La Camelia: savor the authentic flavors of Spain and Portugal in a charming atmosphere in Mt. Kisco

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While there are many fine restaurants in our area, it is unique to discover an eatery that is provides a great menu, friendly service and a dining atmosphere that is warm and inviting.  La Camelia in Mt Kisco is such a place.  Perched on a hill in a 19th Century home, the restaurant is instantly welcoming.  I felt as if  I had walked into the home of a favorite relative, or a quaint New England or European inn that was overflowing with charm and warmth.  The feeling was instant comfort.

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While the restaurant has been operating since 1984, current owners Victor and Serafina Varela have infused new life, an updated menu and genuine warmth and hospitality into La Camelia.  The interior has wide wood floors, fire places and  wooden tables draped in linen.  Prints and tapestries adorn the walls.  There are three separate dining spaces and a bar, all with a unique charm of their own.

The menu is comprised of  authentic Spanish and Portuguese dishes, tapas (small plates), sangria and wines.  The fresh flavors of the Iberian Peninsula  are all here to explore and enjoy.

We started with a pitcher of white wine sangria which was served in a traditional hand painted ceramic pitcher instead of glass or plastic.  This authentic beverage was a great way to start our culinary tour.

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Sangria served from a beautiful hand painted ceramic pitcher

The Sopa de Lagosta (Lobster Soup) was warm and delicious on a cold night.  Served in a unique fish shaped bowl , this lobster bisque also included crab meat and a piece of toast floating on top.  It was hearty and delicious.

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Sopa de Lagosta (Lobster Soup)

Since Spain and Portugal border the sea, the menu is full of seafood options.  We enjoyed the Tostada de Gambas,  a warm tapas with grilled shrimp, fresh guacamole and served over in house made crunchy chips.

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Tostadas de Gambas

Another great tapas was the  Mexilhoes na Cataplana, or steamed mussels in a red sauce.  A very unique presentation of this classic dish as it was served in a covered metal bowl with a hammered finish.  Lifting the cover allowed the fragrant flavors of fresh steamed mussels in a slightly smoky red sauce to fill the air.  This unique presentation and fantastic preparation is what makes La Camelia so special.

For our main dishes we sampled (at the suggestion of the staff), the Bife na Pedra which is  black angus steak that is lightly grilled on each side then served on a cooking stone. You slice the steak and allow the hot stone to cook it to your liking.  A really fun, interactive and authentic dish which we highly recommend.

A visit to a Spanish restaurant is not complete without  enjoying Seafood Paella.  I am big fan of this dish and La Camelia delivers with  all seafood including mussels, clams, shrimp, and topped with a 1/2 pound lobster.  The presentation of the dish was wonderful, and the taste was perfection.

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Seafood Paella

With just a bit of room left for dessert we were surprised to see a dessert cart rolled into the dining room.  Again a charming detail we have not seen in some time in dining and another example of the hospitality at La Camelia. There were several great looking desserts with the Carrot cake and the Chocolate Mousse being our favorites.

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La Camelia is a very special dining experience.  The warmth and genuineness of the hosts, friendly staff, amazing dishes from the sunny Iberian peninsula and a cozy welcoming atmosphere make this a must dine destination.

We cannot wait for warmer weather when the side patio opens up for outside dining.   A perfect restaurant for date night, or a gathering of friends.

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La Camelia

234 North Bedford Rd 
Mount Kisco NY 10549     

web   https://lacameliarestaurant.net

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Inn at Pound Ridge:Elegant dining in a casual rustic setting

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Main dining room – photo by inn at pound ridge

Upon opening the door at the Inn at Pound Ridge one is immediately drawn to the entrance fireplace and beautiful display of Autumn bounty of gourds and pumpkins.  The space is inviting and warm with a casual sophisticated flair.  Reclaimed wood, high ceilings in the main upstairs dining room and custom lighting create a soothing environment in which to dine. One has the immediate feeling that a special dining experience awaits.

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There are two floors on which to dine at the Inn at Pound Ridge as well as a large bar area.  All these spaces are all unique. The original building dates to 1833 when it was constructed as a home, but the property has served as an Inn for many years.  The Inn at Pound Ridge now owned and run by international chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten brings fantastic cuisine to this landmark restaurant.   The main floor of the Inn is a blend of modern design yet retains much of the charm of the original structure with fireplaces, wide plank wood floors, bleached wood and exposed rustic wood beams and trusses.   I chose to eat on the lower level which is divided into smaller more intimate spaces  and gave me the feeling I was in a secret yet warm place inside a castle with its exposed stone walls.

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There are several seating options from the small fireplace room behind the bar with its inviting couches and antique coffee table which offers a great place to enjoy a drink to the main dining area. The bar is comfortable and looks like it would be right at home in the English Countryside.  There is an understated elegance to this space and the wait staff was well prepared to tend to you from start to finish.

 

The menu is  a farm to table cuisine with many of the ingredients being locally sourced from farms in the Hudson Valley and New England.  Such a culinary philosophy brings great taste to each dish.  I  began my meal with a soothing and quite tasty lentil soup.  The broth was expertly prepared with just the right amount of seasoning. It was a flavorful and hearty soup that was just perfect for a November afternoon.

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Lentil Soup

Another appetizer to try is the Butternut squash salad with sliced apples and pumpkin seeds in a yogurt dressing.  This was light and delicious and the perfect pairing of fruit and vegetables.  Also a perfect selection with keeping with the spirit of harvest.

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Butternut Squash salad

My main dish was the salmon salad which consisted of a nice portion fresh salmon filet, encrusted with sesame seeds and served with a superb Asian dressing on the greens. Truly a delicious and healthy choice.  Another nice selection was the Fish and Chips, which was nicely prepared with a light and flavorful batter for extra crunch. The cod was not greasy and  was flakey, very fresh and served with potato slices.

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Salmon Salad

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Fish and Chips

You must not leave without trying one of the wonderful desserts prepared by top pastry chefs.  The Almond Cake was scrumptious and had just the right amount of sweetness with a nutty note.

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Almond cake

I also sampled the Warm Chocolate Cake which melts in your mouth with the velvet feel of the fresh cake and the soft chocolate inside.  The ice cream here is similar to gelato and I had the pleasure to taste is beautifully presented in bowl lined with warm chocolate syrup and sprinkled with caramel corn which gave a crunch to the smoothness of the ice cream.

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Warm Chocolate Cake

The Inn at Pound Ridge is a special restaurant with a beautiful atmosphere.  Reservations are a must at this popular Jean-Georges restaurant. The level of culinary skill and expertise makes this the perfect spot for a special occasion or for getting out and having a great dining experience.

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The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges

258 Westchester Ave  Pound Ridge New York     tel: 914-764-1400

web: http://www.theinnatpoundridge.com/

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KEE OYSTER HOUSE: Old New York Dining Experience comes to White Plains

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There is a new restaurant in White Plains that brings to the local dining scene a touch of old New York City with an elegant and urban vibe.  Three Westchester natives opened KEE Oyster House to bring New York’s famed oyster history back to life by serving a dazzling array of seafood items as well other menu options from the land.  The food is all super fresh (no frozen food) and prepared simple and pure to allow the taste and the freshness of the  food to really stand out.  Everything we sampled was top quality with ample portions.

Upon entering you know you are in a special restaurant.  The interior design uses painted dark wood, high ceilings and large tall windows, black and white tile floor in the bar area and Edison bulb lighting.  The effect is to replicate the feel of a New York City restaurant in the early 20th Century.  A beautiful long marble bar serves top notch specialty cocktails as well as a large wine menu and 20 types of single malt scotches and craft beer flows from seven taps.  Guests can eat at the bar and I witnessed some enjoying large plates of fresh oysters with their drinks.

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I sampled the Pomegranate Martini as well at the Oyster House Amigo.  I highly recommend these cocktails. Also at the bar diners can enjoy a bag of freshly made potato chips.

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If you enjoy the seafood, this the place for you.  A delightful menu with an emphasis on favorites as well as some unique and fresh options.  There are hot or cold Seafood Towers which are loaded with clams, oysters, crab meat shrimp and lobster. Any of the items in the Seafood Tower can also be ordered separately.  There is nice range of starters with salad, Roasted beets, Chowder and even ribs are available.

Starters: I tried the grilled oysters which were delicious and had a pure and lovely essence of the sea.  I was transported briefly to a seaside cafe.  Also fantastic was the Oysters Rockefeller with a light crust and creamy spinach filling.  A comforting and satisfying way to start the meal.

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Grilled Oysters

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Oysters Rockefeller

The Shrimp with grits was another tasty choice and the grits provided a nice contrast to the fresh shrimp.  The Fried Calamari was a little spicy with its chili aioli and crusty coating, and again was very tasty.

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Shrimp with Grits

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Calamari

Main Course:  There are 6 seafood selections  and 5 meat selections on the entree menu.  My entree was a 2 1/2 pound steamed lobster (sizes are 2 to 3 1/2 pounds) which is split and deshelled for you table side.  You can really taste the freshness of this classic dish.  My dish was so large, it really can be shared.

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Lobster

Another mouthwatering and healthy entree is the Roasted Halibut with a grape tomato stew. The halibut was perfectly prepared, light and delicious.  No frozen seafood is used and fresh seafood is sourced daily and it makes a  big difference in taste.  All dishes are a la carte with side dishes available at additional cost. I sampled the scrumptious Grilled Asparagus and the Roasted Cauliflower with brie cheese.  A nice complement to the entree.

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Halibut in a grape tomato stew

Dessert:  Don’t leave without trying the homemade and classic desserts.  We sampled the Apple Cobbler and the Key Lime pie and both were a nice sweet way to round out our meal.

KEE Oyster House is a special restaurant with the feel, atmosphere and high quality of a top restaurant in Manhattan.   Not feeling the trip into Manhattan to dine?  Then KEE delivers the NYC dining experience right in the heart of White Plains. A warm and lovely atmosphere with top notch service and great food is why this new gem should be on your list of spots to dine.

Both Lunch and Dinner served.  Reservations are suggested.  Private dining room available.

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KEE OYSTER HOUSE

126-128 East Post Road White Plains New York   tel: 914 437 8535

http://www.keeoysterhouse.com/

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Rosemary and Vine in Rye: A new Mediterranean restaurant offering a healthy flavorful menu

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Rosemary and Vine is a wonderful new restaurant that opened earlier this year in Rye New York.   The cuisine of this newcomer to the Westchester restaurant scene is Mediterranean vegetarian with an emphasis on healthy organic ingredients.

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The concept of the owners is for diners to try new foods and eat a different and healthy cuisine culled from regions around the  Mediterranean and the Middle East.  All the food is fresh and prepared in-house in the open style kitchen.  Family recipes are incorporated in the menu and are perfectly seasoned to bring out the most of the unique dishes.

 

The restaurant is housed in a mid 19th century building on Purchase Street in downtown Rye.  The interior space has been renovated and is light filled and casual with minimal decor yet artistic touches.  The floor echoes the Mediterranean theme with its handmade Moroccan tile floor, interesting lighting, original tin ceiling and bistro style seating.  There is a small bar, and a chalk board which informs diners of the particular farm fresh organic ingredients being used in the restaurant that week.

Starters:  There are many fun appetizers to sample.  I tried ‘The Tasting”, a nice selection of homemade dips that consist of a unique hummus, a Chipotle hummus, mohjamara( a dip with fire roasted peppers, pureed with toasted walnuts, olive oil, garlic, tomatoes, and pomegranate), and  a family recipe Babaganoush (smoky fire roasted eggplant with tahini, garlic and lemon).  The tasting is served with oven toasted Lebanese Pita chips.  This is a great choice as a starter as it has many interesting flavors to please the senses.

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The Tasting

The avocado crostini is another healthy starter and a delightful dish.  Avocado is blended with Moroccan pesto (parsley, cilantro, cumen, coriander and garlic) and the combined with feta, peas and mint over toasted bread. The blend of spices in this appetizer are a delight.  A light and summery dish and so healthy too.

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Avocado Crustini

Rosemary and Vine also offers many salads with certified organic offerings and cheese boards.  The cheeses are sourced from a creamery in Vermont.

The Main course: 

There are also grilled flatbreads made with 100% organic flour.   We enjoyed “The Sarah’ a flatbread pizza with tomato sauce, mozzarella, parmesan and basil.  A crispy and light crust with robust flavor.  This was a hit and a great choice for kids or someone in your party who is not adventuresome or into vegetarian dishes.

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“The Sarah”  flatbread pizza

My favorite entree is the saffron scented Moroccan Tagine, a  nice medley of chick peas, zucchini, butternut squash with toasted almonds and Moroccan pesto. A unique and flavorful dish that is so healthy as well.

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Tagine

Dessert:  The desserts are all homemade and dairy free.  The dark chocolate pudding is smooth as silk with 70% dark Valrhona chocolate, coconut milk and bourbon vanilla beans.  Delicious!

I also recommend the warm chocolate cake served with sweetened strawberries and whipped cream.  A light and fun way to wrap up your meal.

There are also many local craft beers and wines available on the menus and many of the wines are sourced from family owned Mediterranean vineyards.   A fun and light cocktail I samples was The Americana, a fun version of the classic white wine spritzer served with orange peel.  For a non alcohol alternative try the Persian Nectar ice tea with black tea and peaches.

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Rosemary and Vine is  healthy Mediterranean style gem of a restaurant and the perfect option for anyone looking for a new and fun option for dining.  For healthy eaters who are concerned with the ingredients in your meal, this restaurant is a must visit.  The small plates allow you to sample a  number of dishes and enjoy the wonderful combination of spices and flavors.  Try Rosemary and Vine and pick out something you have never tried before,  and you will be in for a pleasant and healthy surprise.

 

Rosemary and Vine

29 Purchase Street Rye New York

914 481 8660

http://www.rosemaryandvine.com

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Next Stop: Exit 4 In Mount Kisco

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Food halls are undeniably one of the latest trends in dining. While prominent in New York City, food halls are starting to make their way into the Hudson Valley. Exit 4 Food Hall is the first one to open in Westchester County. Take a trip to Mount Kisco to taste the amazing local and fresh flavors at Exit 4.

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This dining venue offers 9 food stations for customers to try. The restaurant prides itself in serving fresh and local food. Mt. Kisco Seafood, wood fired pizza made from scratch, homemade pasta, and even Myong Salad are the participating local food providers. The restaurant even offers beverages from local breweries and coffee purveyors. Stations include Rotiss-A-Q, Panini/ Sandwich/ Wrap Station, Dirty Roots (salads and smoothies), Fuoco Wood Fired Pizza, Inno Sushi, Piacci Pasta Bar, X4 on Tap, Charcuterie, and Rawsome Seafood Bar.

With 9 stations available, there is always something new and exciting to try. If you come with a group there is a dining option for everyone.

You can meet and converse with new people by sitting at one of Exit 4’s communal tables. Following the theme of sustainability, glass bottles with filtered water is also provided.

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We started our meal with a Bok Choi salad from Dirty Roots (Myong). This healthy yet dynamic salad was comprised of sunflower seeds, walnuts, dried mango, cranberries, and crunchy noodles drizzled in a light red chili vinaigrette.

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Bok Choi Salad

 

We then devoured brussles sprouts pasta from Piacci. The linguini is homemade and prepared daily at Exit 4. This certainly was the perfect summer dish; a very light pasta incorporated with brussles sprouts and butternut squash. The sprinkled pancetta made for a flavorsome topping.

From Inno Sushi, we tried the crispy rice sushi special. Even my-non seafood lover buddy couldn’t get enough of this delish fare. Spicy tuna and jalapeños were delicately topped on firm crispy rice. The contrast between crunch of the rice and zest of the sushi made for a party in my mouth. Inno Sushi devotes themselves to emulating the most popular and newest sushi trends. This includes the trendy sushi burrito and poke bowls.

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Our group then ordered a chicken bowl and brisket burrito from Rotiss-A-Q. In a crispy taco bowl were pieces of rotisserie chicken layered with guacamole, pico de gallo, rice, beans, cheddar, lettuce and roasted veggies.   The brisket burrito included rice, beans, corn, and lettuce. It was fresh and delicious.

I could not pass up trying the high quality fish tacos. These appetizing tacos constituted of tantalizing pico de gallo, luscious avocado and other tasty spices.

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Fish Tacos

We then noshed on a very flavorful and unique wood-fired fig pizza. This unconventional pizza included fig, prosciutto, caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella and Italian parsley. There are a variety of pizzas to choose: from traditional pizza to unique pies. Try the Stracciatella or Pistachio for something new and exciting.

To finish this spectacular meal, we unanimously decided to order the skillet cookie. A warm gooey cookie with large chocolate chunks was brought to the table. A scoop of refreshing vanilla ice cream laid perfectly on top of this marvelous creation.

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Skillet Cookie

For a fun and different dining alternative, make sure you stop at Exit 4 Dining Hall in Mt. Kisco.

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Exit 4 Food Hall

http://exit4foodhall.com/

153 Main St. Mount Kisco, NY 10549

(914) 241-1200

 

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Dan Rooney’s Cafe and Bar: Eat, drink and catch a game

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I  was attending an event  held at Empire City Casino in Yonkers which gave me the perfect opportunity to check out Dan Rooney’s Cafe and Bar.   The atmosphere is one of sports pub blended with an Irish-American pub with tavern food, a large selection of beers and an Irish whiskey menu.  The room is trimmed in dark wood, and  more than 40 flat screen TVs ensure that patrons do not miss a second of action.

For a cocktail I tried the Coconut and Raspberry mojito  as suggested by our waiter, John.    A  great selection that was very refreshing and complimented the menu items I would be sampling.rooneys 4

There are many appetizers from which to choose.  My table picked a number of items including  BBQ Pork Sliders, Buffalo Chicken Wings, Loaded Nachos and homemade Soft Pretzels.  All were great picks and my favorite was the pretzels with the side of beer/cheese sauce and the delicious sliders.  The wings were good but could have been prepared with a little less hot sauce.

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BBQ Pork Sliders

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Soft Pretzels

For our main course selections we chose the Dan Rooney Burger, 8 ounces of beef with brie, water cress, onions  and honey mustard on a brioche roll.  Very tasty.   It was served with fries.

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Dan Rooney Burger

 

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Blackened Salmon

My selection  was the Blackened Salmon  with glazed carrots in a herb sauce.  A nicely prepared and delicious dish.   This was a healthy selection and very enjoyable.  Another selection was the rib eye steak which was excellent and cooked to perfection.

My waiter told us we had to try some of the homemade desserts.  I was surprised how interesting  and unique they were.    We all shared a home made peanut and chocolate Candy Bar (wow!), and amazing Brownie Sundae with ice cream made with a hint of Guinness stout, walnuts and whipped cream.  Unique and decadent.

Dan Rooney’s was an unexpected treat and if you find yourself at Empire City Casino, or in the area it is a great place to have a cocktail and grab a bite.  And of course, with plenty of TVs, catch a game.

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Dan Rooney’s Cafe and Bar

810 Yonkers Ave  Yonkers, New York   (at Empire City Casino)

http://www.danrooneyscafeandbar.com

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Classic family Italian dining: Frank Guido’s Little Italy

 

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“Chi Mangia bene,vive bene”  orhe who eats well, lives well” is the motto of Frank Guido’s Little Italy a wonderful  Italian restaurant . Located in the Hudson Valley town of Kingston, it could easily be found in the heart of New York City.   This is the perfect place to go for a  traditional Italian meal  and to enjoy  “family style” , which is large plates meant to be shared with your family or friends.

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The interior space is a lovely dining room with brick walls, tables covered in white table cloths and Italian themed paintings.   One wall is covered in family photos spanning generations which emphasizes the family feel.  Another wall is covered in photos of famous people who have dined at the restaurant including Yankees Phil Rizzuto, Joe Torre, and actor James Gandolfini  (The Sopranos) just to name a few.

With so many choices on the menu we decided to start with Eggplant Papettas which was like a veggie meatball with a soft texture served with marinara sauce.  It was delicious.   Another pick was the classic stuffed artichoke  which was fresh and light ans served with  seasoned breadcrumbs inside and an olive oil base.

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Eggplant Papettas

For our main course selection we chose the Chicken Parmigiana (how could one not choose this classic?).  We had to try this house specialty and we were not dissapointed.  It was fantastic with fresh mozzarella and pecorino romano cheese and “Mama’s” tomato sauce.  The portion was huge!

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Chicken Parm

I also wanted seafood so the waiter suggested  Penne Angelina which consisted of pasta with jumbo shrimp , scallops, lobster meat, served in a white clam sauce ( I substituted the sauce of tomato sauce).  This mouth watering dish was a hit and  there was plenty to take home for another meal.

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Penne Angelina

 

Penne Ala Vodka was  a nice side choice  and was a perfect blend of marinara sauce, vodka and a touch of cream.  Very tasty.

Dessert:  I shared the Guidomisu, their take on Tiramisu and the Bomba which was vanilla and chocolate gelato with a  cherry and almond center finished with a chocolate coating.  A great way to end the meal.  The last sweet was a the Chocolate Mousse Cake, composed of white and dark chocolate  mousse between chocolate cake and served with whipped cream. Nice !

 

If you are in the Kingston NY area, Frank Guido’s Little Italy is the perfect choice for great old school Italian comfort food.  With great service and comfortable interior, you will feel right at home.

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Frank Guido’s Little Italy

14 Thomas Street Kingston New York

845-340-1682                 http://www.frankguidoslittleitaly.com

 

 

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Garvan’s: A new American restaurant with an Irish twist

 

 

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As you drive along historic Huguenot Street  and into the pastoral setting of the New Paltz Golf course you will come upon a charming building (circa 1759) which is the home to the newest restaurant to join the busy New Paltz dining scene, Garvan’s.

This lovely gastro pub and fine restaurant  offers the diner several  delightful options.   The pub area with its low ceiling, white washed stone and original wood beams evokes the image of an authentic Irish pub.  Here you can find tavern fare as you gather with friends or family in this charming and inviting space.

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Pub area

The other two dining rooms on the first floor have a more formal and romantic feel and beautiful touches.  Each room features fireplaces, ornate molding, soft lighting and white linen covered tables.  There is tranquil Celtic music drifting through the dining rooms which is fitting as the restaurateur,  Garvan McCloskey comes from Ireland.  There is another dining room on the second floor as well as dining on the covered porch. Each of the dining rooms is named after a place in Ireland.

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Dining Room

 

Garvan immediately came to say hello and his warmth and charm made me feel right at home.  He is a wonderful example of hospitality at its best.   Garvan then explained our waiter would be bringing us some bread to start our meal that a special homemade recipe (made by his wife) consisting of imported Irish flour and Guinness stout.  It was a very hearty bread indeed.   Our waiter, Robert was quite attentive and helpful with suggestions and helping us choose from the menu.

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Home made Irish Brown Bread

The menu is best described as American classic cuisine with an Irish influence.  Ingredients are locally sourced when possible (such as meat from local New York State farms) and you can taste the quality.

Starters:  I began with pan seared Sea Scallops with a lemon beurre blanc sauce and served over parmesan risotto.  This appetizer was so light and fresh, I could have had this as my entree.  I also sampled the Lump Crab cake served with a red pepper sauce.  It was excellent and another creation from head Chef Josh Paige.

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Crab Cake

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Sea Scallops

Entree:  The menu features classic traditional American fare served in a modern fashion.  The Wild Grilled Salmon with an herb crust  was as fresh as it gets.  Tender and light and served with a leek fondue and a creamy parmesan risotto.    I strongly recommend this entree.  My dining companion ordered the Braised Short Rib which was fork tender beef with a Guinness stout demi glace and served with roasted garlic mashed potatoes.  A perfect choice for the meat lover.

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Wild caught Grilled Salmon

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Beef short rib

Dessert:  Don’t leave without trying the homemade apple pie.  This is an unique version prepared by Garvan’s wife and is an upside down apple pie made with sweet candied apples and served with ice cream. Yum!

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Upside down Apple Pie

Garvan’s is a special place.  Its warmth and charm is present from the moment you walk into this historic building and the classic cuisine with a hint of Ireland will satisfy your appetite.  The service was excellent with an old fashion hospitality not often found in modern restaurants.    Don’t miss this new gem in New Paltz.

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Garvan’s

215 Huguenot Street New Paltz New York

845-255-7888    http://wwwgarvans.com/

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Havana Central:The Cuban experience close to home

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Would you like to dine in an atmosphere where you feel as if you drifted off to a tropical locale? Then pay a visit to Havana Central.  I was immediately drawn in as I focused on the palm tree outside the entrance and the display of colorful tropical drinks.  I had a feeling an adventure awaited inside the doors.   Once inside Cuban music floated through the air that immediately calmed my mind and transported me to a different place

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The interior space is incredibly beautiful with great attention to detail.  Moldings, lighting, art prints, photographs, plants, and dark hardwood doors and trim all add to an elegant tropical environment.  The overall effect creates the mood that you are in fact in a Cuban restaurant in some other time.

I started with a Blackberry Mojito,  a variation of the classic Cuban cocktail, and it was refreshing and fantastic.  It was served in a tall glass with fresh blackberries, fresh mint leaves, and a stalk of cut sugar cane.  They have several different flavors including mango and you should not pass up trying one.

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Since I had felt I had drifted off  to a Havana dining destination I had to choose foods typical of Cuban cuisine.

Starters: I started with the stuffed plantain baskets,  (Tostones Relleno) which were beautifully prepared and consisted of beef,chicken  and pork filled in a basket made from mashed plantain and served with  a light sauce.  This was a great start to the meal.

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Stuffed Plantain Baskets

Since the restaurant is known for the empanadas, I sampled the beef, pork and shrimp empanadas.  They were fresh and delicious with a light crispy crust.  Not at all greasy like some restaurants might serve.  Another great choice was the Lobster Stuffed avocado (Agucate Rellano De Langosta)  This was a healthy choice for an appetizer and really hit the spot.

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Empanadas

 

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Lobster Stuffed Avocado

Main Course:  Although the menu is quite large and varied, I just had to go with one of my favorites, Seafood Paellla.  This dish of rice and seafood was beautifully presented in a cast iron pot and was filled with scallops, mussels, clams, shrimp, and rice.   Truly this was one of the best paellas I have had and I have had paella in the Dominican Republic and in Spain!

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Seafood Paella

Another selection for a main course was the Pineapple Chicken (Pollo con Pina).  A nice chicken breast served with pineapple and both grilled and brushed with a citrus marinade.  It was served with Moro which is rice mixed with black beans and wine, garlic and bacon.  Both were excellent choices.

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Chicken with Pineapple 

There is live music Thursday to Sunday and Happy Hour Monday- Friday  4-7 pm with great drink specials.   There are also beautiful appointed rooms for private parties.  There are many events here such as salsa dancing night, and even painting classes.   When warmer days arrive, there is even outdoor seating.

With excellent and attentive service and wonderful traditional Cuban cuisine,  all presented in a cool tropical atmosphere, Havana Central is the place to be.  I can’t wait to go back !

havana central

Havana Central

One Ridge Hill Blvd   (Ridge Hill Shopping Center)

Yonkers ,  New York      

914-423-5500

http://www.havanacentral.com

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Whitby Castle: elegant dining in a true castle

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How often do you get to dine in a magnificent castle?    I had the opportunity recently to have brunch at Whitby Castle located at the Rye Country Club in Rye NY.   Whitby is located on the grounds of the Rye Country Club, but is open to the public and not just for club members.

whitby castle

The picturesque castle was designed by Alexander Jackson Davis one of the premier architects of the 19th century and has designed many buildings in the Hudson Valley including Lyndhurst in Tarrytown.  Dining here is to experience the elegance of a bygone era and as a bonus you can enjoy the gorgeous water view toward Milton Harbor and Long Island Sound.

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As you enter the castle you cannot help but admire the old world craftsmanship, high ceilings and the fine architectural  details in each room.  The main dining room is sun lit  with a large windows facing out over the patio, the green lawns of the golf course and then the tranquil waters of Milton Harbor.

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View from the Dining Room

We dined for Sunday brunch on Easter and had a wonderful meal.  Brunch included a wide assortment of food including traditional breakfast favorites of bagels, muffins, scrambled eggs, Eggs Benedict , sausage and bacon.   There were also salad, shrimp cocktail, and a variety of hot dishes including  Chicken Picatta, Sole, and pasta.  If that was not enough, there was a carving station with prime rib, turkey breast and lamb.  To end the meal (if you have room), there is a delicious spread of desserts and fresh fruit, coffee and tea.  Even though it is a buffet, the service from our waiter was attentive and friendly.    Certainly a wonderful place to dine.

Whitby Castle is open to the public for Dinner on Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings.  Lunch is served daily except for Monday.  The menu changes often so there is no menu online.

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Outside dining

The castle is host for private events and is a desirable location for weddings.   The next event coming up is Mother’s Day Brunch on May 8th 2016.   Brunch will be in two seatings, 10:30am  and 2:30pm.  The cost for brunch is $49.95 per person and children under 12 are $19.95 each.

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for more information:

Whitby Castle  

30 Boston Post Road
Rye, NY 10580
Tel:  914.777.2053

https://www.lessings.com/corporate/venue_home.aspx?ref=40#menus

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