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Category: Foodie

Birdsall House

Cute little modern American local/seasonal joint in Peekskill. The kind of place when hearing I’d be near town, my good friend that lives there immediately thought ‘I have to take her there.

What We Had

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The DH and had gone hiking that afternoon and were so starving we thought we might die. We ordered the Charcuterie starter – triple cream cheese, pork & barleywine sausage with house mustard, and duck & cider sausage with caramelized apples. Yum all around. Killer sausages, really good cheese.

We also had a red cheddar-like cheese with light stink that came as an option for the brunch item. This was also a nice offering.

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I had the Goat Cheese En Croute – roasted zucchini, yellow squash, portobello mushrooms & goat cheese baked in puff pastry with Dijon cream & mescalun salad. The first half of this dish was really good, but I got really tired of the croute portion about halfway through. Maybe it’s me and my general lack of eating too-rich foods very often lately, but I would have liked twice the veg and half the croute.

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My DH had the Blackened Shrimp & Grits – Mascarpone wild hive soft polenta with blackened shrimp, collard greens, Cajun cream and house made smoked andouille. This dish was fantabulous and I am jealous I didn’t order it. Though to be fair, the DH did find the polenta itself in the underseasoned side and if memory serves, he was salted out by the end.

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The friend had the Weekly Omelette (asparagus, goat cheese & sundried tomatoes) with hashed brown tart & mixed salad.

She ordered a fry substitution, but the dish came out with the tart anyways, and boy am I ever glad it did. That thick, creamy, lemony, thyme-y tart was the single best item of the day. It’s hard to top a good shrimp n grits, but this dish did it in spades.

The Fries (which came out shortly after) were great – the Birdsall House makes a killer honey mustard, and a really good home made ketchup. I would highly recommend getting both.

Décor

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Minimal but cute in an old bar sort of way. Really cute punky baroque bathroom.

Service

Serviceable. Nothing standout-ish either way.

Overall Impressions

Looks like the friend was right. This is exactly the type of place I love — local ingredients, homemade where possible, highlighted to their best ability. And home made charcuterie? Please. You’re preachin’ to the choir here.

Rating

4 out of 5 – if you’re anywhere near Peekskill, this is the place to be.

Bistro 55

Seasonal kitchen and bar right off highway 17 in Rochelle Park, NJ.

What We Had

I had the Citrus Encrusted Scottish Salmon with jicama poblano slaw and honey citrus vinaigrette.

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The salmon was a real treat – perfectly cooked and buttery; the slaw was fresh and bright. A healthy meal with nothing missing.

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My DH had the Pan Seared Sea Scallops with roasted red pepper risotto and sautéed spinach saffron with lemongrass sauce.

The scallops were perfectly cooked and the risotto was surprisingly complex.

Décor

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Great music – classic rock from the Stones to Johnny Cash and nice low candlelight.

Service

About average.

Overall Impressions

This place was not at all what we expected when driving by – its good. Like really good.

Rating

4.5 out of 5 for great food & a really unexpected meal on the way home from the mall.

Ippudo

Ramen hot spot near NYU

What We Had

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I had the Kasane Black – Authentic Kasane Tonkotsu (pork) noodles topped w pork loin chashu, cabbage, sesame kikurage mushrooms, red pickled ginger, naruto, scallions & fragrant black garlic oil. I added Nitamago (seasoned salt boiled egg). This dish was fabulous. The taste was delicate, deep, and robust all at the same time. I ate every bit, drank all the broth, and was sad I had no more room for Kae-dama (a second helping of noodles). My egg was a nice touch, and no added spice was needed – the black garlic was too interesting a flavor to risk drowning it. Get anything on the menu with the sesame kikurage mushrooms – they are lovely little flavor bombs.

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My DH had the Miso Ramen –
Soy bean paste flavored noodles in the original “Tonkotsu” (pork) based soup with pork chashu, cabbage, menma, ginger, and scallions. He also added Nitamago (seasoned salt boiled egg) and Bakudan (Ippudo original spicy paste). This dish was also fabulous. Rich, deep, complex & wholly satisfying. The spice was a nice addition here – that paste is really a standout in the world of spice additions.

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We split the Hirata Buns (pork) – Steamed buns with pork & spicy mayo bun sauce. A great way to start the meal, but Momofuku’s are just a bit better.

Overall our meal was near perfect – not a note missed or a taste out of whack. Words are falling short when describing just how good the broth here is. Pure comfort – rich, deeply complex, delicately balanced – a balm for the soul. For the expertise used in preparing your food, the price is beyond fair. ($15-$16 per bowl + $2-$4 per addition). Sure, you can get a decent bowl of noodles for half the price, but this is something better. Whole. Other. Level.

Décor

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Ippudo has a great vibe – young, boisterous, open – and the Beasties (among other great bands) in the sound system.

Seating is at large communal tables – not the place to bring small children or strollers. The decor is modern and minimal, yet layered and very interesting.

Service

Friendly & efficient.

Overall Impressions

This place is hands down better than Republic, and might even edge out Momofuku Noodle Bar in the pantheon of noodle houses. (ok, it does, but just by a little)

If we lived next door, my DH would happily let it make us fat (and I don’t think I could put up much of a fight).

Rating

DH is calling this his best NY meal ever. This includes WD~50, local & seasonal up the wazoo, celebrity chef vehicles, Beard Award winners and noodles from culinary luminaries.

I would say for noodles it is the best – I just can’t put it over WD~50s Eggs Benedict — I dreamed of that dish for over a year and half and planned a vacation around it before we lived here (it lived up to expectations and then some — unfortunately, WD~50 has overhauled their menu since — understandable, but sad).

Ippudo can’t help but be a 5 out of 5. Run, don’t walk. Wait in a ridiculously long line if you have to (and you might – lines are often crazy, though we lucked into a 15 minute wait on a Sunday late afternoon)- it is worth it.

Gramercy Tavern Taproom

Famous for forever paragon of modern American cuisine in the Flatiron District.

What We Had

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My DH had the Marinated Pork Chop with Polenta, Crispy Kale and Cippolloni Onions – Deeply smoky, slightly spicy and tender pork with soft polenta and nice kale. Quartered onions aren’t his favorite thing, but this was a strong dish nevertheless.

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I had the Smoked Kielbasa with Grilled Spring Greens, Spatzle and Beets. The kielbasa was tasty and fatty and tasted like a grownup version of Hillshire Farms sausage. Yeah, I know, not what you exactly want to hear from a ‘hallowed ground’ eatery, but I happen to have a very fond attachment to that stuff (I’m originally from the Midwest). The spatzle had a nice mustardy kick and the beets brought a pleasant earthiness without tasting like dirt. The greens were a throwaway.

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We also had the Sweetbreads with Mushrooms, Bok Choy and Almonds. This was our favorite portion of the meal, hands-down. The sweetbreads were soft, pillowy and creamy – perfect; the additions were great; and the broth it was served in was amazing. Like holy crap amazing.

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We couldn’t pass up the Cheddar Bacon Biscuit special, either. I wanted to bathe in these little cheddary nuggets.

Decor

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Country fresh inspired decor with lots of wood, galvanized steel and huge limbed flowers.

Service

Good. Friendly, but crazy slow at checkout. To be fair, our server was all about personalized service, and that takes time.

Overall Impressions

A great meal, even though we had a 45 minute wait to be seated. Since they were estimating 1:30, not too shabby. The hostess was great about checking in with progress updates, too.

Having said that, we were both salted out by the end of the meal, and I was fat-laden from the sausage.

Rating

4.5 for salt content, post-meal check lag & the memory of that stellar chop from Vinegar Hill House. Still more than worth checking out. We will have to do the dining room tasting menu some time.

Buttermilk Channel

American bistro-style restaurant that focuses on just plain good food in Carroll Gardens.

What We Had

Table Bread

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A light and surprising little Yorkshire pudding popover.

Appetizers

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Hushpuppies with Green Chili Aioli – Crumbly, sweet & yum puppies. The aioli was good, too.

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2 Grilled Oysters with Bacon – Perfectly lightly smoked (but still mostly raw) oysters with nice smoky bacon and a devilishly good spicy sauce.

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2 Chilled Oysters with Grapefruit Mignonette – Briny, bright and bracing raw oysters with a great vinegar punch.

Entrees

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I had the Saturday lobster dinner special. This week’s entree was a split 1 1/2 pound lobster with fresh squid ink pasta & grapefruit. Omfg this was good. Perfect lobster with buttery and light pasta – a knockout.

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My DH had the Fried Chicken with Cheddar Waffles and Savoy Slaw – This chicken was awesome (crunchy, juicy, perfectly seasoned) and the molasses syrup was a pleasant surprise. The slaw was also nice – colorful, crunchy & lightly dressed.

Décor

Nice and simple – calm, plain, letting the food speak for itself.

Service

Good. Friendly and willing to explain menu items (like just how big the lobster special was).

Overall Impressions

Yum. This is a great little place. We’ve got to plan a trip back on a Monday to hit the ridiculously reasonably priced ($25!) tasting menu.

Rating

5 out of 5. Run, don’t walk. You won’t be disappointed.

Talde

Pan Asian fusion in Park Slope helmed by Dale Talde of Top Chef fame.

What We Had

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Pretzel Pork & Chive Dumplings w Spicy Mustard – Right off the bat, our favorite dish of the evening. Dumplings are always welcome, and it’s really rare to find a dumpling that wows. These are just such dumplings. Incredible depth of flavor, with a really cool slight pretzel aftertaste. Don’t worry, it totally works. The tahini mustard is not to be missed.

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Hawaiian Bread Buns with Filipino pork sausage, garlic vinegar mayo & pickled shallots – Another great dish. The house made buns were sweet & light, the sausage deeply flavorful. A knockout in two bites.

Hawaiian Bread Buns with fried fluke, garlic vinegar mayo & pickled shallots – This was the very best kind of fish & chips fish on a roll. Buttery, crispy, not too much batter – delicious.

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Singapore Chili Soft Shell Crab Banh Mi – Crazy good crab that actually had taste. So often with soft shelled crab, the crab taste disappears. That was not the case with this dish. This sandwich managed to taste just like a Banh mi (with the pickled carrot, cilantro and sturdy French bread) and yet somehow all it’s own (thanks to the crab and hot/sweet chili sauce). Another winner.

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Crispy Oyster & Bacon Pad Thai – This dish made my DH wow. I danced in my chair. Perfect char flavor and finally enough acid in a pad Thai that we weren’t scrambling for the vinegar sauce.

The oyster was great; a real gem, but didn’t quite mesh with the rest of the dish.

If you don’t like bacon, don’t order. The bacon is rich & double smoked – the first bacon bite informs the rest of the dish.

Décor

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Lots of reclaimed sculptural wood murals, cozy and snug. A great date or night out with a few friends place.

Service

Friendly, but really busy.

Overall Impressions

This was a knockout meal. We were fortunate enough to get to sit at the chef’s bar overlooking the kitchen, and the kitchen was running like a well oiled machine. It was also nice to see ‘he of the restaurant’s name’ working the pass.

The food was amazeballs; my only gripe is that by the end of the meal, all that salt really caught up with me and I thought I might explode. A small gripe to be sure, but one worth noting for the salt sensitive. No single dish left me thinking ‘too salty!’ This was a cumulative effect.

Rating

5 out of 5. Run, don’t walk. Wait an hour if you have to – it is worth it.

UPDATE (07.13) – The 5 still stands. Talde has become our go-to dinner spot (or brunch! Bacon & Egg Ramen with Buttered Toast Broth FTW) and the first place we take out-of-towners. On the weeks I don’t post a review, it is most likely because we went to Talde instead of somewhere new. Sometimes multiple times in a week. Plus, most times we visit, Chef is in the house and he is one of the most gracious restaurant owners I have ever met. Needless to say, he has won our support – and repeat business – time and time again.

Seersucker

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Cuisine inspired by the ‘New South’ in Carroll Gardens. Most produce is sourced at the Carroll Gardens Greenmarket, and the protein is local where possible. As for ‘new south’, I could see this place doing well in Raleigh, which is my barometer for such things.

What We Had

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An amuse of raw local vegetables with a little puddle of local yogurt – beautiful, and a little tasty.

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Biscuits with maple butter, apple butter and a preserve. I’ve gotta make maple butter. That was awesome. The biscuits were good, if lacking a kiss of salt – nice and tender & flaky – but they didn’t make us want to eat a bucketful. I blame Yardbird in Miami. Maybe in time, as the memory of Yardbird’s biscuits fades, we will love these more.

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I had the walleye – I can’t remember what all was in the dish (and it has since been replaced by NC trout), but it was a solid dish, and the fish skin was amazing. Good flavor, nice buttery fish, good accompaniments (grits and a jus??)

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My DH had the Confit of Hudson Valley Berkshire Pork Belly with Cayuga white beans, Rancho Gordo hominy, red eye gravy and cracklins. A tasty dish – the beans with the gravy were the best part. The belly was great, but belly is one of those ingredients better enjoyed in 3-4 bite quantities. This was more like 6, so it wore on my DH. (I know, right? What a complaint – we should all be so lucky) He definitely enjoyed the dish, though.

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We split the Consider Bardwell Farms Skillet Mac & Cheese – This was more my style of Mac than my DH’s. A tangle of cheeses, including something in the bleu family, kept me going back for more long after I was full.

The meal rounded out with a check paying praline – I could eat a whole box happily, and am still sad I don’t have at least the memory of a whole box beside me.

Décor

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Minimalist farmhouse. Very clean lines with nice charcoals, whites and woods.

Service

Very friendly, personable service with spot-on drink suggestions (no easy feat for one so picky). The food took awhile, but not horribly long, and our server voluntarily comped the biscuits.

Overall Impressions

I wanted a little salt with everything. There was a dish of table salt, but I hate using it. Unless I am knowingly dining at an old people mecca, I would rather the chef season the food properly than have to cover it in a layer of afterthought salt.

Rating

4 out of 5. The food was good and certainly worth another visit, but it didn’t knock our socks off. I’d say make the trip if you’re in the area.