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!

 

 

Chama Grill: Massachusetts

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Located in North Andover, Massachusetts, Chama Grill is a fantastic Brazilian restaurant with a great premise; you give us thirty dollars, and we will give you perfectly prepare all you can eat meat served on swords…oh, and there is all you can eat side dishes as well. You interested? You should be.

Meat One: Filet Mignon Wrapped in Bacon 

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Cooked to perfection, the filet itself is tender and juicy, and carries with it the sweetness that only properly seasoned steak can obtain; the bacon adds a texture change and saltiness to the dish. Cut into nice, small sizes, you could eat a crap ton of these.If this was the only dish they served, I would have been thrilled, but wait, there’s more!

Meat Two: Rib Eye

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Such a great piece of meat, this rib eye is rich, flavorful and very tender, as well as extremely easy to both cut and chew. I can only imagine what a full sized one would be like to eat.

Meat Three: Garlic Steak

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Easily in the top three meats of the night, this Garlic Steak was another masterful piece of culinary art. Sweet, tender and very juicy this steak has a very nice addition in the garlic flavor on it and is seasoned to perfection.

Meat Four: Lamb

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What I love so much about this Lamb was not only how well it was made, but by definition it provided a welcome flavor shock after eating the rest of the read meat. Thick and sweet, the lamb is juicy and stood unique to everything else because it comes from a different animal so it has different texture and natural flavor.

Meat Five: Pork Sausage 

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By far the smallest meat, it was by no means the least. Another welcome flavor change, the sausage is a very good dish, with a nice two-bite size portion; thick, with a nice crispy skin, flavorful meat and a nice salty exterior.

Final Meat: House Steak

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Admittedly my least favorite of the meats served, the House Steak was still quite good; tender and fatty, it is still enjoyable to eat, but pales when compared to some of the other steaks previously mentioned.

All in all this was a fantastic experience that i feel everyone should seek out. Believe me, you will not be sorry, and you will indeed eat more than thirty dollars worth of meat, making this an unbelievable deal.

Restaurant Week: Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse

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For my first foray into Restaurant Week, I decided to visit an establishment that I have been waiting to return to for over 10 years – Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse in Tarrytown NY.

Normally Ruth’s Chris is wildly expensive, a one person dinner there can easily cost you more than $100, but as part of restaurant week, you can get a delicious three course meal (with side dish) for around $30. So lets go dish by dish of the meal I selected.

Appetizer: Roasted Tomato Soup

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The soup was very interesting, and quite good; it was thicker than I expected it to be, and actually had the smell of a tomato sauce. It was also more acidic than creamy, and had a pretty decent spice to it that coats the back of your throat with a nice heat. Definitely a good take on a classic soup.

Entree: 8 oz Filet Mignon

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Served on a sizzling 500 degree plate, this steak is easily one of the best you can ever get. The plate was so hot, that my Dad’s steak had to be taken back briefly because the napkin on the the tray had fused to the bottom of his plate!

This cut of meat was cooked as every Filet Mignon should be – rare – and to say that it cut like butter would be both cliche and not doing justice to how easy it was to slice through the meat; it is everything you want when you attempt to cut a steak.

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The meat itself was seasoned very well, and was extraordinarily tender and very juicy; it is fair to say that this steak will almost literally melt in your mouth – and you will not be sorry you ordered it. Now technically under this Restaurant Week deal, you could order a Chicken or Salmon instead, but lets be honest, are you really going to not order a steak at a high quality steak house?

Side Dish: Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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There isn’t much to say about these potatoes, they were not ground breaking in any way, but they were smooth, creamy, and very tasty for sure.

Dessert: Bread Pudding in Whiskey Sauce

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I’ve admittedly never had bread pudding before this week, but as far as I can tell, this bread pudding was really good. It was thick, yet soft, and had some nice sweet raisins inside of it, and was garnished with a fresh, strong piece of mint on top – but the real star here was the Whiskey Sauce. This sauce was sweet, smooth and creamy, and had almost a butterscotch-like flavor, similar, but not exact.

Verdict:

For a low price of only $30, there is literally no reason for you not to go to Ruth’s Chris for this three course, Filet Mignon featured meal. You have until March 20th to do so; so please don’t let this opportunity slip away, because a year is a long time to wait for a deal like this to come around again.

 

 

 

 

 

The Lazy Boy Saloon: Filet Tip Sub

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The Lazy Boy Saloon in White Plains is in the heart of the bar scene of Mamaroneck Ave, and like many bars, makes some really good food. On tap for this review is their tantalizing Filet Tip Sub.

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Served on soft, garlic-toasted french bread, this sandwich contains mouthfuls of delicious flavor. The grilled filet tips are very tender, exceptionally juicy, and seasoned very nicely. Each bite gives you a good amount of delicious steak tips, and that doesn’t even take into account the rest of the sandwich.

On top of the steak, rests freshly melted mozzarella, adding a sweet cheese blanket to this sub. The final ingredient, the caramelized onions, adds even more juice and a bit of crunch to the dish.

I thoroughly enjoyed and highly recommend the Filet Tip Sub from The Lazy Boy Saloon to any steak or sandwich lover, or really anyone who loves good food in general. Paired with some of their appetizers (which will be covered in a future review), it makes for a really satisfying meal.

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

First Annual Pristine Awards

Awards

Welcome to the First Annual Pristine Awards, where I pick the best “must eat” foods of the year based on what I have reviewed in 2015. The Categories this year are as follows:

Best Burger, Best Plain Pizza, Best Specialty Pizza, Best Sicilian Pizza, Best BBQ, Best Bird, Best Desert, Best Milk Shake, Best Mac and Cheese, Best Penne Alla Vodka, Best “Other” Pasta, Best Appetizer, Best Side Dish, Best Soup/Chowder, Best Hot Sandwich, Best Deli Sandwich and Best Philly Cheesesteak. 

Each category will be broken down into the top 3 choices, and the winner will be chosen from the finalists. Certain categories that only have one choice in them, such as Steak, Salad, Burrito, Smoothie, etc. will be forwarded to next year’s awards when they will (hopefully) have some competition. With that out of the way, on with the awards!

Best Burger: Pretzel Burger (WBC) vs. Bacon Cheeseburger (O’Malley’s) vs. Eastchester Burger (Piper’s Kilt.) 

Winner: The Pretzel Burger – Westchester Burger Co.

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While the other two choices were both amazingly delicious, the Pretzel Burger just had no downsides. With a perfect patty, delicious melted cheese, crispy maple bacon and a pretzel bun, one can’t go wrong with this choice. Besides, when a burger can make me actually enjoy an egg, that’s an extra bonus.

Best Plain Pizza: Plain Slice (Portofino’s) vs. Original Tomato Pie w/ Mozzarella (Frank Pepe)

Winner: Plain Slice – Portofino’s.

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Portofino’s combines a great flavor with an amazingly sized slice. New York makes some of the best pizza in the world, and this slice easily ranks up there with the best of them.

Best Specialty Pizza: Vodka Sauce Pizza (Luca Bella) vs. Big Mac Slice (Luca Bella) vs. White Pizza (Tarantella)

Winner: Vodka Sauce Pizza – Luca Bella 

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This slice beats out the other delicious specialties from Luca Bella and Tarantella, because the Vodka Sauce used on this slice is by far the best Vodka Sauce I’ve ever had. The idea to put this sauce on the pizza was inspired, and we are all better off for it.

Best Sicilian Pizza: Nicky’s vs. Sal’s vs. Portofino’s

Winner: Sal’s Sicilian Pizza.

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Nicky’s had thickness, Portofino’s had size, but Sal’s was perhaps the best Sicilian I’ve ever had, and certainly the best in Westchester. Light and airy, and yet somehow filling; with perfectly melted cheese and an amazing sauce, Sal’s Sicilian pizza earns the easy victory.

Best BBQ: Pulled Pork Sandwich (Jack’s *Ribfest NH*) vs. Trash Rib Teasers (Holy Smoke) vs. Ribs (Texas Smokehouse *Ribfest NH*)

Winner: The Trash Rib Teasers – Holy Smoke.

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Believe it or not, the rib teasers actually beat out a full rack and pulled pork, mainly due to how meaty and flavorful a rib Holy Smoke was able to concoct. The Texas ribs were great, but Holy Smoke gets the edge.

Best Bird: Duck Confit (Le Provencal) vs. Fried Chicken (Holy Smoke)

Winner: Duck Confit – Le Provencal.

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If I’m being honest, I don’t like eating birds that much; so many places just don’t do a good job preparing them. Holy Smoke and Le Provencal are two establishments who know what they are doing. I went with the Duck because it was simply one of the best birds I’ve ever had. In my review I described it as “the steak of birds” and in the end, that is what sealed the victory for the Duck Confit.

Best Desert: Cheesecake (WBC) vs. Black Salted Caramel Donut (Gypsy Donut)

Winner: Cheesecake – Westchester Burger Co.

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This was a harder decision than you might think; the black salted caramel is one of the most unique and delicious things I’ve ever tasted, but the Cheesecake won in part due to its light, and rich texture and flavor. The plating of the desert was also an added bonus but did not play into the decision.

Best Milkshake: Chocolate Milkshake (City Limits) vs Italian Nutella Milkshake (WBC)

Winner: Italian Nutella Milkshake – Westchester Burger Co.

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The specialty milkshake carries the day. I love chocolate milkshakes, but the Italian Nutella was just too good not to win. The flavor was unique, and  it was made so well. Both were great, but WBC’s was just better.

Best Mac and Cheese: Mac and Cheese (Piper’s Kilt) vs. Deluxe Cheeseburger Mac (Mr. Mac’s) vs. Philly Cheese Steak Mac (Mr. Mac’s).

Winner: Philly Cheese Steak Mac – Mr. Mac’s.

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Man, I wish this restaurant would come to New York! The Philly-Mac was simply one of the best things I’ve ever had. The Macaroni and Cheese portion was great, and made even better by an authentic taste of the Philly Cheesesteak.  Not only that, but it also has great re-heat value; and while I love the Mac at Piper’s Kilt, Mr. Mac’s specialty is their Mac and Cheese, and this is one of the best.

Best Penne Alla Vodka: Sal’s (White Plains) vs. Luca Bella

Winner: Penne Alla Vodka – Luca Bella

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Its the sauce. In the same way that Luca Bella won best specialty pizza with their Vodka Sauce slice, they win the Penne category with the sauce being where it was always meant to be, on pasta. It was a hard choice given that Sal’s sauce included a few extra and delicious elements, but in the end, Luca Bella’s sauce was just that much better.

Best “Other” Pasta: Spinach Ricotta Pillows (Grazie) vs. Linguine and Clams (Lago)

Winner: Spinach Ricotta Pillows – Grazie

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A country club take on spinach ravioli, these pillows were not only delicious, but presented in a wonderful manner. The spinach and ricotta meld beautifully and just made for a great pasta dish.

Best Appetizer: Speck (Lago) vs. Dueling Meatballs (Grazie) vs. Chicken Fried Steak Bites (Prohibition River)

Winner: Chicken Fried Steak Bites – Prohibition River.

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Possibly the toughest choice so far; on one hand you have a a wonderful Charcuterie dish, but you also have a fantastic meatball offering. But the Chicken Fried Steak Bites get the victory because it is one of the most delicious appetizers out there. Filet Mignon steak bites, with a deliciously crispy skin and a fantastic gravy? How could it not get the win?

Best Side Dish: Garlic Balls (PPT’s) vs. Beer Battered Onion Rings (O’Malley’s) 

Winner: Garlic Balls – PPT’s.

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The ultimate side to pizza, Garlic Balls from PPT’s are doughy, sweet, and full of Garlic. It is easily one of the most unique side dishes out there, and a must try for anyone who likes good food.

Best Soup/Chowder: New England Clam Chowder (O’Malley’s) vs. New England Clam Chowder (Townhouse)

Winner: New England Clam Chowder – O’Malley’s.

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Very easily the best New England Clam Chowder I’ve had, as it is the specialty of the Chef at O’Malley’s. It is thick, creamy, and has great clams. An easy dish to return to over and over, and I do almost every time I go to O’Malley’s.

Best Hot Sandwich: Phive All Day (Philly’s) vs. Aged Beef Top Round w/ French Onion (Melt)

Winner: Phive All Day – Philly’s: A Taste of Philadelphia.

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One of the most unique and succulent sandwiches out there, the Phive All Day wins based on its combination of traditional Philly Cheesesteak elements, but with the fantastic additions of bacon and home-made “McNabb Sauce.” (Note: This Sandwich will not be considered for the category of Philly Cheesesteak because it has too many unique elements).

Best Deli Sandwich: Sicilian Sandwich (Roosters) vs. The Godfather (Anthony’s) vs. American Combo (Anthony’s)

Winner: American Combo – Anthony’s Deli.

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Another tough choice, especially considering that the Godfather is Anthony’s signature sandwich. Don’t get me wrong, the Godfather is a fantastic Italian Sandwich (as is Rooster’s Sicilian), but the American Combo just has the “it factor” in terms of traditional deli sandwiches. The bread, as well as every meat used is fresh, and the size is fantastic. I’ve had all three of these sandwiches on multiple occasions, but the American Combo is the one that I go back to the most.

Best Philly Cheesesteak: Silver Lake Pizza vs. Royal Scarlet Deli

Winner: Philly Cheesesteak – Silver Lake Pizza.

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Easily my favorite Philly Cheesesteak, Silver Lake Pizza knows what they are doing in regards to this sandwich. The bread is crisp, the meat is thick and flavorful, the cheese is melted perfectly, and the peppers and onions are a nice addition to this juicy sandwich.

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

 

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

Le Provençal Bistro: Duck Confit

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Le Provençal is a lovely little bistro located in the town of Mamaroneck, and when my friend came down and was craving some French food, this is where we decided to go.

For my meal I decided to try something I had never had before, duck, and oh boy was that a good decision because this is one of the best cooked birds I have ever had.

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This dish is making me say something I never thought I’d say; duck is the steak of birds; and when I say that, I literally mean it reminded me of a steak.

The meat was thick, but shredded easily enough to consume quickly (unlike some steaks that require you chew for awhile), and the port wine sauce that it was bathed in was sweet and delicious. This meal simply melts in your mouth, thats how good it is.

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I absolutely recommend that everyone who reads this tries this dish, it is one of the best meals, let alone birds, I have ever eaten. Not to mention that for such a fancy and high quality meal, it is very reasonably priced; and their wine selection is quite good.

It is also worth mentioning that, although unrelated to the taste of the food itself, the owners and staff are very nice, knowledgeable, and helpful, making the dining experience a good one. I hope you get a chance to experience it soon.

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

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

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.

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