Tag Archives: santorini

By request: notable out-of-town meals of 2008

Sometime commenter Adam asks, re my 2008 cities list: what was the best meal I had in each place? My memory’s not good enough (or maybe the food wasn’t good enough) for me to answer this question completely, but here are a few standouts. We liked Rosendale’s in Columbus, half for the food and half for the enjoyable mismatch between the severe Manhattan decor and the chirpy Ohio waitstaff. Greg’s Ice Cream in Toronto was as good as any in Madison, which is to say really good. Patou Thai in Belmont, MA — the applause for the short ribs in the Yelp comments is merited. Ghar-E-Kabab is an Indian/Nepali place in an unmallified patch of downtown Silver Spring,MD that serves a surprisingly interesting organic lunch buffet, including some Indian-Chinese dishes. Santorini in Greektown, Chicago, delivered the flaming goods. Banh mi from one of the Vietnamese sandwich shops in one of the giant Vietnamese shopping centers somewhere in Northern Virginia — Falls Church? I don’t remember where, but if you’re in Northern Virginia, you’re close to some pretty good banh mi, you lucky jerk. Jalapeno Loco, across the street from the Milwaukee airport, which isn’t technically out of town, but we only eat there when we’re going out of town, or coming home.

But most of my travel this year was to places I’ve been before, so many of my meals were at old favorites. The grand old taxidermy barn that is Southside Market in Elgin, TX, source of Elgin Hot Sausage. Au Pied de Cochon in Montreal, home of poutine au foie gras, and my favorite place to eat in all Canada (since people tell me Tojo’s has gone downhill) though I can’t recommend it if you’re vegetarian or want to talk about math; too meaty, too loud. Ruen Pair in Albany, CA, maybe the best Thai restaurant in America. (I dream of their simple, perfect Bangkok omelet.) A somewhat disappointing trip back to China Village, also in Albany, and a really disappointing trip back to the Center Restaurant in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY. (But my friend in Hastings tells me that this place was bad even ten years ago, when gauzy memory tells me it was good.)

And of course, Mr. Bartley’s, lodestar of my palate, which never changes, and never will, if the world is just. I got to go four times last year. So it was a good year.

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  1. We spent last weekend in Chicago, Dr. Mrs. Q attending the Association for Psychological Science convention, and me squiring CJ all over Windytown. Saturday night we had dinner at the thoroughly enjoyable Santorini in Greektown. Having just finished Dave Grazian’s book about the urban nightlife hustle I was uncomfortably aware that the general air of carefree Mediterranean revelry was carefuly constructed by the management. But it works! And the food is delicious and plentiful! And you can order cheese on fire! Good Greek food is almost impossible to find in Madison; I told the maitre d’ at Santorini that if he had friends looking for a business opportunity they could make a mint running a restaurant here. He responded with an excellent point I’d never considered. In Greektown, a dozen Greek restaurants within a few blocks support a wholesale importer/distributor in the same neighborhood. If you run a Greek restaurant where there aren’t any others, you’ve got to bring in your food from the nearest distributor — which for Madison would be three hours away, in Greektown. And if you’re doing that you can’t sell dinner at $13 a plate the way Santorini does.
  2. Speaking of Greek things on fire, Nick Markakis continues to impress; at 24, he’s the best hitter on the team, and unless you have a really high opinion of Adam Jones, that’s going to stay the case for many years. Monday he broke out of a mini-slump and tagged the Yankees for a single, double, and homer as the Orioles won 6-1. Then again, he went 0-for-6 last night in what might have been the Orioles’ finest game of the year — twice the Yankees went up by four runs, and twice the Orioles came back; Dennis Sarfate picked Derek Jeter off second to end a threat; in the top of the 11th, with the bases loaded, Brian Roberts snagged a rocket off the bat of Alex Rodriguez and turned it into a 4-2-5 double play. The Yankees did score a run that inning — but at that point, they looked down into the musty bottom of their bullpen and all that was left in there was LaTroy Hawkins. A third of an inning later, with the bases loaded, unlikely hero Alex Cintron smacked a first-pitch Hawkins hanger to the warning track and the Orioles were 10-9 winners. We’re still not a very good team — but we do have a deep, competent bullpen, and it makes a big psychic difference if you’re a fan. You check the score, it’s tied, and you feel like you’re going to win. And then you do win! OPA!
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