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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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.

 

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

Royal Scarlet Deli: Philly Cheesesteak

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If you know me at all, you know I’m a huge fan of the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, which is why I’m always trying to find the next great vendor of this particular cuisine. Enter Royal Scarlet Deli in White Plains.

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The bread was soft and of good quality, and the meat was tender, well seasoned, and steak like. The melted cheese was just right, and abundance of onions were sweet, juicy, and crunchy. To top it all off, this sandwich had a moist, and tasty gravy throughout.

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It is always nice to find another place that can make a good Philly, and that’s what we have in Royal Scarlet Deli; so if you want a good tasting cheesesteak that will fill your belly and please your taste-buds, I suggest the one at Royal Scarlet Deli.

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

Piper’s Kilt: Steak Sandwich

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While Piper’s Kilt is widely known for their burgers, but they also happen to make a mean Steak Sandwich.

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Piper’s Kilt makes their Steak Sandwich with soft and supple garlic bread, which is a really nice touch on a sandwich like this. The steak itself was THICK; much thicker than I expected, and it made every bite a meaty mouthful. How thick was each piece you ask?

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Along with its thickness, the steak was pretty tender and easy to chew, which is always a plus; and in terms of the amount of steak pieces given, needless to say this sandwich was very generous.

Topping it off where the sweet and crisp sauteed onions that melded nicely with the steak and garlic bread; the combination of all three flavors make this a very good sandwich.

While I can always recommend you visit Piper’s Kilt for the burgers, they are really more than just great burgers. Whether its a Steak Sandwich or Mac and Cheese, Piper’s Kilt does it right, and is worth the honor of your patronage.

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

Luca Bella: Philly Cheesesteak Pizza

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Philly Cheesesteaks and Pizza are two of my favorite foods, so what could possibly be better than a combination of the two? One that comes from Luca Bella of course.

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I always find it amazing (and wonderful) when a “replica food” can mirror the original in taste and texture, and Luca Bella’s Philly Cheesesteak pizza does just that.

The cheese is piping hot and melted to near perfection; and just like a good Philly Cheesesteak, it can burn the roof of your mouth if you are not careful (though in this case that is not really a bad thing). The meat is thick and provides a taste-filled bite, and the peppers and onions help to bring the authentic cheesesteak taste full circle.

So what do you do when you want Philly Cheesesteak flavor but are running on pizza time? The answer is visiting Luca Bella for one of their slices; it is undoubtedly one of the best around.*

*Luca Bella’s Philly Cheesesteak pizza is usually available on weekends.

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