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  1. Still there, and I doubt a single thing has changed in decades. What I do love about them is the absolute consistency in the steaks - I've never had one not come out at exactly the doneness I ordered, I swear they have it down to a science. The green beans are as horrid as always but every so often I just get the worst craving for their filet + crab cake, and the SO loves their prime rib. We have our office Christmas party there every year, and it's fun to take out-of-towners to just to watch their jaws drop when they walk in for the first time.
  2. Another South Jersey person checking in here! Used to be Philly (when I first joined/was active here many moons ago), moved out to the Swedesboro area about 5 years back. I can't say enough good things about Zeppoli in Collingswood. Some of the best Italian food I've had outside of Italy, without question. It's a real relief compared to the mediocre-at-best Italian-American the dominates the menus around here. I also love Fuji and Sagami, prefer them both to the sushi options in Philadelphia currently. The Pub is another favorite for the nostalgia/camp factor and some seriously delicious steaks. Other favorites: Franklinville Inn, Bull on the Barn Bayshore Crabhouse, Beawon (Korean BBQ place attached to the Cherry Hill H-Mart)...others I'm sure will come to mind as I think about it some more.
  3. Thanks Smitty. I might be able to get over on the 26th, will see depending on how smoothly the road trip goes!
  4. Smitty - I'll keep that in mind, though are you just a lunch operation and will you be serving for Memorial Day weekend? I'm pretty much locked in during the days for convention duty, so looking for evening dining options in the area between May 26 - May 29.
  5. Thanks for the warning/heads up about Cowtown. I've been meaning to go to check out the action but will make a point to avoid the food there! I moved to the area from Philly - just about a mile from the Salem County border in Gloucester County - last summer. It is pretty much a culinary desert around here, although I have so much land now to grow my own vegetables - and awesome farm markets all around me - I can't complain too much I'm also hoping to get the chance to revisit Cream Valley Custard this weekend in Woodstown...soooo good I've been drooling and dreaming about them all winter!
  6. Hey everyone, once again I'm preparing to head back to the East Lansing/Okemos area for a Memorial Day weekend convention. Looking for any thoughts/tips on new places to try out as it's actually been 2 years since I've been. Last time I went, I recall eating multiple times at Ai Fusion, which was right near the hotel I was staying in and I loved it. No doubt will be returning there as I see they're still open. My convention is more in the South Lansing area, so any places between those two parts of Lansing would be great. Thanks! (Oh, any any cuisine is fine, except for Middle Eastern which always seems to set off my few food allergies/intolerances.)
  7. I frequently write restaurant reviews - for pay - for another website. Being able to take pictures of the food I am reviewing is a nearly necessary part of that process. I am basically just a freelancer so there is no staff photographer to come out at a later date and take perfectly-staged photographs. I also want to include photographs of the food as it was actually presented to me as an "average consumer." This reflects a more honest view of what is served, I believe. And photos are very useful for potential customers, or am I the only one who feels that way? I like having a sense, when I read a restaurant review, of what the food actually looks like, including what portion sizes are like (not to criticize if they aren't big, but to know how many course I should order as servers aren't always helpful in that regard.) With "small plates" and "tapas" being such a rage these days, I really like to know if I'm going to need to order 4-5 courses to have a satisfying meal or whether a place is just using the word "tapas" as a trendy name for full-sized "appetizers." Or if a place is truly "family style" and I could do well to just split a main with my companion and have more than enough food for two. Also, as a restaurant review writer, having photos is an important tool after the fact for remembering the details of a meal. I try to dine at a place at least 2-3 times before reviewing it, and months may pass between those visits. Having photos even just for my own reference helps refresh my memory on the details of a meal so I can write about it later. I never take flash photography and always try to be as discreet as possible when photographing food in restaurants. The most I do is ask my dining companions to refrain from "digging in" before letting me take a picture of their order as delivered, even just for reference if not publication. I do not try to photograph other tables' food. I honestly don't see what the issue is with someone like myself unless a restaurant has real reasons to keep people who haven't been before from seeing what their food actually looks like.
  8. I went a couple weeks ago with two friends. Overall we really liked it. Specialty cocktails were nicely prepared and seriously, I must give props for their breadbasket. The selection, especially the flatbread, was delicious. I loved the grilled octopus small plate, was not so thrilled by the tuna and short rib "large" plate. The hoisin sauce overpowered everything else on the plate to the point it was not that enjoyable. However, the apple fritter dessert is seriously worth saving room for. One of my friends did 4 small plates and seemed to have the most positive experience overall, so I'll probably stick to small plates on any return visit.
  9. sockii


    Had a very nice experience and meal there last night. A couple dishes hit true high points that took me immediately back to my time in Italy, especially the marinated sardines (perfectly executed--though more Venetian than Roman, I think...), coppa with honey, and veal cannelloni with porcini bechamel sauce. Desserts were outstanding as well, and the wine list reasonable with great bottles that worked well with a variety of dishes. (We had a lovely red from Puglia for $37.) Only real miss was the Roman Artichokes (couldn't live up to what I'd eaten in the Jewish Ghetto just a few months ago...greasy and too heavy in comparison). We'd definitely go back again, even if it was expensive enough not to be something on our "regular" rotation ($170 before tip for 4 small plates, 2 pastas, 1 main, 1 bottle of wine, 2 desserts and 2 specialty after-dinner drinks.) I have pictures up here for anyone who wants to see...not the best ever but with the lighting it was hard to get great shots: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=51401&id=1103392802&l=f35cde14c1
  10. sockii


    I have a reservation lined up in a couple of weeks so I'm also eager for a report! The menu is making my mouth water after spending 2 weeks in Rome just a couple months ago...
  11. I've been wanting to try Zahav for ages, but was wondering if anyone can comment on how garic-heavy the food is (or isn't?) I have a bit of an allergy to raw garlic that keeps me away from a lot of Middle Eastern food unless I prepare it myself (and thoroughly sautee the garlic to kill whatever otherwise kills *me*). I mean, everyone raves about the hummus at Zahav but I know I probably can't eat it since most restaurant hummus and I don't get along, and I wonder if there's enough else there will make it worth a trip...
  12. I've just returned from nine days in Rome and have been slowly blogging about my experiences there--including food consumed and restaurants visited--on my personal blog. For those who don't want to read through all the nitty gritty details (I'm only up to day three), I'd summarize quickly as thus: - Staying in a rental apartment is much more affordable - and convenient location-wise - than most hotels in Rome. We've done this before in Venice and Florence, and while Rome was a harder city to book, we still came out quite happy with our selection. We had a spacious 1-bedroom + kitchen (not studio) apartment just off Via Veneto for all of 835 Euros for 8 nights. Sleepinitaly.com was the booking agency we used with good results when we specified what kinds of amenities and location we were interested in. - Food in Rome: Not as varied, in our experience, as in other cities in Italy, but we don't do the fancy places and stick to trattorias and other restaurants we can walk in if we show up early enough (as we often do; we have no patience for making reservations beyond as necessary to get in art museums, our main passion when visiting Italy!) Needless to say we had some excellent meals overall and only ended up in a couple of places that felt like tourist rip-offs. I would say my favorite meals were at the following places: * Gioia Mia Pisciapiano (Via degli Avignonesi 34) Tiny little place we lucked into just before they started turning away walk-ins because the "Cook's too busy". Some of the best risotto I've had in my life (went for the house preparation with ham, peas, and cream). Simple, very authentic tasting and reasonably priced (2 appetizers, 2 primis, 1 secondi, dessert, 1/2 l. wine + cafes was about 60 Euros). * La Taverna del Ghetto (Via Del Portico d'Ottavia, 8) We dined twice in the ghetto and both meals were excellent, but this was the overall standout. Gruff service, admittedly--very much seemed like they catered to their local/regular crowd and not the few tourists who stumbled in, but this was the "real" Roman-Jewish cuisine I was craving to try and strictly kosher as well. My S.O. proclaimed the Baccalà the best he'd had in his life. Their fritto misto of vegetables was amazingly delicious and light, rather like tempura and great carciofi, of course... * Aristocampo in Trastavere (not their panini shop--which is also good--but the actual restaurant with the easy to spot chalkboard outside proclaiming "We are against War and the Tourist Menu!") Had a fabulous cheese plate, great pork, and a divine lemon custard dessert with dried raspberries. On a street lined with tourist traps, this was a great place to stumble upon. * Osteria Le Streghe (Vicolo del Curato 13) Charming little place we found after a Wednesday morning papal audience, just over the Bridge of Angels. Wonderful pasta and some great specialties, including the fried zucchini blossoms and bruschetta con lardo. Excellent choice for a slow, quiet lunch outdoors after the crowds at the Vatican, I would definitely revisit for a full dinner next time we return... Anyway, have to get back to writing up the rest of my tour report...!
  13. I have to admit I laughed a bit reading through this thread...my mother lived in Italy while she was pregnant with me some 30-odd years ago. And she still lovingly tells stories of how she (and by default I) basically lived on muscles right off the beaches of Ancona, wild turkies, and big slabs of cheese as that was about all she and my father could afford. And of course at least glass of wine (though not to excess) every evening meal. I daresay I came out alright and with no health problems except she swears I inherited extreme Italian tastebuds...
  14. Have to admit I'm feeling way out of my league. Really looking forward to the dinner but I feel like a heel that I can't afford to bring a bottle of wine comparable to what other folks are planning (hey, I'm almost literally a starving artist and this is my I-finally-got-out-of-major-debt-celebration meal). I tend to drink in the $10-20 range and most of my better bottles are heavier Italian stuff bought by the S.O. in Florence a couple years back, which sadly I don't think will go with the meal...
  15. OK, so I think I just grabbed the one remaining seat for the corn dinner. Yay? This is BYOW, correct? Any recs on what I should consider bringing to add to the table?
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