Where I ate and stayed ...

L'Atelier, Boulder, May 17, 2016: I am at a very nice French restaurant. I like the somewhat upscale look combined with very reasonable prices on the menu. I am looking forward to the Roasted Beets salad with Arugula and the salmon sashimi that I ordered. Before ordering the salmon sashimi, I asked the waiter whether it is wild-caught salmon and she confirmed that, of course, it is. The Malbec is a bit strange but interesting. The bread is a bit old and dry but still not a red flag.

Well, the Roasted Beets were not roasted, more like those that come out of tins and preserves, and the Arugula had turned into bulky lettuce. I had to return the salad, and I am not sure what this is going to turn into.

The waiter just came back and said that the chef actually argued that the beets were roasted and that is not a good sign. I offered to leave, but the waiter insisted that I stay. I should have left.

Now I got an Arugula salad without beets. The cherry tomatoes taste old, the Arugula has somehow lost its spiciness.

What is next?

At first sight, it was clear that the sashimi was low-quality farmed salmon. I left. I made clear that I am ready to pay for everything I order but I am not ready to eat that type of food. We agreed that what is served should be close to what is written on the menu or communicated by the waiter. In the end, they did not want to charge for anything. Afterwards I realized that because of the stress I forgot my umbrella - the one I had owned for at least 20 years and that had travelled with me through the world. Now I have to get a new one for the next 20 years.

Across the street, I went into a very upscale place, Frasca Food and Wine, and ended up at the chef's table. Very exciting.

The King Prawns were excellent - the lemon taste made them very balanced.

The Friauli white wine is very refreshing and full of body.

The halibut was outstanding. It was very solid and tasty. Slightly salty but not too much. The leaves of artishocks matched the fish and the souce honored it. Perfect. When the waiter asked me how I liked the fish, I told him that I cannot talk to him because I am in heaven.

Enjoy, Brussels, April 2016: I was planning to go somewhere else, but then, right after I left The Hotel (a great place, see below), I noticed this place. Expensive, but stylish. Let's see what the food is going to be like.

The tuna tartar was very nice. Not very spicy but fresh and well composed. The hot quinoa was very noteworthy.

The tomatoes and shrimps mille foil was a nice finish.

The Cotes du Rhone was perfect for the sequence of starters I selected to have. However, being honest, I must admit that the food is not very sophisticated. There was no surprise. I could have done the dishes myself, and when I go to a restaurant, I want to be surprised and I want to get something I can't do myself. Not here.

The chef is nice, but he will never get a star.

The Hotel in Brussels, April 2016: I am in "The Hotel" in Brussels. Sitting in the bar and looking around, I wonder about life. I just had dinner with Ian McCallum at the restaurant Peter Pithan introduced me to many years ago. With him, I easily start rambling about life and how I look at it - and I get the impression that he agrees without agreeing or getting it. The Hotel is very nice and the bar has a nice mix of people. The wine is good.

Review: unforgettable:

The Hotel really is The hotel. There is little that could be better. Well, a slightly larger desk would make working easier. But otherwise, this is the place. I had a room on the 17th floor and enjoy the undisturbed view over the city. The modern design of the room was closed to perfection: the sofa with a luxury set of pillows, the comfortable bed, the beautiful rain shower, a WiFi with sufficient bandwidth to do what I needed to do, this was so much my style that I found it hard too leave after two nights. The welcoming drinks in the fridge (mostly non-alcoholic) were an unexpected plus. The receptionists were all friendly and helpful, the hotel bar is a stylish place to relax and have good wine, the restaurant a nice fallback if the day was to busy to go out for dinner. For me, the best was the gym, though. On the 23rd floor with large panoramic windows, running on the treadmill was a special experience. I did a 10K on a high-quality treadmill while watching the military trucks on Louise far below dealing with the aftermath of the recent terror attacks. Unforgettable.

Cirzon's apartment in Geneva/Bellevue, May 2015: Staying at Cirzon's apartment was very nice, relaxing, enjoyable, clean with all that is needed. The modern, mostly white place with a lot of natural light worked very well for me. After a minor misunderstanding about my exact arrival time, everything worked out very well. During checking, Cirzon made sure I was aware of all necessary details about the apartment. He provided all basics and also offered me to use the available spices in case I planned to prepare meals (which I did), and this was very convenient for me. He also gave some good recommendation on where to run in the neighborhood - there are excellent nearby opportunities for that. The bed turned out to be of a quality exactly the way I like. The place is in the flight corridor of the not so busy Geneva airport, but the windows are very good and very little of the noise can be heard inside when the windows are closed. In fact, I enjoyed at late evenings to watch some planes pass by from the bed or one of the two balconies. Being a ten-minute walk away from a train station, from which the local trains only take five minutes to get to the main station makes the place well connected to all parts of Geneva. After six nights, at check out, Cirzon arrived at the agreed time and checkout was very smooth. He order a taxi for me and off I went. Definitely a great stay for me.

Marimoto Sushi, NYC (May 6, 2014): Very busy, noisy to the extreme. Again, four white women at the Suhsi bar — two keep looking in my direction. Life has taken a toll with them. Actually, one of them is more Southern European in origin, I assume.

The place is expensive, sashimi dinner starting at $55, and there is no way that this could be justified.

My assessment: too popular with people being there ot be seen, too noisy to enjoy, too pretentious, and with a quality that does not justify the extreme price level.

Rafaello's, 7th Avenue South, NYC (May 6, 2014): I had a good day. First I took the train from Norfolk to NYC; eight hours with noone disturbing me and fully functional to get work done. Then finding out that the Chelsea Pine Inn is really the nice place the reviews on hotels.com promised it to be. And finnaly a great time at my favorite jeans store, ARI, where I get the jeans that once made a woman say that I look like I belong to NYC.

And now, relaxing with a nice glass of wine in a great place, watching people walk by — interesting, diverse people.

I sit outside in the noise of 7th Avenue, the last bit of warm sun is licking my skin in a very seducive way and promising a splendit year full of warm days.

At the neigbouring table, two blond white women are displaying their entitlement that is in every move, every gesture — except when they look away for a moment, feel unobserved, and the empty mess of their lives shows up on their faces.

The wine is excellent and the appetiser, Melanzane, is very good, too. Later, I will work and wait for the special dinner at Marimoto Sushi, a great place to end a perfect day.

Dai Fratelli's, Vienna, Austria (May 2014): I arrived in a good mood, wanted to sit outside. It was growded on this mild early spring evening. The maitre pointed to a table, saying that the lady down there already paid but he wasn't sure when they would leave. Coincidently, the table turned out to be the one I sat at the first time I was at Dai Fratelli's. I asked to have a glass of wine while I waited. I got a nice Montepulciano and sat down inside at a table waiting. The waiter brought a menu for me to read. Sitting there, reading the menue and deciding on Carpaticio de Pesce as started and the Tagliatelle with shrimps and ruccola as main course, I found the words to tell the maitre about me sitting at the table he pointed out to me was special since it was the table I sat at the first time at his place.

After some time, I saw our maitre walk down to the table, empty by now, and he got a waiter to set the table — but not for me, for a newly arrived couple with a large dog. I go up and walked toward him, pointing out that I thought the table was for me. He responded arrogantly that it was and that hye doesn't make empty promises. He was walking away but then turned arround, grapped my wine and menue and exclaimed that he can lead me to a table immediately.

The unset table he brought me to was in the far corner. Not the one I wanted. Hastely, the table was set up while I was sitting there. I had the feeling that he was annoyed and just pretending.

I became very uncomfortable. I was no longer sure they would serve me well, and annoyed waiters have far too much power over the food they serve to have them around. I pondered for some time over the menue and then got more determined that I needed to leave.

I asked the waiter for the check to pay for my glass of wine. I saw him talk to the maitre, and shortly before I was about leave the maitre came to my table. "You didn't find anything?" he asked, and I told him that I had always found something at Dai Fratelli's, that that was not the problem. His behavior was. He immediately explained that he pointed to all the tables, not a specific one — he knew very well what happened but tried to blur it. He started to say that he took it personal, and I could only confirm that it was personal: his handling of the table made me uncomfortable and wanting to leave. He said, he would like to compensate but didn't think he could, and I agreed that there was nothing he could possibly do. He had lost my trayst and having my food in the hands of an untrusted seerver is not acceptable.

In mutual agreement I left. I walked back to Plachuttas to have some really surprising Austrian cab, nicely prepared saibling fillet, and a selection of outstanding Austrian cheeses. I made the right choice to save the evening.

Libanese Restaurant in Geneva, Switzerland (January 2014)): I am at the Libanese Restaurant on Rue de Lausanne not far away from Hotel Mon Repas. I have been there before a number of times, and I like the many small dishes I can order. This time, it is rather empty. Two weird people of Arabic origin at the next table, asking for omlette, which is not served here. One decided not to eat or drink anything, the other orders one dish, which makes the waiter look helpless, surprised.

My order is much more pleasant for him, several of the samll dishes (he actually adviced my not to order more) and a bottle of good, very full body Lebanesean wine.

After the evening at Le 3 Gauche, I spend the time there thinking about the book and writing a few more lines while I enjoy the food.

Restaurant Le 3 Rive Gauche, Grand-Rue 3, 1204 Geneva, Switzerland (January 2014): (see www.le3rg.com) The evening at Le 3 Rive Gauche was exciting, great people around me, and I was starting to write my book. I was alone. A mixed group of eleven making noise, business, global. A modern couple, one texting, the other reading. Another couple, old-style, actually talking to each other, almost visibly in love. At another table the lady arrived early. He came later with a taxi in a suit, the joy was overbearing, feeling fake and pretended. Really? Looked like the business guy having order the call girl. When she came and took of her coat the skirt moved up and revealed much of a perfect body - the product he ordered? To apeace himself, a dinner had to take place first.Maybe that's what a $1,000 call girl expects? The young guy looked quickly through the window and decided to come in. Together with his company, much older than him. They took a long time to choose the table. A gay couple? Why would they enjoy this age-difference? So much to wonder about in this world. I was supposed to have dinner with two South African colleagues, two colleagues I had had dinner years before in Pretoria. They didn't make it because of other obligations. What a blessing this turned out to be: I got the seldom opportunity to be with me. I love to be with my best friend. Dinner for one at one of my favorite places in Geneva. I had as much wine as the waiter in "Dinner for One" and that may have helped. The waiter, Caroline, brought paper, and I started to write my book about South Africa. I enjoyed the food as well. Le 3 Rive Gauche offers most main courses also as half-starter and starter size, which allows me to combine several courses in small size and enjoy the taste of many different things. A great way of letting people enjoy diversity. The wine list is great, too.

On the airplane (Sometime in 2013 on a Lufthansa flight from Europe to the U.S.): Across the isle a middle-aged sleek man in a well-fitted suit, not the high quality but carefully chosen, light blue shirt, kind-of smilling with an over-clean face, short blond hair that shows signs of gray somewehere between Tom Cruise and James Bond, not the obvious killer but also not the one who couldn't be on a trip to take someone out.

I am in the 4th row, and in this row, there is only one middle seat where he is stting alone. He is drinking the South African Caberne, while I prefer the French Medoc. He had the beef, while I preferred spinach and goat cheese canneloni.

Further across is an older man, the decision-maker type, blond hair all turned into gray; the nordic type, with a stripped shirt; pink stripes on a white background. His eyes have a deep sadness, and he often is caught in deep thoughts probably reflecting on hislive, the heritage he's leaving for his children, the tradgedies he or those close to him went through. Or he is thinking about the big intrigues that would fit into "Scandal" and the White House.

In front of him a woman of undefinable age. She's is, if that is possible, more uggly than Barbara Streisand, and she is busy — eating the delicious Lufthansa dinner at same time as reading documents, switching to the laptop, and consulting books.Her face has something I would call ...., very difficult to capture what it is. The combination of a large nouse, a thin upper lip, a full lower lip, and a very long kin combines to signal a personality that does not herald an easy person.

The guy next to me is wearring shorts, sandals, and a dark blue polo shirt with white strips. His feet would benefit from attention, but luckily he put on the socks that are standard supplies in Lufthansa business class, so I don't have to look at his feet.

This summarizes the world of the 8 hours trip from Frankfurt to Chicago.

The only person I would want to talk to is the decision maker. The lines in his face show that he has lived a life, has experienced hardship but has not lost his humanity. The younger guy could be a decision-maker, too, but in his younger age, he already seems to have moved beyond humanity.

The Barbara Streisand makes lines white wine and her papers have very many marks in red.

The Tom Cruise/James Bond mix has no lines in his face - just cleanliness and a perpetual smile; maybe he is not an assassin. In fact, he just started to talk to me indicating that he needs to sleep so he is fit for the challenge of meeting his wife and three kids when he gets home tonight. And Barbara was also laughing with him. Looks like we are all very normal loving people in business class today.

My food was excellent: crayfish, spinach and goat cheese canneloni, and lots of cheese.

In the end, the guy next to me turned out to be nice, working on compliance to export regulations; and he was impressed by a few comments I made about climate change and our inability to address the risk.

The Tom Cruise/James Bond blend morphed into a smiling friendly guy looking foward to get home to his family.

The older decision-maker came to us to ask for the flight number and the date that he needed to fill in the migration document, revealing clear signs of having issues with handling such simple problems or remembering the date.

Only Barbara Streisand remained a secret.

&nbps;

Vienna, Austria (April 27, 2012): Lunch at Plachuttas Gasthaus zur Oper. My goat cheese with Rucolla and tomatoes was very nice, not too much, but very artistic. The chardonay was very tasty, full-bodied; I had to have two glasses in the middle of the day. It was my last few hours in Vienna, just before my transfer to the airport, so that was o.k. I was sitting outside under a sunroof. The place was busy with Viennesian people mixed with a few tourists. The groups looked mainly like business people out for a joyful lunch. To my left a couple of undefined scope and origin and no visible reasons for their mutual attraction. I could hear some English with Austrian accents indicating international relationships in progress.

The large group of seven in front of me included a mix of young and old and sofisticated and simple people. A lady in black exposing in a early summerly mode much of her skin with a face too long and this alien shape emphasized by a long hair style revealing the high "stirn" dominated the conversation, which was mostly inaudible for me, though. The woman at the head of the table next to the big guy with a "40 years Jochen Rind" T-shirt looked like a mannequin in a shoping window with bright red fingernails, matching lips, a somewhat translucent skin, and a kind of red-orange hair color, holding her cuttlery with her fingertips, which was consistent with the mouse-shaped face with a touch of red skin underlining the appearance of a transparent fairytale figure. What didn't match with the elfen-like appearance was the voice and the language used by her, which were more street-proven.

The all-male waiters came with approns, old-style, well-trained, all with green ties on white shirts and black pants, except for the managers in their black suits supervising the waiters. A truly old-fashioned Viennesian place well suited for a lunch before leaving this somewhat outdated city.

Vienna, Austria (April 25, 2012): Dinner at Dai Fratelli's. I walked in at 9:00 in the evening, sat down at a table for two at the margin of the outside area, and there she was - like in a bad movie, where we would think that this accidental crossing of world lines was unrealistic: the worst enemy was there, sitting only three tables away from me, engaged in a conversation with her i-phone. I don't know about you, but there are very few people I consider enemies, but the unlikely took place: there she was. Not that I had problems with this, I just ignored her. I am good at that, and the white blond trash three tables away from me did not take anything away from the otherwise nice and lively ambiance of the restaurant.

Another couple was sitting right ahead towards the center of the outside area. They were friend with the restaurant's manager, who came and talked to then in a friendly, acquainted manner. He, the slick, shinny clean business guy - although not revealing what type of business -, and she a white-blond, full long-haired well-aged beauty with dark eyebrows painted artistically in a wide bow above her eyes, the smile on her big mouth revealing a set of perfectly white teeth, using her assets to live the life of a paid compainon. The scene could have been taken out of The Sopranos, with him being a thin edition of Tony Soprano.

To my right, a group of four, three at the upper-end of middle-aged males and one female rambling along a random walk through their lives, jumping from the time they did their phd, working on a boat in 1979 making a lot of money with fishing in the coastal ocean close to river deltas, the daughter studying architecture - which is almost fine arts, but more solid for making money - in Auburn, Alabama, a small town with the second-ranged school for architecture only a four hour drive away from them, although a dangerous drive, to flying into Europe now while having to deal with overbooked flights; it was interesting to observe how the dinner conversation jumped around from unimportant details to life-determining topics - with none of the topics being followed up for more than very few minutes.

The enemy left soon after I arrived, first unnoticed by me. I hope, my presence made her leave.

The group to the right talked about a scientific paper the alpha-male had submitted recently; the reviewers, whom he thought were rude, liked the geology but recommended that he'd leave the physics out of the paper, which he obviously considered the key part of his worked; so he could'nt believe the reviewers stupid attitude.

When I arrived, I had to ask for the heater pouring abundent infrared radiation over me to be turned off on the nice evening that seemed warmer than the day itself. The 2009 Gaja was very nice, full-bodied, and smooth with a story of Tuscany's sun and soil to tell. The Ruccola salad with pine seeds and Parmesan cheese was balanced except for the creamy dressing, which was overburdening rich. The tortellini with Ricotta cheese filling and salmon came in too much creamy, heavy sauce, and so did the pasta I noticed served to the group of four to the right. A crowded, creamy place, not worth to be revisited if you don't have a lot of time to spend in the gym to get rid of the large amount of calories.

At a table ahead were five sex-in-the-city girls Austrian style, less exciting, older, more settled, and constrained by invisible bounds. The hairstyles were there: two Miranda Hobbes, one Samantha Jones, one Charlotte York, and, unavoidably, the Carrie Bradshaw. In color, the hair wealth was more homogeneous and biased to the dark side of the spectrum. They were more Eastern European, revealing the closeness of the location to Croatia, Slovenia, ...

At the right table, the alpha-male educated his wife that "here, the word extreme is inappropriate, I will except the word end member." He kept narrating about a dispute he had with another (alpha?) male about two numbers that may or may not be statistically different, which seemed to be of life-determining significance to him. How does this relate to a dying Earth? We are sitting here, enjoying the meals, engaged in hefty Brownian conversations while our home planet is falling apart, species are dying, and the planet if drifting into a new and unpredictable state. We talk about the unimportant details, while the undoubtable numbers, the species extinct, the population growing, the depletion of resources, are ignored. The factual blindness of the supposedly brightest of our kind is hard to explain. Are we a doomed species who are considering the blindest to be those that can foretell the future?

Samantha with her huge golden ear rings, in the true sense of the word, thin rings with at least 3 inches in diameter, kept throwing (hot?) looks at me, and I kept repeating in my mind lines of LMFAO's song "I am sexy and I know it, ..., Girl look at that body, I work out." All five had black, perfectly painted eyebrows - and it dawned to me that this must be a new fashion European-style. When I left, I walked past their table, feeling sexy ...

Vienna, Austria (April 23, 2012): Dinner at Bel Amore, right at the corner close to my hotel. A rather common place, with waiters not well coordinated and the Italian wine not recommendable: Chianti with 12% and Chianti Classico with 12.5% are just below the acceptable level and outside my league (of course on the lower end). My near-field environment contained families with kids; an old guy alone by himself looking a bit confused and uncomfortable; two woman and a man, the blond upper middle-aged one seemed to be the friend of the older boring one who could be the wife of the man; the two older ladies enjoying their bottle of wine looked like they grew old within the constraining framework of the well-established, with not sign of ever having dared to be outside of the box - except for maybe having a bottle of wine together. The one with the bright green top, short blond hair and unimpressive accessories. The other one more elegant, black top with some white and black stripped parts and a matching shawl.

My salmon carpaccio was farm-raised, still partly frosen, and it came with lemons instead of the promised oranges. The gamberinies were not giantic as advertiesed but rather normal in size, and paired with some potatos, they looked like a traditional Austrian meal far away from the Italian region the restaurant seemed to aspire to.

Washington, D. C., USA (April 12, 2012): Again, I spend an evening at one of my favorite places in D.C.: Siroc at 915 15th Street NW. Sometimes I love to have dinner by myself in a busy restaurant, being able to observe the interactions between clients at the various tables. I was offered a table in the back of the mor or less rectangular room, not a large room, with a rather interesting ceiling, and with many tables, although not as crowded as atypical Parisian restuarant would have them. To the left, a somewhat weird couple was engaged in a male monologue. The classical early 50-tisch Italian-styled male with a black jacket, white shirt, and lots of golden assessoires, having his big hands grapping the rim of the table, was pouring his story over the patiently listening and well-eductedly commenting woman, who was younger, with overdimensioned old Egyptian, pharao-styled bracelets and cloth with fitting patterns. His voice was well above the noise level in the restaurant keeping his dialog with me all the time, and allowing me to realize that he was participating in Board meetings of a company which had already $1.5 M in sales, had relations to the Rio Tinto Minning company, and another big company in India, requiring him to travel a lot. He made himself interesting to his obviously new date by saying that he understands some sides of himself, while he doesn't understand other sides of him. Before he order wine, he asked the waiter whether he could take home an unfinished bottle.

To the right, behing the next table was an elderly women, who's arms had seen better times years ago when she used ot go to the gym a lot; now they were thin and hanging with a memory of once attractive muscule.

I had a delicious Frisse and Fennel salate with roasted appricotes. The 2006 Nero d'Avelo Fendo Maccari had the rich Siccly sun-filled taste I love. The special, spaghetti with scallops and roasted tomates, was tasty, although the spaghetti were too thick and (over)"well done."

Across the room, mother and father were taking out their blond, mid-thirties, Swedish version of a Cameron Diaz-style daughter, who looked like she never found the one to be with. I know the look because for many years, I have been in this place.

The table to the right was very quiet. The guy looked like somebody in the "Die hard" movies, although I wasn't sure whether he would be a good or bad guy. The woman he was with was definitely not the type of chick the key figure in such a movie would be with.

I enjoyed exchanging secret smiles with one of the femal waiters, while listening to the Italian macho reporting "It is as it is, as Mom says!"

The second table to the left had a big guy, well past his 60ies, looking important, with the mandatory red tie, with white, slowly disappearing hair, and a thick white mustache, which made him look like a seal with glasses, and a woman much shorter than him, but probably with the same circumfence - a couple that makes you wonder how they made it through life together.

On one of the opposite tables, the somewhat hispanic looking guy with a hoody looked out of place in the sea of jacketed white males talking to their white females. This high-tech individual joogled between laptop, iphone, red wine and food - just like me earlier in the day when I had a late lunch at Geoff's where I share my pizza with the laptop - but not an iphone.

At the left table, in between, the Italian-looking male declared that he is really happy in life.

I noticed that the Cameron Diaz-style woman obviously was too tall to be comfortable with her size; she looked very left-over by life moving faster than she could follow.

Suddenly, the restaurant started to empty with many parties leaving more or less at the same time. But the story on the left table continued to unfold. He informed his date that according to his therapist, kids are growing up much faster. The date was responding but with a very low voice, not audible to me. You don't want to spend the rest of your life with that person, he informed her and others in the restaurant. He boldly stated that he doesn't want a second opinion. He had been the paragon of wealth in his family, with a married life, until HIT happened: His wife turned into a woman he did not marry; she now was beyond the shaddow of herself.

A very interesting evening, which was ended with a double espresso accompained by the never ending stacato of words from our Italian to his Egyptian-styled much younger woman, who hopefully was smart enough to take his story for what it was: a report of a failed life.

Beijing, China (November 5, 2010): Having had Chinese food for almost two weeks, I was very pleased to end up for a group dinner at Alameda's. A restaurant owned by a Brasilian. We got there because several in the group were friend with him. Following the recommendations of the owner, we had great Spanish wine (a lot), good international food, and, with no recommendation needed, an enormous amout of fun.

Austin, Texas, USA (November 2009): One evening, I went to Truluck's, which I didn't know from before. I immediately like the ambience, despite the fact that the restaurant was in a mall right next to a major highway. I went back a second time, but then with two colleagues.

I chose to sit outside next to a nice water feature. I had a "knife and forge" Caesar Salad and Hawaiin Tuna "Nicose", both very good and prepared in an attractive and creative way. The Caeser salad was excellnet, perfect style, fresh, very well balanced with the Pecorino, and two good anchoviese. The tuna was also of excellent quality, fenell-crusted, combined with olive-stuffed potatos and sundried tomatoes. The green beans and cheese mix was a well-suited compliment.

The first evening, I had a wine tasting with a flight of Chardoney Showdown. The Joseph Drouhin Pouilly-Fuisse, France was exiting but not original. The Rombauer is one of my favorites, very mature and fully developed; what I would call a classical Chardoney. The Le Souchais, Loire, France, was very friendly and amiable, compatible with my likes, fresh but not without secrets. The Jordan, Russian River had an unusual buequett, almost like a candle store, and a very flowery, spring-like first encounter. It got a bit too frutty and artificial after the second taste.

The second evening, I had Hawaii Wahoo for the first time. This is an excellent fish, almost as firm at sword fish but with a more characteristic taste.

Brussels (2001-2007):

Frankfurt (2003-2009):

San Diego (2008-2010):

San Francisco (1998-2012):

Toronto, Canada (May 2008): I have been there only once, at a meeting, with no time to go to Downtown. However, I was lucky and noticed Chez Laurent, a small French/Italian Restaurant at 4965 Yong Street, not far away from the Novotel North York, where I stayed. The restaurant is in a small building just the size sufficient as a family home squeezed between skyscrapers at this busy street. The customers are distributed over several small rooms each stuffed with a number of tables. I was there on Monday and again on Tuesday, had delicious food, and reasonable open Valpolicella. On Thursday I tried to avoid the place, I even went to the metro station at Stewards to go to Downtown and have dinner at Il Fortinello on Kings, which I had identified on opentable.com. I put $2.75 into the ticket machine, but it refused to given me a ticket - obviously it wanted me to go back to Chez Laurent. I kept walking up and down Young Street, past the many Sushi, Indian, Thai, Vietnam restaurants, some looking really good, several times past Chez Laurent, until I finally surrendered. The Lady was happy to see me again, and so was the German waiter, who finally dared to speak a little more to me. I was placed in the same small room I had enjoyed the evenings before, a room much smaller than my living room at home, stuffed with five tables, and me in the middle. Right in front of me the big round Asian girl, so big that the once relaxed red cotton shirt, which was cut open at the bottom, had problems not to crack and leave her exposed to the eyes of everybody, her small Asian friend, so small that she was almost fading out of sight, and the pale white guy, who didn't really seem to have any relation to the two girls but was at the table - watching these three, I realized that there was a time when dinner was not dominated by today's touristic pictures, when we had to wait days, weeks, and sometimes months before the pictures we took during our last trip finally were developed. Their meals were disregarded, if not disgraced, because all attention was directed towards the pictures they took during the day on their small pocket-sized digital cameras which they were misusing as TVs they showed around to each others while the delicious food was not able to catch their attentions despite sending of the most intriguing scents.

And on my left, there were the two Asian men, one quite old, the other much younger. They were like wax figures, very artificial, very mechanical. The old man ate his soup, a chickpea soup, like a robot, the plate tilted away from him and his spoon collecting the soup mechanically at the far end of the plate and then shoveling it into his mouths. He was efficient and done very fast.

Slightly behind on the left the middle age couple, he a weird guy with a nose hopefully indicative of the size of his manhood, who stated that he's afraid of loosing his wife after she finds the partner she is looking for, and she, transpiring frustration of life in every word, telling him that the one guy she had was a nice guy but without ambitions and the other was a guy with ambitions but not nice, and she was wondering whether she would ever find a guy who had both aspects in his personality.

But my food was good: again I had the fried eggplants with Parmigiano, served on two plates hot enough to warm up your hands and bones after a long winter day in the cold, followed by a Caesar salad and a delicious crème brulée. And the mandatory double espresso.

Ottawa, Canada (October 2004):

The first impression was not the best: the elegant lady greeting us was visibily displeased that I did not speak French. However, the little bench brought to my female colleage to put her handback on indicated that the place was either limitless pretentious or of a high quality.

My female colleage was wondering why there were no prices on her menu, and it took a second for us to realize that prices only were on my menu. And they were not exceedingly high. The menu sounded like poetry for food-lowers. The food and wine was accordingly. The attention of the waiters was perfect, not overburdening but always reading our minds and foreseeing our needs.

The mille-fleur prepared at the table was a grand ending of a most delicious and exciting dinner in a perfect setting of an old villa.

I can only recommend the "By Le Gordon Bleu Paris" at 453 Laurier Avenue East, Ontario K1N 6R4, Ottawa, Canada, phone: +1-613-236-2499. The place is the better choice for any dinner in Ottawa, be it a brief snack or a full four or five course dinner with wine pairing. The slightly high price comes with so much better experience and food that nothing is cheaper than this place.

Last edited 02 December 2016