Trending on OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Fried Green Tomatoes

Fried-Green-Tomato
The fried green tomatoes at Zingerman’s Roadhouse in Ann Arbor, Michigan, would surely make Miss Flagg proud.

Fried green tomatoes are a longtime southern specialty, but this Yankee didn’t learn of their simple delights until seeing the movie Fried Green Tomatoes and, later, researching that recipe within Fannie Flagg’s book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. There are several schools of thought on their preferred preparation. Some folks dunk ‘em in buttermilk before dredging them in flour; others favor cracker meal or panko or a combination of all of these. At my home, we grow a variety of tomato called Fried Green Tomato that is made just for this very dish. We pluck ‘em off the vines, and, adhering closely to Miss Flagg’s original recipe, slice them, weep them with kosher salt, season with pepper and coat them in corn meal seasoned with a touch of cayenne. They are fried to golden goodness in Flying Pigs Farm bacon fat, drained, and served with Crystal Hot Sauce and Duke’s Mayonnaise. It’s high season for fried green tomatoes, and restaurants on OpenTable are creating their own versions to infuse their dishes with a seasonal southern accent. Find out what diners are saying.

Atchafalaya Restaurant, New Orleans: “I will never miss another opportunity to dine here when I visit this city known for great food. The fried green tomatoes were absolutely to die for.”

* Bayou on Penn, Washington, D.C.: “We arrived at Bayou and were greeted like royalty. Our service was great, but the outstanding part was the Grand Marshall brunch: eggs benedict with fried green tomato, tasso ham, fried oyster, and English muffin! WOW.”

The Blue Fish, Jacksonville, Florida: “The fried green tomato was done to perfection, and the addition of the goat cheese made it very special.”

Georgia Brown’s, Washington, D.C.: “I went to Georgia Brown’s with friends during restaurant week and had one of the best meals I’ve had in DC. Fried green tomatoes, gumbo, and peach cobbler — several of which were recommended by our patient, attentive server.”

The Granary ‘Cue and Brew, San Antonio, Texas: “This place likes to challenge your taste buds. First time I tried ranch ice cream with my fried green tomatoes! I enjoyed everything I ate.”

Hungry Mother, Cambridge, Massachusetts: “The pimento cheese and fried green tomatoes appetizer is a knockout highlight, as is the beef tongue with au jus, and the pork belly app has all the flavor you expect from HM.”

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Trending on Recent OpenTable Restaurant Reviews: Grilled Romaine

Grilled-Romaine
The magical grilled romaine salad from South Edison restaurant.

I often think the world is divided into two groups: those who love salads and those who do not. I am squarely in the former and my husband is, unfortunately, in the latter. He’ll eat salads, but, more often than not, it is begrudgingly. Not so when we were at South Edison in Montauk, New York, recently. We had a char-grilled romaine salad with meyer lemon vinaigrette, and my husband declared that he would eat salad every day (!) if it were this very dish. Perhaps then, those who do not love salad haven’t yet tried this delicious variation on dressed greens. Romaine lettuce is perfectly suited to grilling because its hearty texture holds up over hot coals, which bring out its sweetness while adding smokey depth. Chock full of vitamins A and K, romaine lettuce is low in calories and high in fiber. Find out what OpenTable diners are saying about this summery spin on salad in recent reviews.

Alfio’s bon cibo, Cincinnati, Ohio: “Butternut squash soup was yummy, as was the wood-grilled romaine salad. Must be a genius in the kitchen.”

Bella’s Restaurant, Charlottesville, Virginia: “Do not miss the grilled romaine; it’s to die for!”

* BOCA, Cincinnati, Ohio: “Dinner at Boca was outstanding. The grilled romaine is a must.”

Bonfyre American Grille, Madison, Wisconsin: “My side Caesar salad was great. They grilled the romaine. Awesome flavor.”

Campania Cafe, Davidson, North Carolina: “Comfortable dinning, excellent food. I especially enjoyed the grilled romaine salad.”

* Chloé, Seattle, Washington: “They have several wonderful prix-fixe options; I tried the grilled romaine salad, steak, and creme brulee option for $25. Wasn’t sure how I’d feel about grilled lettuce, but it was delicious!” Continue Reading

OpenTable Diner Reviews Reveal Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in the U.S.

What’s your recipe for romantic dining? A fireside table? Fine wine? Or the right dining companion?

As we look forward to the romance of Valentine’s Day, we are pleased to announce the 2013 Diners’ Choice Award winners for the Top 100 Most Romantic Restaurants in the United States. These awards reflect the combined opinions of more than 5 million reviews submitted by verified OpenTable diners for more than 15,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The list of winners, which includes Canlis in Seattle, Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, Calif., and White Barn Inn in Kennebunk, Maine, spans 32 states. California restaurants earned 16 spots on the list, followed by Hawaii with 10 winners and Florida with eight. Virginia boasts seven winning restaurants, trailed by Ohio and Texas with six honorees apiece. Nevada, New York, and Tennessee all have five winning restaurants, while Arizona and Utah have four each. Colorado restaurants earned three spots, as did those in Illinois, Indiana, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and South Carolina. Idaho, Louisiana, Missouri, Oregon, and Washington restaurants are also included, among others.

Cheese pleases, as fondue, especially that which is served at nationwide The Melting Pot restaurants, proved extremely popular for the fourth year in a row. American regional fare accounted for almost half the spots on the list. French cuisine was also well represented. Other popular cuisines included Italian, European/continental, and seafood.Continue Reading

Fondue or Fon-don’t: Does Melted Cheese Melt Hearts?

Fondue-or-FondontWe recently announced the winners of the OpenTable Diners’ Choice award for the Top 50 Most Romantic Restaurants. Of the 50, a whopping 12 were Melting Pot restaurants, where fondue anchors the menus. Two other winners, La Fondue and Simply Fondue, are also, as you might have guessed by their names, fondue-friendly eateries. The Chicago Tribune‘s food blog, The Stew, picked up on our list’s fromage factor and ran with it, while the clever folks over at Eater didn’t want to give a shout out to these restaurants when they generously covered our list, saying, “[F]ondue hasn’t been considered romantic since Three’s Company went off the air.” The fact remains, however, that many diners find fondue to be the perfect mood food for a romantic evening.

What exactly is it that makes love bloom over melted cheese and other cook-it-yourself delights? We weren’t quite sure, so we reached out to our network of diners over Facebook and Twitter. Bulbul Gupta says, “Interactive food is always a great date dinner idea, interactive anything is very romantic — you learn to share early on and can easily feed each other with a one-foot distance without it getting overly mushy…perfect!” Diner Teresa Miller concurs, “The Melting Pot in Larkspur is VERY romantic. The location is in an old brick kiln with lots of low lighting. Cheese is comfort food, hence the reason why romance blooms when bellies are satisfied!” Jennifer Kaplan, also a fondue fan, says, “My husband and I do find it romantic. The lighting is low and the tables are reasonably secluded. We enjoy lingering over our dinner and find the food to be very good.” Ryan Mathus tweets, “I find fondue/Melting Pot cool just because it’s not your traditional meal and more hands on. It’s all about us.” Fellow tweep Jen Fairchild notes, rather poetically (or erotically?), “Fondue is steamy and hot and thick and creamy and good…just like love!”

Perhaps the best and not-at-all cheesy cheese story we heard comes from OpenTable diner Cara Couture of Charlotte, North Carolina. She writes, “My husband and I go to The Melting Pot any time we have reason to celebrate — graduation, anniversary, new job, a Friday night — but our favorite reason was to celebrate our engagement. In between the limo ride and the chartered plane trip around the city of Columbus, Ohio, my then-fiancé made dinner reservations at our favorite restaurant, The Melting Pot, where a bouquet of roses was at our regular table with a congratulations card signed by the restaurant staff. To this day, that remains the most romantic night of my life.” Sigh. My husband’s marriage proposal is looking more and more lame the more stories I hear like this one (a chartered plane?). But, I digress.

To find out if the people from The Melting Pot had any insights as to why their dining experience is so aphrodisiacal, we reached out to Chad Hornik, who owns several Melting Pot locations, including those in Richmond and Virginia Beach,  which were included on our Top 50 Most Romantic Restaurants winners for 2010. Hornik says of his restaurants’ romantic appeal, “Dining with fondue creates an aura of romance. It’s a participation meal — you’re cooking, helping, talking. Even if the conversation gets awkward, diners can talk about the food.” Also, “The lighting is dim, and each table is designed to have its own intimate atmosphere. We even have curtains that block off some of our tables, and sometimes we have to knock before we enter!” The Melting Pot, though, is more than just cheese. Hornik adds, “The cheese is just the appetizer. It’s a relaxed four-course dining experience, and the desserts…well, dipping strawberries into chocolate is pretty romantic.”

Chad, you had me (and, most certainly, my chocoholic husband) at strawberries and chocolate. Perhaps a a trip to The Melting Pot will prompt a second proposal. And, yes, Curt, that means a second ring.