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. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Mario's Pasta Garden, Brookfield, CT

Fried Calamari
Mario's Pasta Garden is on Federal Road in Brookfield, Ct just before the Costco. Years ago we went here about once a month or so when we went to the Danbury Mall and Stew Leonard's with the kids. It was a good place to take four kids because the prices were good, the food was good, and there was something for everyone. We stopped going about fifteen years ago when we let the Costco membership lapse and today I thought we should stop in and see if it was as good as I remembered. 

What I remembered that I liked about the place was that they made their own pasta fresh and baked their own bread and that was still true. The decor hadn't changed in fifteen years and while it didn't look bad, it did look a little long in the tooth the last time we were there and it hadn't changed since. Of course you don't eat the ambiance and I'm all about the food so decor doesn't really matter to me.

We were there when the lunch menu still applied so there were quite a few bargains. After some looking I ordered the fried calamari at $6.99 to share while Teresa was trying to decide on dinner. She finally decided on the Gnocchi with meat sauce at $7.99 and I ordered the Rigati carbonara at $6.99. We were told to help ourselves to the breadbasket by the soup. For ninety-nine cents extra you can get all the soup you want and the bread comes with the meal. The bread was delightful. Twenty-four bucks for two entrees, an appetizer and tax, and we took some home too.

The calamari came and it was perfectly cooked. Just the right amount of breaded, lightly fried, and perfect texture. The marinara sauce on the side was light and fresh tasting. Now I love a good calamari and this was one of the best. We shared it (read that inhaled it) and I even ate the little crumbs on the plate.

When the entrees came they looked good and tasted good. I think Teresa's dish was the better of the two and the meat sauce was lightly meat flavored and didn't overpower the sauce. Mine was a cream sauce with bacon and sautéed onions and was a bit flat at first, but a dash of salt took care of that.

The bottom line is this, good food at reasonable prices and defiantly worth stopping by to check them out. They have a website with the menu and all that stuff.

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

Victory Revisited (again)

We've been to Victory quite a few times and found it to be a mixed bag when it comes to the food and the service. We've been there and had a great meal with excellent service and we've been there and I left disappointed. 

Of course the best thing about Victory is shown at left, the beer. I had a Headwaters Pale Ale and my son-in-law went with a cask conditioned Hop Wallop. The Headwaters was so good I picked up a case on the way out. 

There were eleven of us and we sat at the cool table with the brewing kettle hood over it so the acoustics were amazing. You could talk in a normal voice and be heard on the other side of the table easily. 

I had a sautéed pear with brie, caramelized onions and a raspberry sauce on a brioche roll for ten bucks. I added bacon for another three bucks (quite the up charge but I thought it needed something salty) and I swapped out the fries for a salad. It was not nearly as good as expected. The pear had little flavor and the whole thing was a bit dry. 

I recommend you stick to the pizzas, the Stockyard is the best, and the specials. But really, the main reason to go to Victory is for the beer.

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. 

Sweet Lorraine's at Peddler's Village on Urbanspoon

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.

Wherehouse, The on Urbanspoon

Friday, November 4, 2011

Denny's Slamburger

We haven't been to a Denny's in years. We used to go there quite a bit when we were first married and had no money. Later when we had kids and no money we went occasionally. Then we stopped going. Well, today we were driving past and decided to stop and see what they were all about now, especially after seeing some of their new ad campaigns billing themselves as America's Diner. 

Inside I noticed the counter was missing and it was all tables and booths. After looking at the menu for a bit I decided on the Slamburger, a burger with home fries, cheese, bacon and an egg. I said I didn't want the egg runny and I wanted the burger medium-well (in chains I do this instead of medium mainly because that's that way it's coming and partly because I'm not as trusting of the meat since it was probably frozen). Teresa ordered a chicken dish from the back menu. The staff was friendly and as we waited for our for I heard a few mistakes at nearby tables, all of which were corrected quickly by the servers. Things like French Fries instead of Home fries and such.

The burger was good. I could tell it was griddle cooked, but I didn't taste any grease until the last two bites. The egg was perfect, closer to the an omelet sitting on the burger, and the shredded home-fries were a nice touch. I'd gotten the seasoned fries on the side and they were hot, crispy and tasty. $7.99. Not bad.