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Food Reviews

Tavern on the Green Closing

I was so disappointed to wake up this morning to find out that Tavern on the Green in Central Park is closing on December 31st.  I always considered that place a New York classic that would always be there.  I loved the look of the restaurant in the winter, all covered in snow while driving through Central Park on the way to work every morning.  About six years ago, I took my niece Abby there for the very first time and we enjoyed it so much.  Abby and I had a holiday tradition of her spending time in the city during Christmas break doing whatever her heart desired.  On the day we were going to see The Nutcracker, I treated her to a special lunch at Tavern on the Green.  She was five at the time.  I will always remember her little eyes opening so wide when we walked inside and saw all the holiday decorations.  She (and I) were thrilled that we were seated right next to the giant Christmas tree that was decorated with hundreds of beautiful and unique ornaments.  She stared at that tree for a long time taking it all in.  We also had a fabulous view of the ice sculptures out on the patio.  A couple of years later when my other niece Isabel was old enough, I took both girls there and to see their little faces light up is the best memory in the world.   While the food wasn’t anything special, it was the experience and I will remember my experiences at the restaurant for a lifetime.  Too bad we won’t be able to give David the same experience now that the restaurant is closing its doors.   How disappointing!

According to the iReport on CNN’s website:

Report —

“Tavern on the Green, one of the most famous sites in New York City and once one of the nation’s top grossing restaurants, will close its doors on December 31, 2009.  Located in Central Park and 67th Street, it was originally a sheephold for the nearby Sheep Meadow.  Converted to a restaurant in the 1930’s. it gained international fame with its 1976 re-opening at one point becoming the second highest grossing restaurant in the U.S.Since then it’s been the scene of Broadway opening parties, movie premieres and has been featured in films like “Wall Street” and “Ghostbusters” among others.  The City of New York declined to renew its operating license in August 2009 and shortly after Tavern filed for Chapter 11 protection. Besides its glass framed dining and function rooms, the Tavern is well known for its outdoor space with horticultural figures and its entrance lined with yellow cabs and horse-drawn carriages.”

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Wild Ginger in Bronxville

It has been awhile since I’ve blogged about restaurants, probably because our dining out venues have been limited to quick, familiar spots that we can be in and out of before David disrupts the dining experience for everyone.  But this afternoon I joined a friend and her 7 month old son for lunch at Wild Ginger in Bronxville.  I had heard wonderful things about this Asian fusion restaurant and I can honestly say those reviews didn’t disappoint.  The restaurant’s modern Asian motif and blend of Chinese, Japanese and Thai cuisine make for a great menu.  The prices are very moderate and the lunch specials can’t be beat.  For $9 a person there is a wide variety of dishes served with rice, mini appetizer and a huge bowl of soup.  The quality of the food was excellent and so was the presentation.  They were also kid friendly which was a huge plus for us since we had our little ones with us.  Wild Ginger is definitely a MUST if you live in the area or find yourself in Bronxville on a random afternoon.  They are open for lunch and dinner seven days a week.

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42 at The Ritz Carlton

Friday night Darren and I had another date night and decided to try 42 at the top of the Ritz Carlton in White Plains.  We have been to The Ritz a bunch of times but have never dined at the restaurant atop the tallest building in town.   We stopped up a couple of times for drinks and tapas but this was to be our first dining experience.  Dressed up for a night on the town we arrived without a reservation but miraculously they were able to seat us.  Upon walking in, my first impression, was wow – this is beautiful.  The dining room is in a completely separate area than the bar and lounge thus creating a more intimate atmosphere.  The tables were positioned in such a way that no matter where you sat you had a view of the sunset, the Hudson River or the skyline of Manhattan out in the distance.  The sun was just going down as we sat and it was a clear night so we could see for miles.  So far, everything was perfect and we were both excited.  The waiters and staff were all very friendly and extremely accommodating.  We took our time ordering while we enjoyed some wine and a fresh array of breads that were served.

The menu although somewhat small certainly does have something for everyone and aside from a few of the meat dishes they were reasonably priced.  There were many ala carte options as well as a tasting menu and a small fixed price menu.  We opted for the ala carte section.  I started with the beef carpacio and Darren had a calamari and pasta appetizer.  I was rather disappointed.  The beef carpacio was fair at best and despite the three different toppings, none of them had much taste aside from the fact that it seemed the chef poured the salt shaker all over it.  Terrible.  Darren’s calamari/pasta served in a tomato broth however, was very flavorful and the portion was extremely generous for an appetizer.  I should have ordered that.  Oh well.  I thought things would improve with the main dish but not so for me.  Once again, Darren enjoyed his plate of grilled vegetables with chevre cheese but I disliked my lobster dish.  Again, it was too salty.  That should never be the case.  Prepared over wilted spinach the lobster tail and mini claws were swimming in a sauce that tasted like it had sea water on it.  I ate it but I should have sent it back.  Dessert was no better.  But this time we both agreed that what we ordered was tasteless.  Very disappointing from my perspective.

Overall, I would give the restaurant high marks for the service and atmosphere but they get a huge thumbs down from me for the food.  Darren on the other hand really enjoyed his meal and would gladly return.

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Equus at The Castle on the Hudson

Last night we celebrated Darren’s grandparent’s 60th wedding anniversary at Equus in Tarrytown.  What a beautiful place!  Equus is located in the The Castle on the Hudson and was one of the nicest restaurants I’ve been to in Westchester thus far.  When we pulled up to the entrance we were warmly greeted by the valet and then escorted inside.  We gathered in the bar area for a few cocktails and to toast Grandma and Grandpa before moving into the Garden Room for dinner.  The old world charm is just oozing out of every corner in this historic landmark and makes for a very elegant and romantic atmosphere.  The restaurant has several dining rooms but the Garden Room was perfect for our celebration.  The menu has a variety of choices and offers ala carte selections as well as a three or six course tasting menu with wine pairings.   I had the onion soup au gratin to start and it was exceptional.  I love soup to begin with, especially onion soup, but the chef made an extremely tasty and flavorful broth with the vadallia onions and it tasted better than any other onion soup I’ve had.  For my entree I ordered the monkfish with butter lobster and it was outstanding.  The portion of fish was generous and came with 1/2 a small lobster tail and 1/2 of the meat of a claw; both of which were so sweet and juicy.  Sweet english peas accompanied the fish and they were delicious too.  Everyone else ordered either meat or fish and I didn’t see anything left on anyone’s plate when the meal was finished.

After dinner we were escorted to a different room for dessert and a cabaret show.  The Castle offers a cabaret show every Sunday evening and this summer they are featuring talented broadway singers performing a variety of music specials.  Last evening was a tribute to Johnny Mercer, lyricist and singer who recorded his own songs as well as those written by others.  He wrote the lyrics to more than a thousand songs, including compositions for movies and Broadway shows from the late 30’s to the mid 50’s.  While most of us did not know Mercer’s music, Grandma and Grandpa did and they were enjoying every minute of it.  It was so wonderful to see Grandma singing the words along with the performer.  She was in heavan and I loved watching her beaming smile as she listened.

It was a beautiful night all around and we enjoyed it from start to finish.  For a special occassion or a romantic night out, I highly recommend Equus.  Darren and I will be returning in August to celebrate our anniversary and are looking forward to it.

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A Night Out at Fatty Crab

Last Saturday night, Grandma Lorraine and Grandpa Richie babysat so we could go out to dinner with our good friends Andrew and Morgan.  Since our night’s out are infrequent, we decided dinner in the city would be a great idea.  We chose Fatty Crab on Hudson Street just south of the meat packing district for our get together.  Fatty Crab is a malaysian restaurant, small yet trendy in a rustic way.  We arrived early, around 6:30pm because they do not take reservations.  There is a small bar to wait but it only seats a handful of people.  Tables are close together but the atmosphere is warm.  The menu has an array of choices with many delicous dishes which are meant to be shared as they are served when each one is ready.  We started off with steamed veggie buns, bok choy, wonton see – a mix of pork and shrimp wontons with fried noodles in a broth, and the sliders.  All were fantastic and each had a little kick of their own.  All four were generous portions and perfect for sharing.  For our entrees we shared the duck, short ribs and a special vegetarian dish.  The short ribs were out of this world, melt in your mouth good.  The meat was so tender and flavorful as it was prepared in a lime, coconut and chili sauce.  I loved it so much I would go back just from that.  All of the portions where large, so much so we felt we ordered one too many entrees.

Overall, I would give the place a major thumbs up for the food.  The only thing that bothered me greatly was that we felt very, very rushed.  Many times the hostess hovered over our table to see if we looked at the check.  After a half hour she actually turned the check over so it would be in clear view.  That bothered me.  This was a night out for us with good friends that we wanted to catch up with and we felt as though we were being rushed out of the restaurant.  It didnt’ look like anyone was really waiting for the table all that long so that didn’t sit well with me.  So overall, I’d give it a 9 for food but a 6 for service!

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Date Night at Little Owl

Last weekend Darren and I were lucky enough to have his parents volunteer to babysit so we could go out for the evening.  We eagerly accepted their offer and decided to venture into the city for a great dinner.  Since David was born we have not been out and about dining at trendy restaurants so we though we would treat ourselves to a reservation at Little Owl.

Little Owl is a charming and quaint American/Mediterranean restaurant in the West Village.  Reservations at this little gem are very hard to come by but we used TableXchange to purchase a reservation.  Usually this restaurant is booked 30 days prior and with 15 tables or so, you can only imagine how difficult it is to get in.  It was our lucky night though because the day before we used TableXchange and for $25 we were able to buy an 8pm reservation that a patron was not using.  The reservation was NOT sold by the restaurant, let me be clear about that.  TableXchange allow diners who have reservations at top restaurants to post their reservation for sale to the public rather than canceling them outright.  I know it might sound crazy to most of you that someone would buy a reservation but if you really want to eat somewhere or have a very last minute opportunity to go out, you might just want to consider this website.  We did and a day later we were eating at Little Owl which was magnificent.

Little Owl is located on the corner of Bedford and Grove Street and is extremely charming.  Small and intimate this restaurant is perfect for a date or for a special evening with friends.  Most of the tables are for two but there were a few larger parties.  The menu is small but has a lot of variety and they are very accommodating in the kitchen if you need to ask for something prepared a little different.  We started our dinner a few drinks and half a dozen oysters on the half shell.  The oysters were medium sized from Nova Scotia and were served with a soy based dipping sauce.  Outstanding!   An unlikely other appetizer we sampled were the gravy sliders…magnificent sliders made with beef and veal served with a gravy sauce on mini buns.  Scrumptious.   For our entrees we both ordered fish.  I had the red snapper special which was a pan roasted with chunks of lobster in a lobster and clam broth over small pasta bites and escarole.  It was out of this world – flavorful, fresh and presented beautifully.  Darren had the cod over risotto and he said it was excellent as well.  The portions were unbelievably generous and prices were on the higher side but not outrageous. We were too full for dessert but the choices sounded yummy.  We really enjoyed our meal and understand why it is so difficult to get a reservation.  For anyone that wants to dine there, it is worth the wait.  We loved it and would go back in a heartbeat next time we have a babysitter.

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Brunch at Bar Martignetti

Yesterday, Darren and I met up with our good friends Andrew and Morgan for a scrumptious brunch at Bar Martignetti. It’s been a while since we’ve had brunch in Manhattan so we were really excited for our plans.  Despite it being a dreary day, we managed to make it to the restaurant without a drop of rain and Soho was hopping with tons of people.

We arrived at Bar Martignetti around noon and the restaurant wasn’t very crowded.  We grabbed a nice booth and settled in for a great catchup session.  The brunch menu is a great mix of breakfast and lunch at very moderate prices.  Most breakfast dishes range from $9-12 and lunch selections are fairly priced from $13-20.  There is definitely something for everyone on the menu.  I ordered the egg white omelet with goat cheese, asparagus and mushrooms.  It was light and fluffy and came with delicious home fries that weren’t greasy in the slightest.  Darren had the Huevos Rancheros over white beans and said it was terrific.  We all enjoyed our dishes and the multiple cups of coffee.  They were not stingy with refills at all.

The restaurant itself is located on the corner of Broome and Cleavland and has many large windows so you can people watch as you dine.  The atmosphere is casual with a slightly old rustic new york feel.  I really enjoyed it.  The service was great and very friendly.  I would definitely go back again and would recommend it to anyone that wanted a nice, moderately priced brunch in Soho.  You can’t go wrong with this place.

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Muddy Cup Coffee House, New Paltz, NY

I spent the day up at the Muddy Cup Coffee House in New Paltz, NY today while working on a business strategy document for work.  The goal of the day was to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and head to somewhere inspirational so I can concentrate on writing.  It was perfect.

I chose New Paltz because it’s about 60 miles north of our home in Westchester and it’s surrounded by rolling hills and mountains covered in foliage this time of year.  The reds, yellows and greens of the leaves were gorgeous.

Each time I’ve gone to Mohonk Mountain House or eaten in downtown New Paltz after playing golf at Apple Greens, I always notice the quaint coffee shops lining Main Street.  Muddy Cup is potentially the largest and it’s one of a few Muddy Cup locations around the North East.  Just up the street roughly 300 feet away is a Starbucks, but I figured to spend time in the Muddy Cup instead due to it being unique.

It is gorgeous.  If you like places stuck in the 70s with plush couches and loft like atmosphere with stained glass, then this place is for you.  I managed to find a comfy arm chair with a power outlet right next to it perched on a raised platform so I was overlooking most of the Coffee House.  The atmosphere was upbeat and cozy with the Dobby Brothers and other artists being played over the radio in the front of the store.  The Coffee House served all types of fair trade coffee and drinks along with pastries and bagels.  Wifi access was free and signal was very strong.  The coffee was great and the pastries were tasty.  The folks behind the counter were extremely courteous as well.

All in all, the Muddy Cup Coffee House was a perfect getaway and if I was to have a group meeting and want to get away from Manhattan, it’s a perfect place to go.  The pictures in this posting were taken from my iPhone today.

Muddy Cup Coffee House
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Mima Vinoteca in Irvington

Last night Darren and his mom took in a benefit concert at Radio City and I had dinner with my father-in-law.  We went into Irvington to Mima Vinoteca on Main Street.  Neither of us had been there before.  What a great find!  In the former location of the Red Hat, Mima Vinoteca is a mid-size restaurant with wooden tables, brick walls and wine bottles that adorn the shelves on perimeter.  As we walked in, we were warmly greeted by the hostess who took us to our table.  Promptly we were brought water and fresh bread along with the menu which is a great mix of pasta, fish, beef and chicken for entrees and a wonderful selection of salads, cheese and meats for appetizers.  There were many good dishes to choose from but I decided to try the spinach ravioli special and Dad has the braised beef short ribs with carrots and potatos.  Both were scrumptious.  We also shared a watercress salad with gorgonzola cheese, pears and pecans in a warm vinagrette dressing.  Flavorful and very tasty as well as a generous portion.  We were too full by the time dessert came so we opted only for coffee but it looked like there was a nice selection of sweets.  Overall, the service was very good even with every table taken, the atmosphere was great and food was excellent.  Finally, a city quality meal at Westchester prices.  I will definitely be back and can’t wait to share this yummy find with Darren.

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Half Moon in Dobbs Ferry

To conclude our weekend long celebration of our anniversary, we had our official anniversary dinner last night at Half Moon on High Street in Dobbs Ferry.  It was a beautiful evening so dining outside with the view of the Hudson River and both the Tappan Zee and the George Washington bridges was the perfect backdrop.  The sun was setting and the sky was pink as we arrived at the restaurant.  For a Monday evening the restaurant was fairly busy.  Just about all the tables outside were taken and quite a number inside as well.

Half Moon opened a few months ago in the former location of the Chart House.  The menu is a mix of seafood, meat and chicken.  Its kind of all over the place with dishes prepared in a variety of ways – some traditional seafood, some with a southwestern twist and others that are more comfort food in style.  I decided to try the New England clam chowder to start which was rather thin but chock full of clams and potatoes.  For my entree I opted for the prawns which came with grilled endive and roasted potatoes.  It was good not great.  Darren started with the calamari salad and had the herb tuna with empanades for dinner.  He too thought the food was okay but nothing to exceptional.  We were both too full for dessert so we passed but there were some good choices including a $16 ice cream sandwich which we would have loved to see.   The service was okay – it started off quite good but trickled off as the meal progressed and the restaurant became more crowded.  We both agreed the view is what you pay for and as long as the restaurant serves up decent fare, people will continue to come.

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