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Sultan’s Turkish Cuisine {Review}

While traveling from Westchester County, New York to my parent’s house in Rhode Island, we pass Sultan’s Turkish Cuisine as we travel through Waterbury, Connecticut.  Located at 586 Plank Road, the restaurant is visible and located, right off I-84. We’ve driven by this restaurant countless times and finally, on a recent trip back from Rhode Island decided to stop for a late lunch.

The restaurant was empty when we arrived around 1:45 PM on a Monday afternoon. However, as our lunch progressed, the restaurant started to fill up.

The dining area is large with both tables and booths.  The interior walls are hung with decorative artwork, while elaborate drapery hang from the windows.

Turkey is a transcontinental country with parts in both Western Asia and Southeast Europe. The cuisine is influenced by its location, with key ingredients include lamb, beef, rice, fish, eggplant and nuts.  Spices often used include parsley, mint, sumac, cumin, Za’atar and paprika.

My husband and I were slightly familiar with Turkish food, as we recently had a Turkish-themed supper club dinner. However, this was our family’s first time dining at a Turkish restaurant.  To get the most variety and be able to try different dishes, we opted to share a small mixed cold appetizer platter and a small mixed hot appetizer platter.

The small mixed cold appetizer platter ($13.99) included (from top left (11 o’clock) on the plate) Humus, Bababganush, Haydari, Havuc Tarator, Antep Ezpe and Soslu Patlican. I was expecting lavash bread (a puffy bread often served with appetizers) or some other type of pita to put these spreads and dips on but we weren’t given any.  Instead, we used the crusty bread that was placed on our table when we arrived.

Humus – pureed chickpeas with olive oil, tahini, garlic and lemon juice.  We are not new to humus.  Although I usually buy it, rather than make it, it’s usually a staple in our fridge.

Babaganush – pureed roasted eggplant blended with tahini, olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.  I love babaganush!

Haydari (Labne) – pressed yogurt mixed with garlic, olive oil, dill and crushed walnuts.

Havuc Tarator (Carrot Dip) – Carrots, mayo, sour cream, olive oil and lemon juice.

Antep Ezpe (Muammara) – A blend of tomatoes, red bell peppers, hot long green peppers, parsley, garlic, walnuts and pepper paste.  This spread was a bit spicy.

Soslu Patlican (Sauced Eggplant) – A mixture of fried eggplant cubes, red and green peppers and garlic topped with the chef’s special tomato sauce. This was one of my favorites of the cold appetizers!

The small mixed hot appetizer platter ($12.99) included (from top 12 o’clock) Calamari, Mucver, Sigara Borek,  Arnavut Cigeri and Falafel.

Calamari – Deep fried calamari served with the chef’s special sauce.

Mucver (Zucchini Pancake) – Combination of zucchini and fresh herbs and spices, served with yogurt sauce.

Sigara Borek – Cigar-shaped, fried crispy pastry filled with feta cheese and fresh parsley.

Arnavut Cigeri – Floured and deep-fried calf’s liver cubes pan seared with garlic and herbs.

Falafel – Deep-fried mixture of chickpeas, parsley, onions, garlic and Middle Eastern spices.

The only other hot appetizers not included on this platter include Izgara Kalamar (grilled calamari), Kizartma Fuve (potato pancakes) and Imam Bayildi (stuffed eggplant).  While I found the variety of the platter to be good, the portions were not conducive to sharing.  Splitting several of the above items between the four of us meant we each literally only got a bite.  A large platter though would have been way too much food for us.

Finally, for the main entree we shared the Mixed Grill Kebab Plate ($23.99).  This included Chicken Shish (cubed chicken), Lamb Shish (cubed lamb), Kofte (Turkish meatballs made of ground lamb), Adana (ground lamb seasoned with red bell peppers) and Doner (Thin slices of seasoned lamb and beef slow-cooked on a large, vertical spit). All kebab entrees are served with a side salad, and both white and bulgur rice.

Although stuffed, we couldn’t leave without trying a dessert!  The dessert menu included Baklava, Kunefe, Revani, Sekerpare, Sutlac and Kazandibi.  We ordered the Kazandibi ($5.95), pictured above, to share among the four of us.  It’s a vanilla-based milky pudding with a caramelized top.  This had a similar texture and taste to creme brulee.

Baklava – A sweet pastry made of layers of filo, filled with chopped nuts and sweetened and held together with syrup.

Kunefe – Shredded filo dought stuffed with cheese then soaked in a sweet sugar-based syrup.

Revani – Baked semolina soaked with the chef’s special syrup.

Sekerpare – Baked soft balls of pastry dipped in a thick, lemony, sugar syrup.

Sutlac (Rice Pudding)  – Sweet vanilla based mixture of milk and rice baked in the oven.

A variety of tea and coffee, including Turkish Coffee and Turkish Tea,  are available and can be ordered by the cup or kettle.

We had a great experience at Sultan’s Turkish Cuisine.  Although I don’t have prior dining experience to compare it to, the food we had was delicious and tasted authentic. The restaurant is family-friendly and offers a variety of dishes including vegetarian.  I liked how there was no issues with the four of us sharing the two appetizers and one entree. Our waiter even complimented on our “eating family-style.”  Since we obviously don’t eat Turkish often, this was a great way for us all to taste a variety of items from the menu.  Saturday evenings the restaurant has belly dancers from 7:30 – 8:00 PM which would be a fun experience for the kids to see!  The restaurant also offers takeout and delivery.

Attached to the restaurant is a small grocery shop selling all kinds of Turkish food products.  We of course couldn’t leave without picking up a few different types of candy to try!

The Details:
Sultan’s Turkish Cuisine
586 Plank Road
Waterbury, CT 06705
www.sultansrestaurantct.com

Hours:
Sunday – Thursday:  10:30 AM – 10:00 PM
Friday & Saturday:  10:30 AM – 11:00 PM

Price:  $$
Appetizers: $4.99 (lentil soup) – $20.99 (large mixed cold appetizer plate)
Kebabs:  $13.99 –  $26.99
Entrees:  $12.99 – $25.99)
Desserts:  $4.95 – $7.95

Recommend for families:  Yes

Overall Recommendation:  Yes

 

2017 Westchester County Valentine’s Day Dining Guide

Valentine’s Day is less than two weeks away.  If you are planning on going out to dinner with your sweetheart, reservations are a must!  Here is a look at some of the area’s restaurants that will be offering special Valentine’s Day menus.  Most other restaurants throughout the area will be open and serving their regular menu.  Regardless of where you decide to eat, be sure to make reservations now!

Please check the restaurant’s website or call for the most up-to-date information.  Additionally, please note that prices listed below do not include tax and gratuities.

Benjamin’s Steak House (Steak House)
610 Hartsdale Road
White Plains, NY 10607
reservations:  (914) 428-6868

Benjamin’s Steak House is offering a 3 course Valentine’s dinner menu for $89/person.  Dinner is served 4-10 PM.

Gaucho Grill (Argentinean Steak House)
One North Broadway
White Plains, NY 10601
reservations: (914) 437-9966 or online

Gaucho Grill is offering a special 3 course dinner for $65/person.  Dinner hours are from 3-10 PM.

Half Moon (New American)
1 High Street
Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
reservations:  (914) 693-4130

Half Moon is offering a special 3 course dinner for $65/person.  Dinner hours are 5:30-10 PM.

Harvest-on-Hudson (Italian)
1 River Street
Hastings, NY 10706
reservations: (914) 478-2800 or online (A deposit is required when making reservations)

Harvest-on-Hudson is open from 5-10 PM on Valentine’s Day.  They are offering a special three course dinner for $69/person.

The Hudson Room (New American and Sushi Bar)
23 South Division Street
Peekskill, NY 10566
reservations:  (914) 788-FOOD

From 5-11 PM, The Hudson Room is offering a 4-course dinner for $70/person.  At 6:30 and 8:30 PM there will be live jazz musical performances.

La Panetiere (French)
530 Milto Road
Rye, NY 10580
reservations:  (914) 967-8140

The French restaurant is having two seatings, 5:30 and 8:30 PM.  The three course dinner costs $90/person or $140/person with wine pairing.

Modern on the Rails (Italian, New American)
One Station Plaza
Mamaroneck, NY 10543
reservations:  (914) 777-9300

Modern on the Rails is offering a four course Valentine’s Day menu for $65/person.  The restaurant is open until 10:30 PM.

Moderne Barn (New American)
430 Bedford Ave.
Armonk, NY 10504
reservations: (914) 730-0001 or online

From 5-10 PM, diners can enjoy Chef Ethan’s 3 course prix-fixe menu.  The dinner costs $78/person or $118/person with wine pairing.

One Twenty One (New American)
2 Dingle Ridge Road
North Salem, NY 10560
reservations:  (914) 669-0121

One Twenty One is taking Valentine’s Day reservations from 5-9:30 PM.  Chef Beck Bolender is preparing a 3 course pre-fixe menu for $65/person.

Plates (New American)
121 Myrtle Boulevard
Larchmont, NY 10538
reservations:  (914) 834-1244 or online

Plates is having four Valentine’s Day seatings, with a 3 course prix-fixe menu.   The 5:00 and 6:30 PM seatings cost $65/person and the 6:30 and 8:00 PM seatings cost $85/person.

Red Hat on the River (French Bistro)
One Bridge Street
Irvington-on-Hudson, NY 10533
reservations:  (914) 591-5888 or online

Red Hat on the River is offering a special Valentine’s Day menu for $72/person plus gratuities.  They also have four special Valentine’s Day cocktails that they will be serving that evening.

Rosemary and Vine (Mediterranean)
29 Purchase Street
Rye, NY 10580
reservations:  (914) 481-8660

On Valentine’s Day, enjoy live music while you dine on Rosemary and Vine’s 3 course prix-fixe menu.  The vegetarian menu costs $45/person and an additional $28 for a wine pairing.  The restaurant is open until 9 PM.

Thyme (New American)
3605 Crompond Rd.
Yorktown Heights, NY 10598
reservations: (914) 788-8700

Thyme is offering a 3 course menu as well as a complimentary glass of champagne and a chocolate rose for $90/person.  Dinner hours are 4-10 PM.

Putnam County:

The Arch  (French)
1292 Route 22
Brewster, NY 10509
reservations:  (845) 279-5011

The Arch is serving a 4 course Valentine’s Day menu from 5-9:00 PM for $85/person.

Hudson House River Inn  (New American)
2 Main Street
Cold Spring, NY
reservations:  (845) – 265-9355

Hudson House River Inn has special 3 course Valentine’s Day menu for $47/person.  Their regular menu is available to order from as well.  The restaurant is open for dinner from 5-9 PM and they will have a keyboardist playing live music.  They also have special Valentine’s Day overnight packages as well.

Jaipore Royal Indian Cuisine (Indian)
280 Rt 22
Brewster, NY 10509
reservations:  (845) 277-3549

Jaipore has a special Valentine’s lunch buffet served from 12:00-2:30 PM for $15.99/person.  They are also offering a special dinner buffet from 5:00-9:45 PM for $25.99/person.

Ramiro’s 954 (Latin)
954 Route 6
Mahopac, NY 10541
reservations:  (845) 621-3333 or online

This Latin eatery is offering a 3 course prix-fixe menu for $55/person, which includes a dessert to share.  The restaurant is open from 3:30-9:00 PM.

Rockland County:

BV’s Grill (New American)
400 High Avenue
Nyack, NY 10960
reservations:  (845) 675-8740

BV’s Grill is offering a special three course Valentine’s Day menu on Saturday, February 11 from 4-11 PM as well as on Valentine’s Day from 5-10 PM.  The dinner costs $150/couple and includes a champagne toast and dancing.

Quinta Steakhouse (Steakhouse)
24 E. Central Ave.
Pearl River, NY 10965
reservations:  (845) 735-5565

Quinta Steakhouse is offering a special Valentine’s Day a’la carte menu as well as their regular dinner menu.  Dinner is served from 5-9 PM.

Sixty 5 On Main (Mediterranean)
65 Main Street
Nyack, NY 10960
reservations:  (845) 358-5200

Sixty 5 on Main is offering two seatings, 6:30 and 8:30 PM.  Ginetta’s Vendetta Band will be playing live music beginning at 7 PM.  They are offering a 4 course dinner with a complimentary bottle of red, white or sparkling wine for $130/couple.

Dig Inn Rye Brook Opens Today!

Dig Inn

*I was invited to a preview lunch experience at Dig Inn.  However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This past Tuesday I was invited to a preview lunch at Dig Inn in Rye Brook.   Adam Eskin, Founder & CEO of Dig Inn, opened his first restaurant in 2011.  This is Dig Inn’s fourteenth restaurant and first Westchester County location.  Located at 112 S. Ridge Street, Dig Inn offers a new dining option to the Rye Ridge Shopping Center.  And it officially opens today!

Order Area

When you enter the restaurant there is a large, casual dining area with communal tables.  They have a deli counter in the front where you can order containers of their sides, proteins, or even family meals to go.  As you make your way towards the back of the restaurant there is the ordering area, where you can customize your Marketbowl or Melting Broth, the restaurant’s main lunch and dinner dining options.

Dig Inn Kitchen

At the end of the counter is the Chef’s table.  Here you can sit and dine while watching the chefs prepare a variety of toasts and vegetable charcuterie.

Dining area

And finally at the back of the restaurant is dining area.  There are several seating areas with marble table tops adorned with tiny succulents.  When designing this Rye Brook restaurant, creative director Melanie Masarin and founder Adam Eskin were all about cutting open the ceiling to place a giant, elevated sky light.  They also added a giant window in the back of the restaurant, to allow for lots of natural light into the space.  The result, is a bright and beautiful dining room.

Roasted Pumpkin Toast

I was able to sample the three different toasts that they offer, including this one topped with roasted pumpkin with pepitas and pickled chiles.  I also tried the lemon ricotta with truffle, black pepper and honey and the smoked whitefish with red grapes and soft herbs.  I can honestly say they were all delicious.

Yukon Gold Potato Terrine

Vegetable charcuterie offerings from the chef’s table include this Yukon Gold potato terrine topped with smoked salmon, creme fraiche and Mutsu apple.

Parsnip Marrow Bone

I also tried Celery Root Pastrami as well as this Parsnip Marrow Bone with celery leaf and black truffle.  It was interesting to see a vegetarian take on what would normally be a meat dish.

Chef Matt Weingarten

I got to meet Chef Matt Weingarten, Dig Inn’s culinary director.  He spoke with us about Dig Inn’s mission, which is to build community through food.  He noted that their menu is mostly vegetables and all dishes are cooked fresh.  He enjoys the open kitchen design (pictured above) which allows the chefs to engage with diners.

Dig Inn Menu

The Dig Inn menu is seasonal and they are currently featuring their Winter menu, which as I mentioned features the Marketbowls and Melting Broth.

Marketbowls

My friend and I shared Marketbowls that had a base of toasted farro, sides of Brussels sprouts and kale, apple and blue cheese salad and were topped with Herb Roasted Chicken and Grilled Organic Tofu.   These bowls were hearty and delicious and I love that they are customized.  The combinations are endless!

Mac and Cheese

I also got to sample a side of the Seasonal Upstate Mac and Cheese.  It was creamy and cheesy.  Honestly though, I would choose one of the amazing veggie sides over mac and cheese!

Kitchen Sink Cookie

And to end the meal, I sampled the Kitchen Sink Cookie and Organic Dark Hot Chocolate!

Dig Inn serves a variety of drinks including wine, beer and hard cider.  I tried unsweetened raspberry iced tea and an Iced Matcha Latte.  While the matcha latte was good, it needed sugar to sweeten it up.

Dig Inn Rye Brook is open seven days a week and serves breakfast as well as lunch and dinner.  Check the website for specific times.  The breakfast menu includes a variety of bowls as well as an egg sandwich, frittata, avocado toast, a quinoa waffle and more!

Kids Menu

And for those families with young children, have no fear.  Dig Inn offers a Little Digs menu with a variety of dining options sure to please.  While there’s no age specifications on the children’s menu, my eight and ten year-old would love the Old Macdonald.  Otherwise, they could easily share a regular Marketbowl.

Everything I ate at Dig Inn was delicious.  For those of us who live in Northern Westchester, getting to Rye Brook is a bit of a drive.  However, if you are in the White Plains area (and really, who doesn’t travel down to there frequently?!) Rye Brook is close by.  Be sure to stop by and give the newest Dig Inn a try!

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Pax Romana {HVRW Review}

pax-romana

I am a Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Grazer.  In exchange for posts about my HVRW experience, part of this meal may have been compensated.  However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This past Wednesday, I got the rare chance to have a lunch date with my husband.  Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW) ends this Sunday the 13th and I wanted to get another delicious three course meal in! Since my husband works in White Plains, we had several options for lunch.  We had heard good things about Pax Romana – homemade pasta and great pizza?  We had to try it!  The restaurant, which opened in February of this year, is located at 189 East Post Road in White Plains  in the former Taleggio space.

Pax Romana Dining Room

Pax Romana is open every day beginning at noon, serving both lunch and dinner.  Although they don’t take lunch reservations, the dining room  is spacious with lots of seating.   Be sure to leave room for some gelato, which you will see in the case on the left when you first enter the restaurant!

Dining Room

I enjoyed the casual modern decor of the restaurant including the graffiti wall and arched windows.  Vintage kitchen accessories were showcased on shelves, hung from the ceiling and decorated the walls.  Vases of fresh herbs were placed on each table.

Pax Romana HVRW menu

Pax Romana has one HVRW menu and serves the same dishes for both lunch and dinner.  The restaurant also has a regular $10 Pax Lunch menu, which my husband ordered from.  This menu includes a choice of soup, salad or fries with one of the listed entrees.  Before we even ordered, crispy, herbed bread sticks were placed on the table.

Risotto Ball

For my starter I ordered Suppli’e Olive Ascolane.  All menu items are listed in Italian and English.   This is a large, fried risotto ball with mozzarella cheese in the center.  It was served with four meat stuffed olives, also fried.  I enjoyed this appetizer a lot, which I shared with my husband.

Pureed Cauliflower Soup

My husband ordered the soup of the day as part of his lunch special.  The soup, Zuppa de Cavolfiore, is the same pureed cauliflower soup offered on the HVRW menu.  This soup was smooth and creamy.

Macaroni with Pork Rib and Sausage Ragu

For his entree my husband ordered the Maccheroni cor Ragu de Sarsiccia e Spuntature – macaroni with pork rib and sausage ragu.  This pasta dish is also offered on the HVRW menu.  He wanted to try the homemade pasta and this dish stood out to him.  It was flavorful, hearty and filling!

Pinsa Margherita

For my entree I ordered the Pinsa Margherita.  Pax Romana is the only restaurant in New York that directly imports Pinsa Romana flour directly from Rome, which they use to make their pizza.  This pizza had a light, crispy crust.  With just san marzano tomatoes, mozzarella and fresh basil, this pizza proves that good quality, simple ingredients can make a delicious dish.

Nutella Doughnut

My husband’s lunch special did not come with dessert.  However, the Nutella Bombolone, a Nutella-filled Italian doughnut, was big enough for the two of us to share.  This doughnut is stuffed with Nutella and was a sweet ending to our meal.

Overall, we had a great lunch at Pax Romana during HVRW.  The servings were generous in size and delicious in taste.  Service was friendly and attentive.  We will have to return and try the gelato since we didn’t take our own advice and had no room for the extra dessert!

Hudson House River Inn {HVRW Review}

hudson-house-river-inn

I am a Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Grazer.  In exchange for posts about my HVRW experience, part of this meal may have been compensated.  However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

This past Saturday my husband and I dined at Hudson House River Inn, with two other couples, for Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW).  This historic inn is located at 2 Main Street on the waterfront in the picturesque town of Cold Spring.

Hudson House River Inn

The inn was built in 1832  and in 1982 was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.  It has 11 guest rooms and 2 suites for overnight stays.  There are two dining areas, the Tavern, for more casual dining, and the main dining room, the River Room, which is where we dined.  The River Room has a veranda that offers outdoor seating with amazing views of the Hudson River.  While a bit chilly for November, this would make for a great dining experience in warmer weather!

Executive chef John Guererro leads the culinary team at the Hudson House River Inn.  The restaurant normally specializes in steak and seafood, with poultry, pork and vegetarian options as well.

Dinner Menu

For HVRW Hudson House River Inn serves both lunch and dinner, with different menus for each.

Cocktails

The restaurant had an extensive cocktail menu, which our group sampled.  My husband had a Maker’s Old Fashioned while I had a Watermelon Margarita.  Before we even ordered, bread baskets were placed on the table with dishes of tomato and bean bruschetta.

Appetizers

For starters I had the Homemade Maryland Crab Cakes and my husband had the Lobster Bisque.  Three crab cake balls were served with a dijon mustard sauce for dipping.  The crab cakes were crispy on the outside and sweet and flavorful on the inside.  The bisque was smooth and creamy.  These starters turned out to be our favorite parts of the meal.

Chianti Braised Short Rib

For our main dishes I ordered the Chianti Braised Short Ribs and my husband had the Coriander Seared Sashimi Tuna.   The short rib was tender and flavorful, topped with caramelized onions and Maytag bleu cheese.  I enjoyed the mushroom risotto that accompanied the short ribs as well.  However, I found the carrots and string beans to be unexciting.

Seared Tuna

My husband ordered his tuna rare and was surprised to get a piece of fish that was well done around the edges and pink in the middle. It’s possible that his dish had a stop at the heat lamp as the kitchen looked quite busy. His tuna was topped with crab meat accompanied by wasabi mashed potatoes.  His dish also came with the same uninspired vegetables.

Hudson House River Inn - Dessert

There are only two dessert options, Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie and New York Style Pumpkin Cheesecake.  We of course had to try them both!  The cheesecake, topped with fresh whipped cream, was good but not memorable.  I preferred my husband’s chocolate pecan pie that was served with Maple Walnut Ice Cream. It was much more unique and flavorful.

The dining room was full throughout our entire dinner.  My husband and I were part of a group of six diners.  Unfortunately, the extra-long rectangular table set up, paired with the poor acoustics of the room, made for difficult conversation.  Our server Tara was friendly and attentive.  Dessert service was slow, which Tara apologized for, but fortunately, our group wasn’t in a rush.

Overall, we had a nice dining experience at the Hudson House River Inn for HVRW.  I’d love to come back in the spring or summer when it’s hopefully not as busy and I can eat out on the veranda.

 

 

 

 

Purdy’s Farmer & The Fish {HVRW Review}

purdys-farmer-and-the-fish

I am a Hudson Valley Restaurant Week Grazer.  In exchange for posts about my HVRW experience, part of this meal may have been compensated.  However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

Hudson Valley Restaurant Week (HVRW) started this past Tuesday.  From November 1 – 13, hundreds of restaurants throughout the Hudson Valley are offering a three-course prix-fixe menu.  I started HVRW off with a bang yesterday when I ate lunch at Purdy’s Farmer & The Fish.  The restaurant is located on Titicus Road in North Salem, right off of I-684.

Purdy's Farmer & The Fish

The restaurant is located in an 18th century house. When I arrived I got a quick peek at the inside dining area.  Although small, it has a quaint and cozy feel. Since the weather was so beautiful, my dining partner, fellow blogger, Ashley at Big Flavors From a Tiny Kitchen, and I opted to sit outside on the porch.

The Farm

Purdy’s Farmer & The Fish is a farm-to-table seafood restaurant run by Executive Chef, Michael Kaphan and Chef de Cuisine, Kevin O’Neil.  More than 3/4 of the vegetables used in their dishes are grown on the four acre farm located next to the restaurant.  The seafood used in the restaurant is provided exclusively by Down East Seafood. The company is committed to sustainability and the environment and its founder, Edward Taylor is also co-founder of the restaurant.  Adjacent to the restaurant is the Farm Shop where you can purchase fresh seafood and produce grown on the farm.  Local grass-fed meats and goods from other local vendors including pasta and cheese are also available for purchase in the shop.

Purdy's Farmer & The Fish Restaurant Week Menu

Purdy’s Farmer & The Fish offers a lunch menu only for HVRW.  While the restaurant week menu isn’t posted on the Valley Table participating restaurants page, it’s available on the restaurant’s website.  For $20.95, you get a choice of a First Course, Main Course and Dessert.

Seared Scallop

I highly recommend the seared scallop for the first course.  The scallop was cooked well and paired nicely with the slight chewiness of the faro.  Add in the sweetness from the dried fruit and butternut puree and this was an explosion of flavor.

Grilled Salmon Banh MI

For my main course, I ordered the Grilled Salmon Banh MI.  The salmon rested on a layer of edamame puree and was topped with a kimchee spread and pickled veggies.  This was all sandwiched between a medium-sized roll.  I loved all the Asian flavors of this sandwich!  It was served with a mixed greens salad, which I didn’t eat very much of. I was getting full and had to leave room for dessert!

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Speaking of dessert, I ordered the Pumpkin Cheesecake.  The cheesecake was creamy with noticeable pumpkin flavor but wasn’t overly sweet.  It was the perfect ending to a delicious meal.

I was surprised at how busy the restaurant was at lunch time on a Wednesday afternoon.  Despite the filled tables on the porch, our server Lindsey was friendly and attentive.

I enjoyed a delicious lunch here and I highly recommend visiting Purdy’s Farmer and The Fish during HVRW!

If you can’t make it for HVRW, the restaurant offers a nice variety of fish and seafood dishes for lunch and dinner.  Clams, Alaskan Crab Legs and a variety of oysters are some of the goodies available from the raw bar.  Burgers and fried chicken are some non-seafood options. The owners recently opened Gramercy Farmer & The Fish in New York City, creating dishes using fresh fish and produce from the Purdy’s farm.  Later this month, sister restaurant Hudson Farmer & The Fish will be opening in Sleepy Hollow, adding to the Westchester County restaurant scene.

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Westchester County Family Dining: Umami Cafe

Umami Cafe
Are you looking for a casual, family-friendly restaurant in Northern Westchester?  Umami Cafe in Croton-on-Hudson fits the bill.  Umami Cafe is aptly named after the fifth primary taste (umami translated from Japanese meaning “pleasant savory taste”), as the restaurant offers a menu of dishes featuring flavors from all over the world.

Umami Cafe opened in 2002.  Owners Jonathan Pratt and Craig Purdy also own Peter Pratt’s Inn in Yorktown Heights and Tagine Restaurant & Wine Bar, also located in Croton-on-Hudson.  The restaurant is conveniently located on South Riverside Avenue and has its own parking lot.

I mentioned that the restaurant is family-friendly and they really make an effort to cater to children.  Near the entrance sits a shelf of toys that kids can grab and bring to the table to play with.  The children’s menus are seen via a Viewmaster, bringing back fond childhood memories!  We prefer to have our kids not order from children’s menus whenever possible. Even though the kid’s menu is cool to view, it still offers the usual chicken fingers, mac and cheese, pasta with butter or tomato sauce and grilled cheese.  The most interesting items are a Fluffernutter (Marshmallow fluff and peanut butter) or Fluffer-Nutella sandwich, both which can be easily made at home.

In contrast, the adult menu offers many interesting dishes.  Main entrees include Grilled Salmon with Yuzu Ponzu, a Lobster Roll, Grilled Marinated Shrimp Siracha, Curry Wurst, a Bahn Mi Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Vietnamese Pork Chop, Evil Jungle Prince (spicy chicken curry), Barbecued St. Louis Ribs and more!

They sell a variety of wines by the glass and bottle.  If you prefer, you can bring your own bottle and pay a $10 corkage fee.  There are a limited number of draft and bottle beers on their menu as well.

We especially like going to Umami Cafe for their Thursday, $5 appetizer nights.  We make a tapas-like meal by ordering a bunch of appetizers for dinner.  On our most recent visit it was just me, my husband and our son. The three of us enjoyed a meal out of the following appetizers:

Duck Quesadillas - Umami Cafe

Peking Duck Quesadillas

Pork Potstickers - Umami Cafe

Pork Potstickers

Gnocchi with Duck Confit - Umami Cafe

Gnocchi with Duck Confit

Cubano Spring Rolls - Umami Cafe

Cubano Spring Rolls

Truffled Mac and Cheese - Umami Cafe

Truffled Mac and Cheese

Seared Ahi Tuna Mini Wonton Tacos - Umami Cafe

Seared Ahi Tuna Mini Won Ton Tacos

These appetizers are normally priced between $6.75 and $8.95 each but on Thursday nights, they are only $5 each. We’ve eaten here several times and had tried all the appetizers before except the Gnocchi with Duck Confit and the Seared Ahi Tuna Mini Won Ton Tacos.  Everything was delicious!  My son found the wasabi sour cream to be a bit too spicy on the tacos but my husband enjoyed them. We were satiated with our appetizers for dinner but didn’t leave stuffed.  We didn’t even look at the dessert menu, as we planned on making a stop at the nearby Hot Dippity Donuts!

The restaurant does not take reservations, so we always make sure to arrive close to opening.  They are open daily from 5 PM to 9:30 PM Sunday through Thursday and from 5 PM to 10 PM on Friday and Saturdays.  In addition to their $5 appetizer night on Thursdays, Umami Cafe also has a $10 burger night on Tuesdays.  Yet another reason for us to return!

Tasting Menu 101

Tasting Menu 101

My husband and I are self-classified foodies (in case you couldn’t tell from the name of the blog!).  For years now, when we want to have a special night out we usually opt to dine at a nice restaurant down in New York City and try the tasting menu.  A tasting menu is a way for a chef to highlight some of their signature dishes or seasonal ingredients.  Some restaurants only offer a tasting menu, like the most recent that we ate at: Chef Shaun Hergatt’s Juni in New York City or our favorite, Chef Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns .  Occasionally, restaurants will offer a tasting menu as an option, like Chef Boulud’s Daniel in New York City.  We’ve eaten at our fair share of restaurants and have tried many tasting menus and thought it would be helpful to offer some insight to what we’ve learned.

Be prepared to spend big bucks. 
Tasting menus come with a hefty price.  Our first and cheapest tasting menu was at Chef Nicholas Licata’s Degustation ($75/pp several years ago) to Blue Hill at Stone Barns (approximately $225/pp).  That price tag does not include beverages or tips.  Restaurants offer wine pairings with their tasting menus for a hefty price.  We are not big wine drinkers and have never opted for this.

Everyone needs to partake in the tasting menu.
For those restaurants that offer an optional tasting menu, if you want to order it, everyone at the table must partake in it as well.  This helps with the timing of the dishes and the overall dining experience.

Tasting Menu sizes differ. 
At some restaurants the diner is offered a choice between two different sized tasting menus.  At Juni, we had the choice between a four or five course tasting menu (of course we went for the five!).  We’ve eaten at restaurants with four course tasting menus as well as ten course menus.  At Blue Hill at Stone Barns we lost count of the number of courses!  But do not fear that you will go hungry.  Chefs create portion sizes appropriate to the number of courses.  We have never left a tasting menu feeling hungry. I did, in fact, leave Blue Hill at Stone Barns feeling stuffed!

You will most likely receive one or more amuse bouche. 
I think almost every restaurant that we’ve eaten a tasting menu at offered at least one amuse bouche, often more.  These are usually small, single bites of deliciousness provided by the chef prior to the start of the official tasting menu.

Be prepared to stay awhile.
Tasting menus are meant to be enjoyed.  The courses are spread out and you will not be rushed.  Most of our dinners have lasted at least two hours.

Dress appropriately.
If you are spending big bucks on your dinner and eating at a nice restaurant, dress appropriately.  Some restaurants have dress codes, so check out the website before arriving.  There are restaurants that will provide men a jacket, if they are not already wearing one.  On the same note, at our recent dinner at Juni, an older gentleman came in wearing jeans and a denim button-down.  Although Juni has a recommended dress code, they apparently don’t turn diners away who do not adhere to it.

Peekytoe Crab appetizer with cilantro and jalapeno powder

Do not be turned off by menu descriptions. 
In our experience, the menu tends to be vague.  Menus often list a couple of ingredients in a dish (often some that we haven’t even heard of!) but when the dish arrives, it is often nothing like you expected.  My first appetizer at Juni was listed as peekytoe crab – cilantro – jalapeno powder.  Would you imagine it to look like the above?  The uni that the dish is topped with doesn’t appear in the description at all.  My husband’s entire appetizer description was: “cherry ripe” – bitter chocolate – coconut.  I’m not posting a picture because there are some things that should be left to the surprise of the diner.

Go in with an open mind.
A tasting menu is an opportunity for a chef to show off their culinary skills.  Not only are the dishes delicious, they are also works of art.  The chef would not choose an item for the tasting menu if he or she could not make it into something that tastes amazing.  Although there are a few foods that I am not a fan of, including raw fish, I will eat everything on a tasting menu.  As my husband notes, anything well prepared should be delicious.  While I would never cook foie gras or sweetbreads myself, I have eaten and enjoyed these items on various tasting menus.

Finally, sit back relax and have fun!
Tasting menus are an experience.  Expect to be dazzled by beautiful plates and surprised by new tastes and flavor combinations.

Do you have any restaurant tasting menu recommendations?

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Blue Hill At Stone Barns- A Review

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We were fortunate to dine at this year’s winner of the James Beard Award for Outstanding Restaurant. Hosted this past week in Chicago, the James Beard Awards are like the Academy Awards for the food world. Blue Hill at Stone Barns had been on our food bucket list for years. Price-wise, this is a special occasion meal to be sure.  We thought our eleventh wedding anniversary was worthy of such a trip!  Taking the economic hit to one’s pocket out of the equation, we would go monthly since the experience and menu changes almost non-stop. The restaurant is located on the farm at Pocantico Hills, NY.  As you drive to get to the restaurant you pass the fields and animals that your food is coming from.  Blue Hill is a farm-to-table restaurant and whenever an ingredient is at its peak, that’s when it’s put on the menu. There is no menu, so-to-speak, to order from.  Instead, diners are greeted with a field guide of sorts that outlines the monthly calendar of those ingredients, from summer tomatoes to winter preserves that are in season.  You are also provided with details of what is going on at the farm year-round: harvesting, pickling, canning, planting, etc. Chef Dan Barber and his staff then create a tasting menu incorporating those ingredients.   We were there just at the cusp of warm weather in the first week of April. The winter was exhausting this year and the menu reflected a larger percentage of winter versus springtime ingredients. Chef Barber and his team don’t fight the seasons, they embrace the availability as nature provides.

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We lost count of how many courses our 3.5 hour meal consisted of.  The deconstructed salad course, consisted of three different plates.  We didn’t get utensils until at least the third or fourth plate in.  Since April’s theme was “grazing, pecking, rooting” we were encouraged to eat with our fingers.  One perfect mussel sitting on a bed of mussel shells, a piece of dried moss flaked with dried venison, smoked fish on a piece of wood….the dishes sound simple, but had layers of flavors and ingredients.  The simplicity was found in the presentation, where the food was plated on interesting dishes but without a lot of garnish.  Some of our favorite dishes were the kohlrabi tacos with all of the accoutrements as well as our special field trip to the kitchen where we sampled bread made from specially designed wheat with homemade ricotta cheese made from the milk of the cows on the farm.  By the dessert courses, the Mrs. was so stuffed that she had tastes of everything but couldn’t eat it all!

For wine lovers, the restaurant has an extensive wine list.  There was a nice selection of seasonal cocktails and the bartender even created non-alcoholic cocktails for the Mrs. based on her taste preferences.  Blue Hill offers a wine pairing to go with the menu as well as a non-alcoholic cocktail pairing if you so choose, for an additional fee.

Blue Hill at Stone Barns is not only within the confines of a functional farm, but there is also an educational center on the expansive property. Dan Barber has an ongoing quest to innovate and educate and that is evident during service. We were given lessons by our captain about the ingredients, cooking and preserving processes and historical context for several of our courses. Although we are both eager to learn, it was challenging sometimes to pay attention while anticipating the next course, knowing it will be more than fantastic.

And we can’t not mention the impeccable service.  While we were on our “field trip” to the kitchen our table was set with a new tablecloth and napkins.  Crumbs  were wiped away, dishes were taken away and water was refilled as unobtrusively as possible. On our way out, our car was waiting for us with the engine running and the lights on.

When you dine at Blue Hill you are not having dinner, you are having a dining experience.  And if you are like us, after you have dined once, you will be counting down the days until you are able to go back and experience it all again!

 

 

East Japanese Restaurant

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If you are shopping at the Palisades Mall in West Nyack, New York and are looking for a family-friendly, non-chain restaurant East Japanese Restaurant is the place to go.  Our son’s favorite food is sushi which makes him a great sushi buddy for the Mr.  My daughter and I aren’t huge fans of sushi.  However, we all enjoy eating at East.  If you’re thinking oh, just another sushi restaurant review, you’re wrong.  What sets East apart from any other Japanese restaurant that we’ve been to is that the sushi is prepared in the center of the restaurant and is then placed on small plates that travel on a conveyor belt.  All the restaurant seating surrounds the conveyor belt and as the plates pass, you take what you want.  Each set of covered dishes is labeled, with different colored plates having different prices.  White plates cost $1.25 each while the gold plates cost $6.00 each.  There are many types of sushi available from the California roll to the specialty Big Thunder Mountain roll. Non-sushi dishes like seaweed salad and fried chicken are also offered.  If you do not see what you want or prefer not to go the sushi route, the restaurant offers a full Japanese menu including teriyaki and tempura dishes.  At the end of your meal, your plates are collected and you are charged accordingly.  What we love about this restaurant is that we are able to try new dishes without a huge commitment.  For a couple of dollars a plate, if we like it, we’ll take another plate of it.  If we didn’t like it we at least tried something new!  This is a great way to introduce your kids to different types of sushi.  Plus, like our kids, they will most likely enjoy grabbing the dishes off the conveyor belt.  It definitely makes for a unique and fun dining experience, which we highly recommend! Unfortunately, the only conveyor belt sushi restaurants that we are aware of, besides this one in West Nyack, New York, are located in New York City.

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