Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Union Square, Newburgh, NY


Union Square is one of those places we've been to a lot in the past, but haven't been to in a while. The food has always been good there, never really great, but good. The service has always been excellent however, and they have a range from burgers to gyros to seafood. I always thought of it as the type of restaurant that used to the mainstay of the area, Continental in nature. You know, steaks, club sandwiches, and a cocktail. Actually, if you go back far enough this was a Howard Johnson's and we went there on Fridays for the clam sandwiches and a milkshake.

Well, we decided to go out to dinner to celebrate the last day of freedom before returning to teaching (we're worse than the kids sometimes) and debated where to go. Union Square won out, and we won out too as this was the best meal I've ever had there. In fact it bordered on great.

What am I raving about? The Shrimp Carbonara, which was one of the specials to celebrate their twelfth anniversary. Take a look at the picture and see. Not that the picture is all that great since I left the Nikon home and the point and shoot flash washed out the light colors of the food an the white plate. I adjusted the color post-facto, but it came out nowhere as pretty as the original. It came with choice of soup or salad, a choice of a glass of beer or wine (the beer was Miller light so I took the wine), and fresh, warm bread for $16.95.

That Shrimp Carbonara was delicious. It had plenty of bacon mixed in, tomatoes and plenty of properly cooked shrimp over penne pasta with a delightful sauce. Did I say bordering great? No, they hit great on this one. Teresa had a chicken dish at $15.95 that came with all of the above and a side of rice pilaf. I tasted her chicken and it was cooked just right.

Oh, they make really good pizza there too and you have a choice between traditional and brick oven, I recommend the Greek pizza. I don't think they have a website, but you can find them at 93 New York 17K in Newburgh, right near the intersection with Union Avenue. The phone number is (845) 567-3800.


Union Square Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 27, 2010

Terrazzo Trattoria, revisited


We've been here before and I did a nice review last year, but I had to share this dinner. I had one of the specials, the Ciopino Fra Diavolo (I may not have spelled it right) and it was better than most pescatore style dishes, in fact the only one I like better is at the Nu-Cavu, but that's about eight-hundred miles north of Terrazzo's. Just the right amount of heat and the calamari was cooked just right. Teresa had the Eggplant Lasagna, also a good choice, and we both added the salad.
We shared the coconut cake, a favorite of the staff and regular customers. A woman next to us looked over and said, "They have the cake? I love it, but they don't have it all the time." I could see why she was glad to see it, it was light and tasty.


Freskada Mediterranean Kuzina, Exton, PA




I know I've said this before, but I like Greek food and it's always nice to find someplace that does a good job. Freskada Mediterranean Kuzina in Exton, PA is one of those places. The menu isn't extensive, but they had quite a few good choices on it. I debated on a few dishes and finally decided on my favorite, the gyro. But first, a dish of stuffed grape leaves, or dolmades, to warm up.
The gyro was as delicious as it looked and it was full of thick-cut gyro meat in a grilled pita. The sauce was good as well. The fries were a bit lacking though, they could have been crisper, but they weren't bad. I should have substituted a Greek salad instead.
Nicole had the Grilled Chicken Roma sandwich and Teresa had the Grilled Hummus Chicken sandwich at $8.95 each. Bpth were good too. They actually had to take some of the chicken off as there was too much on it. They don't skimp on the meat here. Between the extra chicken on the two sandwiches, we brought home enough chicken to make another meal.

They have a website for info and the menu. Pay them a visit next time you're in Exton. You won't be disappointed.



Freskada Wood Fire Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Carolina Ale House, Wilmington, NC

My son-in-law Brian and I snuck out for a ride and decided to get a bite to eat. We saw the Carolina Ale House on College and decided to give it a try. How can anything named Ale House be bad? Read on.

It's a nice large restaurant with lots of wood and about twenty-two beers on tap. I tried the Carolina Pale Ale and found it to be nowhere near an IPA as it was weak and not hoppy at all. I'd say it was closer to a lager than an ale, not even near an English Pale Ale. I forget what I had for the second one, but it was better.

Now for the food. We were both torn between two burgers, the Carolina Burger with chile and coleslaw, and the Cubano Burger with ham, swiss and pickles on a panini type roll. We decided to get one of each and split them. The Cubano was the better of the two, but only marginally. The ham and pickles added some flavor. The Chile in the Carolina burger had only one flavor note, chile powder. Well, a bit of black pepper too and some grease. There was a very small amount of slaw added, but not enough. The real problem was with the burgers themselves. They tasted like frozen patties that were thrown on the grill while still frozen. The fries were good though.

On a positive note, the service was good. Sorry, no picture here as I'd left the camera at home, but they weren't all that pretty anyway.


Carolina Ale House on Urbanspoon

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Mixto Restaurant, Wilmington, NC


One of the cool things about doing this blog is discovering great restaurants. Now granted, I have to sift through some losers once in a while, but it's all worth it when we come across a great find. Mixto Restaurant, at 5 S. Water Street in Wilmington, NC, is a great find. Actually, we didn't find it on our own, our daughter Rachel suggested it to us. It wasn't crowded on an early Saturday evening and we were asked if we wanted to eat inside or out. It would have been nice to eat outside, but it was a bit muggy so we dined inside. The decor is interesting and they had plenty of wait staff. Parker took care of us and he did a great job.


They brought some fresh nachos and the house salsa that was delicious which we tasted while we looked at the menu. After some deliberation with the menus I was all set to order the Cubano sandwich, but I got the Baja Shrimp Skewers at $18.50 and Teresa ordered the Chicken Burrito at $8.50. Mine came with choice of soup or salad so I opted for the salad. I had a choice between house or Caesar and ordered the Caesar, pictured above. Good choice! It had a large anchovy on top (I know that this can turn some people away, but I love them) and the dressing had a rich true Caesar taste.

The Baja Shrimp Skewers turned out to be a fantastic choice. There were three skewers of large shrimp, roasted vegetables, and a potato patty all covered with this delightful sauce that had a hint of heat with a touch of sweet. Perfect portion, cooked perfectly. I only wished I had some bread to sop up the remaining sauce, the nachos just didn't work well enough for that purpose.

And to top it all off, I did something which I rarely do, I got desert. They have a chocolate jalapeno ice cream for $5.00 and I just had to try it. It was good. The chocolate was the predominate flavor and tamed the jalapenos, but a hint of heat came through. Very subtle and tasty. I recommend it. As a matter of fact I recommend everything about Mixto. By the way, Chef Eric Gephart was named chef in Wilmington of the year for 2010. He personally brought the desert out to us and asked how everything was.


Mixto on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Zaxby's Chicken, Wilmington, NC


I only had Zaxby's twice before, and only when someone else had gone there and had some left over. This time when my daughter and son-in-law wanted a quick bite I suggested the Zaxby's on Gordon Rd in Wilmington, and I tagged along. We did the drive-up and got the twenty piece chicken nuggets and an order of fried pickles, shown above.
Well, the chicken was good and we got it with the Zax sauce (very much like Mac sauce) and an extra hot sauce (that one was real good). The fried pickles at $2.75 were tasty too.

Zaxby's is a Southern chain, started in Georgia back in the '80's. They have a web site too for more info.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Victory Brewing, Downingtown, PA

We've been here a few times before and I've had some really good food, and some mediocre food. I've also had some great beer, and that's every time I've been there. This time I decided to stay away from the burger and try the pizza. My son-in-law Brian said they're good and he ordered the one below, the Angry Pizza.


It has BBQ chicken, a BBQ sauce made from Hop Devil beer, jalapeno peppers, and some ham I think. Nice taste with some heat. Comes in two sizes, personal and large. I recommend the large and you can have some to take home if you can't finish.



I had the Stockyard Pizza, pepperoni and sausage on a good crust. The sizes are the same as the one above. I had the Uncle Teddy's, a really good cask bitters, to drink.

Here's the website for directions and stuff.


Victory Brewing Company on Urbanspoon


Stewart's Drive-in, Ringoes, NJ


Stewart's Drive-in in Ringoes, NJ is another one of those places that we've been driving past for some time now and kept saying we should stop in. Well, today the timing was right since we were passing at 12:30 and it wasn't crowded.

There are two windows to order from, one for ice cream, and one for food. We just hit the food one. I had two hot dogs, a chili dog and a bacon cheese dog and we shared an order of onion rings and a medium root beer. Three dogs, rings and a soda for thirteen dollars. Not bad prices and the food was good. Plus, it was like a nostalgic trip back to the days when places like this were all over. You know, when an ice cream stand was the only fast food.

Here is the corporate website.


Stewart's Drive-In on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 13, 2010

La Stazione, New Paltz, NY


We went here to eat once awhile ago, but didn't stay and I can't remember the reason. At any rate, today was our anniversary so I called our favorite place, the Nu-Cavu, for a reservation and they were full due to an event they were having. Someone suggested La Stazione in New Paltz so we decided to give them a try. The result, in a word, unimpressed.

It is an interesting restaurant sitting in an old train station near the Wallkill River. The entryway is a bit dark, but the main dining area is bright and nicely decorated with pictures and wine bottles along the walls. Italian music is playing and the wait staff is dressed in black. And there was a lot of wait staff. At least five people attended to us during our visit. Well, not that they were attentive, I think the busboy did the most work, it was just that different people did different things.

It wasn't busy at 5:30 on a Friday evening so I thought the service might be quicker, and the food wouldn't take so long. I was wrong. I ordered the Tagliata alla pescatore, pictured above, for twenty bucks. Teresa ordered the gnocchi forno (forno means baked in the oven) at fourteen bucks. I tasted Teresa's dish and it was good, but a bit too heavy on the garlic (we are garlic lovers mind you and eat raw garlic at the Garlic Festival). Mine was a bit bland and I realized why the food took so long, they needed time to overcook the calamari to give it that nice rubbery taste. It wasn't terrible and I ate it, but it wasn't anything special.

You see, I tend to order the same things when we go out so I have a basis of comparison between restaurants and a pescatore (Italian for fisherman) is one of them. I have had this dish done much better at other places, even for less money with a salad included. The picture did come out good though.

They have no website for more information, sorry. But then, you don't need much more information. If you want good Italian food, go someplace else.


La Stazione on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Main Street Bistro, New Paltz, NY


People have been telling me how great Main Street Bistro in New Paltz is for quite some time and we finally tried it. After having experienced it, my advice is to finish reading this and go there. This place is great and is one of my new favorites.

I had the Guaca Baca Burger, guacamole, bacon and muenster cheese on a fresh kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato and pickle, for $6.50. That's right, only $6.50 and it came with choice of regular fries, sweet potato fries or salad. I opted for the salad and there was plenty. Teresa had the Bistro Barn Burger, bacon, cheese and salad for $5.95. Total bill was under seventeen dollars tax and tip included. The burgers were not just cheap, they were very good too. I ordered mine medium and it came cooked just right.

They have a breakfast menu and a dinner menu too that include pastas, sandwiches and a whole lot more. Check out their website for menu and hours.

Update 9/18/10- We stopped by today and I got the same burger, even though I wanted to try something different. I just couldn't pass up this amazing burger and it was every bit as good as the memory of the first one. This may be the best burger I've had in the Hudson Valley, and I recommend a Hurricane Kitty, a hearty IPA from Keegan Ales to complement it. If you haven't been there yet, what are you waiting for?


Main Street Bistro on Urbanspoon

Friday, August 6, 2010

Food Judge and Critic Available

I think I've been watching too many shows on the Food Network, Bravo and Travel Channel of late. Specifically the ones featuring cooking competitions. Some are good, and some just get annoying after awhile. The good ones are; The Next Network Food Star, Chopped, Hell's Kitchen, Bobby Flay's Throwdowns and some of the Food Challenges. I don't like that new Gordon Ramsay one about the best amateur chef.

I think the worst part is that some of the judges are nothing but pompous asses. Sure, they have a good pedigree coming from a successful restaurant background, but that doesn't mean they have to be so nasty about it. To that end I am offering my services as a judge. My qualifications? I grew up in a restaurant, I've eaten in quite a few restaurants, I have judged contests and I have a successful review blog (this one). I can be a fair judge and offer positive criticism to the contestants.

I am also available to do reviews on a freelance basis for local publications in the Hudson Valley, Willmington, NC area, and Pennsylvania. I am willing to travel too for food. Please feel free to e-mail me should you be interested.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Maya Cafe and Cantina, Fishkill, NY

About a year ago we visited Maya Cafe in Wappingers Falls and really liked it, so we decided to try the Fishkill location. Turned out to be a wise choice. They are located on Route 9, just below the Hess Station across from the Dutchess Mall, or what's left of it, in what used to be a bar many years ago.

Maya Cafe is brightly decorated inside and the staff is very friendly. Our waiter, Alejandro, was sincerely polite and accommodating, as were everyone else. They give you a bowl of salsa, just a hint of heat, and warm nacho chips. The problem we had was that there were too many choices on the menu.


After some deliberation I decided on the Tacos Camaron (shrimp tacos) at $10.95. Two deep-fried tortillas with shrimp, pico de gallo, and avocado. It came with rice and black beans. You can get the dinner portion as well, which is larger and comes with plantains for $14.95. Very tasty and the lunch portion was quite filling, but I had room left to order one of the interesting looking deserts. Or so I thought.


Teresa decided on the Tacos Barbocoa at $9.95. This was a delicious marinated steak that had a slightly spicy, slightly sweet flavor to it. There were three on her plate and I had to eat one of them as two were enough for her. So much for that desert idea. Next time I'll leave room. Although I could have sat there until I was hungry as they don't rush you. Not that they are slow, they just give you space, which I like, while making sure everything is good. A nice balance.

Needless to say, Maya Cafe is becoming a favorite. Try them sometime, you won't be disappointed. They have a website for more info.


Cafe Maya & Cantina Incorporated on Urbanspoon