck Fat Fries – farm fresh egg, aioli

Beef tartare – pickled vegetables, accoutrements

Blue Valley Steelhead Trout – oyster mushroom, frisée, créme fraiche spatzle, fiddlehead fern, fennel

Plum Creek Farm Chicken Roulade – beet, potato gnocchi, shiitake mushroom

Rosemary Poundcake – raspberry, blueberry, basil

Brexi – Aspen, CO

Our hotel was located conveniently right across from this restaurant so when we drove into town late at night this was an easy choice.  Lucky for us, it turned out to be a great decision and was overall a really nice and relaxing way to wind down the day.

The atmosphere was charming, French bistro meets…Aspen:)  I’m sure the black and white checkered floors do well in the winter with everyone’s ski boots and year round they fit the bistro style perfect.  The chandeliers caught my eye immediately with each one being quite different without being too distracting.  The staff couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful.  Very personable and you got the impression that they genuinely wanted you to enjoy your meal and overall time in Aspen.

Our entire meal was delicious but unfortunately by the time my entrée came (striped bass) I was too full to eat half of it.  Probably should have just ordered one starter but we indulged and each item was a bit larger than expected.  And yes, we did get dessert.  Almond madeleines with marshmallow fluff?!  I couldn’t say no:)

Brexi Beef Tartare – watercress, Cognac harissa aioli, Quail egg

Fried Halloumi & Grapes – baby spinach, frisée, petit tomato, champagne caper vinaigrette

Colorado Striped Bass – warm red cabbage & fennel slaw, Spanish almonds, champagne caper emulsion

Lobster Carbonara – torchio pasta, spring petit pois, wild mushroom, sunny-side egg

Almond Madeleines – espresso ice cream, marshmallow fluff

Laurelhurst Market – Portland, OR

On a quick trip down to Portland I did a little restaurant research without any suggestions and stumbled upon Laurelhurst Market.  GREAT choice!!!  It’s got that neighborhood feel all the while being super current and hip!  Everything we ate was divine.  Not one morsel was left on the plate.  And because there were 6 of us we were able to order a lot of shared plates to get a better idea of what this place has to offer.

We started with the charcuterie plate which was a must considering they have their own butcher shop attached to the restaurant.  Wow…that’s all I’ve got to say:)  Next were the deviled eggs topped with pork belly.  Really?!  I think we all could have eaten a lot of those:)  There was some mac & cheese, fried cauliflower (amazing!), steaks, fish and then dulce de leche cheesecake to finish…whoa!

If I were back in Portland I would definitely want to go here soon and I would feel very confident recommending this spot to anyone!

Charcuterie Plate

Steak Tartare – vodka, chives, shallot, farm yolk

Marrow Bones – toasted soft pretzel, pickled mustard seeds

Deviled “Dancing Chicken Farm” Eggs – braised tasso ham, pickled fennel

Shrimp & Grits – griddled scrapple, gulf shrimp, cauliflower chow chow, spring shoots salad

Queets River Steelhead

Mac & Cheese with Tim’s Chip Crust

Braised Local Kale with Housemade Bacon

Fried Cauliflower with Parsley, Lemon & Caper – on cauliflower puree

Dulce de Leche Cheesecake

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