- The delight of sitting at the kitchen bar (aka worshipping at the altar of Nick Ruscitto) next to my sweetie, perusing the menu.
- These insane, buttery, crisp crab fritters.
- The wonderful take on surf and turf we indulged in – beef short ribs and crab legs. That chimichurri is so beyond what any pesto could ever hope to be.
- The perfectly stimulating, yet satisfying dessert melange we enjoyed – so many flavors (chocolate, coconut, toffee, salted caramel) and textures (dense, chewy, airy)… What a treat to sample Greg’s talents!
- The unabashed enthusiasm of an owner who is able to indulge his inner DJ knowing that he (and his partner/wife) have assembled a professional staff who can keep the floor and kitchen consistently humming.
Tag Archives: restaurants
So…this Wednesday, 12/17, is the 7th anniversary of the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. Yes, that did go fast! I’ve been onboard for the last 4 years and consider myself fortunate to be able to continue having a presence in the local food scene in such a special spot, especially since my availability is generally limited to a single night of the week.
Lucky me, though, – I work Wednesday nights and will be on hand to celebrate our milestone. And you know what? You should be, too! We’ll be featuring a few items from the original menu, at the original prices, and selected bottles of 2007 vintage wines will be available at a 50% discount. See? You’re lucky, too!
That’s a date then, right?
How about eating for a good cause instead? New World Bistro & Bar is generously donating 15% of tonight’s sales to the DelSo’s very own Normanskill Farm. Why not save that bunch of kale and box of Annie’s for another night and instead head to NWBB for something a bit more interesting? The Normanskill Farm is a magical place right here in our own neighborhood and any improvements made to their property will benefit the entire city. This event will help to provide funds for bringing animals back to the farm.
So, what do you say? Meet you there!
During the two weeks we spend at the beach each summer, we eat dinner out maybe a handful of times. Part of that decision is based upon practicalities – kids, expense, day drinking and driving, but the fact that we’ve been disappointed with pricy meals in restaurants with menus that attempt to satisfy adults and children, is the biggest factor in choosing either take out (less expensive than dining in with tip/adult beverages) or cooking at home.
All that said, there’s a place in Vineyard Haven I’d been wanting to try for a few years – the Art Cliff Diner. Sunday the stars aligned and the guys and I finally got there and we couldn’t have been happier. The Art Cliff is both a food truck and a stationary restaurant. We pulled into their shared parking lot at what seemed to be the ideal time, about 5:15. The restaurant wasn’t open for business, but the truck’s menu more than sufficed for us.
There were maybe a dozen options and we were able to find something for each of us – Liam chose the cheesesteak sandwich ($14?) which was as fine an example of that item as I’ve ever enjoyed. The meat was thinly sliced, maybe even shaved, with sweet onions and the perfect amount of cheese. The portion was more than generous.
For Griffin it was the pig on a roll ($8?), a moist pulled pork sandwich with cole slaw. He declined the chipotle mayo, but I’m sure it would have added a terrific kick to the tender and overstuffed sandwich. I also went with pork in the form of spicy pork taco. The soft flour tortilla ($8?) was complete with juicy pork, greens, a sour cream based sauce and green salsa. It was really, really delicious.
Quinn went with a
ho-hum hotdog ($4) which he thoroughly enjoyed and we rounded out things with two generous orders of fries – one plain and one dusted with grated Parmesan. The fries were fantastic and would make an awesome and satisfying snack solo at only $6.
Our total for a really high quality and nicely presented meal, with soft drinks was a fair and reasonable $57 before tip. I imagine their offerings change regularly, but can’t imagine ever being disappointed by their food. Have you been there? Tell me about it! If you haven’t yet, try it and let me know.
Last night I attended my first Saratoga “event,” the 21st Annual Newton Plaza Siro’s Cup. I was thoughtfully included in a friend’s group and during a very busy week, it was the thing for which I was most excited. What to wear? Could I forsake peer comfort with foot comfort and wear flats? Accessories were key and I wanted to feel put together from head (day 2 hair, flat ironed and sprayed) to toes (freshly pedicured in a gorgeous shade of pastel sea foam). I knew I needed to feel confident in my appearance and went with a whole Goddess
of Reading look. I think it worked.
The showers through which I had driven in Albany had completely disappeared and the air in Saratoga was fresh and comfortable. The fancy cars, Maserartis, Rolls Royces and my dream car, a 2 door Porsche, were parked on display and the whole thing felt about as swanky as you can get when you’re essentially walking barefoot from your own wagon parked in a grassy field.
Inside the party there was an almost overwhelming sense of stimulation. People were ON. The multiple bars set up attracted what seemed to be the most outgoing cliques of friend – there was a definite (and deserved) sense of holding court. The clothes, the makeup, the hair…there was so much to absorb. Fashion-wise, it seemed that anything went. Naturally, there were Nantucket Reds, seersucker and linen adorning the guys and dresses in every length and color on the women. There was a lot of jewelry, along with a fair amount of serious suntan.
A constantly flowing river of attendees were carried on a current of cocktails. People seemed happy and there were many outbursts of laughter to be heard. The “first party of the season” feel to it made for an excellent vibe. It was fun. I loved seeing my favorite Pirate Girl and am so psyched the she has taken up residence for the season, like the ballet or the writers of Yaddo. There were other hospitality folks there – the generation II Purnomos, Matt Baumgartner, Michael Cocca. It was nice to see them being on the receiving end of hospitality for a change.
Many familiar faces were in the crowd. I mean, I’ve worked in local restaurants for long time and have probably served thousands of people. I had a couple of moments, though, of feeling mildly out of place amongst a crowd who have far more lucrative investments than merely budgeting carefully and buying consigned clothes. A couple of times I greeted attendees I knew from one restaurant or another and I wasn’t recognized without giving my name or context. Do I look that different? Am I invisible as a server? Have I gained weight?* Am I aging poorly? It was a little awkward to navigate.
The scene, though, was captivating. I could have walked, marveling under the star-filled sky, for even longer, but my belly demanded food and I don’t like eating standing up. I headed to 15 Church and got exactly what I was looking for – something delicious and indulgent to eat and sip and the welcome of friends I’ve worked with over the years. I wish Saratoga was closer.
*no charge for that peek inside my head.
See that post title above? I have a confession about it… I seriously almost used a more, shall we say, colorful homophonic version of the word “come,” but chose not to because I was afraid it might be interpreted as vulgar. I may be salty at times with my language choices, but crass is something I do not want to be.
So – why the temptation to use a word with carnal connotations to describe a dining experience? Well, because Cucina, located at the north (east?) end of town in Woodstock, is a very sexy restaurant. From the wide porch which offers dining al fresco during the warmer months, to the painted plank floors and the understated decor, to the menu which invites exploration and sharing, this place is hot.
My number one advice for planning your meal at Cucina is this: go with people you love because you’re going to want to share your food. Until the dessert course, of course, but we’ll get to that…
My home(town)girls and I selected Cucina for our “midway” dining date based upon recommendations from the Wine Bar & Bistro Chef, Nick, and the prior experience of one of the girls. We had 7pm reservations, but arrived a little early since most of our usual shopping destinations are still on winter hours and had closed by 6pm. We began at the bar, an open, well-lit area, and perused the creative cocktail list. I struggled with personal responsibility wanting to order one of everything, gin drinks aside. Because of our mutual appreciation of wine with dinner, Ginny and I elected to share the Orient Old Fashioned as an aperitif and it was a revelation. Spicy from the ginger syrup, smooth from the Bulleit, refreshing and piquant, I easily could have gulped this down in record time.
The dinner menu came with its own impressive array of temptations, but as a party of four we were in a good position to try a number of items. I took charge (imagine!) of how many dishes we would have and collectively we agreed on what each course would contain. We started with two appetizers – the crispy squid and the shrimp and white beans. Neither dish broke any new ground in terms of composition, but the execution was exceptional. The squid was lightly battered and virtually without greasiness, while the shrimp were perfectly cooked and accompanied by beans which retained the ideal amount of firmness. Great start!
We followed the appetizers with two salads and a special pizza. The asparagus, snap peas, endive, etc salad was creative and capitalized on ingredients which are coming into their own, seasonwise. What can you say about roasted beets, Coach Farms goat cheese and balsamic vinegar other than yum? Exactly. Our beautiful pizza, topped with a riot of green veggies, including some banging jalapenos, on the thinnest of crusts, was a spicy delight.
We finished our savory experience with two pastas – the spinach and ricotta filled ravioli with brown sage butter and an evening risotto special with scallops, shrimp and saffron. The portions aren’t tremendous, but the flavors are and we were very content with the quality and amount of food we were served. Speaking of served, our server was terrific. No complaints at all , start to finish. With our meal we enjoyed a bottle of Abbazia di Novacella Kerner, 2010, a wonderful food wine which I am familiar with from the Wine Bar & Bistro on Lark. Perfect.
When it came time for dessert, I was done with sharing and insisted that it was every woman for herself. My choice, the butterscotch budino, was off the hook, crazy delicious. Butterscotch, caramel, toasted coconut and sea salt put together in ideal proportions to make a dreamy pudding-esque climax to a wonderful evening.
Yeah, I’ll come on in Cucina any time.
One of the first images to enter my brain last Sunday morning came to me courtesy of an email from Living Social. They were offering a deal for Yanni’s Too, a place known for its fried calamari, and the picture accompanying the sales pitch became my obsession and inspiration for the day. Crispy looking golden brown rings and tentacles… I needed some, but had no desire to drive south and dine riverside. I explored my options, beginning, and happily ending, in my own neighborhood – Nicole’s Restaurant. All I had was a 5 mile run to get through first.
Run finished, I quickly called Nicole’s to make sure they still had tables seated at 8:00 on a Sunday. I never want to be that person who comes in on a quiet night and keeps staff hanging around. I was assured that they still were doing business and invited to please stop by. On my arrival I was offered a nice deuce in the front and settled in with the menu and a basket of warm bread accompanied with good quality olive oil and an olive tapenade.
I was hungry and went a little crazy ordering the fried calamari, the eggplant rollatini and an intriguing sounding Brussels sprouts Caesar salad. After considering a bottle of wine, with the option to bring home what I didn’t finish, I talked myself down and went with a glass of chianti which satisfied me perfectly.
The calamari was terrific. It was piping hot, crispy and not oily in the slightest. The accompanying sauce was different and enjoyable, but I’m pretty simple and would have been equally pleased with a marinara sauce on the side.
The eggplant was tender, completely devoid of bitterness and wonderfully smoky from the oozing cheese. Again, the presentation is a little different with only some roasted red peppers topping the eggplant, rather than the more typical bath of red sauce. Tasty.
The salad was a unique spin on Caesar – a feat that is not easily accomplished, but I didn’t really taste the classic Caesar notes of garlic, cheese and anchovy as I had expected. The anchovies were white which, in my opinion, gives a sharper, more vinegary taste. I liked the salad more when I finished it up the next day as part of my lunch. It seemed to have mellowed out a bit.
I wrapped things up with an indulgent slice of chocolate cheesecake – 5 miles, people. I had just run 5 miles. Belly full, $50 + tip lighter, I slept like a well fed baby. Although I don’t get to Nicole’s often enough, it’s nice to know they continue to offer a consistently creative menu that never fails to provide comfort and quality.