Saturday, August 30, 2014

TJ Smiths Restaurant and Bar- Warrington, PA


We've driven past this place many times, saw that the parking lot was full, and said that we have to try this place. Well, we did and I was a bit underwhelmed. It wasn't bad, it wasn't great, it was, well  let's say mediocre. Mediocre in the sense that it is on a par with most casual dining chains.

I had the Rueben at $9.50 which was okay, but could have used some seasoning. The fries were okay. Teresa ordered the quiche of the day and Caesar salad at ten bucks. The quiche was billed as Buffalo chicken but there was no heat to it, and very little chicken flavor, a rather lifeless dish. 

So overall, we went in hungry and left not hungry. The service was okay, but we were in the bar area and the bartender was our server so he was busy answering the phone and making drinks. Perhaps this was an off day, or perhaps other dishes are better. At any rate, if you like places like Appelbee's and Friday's go here instead and support an independent place.

TJ Smith's Restaurant and Bar on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Brookside Grille- Exton, PA

Blackened chicken tacos

The Brickside Grille in Exton is run by the same people who have The Drafting Room, one of my favorites, so we decided to stop by and see what it was all about. That and the fact that they run some nice specials. 

The restaurant is very large, and well appointed. I would say that it is on the slightly upper end of casual to the lower end of fine dining, which is a nice niche. They bill themselves as "upscale casual". The entrees ranged from the mid-teens to the high twenties and there were some good offerings. In my case I had a big lunch so I decided on six Blue Point oysters at a buck each, and the fried frog legs (mainly because they are rare to find on a menu) at nine bucks. The oysters were good, but this is not the best time for oysters. The frog legs were excellent, moist inside and crispy on the outside. I also had a Guinness pint, or two, at three bucks. 

Fried Frog Legs

Three of us got the blackened chicken taco special at six bucks and they said it was very good, and that there was plenty. The kids shared a small pizza. 

Blue Point Oysters

Overall, quite good and I would like to go back and try some of the more serious entrees. The service was excellent, the food was good, and the ambiance quite nice. 

Brickside Grille on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Five Guys vs Jakes vs Shake Shake vs Smashburger

With the increase of higher-end burger restaurants (burgers between five and ten bucks) the question arises as to who has the best burger. I took a closer look at, and some serious tasting of, four burgers restaurants over the summer and here are my opinions on them. Bear in mind that these are simply the opinions of one man and may be arbitrary and capricious, so read with caution and if you work for one of these places don't get all that overworked over it.

Smashburger

1. Smashburger- Fast becoming a favorite. The burgers are great and they have a regional specialty in each location. Shakes are good and they have the best fries. 

Jake's Wayback Burgers

2. Jake's Wayback- Running a very close second is Jake's. The burgers are good, try the burger of the month, and I like the shakes as well. Fries are quite good.

Shake Shack

3. Shake Shack- The burger is good, but a bit bland. Perhaps some simple seasoning would help, or maybe I need to add some toppings. The fries are okay, but I usually find them a bit undercooked. 

Five Guys

4. Five Guys- Once a favorite, Five Guys now holds last place in my order of preference. They haven't changed, but others are simply doing it better. The presentation is messy and while there is flavor, they taste a bit heat and greasy compared to the others. The fries are plentiful, but not as good as they are at Smashburger. 



Wyebrook Farm Market and Cafe- Honey Brook, PA


Wyebrook Farm Cafe is a farm to table restaurant with good food, neat ambiance, and sometimes even live music. We stopped by with the grandkids to check out the farm and decided to eat. I got the burger with bacon ground into it at $14 with a side of parmesan fries. It was good, but a bit past the medium I'd ordered. Teresa ordered the egg salad sandwich and she said it was good. The kids shared a corn-dog. 


Here's a look at the menu, or at least most of it, to give you an idea of what they have. Stop by sometime when you are in the Lancaster area and try them yourself. 




Wyebrook Farm Market & Café on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Chicken Rico- Waldorf, MD


We have driven past this place a few times when we were bypassing I-95 by using 301 and said, "Hey, that looks interesting. We should stop sometime." Well, today we were passing and we did stop. Turned out to be a great decision.

Teresa got the Pollo Parrillero at $8.50 and it was a huge portion of some delicious chicken with her choice of two sides. The mixed veggies were good, and the fried sweet plantains were amazing. 

I went with the steak sandwich at seven bucks which was great and came with some fries which were okay. Overall, we were quite happy and will make it a point to get there again. 



Chicken Rico on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chops Deli and Grill- Wilmington, NC


Chops Deli has three locations. One is downtown, the second on Carolina Beach Road, and the newest on Wrightsville, near the beach. The Wrightsville location is also a grill and that's the one we went to today after having heard some good things about it.

Since we were there for breakfast, I ordered the Croque Monsieur special shown above. Now a purist will say that it was technically a Croque Madam as there was an egg on it, but this was a rather loose, yet very delicious, interpretation of the classic. 

Teresa got a cheese omelet which was amazingly fluffy and quite good as well. All told, the bill was just over fourteen bucks, tax included. Good food, friendly service, good prices, and nice atmosphere. We'll be back after we try the other two locations.

Chops Deli and Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 22, 2014

Casey's Buffet and BBQ- Wilmington, NC


I don't usually eat at buffets, but when I do, I prefer Casey's. Seriously, this place is amazing. Good down home Southern comfort food served up with super friendly service at reasonable prices. This is a locals favorite and it is now one of my favorites.

On the plate above there is fried chicken, on the bone catfish, fired clam strips, fried shrimp, mac and cheese, cole slaw, potato salad, and pork back strips. My next plate had pulled pork, fried okra, fries, and a few more delightful things. 

Everything was quite good and Judy was amazing as our waitress. Go here quickly and see what I mean.

Casey's Buffet and BBQ on Urbanspoon

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Update on the Greenwich Wine and Food Festival

GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL ANNOUNCES
14 MOST INNOVATIVE CHEFS FOR FOURTH ANNUAL EVENT 
Special Guest Geoffrey Zakarian and Jean-Georges to be
Honored at the Event


Greenwich, CT, August 19, 2014 – The GREENWICH 2014 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL presented by Serendipity, a three-day event that benefits The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, has announced the local chefs that will be honored at the fourth annual event, taking place September 25-27 at the Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, CT.  The twelve chefs, two pastry chefs and chef restaurateur Jean-Georges Vongerichten will be honored at the event’s Most Innovative Chefs Gala on Friday evening, as they create and serve up dishes of their ingenious foods.  In addition, chef restaurateur, author and television personality Geoffrey Zakarian (“Chopped,” “The Kitchen”) will be honored at the event.

This year’s list includes:

Devin Bozkaya, The Bedford Post Inn, Bedford, New York
Gustave Christman, Harvest Wine Bar and Restaurant, Greenwich, Conn.
Samantha Eichenberg, The Dessertist, Westchester, New York
Blake Farrar, The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges, Pound Ridge, New York
Giorgio Giacinto, Da Giorgio, New Rochelle, New York
Anthony Goncalves, 42, White Plains, New York
Nicholas Martschenko, South End, New Canaan, Conn.
Chaz Mazas, Mama’s Boy Southern Table and Refuge, South Norwalk, Conn.
Forrest Pasternack, Bailey’s Backyard, Ridgefield, Conn.
Reuben Palma, Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse, Greenwich, Conn.
Christian Petroni, Fortina, Armonk, New York
Nancy Roper, TRUCK restaurant, Bedford, New York
David Synder, Char, Greenwich, Conn.
Adam Truelove, Napa & Co., Stamford, Conn.

“Our Friday night celebration honors the truly innovative chefs from both Fairfield and Westchester Counties,” said Suni Unger, Founder & CEO of Unger Publishing, the publisher of Serendipity magazine.  “These fourteen local talents have created a buzz in our community by offering something unique that stands out from terrific talent in our area.  We couldn’t be more excited to also honor Geoffrey and Jean-Georges this year, as both of these culinary successes embody the meaning of innovative cuisine and presentation.”
The evening will be capped off by a performance by Southern/Country rock group The Marshall Tucker Band.
Tickets are now on sale for events throughout the entire weekend, including the Kick-Off Oysters & Wine tasting, the Most Innovative Chefs Gala and the Saturday Festival including the Culinary Village and the Taste of the South.  They are available through www.greenwichwineandfood.com or by calling 203.588.1363.  The event’s Facebook page,www.facebook.com/GreenwichFoodWineFestival, will be announcing restaurant participants, as they become available.
Visit www.greenwichwineandfood.com for more information and updates about the event schedule, participating celebrity and local chefs, musical talent and more.

GREENWICH 2014 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL
The GREENWICH 2014 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL is a three-day event that benefits The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, founded in 1988 by Paul Newman, Camp is a community dedicated to providing “a different kind of healing” to children and their families coping with cancer, sickle cell anemia and other serious illnesses. The festival is hosted bySerendipity magazine in conjunction with other event sponsors.

Press Contact:
Shelley Kapitulik
Splash PR for The Greenwich 2014 WINE+FOOD Festival
203.898.1501

Ruth's Kitchen- Wilmington, NC


Step into Ruth's Kitchen on Market Street and it feels like you're stepping back into 1972, in a good way. Ruth's Kitchen is a classic place to get simple fare and there is nothing fancy about it. The place is full of locals, and I got the impression that they were regulars. 

We went for breakfast and I ordered the meat lover's omelet at seven bucks and coffee. Teresa got two eggs and potatoes. Both were good, but since it was breakfast, neither were stellar. It was good, solid, home-cooked, breakfast food. Perhaps better than Goody-Goody Omelet House. The lunch menu looked interesting and I would go back to try a few things. I liked 1972.


Ruth's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Blu Mango- Walden, NY


The Blu Mango is the latest addition to our sleepy little village, and a welcome one at that. It is an eclectic Asian place specializing in sushi. We walked down today, yes it is that close, and gave them a try. 

I ordered three sushi rolls for fifteen dollars. In the photo above they are clockwise from top; shrimp tempura, Philly roll, spicy tuna roll. All three rolls were excellent with nice flavor. 

Teresa ordered the chicken satay for eighteen dollars and she said it was very good. I tasted the satay sauce and it was just right. 

The service was very good, the decor interesting, the food good. Stop by sometime. 

Blu Mango on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Greenwich Wine and Food Festival 2014

Here is a press release for what is, in my opinion, probably the finest food event anywhere. I'll be there as press on Saturday and I will blog about it but don't wait for me to write about it, go for yourself. The proceeds go to The Hole in the Wall Camp, a great charity.



FOURTH ANNUAL GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL
SCHEDULED FOR SEPTEMBER 25-27
Three-Day Event to Benefit The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp
More than 100 Participating Restaurants and Vendors
Ticket Sales Now Open

Greenwich, CT – The fourth annual GREENWICH WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL presented by Serendipity magazine (www.greenwichwineandfood.com) and benefits Paul Newman's Hole in the Wall Gang Camp, will be taking place Thursday, September 25 – Saturday, September 27 at the Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich, Conn.  The festival will feature a Raw Bar wine tasting on Thursday, September 25, the Most Innovative Chefs Gala on Friday, September 26 and the Culinary Village on Saturday, September 27.

“We’re so excited to be back for our fourth year, honoring and celebrating the area’s culinary community, while raising money for an amazing, local charity,” said Suni Unger, Founder & CEO of Unger Publishing, the publisher of Serendipitymagazine.  “As the festival continues to grow, we have a number of new events and new faces that will be debuting this year, mixed in with many new and returning food and wine vendors.  I guarantee that everyone that attends will learn a new thing or two about food and wine, and try something new they’ve never had before!”

The official weekend kickoff on Thursday evening brings the First Annual Raw Bar wine tasting to the festival. This evening’s events will be held at L’escale Restaurant in Greenwich.

The Most Innovative Chefs Gala on Friday evening, with special guests Geoffrey Zakarian and Jean-Georges, will feature the 2014 Most Innovative Chef winners from restaurants across Fairfield and Westchester Counties, as well as Jean-Georges, serving an incredible tasting menu. The evening will also include elite wines, premium liquor, an exclusive auction and a live musical performance by Marshall Tucker Band.

On Saturday, the Culinary Village, the center of the entire GREENWICH 2014 WINE+FOOD FESTIVAL, will offer tastings and demonstrations from more than one hundred food, wine, spirits and product vendors. Culinary demonstration tents and stages will house cooking presentations by celebrity chefs and local talent. Guests will also enjoy sommelier presentations, a beer garden, celebrity chef book signings, the third annual Burger Battle, BBQ Pit Masters’ Tasting Tent and live musical performances by Alabama.  For the first time this year, the event will also include a Top Bartender Showdown, Food Truck Corner and a special ticketed event, Tequila and Tostadas hosted by Aaron Sanchez.  This event will take place rain or shine at the Roger Sherman Baldwin Park in Greenwich.

Visit www.greenwichwineandfood.com for more information and updates about the event schedule, participating celebrity and local chefs, musical talent and more. Ticket sales open today and are will be available throughwww.greenwichwineandfood.com or by calling 203.588.1363.

The event’s Facebook page, www.facebook.com/GreenwichFoodWineFestival, will be announcing restaurant participants and schedule updates, as available.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Another Fork in the Road- Milan, NY


I've had this place on the short list for some time now, it is a bit out of our way somewhere near the middle of nowhere in Northern Dutchess County. It is about two miles off of the Taconic and about a mile from the famous fork in the road (literally, there is a giant fork in a patch of land at a fork in the road) and would be easy to miss as it is a simple blue building. Inside it is small, but well appointed with a sort of an upscale/rustic look. 

We looked over the menus (it was dinner) and we decided we weren't in the mood for duck or rabbit or any of the other interesting entrees so we both ordered burgers. Teresa got a plain one at twelve bucks, with a salad on the side, and I got mine with bacon and cheddar cheese and fries on the side for fifteen bucks. The burgers were very good, just a tad overcooked from the medium I ordered, and juicy. They were served up on a toasted bagel with a roasted tomato and some greens. The fries were excellent. 

Service was good, food was very good, quaint ambiance, a bit out of the way, but worth it. Stop by sometime.


Another Fork in the Road on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 1, 2014

Royal Fish and Chips- Bethel, CT


In a word, brilliant. In five words, bloody proper fish and chips. Seriously, fish and chips is one of my five favorite foods and I've eaten them all over, including the UK and Ireland, and these may just be the best I've had. 

The two large pieces of noble cod were fresh and were battered immediately prior to their final swim in oil giving them a lovely golden, and crispy, exterior with a soft and perfectly cooked interior. The chips, we'd call them steak fries, were also perfectly cooked and plentiful. The tartar sauce was fine and there was malt vinegar on the table. The only thing that would have improved them would have been a pint of Guinness, but they don't serve alcohol. 


Teresa ordered a spicy chicken shish kabob with rice and salad and she was quite happy with it. For eight bucks it was a rather large portion.

They also have gyros, another of my five favorite foods, but with the fish and chips being as good as they are I may never get to try them.


The restaurant is unassuming and you might miss it if you're not careful, and that would be a shame. The food was amazing, the service was friendly and helpful, the ambiance was simple but nice, the prices were reasonable (seventeen bucks total). We will be headed back and I'd recommend you try them sometime soon and see what I mean.

Oh, and since I listed two of my favorite foods you may be curious about the other three. Burgers, Ruebens, and shrimp and grits complete the list.  

Royal Fish & Chips on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Zinburger- Paramus, N

Hand-cut fries
Zinburger has taken that iconic American classic, the burger, and made it all grown-up with sophisticated taste and a bit of class served up in a slightly upscale setting and featuring a wide selection of wines, without going over the top. Yes, they are a bit pricey compared to burger joints, but I don't really think one can compare them to a burger joint. Zinburger is to burger joints as Morton's is to Ponderosa. Well, maybe Morton's is fancier, but you get the analogy.

We stopped by the Paramus location early on a Wednesday and the place was not crowded. It has an upscale, yet slightly casual feel to it. The service was excellent, friendly, enthusiastic, and knowledgeable. Nia took good care of us. 


The Ringer

I ordered the Ringer which had jalapeño jack cheese, bacon, a spicy onion ring, and a big of hot sauce on a brioche bun. I ordered it medium and it came out a perfect medium with just the right amount of seasoning. The burger was juicy, but not greasy, and had no aftertaste. In short, it was delicious and worth every penny of the eleven bucks it cost. 

Teresa got the classic Zinburger at ten bucks and it had a mild Spanish cheese, onions grilled in wine, and lettuce on a brioche bun. It came exactly the medium-well that she'd ordered and she said it was delicious. 

We shared an order of fries, five bucks, and a salted caramel shake, six bucks. The fries were great and the shake amazing. 

Zinburger

Overall, really good food with excellent service and nice ambiance. We'll be back. 

Zinburger on Urbanspoon

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Harp- Wilmington, NC


Good food, friendly service, reasonable prices, and nice ambiance. In short, a nice Irish pub. I stopped by today with my son-in-law and three grandchildren, we were on a boys day while the women were at a baby shower.

I decided on the traditional Irish breakfast (shown below minus the sausages which came out about a minute later) at eleven bucks and it was quite good. Brian got the bangers and mash, also good, at ten bucks. The smaller children shared an ample plate of chicken tenders and the oldest got the Junior Harp Burger which he loved. It would have been big enough for me. We all were full and happy.


The Harp on Urbanspoon