Saturday, March 31, 2012

Mix N Mac, Middletown, NY

Fried Bacon, cheddar and macaroni balls
I heard about the new Mix n Mac restaurant in Middletown a few weeks ago when my wife told me that people she knew went there, and that they said it was good. I looked them up online (not the people but the restaurant) and checked out their Facebook page. Next I added them to Urbanspoon, and put them on my short list. This is what foodies do when we stalk a restaurant prior to a visit, we plan it out and dream about what we're going to eat. 

Well, today we stopped by and I must say that I have to applaud what I think is pure genius. Some brilliant person has taken one of the most classic of comfort foods and built a restaurant concept around it. This idea ranks right up there with that grilled cheese place I went to a couple of months ago.

Buffalo Chichen Mac and Cheese

Mix n Mac sits in a strip mall on Rt 211 by the Pizza Hut. It isn't that big inside, but it looks like a fairly efficient operation. There is a counter to order from, and where the food is assembled. You can watch the food being made and it reminds me somewhat of a Subway Restaurant in some ways. In the back is a kitchen where the steak, shrimp and other ingredients are cooked.

The wall menu over the cash register lists a whole bunch of options like; cheeseburger, buffalo chicken, cheese steak, mexi, vegi, lobster, shrimp scampi, and the classic American with prices ranging from $6 to $14. You can even mix it your way by choosing the cheese and adding three ingredients for $8. 

The process is simple, after they take your order they take an aluminum pan and put in the macaroni (white or wheat), then add whatever is needed and run it trough a conveyor oven where it comes out all cooked and browned like the picture here. We watched the girl make an order and asked her some questions while she did before deciding what we wanted.

I chose the Buffalo Chicken at $7 and Teresa got a Noodle Salad with cilantro dressing at $8. We also had the Fried Bacon and Cheddar Balls at $6. The fried mac and cheese balls were very good and came with a dipping sauce that tastes like what you'd get with onion blossoms and fried pickles, a spicy Russian dressing/remoulade of sorts. The Buffalo chicken was good. Good like getting a back rub and a foot massage at the same time. This is comfort food at its best and you should stop by and give them a try sometime. We'll be back.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Lambertville Station, Lambertville, NJ

We travel between Orange County New York and Chester County in Pennsylvania quite often and for some time we thought we'd found all of the decent restaurants along the way, and a few bad ones. Well, one day we strayed off the beaten path and discovered New Hope in Pennsylvania and Lambertville in New Jersey. Between these two small towns on the Delaware River, there must be at least fifty places to try. This should keep us busy for a long time. 

Today we cruised through the Pennsylvania side and couldn't find a place to park so over the river to Jersey we went. We found a parking spot a few blocks into town and walked back toward the river where we'd spotted the Lambertville Station. We looked at the menu they had outside, I love it when restaurants do this, and decided to give them a try. Before we did I thought that this could either be very good, or nothing more than a tourist trap.

The place is big, well it was a railroad station, with a large patio outside along banks of the canal, but it was too chilly for that so we went in. The upstairs dining area was a bit full with a fifteen minute wait and the hostess said we could put our name in, or go downstairs and maybe there was a table in the bar area, or the Tapas room. We went down and that hostess said that a table opened just up in the bar, and she was adamant that we grab it quick. We did. I looked around and it had a British Isles feel to it with lots of wood. 

The bartender brought us water and menus and we perused. It came down to fish and chips, a burger or eggs benedict. I ordered the Angus burger (see the picture above) with bacon and blue cheese for ten bucks and it came with fresh chips which were quite good. By the way, the blue cheese was not listed as an option but they can do pretty much whatever you ask for. I ordered it medium and when I ate it I realized it was closer to being well-done, but it was a darn good well-done burger retaining plenty of moisture without being greasy and it had plenty of flavor. The roll was sweet in taste, and very fresh.

Teresa had the small burger shown above. It was five ounces compared to my eight ounce burger and it had a sautéed pear slice on top with cheddar cheese. She said it was delicious. My son Mark ordered the fish and chips and he said the fish was cooked right and only lightly battered so that it wasn't heavy in taste and the last piece was as good as the first.

We had three excellent meals for thirty-three bucks and the service was friendly and good. I guess it turned out to the first choice, very good, although they probably do cater to tourists. On the way out we picked up a paper that said they also have game meat in the evening such as elk, pheasant, crocodile, and a few others. I'll have to go sometime to try the pheasant. I think we'll be back a few times as we only scratched the surface of this place and there seems to be so much more to explore. Stop by and see for yourself.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Wegman's Sushi, Downingtown, Pa

I like Sushi. Now what I know about sushi could fill a matchbook cover and I'm not an aficionado like my friend Pasquale is, but I like it. What I really like is tuna and salmon which taste great raw. Heck, raw fish is nothing proprietary to the Japanese, the French call it en crue and the Italians call it cerviche.

It's interesting that certain foods have developed a mystique surrounding them, like French food seeming to be so expensive and exotic and sushi was the exotic food of the '90's. It became Yuppie status food, especially when washed down with a martini. Since then sushi has become almost mainstream and, with the exception of a few rare things that can kill you, sushi is not all that complicated and can be found almost anywhere.

One of my favorite places for Sushi is, believe it or not, Wegman's supermarket in Downingtown, Pennsylvania. Yes, it is supermarket sushi. Yes, it is a tad bit overpriced for take away. However, it is always fresh and tasty since they make it right there and they turn it over fast. The people who make it are friendly and helpful, just ask any question and they will happily answer. They are also Japanese. Okay that sounds odd and I've had good sushi made for me by a Mexican in a Chinese restaurant, but sushi should be made by the Japanese.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Blazing Bagels, Montgomery, NY

In the Towne Center Shopping Plaza, the one that has the Shop Rite, in Montgomery, NY there sits a little gem of a restaurant called Blazing Bagels. This has been a favorite of our family for years as they make the best bagels in the area, and some really good sandwiches on those bagels. 

I hadn't been there in some time and I wanted a nice breakfast sandwich so I popped in today for a quick bite. I got a bacon, egg and cheese on a jalapeño bagel and a small coffee for $4.65, tax included. The sandwich was delightful, as good as ever and the coffee good (they grind it fresh). They also have Lana's homemade soups and you can get a sandwich on various breads too. 

So forget the chains for breakfast (and lunch) and go visit a locally owned restaurant where you can get a great meal for less. 

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Yobo, Newburgh

We haven't been to Yobo in Newburgh since Clinton was President but I remembered it as being very good. One of my wife's co-workers was telling her that she went there recently and that she liked it. So off we went to see if it was still as good as we remembered. 

Inside Yobo is an eclectic mix of a Japanese Steakhouse and Chinese decor. There is a small pond in the main dining area with a fountain and there some small 'piracy rooms' with sliding doors. You can watch the sushi guy work and the hibachi guy is behind a glass where you can see him too. This all fits as the cuisine is Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

Egg Roll
We were greeted and seated quickly and then the dilemma occurred. What to order? There were too many interesting choices and I bounced between two types of duck, sushi and tempura.  I decided on the shrimp tempura for the entree and the calamari as an appetizer. Teresa went with and egg roll and the sesame chicken.

Sesame Chicken
The calamari was done in somewhat of a tempura fashion and was quite delicious. Regular readers know how I feel about calamari and that I expect it cooked right. This was cooked to perfection and came with a duck sauce with wasabi. The egg roll was huge, tasty and hot.

My tempura was a large portion with five shrimp (pairs) and vegetables. It was good, but having eaten the calamari done in a similar fashion I would have ordered the duck. The sesame chicken was excellent with large pieces of chicken that were moist with a crispy outside in a tasty sesame sauce. 

Shrimp Tempura
The service was excellent, attentive yet giving space. The food was excellent as well and came out at the right intervals with just the right amount of time between appetizer and entree. The ambiance very nice and welcoming. In short it was every bit as good as I remember and I will return soon.