Saturday, April 12, 2014

Half Moon Restaurant and Saloon- Kennet Square, PA

I saw the Half Moon Restaurant and Saloon on the Travel Channel a while ago, I think it was one of the burger episodes, and I put it on my wish list shortly thereafter. What appealed to me was the fact that they specialize in wild game and I am always in the mood for something different. The last time we were in the area it was Sunday and they were closed. This time we decided to pop in on a Saturday. 

Kennet Square is the mushroom capital of the world and it is also a fairly upscale, and trendy, little village near the Delaware border. It is also the home of Longwood Gardens, a remnant of the DuPont family. The restaurant is on the main drag and when we entered it was bright and roomy with friendly staff. We were four adults and two children and we were seated near the back.

We started with the chef's choice wild game sampler. Tonight it was bison, lamb (not really wild game), and elk. The bison was overcooked and tough, as was the elk, but the lamb was perfect. 

I decided on the wild boar sliders and there were three of them. One of them was rather dry as there was no relish on it, the middle one had just the right amount of relish and the other was swimming in the relish. Overall, they were good, but nothing any more special than pulled pork.

Brian, my son-in-law, tried the bison tacos and he really liked them, but he said he could eat a dozen more and there were only three small ones on the plate. Teresa and Nicole each has a veggie burger and they liked them. The kids shared a kid's meal of chicken strips and fries (we told Adam that he was getting kangaroo, shhhh) and there was plenty to share. 

Total bill was a C-note for four adults and town children, before tip. Overall I would say not bad, and not great either. Would I go back? Yes, I would. Would I rave about it? No, I wouldn't. My impression is that they are a bit overpriced for the quality and quantities, but that is possibly a result of being in a trendy town and having been on TV. My overall opinion then is middle of the road. The service however was excellent. 

Half Moon Restaurant & Saloon on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Fuddruckers- Middletown, NY

We've been to a few Fuddruckers in New Jersey and in South Carolina, so when I heard that the old Cheeseburger in Paradise in Middletown was being converted into a Fuddruckers I got excited. When I caught an article in the paper that they were opening today, well we decided that was what we were doing for dinner. 

We got there at about five and they weren't crowded, but there was some build-up when we left. I could see they did a nice job of converting the old Cheeseburger into a Fudds while retaining some of the old character. The center bar was still there and the manager said it still had the same drink menus as before. Since the two restaurants share the same parent company it seems logical that they combined the best of the two.

The bar area has table service, but we opted for the traditional Fuddruckers experience wherein one orders at the counter, pays, and takes one of those buzzers to a table to await the signal your food is ready. When it buzzes, you go up and get it.

I got the 1/3 pound Southwestern burger which had guacamole, bacon and pepper jack cheese on a fresh roll. I ordered it medium and it was darn close to a perfect medium. I added fries and a soda and headed to the fix in's bar where some peppers, pickles, and tomatoes were added to the plate, and cheese sauce on the fries. 

Teresa got a special 1/4 pound burger and she ordered hers a medium-well and it was a perfect medium-well burger. She added onion rings, excellent onion rings I might add. 

All told we were under twenty bucks for the whole thing. Very good food, nice clean place, friendly people. This is our new go-to place in Middletown.

Fuddruckers on Urbanspoon

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Jake's Wayback Burgers- Monroe, NY

I like Jake's Wayback Burgers better than Five Guys and Shake Shack, and about the same as Smashburger. The quality of the burger is excellent and the prices are right. I'd been meaning to hit the new one in Monroe for some time now and a trip to the city led me past there on the way back. Sorry, bad pun. 

I had the Burger of the Month at $5.99. It was a double Chorizo burger with chipotle mayo, lettuce and tomatoes. It was quite amazing indeed and I would call it a four napkin burger, not from grease but rather from the juices. I added a side of fries for $1.99 and they were hot and crispy. Good, but nothing extraordinary. I also had the Shake of the month, salted caramel, at $4.29. It was large and delightful.

Overall, a great visit and I would suggest that you stop there sometime and see for yourself. Oh, I forget to add that this location has a few beers on tap as well. 

Jake's Wayback Burgers on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Citrus- New Windsor, NY

I like Indian cuisine, unfortunately I know very little about it. Recently I asked an Indian fellow I met where he eats and he recommended Citrus in New Windsor. He said that his family eats there regularly. We were out and decided to try something different, so we stopped by. 

We were seated and given menus, along with those nice chips and three dipping sauces shown above. The problem was what to order, but after a few minutes we came to a decision. 

Teresa went with the Lentils Tadka Dal at eleven dollars. She said it was quite good and I tasted it and agreed with her. Nice and hearty, with some interesting flavor notes. 

Our meals came with a bowl of rice to share. Now I am not a rice eater, but this was very good. My only comment is that there should have been a bit more for two people to share. We ordered the Peshwari Naan at four bucks which had cottage cheese and fruit cooked into it. It was good and the flavor held up to the tastes of our food.

I ordered the Shrimp Tiki Masala at seventeen dollars. The sauce was a delightful with just the right amount of heat and there were a half-dozen large, fresh tasting, shrimp swimming in it. Excellent is all I can say.

Overall, it was a very lovely dining experience. The food was excellent, the service equally so. We will definitely be returning.

Citrus Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Sunday, March 16, 2014

IKEA- Conshohocken, PA

Ikea is not something you would think of as a fine dining dinner destination, but if you are there on a shopping excursion I would recommend eating there. 

I had the gravlax at five bucks which included a small salad. I added a side of Swedish meatballs (five of them) for another buck. The gravlax was very good, some of the best I've had, and came with a dill sauce. The meatballs also were good. My grandsons had the children's chicken meal with fries and chocolate milk and the chicken and fries were also good. 

Of course there is the snack bar downstairs where one may purchase an all beef hot dog for fifty cents. Not a great dog, but hey, two for a buck? Cinnamon buns, hot ones I might add, for a buck each too? You can't go wrong. Plus Ikea is an amazing place for people watching, a mini United Nations what with all of the diversity.

IKEA Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Best Food Photos of 2013

I didn't do a 'best of' restaurant list for 2013 as there were simply too many choices. This time I decided to do a showing of some of my favorite photos of the year. Part of the reason is that I have been going through my files and had some nice memories. Here they are, in no particular order.

Hungry? I am.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Americana Diner- Middletown, NY

French Onion Soup

A Rueben at a diner, it doesn't get much simpler than that. Whenever I try a 'new to me' diner I always go with a Rueben, a burger, a gyro, or an omelet. Any of these are simple and so easy to get right, yet so many don't. I use these dishes as a benchmark and I must say that the Rueben I had at the American Diner today was quite possibly one of the best I have sampled. 

Rueben Lunch Special

We went for lunch and one of the specials was the Rueben for under eight bucks which came with fries, soup ($1.50 extra for the French Onion), and desert. The sandwich was what they called a half sandwich sitting on only one slice of bread. It was plenty filling though with copious amounts of fresh, moist, lean corned beef, just the right amount of Swiss cheese, and fresh sauerkraut. 

Dish of sides

The onion soup was good, tasted home-made, and Teresa liked her bean soup. We were stuffed so we took the rice pudding home with us. Service was good and friendly, food very good, prices reasonable. We'll be back again.

Americana Diner on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Red Ginger- Newburgh, NY

Spicy Tuna Roll
I have a few friends who rave about Red Ginger so it has been on my short list for some time now. On the eve of a snow day, and a day in which neither of us felt like cooking, we decided to stop by on our way home from shopping and see what the buzz was all about. 

Red Ginger sits in a strip mall and it is bigger on the inside than it looks and the decor well appointed. We were seated right away as there were only two other tables occupied. The service was friendly, but the waitress kept apologizing for how slow things were as they were quite busy and that they could use three more people. I wasn't quite sure what she meant, but we perused the menu and finally made our choices. 
Alaska Roll
We started with an appetizer of steamed pork dumplings, which were okay, but nothing special, in fact a bit bland. Teresa ordered the steamed broccoli and chicken and since it comes without a sauce (you have to add one at extra charge) it looked a bit dry. The waitress brought us two sauces after a mishap at the next table (they delivered my shrimp dish to a woman who was allergic to shrimp) at no charge and the red ginger sauce was, in my opinion, quite good. Teresa said that the chicken was good, but that the broccoli was just okay. 

I decided to try three different rolls instead of the usual sushi/sashimi plate. My choices, at $5.75 each, were the Alaska Roll, the Spicy Tuna Roll, and the fried shrimp Tempura Roll. All three were good, the best one being the tempura, but nothing spectacular. It was also a bit late in coming as they had mixed up my order with the neighboring table and I had to wait for them to either make a new one, or to reheat hers for me. Perhaps I was missing something that everyone else sees in this restaurant.
Shrimp Tempura Roll
Overall, I would say that Red Ginger is okay. I would also add that there are other places I would go to before returning as the sushi was better in those places (Mr. Sushi, Sushi Village, and Yobo to mention a few), and the prices at these places are better. I may go back to Red Ginger though to see what I am missing and I will update if I do.

Red Ginger on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Putnam House- Bethel, Connecticut

Sirloin Burger

The Putnam House in Bethel Connecticut is one of those neat colonial American restaurants, the building dates back to 1852 and was once a hotel near the train station. It reminds me of some other places we've been before in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. 

I decided to go with the sirloin burger at $9.25 (add .50 each for the bacon and gorgonzola cheese). I ordered it medium and it came out a perfect medium with plenty of cheese and bacon. It was quite good indeed. Teresa had the cheddar sliders at the $9.75 and they were good, but a tad undercooked for her. She didn't specify a doneness, one usually assumes sliders will be overdone, so it wasn't the restaurant's fault the they were a perfect medium. The fries that came with both were hot, fresh, and tasty. 

Cheddar Sliders

Overall, good food at reasonable prices, warm, nostalgic ambiance and good service.

Putnam House Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Twisted Soul- Poughkeepsie, NY

Caribbean Baguette with sausage

A friend who once lived in Poughkeepsie recommended Twisted Soul and since I trust her tastes, I put it on my short list of places to visit. Well, today was the day and I'm glad we stopped. 

Twisted Soul is an interesting, and eclectic, fusion of soul, Caribbean, and Asian foods. They specialize in small plates and it took a few minutes to decide what we wanted. While we were thinking we were greeted by Chef Ira Lee, the owner, and he was very friendly and helpful in making our selections. You order, and pay, at the counter and they bring the food to the table.

Teresa chose the chicken Bahn Mi, a Vietnamese sandwich, and she said it was very good. I took a taste and agreed with her. We shared a beef empanada which was also quite nice. I had the Caribbean Baguette at $9.50. It was pulled pork, cilantro, a Caribbean sausage and cheese (plus more things that I forget). It was quite tasty indeed with a sweet taste and many flavor notes. 

They also have an extensive cupcake menu and while they looked good, we didn't have room to indulge. Next time, and there will be a next time. Stop by and see what I mean. They have another restaurant across the street called Intro which looks interesting. 

Twisted Soul on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 27, 2014

Haggis Burger

It happens every year. You hold a great Burns Day dinner and the next day you realize you have a wee bit of haggis left over. Here's a creative way to incorporate haggis with some ground beef and Americanize the wee beastie. 

I took equal parts of haggis and 80/20 ground beef and mixed them (make sure the haggis is room temperature or it will lump up too much). I formed patties, added a dash of salt and pepper, and threw them on the grill. I poured a drop of Lophraig Single Malt, it has a very intense smoky flavor, to one side and when I flipped I repeated with the whisky on the other. Be careful not to add too much as it will catch fire.

I originally wanted to use a Stilton cheese, but since the Lopraig and the haggis have rich flavors I was afraid that me be overkill so I used Swiss cheese. Some deli mustard and a few strips of bacon complete the burger.

The verdict? Amazing. Try it sometime.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Haggis from The Scottish Gourmet

When I went to Scotland a few years back I never got the change to try haggis. We were only there for one night and there wasn't the opportunity. This became a regret and thankfully regrets can often be corrected. 

With Burns Day approaching I searched the internet and came across The Scottish Gourmet in New Jersey and saw that they carry a one-pound haggis sausage and can ship overnight. I bit the bullet and ordered one the Tuesday before. It arrived on Thursday still frozen.

The haggis took 45 minutes to reheat, it is pre-cooked, and in that time I cooked the tatties (potatoes) and keeps (turnips). Unfortunatley I used a white turnip and it came out a but watery, but still good. That is a whisky sauce on it made with Lophraig single malt, the same whisky as seen in the glass. Oh, and that is my Black Stewart kilt in the photo.

Haggis, if you have never tried it, is quite tasty with a hearty and slightly spicy taste. Think Scottish soul food. I would have it again and I would definitely use Scottish Gourmet again.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Pour House- Exton, PA

There are two Pour House locations. One is in Jersey and the new one is in Exton, Pa at the former Cheeseburger in Paradise location. That's the one we went to at about five o'clock on a Saturday evening with four adults and two children. It wasn't crowded when we got there, but there was a large group of people waiting for tables when we left.

I ordered the 'Second Coming Burger' at fifteen bucks. It came just a shade overcooked from the medium I'd ordered, but after one bite that was irelevant. That burger was one of the best I've ever had. It was Pat Lafrieda 100% dry aged sirloin beef with gruyere cheese, tomatoes and an amazing garlic aioli on a fresh brioche bun. There were also some nice shoestring fries and a pickle.

Teresa had a salad with asparagus and she said it was very good, and loaded with asparagus. My daughter had a black bean burger, which she liked, the kids shared a huge portion of chicken fingers from the kids menu and my son-in-law had the pour hose deluxe burger which he said was great.

The service was excellent and the beer selection extensive. Atmosphere nice and not too loud when we were there. Well, there was one table singing in harmony like a barbershop quartet, but I don't think that's a regular fixture. 

I would recommend you pay them a visit and try that burger. It may ruin you for others. 

The Pour House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Shake Shack- Paramus, NJ

Shack Burger

Shake Shack is an iconic burger place that started in New York City in 2000. Since then they have expanded to several locations, many at sports venues, and are famous for people queuing up to eat. My first experience with them was at the Greenwich Food and Wine Festival last fall where I ate an amazing sample from the Greenwich location. Friends have been to their locations in the city, and in stadiums and raved to me about it. 

Well, with all of the hype I was ready to try the new Paramus location for what I expected to be an epiphany. We stopped by on a warm and rainy Saturday in January with high hopes.

When we entered there was a serpentine line which moved along rather quickly. I don't think we waited more than fifteen minutes to order our two Shack Burgers, an order of fries, and a chocolate shake which came to just under nineteen bucks. They gave us one of those vibrating things with the flashing lights and we found a table.

That wait for the food wasn't bad either and our device let us know that our food was ready so I went to the counter to get it. It looked good. On tasting I was what you might call underwhelmed. 

The fries looked nice, but they were greasy, limp and close to room temperature. The burgers were warm, not hot, and rather flavorless. The shake, the easiest thing to make as it is nothing more than good ice cream, milk and syrup, was actually quite good. It was, however, a bit small for five bucks. 

Perhaps it was a case of over expectations, but I was truly disappointed. Overall I would say that the Smashburger just up the road is much better. Jake's Wayback is better as well and neither one has a line. I would stop by again to try them, but not in a hurry.

Shake Shack on Urbanspoon