NY Dining: Rye Grill and Bar

October 20, 2006

Rye Grill & Bar
1 Station Plaza, Rye, NY
(914) 967-0332

All too often you have a business lunch meeting and you end up at some Bar & Grill type place that is usually just some glorified (or actual) version of Bennigan’s, TGIF or Ruby Tuesday (the least evil choice of the three) where fried appetizers and soups from frozen bags from institutional suppliers like SYSCO are the norm. I don’t really have anything against these kinds of places, as I have been known to visit them when faced with less attractive options during business travel, but you never walk out of them thinking you’ve had a particularly good meal.

I was pleasantly surprised when my business associates chose to meet at Rye Grill & Bar in Rye, New York. The place exudes a nice colonial and classic tavern feel, and is clearly trying to do something different culinarily than just burgers (which apparently, are quite good) and beers on tap.

A view of the restaurant from the parking lot in Station Plaza. The restaurant is conveniently located near the Rye Metro North station.

A view of the dining room from the bar.

My associates and I decided to grab a seat by the bar.

A look at the lunch specials. My sources tell me that the restaurant’s pizza is quite good, but we didn’t order any that day.

Clam Chowder.

I had the vegetable barley soup, which I thought was really good.

This is a jumbo shrimp and avocado salad that one of my associates ordered. Certainly not your typical bar cuisine.

The bartender recommended the petit filet mignon sandwich with mushroom brandy sauce and melted brie, which is apparently one of their top sellers during lunch. Feeling in a particularly steaky mood, three of us decided to go that route. We were not disappointed. Nice medium rare filet, good french fries and excellent shoestring fried onions as well, I couldn’t be happier. Well, I could be, if I ate two of these sandwiches.

Filet Mignon sandwich closeup.


NYC Dining: Dinosaur Barbecue

September 26, 2006

Dinosaur Barbecue
646 W 131st St, New York, NY
(212) 694-1777

When we’re out in the city one of my favorite places to stop by on the way back to Jersey and pick up some dinner is Dinosaur Barbecue — it’s conveniently located right off the West Side Highway in Harlem, by the 125th Street exit across the street from Fairway Market. I love the whole biker, badass image of the place — and you could almost say that it was a Disney/Epcot-like portrayal of a biker roadhouse, if it was not for the fact that real badass bikers actually go to eat there and the owner, John Stage, besides being a BBQ genius is a badass biker himself. His original restaurant up in Syracuse (which is still in business) is the real deal. Dinosaur also opened a Rochester location in 1998 as well.

Ever since the New York City branch opened in December 2004 I’ve been a huge fan of the restaurant and its food. Despite the tough biker image, the owners and the people who work there are as nice as can be and the Q itself holds up to some of the best barbecue I’ve had across the country. Stylistically, its hard to tell what BBQ region its emulating — they have both Carolina and Memphis-Style pork and also BBQ chicken and Texas-style Brisket, and have things like Churrasco chicken sandwiches and BBQ Cuban sandwiches on the menu. If pressed, I’d have to say this is really a New York Style of BBQ that is now slowly emerging and becoming its own.

Storefront on West 131st Street in Harlem.

It’s not uncommon to see a lot of these parked outside, given Dinosaur’s biker bad boy image.

I love the bar area at Dinosaur, you really feel like you are in a true roadhouse in the middle of NYC.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to see more photos and commentary.

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NJ Dining: Kiku

September 24, 2006

Kiku Restaurant
365 N State Rt 17, Paramus, NJ
(201) 265-7200

Certainly I’ve had my share of legitimately Japanese and Korean-style hibachi dishes (1) (2) (3) (4) but sometimes you want to go for the full blown, ersatz Japanese Rocky Aoki Benihana-style experience with all the schtick associated with it (click for Google Video).

One such Teppanyaki/Hibachi chain that I particularly like in the local area is Kiku. Kiku is a Korean-owned, small chain (they own about four restaurants in the NY/NJ metro area) and they have no pretense about being authentic — they proudly display Korean ceramics and artwork all over the restaurant (and even have a room showcasing them where they can be purchased) and have some Korean items on the menu as well. I also find that the quality of the steak and seafood is quite good considering it’s a chain, and the Teppanyaki jockeys are first rate, if not a bit too over the top schticky. But if you’re coming into one of these places in the first place (and you’re paying good money to) by all means, bring on the schtick.

Kiku storefront off Route 17 in Paramus. This is the most recently constructed location, which opened in 2005.

These ceramic vases are all made in Korea.

Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to see food photos and commentary.

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The $25 Waygu Weiner

September 16, 2006

The article appeared in Newsday earlier in the summer, but I think its still pretty interesting.

Hamptons $25 Franks Are a ‘Hot Dog’ (Newsday)

$25 Hot Dog Photo Gallery (click)

“The Laundry, one of East Hampton’s toniest eateries, has been offering a foot-long beef frank since the beginning of July. They’re selling like, well, hot dogs. These wieners come complete with a jumbo grilled bun …the hot dog actually costs $32.16 – “It’s a whimsical dish,” This frank is made of gourmet Wagyu beef from California, which comes from individually massaged cattle as well. “We have an eclectic menu,” he said. “Something for everybody.” For the record, the hot dog costs more than the restaurant’s hamburger ($17).”

Would you shell out this kind of money for a Waygu weiner? I’ll just bet that it is well worth the tab …

reported by Melissa Goodman


The Russian Invasion of New Jersey Gas Stations

September 11, 2006

https://i0.wp.com/www.lukoilamericas.com/images/3bannerB.jpg

If you’re a Jersey resident, you’ve probably been wondering what’s been happening with all your Mobil and Getty stations — they’ve all been turning into LUKOILs (US Site).

LUKOIL (Russia Site) the largest petroleum company in Russia, now operates 2000 service stations across the Atlantic seaboard which used to be Mobil and Getty (now a fully owned subsidiary of Lukoil) nearly 800 of which are in New Jersey and Pennsylvania. The first Getty conversion actually occurred in 2003, but there has been a recent flash in LUKOIL-izing the legacy Mobils and Gettys.

My hope is that the LUKOIL quickie marts are going to replace those crappy fast food plastic wrapped processed food sandwiches with pirozhki and Katlyeti. And maybe some decent Russian tea instead of that service station coffee rot-gut. Hey, they already appear to make their own brands of preserves. Super Unleaded with Marmalade Scones and Sour Cherry Tea anyone?

Oh, and I thought this part of the Q&A on the LUKOIL site was quite interesting:

QUESTION: Does this mean that LUKOIL will be providing the US with a new, non-Middle Eastern source of gasoline?
ANSWER: Yes. LUKOIL will displace some of the Middle Eastern oil presently imported by the United States.
QUESTION: Is this oil being imported directly from Russia?
ANSWER: Most of LUKOIL’s exports are from Russia.

LUKOIL … ve have vays of makink you fill your tank.


NJ Dining: Picklelicious (UPDATED)

August 4, 2006

Picklelicious
384 Cedar Lane, Teaneck NJ
(201) 457-0500

NOT OPEN SATURDAYS.

Web Site: http://www.picklelicious.com

Pickles are something that I believe most people take for granted, and have difficulty invoking passionate thoughts or rabid cravings in anyone but the most hardcore worshiper of the briny arts. Sadly they are, for most Americans, a condiment that ends up (many times omitted by request) on fast food burgers or an insipidly sweet or cloyingly vinegary vegetable mass resembling a cooked to death kirby that is pulled out of a heat pasteurized jar originating from some big food conglomerate. And that’s a damn shame, because a real Kosher-style fresh Pickle is a marvelous, marvelous thing.

Pickelicious’s new retail location on Cedar Lane in Teaneck (2010)

Real Kosher pickles are facing extinction, and there are a scant few companies in the New York Metro area still making them. Even rarer than the jarred variety of fresh, refrigerated kosher pickle (like the Ba-Tampte brand made in NY) is the kind you used to be able to get out of a barrel on Delancey Street on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. But the mythical Lower East Side pickle barrel place doesn’t exist anymore — they’ve either moved out to Lawn Guyland, or in Picklelicious’ case, Jersey. Which is quite fortunate for us! And if you don’t live in Jersey, you can get them shipped to you.

Robyn Brown-Samra, Picklelicious‘ owner, comes from a long line of artisan pickle makers. She and her brother Jay, and her (late) husband Leo opened a popular pickle store on Amsterdam Avenue in New York City in the 1990’s. But after her husband passed away, she closed the store and moved to a house on River Road in Teaneck and opened a retail store. In 2007 she closed the River Road store and decided to focus on the wholesale/web business.

But in February of 2010, Robyn opened up a newer, smaller retail location on the main drag of Teaneck’s Cedar Lane business district. And now we’re sure she’s here to stay.

There’s more to pickles than meets the eye. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.

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Podcast #27: Christine Nunn, Picnic Caterers

July 23, 2006

Picnic Catering
(201) 321-3213

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Christine Nunn of Picnic Caterers in Emerson, NJ. Photo courtesy of Lilian Haidar.

Picnic packs a mean basket.

Picnic’s little storefront (above, below)

Pasta with Vodka Sauce

Pasta Salad with Tuna

Cheese Platter

Christine’s Mac and Cheese.

Obscene Cheese Steak, with butter poached Filet Mignon

Soup of the Day, Parsnip with Pomegranate.


Events: Grill Kings; Belmont Park Racetrack, Elmont NY

July 17, 2006

I was clued into the Grill Kings event at Belmont Racetrack this last weekend by fellow blogger Rob Fernandez at WhiteTrashBBQ. Having never attended a BBQ competition before, I jumped at the chance to see talented amateur ‘Q fanatics strut their stuff, and possibly taste real competition barbecue.

I was totally unprepared for the experience. First, the incredible, oppressive heat and humidity that weekend (high 90s), the tremendous enthusiasm and manic energy of the teams, and then coming to the realization (as many others did) of just how badly this particular event was run.

Still, I had a really good time and I learned a lot of what goes on at these particular events, and I’ve got a better idea of how I will weather the next one.

Here’s some of the photos captioned, have a look at the entire Flickr album as well. If you recognize yourself or your food here, give me a shout at jperlow@gmail.com and I’ll be happy to send you a hi-res version.

UPDATED. 7/18/06 I have a video that I took of Josh Ozersky, Mister Cutlets preparing Hill Country’s pork chop competition entry that I’ve submitted to Google. Click Here to Watch It!

One of the barbecue vendors. At a competition, spectators are not normally allowed to sample the ‘Q being cooked by the competitors, so various vendors and BBQ restaurants have stalls where you can get some stuff to eat.

Brisket Sandwich from Hog House in Huntington, NY. (Vendor)

Pulled Pork Sandwich from Hog House. (Vendor)

Ribs from Big Daddy’s BBQ is Massapequa, NY (Vendor)

BBQ Brethren/Brothers In Smoke, one of the teams I was invited to observe at the event. They placed 7th at the event overall. Here they are injecting a brisket with marinade.

Chicken from BBQ Brethren, one of their competition entries, which got 5th place.

Pork Shoulder from BBQ Brethren.

BBQ Brethren pork (above, also) being sauced prior to plating / submission.

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BBQ Brethren’s pork entry, which placed 3rd.

The other team I was invited to observe was Hill Country, which is slated to open a restaurant in NYC in late 2006/early 2007. Hill Country is also the organizer of the NYC BBQ event. Hill Country ended up placing 6th overall at the event.

This was Hill Country’s chicken wing submission.

Hill Country’s pork chops being grilled prior to submission.

An anxious Mr. Cutlets (Josh Ozersky)

Hill Country team member Josh Ozersky (“Mister Cutlets”) with team member/owner Rob discussing done-ness level of the pork chop entry.

Hill Country Pork Chops being portioned for the judges.

Pork Chops, final plating for judges by Hill Country.

Ribs from Purple Turtle BBQ which placed 10th. Purple Turtle placed 5th at the event overall.

Ribs from Purple Turtle BBQ, Closeup

Brisket from Purple Turtle BBQ, which placed 8th.

Big Papa’s BBQ cooking up wings.

Chicken entry from Big Papa.

Team “Smoke In Da Eye”

While not an official KCBS event category, Smoke In Da Eye brought a Caja China and cooked a whole pig for their own consumption to test out. A Caja China can cook an entire pig in four hours, hence earning the name “Cuban Microwave”.

Al Bottari with The Camo Q Crew. I love his camouflage painted smokers and their battle dress uniforms.


Podcast #21: Nina Planck and Real Food Markets

June 8, 2006

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Nina Planck, author and next-generation Green Market pioneer

Click here to buy Real Food from Amazon.com


NY Dining: Baileys Smokehouse

June 5, 2006

Bailey’s Smokehouse
136 Erie St E, Blauvelt, NY
(845) 398-1454

Today we got a preview of Bailey’s Smokehouse, the new BBQ restaurant that is to be housed within Bailey’s Blauvelt Inn, an established Bar and Grill place on Route 303, just down the road from the Palisade Center Mall. For you New Jerseyans, thats about 20 minutes up the Palisades Parkway from Northern Bergen County.

The kitchen will be led by no other than Dave “Fink” Finkelstein, previously of Stickey’s (Teaneck) and Fink’s Funky Chicken and Ribs (River Edge)

Currently he is just getting the Barbecue up to spec, and the full menu isn’t ready yet, but if you come in and play nice, you can get Ribs (both St. Louis and Baby Back) Pulled Pork, Brisket and Smoked Chicken.

Bailey’s, on Erie Street just 2 blocks off Route 303 in Blauvelt, NY.

This Southern Pride Smoker, along with a custom rig (both originally from Stickey’s) will be producing the Barbecue. Wood is Cherry.

FINK!!!!!

The upstairs Sports Bar.

Deck area, for Al Fresco Dining.

The famous Fink Bar-B-Reuben.

BBQ Beans

Shells and Cheese

Ribs. The Barbecue now has a Apple/Honey BBQ sauce on it that goes great with the dry rub.

Sampler Platter of Baby Backs, Spare Ribs, Pulled Pork, Brisket and Chicken.

Another view of the ribs.

Brisket closeup.

Beanless Chili. Very strong cumin flavor and spicy, intended for use on their Hot Dogs and Nachos.

BBQ Brisket Sandwich

Bailey’s Burger, 1/2lb, Perfectly Medium Rare, With Shrooms, American Cheese and Sauteed Onions.

BBQ Pork Nachos

Babyback Ribs

BBQ Chicken

The downstairs BBQ dining area, which is still under construction.