Tag Archives: steak

Marble (Rosebank, Johannesburg, South Africa)

Both on our outbound trip and returning trip, we tried to get reservations at Marble, which is considered one of the best restaurants in South Africa, and were not able to secure at table. On our last evening in South Africa, however, we got lucky and I managed to secure a 7pm reservation, so we found ourselves heading out to the Keyes Art Mile, a part of Johannesburg’s Rosebank neighbor known as a newer restaurant and gallery district.

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Olives & Plates (Hyde Park, Gauteng, South Africa)

Sometimes in our search for truly offbeat locations, Offbeat Eats finds ourselves in some interesting scenarios, like drinking Namibian beer in the back of a bookshop in a suburban shopping mall in Hyde Park, a northern suburb of Johannesburg. How we got here was an interesting story; going with friends to a charity auction for the Upper Valley Humane Society, we ended up winning a bid on a week-long safari at Zulu Nyala in kwaZulu-Natal, scheduled for April 2020. Well, we all know how 2020 turned out. Over the next two years, that trip got delayed a half-dozen times, and then more than a little drama with South Africa (riots in 2021, severe flooding in April 2022), a hotel getting sold and having to rebook, and United Airlines canceling a week’s worth of flights due to jet fuel shortage. These almost led to our May 2022 trip getting canceled. But despite all that drama, we ended up having a smooth 16 hour flight, arriving in the evening in Johannesburg and getting a driver to take us to our Johannesburg-area accommodations at the splendid Hyde Park Guest House and promptly crashing into bed. The next day, after an insightful, but historically sobering, tour of Constitution Hill, we ended up going to a quirky dinner spot that had been recommended by a fellow guest at the Guest House: Olives & Plates.

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El Conquistador (Cancún, Quintana Roo)

Our third night in Cancún was another indulgence in the various restaurants available in our All-Inclusive resort package, heading to the sister resort The Royal Islander located near the south end of the Hotel Zone, for a trip to their in-house restaurant, El Conquistador. Much like our visit to Captain’s Cove a few nights before, El Conquistador was a departure from the local Yucatecan places, offering a classic steakhouse experience, with a good wine list, white linens, and a wide variety of steak dishes.

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The Turf Room (Aurora, IL)

As our vacation drive to Minnesota continued, we headed across western Ohio, Indiana (with stops at both Bare Hands Brewery and the Indiana Dunes State Park) and southeastern Illinois, ending up meeting up with some of our Chicago-area friends for drinks at Brother Chimp Brewing with dinner following at The Turf Room.

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The Famous Steak House (Colorado Springs, CO)

Colorado Springs has a lot of the old, classic “Out West” vibe going strong, and one place that really stands out is in the selection of fine dining restaurants: Colorado Springs has quite a few high-end steakhouses right in town: Saltgrass, Mckenzie’s Chop House, Peppertree, and the Famous, just to list ones easily walkable from my hotel. After several long days of work, we decided that it was worth going out and celebrating, and since I had wandered by The Famous a few times, we decided to drop in and give it a try.

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Roast (Detroit, MI)

(Closed) When we travel around with our friends for our annual “Death March” 20 mile hike, part of the tradition is going out for a big, lavish dinner the night before. In Detroit’s downtown, there are several great places to choose from for this (the automotive- and tech-industry “power dinner” is still a thing here), but I had long wanted to try Roast. I’ve always enjoyed Chef Michael Symon’s Cleveland-area ventures (Lola, Lolita, B-Spot, Mabel’s…), but I’ve wanted to visit Roast since it opened in 2008. At the time, downtown was just a little bit rougher, but starting to a pretty good resurgence, and Roast was a cornerstone of the renovated Book-Cadillac Hotel (now the “Westin Book-Cadillac”). While a bit cumbersome for our large group of 15 (why is it that most places now need contracts for large reservations? Are that many people flaking out in this modern era?), I managed to get a nice reservation of their private State Room for our gathering.

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Le Relais de L’Entrecôte (Paris, France)

After wrapping up our business activities at the Paris Air Show, we headed into downtown Paris to meet up with our hosts for dinner. Our hosts were staying at a nice hotel in the 6e Arrondissement (we were staying at a Comfort[sic] Inn out by CDG; a word of advise for anyone wanting to do the Paris Air Show: reserve your hotel room months in advance!), which is one of my favorite parts of town (twice before I’ve stayed at the nearby Hotel Quai Voltaire on the banks of the Seine in the 7e Arrondissement for a quite reasonable price, but not during the Air Show). The 6e Arrondissement has a nice selection of cafés, chocolate shops, and even a really good rum bar. As we rendezvoused with our hosts, it was just few minutes before 17:00, so our host recommended we see how the line was for the nearby Le Relais de L’Entrecôte.

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Café Le Saint-Jean (Paris, France)

After an 11 hour flight, we arrived back in Paris. We took this as an opportunity to explore more of Paris, this time with my brother and sister-in-law joining us from London (I still think the Channel Tunnel is a rather cool invention). Despite the somewhat drizzly weather, we decided to do a walk around Montmartre, enjoying this fairly hilly part of the city, included a tour of Sacre Coeur (my first since Junior High) and looking over the city from the terrace. But it was also time for lunch, and we settled on a fairly nice café near the metro station, Café Le Saint-Jean, where I had another chance to indulge in one of my simple pleasures: a basic steak frites. Like uncountably many cafés around Paris, this one has the basic Parisien Café look pretty much nailed: tiny round tables, wooden chairs, black-and-while tile, and robed waiters dashing about with trays of food, coffee, wine, and beer. We quickly found ourselves seated by the window, and after a short perusal of the menu, I decided that their bavette avec frites was the way to go.

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Le Bistrot d’Henri (Paris, France)

Many cities and cultures have developed there own, specific style of restaurant: the American-style diner. The British pub. The Japanese ramen bar. And, of particular interest here, the French Bistro. That little restaurant with tiny tables, tall chairs, cozy environs, with a bunch of diners packed in enjoying their wine, baguettes, steak frites, cassoulets, and other simple French fare in close company with soft music playing in the background. It’s a cliché of sorts, but not without a solid foundation of truth: Paris, in particular, is replete with most of the arrondissements sporting a rather impressive assortment of bistros and brasseries, ranging from the simple and traditional, up to the more modern “gastro bistro”, the bistro equivalent of the “gastro pub” offering modernized versions of classic bistro cuisine. But I’ll have to admit, I’ve got strong fondness for basic French cooking like beef bourguignon and steak frites, so when we had a free night in Paris, I set off in search of a good, simple bistro in the 6e arrondissement, and ended up picking Le Bistrot d’Henri for our dinner.

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Corndance Tavern (Mishawaka, IN)

Over the last month, I’ve spent a week in and around South Bend, Indiana. While I hadn’t found a lot of great culinary destinations, I did find two places my first visit that were both good, Fiddler’s Hearth (fish wrapped in newspaper), and Bare Hands Brewery (a great brewpub). But I was still searching for some other great places to eat, and while I kept finding some places that were good, most of them weren’t really anything to write about. For example, Hacienda didn’t exactly excite me with their Tex-Mex menu, but the beer I had there, a Lucky Dog from Evil Czech Brewing, was quite good, so I decided to look up where else I could find it. Turns out that the folks that own Evil Czech also own a restaurant in Mishawaka, called Corndance Tavern, so I decided to give it a try (their web site looked interesting, and they had some pretty interesting beer specials). With my coworker Cal in tow, we decided to drive over to Mishawaka and check it out.

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