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Saturday, January 25, 2014

Billy Joe's Ribworks on the Newburgh Waterfront

Celebrating an achievement in this family is one of many reasons to go out to dinner.  In this case, our older son has graduated from college earning his Bachelor's Degree.  Our son.  Bachelor's Degree. Those are the important words for us as parents.  When our sons were quite young we always told them we would support whatever choice they made as a profession as adults, as long as they had a college degree when they were doing it.  This son once said he wanted to have a hot dog truck when he was older.  Fun.

When asked where he would like to go for his celebration, he selected Billy Joe's Ribworks on the Newburgh Waterfront or 26 Front Street specifically.

Please keep in mind, it is New York, it is January and it is certainly cold.  While the parking lot is not really a far walk from the establishment, every biting degree of wind chill can be felt as I quicken my step to almost skipping to get inside.

We are greeted by two young and friendly hostesses and are seated almost immediately.  The restaurant is already filling up and it is barely 6 p.m. 

We are seated in an area that is open during the warm summer months that allows diners the opportunity to enjoy and unobstructed view of the magnificent Hudson which must be especially lovely at sunset.  For winter, the area is closed in with clear temporary walls and heated with mega/turbo convection units suspended from the ceiling.

I did preview the online menu (Click here for Billy Joe's website) so I not only knew what I was going to order for dinner, but my drink as well. I had the Loaded Palmer and I was so nervous I would ask for the wrong thing, it would be obscene and my sons would laugh at me for the rest of my life, but it was fine.  So was the beverage, a classic tea/lemon combo with vodka.  Our younger son has been getting some use out of showing off his newly legal ID and had first a drink then a beer.  

We talk about appetizers.  I like the idea of trying new things in an appetizer so it is low risk.  Sharing something among 5 people, the odds are fair that someone will like it and equally high that someone will not care for it at all.  

We decided on the fried green tomatoes:

which were quite firm and sprinkled with a bit of pecorino romano which I think we all let fall off like crumbs.  I wanted to squeeze some lemon juice on them then toss on some salt, but I loved the idea of them very much.

The other order was the fried pickles:

I only took half of a spear for tasting purposes.  Again, I loved the idea, I was surprised how quickly they arrived from the kitchen and they were screaming hot as though just prepared, but I am a salt addict and even beyond the salt of the pickle, I wanted more.

Dinners.  For the honoree, the rack of brontosaurus.  Ok, they were ribs, but really, look at the size of them and the bones then look at the fork for scale.  They were huge.  He generously offered everyone a taste and I had a small forkful.  Very tender. Nice balance of sauce and I was not overwhelmed by smoke. Nice.

Brisket.  Brisket.  Brisket.  We have two orders with very different sides.  For the Mr. it is mac and cheese with baked beans.

For our younger son, it is accompanied by fries 2 ways - sweet and traditional.

For the young lady (our older son's girlfriend), a classic burger and fries.

For me, the smothered steak with cheesy grits and mashed potatoes.

My meal had good news and bad news.  I will give you the good first.  The steak was "slammin."  It was tender, perfectly cooked to medium-rare and truly smothered in peppers and onions.  We all also agreed the cornbread was amazing.

Visually, doesn't my plate remind you of a cafeteria or the military?  Ok, maybe the divided look is cute or goes with the theme, but to add insult the ice cream scoop servings just make me a little sad.  Do you eat your mashed potatoes dry?  Maybe I am the weird one or too harsh, but this certainly could have been presented differently at best.  Agree?

Dessert.  I have to admit, I am quite full and in fact was not able to finish my meal, but I always want to try dessert.  Pecan pie. Yum!  The pie was heated and so hot the molten juices could burn your taste buds off your tongue and the ice cream was hard frozen but without ice crystals. Very nice.

So, what will our son be now that he is grown up and educated? The answer remains to be seen but for now we are a close family that spends time together, especially meal time, and we are Fed Well.

Billy Joe's Ribworks on Urbanspoon

Friday, January 24, 2014

Americana Diner for Breakfast

While I still thoroughly enjoy getting together with my lady friends for a fabulous Cosmo or other cocktail on a Friday night, we also agree to catching up over a leisurely breakfast from time to time. We rotate our location for a few reasons; fairness to those who live in different locations, switching up our orders (for some of us it is easier than others) and simply a change of scenery.  Someday I am hoping to really have a true brunch and mix our breakfast routine and a few Mimosa's or other equally acceptable early in the day adult beverage.

I wonder what each of our choices says about us as individuals.  A one scrambled egg with bacon, homefries and whole wheat toast plate.  Classic.  Traditional.  Reliable.  What other descriptors can you add?

A ham and Swiss cheese omelette.  Keep in mind, this is a huge change of pace for the lady who ordered it.  The omelette itself is also traditional.  Thinking of other adjectives, it may be considered faithful, practical, and efficient.  Well, efficient may be a stretch, but any omelette could arguably be called efficient as it is combining multiple ingredients in one dish. 

Eggs Florentine.  A bed of spinach cradling two perfectly poached eggs smothered in Hollandaise Sauce. Over the top?  Complicated? Complex?  It is far harder for me to label my own dish.  It was delicious though a bit overpowered by the generous ladle of sauce (next time I may opt to ask for an "on the side" serving - which could make it a high maintenance dish as well).  It was also the first time I tried this dish. Fabulous and I will look for it on future breakfast menus.

We were well taken care of.  Three rounds of "Can I get you more coffee" and two offers of, "Can I get you ladies anything else," before we were finally ready to leave.

Yes, the Americana Diner left us feeling Fed Well as we caught up and traded life stories over platters of eggs with coffee or tea.  Life is yummy.

Americana Diner on Urbanspoon

Monday, January 20, 2014

Vic's in Montgomery

I love routine, but once in awhile a mild adventure is perfectly fine and even welcome.  My older son was going to have some work done to his tattoo and since I am not familiar with the process (and sometimes I want to join in until I talk myself out of it) I really wanted to stop in and see what it looks like in the process.

I knew a pizza place was nearby and so I asked the Mr. and our younger son if they wanted to go on a Friday night field trip.  We started out at Vic's in Montgomery (Click here for their Facebook page) and ordered a large plain pie and while it cooked, my younger son and I checked in at 2Tone Tattoos (Click here for their Facebook page) while the Mr. guarded our table.

The building that houses Vic's

I've witnessed tattoos in progress before, none were on my sons, and I'm still not truly sure what I think about becoming a customer myself.  The shop itself was clean, seemed professionally run and simply gave off a good vibe.

2Tone Tattoos

I didn't want to stay long or be in the way.  I offered my son a slice of pizza (he already ate), but he did ask for a soda.  I imagined the constant buzz of the machine, reminiscent of a dentist drill, would be heard in both my son and his artists' sleep. 

Back at Vic's we wait just a bit longer for our pizza and watch customers come in and out for pick up or go through the take-out area to the dining room.

And then, it is our turn and this beautiful specimen is brought to our table.  I know immediately, it is love at first sight.  The crust is a good crisp texture, the cheese is stretchy, melted, ooey, gooey and without the drippy orange liquid slick and I know it is simply going to be in the top few pizza experiences, EVER.  Our highest gauge is Colandrea's (The Pizza King) in Middletown, and Vic's fairs really well among the three of us.

We will be back.  Next time, I really would like to try the dining room and yes, I think though it is slightly out of the way for us, we may become part of the takeout pizza crowd as well.

So, how is our son's tattoo going?  Here's a peek - it is still under construction and you can tell which area was recently worked on.

Three of us head back out into the January night and take in the sights.  Many towns still have a bit of the holidays still on and we couldn't help but notice this lit tree.

Happy eating in 2014.  May you and yours be Fed Well throughout the year!

Vic's Pizza on Urbanspoon

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Jade Bistro Suffern - We Return

It's been a little while since we (my co-workers and I) have been to Jade Bistro in Suffern and not only did we notice, but the staff that happily greeted us had noticed as well.  I love the feeling of being a regular someplace and having my absence noticed and the sense that I have been missed.  So, we really mixed things up by ordering completely different things.

One coworker wanted ultra traditional Chinese lunch and started with an eggroll.  How about the fancy plating?  I asked what the white squigglys tasted like and the response, "styrofoam."  I didn't try it for myself, but I did appreciate the attempt to make it interesting.

Her next course was chicken, but unfortunately I am not 100% sure if it was General Tao's or Sesame and I not only don't trust my memory.  Here's the important detail; she was quite happy.

One of the group loves the Pad Thai though she prefers hers without peanuts.  The fresh lime is not only enjoyed, but in the past, I have actually seen her clap when it arrives.

Me?  Well, I almost have the shrimp with rice noodles.  The server knows me well and brings me a spoon because I like to twirl the pasta against the spoon bowl in the Italian pasta fashion.  I am also usually brought extra napkins because...I need it.  

So, today I sort of switch it up by ordering the House Noodle Soup with rice noodles. Packed with Won Ton, chicken, pork, bok choy, shrimp and rice noodles, I am in soup heaven. The broth is so delicate, I almost wish it had a bit more flavor, but really, it was fabulous. The chunks of meat were huge and while I understand the chop stick user would be appreciative of their great size, I struggle and end up giving up trying to break them down.

Last, but not least, my vegetarian coworker selected the vegetable sushi rolls.  They made a far better presentation than the photo allows and we all "ooohed" and "aaahhed" appropriately when they were placed in front of her.  Best part, not only did they look amazing, she said they tasted just as good as they looked.

We were checked on throughout the meal.  Tea was refilled before the cup was half full and we were treated well and like old friends.  
Work talk is minimal when we are off site.  Better to chat about celebrity nonsense, movies, television and 3 day weekend plans. Ah, Fridays.  We know that when we get back to work we have less than an hour until we are dismissed for the holiday.

So, if you have a craving for Chinese food or sushi or a Bento Box and are anywhere near Suffern, Jade Bistro will leaving feeling happy, satisfied and Fed Well.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Mountain View - yes, again (and again)

When visiting a restaurant you have been to enough times to be able to recite the core menu, it can only mean a few things.  Either you have found a meal that is so wonderful you enjoy it over and over, you plan on working your way through the entire menu or it is close to home and convenient for meeting friends and family.  In the case of Mountain View, for me, it is a little bit of all of the above.

I have a few favorites that "go to" meals including the Eggplant Tower appetizer, the mussels in creamy garlic sauce and the lobster ravioli.  

On this cold January night I am meeting a friend at 6:35 sharp and the dining room is fairly busy for a week night.  In fact, the only available table is set for a large group and 2 tables are available in the bar area.  My friend also has a typical order, either the loaded nachos of the Mountain Burger. We look through the menu and specials for a few minutes anyway after I order a cosmopolitan and for her, a glass of Merlot.

Stories and thoughts are exchanged.  Vacations that are adventures versus exotic or simple beach retreats, parenting young adult children, and potential retirement and relocation ideas.

The Mountain Burger

Lobster Ravioli

If success of a meal can be gauged by the amount of food remaining on the plate, ours must have been more than just edible.  I have to say, my vegetables are prepared well beyond al dente and for some that is preferred, but I like my veggies to still have a bit of snap.  Unfortunately, I only sample them with the hope they were mildly crisp and once I confirmed they were "well done" I left them on the plate.

When I ordered my meal, I did spy the vanilla salted caramel cake. I had it on my mind during the main course and enjoyed it with a hot cup of tea.  I wasn't disappointed and love the sensation of the bits of salt with the slightest crunch through the smooth and gooey caramel.

My thoughtful friend recently gave me a book, "Eating my Words: An Appetite for Life," by Mimi Sheraton and I am thoroughly enjoying it!  Mimi has had some exciting life experiences both in and out of famous and fabulous dining rooms around the world and in New York.  

My friend and I will have dinner again.  I will certainly be eating at Mountain View again. Perhaps I will venture out and try a new item on the menu. Either way, I expect I will again feel Fed Well at Mountain View.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Last Cheeseburger in Paradise

The Mr. and I tend to avoid the chain restaurants, but once in awhile, we decide to give in and try one.  Just so happens, our local Cheeseburger in Paradise has been open 9 years and we've never been inside until we stopped in for lunch.

I immediately feel a little bit like a tourist in a beach town trying to meet preconceived stereotypes about what a dive-by-the-shore should like like morphed with a sports bar complete with about a dozen flat screens tuned to various athletic events and news.  No identity crisis happening here and as long as the food is good, I can look past the decor including a sign that states, "No visitors PASSED this point."  Ugh.

Like most of the big box restaurants, a number of menus are available to choose food and drink and include table top cards calling out specials by the day.  I decide to simply ask for a margarita on the rocks (I don't like the frozen version) with a salt rim and was happy to receive this version:

Next thoughts on a cold January day in the North East are for soup.  I scanned the offerings repeatedly and could not find a soup and just when I was ready to give up, I saw gumbo and knew that would be a perfect starter.

The gumbo was both hot and warming.  The broth was thick and stocked with flavors

For the Mr. a mushroom Swiss burger.  Unfortunately, I cannot show scale well in this photo, but the burger was quite large and it took some concentrated effort for him to finish the meal.

For me, the Shrimp Po Boy.  The shrimp were battered and fried then drizzled with both tarter and cocktail sauce.  I'm not much for battering and frying, but the shrimp were fairly juicy and the fries were fabulous.  I left the roll behind and ate the contents of the sandwich with a fork.

We were checked on throughout the meal by a very smiling and polite young lady.  Hours after we left, I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed and someone posted they were at Cheeseburger in Paradise for the last time.  Yes, it's true.  We were able to get in just before the doors closed.  Rumor has it another chain will be calling the location their own, but how does this happen.  The grapevine also indicates the staff were not made aware of the closing until it was happening (likely to ensure they had staff for the finale, but it hardly seems fair).

Well, we hand a nice lunch date and the dubious honor of being among the last diners to visit the area's Cheeseburger in Paradise.  We were Fed Well and look forward to returning to the small and privately owned restaurants in the area we have come to love.