Merriland Farm Cafe – so good, we went back 2 days later! Now that’s good.

Breakfast is always a bit tricky as a ‘eating out’ meal. We all know that its fast, easy, and relatively inexpensive to just make your own coffee, cereal, maybe a bit of fruit, some yogurt. So why eat out. It’s just going to be expensive.

I must at this point admit that I find the proliferation of coffee shops (here – and in Korea) a bit puzzling. As noted – making coffee at home isn’t that hard. And for $100 you can get a foamer that works perfectly every time – so its not about the latte. I think it must be related to convenience. Run it – drop a few bucks – get coffee. Tis a puzzlement.

But moving on to ‘eating out’. A serious breakfast place has to offer something special I think. It’s not good enough to just have 5 different kinds of omelets – discriminating guests demand extras. And on that score – the Merriland Farm delivers – in spades.

First location. It’s not really that well located. Its off the main drag (on the beach in Maine – that’s Route 1). And not towards the ocean either. It’s up in the hills – right before you are on the wrong side of 95. So as far as location goes – it has it’s work cut out for itself. To make up for that – it’s on a berry farm – fresh blueberries and raspberries. And it’s on a 9 hole golf course. So the surroundings – while not ocean – are rather spectacular.

You can choose to eat out side, or inside. The main building dates from 1800 – but it’s been modernized and sophisticated. Hardwood floors, beamed ceilings, great paint job. It’s very nice. The A/C is a bit on the weak side – and the rooms can get a bit warm – but they are lovely. And not so noisy that you can’t hear yourself think.

The breakfast menu is long, detailed, and mouth-watering. The ‘tea bread’ starter is outstanding, too bad it’s not free. Order it – and you get a fresh loaf of blueberry laced bread with a delicious crumble on top. Yum. There are omelets, a selection of ‘Benedicts’ – including a lobster Benedict. There are waffles served with their farm made blueberry/raspberry mixture that are the best I’ve ever had. All the various dishes are served with your choice of sides – sweet potato fries (oh yum), or the absolute best thing – a 3 potato medley. Purple, Sweet, and Plain potatoes roasted to potato perfection.

On the table – Maine maple syrup – as if things aren’t sweet enough. The savory options include heart stopping options like Sausages and Pancakes. Even the Bacon is sweet – but delicious.

The one ‘oh well’ for us was the corn beef hash – my husband still thinks that the one he makes at home is better – but otherwise – outstanding.

How outstanding? We went back again for breakfast just 2 days later!

It’s an A. Oh, yes – definitely an A.

PS: quick note – they do dinner – which based on the quality of breakfast – we had to try. Not the same quality unfortunately. So definitely do breakfast – steer clear of dinner unless the chef gets a serious change of heart! (well – and menu!)

Merriland Farm Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sahib – calling it ‘fine’ is a stretch – but for the West Island – it works

The Sahib Restaurant is not the only restaurant convenient to my office – but it is the only Indian alternative – and as such gets my business about 8 times a year or so.

Given that frequency – I’d expect them to at least recognize me – but no – every time we walk in, it’s as if they’ve never seen us before. A shame really – a better ‘host’ experience would do wonders for their popularity – because they do a lot of other things quite well.

They do quite good Onion Bhajia – a fact I had driven home when I ate them elsewhere and discovered that while the ones at Sahib are fully of onions – other people skimp! So one up there. Their tandoori Chicken is decent – the flesh not as juicy as some versions I’ve had – but still pretty decent.

Their killer dishes are the butter chicken – the rice – and the Chaat Papri. What strange is that this dish isn’t on the menu. It’s considered so authentic – that ‘tourists’ won’t enjoy it. But it is easily our favorite dish at Sahib. Made with chickpeas and fried ‘chips’ – it’s a very yummy appetizer. To try it out if you try the Sahib.

It’s not a great restaurant – but it’s a sure bet for a decent meal. I give it a B. It would do a lot better if they just made an attempt to remember their ‘frequent’ guests.

Sahib on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Sahib on Foodio54

Mezcla – Tiny, Delicious, Fun – A South American Winner

We’d had the Mezcla recommended a couple of times – both for the price point (not too expensive), and the quality of the Tasting Menu. At $49 for 6 courses – it’s a bargain of outstanding proportions!

The Mezcla is located on a side street in Montreal’s ‘Latin Quarter’. At the heart of the district is St. Catherine Street – which becomes a Pedestrian Only throughfare packed from dusk till late with couples of all descriptions. It’s one of my favorite parts of the city – and the thought of a great restaurant within easy walking distance was enough to make me call for reservations – pronto!

We went on a relatively ‘quiet’ Wednesday night – expecting diners to be few and far between – but the place was at least 3/4 filled. I can easily imagine waiting lines on the weekends. The place is tiny – I’d guess a max of 20 tables, and there’s a ton of staff. I saw at least 5 different wait-persons for sure. So I wasn’t surprised that the service was at a high standard. Dishes were presented by multiple servers, ensuring that everyone got to enjoy their dinner at the same moment. The only serving failure was at the very end. For no discernible reason, there was a considerable delay between our dessert course and the presentation of the bill. Rare that – generally they want to turn the tables! I guess we’d passed the turning point – and I will admit, we were definitely not rushing our charming, and very knowledgable server.

But at the Mezcla – the food – and the presentation of same – was clearly the highlight. I was amazed. Course after course was seriously delicious – and surprising. The Mezcla claims a South American vibe – so flavors were definitely different. Lots of citrus for sure.

My favorites of the 6 courses – and I have to say that I’m picking dishes that were absolutely outstanding – not just seriously good – were the Ceviche and the Scallops. They were stunning – not just in flavor, but in presentation as well. The Ceviche was a bowl full of deliciously marinated fish chunks, large enough to be easily identified as salmon, tilapia, and octopus. At the table, the server poured the positively yummy sauce over the fish – explaining that we were to eat the fish with our fork, and when it was gone – she’d bring us spoons to enjoy the sauce. But I couldn’t hold out that long. So I used my spoon to eat both at the same time – reveling in the multiple textures and flavors. Yum just doesn’t describe it.


But the stand out for me was the scallops. Such a pedestrian protein – here presented in a fried ‘nest’ made out of strips of puff pastry and topped with a foam. Pictures simply can’t do it justice – it was sweet, and crunchy, and delicious! I ate my entire portion – and then ate 1/2 of another serving. Yes, it was that good.


For dessert, they served a light, yet satisfying tropical home-made ice-cream with a dulce de leche sauce. Not too sweet either. A wonderful way to end an outstanding meal.

Complaint – like most ‘modern’ bistro restaurants, there’s little space between the tables, and the hard surfaces guarantee a noisy environment. Not too bad when we first sat down, but increasingly annoying as the meal continued. At the end, I could barely hear anything the people at our table were saying, nor understand the explanations given by our server.

Despite this – the Mezcla is a winner, clearly a winner.

Mezcla on Urbanspoon

Mezcla on Foodio54

Tratoria La Festa – Consistency Counts – and Yummy matters even more!

Eating at the Trattoria is like eating at home – except you get better food, and you don’t have to do the dishes.

We eat at Trattoria La Festa almost every time we go to Stowe, Vermont – the consistency is so amazingly – well – consistent. You know you will have a great meal, you know the service will be pleasant, you know you will be greeted like old friends, and you know the price range will be acceptable. Given all that – you know why we go so often!

This time was no exception. We arrived and were greeted by all three of the owners – Patty, Johnny and Tony. The restaurant was nicely filled, but not packed. Which reminds of one of the things I so adore about the Trattoria – it’s not noisy! For some reason, the current in thing is to create a ‘bistro’ feel with hard walls, hard ceilings, hard tables – and the result is a very noisy restaurant. But not at the Trattoria – the rough wooden floors absorb sound – not reflect it – and even packed – you can easily have a conversation with your table-mates. Such a refreshing change.

But it’s about the food and the service, too! And as always – it was great, with one tiny exception. I had two orders of the Mussel appetizer – one as my appetizer, one as my main course. The best part was the delicious sauce – I needed a bread refill to enjoy it all.

My dining partner enjoyed the Luchame (Escargo in french) with sambuca – oh my they were divine. If you go – definitely order them! I passionately enjoy their speggitti carbonara – it’s the best I’ve ever had – and that’s including many trips to Italy, but it’s not really on my diet – so this time I skipped that pleasure. My husband generally gets Vittello a la Lemon, the Duck, or the Bistecca Pavaroti, but this time he tried something new – the veal chop. Itm looked great – but the taste just wasn’t blow you away. That’s the problem with the Tratoria – you get spoiled! So not perfect is disappointing.

Patty makes the desserts – and they range from delicious – to fabulous. And this time we hit fabulous – a lemon blueberry Zuppa Englese (Triffle). Oh my was it yummy. Just the right cross between acidic and sweet. Cool and refreshing.

We gladly paid the bill – full but not stuffed – and strolled out into the night. We’ll be back. You can count on it.

Trattoria La Festa on Urbanspoon

Trattoria La Festa on Foodio54

Amazing Mushrooms – and Great Looking Plastic Food!

I just can’t resist sharing these pictures with every one. We went to an eMart – which is the South Korean version of a Walmart – it was huge. One giant floor of just food stuffs – you name it – they sold it. I couldn’t resist taking pictures of the Mushroom options – just a few of the bigger bagged versions. I mean these mushrooms are sold by the gram in Montreal – if you can find them. Here they are sold in bulk. And they are huge. What are they feeding these guys – steroids? Amazing.




Attached to the eMart was a korean style fast food restaurant. You looked at the models of the meals – and then gave the number you wanted to the hostess. When it was ready at one of the 5 or so stations around the room (each station was a different style of Korean cuisine) – you picked it up.



Pretty yummy for an eMart meal I’ll tell you. Not the best food I’ve had in Korea, but think about it – under $5 per person – and these are meals – not hot dogs!

Speaking of which – they do hot dogs too!

Signing out – the Soup Lady and the intrepid Traveler

Fried Chicken, Fried Fish, and Ramen Noodles – Yum!

We’re in Gyeongju, along with Seoul and Jeju Island, the most visited places in South Korea. And it’s easy to see why. For a thousand years – from 71 BC to 935 AD this was the hot spot of culture, wealth, and power in Korea. The Silla Kings ruled this land – built amazing places, participated in riotous drinking parties – and converted all of South Korea to Buddhism. The resulting flowering of art, music, culture, and design was considered to be outstanding. Unfortunately – only bits and pieces survive to this day.

We cheated and joined a ‘City Bus’ tour of the highlights – primarily the Tumuli Mound Tombs, the Bulguk-sa Buddhist Temple, and to me the absolute highlight – the Seokguram temple in a grotto. Along with at least a thousand school children – all of whom want to say hello to us – we climbed steps, admired the exquisite landscapes, and felt the power of the Buddha in the grotto.

We lucked out at the Paris Baguette – and snagged a bag of 1/2 price day old goodies for lunch, but the highlight of our stay here has been the dinners.

First up was a Ramen Noodle restaurant. Now don’t go all – instant noodle on me – these were fresh noodles in a wonderful broth served with rice, Kimchi (of course), pickles (of course), and a slice of pork belly. In the soup in addition to the noodles was a soft-boiled egg, vegetables, and soy beans. It was awesome. To go with it – we had an order of potato fritters – man do these guys know fritters. These were made with mashed potatoes inside, then dredged in egg and a batter mixture and deep-fried. Oh were they good.

2nd night – we ate at student hangout – cheap prices (Just $6), and absolutely no English. Our meal consisted of two ‘Schnitzel’ Korean Style. Flattened pieces of chicken that were combined with mashed potatoes, then dredged in a yummy batter before again being deep-fried. Unlimited – help yourself – quantities of Kimchi, pickles, rice, and sauce were provided. We watched Korean Baseball – I think the good guys lost, cheered with the crowd – and headed home full.

Tonight we tried a Japanese restaurant – and ordered the best Fish and Chips (but no chips) I’ve ever ever had. We also had a pork Schnitzel – also good – but not quite as amazing as the fish. Again – more kimchi, more pickles, more rice – and lots of sauce.

I have to admit – I’m going to have trouble finding restaurants this consistently excellent at this price range in Montreal.

Signing off (and too full to move)

The Soup Lady and the Intrepid Traveller

Red Mule Pub – great name, good Ruben sandwich – but you have to go to Brooksville, Florida to find it!

Consider the challenge – you are a tiny restaurant in a small town about an hour from Tampa – who is going to find you? Well I did, and I loved it.

There isn’t a lot to either the restaurant, or the menu – it’s the Ruben, silly. But they also have a few other sandwiches – Pastrami, Turkey, Salami, even Liverwurst. And a short but yummy dessert list – including my favorite – brownie with whipped cream.

I knew this place would be fun when we walked towards the front door. It wasn’t the ‘winner of the best…’ sign – I’ve learned those can’t always be trusted – it was the way they had taken a single strip mall entrance and turned it into a cabin in the woods. So cute I had to take a picture. But walking in convinced me that this place would be fun. There is ‘fun junk’ every where – from the words of Jimmy Buffet songs to cartoons, signed photographs (including one of Snow White – go figure), and bumper sticker slogan signs. The tables were adorable too – they’d taken ‘toys’ like lincoln logs and covered them with plexiglass – creating a conversation piece while you wait for your food.

All 4 of us ordered exactly the same thing – a Ruben Sandwich – your choice of bread, comes with a pickle slice and a small bag of chips. The sandwich was clearly the star – tons of great tasting corned beef, sauerkraut, melted swiss cheese, and a ‘special’ sauce. Just fine.

Was it the best Ruben I’ve ever had – nope. I prefer my bread toasted – puts some crunch into the sandwich – but maybe that’s an east coast thing where people have stronger teeth. Never-the-less – it was pretty darn good – and I ate the whole thing. Always a sign that they did a good job.

My dessert was sinfully simple – a rich brownie (no nuts, sorry) served with whipped cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Sometimes simple is best – and there is totally nothing wrong with a great Ruben followed by that chocolate brownie.


Red Mule Pub on Urbanspoon


Red Mule Pub Inc on Foodio54

If this is the best – I’m really sorry for Fort Myers Beach

I love a great breakfast – and I’ve had many. Unfortunately – that’s what I didn’t have this morning at Reece’s. Nope – this one was pretty crummy. Which happens – but what bugs me is that all over the restaurant were signs saying – “Voted best breakfast in Fort Myers Beach – 10 years in a row”.

So – what should I read into that. That folks in Fort Myers Beach have no taste? That Chez Cora needs to come down here and blow them away? That John G’s in Palm Beach doesn’t have to worry?

The location of the restaurant – which isn’t even on the beach – is in a strip mall – but then almost everything in Fort Myers is either in a strip mall or a hotel. The good news – the ‘balcony’ part overlooked a cute pond with turtles (over 25 according to the chatty waitress), a white ibis eating a delicious breakfast of freshly hatched tadpoles, and a rather odd spraying elephant fountain. And the waitress was super nice – too bad the food didn’t match her clever repartee.

My biscuit was doughy and tasteless, the grits needed butter (not supplied), the eggs weren’t cooked properly, and there wasn’t a piece of fruit anywhere on the menu. This is florida people – fruit should be a given. The best tasting thing was my foot long sausage – a tad greasy – but yummy none-the-less.

My husband’s breakfast was a country fried steak – his first – so while he couldn’t compare it – he did like it. And his poached eggs were fine – if lacking in salt. The gravy was a congealed glop that he didn’t taste, the fried potatoes were frozen and re-heated. The coffee was fine – a bottomless cup of Hazelnut. But you don’t go to breakfast to pick and choose between the good and the really not good.

Sorry people – maybe everyone else loved this place – but I thought it worse than forgettable.

Reese's Restaurant on Urbanspoon

El Gaucho Inca – Awesomely good – and they know it! (Fort Myers, Florida)

We ‘googled’ Best Seafood in Fort Myers – and the top restaurant according to Urbanspoon, Yelp – and Tripadvisor was a place called ‘El Gaucho Inca’. Interesting – the best restaurant isn’t a chain, it isn’t fancy, it isn’t expensive, it isn’t even well located. Sounds like my kind of place.

So we called to make reservations – and got told – we don’t take reservations after asking our name and phone number. Is that odd or what? But at least that meant we didn’t have to rush off the beach to get there. And given the distance from the beach (an over 35 minute drive) – that totally worked.

Location – it’s in a strip mall (no surprise there) – in what can be kindly called a residential area. Personally – I think it’s in the sticks – but you can call it what you want – this is not downtown. The current space is tiny – seating for just over 100 people – max. But the super friendly Peruvian waitress told us that they are moving in just 2 weeks to a larger location in the same strip mall – doubling their seating capacity to over 200.

Just a thought on this plan – can the chef keep up with twice as many diners? I’m thinking not without help from at least a couple of sous-chefs. Which will make for a different dining experience. Just a mutter there.

Our dinner was very very good. As other reviewers have said – the dipping sauce for the bread – a startling green – was positively yummy. We cleaned the bowl – and would have licked it if we’d been at home.

For appetizers we ordered the Conchitas a la Parmesan – it was amazingly good. Perfectly cooked Scallops served on the half shell with a three cheese melt on top. I ate every bite. I never eat every bit – just saying. My husband’s appetizer, while way too large – was equally delicious. It was the Ceviche del Inca – a trio of Ceviche – fish, shrimp and squid. He was offered a choice of spice level – and opted for medium. Plenty spicy for me I’ll tell you. I loved the fish ceviche – liked the shrimp version, and thought the squid was a tad on the chewy side. But the amount of flavor packed into each bowl was memorable. I really loved the two types of corn used as ‘decoration’. Surrounding the bowls were crispy corn nuts, and stuck on toothpicks were Latino corn nibblets that had been steamed. Definitely a winner – but reminder to self – next time just stick to the Fish Ceviche – less money and the better bet,

For main courses – I thought mine was far better than my husbands – and his was very good. When I was in Argentina several years ago – a butcher explained how they cut their meat – starting with a side of beef. I mention this because they use a completely different system, and the cutting changes the way the meat tastes. I ordered the ‘beef ribs’ after the waitress explained that the chef gets his meat flown in from Argentina. That meant that the cut would be the traditional one – and it was. And it was delicious. So unique.

My husband had the Pescado a lo Macho. At $16.99 – his one complaint was that the portion was too large. The poached fish was in a sauce very similar to that of butter chicken with lots of tomato and cream. There were mounds of shrimp and squid on top of the fish along with 3 delicious black mussels. For a starch, they added plain white rice. He ordered a side of pan-fried sweet plantains that were the best I’ve tasted in a long time.

For dessert we got the Peruvian Fruit cake – which other reviewers have loved, but I thought was overly sweet. I also ordered one of their Peruvian style cookies – which i adored. It was very similar to the Christmas Crescent Cookies our German friend used to make, a soft dough with a filling of dulce de leche and covered with powdered white sugar. A completely delicious way to end a very yummy meal.

El Gaucho Inca on Urbanspoon


Denny’s – the America’s Classic Dinner Edition – Fort Myers, Florida

It’s been ages since I’ve walked into a Dennys – but it was late, we’d just flown in from Dallas – and it was open – and my husband was hungry. So Denny’s it was.

Driving up – I read with surprise their slogan – America’s Classic Dinner. Cool. The menu even featured a gal looking very 1950’s And walking in – with signs announcing free WIFI – it really carried the theme. Music from the 60’s – tin ceilings, glass bricks, booths with leather (well – I think it was just fancy plastic) covers – checkered floor, semi open kitchen.

Turns out that there are only a few of these ‘Classic’ Denny’s – and this one was the first – in 1998. They have been here for 16 years – which says – Ok – it’s been a really really long time since I’ve visited a Denny’s!

We were greeted warmly by Jayson – another surprise from previous experiences and shown a booth. Jayson – dressed Diner appropriate in a black t-shirt and pants – presented 3 – coun’t m – 3 menus. The main menu, the 3 month rotating special menu – featuring bacon, and the Dessert and Appetizers menu.

I actually was intrigued by the senior menu – 55+ and ranging from just $5.29 to $7.99. Most interesting – there were even light options – under 550 calories. At a Dennys. What has the world come to when even Denny’s thinks diet!

Can’t argue with the prices – $2 for a Cheese Quesadilla – up to about $9.99 for a steak or as a splurge $10.99 for a Pork Chop dinner. My husband opted for the Prime Rib Philly Melt for $8.99 with a side of Bacon Cheddar Red Skin Potatoes. He thought it was delicious. His only complaint – the Chiabatti bun wasn’t really crisp – but the meat was quite good, nice thick chunks of steak, generously topped with melted cheese.

The desert menu hadn’t changed – unless the addition of a Maple Bacon Milkshake can be considered a change. It’s still your basic food groups – chocolate and creme.

But even so – This Denny’s – like all Denny’s – isn’t trying to be anything but simple food, cooked fast, filling, inexpensive, decent quality for the price. And while I’d be unwilling to go out on the limb for all Denny’s – I willing to say that this Denny’s was a very very pleasant surprise.

We are planning to go back for breakfast – I want to try the waffles!

Address: 8031 Summerlin Center Drive, Fort Myers, Fl 33907

Denny's on Urbanspoon