Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Burger Boyz, Newburgh, NY

My sister-in-law Laura told me about this place and I'd been meaning to try them for a while now. Today I was near Newburgh to get new tires on the Mustang and decided to swing down Broadway for a late lunch. When I got there I saw a large banner proclaiming that they had been voted as one of the best burgers in the Hudson Valley. The banner didn't say who did the voting, but it intrigued me. Remember that scene in Elf where Buddy goes into the restaurant because the sign said World's Best Coffee? Well, that's what I was thinking.

Inside it is bright and clean looking with a rather extensive menu. In addition to burgers they have pizza, dogs, cheese steaks, and a whole bunch more. I looked for a minute and decided on the number one special, a cheeseburger, fries and a drink for $6.99. When I ordered the nice girl behind the counter asked of I wanted bacon, chili or cheese on the fries. I went with the bacon and cheese. That drove the total to $8.91, tax included. I was given my soda and was told to take a seat, they'd bring it to me when it was done.

I chose a table near the window for the available light, and because it was on the other side of the restaurant from the group of children who were a bit loud. After about five minutes, my food was delivered to me.

The burger was good, not great, but good. They claim that it is fresh meat, never frozen, and I believe them. It was as good as any lunch counter burger I've had, and better than most fast food places, but not as good as a Five Guys burger. The Fries were good, they looked like they were cut right there, but I would have liked them a bit crisper. Then too, the cheese may have sogged them out a bit too. There was a ton of cheese and bacon on them and there were a ton of fries. I couldn't finish them but that's probably best since I do have a cholesterol test in the future and I could hear my arteries closing as I ate.

I don't know who they claim voted them one of the best, but if they asked me I'd put them about in the middle of the pack. Better than most fast foods, but nowhere near the best in the Valley. The bottom line is that you should try them, just don't expect too much. They have a website where you can find the menu and locations, as well as some coupons. They don't say on it who voted them one of the best though. If you find out, let me know.

Update- I went back again and reviewed them, here's the link.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Holy Smoke, Mahopac NY

A friend of mine, Ernie Davis, told me we had to try this place. He said the barbeque was excellent and the beer selection amazing. I'd been waiting for the opportunity to stop, it is a bit off our beaten path being in southern Putnam County and all, so today when we went to Danbury we detoured on the way home and stopped off for an early dinner.

Holy Smoke is a large red building located on Route 6N in Mahopac Falls, just south of Secor Road off the Taconic Parkway. Easy to find, but we did overshoot it and had to turn around. Entering through the bar I can see that Ernie was right about the beer. I saw quite a few tap handles and some signs announcing that they carried some good brands, including Victory. I decided to pass on the beer as it was early and I had a long drive to get home. Water would be a good choice.

One thing that struck me as we entered was the smell of smoke, the smell that should be present in a barbeque place. That smell was just right. It didn't knock you out and make your eyes water like some places I've been. That was a good sign. The really nice and pleasant waitress told us to sit wherever we wanted as it wasn't crowded at that time. We found a table and she brought us menus and the water we asked for. We looked over the menus and the waitress answered questions as she cleaned off the table next to us.

Well, we decided on the "PigNic", a combination that said it would feed two, for $32.75. It came with four items and the choices were; 1/4 rack of St. Louis ribs, 1/4 roasted chicken, Carolina Pulled Pork, Chorizo or Brisket and four sides. We doubled up on the ribs and had the pork and chicken (we substituted pulled chicken for the roaster) and for the sides had baked beans, cole slaw, potato salad and creamed spinach. Our waitress said it would be ready quick and I was relieved as the menu said that some of the items slow cooked for seventeen hours. I'm glad we only waited about ten minutes as the smell was making us hungry. Seventeen hours would have been hard.

The food was delicious. Quite possibly the best barbeque I've had, even better than Dreamland in Alabama. There was a smoke flavor to the meat that didn't overpower it, just right and with the right amount of heat. The Ribs were very good, the chicken was good and the Carolina Pork was excellent. The sides were great too, especially that creamed spinach with a hint of cheese in the background. The only thing wrong with the food was that there was just too much of it. The menu said it would feed two, but we could have fed four with the portions served. Trust me, we tried our hardest to keep eating but we filled up. We brought enough home for tomorrow's lunch, and a bit more.

If you like barbeque you really need to stop by and try this place out. Good food at good prices, friendly service and a good beer selection. Visit the website for more information.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Best of 2010

The time has come once again to list my favorites from the past year. This time I've decided to break it down by region and give the best restaurants for each area, and the best overall burger and brew of the year. The criterion was simple. I made the decisions on my own based on a loose formula balancing food quality, price, service, atmosphere and the number of hits the reviews have received. The search will begin anew in January for another year. Another year of hunting down good places to eat at reasonable prices. Simple food for for regular people is what this blog is about and I'm willing to go out there and sample places just to make your lives easier. Oh, the sacrifices I make for my readers.

Dutchess County- Beacon Falls Cafe, Beacon
Good food with friendly service. Bob and Linda will take good care of you.

Charming place with tons of atmosphere, good food, and friendly service. Worth a trip to Montreal just to eat there.

Orange County- Garrison's Tavern and Wine Cellar, Montgomery
Small, warm, and pleasant is how I would describe this restaurant. Get the clams or the calamari.

Pennsylvania- The Drafting Room, Exton
Great beer selection, good service, good food. Try the Sunday brunch sometime. They make a killer eggs Benedict.

Ulster County- Nu-Cavu in Wallkill
Once again this is the best. I've eaten there many times and they are consistently good. This will become one of your favorites I'm sure.

Wilmington NC- Front Street Brewery
A brew pub has to have either good beer or good food. Front Street has both and a friendly, yet edgy atmosphere. Hit them in the late afternoon for the specials and try the beer of the day. My favorite is the Port City IPA.

Best burger of the year- Main Street Bistro, New Paltz
I love this place. The food, the prices, the service, the eclectic feel about it. The restaurant just says this is a place for regular people to eat. Try the Guaca Baca Burger, that was the best of 2010 for me.

Best brew of the year- Hurricane Kitty from Keagan Ales

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Garrison's Tavern and Wine Cellar, Montgomery, NY

We've been to Garrison's Tavern and Wine Cellar a couple of times before and had appetizers at Happy Hour, the calamari and chicken strips were very good as I remember, and we've been meaning to stop by to eat for a while. The other day our son Mark was over and he asked if we'd been there recently and we said no. He then told us on Wednesdays they have some $5.00 specials and we made up our minds to go. It turned out to be a good idea.

The location of Garrison's, 11 Union Street in Montgomery, once housed a place called The Daily Bean, a coffee and sandwich place. When it changed hands they renovated a bit and added a bar that is now home to 35 beers, sorry there are none on tap, and a good selection of wines. We both ordered the five dollar burger special and it included the cheese and fries. I'd recently had a fifteen dollar burger at another place and here this five dollar burger was every bit as good, for one third of the price. The regular menu has a couple of interesting burgers, including one that has pulled pork ribs, roquefort cheese and Vidalia onions mixed in for fourteen bucks. That sounds interesting, as do some of the other selections on the menu.

We also had a dozen steamers for five bucks. They were steamed in a delightful broth with lots of garlic. I asked for spoons so we could finish the broth. It was that good and it would have been great over a plate of fresh pasta. I will do the steamers again next time we go.

I had two Goose Island IPA and with the three items the total bill came to $27.00, plus tip. Good food, good friendly service, nice atmosphere. Well worth a visit. They have a website for more information.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Churchills, Ambleside, England

Ambleside is in the Lake District of England and is a cute village with tons of shopping and some castles in the background dating from several ages. On our way back to London from visiting Wordsworth's house, our tour stopped by. We wandered around for a bit and we settled on Churchills Bar and Grill for a bite to eat. Turned out to be a good choice.

Here is where I had my first taste of that wondrous thing called Steak and Ale Pie. Think Shepherd's pie, but they leave out the vegetables and serve the carrots on the side. Also, instead of ground meat, it's more of shredded meat cooked in, you guessed it, ale. Delicious with a side of chips and a Fuller's ESB or two.

If you're in Ambleside, stop by Churchills for lunch. You won't be sorry.

Pier House Cafe, Beaumaris, Wales

Beaumaris Castle in Wales is a must see. It was built by Edward I, Longshanks, in 1295 to help form a ring around his kingdom. He stopped construction when those pesky Scots decided to stage an uprising and he had to divert his attention north. When visiting you may get hungry and I recommend The Pier House Cafe for a bite.

Located on the waterfront, the Pier House is bright and friendly. Four of us stopped by and we had the traditional Welsh breakfast and coffee. First I have to say that that was the best cup of coffee I had in the UK. It was a French press and they left the pots giving us each almost three cups of good coffee. Now for the breakfast. Scrambled eggs, thick slab bacon (rashers), baked beans, sausages, toast, a tomato, black pudding (not my favorite) and a fried seaweed puree (not bad). All were delicious and very filling, especially on one of those rare days that it rains in Wales. It only rained twice while we were in the UK, once for three days and once for four days.

Visit the castle and stop by the Pier House to eat. You won't be disappointed.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Grilled Twinkies Recipe

I decided to delete my recipe blog after checking the stats and finding that I have no readership. I did however notice that one recipe does get hits and that's the one for grilled Twinkies, so I transfered it to this blog. Try it sometime, you'll find it interesting and delicious.

Grilled Twinkies, that's right, grilled not fried. Now the fried ones are amazing and have a unique flavor, but there is the whole deep fried aspect. Grilling is healthier (marginally anyway) and imparts a flavor that is a cross between toasted marshmallows and toasted sponge cake, with a hint of smoke.
First, unwrap the Twinkie (the plastic would melt into it otherwise) and spread some butter on the bottom. Get your grill fairly hot, then place the Twinkie bottom down. They will be some quick flames as the butter burns and this adds to the flavor. Give it about a minute and a half on the bottom and a minute or so more on the other three sides. Be careful or the Twinkie will stick to the grill. Get it browned like the top photo, or the bottom one. You decide how brown you want it.
Next, plate it and eat. You can add some ice cream, chocolate syrup, anything you like. It's your Twinkie.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The New Inn, Salisbury, England

Not in London but not far away in Salisbury (that's the town that has a copy of the Magna Carta) is a place called the New Inn. I think it's called that because it is only two hundred years old. I went here while on a trip with 39 students and six chaperones last April. Well, my fist stop was to an outdoor outfitter to get a sweater and a hat as I was wet and freezing. After that, a hearty meal was in order.

It has a nice warm, comfortable feel to the place with lots of wood and a friendly staff (the restaurant that is, although the outdoor store was friendly too). I got the BLT and chips, with a Fuller's ESB or two from the cask. Good choices. The BLT in England is a bit different from the BLT here, and so much better. They use an artisan bread, thick sliced bacon, good greens and tomatoes. One of my party had the steak and ale pie and I tasted it. My BLT was good, but hers was better. I made a mental note to try one at the next lunch.

Overall, a nice experience. No website listed, but stop by if you happen to be in Salisbury for a good meal.

The Black Cap, London

Okay, this is an interesting place to say the least. Last Spring I was in London with 39 teenagers and six adults on a tour of England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Great experience and I'd do it again, but without the teenagers. Well one day we were up in Camden and I broke off with two other chaperones to look for lunch. We wanted authentic English pub fare and believe it or not, it was a bit hard to find. One place looked good, but all they served was Chinese. We saw the Black Cap and the sign did say Great British Pub Food so we went in.

On the ground floor was the cabaret which was closed at that hour and a sign announced that the food and bar was upstairs so off we went. As we ascended the stairs there were pictures of the performers on the wall and I didn't pay much attention, but Lisa did and she smirked. We entered the bar and asked if we could sit anywhere. The bartender said "sure" and proceeded to make a suggestive comment to the other male with us. We sat and looked over the menus and we all decided on the fish and chips. Can't get more authentic British pub fare than that, so we went to the bar and ordered. I like the English system where you order at the bar and pay in advance, plus the tip is included. You can leave additional, and I recommend you do for exceptional service. We ordered two Guinness and a Corona as well and sat down.

A few minutes later I realized what Lisa was smirking about when a man in drag came out of the ladies room. Then I took a look at the pictures on the wall and realized it was a drag club. That was okay with me, but the other guy was a bit uncomfortable about it and it seemed like he wanted to leave. We said we wanted to stay and after the food came I was glad we did. That was probably the best fish and chips I'd had in my whole stay. The fish was good and fried to perfection, as were the chips. Another pint to wash it down and we had a great meal for a good price.

If you happen to be in the Camden area of London, stop by and eat. It's a cool place and the food is good. They have a website, but it doesn't mention the food at all.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Jersey Restaurants

Ah, New Jersey. My neighbor to the south. I'll be adding to the list as we travel through New Jersey on the way to Pennsylvania frequently and we've seen a few places we want to try. We also hit the Paramus area every so often too.

Greek City, Ramsey
The Habit Burger Grill, Fair Lawn
Inn of the Hawke, Lambertville
Jack's Bar and Restaurant, Flemington
Marhaba, Lambertville
Metro Diner, Flemington
Time to Eat Diner, Bridgewater
YO! Sushi, Paramus
Zinburger, Paramus

Montreal, New Orleans, London, Wales and Washington DC Restaurants

Here's what I'd call a bit of a miscellaneous file for restaurants we've hit on our travels. New Orleans is an interesting city, to say the least and I'd head back there for one reason: the food. Washington I'll hot more places in the future, including Arlington and Alexandria. London is a place I'd love to go to again, I just have to get Teresa on an airplane (not an easy thing). Montreal . . . we'll be headed back next summer. Great city and good food. The picture above is from Montreal, some really tasty crepes.


Sepal, Cambridge


Churchills Bar and Grill, Ambleside. Okay, this isn't in London, but it is close.

The New Inn, Salisbury Not in London either.


New Orleans-


Washington DC-

Saturday, November 13, 2010

New World Home Cooking, Saugerties, NY

Ric Orlando, the owner of the New World Home Cooking in Saugerties was on Food TV's Chopped three times. The first time he won, the second was for champions and he won the first round as well. Unfortunately after making it to the final two, he was chopped. He was also at the Garlic Festival this fall giving a demonstration which we watched. So having watched him on TV three times and once in person, we decided to visit his restaurant.

We had gone up to Woodstock Chimes for the annual factory sale and took a drive over after wandering around Woodstock for a short time. We were early, they don't open until five, so we sat at the bar for fifteen minutes and read the menus. This way we knew what we wanted when Josh came to take our order. We started with an appetizer, the Saigon Street Calamari with peanut and chili sauces for 9.95, see the picture above. It was delicious. The calamari was cooked perfectly and the chili sauce had just enough heat without being obnoxious. Good start, especially with the Hurricane Kitty I'd ordered. By the way, Ric was in the kitchen cooking along with his chefs as you can look right through windows and see the kitchen. That's something I like, a restaurant that has nothing to hide.

I had the Northwinds Farm burger (named for the farm the beef came from) with blue cheese and bacon with fried plantains for my side. I'd ordered it medium, but it arrived much closer to well. Even so, it was still juicy and had a nice fresh taste that comes with quality beef. There was a charred sear on the outside, like a steakhouse burger done in the broiler. The bun was a brioche roll and the cheese was melted perfectly. The bacon was delicious too. The plantains had a slight sweetness and were a nice change from fries. Oh, and that green thing on the lettuce . . . it was a pickled caper berry and it was delicious with a nice tart bite to it.

It was a good burger, but be aware that this was a fifteen dollar burger. That's right, a fifteen dollar burger, thirteen for the burger and a buck each for the blue cheese and the bacon. Like I said, it was a good burger but for fifteen bucks it had better be (I'm going for a twenty dollar one in Ellenville at some point and that one better just amaze me). Teresa had the Ropa sandwich for 11.95 which was a roast done somewhat like pulled beef on a roll with a rice side dish. It was good, but she did have to take quite a bit of fat out of it before she could eat it. She said it was good, but nothing great.

Total bill? $42 buck plus tip for an appetizer, two dinners and a beer. Definitely worth the trip. The service was excellent and very attentive. They have a website for more info.

Orange County, New York Restaurants

Big list here since this is where I live. I've broken this down by village to make it easier since there are so many here.

Ward's Bridge Inn. Picture of burger


Pine Bush


Dutchess, Putnam and Connecticut Restaurants

I've lumped Dutchess County, Putnum County and Connecticut together, party because I don't have many in Connecticut and Putnam, and partly because of proximity. There are many more I want to try out there so this list will grow.

BGR The Burger Joint, Danbury
Brasserie 292, Poughkeepsie
Burger Fi, Poughkeepsie
Cafe Maya, Wappingers Falls
Cascadas Mexican, Beacon
Charlie Brown's Steakhouse, Fishkill
Chili's- Poughkeepsie
Cinnamon Indian Restaurant, Rhinebeck
Cracker Barrel, Fishkill
Crew Restaurant Bar, Poughkeepsie
Double O, Wappingers Falls
Dinerluxe, New Milford, Ct
Eveready Diner, Brewster
Frank's Italian Restaurant, Wappingers Falls
Holy Smoke, Mahopac
Izumi Fusion, Fishkill
Joe Willys Seafood House, Fishkill
Kibberria, Danbury
Le Express Bistro and Bar, Wappinger Falls
Liberty Public House, Rhinebeck
Maggie McFly's, Brookfield
Mahoney's Irish Pub, Poughkeepsie
Margaritas Mexican, Wappingers Falls
Maya Cafe, Fishkill
Mezon Tapas bar and Restaurant, Danbury
McKinney and Doyle, Pawling
Molly Darcy's, Danbury
Mr. Sushi- Wappingers Falls
O'Brien's Sports Pub, Danbury
Panchos and Gringos, Brookfield
Panda House, Danbury
Pho Vietnam- Danbury
Pippa's Sports Cafe- Danbury
Poppy's, Beacon
Putnam House, Bethel
Poughkeepsie Ice House, Poughkeepsie
Red Line Diner, Fishkill
Red Robin, Danbury
Royal Fish and Chips, Bethel
Rosy Tomorrows, Danbury
Table Talk Diner, Poughkeepsie
Tavern 483, Brookfield
Tomato Cafe, Fishkill
Trattoria Locanda, Fishkill
Twisted Soul, Poughkeepsie

Ulster County New York restaurants

Ulster County is full of good eateries, especially in New Paltz.

Babba Louie's, Modena
Cafe Mio, Gardiner (food picture)
Frogmore Tavern, Kingston
Gilded Otter, New Paltz
Gunk Haus, Highland
Nu-Cavu, Wallkill One of my personal favorites.
Raccoon Saloon, Marlboro
Sal's Place, Highland
Ship Lantern Inn, Milton
Would Restaurant, Highland

Chicago Restaurants

My daughter and son-in-law lived in Chicago for five years and we travelled there every summer. I grew to love that town, especially the eateries. Hot dogs, Italian Beef, great burgers and Goose Island beer. My mouth is watering just thinking about it now. Here are a few of my favorites from the City of Big Shoulders. The photo above is of Brain and I eating Stilton burgers at Goose Island by Wrigley Field. Fond memories.

Pennsylvania Restaurants

Pennsylvania is full of good restaurants and brewpubs and since I spend some time there I've hit quite a few good ones, and a couple of not so good. Here is the list so far, and I'll be adding to it. 

Chester Springs Creamery Ice Cream
China Moon, Guthriesville
Drafting Room, Exton One of my favorites.
Emeril's Burgers and More, Bethlehem
Shake Shack, King of Prussia
Station Taproom, Downington
Sly Fox Brewery, Phoenixville
Triumph Brewing, New Hope
Victory Brewery, Downingtown Great beer, food okay.
Wegman's sushi, Downingtown

Wilmington, North Carolina Restaurants.

Here are some of my favorite restaurants, and some not so favorite restaurants in Wilmington, North Carolina. I spend some time down there visiting the grandchildren and have come to enjoy the food scene there. I have a list of places to hit on the next trip down.

For more on the dining scene in Wilmington check out Port City Foodies on facebook, a great resource from the Star-News. They do a great job. Here's what Paul Stephen, a photog and food writer at the Star, said about me and my blog. "Chris Forman lives in upstate NY, but spends a good bit of time down in Wilmington eating out. If you poke around, you can find quite a few write ups on local eateries from this die-hard fan of blue collar fare. Given that I love little more than a hot greasy reuben, I can appreciate what he has to say." Thanks Paul.

Boombalattis Ice Cream Handmade ice cream at good prices.

Cape Fear Wines and Beer No food, but an amazing beer selection.

Flaming Amy's Eclectic burrito place. Good food and cheap.

Front Street Brewery My favorite brew pub. Great beer and food.

Terrazzo Trattoria Good Italian food at good prices.