Archives for category: restaurant review


You could easily miss Oase, a small nondescript restaurant located on Warschauerstraße in the heart of Friedrichshain. On the outside, it doesn’t look like much, but don’t judge a book by its cover.


Oase in the Heart of Friedrichshain

On the inside, you’ll find some of the best falafel and schawarma in town. A falafel is an Arab dish usually served in a pita, which acts as pocket. Falafel is a deep fried patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans or both. It’s topped with vegetables, hot sauce, and tahini. On the other hand, a schawarma is a wrap filled with chicken or lamb, and served with tabbouleh, fattoush, tomato, and cucumber. Toppings include tahini, hummus, pickled turnips and amba.

Oase gets a well-deserved five star rating. The prices are reasonable, and the staff is friendly. On the negative side, there’s limited seating, and there’s usually a long line of people waiting to be served.  

Macondo is a cozy cafe that’s minutes from where I live in Berlin. The ambiance invites you to lounge and relax on its vintage sofas, armchairs, and tables. The day I visited, I had the Colombian breakfast
(€5,50), which included 3 arepas (corn cakes made from a special precooked corn flour), 3 empanadas (stuffed pastry), beans, and salad. It was very tasty and quite filling. 

On the plus side, the service was excellent and quick. There’s plenty of reading material and a nice view of Boxhanger Platz. On the negative side, there’s a backroom where smoking is allowed, and the smoke tends to drift into the non-smoking area. In addition, the restroom needs help. There was no paper, no soap, and absolutely, no cleanliness!
Macondo is a cozy cafe that’s minutes from where I live in Berlin. The ambiance invites you to lounge and relax on its vintage sofas, armchairs, and tables. The day I visited, I had the Colombian breakfast
(€5,50), which included 3 arepas (corn cakes made from a special precooked corn flour), 3 empanadas (stuffed pastry), beans, and salad. It was very tasty and quite filling. 

On the plus side, the service was excellent and quick. There’s plenty of reading material and a nice view of Boxhanger Platz. On the negative side, there’s a backroom where smoking is allowed, and the smoke tends to drift into the non-smoking area. In addition, the restroom needs help. There was no paper, no soap, and absolutely, no cleanliness!
It’s the ultimate comfort food. A chicken pot pie is a baked savory pie filled with chicken, gravy, and vegetables (potatoes, carrots, green beans, and peas) and completely encased by a flaky crust. Yes, I know people commonly call things with only a top crust pot pies, but those are just chicken stews with a crust floating in it.

This traditional American dish does a good job of covering the four major food groups though it’s also loaded with calories, salt, and fat. In Portland, chicken pot pies can be found at supermarkets, delis, bakeries, restaurants, and even at road stands. Here are a few places that I’ve tried.

The Cookie Jar (My personal favorite)

Located on Cape Elizabeth, the Cookie Jar makes an excellent pot pie with a flaky crust, plenty of vegetables, and a good portion of chicken. At $15 for a 10 inch pie, the Cookie Jar’s pot pie is a good value. BTW: the traditional pastries and cookies at the Cookie Jar are excellent. 

Two Fat Cats

This well-known bakery located near Portland’s old port is generally over rated, and their pot pie is likewise good, but not worth the fuss. The crust is just right and there’s a healthy portion of chicken; however, the filling has too many whole pearl onions and there are not enough vegetables. At $20 for a 9 inch pie, it’s on the pricey side.

Leavitt and Sons

This upscale family style deli located in Falmouth sells a dish that claims to be a pot pie. There’s plenty of chicken and a good sampling of vegetables, but this pie has one major flaw: there’s no bottom crust. It’s expensive at $17 and is on the small side. If you can overlook the lack of bottom crust (which, ultimately, I cannot!), the pie isn’t bad. 

Pat’s Meat Market

Pat’s is a neighborhood market/deli that has some great sandwiches and homemade soups. It occasionally sells pot pies that are similar to the supermarket variety. In a pinch, a pot pie from Pat’s will do, but stick to their sandwiches and avoid the pie altogether.

Southern Maine is known for its scenic coastlines, wonderful seafood, and its burgeoning foodie culture; however, when it comes to Mexican food, this part of the USA hasn’t a clue. Therefore, I was surprised to learned of a new (and reportedly authentic) Mexican restaurant located in Falmouth. (After eating there, I think “Mexican-inspired” might describe it better.) 

Bueno Loco features interesting and rather unique “Mexican” dishes, which include gluten free and vegan options. The chef is Russian who learned his trade while visiting Guatemala, Belize, and the Yucatan. The day I visited, I tried the Bueno Burrito. Overall, the dish was tasty and rather filling. The ingredients included a nice mixture of black, kidney, and pinto beans, shredded turkey, rice, fresh greens, and vegetables. In addition, the accompanying chips were just right, crisp and not too salty. Unfortunately, what they called a “burrito” was spectacularly bland, even by Maine standards! Moreover, the service was slow.  

Bottom line: if you want real Mexican food, you won’t find it at Bueno Loco. Nevertheless, Bueno Loco is a satisfactory dining option for those of you looking for something different. 

The night started off with high expectations, but turned out to be mostly about restaurant hygiene. Our itinerary included dinner at Sam’s Place, a favorite of ours, and then, for dessert, a slice of cake from the Buttercup Bake Shop, a bakery that I discovered a few days ago. (Their carrot cake is absolutely delicious!) 

These days, I pay close attention to the NYC Health Department’s restaurant certification, which is supposed to be prominently displayed. I rarely go to restaurants with less than an A rating. At Sam’s Place, the certification appeared to be missing until I discovered a B rating, obscured (no doubt “accidentally”) under some other postings. Somehow the hidden certification bothered me more than the sub-par rating itself. We moved on.

On our way to another restaurant, we passed the Buttercup Bake Shop, and oddly, it appeared closed, even though it was within the posted hours. (This is a common occurrence in Portland but unusual for New York.)

After a wonderful dinner at Chola Eclectic Indian Cuisine (an A rating), we headed back to the Buttercup Bake Shop, still hoping for a slice of that mouthwatering carrot cake. As we approached the Buttercup, we could see it was completely shuttered and locked. Then we saw the Notice. It was posted on the window (see photo at top).

I don’t know how far below A or B rating you need to go to get this kind of Health Department action, but after eating two slices of cake from the Buttercup this week, the Heath Department closure made me laugh and feel queasy at the same time. 

The night started off with high expectations, but turned out to be mostly about restaurant hygiene. Our itinerary included dinner at Sam’s Place, a favorite of ours, and then, for dessert, a slice of cake from the Buttercup Bake Shop, a bakery that I discovered a few days ago. (Their carrot cake is absolutely delicious!) 

These days, I pay close attention to the NYC Health Department’s restaurant certification, which is supposed to be prominently displayed. I rarely go to restaurants with less than an A rating. At Sam’s Place, the certification appeared to be missing until I discovered a B rating, obscured (no doubt “accidentally”) under some other postings. Somehow the hidden certification bothered me more than the sub-par rating itself. We moved on.

On our way to another restaurant, we passed the Buttercup Bake Shop, and oddly, it appeared closed, even though it was within the posted hours. (This is a common occurrence in Portland but unusual for New York.)

After a wonderful dinner at Chola Eclectic Indian Cuisine (an A rating), we headed back to the Buttercup Bake Shop, still hoping for a slice of that mouthwatering carrot cake. As we approached the Buttercup, we could see it was completely shuttered and locked. Then we saw the Notice. It was posted on the window (see photo at top).

I don’t know how far below A or B rating you need to go to get this kind of Health Department action, but after eating two slices of cake from the Buttercup this week, the Heath Department closure made me laugh and feel queasy at the same time. 

A few days ago, I mentioned that Fort Lauderdale reminded me of Nice France without the cafes. Well, yesterday, I discovered the Euro Bread Cafe, a “French style cafe” not far from the beach. Unfortunately, the cafe is merely mediocre. The croissants and coffee are okay. The sandwiches, entrees, and desserts are overly priced, and the service substandard. There is Wi-Fi and outdoor seating, but the restaurant’s overall low quality doesn’t make it a recommendation. If you want an authentic croissant, you better head to France. 

A few days ago, I mentioned that Fort Lauderdale reminded me of Nice France without the cafes. Well, yesterday, I discovered the Euro Bread Cafe, a “French style cafe” not far from the beach. Unfortunately, the cafe is merely mediocre. The croissants and coffee are okay. The sandwiches, entrees, and desserts are overly priced, and the service substandard. There is Wi-Fi and outdoor seating, but the restaurant’s overall low quality doesn’t make it a recommendation. If you want an authentic croissant, you better head to France. 

Bis jetzt gab es kein Kaffeehaus – wie Erich Kästner oder Kurt Tucholsky gefallen hätte. Jetzt Berlin hat Kaffeehaus Grosz!

Experience a coffeehouse/restaurant from the roaring twenties (Die Goldenen Zwanziger) at Kaffeehaus Grosz, Kurfürstendamm 192/194. Named after George Grosz, the artist known for his caricature drawings of Berlin life in the 1920’s, Kaffeehaus Grosz has just opened after extensive renovations. (A drunken Grosz died nearby after falling down a flight of stairs in 1959.)

Sonnenfinsternis (1926)
(The Eclipse of the Sun),
George Grosz
Heckscher Museum, New York

This place has atmosphere: marble floors, art-nouveau columns, high ceilings, dark wood bar, and waiters and waitresses dressed in traditional black and white attire. Fresh croissant are baked by French bakers twice a day, and if you’re in a drinking mood, order the “Earl of Cumberland” (gin with Earl Grey tea). Kaffeehaus Grosz is a place to experience the ambiance rather than the coffee or food.