Jump to content


participating member
  • Posts

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Everything posted by emilymarie

  1. In re: the recommendation for Mexicali Rose, I would warn you that, in my experience, the food is really very bleh and below average--and you have to PAY for chips and salsa! The place would be fun with a group, I would imagine, if you focus more on what you're drinking rather than on what you're eating. I second all of the other suggestions, however, and urge you to stop by Greek Delights for a quick, weeknight dinner. Saturday nights can get very crowded and busy: Went a couple of weeks ago and waited almost 45 minutes for a table (it was raining and the place is tiny) and then waited another 45 for our food--and we all ended up ordering gyros. They had also run out of hummus by the time they got to us (disappointed!) and the lone waiter looked so overwhelmed. He comped us a piece of baklava for the long wait. If it's nice weather, there are tables outside, which usually relieve the congestion inside. The food is just so fresh and tasty! yum.
  2. emilymarie


    Dined at Esca last night. Did not read up on it before going, but was very excited to eat there. Had wanted to go for years. My overall impression of the place--good, pleasant enough, but definitely not worth the money. I started with a glass of prosecco and my cousin ordered a bottle of Italian white, with a "Da" in the name (can't remember full name of wine). It was one of the more affordable bottles--$38--in a sea of way over $50-a-pop bottles. OK, so this is an expensive place. I get it! As with other Mario places I've eaten at we were encouraged to each get an app., split a pasta as a middle course, and each order an entree. Cousin didn't want to eat too much, so we split an order of the crudo, split a pasta and each ordered an entree. The crudo came as 3 small pieces (maybe 1/2 to 3/4 an inch thick) of really fresh, swordfish sprinkled with sea salt, crushed almonds, and pungent, fruity olive oil. This was my first taste of crudo, and I very much enjoyed it. This was fresh fish. Pasta shared was whole wheat spaghetti with sardines and walnuts sprinkled with fennel. A very generous half portion of spaghetti was served in a pleasantly salty, oil-based sardine sauce with nice chunks of walnuts and sprinkled with fennel. This was my favorite part of the meal. Very al dente (perhaps just slightly too al dente for my usual taste), but the contrast of flavors was a real winner for me. I'd love the recipe. Now, the entrees, which were the most disappointing part of our meal. Why? Because, my cousin and I both thought that we could have made each of our dishes at home (with the exception of the fact that we couldn't get as much heat as they do in the restaurant). My swordfish was cooked medium rare and served over summer squash (yellow and green zucchini and "its runners" which were like zucchini greens as far as I can tell). My cousin's striped bass came with roasted tomatoes and baby eggplant. Really simple, but disappointingly so from our perspective. The fish, though truly fresh and delicious, was nothing special at all. A bit dry. Nothing to write home about. Dessert was blah--3 scoops of gelati--with a thin cookie that tasted like it had been sitting in plastic for too long. No coffee, and only one bottle of wine came to a total of 180 with tax and tip. Very disappointed, especially since I am usually a big Mario fan. This whole concept just didn't fly with me at all. Simple food, yes, but not if it's food you can easily prepare at home and not for $90 dollars a head.
  3. emilymarie


    I've dined at Babbo 3 times and have been supremely satisfied after each visit. The food, in my opinion, is superb, and I salivate every time I think of the sweetbreads and the beef cheek ravioli--not to mention the desserts, which I never miss. First, the decor, music, crowds, etc.: I agree that the place is crowded, but that only bothered me while I was waiting for a table. Once I was seated in the back section of the downstairs, I barely noticed the tables at my sides. And despite some reports here that you don't have to wait too long if you are without a reservation and can walk-in and will be seated immediately, I would say--it's a risk!! One time, I waited nearly 2 hours for one of those walk-in-only tables, only to find myself too much in the middle of the bar crowd once seated. Had a phenomenal meal, but it was really too crowded and distracting for me (at least before the quartinos of wine started a-flowin'). I remember hearing rock, but, again, I don't recall it being too overwhelming or loud. Not a distraction for me. Love the feel of the place all around. Now onto the food: Everyone's already hit on my favorites and the dishes to try. My favorites are the sweetbreads, which I've ordered all 3 times--atop sweet red onions with bitter-sweet slivers of orange rind and the spice of fennel. Delicious!!! I loved all of the pastas I've had--beefcheek ravioli in the rich, balsamic butter sauce and the goat cheese and orange tortelloni. These, especially, were very delicate. Would love to try the pasta tasting menu. One memorable appetizer was marinated sardines atop a pickled, vegetable salad. These were fresh little sardines. Overall I would concentrate on the pastas, entrees, and desserts. When I've gone we've each gotten an app., split a plate or two of pasta, and each had an entree. I'd split the apps. and indulge on the pasta and entrees--but leave room for dessert! I once had an enlightening discussion with the pastry chef, Gina diPalma (sp?) about her experiences working in kitchens. She's a passionate, opinionated, and spunky woman--and a skilled pastry chef. I still remember the apple fritters with caramel ice cream. One memorable experience at Babbo unrelated to the food put me face-to-face with Michael Imperioli of Sopranos fame. Now, I don't know if this is sacrilege on the NY board (seeing as I am usually on the Jersey board), but that was truly exciting for me. I know celebrities are people like us and that as a former New Yorker I shouldn't get excited about such things, but come on! It capped off an already great night.
  4. Thanks, tommy. I could have sworn that I google-searched it, though I should have tried typing the restaurant name in as the URL. Always a good way to start. Sorry for my senior moment.
  5. I know there's been a lot of good talk about An American Grill on this board (and I missed the review on Sunday). Does the restaurant happen to have a website? I like (if possible) to browse a restaurant's menu before I eat there. Once I decide to try a place, my mind is made up, so a menu is not a factor in my decision to eat somewhere. But, I do like to get a sense of what kind of food a restaurant serves--other than what I can glean from the name.
  6. Went to both Whole Foods in Montclair and then the A&P in U. Montclair on Sunday in search of corn. Whole Foods was completely out of the stuff (real disappointment), and the A&P had the saddest corn that about 100 pairs of hands had poked, prodded, and "undressed" (the husk had been pulled off most of them revealing brown kernels). Ended up buying the already shucked and wrapped corn (4 small cobs), and it was actually quite sweet and delicious. Does Ploch's (I think that's the name) on Grove Street in Clifton have good corn and other summer produce? There's another Ploch's on Broad Street as well, I believe.
  7. Lucky find at the Union Square Greenmarket on Friday--sour cherries. The sign with them said "LAST WEEK", so I had to buy. I've never seen them in the supermarket, and I don't know what variety they were, other than red sour cherries. Pitted them, and then cooked some of the juice with cornstarch over the stove as a thickener. Mixed the pitted cherries with the cherry juice/cornstarch, a tiny bit of sugar and some flour and baked in a buttered pie pan with a simple "crumb" topping of flour, brown sugar, butter, and some toasted, slivered almonds I had in my freezer. Truly delicious! On Sunday night made that tomato salad from the Wednesday Times, with homegrown tomatoes. Very Middle Eastern flavors, b/c of the cumin and tahini in the dressing. Large pieces of fresh tomatoes and big homemade croutons, sliced red onion and fresh (from the garden) flat leaf parsley dressed with a mixture of tahini, lemon juice, garlic and cumin. Thick dressing, but a nice change of pace. Next time, I might thin it out with olive oil. But yummy! I love summer.
  8. What nice pictures, tanabutler. I will be signing myself up for that cheesemaking workshop (and then trying to make a reservation at the new Blue Hill in Westchester). And, well, I already know what a fantastically diverse state New Jersey is--something I realized as a 10-year-old hiking with my father and sisters along the Appalachian Trail in Sussex County.
  9. Walked down to Union Square from work to scout out some lunch today. Bobolink Dairy has become a fixture in the greenmarket, so I decided to buy some of their cheese for a light lunch: First, a thin wedge of their Pancake Cheese, a soft, creamy cows-milk cheese with a bumpy, grey rind. Also got a small block of their cheddar, not too sharp and softer than my usual favorite (Cabot). Got some bread to eat with it and am very happy right now. Has anyone been to their cheese/breadmaking workshop? I was signed up to go last November but couldn't make it at the last minute. I will probably sign myself up again but wanted to know if anyone has been and could share their experiences? thanks...
  10. When I lived in Montville years back, there was a farmstand on Rte. 202 called Vreeland's that had the freshest and sweetest corn in the summer--perfect for this dish. I take fresh corn on the cob, boil it for a few minutes, and then cut the corn kernels off the cob. I then saute the corn (and whatever corn milk and bits came off too) over medium heat in some butter, a bit of olive oil, salt and cracked black pepper, throw in some haricots verts that I've parboiled and cut into 1-inch pieces. I cook this until everything's been heated thru and softens the tiniest bit, and then I throw in some chopped thyme leaves. Off the heat I crumble some goat cheese over the top and serve. I did not create this recipe (it comes, I say sheepishly, from Amanda Hesser's book, Cooking for Mr. Latte), but I love it and think it a recipe open to interpretation--adding peas, favas, snap peas or sugar snaps instead of haricots verts. Or sauteed mushrooms, maybe? Or roasted tomatoes and ricotta salata instead of goat cheese? It makes a lovely side... Also, there was a tasty-looking recipe for tomato salad with tahini and lemon juice dressing in Mark Bittman's column in the Wednesday Times? I think that recipe would work beautifully with Jersey tomatoes (now growing in my grandmother's garden).
  11. I must work too late to get to Il Forno during the week. It seems that every time I pass by the U. Montclair outpost, it's closed. Will definitely have to make a visit to both locations, esp. since the one is so close to home. thanks!
  12. Thanks for the tip on Il Forno. I've heard lots of good things about Corso 98, which is on my list of places to try (after finally making it to Trattoria Fresco this past weekend). I only knew the area as home to PAWS, where I adopted my cat. Will go back to Gina's for bread and muffins. Yum!
  13. Got a birthday cake for my mother last night from Gina's Panificio on Walnut Street in Montclair. It was on the pricey side--$42 for an 8-inch cake--but a tasty cake that was eons better than anything I usually pick up at any number of local bakeries. FYI, I was told the 9-inch cake is $49 and change. We got a yellow cake with chocolate mousse filling and ganache as a frosting substitute. It was 3 layers. Overall, the chocolate mousse and ganache were a bit too sweet for me, but it was definitely a cake of high quality--nice firm-textured cake, dense mousse, and real ganache. Perhaps it would have improved had we let it come closer to room temperature--it was late. They describe themselves as an artisan bakery, but I don't know anything else about the place. Has anyone been? Opinions? Are there any other bakeries in the area with good, homemade cakes and pastries?
  14. D'oh. i should have known you'd know the loop area. have fun, whenever you get there.
  15. haha, ghostrider! there's a small barbecue shack (and I mean shack) in the Loop section of the city near Washington University. On the north side of Delmar Boulevard, right near the strip of stores that houses Blockbuster, there is an open air market where you'll find Mama's Coal Pot (open Thurs-Sunday). I enjoyed the rib tips--charred, chewy, marbled with fat, and smothered with a barbecue sauce that is sweet and sour with a bit of heat that hits you at the end. The aforementioned beans are the best of his sides, in my opinion. The owner, Michael King, is quite the gregarious fellow, though when I went, it looked like King needed to give his smoker a bit of scrub down. But that may be sacrilege... If you go, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the food.
  16. Visited Stickey's on Friday night. After reading the posts and looking at the scrumptuous pictures, I had to go. I am no barbecue expert in terms of regional styles, etc., but love the food. So here goes: The place was considerably less crowded than I imagine it was when it first opened. In fact, at around 7:30 on a Friday night it was all but empty. About half way thru our meal, however, a large group of 20 or so bikers (as in, those who ride Harley's, wear leather, and don long hair) came in with a cooler full of beer. They were a fun crowd and kept most of the wait staff busy. I ordered the mini combo, which allows you to choose half of 2 meats and 2 large sides (for $19.95). Granted, I was eating for one, but I wanted to try as much as I could. I decided on pulled pork and beef ribs. The pulled pork was better than the beef rib--subtly smokey, a bit pink around the edges, and tasty when matched with the somewhat tangy yet sugary barbecue sauce. Next time, I will go for the pulled pork pile high with cole slaw on top. The beef rib (the order came with 1 rib) looked like a one-sided rib--a large bone about 7 inches long and 1.5 inches wide was covered on one side only with about 2 inches high of beef. It was good--charred with a rich, beefy flavor. Also, subtly smokey. I've never seen a rib with meat on just one side. Nor have I seen a rib that large before (my bbq naivete showing thru...). What they called a bbq brisk sandwich had an almost grassy flavor and tasted as if it had been grilled. Was not as juicy as the pork or beef. We got baked beans and mac and cheese. To back up other posters' comments, the mac and cheese was of the drier variety, but was good with chewy noodles and enough cheese flavor to do the trick. Just a sprinkle of salt made it to my taste. The baked beans were good but not phenomenal (Btw, the best baked beans I've ever had were stewed with bacon and pineapple--and from St. Louis). There were ordinary but did the job. The fried oreos were so good--and yet I am embarassed to have enjoyed them so much. My sister and I sat there saying "Mmmm?", kind of surprised that we liked this cookie-donut-funnel cake concoction so much. They just melted in my mouth. I will definitely go back to taste more of the menu--esp. the wings and the pork ribs. Would love to see hush puppies on the menu--they are a favorite of mine with barbecue.
  17. Dined at Epernay a few weeks ago on a busy Saturday night. The range of what my boyfriend (and dining companion) will and will not eat is very small and unvaried. So, when the appetizer salad of frisee with blue cheese and lardons arrived, he would not crack the oozy yolk over the top. I did and thought that the yolk brought all of the flavors in the salad together. The frisee was still crisp, and the sharp dressing complemented the creaminess of the cheese and the richness of the egg yolk. This is one of my favorite salads, and Epernay's rendition was almost perfect. I also ordered the pate, which was served with cornichons and a spicy mustard. The pate was good, not smooth as I like, but made with bigger chunks of meat. It was tasty, but I will substitute it for one of the mussel dishes next time. Our dinner was lovely as well--the steak frites straightforward and tasty. I ordered the Saturday special--duck confit. The portion was almost shockingly generous--two very large duck legs atop a salad of favas, asparagus tips, peas, and artichoke hearts all in a basil pesto. The confit was warm and very duck-y tasting. Delicious, if not too rich with the oil from the pesto and the fat from the duck! Desserts were profiteroles with an addictive warm chocolate sauce and chocolate mousse. Both tasted as if they'd been made with high-quality bittersweet chocolate. YUM! My only complaints: Our server came to our table three times in 5 minutes (no exaggeration) to take our order. I did not want to be rude, but I thought this was very pushy. Our appetizers arrived almost instantaneously and our dinners arrived shortly thereafter. After that, our server disappeared. This was fine, as we wanted to linger after our harried beginning. Still, as another poster remarked, following-up and keeping good and even timing between courses are both important points. I also thought that the food looked very quickly put together--but then again, it probably was, and that is me being a perfectionist. Walking by later that week, I stopped to tell Courtnay that I enjoyed my meal. She told me that Mark is the only person in the kitchen cooking everything and that he has one other person in there helping with salads. What a feat! I look forward to going back. A question--when dining at a BYO, do you tip as if you had bought a $20-or-so bottle of wine?
  18. I have yet to visit five94, though it's minutes from my house. Had a good, though expensive, meal at Epernay. Would I post my thoughts on my meal to a new thread? I'm sure everyone's already been there, but I wanted to add my two cents...
  19. Thanks, tommy. Yes, I'm in Passaic, on the border of Clifton and Upper Montclair. Am working my way thru the restaurants right in my neighborhood--from bagels to French bistros. Am trying to choose my next destination. Will keep reading in the meantime...
  20. I want to introduce myself to my fellow NJ diners. I have been reading thru the NJ postings for a few weeks now and have really enjoyed everyone's comments on the local restaurants (I'm already planning a dinner at Trattoria Fresco based on everyone's rave reviews--and my mouth is watering for those zeppole/fritters with butterscotch sauce). I check out the NJ board everyday and have a growing list of restaurants I need to visit based on your posts. Any rate, I have posted a few times on the Heartland board (specifically for St. Louis restaurants) b/c I lived in St. Louis for a few years and am planning a dinner party for a friend who is getting married there this August. I am NJ born-and-raised, however, and proud of it! I want to add my two cents to the pizza discussion. I have always been a big fan of Bruno's on Rte. 46 West in Clifton. It's in the same strip mall as a now-closed Acme. I find the crust perfectly thick for my taste--doughy and yeasty on the inside and crunchy on the outside. It's just heaven to take that first bite. I'd stay away from the pizza by the slice because they sometimes don't heat it thru sufficiently. Their sicilian is good, perhaps a bit too thick and doughy, with the cheese under the sauce. They do a nice eggplant pizza, with slices of fried eggplant (leftovers from eggplant parm sandwiches, maybe?)--but the good old "slice of regular" is still my favorite. Any thoughts on Bruno's? And I am still learning board etiquette. So if I'm posting in the wrong place, please let me know. again, love the site...
  21. I lived in St. Louis for 3 years and have returned about two times a year since moving to the New York/New Jersey area 5 years ago. One of the best restaurants in St. Louis, in my opinion, is Harvest (on Big Bend in Clayton). In fact, I just ate there at the end of May. You could describe the food as New American. It's on the expensive side (about $15 to $20 for entrees) but the place is warm and relaxed and the food creatively prepared with precision. Also, the chef delivers dishes to guests, which is a nice touch. I would recommend the fritto misto as an appetizer. On one visit it was comprised of fried calamari with sea beans served with a salty basil aioli. Crunchy, buttery, and delicious! When they have local tomatoes in house, they're always good. I remember the Caesar salad was bland, but all of the entrees I've sampled have been really good--especially a charred hanger steak served with homemade bbq sauce and maytag blue cheese-flecked mashed potatoes. Also, you must try the bread pudding (a house specialty, I believe) for dessert. It is certainly a decadent finish, but honestly, something that will make you roll your eyes back in pleasure. It's made of brioche with a bourbon-butter sauce dripping all over. As you can see, I never forget a good meal. I also love Pho Grand, on South Grand Boulevard, for cheap, fresh, and very fast Vietnamese food. You must have the eggrolls (and make sure to dip them in the sauce they give you) and I love their curry. The phos are all good. The wait's long, though, so get there early or prepare to wait up to 45 minutes during dinner rush hour. For cheap Mexican, I like El Maguay. The chile colorado in a roasted tomato sauce, especially. It's also cheap and always good. Please know that I sing the praises of Harvest because I think it is a place not-to-be-missed in St. Louis--and yet see it so infrequently mentioned when people discuss where to eat in St. Louis. Enjoy!!!!
  • Create New...