Prohibition River: Chicken Fried Steak Bites

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Picture courtesy of http://www.boozyburbs.com

Prohibition River is a cool Speak Easy themed bar and restaurant in Nyack NY, and along with the decor, the food is most excellent.

I had previously been to Prohibition River once before (when it was just opening up), and only afterwards did I come to the realization that there was one menu item that I needed to try: Chicken Fried Steak Bites w/ Country Gravy.

To be clear, these aren’t any old steak bites, these are Chicken Fried Filet Mignon steak bites. Sound good? Well they look and taste even better.

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The plating of this appetizer was great, with the bites resting in a shallow pool of country gravy, with the rest of the gravy poured lightly over the top and garnished with green.

The gravy provided more than just a good look, it also brought great flavor; a combination of sweet and salty seasoning mixed in with the creamy consistency makes this a tasty and comforting addition to the meat of the dish.

But what of the meat? Its coating was fried so as to have a perfectly slight crunch, and the “skin” was garnished and flavored quite well. The steak beneath was tender, flavorful, and chewed like a dream; not too tough and very easy to consume, which is a mastication must.

Once the coating was gone, the gravy seemed to penetrate and permeate the meat itself, assuring there were always multiple flavor combinations and profiles for the consumer to enjoy.

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This is by far one of the best appetizers I have ever had; the flavors were simply unbelievable and undeniably hard to beat. Everyone should try this at least once, though it is my belief that if you try it, you will certainly come back for more (Honestly, this could easily be an entree in terms of the quality of the food).

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com

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Connecticut: Philly’s: Phive All Day

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I have to admit that I have been looking forward to reviewing this sandwich ever since I was introduced to it in a Daym Drops video; and now I’m finally able to.

The Phive All Day is an amazing sandwich. Crafted after Daym Drops’ slogan “Five All Day Son!”, it contains “five ounces of rib eye, five pieces of bacon, five pieces of American cheese, onions, McNabb sauce (house made 1000 Island Dressing) and a little bit of (cheese) whiz.” So, what does this monster sandwich look like?

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Click on the picture for an up close and personal look

Look at the way that bacon shines, and the way the melted cheese oozes on to and grips the bread, as well as filling every nook, cranny, and crevice of the meat; its a beautiful sight to behold.

The five ounces of rib eye were rich, delicious, and made even better by the rest of the ingredients. The bacon was how all bacon should be; crispy, salty, and all over the place. The melted cheese, both American and Whiz, was creamy and smooth; they penetrated all aspects of the sandwich like a warm blanket of velvety goodness.

The fried onions provided a sweet little crunch, and their McNabb sauce stood out with it’s wonderful flavor, and joined the cheese in permeating every inch of the sandwich (plus as a Redskins fan I do have somewhat of an affinity for Mr. McNabb, no matter how his tenure in D.C. turned out).

Encasing these ingredients is a wonderfully soft selection of bread, joining together all these wonderful flavors that meld so perfectly. This just so happens to be a messy meal as well, so be prepared to have your hands covered in finger-licking goodness.

Eating this hoagie was an absolute joy; the only bad thing is that after writing about it, I really want another one! (sadly, I’m not often in their neck of the woods)

This sandwich is one of the best I’ve ever tasted, and so much credit must be given to Daym Drops and the Boys down at Philly’s; great job guys, I can’t wait to come back, and I hope everyone else does too.

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Massachusetts: Grazie: Spinach Ricotta Pillows

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We return to Grazie for our pasta Entree; Spinach Ricotta Pillows. For those wondering, the “Pillow” is Grazie’s take on ravioli, and what a unique and delicious take it is.

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This work of culinary art is comprised of Grazie’s “housemade ravioli, spinach, fresh ricotta in a mascarpone cream sauce”; it is unlike any ravioli i have ever tasted, as the pasta itself was thicker than usual, almost tortellini-esque. Interestingly the tortellini thickness of the pasta, while a technique I had never heard or thought of before, was a great addition to the dish. In the clash and melding of two distinct pastas, we the consumer are the winner.

The inside of the pillows was filled with a light and fluffy combination of ricotta and spinach, which was joined well with the thickness of the pasta; the creamy mascarpone sauce was the perfect dressing for each pillow.

On top of the pillows was a combination of spinach and chopped cooked tomatoes; the vegetables were a nice colorful addition to the dish, with the tomatoes providing a slight acidity to the meal.

As I mentioned in the Dueling Meatball review, Grazie is a must attend for anyone who is in the Massachusetts/New Hampshire area; everything I have had there (these two reviews plus a couple samples from other dishes) has been delicious, and the service and scenery is great.

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Massachusetts: Grazie: Dueling Meatballs

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Grazie is a wonderful Italian restaurant located in Four Oaks Country Club in Dracut Mass.; the food here is really good which is why this is the first of two reviews to come out of this location. This review is of the Dueling Meatballs, an appetizer that simply put, could be a main course if so desired.

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The size of these meatballs is astounding, as both of them are roughly the size of a fist; they are so big that I was comfortable stopping after only one as I wanted to save room for my main course.

Resting in a bath of delicious sauce, these boulders of meat are unlike any I have ever had; the meat itself was thick, smooth, and moist, differing from the ground beef taste and consistency you usually get with a dish like this. The melted mozzarella cheese was delicious, and the generous dollop of ricotta on top was cold, smooth, and flavorful.

The combination of the sauce, meat, and two cheeses were such a welcome break from the norm, and will make you want meatballs like this every single time you see them on a menu.

If you are in Massachusetts, go to Grazie and order the Dueling Meatballs, you can’t go wrong if you do.

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com

New Hampshire: Mr Mac’s: Deluxe Cheeseburger and Philly Cheese Steak Mac ‘N’ Cheese

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Almost every kid in America (or Adult who was previously a kid) has had some kind of prolonged experience with Macaroni and Cheese; it is the consummate kids meal. Mr. Mac’s in Manchester New Hampshire has taken this kids meal and upgraded it into a truly phenomenal gourmet dish.

Mr. Mac’s offers many different choices and directions you can take with your Mac ‘N’ Cheese, I have chosen to cover their Deluxe Cheeseburger and Philly Cheese Steak Macs.

This is the Deluxe Cheeseburger Mac:

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Served in a piping hot skillet, this is the perfect mixture of “Seasoned Ground Beef, Cabot Cheddar, American Cheeses, Bacon, Onions, Pickles, and Thousand Island dressing topped with Breadcrumbs.”

As promised, the ground beef is seasoned well and the bacon provides that nice salty crunch; sweet onions and potent pickles each provided an additional, albeit different kind of crunch and flavor, and the thousand island dressing mixed in with the smooth and gooey mixture of cheese and perfectly cooked pasta presents a wonderful assortment of flavors in your mouth. The addition of bread crumbs as the light, crunchy topping is the best possible choice they could have made, and is the perfect topper to this dish.

And now for the Philly Cheese Steak Mac:

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The Philly Cheese Steak Mac is made up of “Shaved steak, American and Provolone Cheeses, Onions and Peppers”; and as promised tastes like an authentic Philly (with the addition of pasta).

The steak was rich and plentiful, the pasta cooked to perfection, and the thick, smooth cheese throughout provided amazing taste; the onions and peppers were flavorful and added their own brand of crunch to the Mac. The frizzled onions on top added even more crunch to the dish, especially when mixed in with the other ingredients.

Half a skillet full is enough to satisfy your hunger, and the reheat value in each of these dishes is not to be underestimated; both make for very delicious first tastings, and leftovers. Mr. Mac’s is true gourmet Macaroni and Cheese and is the perfect meal for kids of all ages; both the young, and the kids at heart.

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New Hampshire: Rock’n Ribfest (Pulled Pork, Sandwiches, etc.)

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Day two of New England week brings us the rest (non-rib portion) of New Hampshire’s awesome Ribfest; we already know that the festival serves up some pretty darn good ribs, but what about some of their other BBQ concoctions?

This review will deal mainly with Pulled Pork; in my opinion, Pulled Pork is one of the big hit or misses in BBQ as not only does the pork need to be tender and finely shredded, but the choice of sauce has to be absolutely right (a part where many places just don’t succeed).

VENDOR ONE: Jack’s Down Home Barbecue 

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My first experience with Jack’s was when I was offered a sample on my way to buy a rack of ribs from Texas Smokehouse; that first bite made me go and order a whole sandwich from Jack’s later in the day, because it only took me one bite to know I had found a winner.

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Jack’s Pulled Pork is tender and slightly juicy, with a really good chew to it; the soft bun absorbs some of the flavor, making the bun better as a result. All of that is good and needed, but the BBQ sauce is what really caught my attention and put the sandwich over the top. The sauce was perfectly spicy, not too much, but not too little; and the spice was the perfect hot edition to the sweet flavored sauce.

I did not get a chance to try Gator’s Pulled Pork Sandwich (something I plan on doing next year as I heard it was really good), but out of the Pulled Pork I did try, Jack’s was simply the best and a must eat for all Ribfest attendees and Pulled Pork lovers.

VENDOR TWO: Butch’s Smack Your Lips BBQ

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This is the part of the review that shakes things up a bit, as it introduces Butch’s Lip Smacker; a combination Pulled Pork, Brisket, and Coleslaw sandwich.

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This is one big, messy sandwich that lives up to its name; it is second only to Jack’s in regards to Pulled Pork and is unique in its own way due to its choice combination. Most of what I said about Jack’s pork can be said about Butch’s as well, minus the sauce (hence why it is second to Jack’s). Butch’s Brisket was tender, juicy, and melts in your mouth; the contrasting flavors and textures of the Pork and Brisket melded well together, and the added cool crunch of the coleslaw finishes off the sandwich nicely.

With this many flavors and textures gracing your taste-buds at once, the Lip Smacker from Butch’s should not be passed up.

VENDOR THREE: Road Hawg – Swine Dining

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Road Hawg introduces us to another unique BBQ creation, the Pulled Pork Ripper; a deep fired hot dog (to the point of the skin almost ripping) topped with Pulled Pork. Our server was a very nice woman who showed us true hospitality and was very friendly, here she is with our Rippers;

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Now for a closer look at the aforementioned Pulled Pork Rippers:

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They call this the Ripper for good reason; the hot dog had a very good rip to it, something that is hard to find with most hot dogs. The pork itself was not Jack’s level, but was still of really good quality and made for a nice edition to the dog; and when you take into account the good amount of thick, ketchup based sauce that was included, the Ripper makes for a really fun, satisfying snack.

Ribfest has a lot more to offer than just ribs, and proved to me that they know how to make other delicious meats as well; I hope everyone is able to try and enjoy these sandwiches and meaty combinations in the years to come.

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New Hampshire: Rock’n Ribfest

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Welcome to New England Week! Over the next few days I will be covering delicious food from New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Connecticut, before returning to Nyack next week. Today will be focusing solely on the best ribs to come out of Ribfest this past weekend, with tomorrow dealing with Pulled Pork, Brisket, etc.

I had the pleasure to attend Ribfest with a great group of people, and had an awesome time doing it, to save everyone money we went the community method, with everyone buying ribs from a different vendor and then sharing them among the group:

Photo Credit: Stacie Coburn

Photo Credit: Stacie Coburn

Thanks to Stacie Coburn for the picture!

VENDOR ONE: The Texas Smokehouse

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Hailing from Bedford, Texas, The Texas Smokehouse was my personal favorite. These ribs were tender and very meaty; I felt they provided a good amount of meat per rib, and were well worth the money. But as good as the meat was, the sauce was the real star of these ribs. As for the sauce, there was a lot of it; it was a nice mixture of tomato and vinegar flavor, an acidic BBQ sauce that stood out to me above all the other vendors.

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If you visit Ribfest, make sure to get a rack of these delicious ribs.

VENDOR TWO: Gator BBQ Company

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These too were a meaty rack of ribs, which is exactly what you want; unlike Texas Smokehouse, who doused their ribs in delicious sauce, Gator relies more on smoking theirs, and they really stand out in doing so. In fact, the smokey flavor seemed to penetrate the entire rack of ribs, making sure there was great flavor in every bite.

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With a name like Gator, you’d know these ribs carry a great Southern BBQ tradition; and this vendor was another consensus top seller in my group’s opinion.

VENDOR THREE: Firefly’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que

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This company from Massachusetts was my third favorite rack, and another seller my friends and I reached consensus on as a top vendor. While not as meaty as the previous two, it still contained a nice amount of meat; but the good flavor from Firefly’s is what makes these ribs a must try.

Like Gator, Firefly takes the smoked rib route, and provides a unique taste in doing so. The best way I can describe their sauce was that it carried a smoked-in granular taste, which was not only very good, but also unique among the ribs we were able to try.

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If you visit Ribfest, you would be remiss to miss out on this delectable rack of meat.

This year there were nine Rib vendors who participated and competed at Rock’n Ribfest; the fact that I only covered three of them does not mean that the other six where terrible or shouldn’t receive your consideration. It just means that out of all the ones I tried, these are the three I believe you can’t afford to miss.

That being said, I encourage everyone to not only attend next year’s Ribfest (it is well worth the trip), but to try out as many vendors as possible; who knows, you may find a vendor who steps up their game and is even better than the ones I spotlighted today. For more on Ribfest, please visit their website: http://www.ribfestnh.com/

Be sure to come back tomorrow as I cover Ribfest’s other non-rib must eat meats.

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com

Piper’s Kilt: Eastchester Burger (Broadway Upgrade)

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I’ve been feeling the need to do some reviews in lower Westchester, so when my friend suggested we go to Piper’s Kilt in Eastchester, I jumped at the opportunity.

For my experience I decided to try Piper’s Eastchester Burger because A. I was in Eastchester, and B. because Westchester Magazine once described it this way: “It’s the Westchester icon. The legend. Westchester’s go-to burger.” With reviews like that, how could I not try it? (For those wondering, the Broadway upgrade made it a 10 oz burger instead of an 8 oz).

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There is a good amount to say about this burger, and meal  in general; the onion rings for example were very good, light on the breading but high on the crunch and the flavor of the onion itself was on point. The Potato Salad (which I was able to order in place of Fries, one of which I was able to taste – very good) was a nice surprise; it was thick and creamy, without suffering from too much starchiness or watery flavor.

The chili was in a league of its own; fresh out of the kitchen, it was hearty and provided an unexpected sweet heat and spice. It is possibly some of the best chili I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying.

And then came the burger. Cooked rare with melted American Cheese and bacon, a burger (hopefully) cannot go wrong; and fortunately the crew at Piper’s Kilt got it very right.

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The meat was thick, tender and very juicy, and you can tell they used a high quality meat. The melted American cheese did what I hoped it would, adding that nice sweet and gooey texture; the bacon was good (although not very crispy) and its flavor seemed to penetrate the burger itself.

This meal will fill you up and satisfy your hunger for the rest of the day; the only minor issue I had was that it was served on your average hamburger bun, and while it in no way ruins the burger, I think a brioche or pretzel bun would really take this burger to new heights.

Piper’s Kilt and their (Broadway upgraded) Eastchester burger was a great experience, one that I recommend to anyone; I will certainly be going back as soon as possible to try some of their other menu items and I couldn’t be more excited to do so.

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Nicky’s Pizza: Sicilian Slice

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Picture courtesy of citysearch.com

A few years ago Nicky’s was one of my favorite spots to visit when I wanted good pizza; my late Uncle used to take us there for a “smorgasbord” of delicious types of pizza, and it was always a good time. But then the unthinkable happened and Nicky’s closed down due to complications from a fire; and now, a few years later, Nicky’s pizza is back in business.

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While this was a really good slice, I must admit that my first bite in years took me by surprise as I tasted what can only be described as a flavor that triggered memories of alcohol; that taste was not bad at all, nor did it make a return in any other parts of the pizza, it was just an interesting surprise that I felt needed mention.

As you can see the size of the slice (lengthwise) is that of two ordinary Sicilian slices elsewhere, which is always a good thing; the bottom crust was crisped very nicely while maintaining the soft upper bite that good Sicilians are known for. The oil content was not overpowering, adding to the flavor without making a mess, and the sweet, thick cheese mixed with the slightly savory sauce were a great combo.

Nicky’s had small additions of basil to their slices which added even more flavor to an already flavorful slice, and the back crust had the slight taste of bakery style bread (a truly great touch). Another interesting part of this pizza was what I found underneath the cheese in a corner of my slice:

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That right there is a stewed tomato, and in terms of flavor and texture, its brief appearance was both a surprise and a delight.

I am very glad Nicky’s pizza is back and I hope you will be too once you try it; in a world of NY pizza, Nicky’s truly stands out as one of the best places you can go.

Got food tips? Email me at: foodreviews24@gmail.com