Saturday, June 13, 2015

Batavia, New York, Brantford, Ontario, Providence and Warren, Rhode Island

OK, so on a recent pair of trips out to New England from the Midwest and back I can safely say:

1. Batavia, New York: Skip the Applebees; it's way too loud with watered-down drinks, mediocre food and sketchy service.
2. Providence, RI: Nami's on Atwell's Avenue is still a great place for terrific Chinese food.
3. Warren, RI: Metacom Kitchen has a pretty mean burger and a great wine list. Oh, and their fish is superb.
4. Brantford, Ontario, Canada: Gus and Guido's is just OK. Touted as a "Greek Italian Food Experience," it was a bit on the noisy side and the wines were lame but the food was not bad. The service was very friendly, though.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Gold Eagle Inn in Brookville, Pennsylvania

When it comes to food there's not much available in Brookville it seems. After trying a place in the heart of the village -- where no one was around and the smell was terrible -- we settled for the Gold Eagle Inn near our motel.

Service was nice but the restaurant itself was tired in appearance and even more so in its menu. When was the last time you can remember a relish tray being put out, and with ingredients straight out of a can (or jar presumably)?

The real failure of the evening though was the main course. My wife and I both ordered the cod -- pan-fried with a a crumb crust the menu claimed -- but when it came out it was inedible: wet, mushy, spongy, and no crust. Clearly their efforts at thawing the fish failed but the lack of awareness of that failure was appalling. We sent it back and ordered fish and chips. Basic, but OK.

If our experiences are any indication, there is little to recommend dining at the Gold Eagle.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Food in Grand Rapids, Michigan -- this is gonna surprise you!

The variety, quality and sheer volume of food available in Grand Rapids is nothing short of amazing -- pastries so far have yet to be explored and we'll get to that later this summer.

But otherwise, breakfast, lunch and dinner is available in so many places and of such high quality that it makes the move from Providence all that much easier.

Oh, and one place I didn't photograph this trip -- in early May -- but I posted it once before is Nonna Cafe in Ada. Outstanding.

Rose's for lunch

Marco's for dinner:

morels in puff pastry


Widow's Luncheon: pastries by the French Tarte:

Licari's for lunch with Virginia and Chuck:

Marie Catribe's for brunch, yes that's right with Chuck and Virginia:

Next up in June: that incredible chocolatier in Grand Haven and our search for French pastries.

Stay tuned!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Metacom Kitchen in Warren, Rhode Island

By last Saturday evening my body had conveniently moved to the recovery phase from some nasty respiratory virus that had plagued me for most of the week. Most importantly for a planned birthday dinner, my appetite was back -- as things turned out, I was going to need it.

We arrived at Metacom Kitchen right at 7pm and were seated at the food bar, in the back of the restaurant overlooking the kitchen. For the next 2-and-a-half hours this would be home. . .

1st: Duck Skin Salad

2nd: Chicken and Mushroom soup

3rd: Vitello Tonnato (my request)

4th: Salmon Belly a la Planche

5th: Seared Scarlet Snapper

6th: Torchon on Foie Gras

7th: Moroccan spiced tenderloin of Colorado Lamb

8th: Chocolate Ganache
The food was incredible: creative, delicious, and well-presented. The quality of the food was almost surpassed by the wonderful service. In a world where restaurants abound, many of them outstanding, Metacom is simply and absolutely one of the best.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Enoteca Umberto on Federal Hill

There are lots of Italian-themed restaurants on Atwell's Avenue but Enoteca Umberto is the only one that can claim to be authentic and regional.

Husband-wife team Lia and Umberto make you feel as if you're sitting in their dining room, just off the kitchen, and you've just dropped over for dinner after the evening passagiata. The food they prepare and the wines they serve are all from southern Italy -- and in true southern Italian style eating is all about being together, sharing a lust for flavor and life, with gusto.

Go with no expectations and don't think traditional menu or seating arrangements; the place is small to be sure (you have to walk through the kitchen to get to the bathroom) but go and just enjoy what they offer you.
the kitchen is small but Lia seemed at ease and unruffled by all the commotion in the dining room

La Collina antipasti -- formaggi e salumi

Rosalina's in Providence

Having eaten recently at another local restaurant than can truly claim to offer authentic Italian-regional, I'm always curious as to what constitutes an "Italian" restaurant. When our server at Rosalina's brought the bread along with olive oil and noted the oil came from Greece, well right away I had to question the restaurant's right to be "Italian," whatever that means.

By-and-large our food was OK. The antipasto -- a baked eggplant dish -- and our pasta dishes (gnocchi and spaghetti con Bolognese) we all thought were simply too sweet. Otherwise we had not complaint about the food itself.

The wine list offered far too many American wines but the prices seemed reasonable.

Rosalina's is nicely decorated and well laid out but we were curious as to the value of a large TV set behind the bar.

Service was straightforward and a bit formal but I much prefer that to someone too friendly.

baked eggplant antipasto -- generous portion

spaghetti with Bolognese

Monday, September 15, 2014

Al Forno in Providence, Dante's Kitchen in East Greenwich, Boat House in Tiverton and Sofra in Cambridge

One of the longtime stalwarts in Providence, Al Forno is upscale with a wonderful menu and decent wine list.
zucchini blossoms

pan-seared sea bass
Caesar Salad
A much more casual place, Dante's Kitchen in East Greenwich has real potential: imaginative menu, a cool space, good service, but the food was a mixed bag and the very small space was way too loud.

Susie had the fried green tomato BLT with hand-cut fries, which was tasty.

I had pulled pork hash with poached eggs and a grilled buttermilk biscuit (homemade of course. The BLT with hand-cut fresh fries was spot on but the hash was basically shredded pork on top of a handful of small, diced fried potatoes. Hmmmm. And then the eggs were small with very little yolk (an odd thing I thought).

The Boat House in Tiverton serves up fairly standard fare in a gorgeous location overlooking Narragansett Bay. I had the tuna salad (flavorless) with their own handmade chips (tasteless and oily). Susie had the Jens & Marie veggie burger, which was also bland. Not an exciting meal to be sure but it was a gorgeous day to sip a glass of Rose by the water.

Then there is Sofra Bakery & Cafe in Cambridge. We'd been here once before and after a stroll through nearby Mount Auburn Cemetery Sofra is just the place to have a delicious lunch. It's chaotic to be sure and the seating can be interesting to say the least. But it's worth the wait and patience.

Even if you don't want lunch you have to try one of their incredible and incredibly delicious pastries, most of which are Middle Eastern in origin, like the twice baked brioche (left below) with custard actually baked into the filling (how'd they do that?). I had the chicken Shwarma stuffed flat bread and Susie had a concoction of three cheeses with grated fresh squash on top wrapped in a burrito-like hint of dough.