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Everything posted by markymark

  1. This New Jersey boy is going to be in Seattle during the summer for 3 nights, and he'd like to experience the Northwestern style of cooking. He's not looking for foie gras and Kobe beef; he'd prefer Dungeness, geoduck, mushrooms, berries, salmon and halibut. Setting can range from informal (fish shack with view of water) to trendy, but not too frou-frou. Price can be inexpensive to moderate (think entrees under $30). Oh, and a couple of his companions think that fried rice is an exotic food, so if the restaurant can make a steak that would be a plus. Likely staying downtown/near the Pike Market. Thanks for your suggestions.
  2. I don't agree with the generalization of this being a red-sauce establishment, although dishes of that type are available. My wife had a very nice rissotto during our one visit here. We thought service was a bit lacking, however. Agree that Harvest Bistro is a good choice in the area.
  3. I'll be spending time in Poughkeepsie over the next 4 years. Other than the CIA restaurants, what recommendations do you have within a 30 minute radius? Looking for the whole range-cheap ethnic to higher-end restaurants. Also, a older grad remembers a bakery that sold wonderful fruit pies on the way up there--any ideas?
  4. I've had them at Cafe Panache in Ramsey in the past.
  5. Whoa, everybody's entitled to an opinion... I've always wondered why there has never been an even partially negative review of AHD. Personally--and I've been twice---I thought the dogs were good but not great. Specifically both times I was there the hot dogs were a bit cold. I know for sure the second time they were sitting on some kind of warmer, rather than being taken out of the oil (like Rutt's). I agree with almost all posters that the fries were superlative, but I would rather have them in a smaller portion for less money. I would definitely stop there if I was in the 'hood but to echo John the Hot Dog Maven my favorites are Syd's dogs or Usinger's right off my grill. ←
  6. We went here last Friday with a friend who has traveled extensively in China and is a Sichuan maven. He pronounced the food the "real deal." There were about 5-6 tables occupied at 8PM on a Friday, and we certainly had no problems with service at all. I'm sure that the few words of Chinese that my friend offered up didn't hurt. Appetizers were the wontons in red oil, dan-dan noodles, pan-fried dumplings for the less adventurous. All were first rate although I have to concur that the portions of the wontons and dan-dan noodles were a bit small, even for 3.95. Main dishes were the lamb noted previously, chicken and 3 kinds of pepper, braised fish in a slightly spicy sauce, but not particularily Sichuan-flavored, ma-po tofu, and chow-fun (again for the less adventurous). All were excellent although I didn't personally have the chow fun. Yes--five mains for 4 people but this restaurant is a bit out of our usual driving range. There was definitely some Sichuan peppercorn numbing effect but not as much as when I had them for the first time--at China 46--the dish there being the spicy capiscum noodles. This was before the importation ban--so either they use a little less at Chengdu or the irradiated peppercorns are not as potent. My only quibble was probably my fault with ordering but there was a certain repetition of taste between the two spicy appetizers and the tofu, chicken and lamb. And I might have overdone the spice and volume of food as about a half hour after the meal my stomach felt like a simmering volcano. And then the next morning... Highly recommended.
  7. I have to come to Samdam's defense. One does not always need to be titillated when having dinner. Sometimes having dishes you like, consistently prepared, is worth a trip. Although my wife and I are fairly adventurous eaters, we always have the same meal at Samdam--Shepherd's salad, meze platter, and yogurtlu sis. The Shepherd's salad, in particular, is the best I've ever had. We have taken many friends there (all under the age of 50) and the restaurant receives universally approving comments from them. And no one holds the sauce ← To defend Samdam when you write that you always have the same salad, meze and yogurt is very weak. Next time you are there why not be just a notch more adventurous (you say you are) and order their fish dishes or chopped lamb or beef and then we can have a debate as to what their kitchen can do. Again, all safety food without even a hint of diversity and or taste. Their menu has not changed even one iota since opening their doors. They thrive on bland. ← I think that it is important to realize that certain restaurants and cuisines lend themselves best to certain types of dishes. I would no more order a tuna steak at Samdan than I would in an Indian restaurant. If I was eating in Instanbul, by the Bosporus, I'd be more likely to order fish. Samdan's menu is mostly based on lamb and beef, as well as salads and meze platters--this is what they do well (and affordably). That's why the restaurant does a good business. Yes, I have had different selections from their menu over the last ten years. Many are fine, some have been disappointing. But for the three of four times a year that I go there, I stick to what I like the best. When I want diversity I go to Cafe Panache, or Restaurant X or the Freelance Cafe, or Relish... Yogurtlu sis, by the way, is not "yogurt," it is a combination of lamb, fried bread and garlic yogurt sauce. And I fail to see how a dinner that includes tarama and acili ezme could be described as bland.
  8. I have to come to Samdam's defense. One does not always need to be titillated when having dinner. Sometimes having dishes you like, consistently prepared, is worth a trip. Although my wife and I are fairly adventurous eaters, we always have the same meal at Samdam--Shepherd's salad, meze platter, and yogurtlu sis. The Shepherd's salad, in particular, is the best I've ever had. We have taken many friends there (all under the age of 50) and the restaurant receives universally approving comments from them. And no one holds the sauce
  9. My two cents: I have been to both Baumgart's-in Ridgewood and Englewood. Going there was fun the first time, mostly because of the coffeshop kitsch. I still remember my father's reaction when he asked what the soup of the day was, and expecting wonton or egg drop as the answer was greeted with the reply "Manhattan clam chowder." Since then the visits have generally been disappointing, although I always enjoy one of the sundaes as dessert. I do have to say that I had a terrific dish of fried soft-shell crabs in black bean sauce in June (at Ridgewood). That being said, and somewhat off-topic, to deny the connection of Chinese-American food with the Jewish experience in the metropolitan area is absurd. When my parents emigrated from Brooklyn to Queens in the late 1950s, the first thing they did when looking for Jewish neighborhoods was to look for a local Chinese restaurant--no joke. In my house we had 4 sets of dishes--dairy, meat, paper plates for regular nonkosher take-in, and three pink pieces of china with pictures of pagodas for Chinese take-in. Imagine a separate set of dishes for one country's cuisine! How many of us know Jews that will shun ham, pork chops, tasso, chorizo and the like, but have no problems with spare ribs and roast pork lo mein? I think assimilation has taken a toll on this tradition, but it still lives on. If you don't believe me, go into Golden Dynasty in Hillsdale on a Sunday night. There's a good chance that many of the surrounding towns' (Woodcliff Lake, River Vale, Montvale) Jewish population will be there.
  10. Here is the NYT aticle (2003) There do accept credit cards now. "Chefs and caterers love them, and prestigious specialty food stores (including Zabar's, Whole Foods, Gourmet Garage and Fairway) carry them. But you don't have to be a food professional to buy Mandoo Inc. dumplings. Walk through the door of the Mandoo Inc. warehouse tucked in Englewood's industrial area, and you are practically on the manufacturing floor. Here, 15 to 20 employees make up to 30,000 dumplings a day, every one folded by hand. Part of the fun of buying dumplings here is watching them being made, although you never know what part of the process they will be on when you arrive. You also won't know which flavor is available warm out of the ovens unless you call that day. But you can buy bags of newly frozen dumplings in all flavors. Mandoo Inc., 75 West Sheffield Avenue, Englewood; (201)568-9337. Open Monday through Saturday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m." Moderator note: Excerpted from original 400 word article.
  11. I think that you are definitely talking about Mandoo. Its about 2 minutes from the Van Brundt exit of Rt 4, south of the highway. Follow the Van Brundt exit under Rt 4, proceed to the hot dog truck (if during work hours), make a right and it will be on the right in about 100 yards. I believe that I first heard of the factory in one of the short food sections in the NJ section of the New York Times, but I cannot find the link. They have about 5-6 versions of a dumpling that we usually pan fry at home. Varieties include vegetable, shrimp with broccoli, beef, and kimchee (not that spicy). They are usually cooking one variety at a time, and you can buy a small tray(10-12?) right out of the oven (essentially steamed) for a few bucks, served with a small cup of the dipping sauce. The other way to buy is large bags of frozen dumplings--about 50 to a bag, usually for about $11-12. Definitely buy a small bottle of the dipping sauce--I think about $1.50 and it will last for a while. The clientele appears to be mostly but not exclusively Korean. The dumplings are enjoyed by the whole family, including the kids. And yes, I think that these are the "Englewood Dumplings" seen in stores.
  12. Ebberlyn post Jun 19 2005, 12:40 PM Post #6 participating member Posts: 3 Joined: 26-May 05 Member No.: 32,349 They have a great bar and their drinks are amazing! The raw bar is something to talk about. The oyster shucker, Ryan, is wonderful!! They are known for their raw bar platters which are piled on- great value!! Much more appealing than South City Grill. I believe they are also known for their Braised Short Ribs and their Chili-Cinnamon glazed Chilean seabass. I think it's the best kept secret. Formula for suspicious posts: If the number of exclamation points minus the number of previous posts is a positive integer, it is likely an insider comment.
  13. Starting this thread may have been the most productive (or anti-productive) thing I've done in the last couple of years. Keep it coming.
  14. Reply to both posts above: I agree that Varka is a bit expensive for Greek food, but not necessarily for an upper-end fish restaurant. AT $22-26 for a portion of fish, I think the price is in line with most other nicer restaurants in the area. BTW, I saw the owner of one of the It's Greek to Me--I won't say which one--eating at Varka when we were there!! We like Its Greek to Me, but tend to go there with kids or before a movie--Varka for me is more of an adult Saturday night kind of place. And you're not getting bronzini, etc at IGTM. I have also been to Samdam many, many, many times. My wife is- shall we say- not thin, and we have always been treated courteously. We find the food to be the best of many of the Turkish places we've tried in Bergen County +Cliffside Park. Haven't been to Sapphire yet, though. Service varies depending on the waiter. Decor unfortunately reminds me of Florida retirement dining halls.
  15. Heartbreaking news to hear but I should have guessed. I remember every year around autumm they would have a turkey shoot and one year when I had to be twelve at the most I won. Must have been the highlight of the year for my mother as she spoke of it often. I really appreciate all the suggestions and I'm looking forward to visiting some of the farms listed. It sure will likely go over with the family more then giving them another tour of my old neighborhood in Paterson which never fails to scare my better half to death. ← Actually, Tice's has become a mall, and Van Riper's has become an A & P. Not that it makes it any better. But you can still pick peaches at Demarest Farms in Hillsdale, about 2 miles away.
  16. We went to Migdalias's tonight, and had a similarly perplexing experience. I walked in about 8 PM (there were abut 3 tables filled) and stood at the front entryway waiting for some acknowledgement from the staff. I made eye contact with both a waiter and an older gentleman behind the cash register (engaged in conversation), neither of whom made any effort to greet/seat me. I walked out to find my wife who was on a cell phone call and told her that they had 1 minute after we walked back in, or we were gone. Upon reentry, Migdalia walked from behind the counter and told us to sit anywhere. I should have listened more carefully to the previous posts about not wanting anything specific on the menu. We were hoping to have the pernil and the Cuban Sandwich, and they were out of both! The pork I could understand (although this is a daily item, supposedly) but how does a Cuban restaurant run out of a Cuban sandwich?! We would up having the steak (flat, not bad, tender but a little liver-ish tasting) and the "banana boat"--either a banana or plantain stuffed with a mildly seasoned ground beef preparation--moderately enjoyable. Appetizers were three empanadillas--cheese, chicken and beef that were OK. Cafe con leche was excellent, and probably the highpoint of the meal. The waitstaff has to become better trained. Example 1--we ordered the 3 empanadillas to share. The three came out on one plate placed in front of me, and my wife was given an empty plate. A proper serving, even in an informal restaurant, would be a middle plate, with empty plates placed in front of those sharing. Example 2--after ringing up the credit card and bringing the bill to our table, the waitress (who was friendly enough) stood over my shoulder while I was figuring out the tip--a little unnerving. Also, someone has got to lower the volume of the sound system--there is a jukebox with latino songs, but the volume literally made us jump out of our seats. It was so loud that the we couldn't hear the waitress at times. I do like a good Cuban sandwich, however, and I will probably try this restaurant at lunch for both the pork and the sandwich. But my wife said that one visit here was enough for her.
  17. Having just come back from our first dinner at Varka, I have to agree with those who have enjoyed their meals. We walked in at about 7:30 (Tuesday night) having not made reservations, and found the restaurant filled to capacity, along with about 10 tables outside. The staff was able to promise us a table in 20 minutes, and they came through. We waited at the bar, where we picked from about 12 wines poured by the glass, accompanied by an olive selection. The wine selection could use a few lower priced alternatives-most were in the 30-40 range. Bread (not anything unique) was served with a small assortment of more olives, humus, and radishes, as well as poured olive oil. Our group of 4 had 4 appetizers, but should have split two. We had two Greek tomato salads--no lettuce, about half red and half yellow tomatoes, along with onions, peppers, zucchini, and feta. The feta cheese was milder than what I expected--I assume Greek and not the standard local stuff I usually have. We had an order of the outstanding Varka chips, which are slices of eggplant and zucchini crisply fried (greaseless) served with tzatzaki. The fourth appy was grilled sardines, delicious and only mildly fishy. For main courses, we all had fish--they carry about 10-15 different types, many imported from Greece. They included one grilled whole Royal Dorado (from Greece, similar to porgy), mostly deboned. grilled halibut steak, Chilean sea bass baked and served in a tomato broth, and the winner which was about 7 lighly fried rougets (whole and not deboned). The only mild disappointment was the halibut, which was a little overcooked around the edges. The accompaning greens were called horta, which was described as a mixture of escarole, dandelion and another green I've forgotten--cooked with olive oil and lemon. We were too full for dessert but decided to try one. Unfortunately the restaurant was out of the Greek yogurt/sour cherries, but a large bowlful of loukoumathes (zeppole like fried dough balls served with honey and cinnamon) were enjoyed. Skipped coffee. They finish you off with two different types of Greek cookies at the greeter's table. This meal was thoroughly enjoyed by the four of us. Overall the appetizers were fancier adaptations of those seen in a typical Greek restaurant, and the fish were prepared in a simple and healthy manner. In the future we will either choose to share appetizers or share main dishes. The meal ran about 115 per couple including tax, tip and 5 drinks. Admittedly a little high, but with some splitting price can easily be brought down. A similar menu, although at even higher prices, can be seen at www.avrany.com--apparently the chef or owner used to have a connection at Avra, in Manhattan.
  18. Pecans, possibly mustard as well. Always good, and generally one of the least expensive entrees. Bacari Grill in Washington Twp is another decent choice with private rooms.
  19. Close to Mahwah in Allendale is both Flirt and Masa (my current local favorite)
  20. ← Rosie--being from the "Lake" I can make some suggestions. Other than the Hilton Hotel, there is no restaurant in WCL that could handle 50--the only eating establishments are Panera's and Blue Moon, currently closed after a fire. In surrounding towns, however, I could recommend the following: Park Ridge--The Park, Esty Street Saddle River--Saddle River Inn Montvale--Aldo and Gianni's, Canton Gourmet Westwood--The Melting Pot Ramsey--Cafe Panache Over the border in NY--Citrus Grille has a room downstairs that could accomodate 50
  21. Greetings from a New Jersey lurker. My wife and I tried this excellent restaurant today for lunch. Interestingly, the place was at most 1/3 full (from 12-1)--had not expected that from the previous posts. We were able to park directly across the street at a meter. Service was friendly, helpful, and gracious. Dishes: 1. Duck salad--good, but we've had better. The duck is not crisp, as it is in many Thai restaurants. Herbs and dressing were missing a little zing. 2. Tom kha gai soup. Was probably the best version of this soup we've ever had. Perfect in every way. My wife unfortunately mistook an orange chili pepper for a carrot (NOT)--this caused about 5 minutes of calamity. 3. Choo chee tilapia. Excellent flavor, did not seem to have the heat that I was expecting.. We found the fish to be done perfectly, in contrast to previous posts. 4. Soy sauce noodles with chicken. Skipped the squid normally in this dish as it's not my wife's favorite. It was fine, had a nice amount of chinese broccoli, but had very little flavor. Really tasted like something found in Chinatown. 5. Jungle curry--I personally found the anise taste of the Thai basil overpowering in this dish. Or maybe I've never had had real Thai basil before. An interesting ingredient that I had to look up was Thai eggplant--grape sized. Sweet Thai iced coffee was a great tongue-cooler and a bargain at $1.50 For those who have never been in Woodside, the neighborhood is filled with various ethnic grocers.
  22. I have occasionally seen Bests' dogs in my local A & P. This winter, based on the comments in this forum, the family and I compared Bests with Usingers, ordered via the internet. Admittedly, the Usingers were natural casing, and the Bests were not. Nevertheless, we all felt that the Usinger's were some of the tastiest dogs we've ever eaten. So, IMHO, order the Usingers while surfing the net, and don't risk death.
  23. The reason why the person in the picture looks familiar is that the two owners are brothers. I have eaten at the Cinco de Mayo once. It has about 6-8 counter seats and the place is so narrow that you could probably lean back from the stool and touch the back wall. The food is similar but the scope is more narrow. The setup is really more for takeout, at least for dinner. When we told the young man behind the counter that we were eating there, he looked confused, and then plates, etc were produced. He wound up being the cook and server and looked surprised to get a tip. While my family was there, though, several take out orders were picked up. The food was good, but I think that there was just a nicer dining experience at La Batalla.
  24. We enjoy the Brick House in Wyckoff. Last time there, had a bleu-cheese topped sirloin, which isn't my favorite cut, and it was delicious. Relatively low priced martinis too, and they let you keep the extra in the shaker.
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