One of the points of "downshifting" is to slow down and take life easier. One of the casualties of this approach is, unfortunately, in-depth restaurant reviews.

Make to no mistake: we've had some great meals during our two weeks on the road so far, and anticipate many more. Without a laptop, though, I'm dependent on FedEx Office or hotel business centers, so it's much more difficult and time-consuming to write, edit, and publish cogent, thoughtful reviews.

Until we're at a point where we have more time, allow me to offer some abbreviated comments on some of the great dining experiences we've had so far.

WILLMETTE, Illinois: Convito Cafe and Market. Located at 1515 Sheridan Road, this establishment offers primarily Italian fare with an interesting twist on their wine offerings. Wine is sold at essentially retail price at the store in front with a $10 corkage fee added if you take it to your table. A nice way to present good wine at a reasonable price. Steamed mussels for appetizers and the halibut for dinner were excellent; the bruscetta and the chicken main course only OK. Moderately priced, at $160 for three including alcohol.

FT. COLLINS, Colorado: Pueblo Viejo Mexican Restaurant. In the heart of Old Town Ft. Collins at 185 N. College, they serve up some good Mexican food and great Margaritas. Reasonably priced, too: $100 for five, with alcohol.

ALBUQUERQUE, NM: Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro. Located at 3009 Central NE, this eclectic restaurant offers something for everyone. We especially enjoyed the duck confit spring rolls (an appetizer for the table), the salad with blood oranges and beets, and the lamb and roast pork chop main dishes. Moderate, at $240 for four, including alcohol.

BAKER, California: The Mad Greek. A roadside restaurant featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. This one's all three, really. The Greek food was good and cheap, though the Baklava was decidedly not fresh. Less than $20 for the two of us.

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, California: Marmalade Cafe. Part of a Southern California chain. We've eaten breakfast at the Westlake Village location many times while visiting family and have never been disappointed. If you split the huge omelets or other offerings, less than $20 for two.

MONTEREY, California: The Charthouse. Located on Cannery Row, it offers good seafood and great views on Monterrey Bay. We split oysters, salad, and entree but enjoyed champers and wine: Moderately priced: $120 for two, including alcohol.

MONTEREY, California: The Sardine Factory. It's been a fixture in the Cannery Row area since the mid-80s and is generally considered to have started the area's revival after the downturn of the '60s and '70s. Good food and good nibbles in a decidedly old-school atmosphere. Nibbles and wine at the bar (including accompaniment by a live pianist) $40.

More to follow.

Visit my main page at for more news, reviews, and personal observations on the world of upmarket travel.