Saturday, December 31, 2011

Chicago Uno, Wappingers Falls, NY

I need to add a place to my list of restaurants that know how to properly cook a burger,  Chicago Uno on Route 9 in Wappingers Falls. 

Above and below please note the 'Bring Home the Bacon' burger with hot pepper cheese and bacon on a challah roll. What you can't see is the center of the burger which was a dark pink. That's right, a perfectly cooked medium burger. Teresa had the Firecracker Chicken sandwich which she said was okay. 
Unos started in Chicago on East Ohio Street about sixty-five years ago serving deep dish pizza. They have grown to over 160 locations, some of them franchised and if you like deep dish pizza, and you're not in Chicago, Unos is the place to get it. The one in Wappingers is franchised by Banta Restaurants and sits on the old Steak and Stein location. They try to buy locally as much as they can.

Unos a nice place to get a bite to eat and they have a respectable beer selection as well. They even have their own Uno Amber, which has a nice clean taste. Happy hour specials include some cheap appetizers too. The inside has a nice warm look to it  and is decorated with pictures of Chicago, memorabilia, and TVs in the bar area. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

Hacienda, Goshen, NY

We've been here a few times before and liked it. One of those times was on May5th for Teresa's birthday, also Cinqo de Mayo which is the Mexican equivalent of Saint Patrick's Day. That would be the day to stay away as they are extremely crowded, unless you want to wait. Today at four in the afternoon wasn't a problem since even though the parking lot had quite a few cars, they weren't that crowded inside. I think there were a few people in a room upstairs for a private party.

Outside it looks like a large house that has been converted to a restaurant. Inside the decorations are bright and colorful with designs on the chairs. We were seated and given water and nachos with salsa, a salsa that started out medium and the more you eat the hotter it becomes. We looked over the menu and I ordered the Camarones diablo. Teresa got the enchiladas suizo. While we waited for our food the waiter brought us each a small quesadilla which was quite nice. 

My shrimp tasted fresh and the sauce was slightly spicy with some sautéed onions in it. The re-fried beans were okay and the rice not bad (I don't usually eat rice so it must have been okay for me to have finished half of it).

Overall, the service is good, prices average to a bit high, and the food is fairly good. As we ate we decided that we liked Cafe Maya in Fishkill better. I know that some people will disagree with that, but that's our opinion.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Burger Boyz Revisited

I went here a while back and said that it was good, but nothing special. Since then one of my regular readers suggested a few times that I stop and try them again. Noting that the earlier review is one of my most read posts, I decided to do it.

They have moved to a new location on Route 17K and share a building with Planet Wings, an establishment that makes, you guessed it, chicken wings. When I looked at the menu it seemed they have pared it down a bit and that may be a good thing as they were trying to do too much before. The new menu reminded me of Five Guys, as did the boxes of potatoes piled near the windows.

I decided to go simple and ordered the cheeseburger with tomato, pickles, ketchup and mustard. I ordered fries and there was a choice between curly fries and fresh cut fries. I opted for the fresh cut version. It was $8.49 for the burger and fries, tax included. I think the prices went up since I was last there.

The burger was good. It was juicy, but not greasy and tasted fresh. I could tell it was grilled and they pressed it down on the grill to get a nice char on the meat. The roll was soft and fresh. The fries were good also, but they could have been crisper. They were a bit soggy. There were plenty of them and two people could share an order with no problem.

As I was taking the pictures the guy behind the counter was staring at me, but he didn't say anything. Nobody ever does. Oh, and inside I saw who voted them one of the best burgers in the Hudson Valley. It was Hudson Valley Magazine. Mystery solved.

Bottom line? Good burger, okay fries. Stop in if you're nearby.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Scotch Eggs recipe

I saw this on the Food Channel, I think it was Chopped, and thought it was interesting. Hard boiled eggs wrapped in sausage, breaded and deep fried. What can be wrong with that?

It is real simple to make too. Just hard-boil four eggs, let them chill and peel them. Coat with flour and wrap them with breakfast sausage. Next you flour again, dip in egg and bread crumbs. Fry at 350 for about ten minutes, until golden brown. Eat them hot, warm or cold. A little spicy mustard is all you need.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Beacon Falls Cafe, a perfect burger.

I have been ranting quite a bit lately about ordering a burger cooked medium and getting it closer to well-done so I thought it would be appropriate to praise a restaurant that gets it right  consistently, especially  since there are so darn few that do. 

This magnificant picture is of the burger special I got today at one of my favorite places, The Beacon Falls Cafe. This beauty is a half-pound of top quality Angus beef with a mountain of blue cheese, several strips of bacon, tons of roasted hot peppers, red onion, lettuce and tomato on a fresh bun. The list of ingredients is a mouthful and the burger itself was a handful. No, make that two hands full. When the waitress dropped it off I was wondering how in the Dickens I was going to pick it up, but I managed.

Now here's the best part. When I bit into it, the outside had a nice crust while the inside of the burger had a sweet pink cast to it. That pink extended throughout the interior of the entire burger. It was cooked to a perfect medium. Teresa ordered her burger cooked medium-well and the color was perfect too with a slight pinkish cast. Both were juicy and full of flavor.

In my burger the blue cheese slightly mellowed the heat of the hot peppers, but I did break into a sweat from the heat. The flavors of the ingredients all worked in concert to make this one of the best burgers I've ever had. I went through two napkins wiping the delicious juices from my face. The fries were delightful, crisp and hot, with a hint of seasoning on them. Unfortunately, I left quite a few behind on the plate since that massive burger filled me up.

Beacon Falls Cafe is a favorite of mine, I've reviewed them before. Go over and see them, tell Bob I sent you. Whatever you order, it will be good, but I strongly recommend a burger. They also have a good beer selection and I had a Red Wagon IPA from Fire Island Beer Company that was hoppy, yet smooth. If you go during Happy Hour (3 to 6) there are a few $3.00 pints. 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Drafting Room, Exton revisited

One of my favorite places in Pennsylvania is The Drafting Room in Exton. We've been there a few times, twice I had a burger and once we had the Sunday brunch. Each visit was excellent with good food and service. One of the bet points about the place is the tap beer selection which rotates depending on season. This time the season was hoppy harvest ales and that was for me. We got two very nice beers. One was Hair of the Dog Blue Dot and the other was Flying Dog Centennial Hop. What I like about the Drafting Room is that you can get a five ounce, a ten ounce or a fifteen ounce glass. All the better to try a few different beers. They also have an amazing Scotch menu with some darn fine single malts offered. 

I ordered the calamari with aioli sauce to share. The sauce was quite buttery with a good garlic flavor, not overdone. For my dinner I got out of my comfort zone and ordered the Scallops and pumpkin ravioli with leeks, roasted garlic and pine nuts shown here. Teresa got the Ravioli with olives, asparagus and capers and it had a taste similar to a putanesca. Very nice. 

Bangers and mash
Brian got the Bangers and Mash, sausages on mashed potatoes, and it looked quite nice. Large portion and nice presentation. 

Overall, a good meal and some good beer. The Drafting Room is a winner. 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Metro Diner, Flemington, NJ

The Metro Diner sits on Route 202 just south of Flemington, on the northbound side, and we've passed by saying we should try them sometime. Well, today was the day.

Inside it has more of a restaurant feel than a diner, but the menu was pure diner with all of the standards. We looked through the menu and debated back and forth over the rueben, the French dip, the Philly cheesesteak and the club sandwiches. 

Teresa got the triple decker turkey club with fries and I got the French dip. We shared so I can comment properly on both. The club sandwich had a ton of smoked turkey on it, so much that I took a bit out to make it easier to handle. The French dip had quality roast beef sliced on it with a bowl of au jus that could have been a bit darker, but it wasn't bad. The fries were nice and crispy and hot too. 

I looked at the food going to other tables and the burgers, the omelets and the Ruebens all looked good. Our food, and what I saw going by, had a different feel than typical diner food. It seemed a bit more upscale, a fact that was not reflected in the prices as they were quite reasonable. 

Overall, good food at reasonable prices with good service. They even had a piano player in the front room belting out some songs and pictures of famous actors on the walls. 

Metro Cafe Diner on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 11, 2011

Sweet Lorraine's at Peddler's Village, New Hope, PA

In our quest to find good places to eat, we like to try different places so we stopped off at Peddler's Village, a shopping area in New Hope, PA, for something different. Looking around we saw Sweet Lorraine's Cafe next to the Golden Plough Bed and Breakfast and decided to stop in. 

I went with the Fireworks Burger at $11. It had havarti cheese, jalapeños, peppers, bacon, lettuce and tomato with fresh made chips. I ordered it medium and there was a bit of pink in the middle so it was closer to medium than I've been getting lately. The burger was good with a nice flavor and the combinations of ingredients added some good notes. 

Teresa had the quesidilla shown here at $10 and there was plenty. She said the salsa was a bit bland and I agreed, but the guacamole was good. 

We had water with the meals, but they did have a good beer selection. Service was excellent and there was a nice ambiance. Overall a good experience. Nothing amazing, but good food at reasonable prices. They have a website for more informations. 

Saturday, November 5, 2011

The Wherehouse, Newburgh, NY

Hot Spot Burger
I've heard a lot of good things about the Wherehouse in Newburgh, some from a nice Greek writer named Anonymous who has commented here, so it's been on my short list for some time now. Well, today we were coming back from Fishkill and decided to swing through Newburgh to check it out.

The restaurant is on the South part of Liberty Street, just a short block from Broadway, near Washington's Headquarters. The neighborhood is an area that is a few blocks from the booming restaurant row on the waterfront and right near where a couple of entrepreneurs are building a brewery. Inside the place is not too big, but warm with old album covers hanging on the brick walls, plenty of wood and a neat looking bar with quite a few tap handles. We were told to sit where we wanted and took a table near the window so I had better light for the pictures and we could keep an eye on the car.

The menu was extensive with plenty of good choices but there was a separate menu for the burgers and that's what I came for. There were two full pages of interesting choices. I decided on the Socrates, grilled kalmata olives and feta cheese, medium. Teresa debated between the Chicago Fire and the Hot Spot. The Hot Spot burger, shown above with hot peppers on it, was her choice and she ordered it medium well. I also got a Saranac Ginger Ale. 

Socrates Burger
When the burgers came they looked good. You can see what I mean by the pictures, they did a nice presentation. I tasted mine and it was very good, but much closer to well done than the medium I ordered. That said, it was still a delicious burger with plenty of flavor and it wasn't dry at all. The grilled olives and the feta cheese gave a nice flavor to the burger and complimented the beef. No ketchup was needed. I tasted Teresa's and it was good too, if not a bit busy with all of the flavors going on. There was a heat coming from the peppers, but tolerable without overpowering the burger. She said that the next time we go she wanted to try a regular burger and I agreed. I'll try a simple bacon cheeseburger. I didn't like the fries all that much as they were cut too large and were more like fried potato wedges, but that's more a matter of personal taste. I'll have to ask about other options and see if a side salad or mac and cheese can take the place of the fries.

The bottom line? Very good food, good service, nice ambiance and fair prices. The burgers were a shade under ten bucks each. When you're in Newburgh, skip the waterfront and head a couple of blocks uptown for a good burger. They have a website for information and you can Facebook them too.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Escargots avec le lard, le beurre, l'ail et le vin

A little different recipe this time as I used bacon to add a new dimension to the flavor. I used less butter than usual since the bacon added fat with more flavor. The next time I may substitute a  hoppy IPA like Hop Devil for the wine to see what that does. The beer might just elevate the flavor.

1 can snails
1/2 half small onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 sprigs parsley
1 cup red wine
2 strips cooked bacon, chopped up
1/4 stick butter cut into pats

Marinate the snails in the wine for an hour in the fridge, covered. Place snails in oven safe dish and add a little of the wine from the marinade. Spread onions, garlic, parsley, and bacon on top. Add pats of butter to top. Bake at 450 for about fifteen minutes. 

The bacon adds fat, and a flavor note, making less need for butter. Quite tasty with a more delicate taste than the traditional escargot de bourgogne. 

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Italian Stallion from The Winner's Circle in Exton, PA

Just thought I'd share this photo of the Italian Stallion Burger from The Winner's Circle in Exon, PA. It has sausage and pepperoni mixed in the meat so it tastes a bit like a large, flat meatball. Quite good. The picture was interesting though as I switched to portrait mode in the color balance and shot it at ISO 800 with no flash at a 30th second f2. I thought the color saturation came out nice. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Best of the Hudson Valley, 2011

Cowboy Burger at Ward's Bridge Inn
It may be a bit early in the year for this, but I saw that Hudson Valley Magazine did their Best of 2011 list so I thought I'd come up with mine. Mine is more of a list for regular people. This is the Hudson Valley edition and I've included links to the reviews. Some of the reviews are older, but I've been to every one of these places this year and I've based the winners on this years visits as well as consistency over time.

I'll be doing the best overall that I've eaten at from NY to NC closer to the end of the year.

Best Burger- The Cowboy Burger at Ward's Bridge Inn in Montgomery, shown here. This was a stiff competition and I chose the winner based on flavor, presentation, price and most importantly because it comes properly cooked. When I order medium I want it medium. The Raccoon Saloon was so close that I may have to do a comparison someday.

Best Greek Restaurant- This goes to The Greek Cafe in Middletown. They make their own gyro meat fresh. Prices are reasonable, food is wonderful and service very good.

Best Italian- Once again I have to say that the Nu-Cavu in Wallkill is my favorite. Eggplant, seafood dishes, chicken, whatever I've had there is good. Coming in close were Napoli's and Gloria's Griddle in Vails Gate, The Cauldron in Montgomery and The Olde Erie House in Middletown.

Best Diner- The Alexis Diner in Newburgh, hands down. I've eaten there close to a hundred times and I'll be back another hundred. A close second is the Cup and Saucer Diner in Pine Bush.

Best Pizza- Guido's Pizzeria in Walden. Union Square does make a very good brick oven pizza though and Cosimo's is good as well.

Best Chinese- Ming Jie House, Walden.

Best German Restaurant- The Gunk Haus in Highland. Yes, they overcooked my burger but everything else was amazing, including the view.

Best Fast Food- Five Guys Burgers and Fries in Newburgh. Well, they aren't that fast but they sure are good.

Best Local Beer- Keegan Ales Hurricane Kitty.

Best Mexican- Maya Cafe and Cantina in Fishkill.

Best Barbeque- Holy Smoke, Mahopac.

Best Cafe/Bistro- Beacon Falls Cafe. In Beacon of course. They have a neat brunch on the weekends too.

Best All You Can Eat Buffet- There is none. Well, none that I am aware of. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Best of Wilmington 2011

Winnie's Burger
It may only be October, but since I won't be back to Wilmington again this year I thought I might as well do the Best of Wilmington 2011 a bit early. The results are informal and based solely on my personal tastes.

Best White Tablecloth Restaurant- Caprice Bistro Well, it is more of a bistro but I'm going to classify it as a fancier restaurant. Classic French food at reasonable prices without the pretentiousness usually associated with French food. Well, it really is Belgian so that may explain it. Try the duck.

Best Burrito- Flaming Amy's The best burritos anywhere. Try the Po'Boy.

Best Breakfast- Goody Goody Omelet House I've heard the burgers are good there as well, but I can't speak from experience. What I can say is that the omelets are great.

Best Gastropub/bistro- The Eat Spot The best onion rings I've ever had and they came with a delicious burger. I would have named them best burger, but I had to give the nod to Winnie's Tavern.

Best Burger- Winnie's Tavern A little out of the way, and the opposite of upscale, but worth the trip and the experience. Amazing burgers, sold dirt cheap. The photo at the top is the Winnie Burger. A half-pound of heaven for about six-fifty.

Best Donut- Britt's They have one type of donut, glazed, and it is amazing. Also, they are not in Wilmington. They are in Carolina Beach.

Best Beer/bar food- Front Street Brewery A good place to eat as well, especially for the half-priced appetizers. Try the crab cakes, in fact try everything. I've been there a few dozen times and everything was good. One of the best brew pubs I've been to.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mahoney's Irish Pub and Steakhouse, Poughkeepsie, NY

Emmett Mahoney's Irish Pub and Steakhouse in Poughkeepsie is located in the old train station, right next to the new train station, near the waterfront. I've heard about it for a while and we almost went there once. It turned out it was around Saint Patrick's Day and there was a parade so the place was mobbed so we didn't. Well, today we stopped.

I didn't get much of a look inside since it was such a nice day that we decided to eat on the patio. We were given menus and the waiter went to get us the water we wanted. When he returned we ordered. I got the Celtic burger at $10.95 which had Irish cheddar cheese and rasher (Irish bacon) with fries and slaw. I ordered it medium and guess what? It was well done, but it was a juicy and flavorful well-done so I let it go. Dry well-done and it would have gone back. The rasher gave a nice flavor and the fries were crispy. Teresa ordered the Jack Daniels Panini at $11.95 which was made from a tender cut of steak and was quite good.

Overall the food was good, service was good and the prices reasonable. Stop by and give them a try. They have a website for information.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Greek Cafe, Middletown, NY

I may have mentioned a time or two that I really like Greek food so when my friend Paula recommended a new Greek place in Middletown I got all excited. You see, Paula is Greek and she has eaten in Greece a few times so she should know. Well, I put it on my short list of places to visit. Today Teresa was out shopping with Paula and she texted me to meet them there, so off I went.

The Greek Cafe is in a strip mall on route 211, just outside of Middletown in a storefront that once housed an Italian restaurant that we ate at years ago. When I went in I realized they had done a complete makeover and the restaurant was bright and well decorated with some photos of Greece. There was Greek music playing as well. We were greeted and seated promptly and the waiter gave us menus and water.

We started with the stuffed grape leaves (domadakia) at $6.95 and there were five very nice ones on the plate. I ordered the gyro platter at $9.95 (much cheaper than most places) and it was one of the best I've had. The plate was full of fresh homemade gyro meat (not the typical gyro meat, a nice flavor with just the right amount of spices and cut a bit thicker) on top of french fries with a salad on the side and pita bread.

Teresa got the spanakopita at $9.95 and I tasted it. Very good. Paula had the chicken Santorini at $12.95 with roasted lemon potatoes on the side. She said it was delicious and applauded the dish.

After dinner we did something we rarely do, we got desert. Three of them to share. We had the baklava, the Kataifi (that's the one that looks like shredded wheat) and the Galaktoboureka. Each were $3.75 and delicious. All three had a honey flavor and our favorite was the Galaktoboureko which had a custard with a taste similar to an Italian sfogliatelle.

Overall it was a great experience with good service, good prices and great food. At more than one point the owner came over to make sure everything was okay. We will certainly be back again, and again. The Greek Cafe is going to be one of our favorites.

Two other points; they have free wi-fi and the men's room was spotless. They have a website for more information.

Update- We were back for dinner on 10/15 and it was every bit as good as the last time, possibly even better. They are consistent.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Goody Goody Omelet House, Wilmington, NC

Goody Goody Omelet House is a small, unassuming place on Market Street in Wilmington, NC and I've heard some good things about them. I've been meaning to stop by for quite some time and finally got the chance when I was passing by with a friend and we decided we were hungry.

It was about eleven on a Saturday morning and every seat was full except for a table they were cleaning off. We grabbed the table and looked over the menus. When the waitress came we ordered coffee and we both got the omelet with swiss cheese and sausage at $6.97. We had a few choices for sides and ordered the hash browns, shredded with toast. While we waited, it wasn't a long wait, a line was beginning to form by the door with people waiting for a seat. I took that as a sign that the food was good.

The omelets were very good. Nice and fluffy, large, and packed with fresh sausage and cheese. The hash browns were more like a potato pancake and perfectly cooked. The coffee was good too. Everything was just right and we left full. Yeah, that sign was right, it's a nice homey place with good food at good prices. I can see why they were crowded.

They've been there since 1977 and the same people still own it, in fact the owner was working the register. They are only open from six in the morning until two in the afternoon and they close at one on Sunday. They take cash too, no credit cards. They have a website for more information.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Tomato Cafe, Fishkill, NY revisited

We were here in June and had a great experience so we decided to try them again today. Well, they certainly lived up to my expectations and we had a great meal with very good service. Here is the link for the original review.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Chocolate Ribs recipe

To continue with the theme of cooking with chocolate let's look at chocolate and coffee ribs. This is a tasty way to experiment.

First, start with a rack of ribs. I used beef ribs for this one, but I think pork would do better.

For the rub- Take two tablespoons of brown sugar, one tablespoon of cayenne pepper, one tablespoon of paprika, one tablespoon of coffee grounds (expresso would work nice here), two tablespoon of unsweetened cocoa, a dash of salt and a dash of pepper.

Coat the ribs and leave them overnight in the fridge, covered of course.

Now get the grill going and cook the ribs using indirect heat until they hit about 150 degrees for beef or 165 for pork. The time will depend on your grill. Just be careful not to overcook the beef ribs, or to undercook the pork ribs. The chocolate gives a subtle flavor and seems to temper the heat of the cayenne. Feel free to experiment with this and let me know how it works out. I'll be experimenting myself and I'll update as I do.

Chocolate Chili recipe

If you think chocolate goes with everything, you're right. This is true of chili too and this is easy to make. Okay, I didn't use the grill for this one, but I could have put the pot there just as well as using the range.

Take about a pound of ground beef, with a bit of salt, and cook it in the frying pan. Drain and put on a chopping board. Chop the beef fairly fine and transfer to a pot.

Dice a medium hot pepper and half of a sweet red pepper and throw in.

Next, add a small can of black beans, drained of course, and add about two-thirds of a medium can of crushed tomatoes.

One tablespoon of paprika, a half tablespoon of cayenne pepper (less if you want less heat), and three tablespoons of cocoa powder.

Cook for about an hour on low heat, covered, and there you are.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Escargots with wine recipe

Escargots with wine

I don't do my snails in shells as it doesn't make sense. Think about it, you take a snail and remove it from it's shell. Next you clean it and prepare it in a shell not its own. When done you remove it from the shell to eat. Too much work. Better to simply eat them with a spoon from a dish.


One can of snails

Half stick of butter

Three garlic cloves (diced)

¼ cup fresh parsley (chopped)

One small shallot (diced)

One cup red wine (Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir. Save the rest of the bottle for dinner)

Two tablespoons breadcrumbs (Panko would do nicely)

Open the can of snails, drain and rinse well with cold water and pat dry. Place the snails and the wine in a small bowl and add the minced garlic, shallots and chopped parsley. Cover and marinate for two hours in refrigerator.

Place the snails in a small oven safe dish and pour in the marinade. Cut the butter into pats and spread on top. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top and bake at 450 degrees for twelve to fifteen minutes. They are done when the butter is boiling.

Eat with fresh bread and make sure to soak up that delightful wine and butter sauce. Have a glass of the wine you used in the preparation while eating.

Feel free to vary this recipe as you like. I'm going to add a touch of citrus the next time with some orange zest.

Steak Sandwich from Rosy Tomorrows in Danbury

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Carolina Girls Grillin' Cafe, Wilmington, NC

I read about this place once and threw it in the back of my mind to stop by and try them, but every time I passed them on College I wasn't hungry. Well, finding myself on College and being hungry, I decided to stop.
Inside it's nice with a long kitchen/prep area so you can watch the ladies prepare your food, and see that they keep a clean looking kitchen. On the other side are tables. I looked at the menu and decided on the Cubano Sandwich, shown here.

What you see is half of the sandwich on a plate at home. It was quite good and large with flavor probably coming mostly from the pork. Teresa had a quesadilla which looked good as well.
Next time I head down College I'll make sure I'm hungry so I can stop by and try a few more things on the menu.
There are two locations, one is on Castle Hayne Road and the other on College. They have a website for more information and it has a short video which shows the interior of the restaurant.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Caprice Bistro, Wilmington, NC

We were in Wilmington on Bastille Day this year and we'd already eaten at another place when we looked at the menu at the Caprice Bistro and said, "Darn, we should have eaten here." Well this time when we were walking downtown we stopped by and looked at the menu. After about thirty seconds I saw what I wanted and asked Teresa if she saw anything. She said there were a few things that interested her so in we went.

Caprice Bistro is small and looks like every bit like a French bistro. We were seated right away, they weren't that busy, and our waiter Jay appeared. He was very pleasant, personable and helpful. I knew what I wanted, the escargots gris (shown above) and the duck confit (shown below). Teresa decided to get out of her comfort zone and she ordered the pork tenderloin (bottom photo) instead of a chicken dish.

Jay brought us fresh bread and soon the escargot arrived. The smell was delightful and the taste even better. The snails were perfect and were swimming in a garlic sauce that I sopped up with the bread. A small bowl of heaven for eight bucks. Normally I prefer my escargots Burgundy style, but this was amazing and I could have eaten a soup bowl of it. Next up were the entrees. Between the two dishes the table smelled wonderful. My duck was perfectly cooked with crispy skin and tender meat that fell off the bone. It came with grilled potatoes and a small salad with the house dressing and each component blended in sweet harmony with the others. More than eating, it was a sensual experience of French comfort food done right.

The pork was equally good with an amazing sauce and fresh mashed potatoes and carrots. We passed a few things back and forth to try and at one point I wound up with some food in my water glass. No problem, Jay immediately replaced the glass for me.

The total bill was $44.51 plus tip for a gourmet meal. We looked at the deserts and while a creme brulee and coffee would have been the perfect finish, we were full. Next time though. Maybe next time I'll go on a Wednesday when they have rabbit.

So the bottom line. Service, impeccable. Food, perfect. Ambiance, very good. Prices, reasonable. Stop in sometime and enjoy a classic French meal. It will fill your belly and warm your heart. They have a website for more information.

Update 04/13/12- We went back for another meal and it was simply amazing. I got the mussels Bruxelles and Teresa got the Coq au Vin. My mussels were the best I've ever had. They were cooked in beer, garlic (lot's of garlic), mustard and cream.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Winner's Circle, Exton, PA

Yes, that picture is what you think it is. It is a burger with bacon and cheese on a glazed donut, and yes I did eat it. It is called the Krukker and it was from The Winner's Circle in Exton, Pennsylvania. I'll get back to the burger in a minute.

Winner's Circle is a sports bar in Exton across the street from the mall. It is fairly bright and adorned with sports memorabilia and plenty of televisions. The wait staff is friendly and the service is good. There is a good beer selection and I decided on Hop Devil from Victory. The menu has some good choices, but I focused on the burgers. You can build your own burger; choose the meat, choose the roll and choose two toppings. The combinations looked good, until I looked at the craft burgers and saw the Krukker for $9.00. That was what I was going to build anyway. It was a half-pound burger with American cheese and bacon on a glazed donut. With it came an ample supply of fries and a wet-nap.

The burger was good. I'd ordered it medium and it was past medium-well, but still tasty. The sweetness of the glazed donut combined nicely with the saltiness of the bacon and the taste of the beef. The glazed donut however was sticky and messy, hence the wet-nap. I've seen this done elsewhere and they invert the donut so the sticky side faces the burger. While not as pretty, this practice makes it easier to eat. Overall it was good, but I think I'll try some other combinations next time we go there.

Actually, one of the main reasons we went was that on Tuesdays kids eat for a buck. My grandson had a hot dog, yogurt, apple slices and an ice-cream for a dollar and my wife and daughter got wraps. Good food and good service. They have a website for more information.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Greek City, Ramsey, NJ

Now here's one of those places we stumbled upon quite by chance and we almost passed it up. We were in Jersey to do some shopping when Teresa wanted to stop at the Kohl's in Ramsey. As we were leaving I noted what looked like a small place in the mall with a sign that said Greek Food, or something like that. We debated and decided to try it out, figuring it to be a hole in the wall dive.

Well, inside it looked totally different. It looked classy. So classy that we looked at the menu before deciding to eat there. We found a nice selection and the prices were okay so we went in. We were seated at a table, but the booths are cooler with frosted seats and lights behind them. We were given water, bread and a small bowl of kalmati olives. The waiter brought a plate by to show us the daily fish selection and gave us time to decide.

Teresa decided on the Chicken Souvlaki (above) at $17.00. Those lovely things in the front are lemon roasted potatoes, which were delicious. I am not a big potato fan, but I could eat those every day. It also had a good tzatziki sauce and the chicken was good.

I went out of my comfort zone and instead of ordering the Gyro platter at $15, I got the Kohilia Lakonia at $25. Pan seared sea scallops over fresh spinach with garlic and olive oil. When it came I was a bit disappointed as it looked small, but at the end there was just plenty on the plate. On top of that it was quite well done. The scallops were perfectly seared and the spinach was just right.

I was considering dessert, but passed this time. Next time I want to try the one of the calamari dishes and see how their saganaki is. Oh yes, we will be back again, and again.

In short, the food was excellent, ambiance pleasant, the prices fair, and the service good. It does take some time for the food to come, but well worth the wait. You need to try this place sometime. They have a website for more information. By the way, lunch prices are cheaper.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Gunk Haus, Highland, NY

I've been hearing about this place for a while, and from some reliable sources, so we decided to pay a visit on a clear summer day. Now the address is Highland, but it is closer to Clintondale. I'll give you the website and you can find directions and other stuff.

Gunk Haus bills themselves as a German Gastropub using local and organic food as much as possible. As a result the menu changes almost daily to reflect what is available and fresh. The beer menu changes as well to reflect pairings and seasonal offerings.

Inside it is fairly large and open with plenty of windows. Unfortunately they don't have shades so some of the tables are in severe sun. The staff is friendly and welcoming and we were seated right away. We did have to move over a table though because of that light.

We looked through the menu and quite a few offerings looked good. After careful deliberation we ordered a side of potato salad (pictured) for an appetizer that was very good with sliced pickles on it.

Teresa decided on the pork tenderloin sandwich, with salad on the side and she said it was good. I was pondering the array of sausage based meals and I finally went with the Haus burger, with smoked gouda on it and the Haus cole slaw instead of fries. I ordered it medium and paired it with a Mother's Milk, a fine Milk Stout from Keegan Ales in Kingston. The burger came on a fresh baked pretzel roll and it was a thick eight ounce burger. When I picked it up juice ran out onto the plate. I bit into it and it looked a bit overcooked. Further investigation found it to be much closer to well done and most of the juices were in my plate. I pointed it out to the waitress and she quickly offered to make another one. I said no, this wasn't bad, and it really wasn't, I only pointed it out so they would know and because this is getting to be an issue with me lately. Every time I order a burger it seems to come out cooked a step or two above what I ask for. Several other people came and apologized as well. The cole slaw was okay, but it needed something, it was a bit flat tasting.

Now we don't do this often, but the five desert offerings looked so good that we saved room for desert. The winner was the cherry and blueberry strudel shown here. It was good and finished off the meal perfectly. In retrospect we should have ordered coffee to go with it, but we inhaled it anyway.

Okay, the bottom line is this; good service, good prices and good food. Out of four dishes we ordered, three were perfect. If something isn't right they take care of it and you can usually customize parts of the meal, like leaving out an ingredient you don't want. The whole thing was forty buck plus tip for two entrees, an extra side, a beer and desert. We'll be back to try them again and that time I'll look into those sausages.

Update- We went back and found it to be as good as the first time, maybe even better. Click here for the review.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Maggie McFly's, Brookfield, CT

We saw a billboard for this place while we were on Rt 84 and the logo looked interesting so we decided to pop in and give it a try today while we were headed to Stew Leonard's. It is just north of Stews, and above the Five Guys across from Costco.

It is big inside with lots of wood and big leather booths. In spite of that, it is bright enough to see and you can eat outside as well. We were seated fairly quickly and presented menus. After some deliberation Teresa chose the lunch Thai Salad, shown here. I debated between the local grass-fed beef burger and the Kobe Burger. I chose the Kobe after the waitress said it was the better choice. Since I didn't try the local grass fed I don't know that it was.

Teresa said the Thai salad was good and I found the burger good as well. I ordered it medium and it was close to somewhere between medium well and well. I have this problem almost everywhere though, there are darn few places that can do a proper medium burger. I also found that the burger was a bit dry, a problem with a lean beef like the Kobe, especially when overcooked. The fries were nice and crispy and the presentation was pretty. The service was a bit slow, especially considering the fact that the place wasn't that busy.

The prices were good though, and they had a good selection of food and beers available. One note, they require proper for gentlemen only, no tank tops, no half shirts and no sleeveless shirts. I guess the ladies can wear whatever they want. They have a website for more information.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chester Springs Creamery

Here's a cool place in Chester Springs, PA, just north of Downingtown on Uwchlan Ave for fresh ice cream. They make it right there and it tastes like it. Good. I had the Joy's Peanut Butter Fudge with hot fudge on it and it was quite good. You can even walk around and see the cows that the cream comes from. They have a website for more information.