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Restaurant Review: Fou de fafa (Avignon, France)

My partner and I went on a 6-day road trip last Easter, visiting 2 countries (France and Spain) or 5 towns/cities and more than 12 restaurants. Without a doubt, this was our favorite restaurant in the entire trip.

I’m normally not a fan of number 1s in tripadvisor because they fail me most of the times. In fact, this is the first time I actually think the number 1 restaurant deserves to be the number 1.

Fou de Fafa is located in the Old the Town. We were staying at Hotel Avignon Centre Palais des Papes and it was just less than 10-minute walk from there. The location was pretty convenient for us.

Restaurant fou defafa

The photos here don’t justify how really good the food were. First was the wine option. My partner has issues on sulfites so we asked for a recommendation from the host. She recommended a bio/organic pure Merlot wine and it was very good. Then, there’s the food. The moment we had our starter, warm goat’s cheese wrapped in a pastry wrapper, we knew the rest of the food will be excellent. For the main course, I had the lamb wrapped in aubergine with mashed potato on the side. The aubergine was nicely seasoned, the meat was so tender, the mashed potato and the sauce balanced the flavours. For dessert, I had a chocolate cake – it was so good, I almost didn’t want to share it. The 3-course meal cost EUR 36 plus the bottle of wine we had. It’s a very reasonable price.

The host speaks fluent English and very welcoming. She took her time in explaining the menu and answering our questions.

Restaurant fou defafa

I know the common complain about this restaurant is that they weren’t entertained because they did not have a reservation or they were turned down because there were more than 4 of them. Three things about restaurants like this:

First, it’s a small restaurant with maybe even less than 15 tables. The empty tables you see probably belonged to someone who made a reservation but coming at a later time. I appreciate the fact that they don’t over book so that their guests won’t have to rush on their dinner because other people need the table.

Second, if I’m not mistaken, this is the type of restaurant who gets their meet and vegetables fresh of the market every morning. Meaning, they only stock fresh ingredients; therefore, they are precise as much as possible on the number of plates they can serve that day. I’ve been to several restaurants like this and I say it’s a style. Again, this style maybe the reason why they limit the amount of plates they serve per day. Quality over quantity – this is why the food was excellent!

Lastly, why not allow big groups? Aside from the food, what I really loved about this restaurant is its environment – it’s not loud. No background music, guests don’t need to shout at another to be heard, even the host spoke softly… it has a chill environment. I don’t know if this is the restaurant’s reason for limiting a party to 4 or if it’s more for logistics reason in the kitchen but whatever it is, not having a big loud group creates a lovely dinner environment.

restaurant fou defafa

Restaurant Fou de fafa is located in Avignon’s Old Town (17 Rue Des Trois Faucons, 84000 Avignon, France). Reservation is a must (in case I haven’t emphasized that enough). You can call them at +33 4 32 76 35 13 or write to them at restaurantfoudefafa@gmail.com.

Restaurant Review: Le Scandale

Le Scandale

24 rue de Lausanne

 

This is probably the first time I wrote a bad review on anything. I usually avoid ranting or complaining in my blog because basically, if a restaurant or hotel is too bad, I wouldn’t even bother writing about it at all.  However, I thought my experience at Le Scandale last night deserves an exception.

Although I’ve been to Le Scandale for drinks before, it was my first time to try their restaurant last night and I must say, I’m probably not going to go there again to eat.

Location and Accessibility (4/5)

Le Scandale is well located, probably 2 or 3-minute walk from Gare Cornavin (train station), along rue de Lausanne.

Food (3/5)

I had their 4 fromages pizza last night and for me, it was mediocre – it wasn’t bad but not worth CHF 18.00 pizza. I love pizzas and I don’t mind paying more than CHF 20 for a pizza before – but it has to be worth it. Unfortunately, there’s nothing special about the pizza I had so, I was pretty much disappointed. For me, there are a lot more Italian restaurants in the area that serves cheaper but better quality pizzas.

Ambiance (2.5/5)

It’s a confused restaurant/bar. It’s a venue that has a restaurant on one side and a huge bar. The place can get packed and loud.

Price (2/5)

As mentioned earlier, I find that the pizza I had was quite expensive for its mediocre quality.

Service (1/5)

If there’s one award I can give to this restaurant, it will be the worst-service-I’ve-ever-had-in-Geneva award. In my 4 yrs in Geneva, I’m already used to the type of customer service they usually have here. With this, I always come to a new place with realistic expectations on customer service.

Last night, we waited for almost an hour for our food to get served because it seemed like the kitchen forgot to make our orders. This happens. What really upset me was how the waiters dealt with us. After waiting for a while, I politely (even smiling) asked one of the waiters if he can check our orders because it’s been almost an hour. The waiter told me “it’s not my problem. I did not take your order”. Then, he walked away from our table and vanished. Finally, our food was served to us and I told the waiter serving us (again, smiling) “merci. Was our order not placed earlier?” The waiter responded to me also with “well, that’s not my problem”. My friends and I were dumbstruck with the waiters’ rudeness. After a while, we heard one of the ladies at the table behind us arguing with one of the rude waiters and we can hear that she was totally upset on something and the waiter went to argue further with her. That’s when I realized that this place should be reviewed so that hopefully such unprofessionalism will be addressed by management.

Overall Rating (2.5/5)

Overall, I don’t recommend this restaurant based on our experience with its unprofessional waiters. If I’m going to spend such amount for mediocre food, the last thing I need will be such arrogant services. Perhaps, we caught them on a bad night but as a paying customer, that shouldn’t be an excuse for bad attitude.

Cantina Piemontese: Traditional Cuisine in 30’s Style

Cantina Piemontese is located at Via Laghetto 2, Milan

Cantina Piemontese is located at Via Laghetto 2, Milan

It’s been almost 2 months since my gastronomic trip to Milan but I’ve decided to still write a review on two restaurants I went to just because they were incredibly good. My friends and I discovered Cantina Piemontese from the hotel magazine. It was our first night in Milan and after driving for almost 5 hours, all we wanted was to have a great dinner. When my friend suggested this restaurant, I was skeptical at first since it didn’t really rank high up in the Trip Advisor. But then the magazine had a really good description of the place and we were in the area so I thought, why not?

Location and Accessibility (4/5)

Cantina Piemontese is located at Via Laghetto 2, Milan. It is conveniently located close to Duomo but far enough to the most “touristy area” in Milan to be ripped off – about five-minute walk from Duomo.

Food (4.5/5)

For the starter, I had the artichokes with mozzarella salad. The presentation was nothing fancy – literally just artichokes with a big ball of buffalo mozzarella in the middle… and it was amazing! The artichokes were perfectly cooked and the buffalo mozzarella was really of a good quality (the expensive buffalo mozzarella I get here in Geneva is not even close). I must say, it was because of this dish that I became obsessed with artichokes for a while.

For my main course, I had spaghetti alle vongole (spaghetti noodles with clams). It is a very simple dish but I loved it. It was served without the shells, which I prefer. I had to mention this because I have a friend who won’t eat pasta alle vongole if the clams have been removed from their shells.

Lastly, a good discovery in this restaurant is the 2011 Piemonte Barbera wine. I love the smoothness of this wine and, for the lack of a better term, I find it flexible – some of us had seafood while some had meat and we all enjoyed the wine.

Ambiance (4/5)

Cantina Piemontese is described to have the classic 30’s style. I simply find it cozy. There was a big family who was having dinner when we were there and at one point, it looked like a scene from a classic movie. It is nothing fancy and not crazy busy, at least when we were there.

Price (4/5)

Unfortunately, I can’t remember the details of the prices anymore but I have a note in my phone that says that the prices were pretty reasonable – not expensive at all.

Service (5/5)

This is probably my first 5/5 rating for service. We had an excellent server, very friendly and very helpful (I believe her name is Rosie). She spoke English and she was patient in explaining to us the menu (the menu was in Italian). The kitchen was fast too, we didn’t have to wait long for the food to be served. After dinner, when we asked where we can get a cab, they offered to order a cab for us.

Overall Rating

This cantina is a 4.3/5 for me and I will definitely go back here again and bring my friends if we visit Milan again. The food and the service were particularly excellent when I went there. Cantina Piemontese may not be at the first top 10% in Trip Advisor but it is definitely to try in Milan.

 

CERVECERIA CATALANA: My All-Time Favorite

tapas at Cerveceria CatalanaCerveceria Catalana

Carrer de Mallorca 236

Barcelona, Spain

 

It was my second time to visit Barcelona, my favorite city in Europe, so I skipped the sight-seeing and decided to just relax and… eat. One thing about Barcelona is that you cannot visit this lovely city without having tapas, sangria, and cava. In Barcelona, I’ve only gone to a proper retaurant (and ate proper meal) 3-4x because I just enjoy the concept of tapas. I love the fact that I can have 3-4 different varieties of dishes in 1 meal, served in small portions (well, not exactly small because some dishes are good for 2 persons).

 

Since tapas are a must when in Barcelona, expect that all tourist areas, especially along La Rambla and Rambla de Catalunya, are packed with tapas bar. If you don’t know where to go, it can be pretty overwhelming and there’s a chance that you’ll end up in a mediocre, pricy tapas bar. Here, enters my favorite tapas bar in Barcelona, the Cerveceria Catalana.

 

Location (4/5)

Cerveceria Catalana is located at Carrer de Mallorca 236. Coming from Placa Catalunya, walk up to Ramblas de Catalunya (not La Ramba, the street directly opposite to it). It is a bit of a walk but Ramblas de Catalunya is a calmer version of La Rambla but full of shops and restaurants – I actually enjoy walking along this street more than La Rambla. On your left, you will eventually see a MAC store (the make-up brand, not the apple) – that would be Carrer de Mallorca. The tapas bar is just 2 establishments next to the MAC store. If you happen to reach the metro station for Diagonal, then better turn around because you’ve already missed it by 2-3 blocks.

 

Food (5/5)

Choosing a tapas bar is not the only overwhelming part you will go through on a tapas adventure. Choosing among the dishes in the menu and/or infront of you, for me, it is the most overwhelming yet exciting part. At Cerveceria Catalana, if you sit by the bar, right in front of the tapas, there is a high chance of you leaving the place in foodcoma.

For this visit at Cerveceria Catalana, I actually (and shamelessly) had 6 dishes (including a dessert). I had the fried green peppers, perfectly grilled veal, gambas, calamares, fried mozzarella, and their house cake.

TIP: Out of all the tapas I’ve tried here, I highly recommend the fried green peppers (wherever tapas bar you go, you cannot not have the fried green peppers), the veal, the shrimps, and the fried mozzarella (this one is perfect before heading on to your dessert plate).

 

Ambiance (3.5/5)

One thing about this tapas bar is it is quite famous. Therefore, this place is always packed. The first time I came here, I sat by the bar and it was quite noisy, in a festive way. In my last visit, I managed to get a seat outside, which was way better for me – I didn’t notice the chaos inside plus I like people watching. Keep in mind that tapas bar are not exactly restaurants, they are bars.

 

Price (4.5/5)

 With my 6 dishes, a glass of rosé, and a bottle of water with gas, my total bill was like € 21.00. I say, not bad at all! Their tapas range from € 3-11. Some of the tapas, such as the fried green peppers and the calamares are good for 2 persons (at least in my opinion). In one of the tapas bar in La Boqueira, I paid roughly € 16 for 3 tapas and a bottle of fizzy water.

 

Service (4.5/5)

 I’m a little bit biased on this part because one of the things I love about this tapas bar is the Filipino servers. They have always been friendly, engaging, and helpful with thier recommendations to me. However I noticed how other customers were pretty satisfied with their services as well. In fact, with my very little comprehension on Spanish, I noticed that they have a lot of local regulars based on their interactions with the bar staff.  Also, considering their volume of customers, I say they’re pretty quick in taking orders and delivering them to our tables.

 

Overall (4.3/5)

Cerveceria Catalana is not to be missed! This tapas bar remains to be my favourite among all the tapas bars I’ve tried in Barcelona. The quality of food they have is such a treat to those who travel for the love of food.

 They don’t take reservations so be warned of long queues during peak hours. I came in at around 13.00H, I only had to wait for 5 minutes to get a table outside. However, 10 minutes after I was seated, people started coming in and I heard they would have to wait up to 45 mins to get a table. Yikes! But don’t throw a fit if this happens to you. Remember, this is quite a small but popular bar so avoid peak hours if possible. My wild guess for their peak hours would be 13.30h onwards as Spaniards have their lunch quite late.