Second Annual Pristine Awards

 

Awards

Welcome to the Second Annual Pristine Awards, where I pick the best “must eat” foods of the year based on what I have reviewed in 2016. As opposed to last year I will be changing up the format a bit to help keep this short and sweet. If a category is underrepresented in my reviews this year (Eg. if I ate a food item/category last year and not this year, or there were no new options), then they will not be mentioned here (for last year’s winners, click this link).

Best Burger Winner: Pretzel Burger (WBC) 

Runner Up: The 5 Napkin, 14 Spice Stuffed Burger (The Cobblestone)

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The Pretzel Burger takes it for the second year in a row, the Cobblestone’s offering put up a great fight, but Westchester Burger Co. has seriously perfected this amazing burger.

Best Specialty Pizza Winner: French Fry Pizza (Silver Lake Pizza)

Runner Up: Philly Cheesesteak Pizza (Silver Lake Pizza)

Former Winner: Vodka Sauce Pizza (Luca Bella)

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I mention former winner and runner up because of the immense respect I have for the now closed down Luca Bella and their Vodka Sauce pizza, that being said this was hands down the best specialty pizza I had this year, nothing else comes close. The combination of french fries, bacon, ranch, chives, and two kinds of cheese is fantastic, and is a whole lot better than should be allowed.

Best BBQ Winner: Cider Spiced Ribs (Whetstone Station)

Runner Up: The Trash Rib Teasers (Holy Smoke)

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What else can I say about these ribs that I haven’t already said? As I wrote in my review, “Smothered in sauce, these ribs are near perfection. The BBQ sauce is sweet, with a semi hot (but not overpowering) cider spice.” Can’t beat it.

Best Bird Winner: Duck Confit (Le Provencal)

Runner Up: Fried Chicken (Birdsall House)

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Our second two-time winner, this Duck Confit remains the best bird I have ever had, and the most steak like bird I’ve seen.

Best Desert Winner: Cheesecake (Westchester Burger Co.)

Runner Up: Maple Bacon Ice Cream (Birdsall House)

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Believe it or not, the runner up race was harder to pick than the winner! There were a lot of good choices this year, but the cheese(cake) stands alone.

Best Penne Alla Vodka Winner: Sal’s (White Plains)

Runner Up: Doubleday’s.

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To be honest, if Luca Bella were still around, there would be no contest; Sal’s is great, but Luca Bella was something else. That being said, Sal’s has become the best Penne Vodka in Westchester County, and is deserving of this victory for sure.

Best Non-Beef/Bird Meat Winner: Rack of Lamb (KEE Oyster House)

Runner Up: Pork Belly with Miso and Kimchi (Communal Kitchen) 

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Truly the best lamb I’ve ever tasted; from the rich red tenderness of the meat, to the succulent bone and citrus infused panko crust, this is a meal to behold…and then devour.

Best Appetizer Winner: Chicken Fried Steak Bites (Prohibition River)

Runner Up: Charcuterie Board (Communal Kitchen)

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Still one of the most amazingly flavored appetizers out there, I’ve been longing for it ever since I first tried it. While it is not readily available on the menu (it is seasonal), it is still the top appetizer around.

Best Steak Winner:  8 oz Filet Mignon (Ruth’s Chris)

Runner Up: 8 oz Filet Mignon Au Poivre (O’Malley’s)

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You can’t go wrong with a prime cut of steak that is served on a sizzling 500 degree plate. For awhile O’Malley’s was going to take home the title, but then Ruth’s Chris came back into my life during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week; and I’m so glad she did.

Best Soup/Chowder Winner: New England Clam Chowder (O’Malley’s)

Runner Up: Roasted Tomato Soup (Ruth’s Chris)

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I know I’ve said this a lot, but this is simply the best New England Clam Chowder I’ve tried. The roasted tomato soup was great, but the “chowdah”at O’Malley’s is simply amazing.

Best Hot Sandwich Winner: Phive All Day (Philly’s: A Taste of Philadelphia)

Runner Up: Ale Roasted Cheese Steak (Lazy Boy Saloon)

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Another two-time winner and with good reason, this is one of the most unique sandwiches out there. Take your traditional Philly and add bacon and secret sauce to it nd you have a Phive All Day. Wonderful.

Best Side Dish Winner: Garlic Balls (PPT’s)

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Another two time winner that is totally unique; doughy, sweet, and full of Garlic. This is a great side to pizza and even a great dish to bring home by itself. Truly deserving.

Best Philly Cheesesteak Winner: Silver Lake Pizza

Runner Up: Tighe’s Tavern

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The final two-time winner, and my favorite Philly that I’ve had, this sandwich from Silver Lake Pizza is top notch, and has yet to be beat (maybe when I visit Philly?)

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That’s it for the Second Annual Pristine Awards, thanks so much for reading and I hope to see you back in the New Year!

 

 

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The Cobble Stone: 5 Napkin 14 Spice Stuffed Burger

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Our next food excursion takes us to The Cobble Stone in Purchase New York, where I got to try the 5 Napkin, 14 Spice Stuffed Burger. Now that name is a mouthful and so is the burger, but before we get to the main course, we need to talk about the appetizer – Cobble Stone’s Jalapeno-chedder poppers.

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As an aside, my friends had the Bocconcini Balls appetizer (pictured above), which was very good (they let me try it); with fresh mozzarella, fried coating and marinara sauce its hard to go wrong.

As for my poppers, they were coated with a nice and crunchy breading, had a good creamy cheddar filling, and a mildly hot pepper, all of which coalesced into a great flavor combination. On the side was a sweet black cherry sauce, unlike anything I’ve ever had before, and the perfect sweet counter to the peppers’ spice. I urge everyone to try this – its that good.

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This burger is huge. Housed in a traditional hamburger role and coated in 14 spices, Cobble Stone stuffs the inside of their burger with juicy onions, cheese and chili. The burger itself is thick, tender, and very juicy; the chili was spicy and added even more flair to the 14 spices that were infused into the meat.

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This burger certainly gives you your moneys worth; the meat itself was good and the chili, cheese and onions that it was stuffed with were the perfect combination for this particular concoction. If you are worried you can’t finish it, don’t worry, I couldn’t either and duly discovered that this burger has a great reheat value.

My advice is to go to Cobble Stone, get this burger, and enjoy the heck out of it. I know I will be returning eventually, and I’m looking forward to it immensely.

 

Lazy Boy Saloon: Ale Roasted Cheese Steak

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Lazy Boy Saloon continues to churn out very good meals – this time I decided to try their tantalizingly named Ale Roasted Cheese Steak.

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As a lover of traditional, classic Philly Chessesteaks, I am always intrigued by other cheesesteak variations, especially when they are braised in Ale (in this case Belgian beer); so you can see why I was excited to try this.

The toasted french bread, as we have become accustom to is nice and soft (with a slight crisp), making it easy to bite through to the meat of the meal (no pun intended). The onions provided a pretty decent strength of flavor, and the combination of melted cheddar and Monterrey Jack cheese are a sweet, gooey addition to the sub.

The meat was delicious but also very interesting in its own way, as this Black Angus rib-eye’s braising gave the meat a tender, almost pot-roast consistency. It was a unique and delicious choice for a sandwich, and I’m glad Lazy Boy decided to go this route.

Yet another great meal from Lazy Boy Saloon in White Plains; I can only exhort you to visit this establishment, and do so often, as they are awash in good food and drink.

 

Silver Lake Pizza: Philly Cheesesteak Pizza

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Now that Luca Bella has shut down, I am in need of a new place to eat a Philly Cheesesteak slice, and fortunately, I found it at Silver Lake Pizza (West Harrison, NY).

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Perhaps the most important aspect of a Philly Cheesesteak pizza is the meat – if the meat is bad, it throws off the rest of the pizza. Not only was the meat on this slice delicious, it was generously plentiful. Tender, sweet, and juicy, each bite of meat was a wonderful mouthful of flavor.

The melted cheese was also sweet, and the peppers and onions provide a nice crunch to the slice. The crust is flavorful and had good texture and consistency.

But there is one thing that this slice offers you that gives it distinction – sliced jalapeno peppers. By themselves, these peppers are enough to set your mouth on fire, but mixed in with the rest of the ingredients, the inferno is muted into a sweet heat and spice that resonates well with the rest of the flavors.

This is an easy recommendation to make; go to Silver lake Pizza and get yourself a slice of Philly Cheesesteak pizza – its that good.

 

Tighe’s Tavern: Philly Cheesesteak

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Tighe’s Tavern in White Plains is a nice little bar/restaurant that serves one good Philly Cheesesteak.

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Held together by soft, delicious bread, this Cheesesteak utilizes meat in such a way to make it unique. There is a definite fatty element to the meat, as if you were eating an actual steak. This wasn’t unwelcome at all, as it added an extra flavor component to the meat itself. I can honestly say I’ve never had a Philly where I can taste fat in the meat, so this was a nice surprise.

The melted cheese was nice and sweet, the onions, crunchy, and the green peppers were perfect. All together, every ingredient of this sandwich worked very well together and provides another good option for anyone craving a good Philly.

Tighe’s makes good food and is in an easily accessible location (downtown White Plains), so there is really no excuse to not visit; so I hope you do, soon.

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

The Branding Iron: The Westerner

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Its time to visit one of the best Burger joints in Peekskill: The Branding Iron.

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This is one hearty burger. It is filling, huge, and quite good. It is so big that it is almost impossible to get your mouth around it for the first few bites.

The patty itself is pretty big and has good flavor, the cheddar cheese is melted well, and the BBQ sauce (instead of ketchup) is nice and sweet.

The onion ring on the burger has a nice crunch, and the sauteed onions were plentiful, as was the crispy bacon.

The bun is brioche and and coated in butter before it is grilled, and in keeping with the theme of the name, is branded on top. Interestingly, the brand itself smells similar to a somewhat charred marshmallow you’d have as a kid.

So if you are ever in the Northwest section of Westchester and want a good burger, visit the Branding Iron in Peekskill, you won’t be disappointed.

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

Piper’s Kilt: Mac and Cheese

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It took me awhile but I finally made it back to the Kilt, and boy am I ever glad I did. Today’s review will focus on their Mac and Cheese appetizer, with their Steak Sandwich coming later this week.

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This Mac and Cheese is heavenly. It’s light and creamy consistency combines for both a great texture and a wonderful flavor combination. The cheese on top is akin to a a light comforter, the purpose of which is to keep you warm in bed, while not being too heavy as it covers you; this is what the cheese did for the macaroni.

Speaking of the Mac, it was soft and saturated in the creaminess of the cheese; combined together, this dish encompasses elements that make it the ultimate comfort food.

This is one of the best appetizers and certainly one of the best Mac and Cheese dishes in Westchester (or anywhere for that matter). If you are a fan of this dish, be sure to order it next time you visit Piper’s Kilt, you won’t regret it.

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

Sal’s Pizza: Sicilian Slice

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Happy Columbus Day! In the spirit of the intrepid Italian explorer, I thought what better food to review than everyone’s favorite Italian dish…pizza! Today’s venue: Sal’s Pizza in Mamaroneck.

Having been in business for over half a century, Sal’s Pizzeria and Restaurant should know a thing or two about pizza, and thankfully, they do. Sal’s claim to fame is their Sicilian, and with receiving multiple recommendations in the span of a couple weeks, I new this was a slice I needed to try.

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Did Sal’s pizza live up to the recommendations? Absolutely. In fact, it may be one of the best Sicilians I’ve had. The dough was fluffy, light, and airy; a quality that allows you to eat more than one slice and still have room for more. The cheese was perfectly melted and had a great oozing quality (yes, that is a good thing!).

The crust is crunchy, but not too hard, and the light splash of sauce was an interesting combination of sweet and slightly tangy (although not at all acidic). Its a nice compliment to the dough and the cheese.

How should you celebrate Columbus Day? By eating a slice of pizza, and what better place to eat it than at Sal’s Pizza; and if you are reading this after Columbus Day, that’s no problem, because Sal’s is still the place you need to go.

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

Nat’s Pub: Nat’s Burger

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I’ve been going to Elmsford for years, and every time I went, I’d drive by Nat’s Pub, home of “the best burger in town.” This of course peaked my interest and I’d always tell myself that I was going to go there. Finally, after years of telling myself this, I finally made it to Nat’s Pub.

Nat’s is a hole in the wall venue that makes some pretty good food; and after perusing the menu, I ordered “Nat’s Burger” to see if it truly was the “best burger in town.”

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Now normally I wouldn’t touch a burger that has lettuce and tomato on it, but given this burger’s moniker, I decided not to change anything.

The meat was flavorful, juicy, and had a nice size and thickness to it; you really got a good amount of meat in every bite. The cheese was melted really nicely and covered a good section of the burger. Both the lettuce and the onions added a good crunch to the burger, and the tomato added extra juiciness.

The biggest difference between this and other burgers is that Nat’s tops theirs with mustard, which added a new, spicier flavor that I am not used to; though it was not a bad addition at all.

The only “downside” to this burger was that it was on a sandwich roll instead of the traditional hamburger bun, but in no way did it ruin the burger. As a side, the fries were quite good, crisp, full bodied, and tasty.

I would definitely recommend Nat’s Pub to anyone who is looking for a good burger in Elmsford, and so far I must agree with the assessment that it is the best burger in town.

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

Westchester Burger Co: The Hangover

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For my 25th birthday, my friends and I decided to revisit Westchester Burger Co. and see what else they had for us to try; the Hangover at Westchester Burger is very similar to the Pretzel Burger, which I reviewed here, albeit with some very important differences.

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Nestled in between two halves of a soft brioche bun, the beef patty was tender, juicy, and cooked to be perfectly rare. Topping said patty was some nice, melted Monterey Jack cheese, bacon that was not only crispy, but carried with it a fantastic salt/pork flavor, and a fried egg that was both messy and delicious.

Using the condiments at hand, I was also able to try bites of this burger with both chipotle remoulade, and chipotle ranch, both adding a unique and unbelievable change of pace and flavor to an already great burger.

After two trips to Westchester Burger Co., I believe without a shadow of a doubt that it is one of the best burger joints around, and I’m looking forward to more visits in the future.

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