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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Holy Smoke: Fried Buttermilk Chicken

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Now for the Fried Chicken. I must say that I was looking forward to this dish for months because I was eager to see if I could actually find a good Fried Chicken place.

Sadly, KFC and Popeye’s tend to dominate the fried chicken scene in this general vicinity, with fast food being an option too easy to ignore. But thankfully, Holy Smoke has provided a much needed better option.

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Every bit of this chicken was enjoyable; the skin was some of the best I’ve had, as it had a great crunch. The meat was thick and very juicy, and the grease content within was also very good, as it added to the flavor.

The meat was not too heavily seasoned (although double dipped in seasoned flour), nor did it need to be, due to the wonderful buttermilk that they used.

In regards to the sides, the chili was good and had a little spice to it, and the potato salad was creamy, chunky, and sweet. Both were nice additions to my chicken.

In my experience so far, Buttermilk Fried Chicken is the best dish at Holy Smoke; my opinion could very well change with increased tastings of different dishes, but all I know is that I’m looking forward to further excursions to Holy Smoke to find out!

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.

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