Thursday, August 30, 2012

Gilded Otter, New Paltz, NY

Three Pines IPA
The best way to describe the Gilded Otter is to have you imagine what would happen if you built a brewpub around your brew tanks (clean shiny ones) so that no matter where you are, you can see the tanks. The concept works well here as on one side of the tanks is a large, warm bar and the other two sides are dining are. They have a second floor, more of a loft, looking down on the tanks. While it does have elements of what I call 'early modern brewpub' it is very tastefully done with plenty of wood and windows overlooking the Gunks. Oh, and some nice photographs and artwork as well.

Fried cheese curds
We went with another couple on a Thursday evening and it wasn't as crowded as the weekends. We were brought menus and asked what we wanted to drink. I ordered the beer special of the day, the IPA and my friend Dan got a blueberry beer. The IPA was good with a fresh clean taste, but I would have liked it a bit hoppier. I did have another. The blueberry beer, not my thing, had blueberries floating in it.
We decided on two appetizers to share, the calamari and the fried cheese curds. Both were good and both came with two sauces. I was tempted to get the mussels but I'll try them the next time.
Dan had the Jambalaya and I decided on the Brewmaster burger with blue cheese and bacon. My burger was good, but nothing spectacular. The fries however were excellent. Teresa and Kathy both ordered the fish and chips, a large cod loin on a bed of fries. I took a taste and they were crisp on the outside, yet moist and tender on the inside.
Fish and chips
Overall I was fairly impressed with the beer, the food and the service. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Temptations Everyday Gourmet, Porters Neck, Wilmington, NC

Temptations Everyday Gourmet has two locations. One is on Oleander, near the Mall, and the other is in Porter's Neck. We went to the one in Porter's Neck. Inside it is a cute place with a whole wall of wine to choose from, tables and an exposed kitchen. We were seated and looked over the menus (I already knew what I wanted as we picked up a menu one night passing by).

Rachel ordered the chicken pot pie, shown on top, which was more of a thick chicken soup with a pastry puff on top. It was good, but a bit heavy on the rosemary. Teresa got a chicken salad and a bowl of onion soup. I ordered the Pimento burger with onion soup as my side. 

The Pimento burger I got was really good, one of the best in the Wilmington area. The pimento was plentiful and wonderful. The only thing missing was a strip or two of bacon, and I probably could have added it. I ordered it cooked medium and that's exactly how it came, a perfect medium. The onion soup was delicious. 

We finished it off with a classic creme broulee. The portion was just right for the three of us to share after a filling lunch. 

Overall, good food at reasonable prices (all of this was about $44 including three coffees), excellent service and a warm atmosphere. I'd recommend you try them.

Temptations Everyday Gourmet on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Rx Restaurant, Wilmington, NC

I got a recommendation for this place from two people I trust and I was told they were doing a remix on a classic Carolina burger, they even sent me a picture. Of course I was down with that, and on my way. My first attempt to visit found the restaurant closed at noon so I left and went elsewhere. My second attempt went better and we found them open at half past five. 

Once inside I could see that someone spent a fair piece of change setting this place up. Ceramic floors, painted walls with artwork, wooden tables, each of which had a different design, and a nice wooden bar create a trendy, hip, warm atmosphere. We were seated and given menus. 

Now when I looked at the menu I saw no burgers of any kind, it was a simple menu featuring seafood, steaks, vegetable dishes and such. We asked our waiter Jason, who by the way was excellent, and he said they have a bar menu after the 10:00 which included that burger. I didn't really want to sit around for four hours so I looked closer at the menu.

I ordered the North Carolina shrimp, grits, tomatoes, bacon and corn (shrimp 'n grits) at $18.00 and added a side of mac and cheese for $5.00. Teresa got the chef's choice vegetable plate (chef decides on what goes on it at that time) for $14.00 and added a side of kale for $5.00. All of the dishes were quite good. The mac and cheese was cheesy enough and the shrimp dish was tasty. I like the fact that they removed the tails from the shrimp so I didn't have to get sauce all over my fingers as I ate. Nice touch.

Overall it was good. Service excellent, ambiance warm and trendy, food good, prices okay. Worth a visit, but I want that darn burger.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Paddy's Hollow, Wilmington, NC

Paddy's Hollow is in the Cotton Exchange in Wilmington and we've passed by it a few times, mostly when I park at the Cotten Exchange and walk downtown. The entrance looks inviting and I've been meaning to try it for some time and today, when the place I wanted to hit didn't open until two, we decided to pop in. We being myself and two of my daughters for a father/daughter lunch.

Inside it looks a bit like an Irish bar with wood and brick and it is well lighted. Except where we were seated seemed like the only dark spot. Look at the picture below and you can see that, but it did make the background go to black even though I did drag the shutter at 1/20th.

After looking over the menu, I ordered the crab cake sandwich (shown here) for $8.99 with mac and cheese as the side. There are a few options for sides and the mac and cheese was a good choice. The crab cake was good and it was on a wheat roll that was fresh. I washed it down with a Guinness, it is an Irish place after all. I was going to go for the Po' Boy, but changed my mind.

One of my daughters got the corned beef on marble rye and I took a taste. Nice and lean. My other daughter had the cajun spiced chicken sandwich and she liked it. 

Overall a nice place and I'd go back again.

Blue Asia Bistro, Wilmington, NC

Blue Asia is a fusion place featuring sushi (they have all you can eat sushi for twenty bucks, twelve for lunch), hibachi, Chinese and Japanese at reasonable prices. The decor is upscale and clean and the people are very welcoming and friendly.

The food is good too. Not phenomenal, but good. I ordered the fried dumplings at $4.95 and the wrappers were light, the filling flavorful. Teresa got the Thai basil chicken at $12.95 and it was quite good. My entree was the Chen Du duck (shown above) at $16.95. It was okay, but I thought the duck was a bit overcooked and dry, something that happens when it is prepared too far ahead of time. The sauce was good though. 

Overall, not bad but nothing great. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Burgers for a Buck- Burger King

Number two in the burger chain wars, Burger King has been around for a while. The location this bacon burger came from is in Castle Hayne, Wilmington, NC.

Bun- 4

Condiments- 1. The only thing on the burger was a massive amount of mayonnaise and sliced onions.

Meat- 4

Presentation- 4

Aftertaste- 5, no repeats

Overall taste- 20

Total Score- 39 of 50

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Poor Piggy's BBQ, Wilmington, NC

My friend Samantha has been singing the praises of Poor Piggy's BBQ truck for some time now and today was the day for a visit. It was boy's day and I went with my grandson and my son-in-law for lunch.

Mike got the brisket sandwich combo with slaw, baked beans and fries. My grandson had the BBQ sandwich and I ordered the BBQ plate (BBQ, slaw and fries). Total came to $24.00. I tasted Mike's and it was very good. Mine was probably some of the best BBQ I've had anywhere. Just a hint of smoke flavor, but not overpowering. 

I highly recommend that you stop by and pay them a visit.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Epic Food Company, Wilmington, NC

The picture above is salmon on a flatbread with cilantro, grilled scallions and a few other things. The best way to describe it is simply amazing and say that you really have to go to Epic Foods in Wilmington. 

The service was warm and friendly, and helpful. The ambiance is bright and inviting with a surfer theme. The prices are downright reasonable. The food is fresh and delicious. Overall, a winner that I will be going to often.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Jester's Cafe, Wilmington, NC

My daughter, Rachel, has been telling me about Jester's for quite some time now, it's one of her favorite lunch places, so it has been on my 'short list' for a while now. Today I decided to do a father-daughter lunch and took her and Sarah there. I let Rachel drive and it was a good thing as I probably would have had trouble finding it.

Jester's Cafe sits on Castle in what looks to be a house with nothing but a small sign in front. Inside it is small and maintains that house look. An eclectic house look though. We looked through the simple menus and I opted for the BLEST (shown above) which is bacon, lettuce, egg-salad and tomato on a croissant. It came with a choice of sides and I got the potato salad.  It was quite good. 
It was not nearly as good as what Rachel ordered which was a pimento, grilled onions and bacon sandwich on rye toast (shown above). We shared the dishes and hers was amazing. Sarah got the black bean burger and she said it was good. 

Three good meals, a slice of key lime pie, two ice tea (unsweetened since I'm a northerner) and a Cheerwine came to under thirty bucks. The service was excellent (everyone waits on all of the tables so you never wait for a refill) and the ambiance is cool and friendly, charming in fact. 

I can see why Rachel likes it so much.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Flaming Amy's Bowl, Wilmington, NC

I love Flaming Amy's Burritos in Wilmington, in fact it is one of my favorites places, but I didn't try the Bowl until recently. I discovered that I have been missing out on a great place.

Flaming Amy's Bowl is a Mongolian Grill, a flattop, whatever you want to call it. You enter, find a table, and grab a bowl. Take that bowl to the counter and fill it with whatever you want and hand it to the cook. Tell them what sauce you want and what starch (rice, spaghetti, rice noodles, etc) and they cook it on the flat top. 

My first creation is shown above, shrimp, chipotles, rice noodles, more peppers and a garlic lime sauce. It was very good, but spicy. My next three bowls (it is all you can eat) were smaller (I left out the noodles) and more focused. I made one that tasted like a Philly Cheesesteak. I left full, but not bloated. 

On Sundays kids are less than a buck (no, they don't sell kids) after five. We took four of them and five adults. Our total bill was well under fifty dollars, an amazing value. Go there.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Murphy's Grand Irish Pub, Alexandria, VA

Murphy's Grand Irish Pub in Alexandria is a classic Irish pub. You know, the kind you can find almost anywhere in the world and when you find it you'll feel at home. It reminded me of a pub in Dublin where I knocked back a few pints. We stopped there because we found a coupon in a travel guide when we went to Alexandria offering 'buy one entree, get a second free'. That seemed like a nice idea, accompanied by the fact that two of the restaurants I wanted to eat at were closed between lunch and dinner.

The visit to Murphy's turned out to be a good idea. First of all it was very hot outside and the air conditioning cooled us off right away. Second there were several large screen TVs all turned to the Olympic women's soccer finals with the USA in, a rematch against Japan for the loss in the World Cup. Can there be a better place to watch a football match (soccer game) than an Irish pub? I can't think of any and the cheering during the game added that much more atmosphere. 

I ordered the Murphy Burger at $7.75. It was quite good with Canadian bacon (the proper Irish method is to use rashers, but they are hard to find here in the US and the concept is similar), provolone cheese melted and slightly charred on a fresh sesame bun. It came with fried potato disks. Teresa ordered the Reuben at $9.50. It had lean corned beef that was still moist and flavorful with the right amount of sauerkraut and cheese. Good food at reasonable prices. 

The service was good, Kim was very attentive and helpful, and they have a fairly good beer selection. I stuck with a Guinness for the first round (it is an Irish place) and found it to be served more like one might find in Ireland being slightly warmer than American tastes. My second was a Smithwich's.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Red Line Diner, Fishkill, NY

We watched the Red Line Diner being built each time we went to Sam's Club in Fishkill and we were wondering if they were ever going to finish it. It took what seemed to be a long time. Well, after it was built we passed by quite a few times before we stopped. The main reason was that it looked crowded with people waiting outside and a lesser reason was that we'd either already eaten, or weren't hungry. Today we changed that and stopped in. 

It is a large diner with a modern look to it and I saw the similarities to their sister diner, the Table Talk in Poughkeepsie. We were seated in the main dining area (right near a window  which makes for good food photography) and given menus. 
The menus featured typical diner fare and a bit more. While I wanted to get a gyro or a rueben to do a real comparison to other diners, I decided to try something different. Teresa ordered the chicken avocado focaccia panini at $9.95 and I ordered the steak and brie panini at $12.50. Both came with fries and a bowl of cole slaw with a pickle (shown at top). I tasted hers and it was good. Mine was good as well. I ordered it medium rare and it came what I consider to be a perfect medium rare. Notice that the meat is a bit purple in the middle in the photo. The onions and the brie blended nicely with the horseradish sauce, but I did have to add some salt and pepper to bring out the flavors. I think this was the case when we went to Table Talk too.

Overall it was quite good, the portions were very large as we each got two medium sandwiches and an ample amount of fries. The service was good as well. We will go back to try the Rueben and the gyro. 

Friday, August 3, 2012

PF Chang's China Bistro, Warrington, PA

I've seen the PF Chang's in Warrington many times and being reasonably bright I figured out that it was Chinese. I'd avoided it for the simple reason that it is a chain and that has proven to be a mistake. We stopped by today for lunch and we were quite satisfied to say the least.  

Inside it is large and full of stone. Stone walls, stone floors bright lighting in some areas, mood lighting in others. Overall a nice ambiance. Being that time between lunch and dinner the place was relatively empty. We were seated, presented menus and told that our server would be right with us. 

One of the main reasons for our favorable experience was our waiter, a nice young man named Phillip who was very helpful, informative, friendly and had a wonderful attitude. It is amazing how a good server can make a meal. 

I ordered the lunch portion of the lemongrass salmon with asparagus on fried rice. $11.95 plus a buck for the fried rice. Teresa ordered the ginger chicken broccoli at $9.75 and we shared a small order of egg rolls (2) for $4.95. Both came with soup, Teresa opted for the egg drop and I decided on the hot and sour. Mine was excellent, Teresa's was okay. The egg rolls were fresh tasting, light in flavor and had a dipping sauce that was a mixture of duck sauce and hot mustard. Quite nice.

My salmon was quite good. For my taste it was a bit overcooked, but I think most patrons wouldn't like it as rare as I do. I pointed this out to Phillip and he said the next time I should order it medium, or medium rare and they would accommodate. I will.

I would rate the food as Americanized (not in a bad way) and upscaled Chinese food. The flavors are clean and light tasting with a nice presentation. Can you find better Chinese at a local restaurant? Probably so, but when traveling I've found Chinese restaurants to be a crap shoot. Sometimes you find good food, sometimes you get crap. And that leads me back to that chain comment from earlier. Chains have their advantages, the biggest of which is consistency. I will go back to a PF Chang's (probably the one in Warrington since we pass it) simply because it is good food. I would rate PF Chang's as a good chain from my experience.