Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Few Local Family-Friendly Favorites on the Sound Shore

As a parent of a toddler, it's hard to get out of the house for date nights so often, and sometimes you just want to stay close. Living in Rye Brook, we naturally gravitate to dining in Rye Brook, Port Chester, Rye, Harrison, and Greenwich. 
Here are a few of our favorites ranging from a great happy hour, great family outing, super casual, or ultra romantic date night! 

Westchester Burger Company (275 S Ridge St., Rye Brook, NY 10573) is one of our go-to places. It's perfect for happy hour, a quick drink and an appetizer, or even a full outing with friends. We generally only go to the bar area for happy hour, even if we're ordering off of the full menu. They are extremely welcoming to children and very accomodating. 
Our last outing happened to be a grownup week night out, and we enjoyed the following! 

Manhattan in Westchester & Coconut Margarita

Their drinks are always great. My husband and I like the Manhattan in Westchester the most because who can a resist a Manhattan! I ventured out of the box the last time we were there and got the Coconut Margarita and it was definitely very coconut-ty and much more on the sweeter side, but very enjoyable.  The bartender who was there the last few times we went was extremely friendly and full of conversation! Hope to see him every time we go! 

Brussel Sprouts -
cashews, mint, sweet thai chili, sesame sriracha aioli

The Brussel Sprouts were amazing! They were spicy, crunchy, sweet, salty, and also minty! All the necessary flavors packed into once dish! The cashews provided that nuttyness and the sweet thai chili added the sweet, but spicy flavor, along with the sriracha aioli. They also were cooked to perfection with some burnt edges, which is always necessary when it comes to brussel sprouts. 
Since we normally go for happy hour and order sliders off the happy hour menu, we decided to actually order a burger this time. So glad we did! The burger menu is extensive and it was quite difficult to make a decision. The bartender helped us decide between a few of our choices since indecisiveness may be one of my most prominent traits!

The Balboa Burger-
swiss cheese, bacon, frizzled onions, garlic brioche 

The Balboa burger is what we finally settled on. Unfortunately I didn't get the best photo of it, since it is quite hard to get a photo of a burger, and I also just couldn't wait to dive right in! It was cooked to order and arrived to the bar rare as requested. It was generously covered in swiss cheese, bacon and frizzled onions on a garlic brioche. Each bite was super juicy and oozing with flavor! We will definitely be ordering a burger everytime we go in the future, even though we do still love the happy hour appetizer menu! (Monday-Friday 4-7pm, $4 house wine & beer, $5 well drinks, $5 appetizers, $2 sliders). 
The burger came with a side of french fries, which we upgraded to the truffle parmesan fries. So worth the upgrade! 
If you are looking for a night out with friends, family, or children, Westchester Burger Company is your place. They have a great happy hour. They are family run, and have a few locations in Westchester. They are also known to run a great catering business onsite or delivered to a location. I foresee many Westchester Burger Company evenings in our future. 

Dimitris Gyro Grill  (267 Halstead Ave, Harrison, NY 10528) opened in June 2018 and is a family run business by Peter and Kelly Thomas. They know Greek cooking better than anyone I have ever met in my life. The restaurant has gorgeous murals of scenes of all over Greece decorating the walls. You will be booking your flights to Greece while you are eating your Gyros. It is a casual lunch counter style restaurant that is great for lunch, quick easy dinner, or take out. They also have an amazing catering menu!

Peter the owner in front of Dimitris 

Halloumi Cheese and Pita 
We started with the Halloumi cheese and pita. It was super crispy and gooey! It was a perfect pairing with the pita. Husband's words "Freakin' phenomenal!"

Orzo with Feta
The Orzo was delicious! It was topped with a lot of feta and was super garlic-y! Was very happy it was such a large portion because we ended up taking half of it home to enjoy for lunch the next day! 
Yum! Spencer also gave it 2 thumbs up!

So excited to devour the gyro! 

Loaded gyro with their special sauce!
And of course I ordered a gyro! Gyros happen to be one of my favorite foods. The gyros at Dimitris are fully loaded with all the fixins'. They have their own special sauce that is very different than any sauce I have ever had on a gyro before. It has mustard in it and adds such a delicious flavor to the whole sandwich.
The meat was heaping with onions, tomatoes, french fries, and of course tzatziki. The tzatziki was really fresh, and I am sure it is homemade.

Lamb with Lemon Potatoes
The lamb was full of flavor and had so many spices on it. It was very tender and so easy to eat. I had the option of having the souvlaki style lamb or the lamb chop (which they do not always have) so OF COURSE I had to get the chop and I am so glad I did!!!
The lemon potatoes were SUPER lemony, buttery and soft! I could have had a whole plate of those.

Children's Pork Kebab with French Fries 
The kids menu was pretty awesome because it was still very greek, just on a smaller scale. Spencer enjoyed the pork kebab with all the greek spices. It was a perfect meal for him because the meat was very tender and easy to chew. And of course he loved the french fries!

Karidopita (Greek Walnut Cake)
The Karidopita was a spur of the moment decision. We had no intention of getting dessert since we were so full, but this looked too good to pass up. It happened to taste way better than it looked! Very unexpected flavor. The cake was so moist, spongy, and full of honey oozing from every pore. The walnuts added a crunch and textural difference to the cake. We ended up enjoying this for days because of how big it was!

Coals (35 N. Main St., Port Chester, NY 10573) has been one of my family's favorite go to pizza places since we discovered it. It is a very casual, low key, no frills type of place with top notch service! On our most recent experience, I was extremely impressed with the service from the second we arrived until the time we paid the check. Our server seemed to be working the whole restaurant the night we were there, and I never felt like we were waiting. He knew the beer menu inside out and could make suggestions based on our preferences. 
The beer menu was quite extensive with a lot of craft beers and kinds I had never heard of, which always makes for some fun sampling. The Juice Bomb Beer came highly recommended from the server and he was right, it was amazing and paired perfectly with the food! It was citrusy and juicy. 

Coals Spicy Grilled Wings - 1/2 order of  Classic Buffalo & 1/2 order of Maple Rosemary
I recently had heard that Coals has some of the best wings in Westchester. Since my husband is from Scarsdale, he swears by Candlelight's wings, but even he agreed that these were excellent. There were two flavors on the menu and of course we wanted to try both of them. They gave us the option to have half orders of each so we could sample both kinds which made me so happy! The presentation of both sets of wings turned a casual bar food item into a little bit fancier of a dish with each one of them being topped with a garnish. 
The Classic Buffalo was so full of flavor and had the perfect amount of spicy without being over the top. My husband and I preferred this flavor over the Maple Rosemary, but you couldn't really lose by having either. The Maple Rosemary flavor was extremely unique and something I had not seen anywhere else before. It was on the sweeter side, with only a touch of spice, with the rosemary giving it such a depth of unexpected flavor for wings. Very delicious!

Dean Martin Grilled Pizza - fontinella, fresh mozzarella, tomato, pepperoni, pecorino 
The pizzas are grilled here, which is very different than any other pizza places I have ever visited. One of my favorite things about the pizzas at Coals are how they are served. They are not served on a pizza pan like any other pizza place. They come out on a ceramic platter. It seems so homey this way! The shape of each pie is never the same as the last. The pizzas are paper thin, crispy and easy for anyone to eat, even our toddler! 
The Dean Martin pizza was creamy, savory, and just delicious. It was topped with fontinella, mozzarella, and pecorino to make it creamy and delightful. The pepperoni didn't taste just like any pepperoni from a pizza place, it was real authentic pepperoni at the highest quality. The red sauce that was sprinkled on was delicious!

"Must Have" Pizza - fresh mozzarella, ricotta, grana padano, vincotto
The Must Have pizza was a white pizza, which normally aren't always my favorite style to order, since I am a sucker for a red pizza. This white pizza won me over with the cheesy, oozy, gooey, creamy, but yet light and fluffy textures all at once.  The balsamic glaze cut the creamy flavor just perfectly. Definitely a must have. Over the times we have been to Coals, we have tried almost all of the pizzas on the menu and sampled a lot of their massive beer selection. Coals is consistently wonderful.

Bona Bona Ice Cream (10 Westchester Ave., Port Chester, NY 10573) was a must visit right after dining at Coals. Since both are right in the heart of Port Chester, it was a no brainer to continue our evening of unhealthy eating and go all out!

The store was extremely spacious and clean with a few different areas. They have a party room called the Sprinkle Room and also a milk shake bar, along with the ice cream serving area with a chocolate fountain constantly flowing! 

Spencer dancing because Yay for ice cream! 
My son immediately started dancing around in the entrance area because it was a huge open space perfect for children. And I think he also got a sense that we were somewhere special and about to enjoy something amazing!

We have our ice cream and we are ready to dive in!
My husband with his ice cream

Left: Crazy Joe topped with Meringue & Right: Chocolate Peanut topped with Meringue 
My husband loves coffee ice cream, and when he saw the flavor Crazy Joe, he knew it was meant to be. Crazy Joe is coffee ice cream with chocolate fudge, chocolate covered pretzels, heath bar, and peanut butter balls. Basically, heaven in a bowl. Everything about this flavor was amazing. I wish I had ordered it because it had peanut butter in it too, which is my obsession. I also love toppings and mix-ins so this was perfect because of all that it had in it. The crunchy of the pretzel, the richness of the fudge & heath bar, and the nuttyness of the peanut butter made every texture and flavor blend together into heavenly bliss. 
The chocolate peanut butter flavor was also delicious and definitely lived up to my expectations, but when compared to the Crazy Joe flavor it just wasn't as exciting. Never thought I would ever say that about chocolate peanut butter ice cream! The chocolate ice cream to peanut butter chunk ratio was definitely perfect, because I hate when you order this flavor elsewhere and you don't get enough peanut butter! 
The meringue was warm and melty on the inside and crunchy on the outside. Added a nice marshmallowy sweet flavor to the top that you can mix into each bite of ice cream. Honestly it is also just very exciting to watch them torch up your ice cream before serving it to you. Dessert and a show in one!

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

La Panetiere : Date Night Success...Prepare to Salivate!

La Panetiere (530 Milton Rd., Rye, NY 10580) is definitely one of those restaurants you go to for a date night, special occasion, or to enjoy a quiet, amazing meal with a fellow foodie. Last Saturday, I got to experience all 3 in one since it was a (belated) Valentine's date dinner out with my foodie husband :)

Beautiful Ambiance at La Panetiere
The ambiance at La Panetiere was beautiful and formal feeling without feeling pretentious. We decided to go there after we saw that it was rated on "Open Table" as one of the 50 most romantic restaurants in the country and we definitely agree! It was also very quiet and slow paced, but not too slow. We didn't feel like we were being ignored, but also didn't feel rushed. It was perfect, especially for our once in a blue moon date night out!
Our server was very helpful when we ordered and gave us guidance based on our choices to make sure we were getting a variety of items. We almost ordered the cheese souffle, but based on his suggestion we changed our order, and so glad we did! "You don't seem like you like to eat safe, so I would say the mosaic instead of the cheese souffle." I was very impressed that the server noticed very quickly that we were not picky and were adventurous eaters.

Homemade bread sticks 
After we were given bread that was delicious and soft, we were also given homemade bread sticks that were quite surprising. They were the texture of a croissant but more of the flavor of a bread stick. Delicious!

My handsome husband 
Also, can't forget to mention the wine was amazing. The wine list was very extensive, but not intimidating. The wines ranged in price from the $50s to 5 figures and was not so long as to overwhelm the diners. We had a Bordeaux that was perfect for our meal!
Additionally, all our dishes were split in half ahead of time, so we had our own portions, which was nice. The duck was the only dish that was not split due to the portion and presentation (this was all at the recommendation of our server).

Amuse Bouche- Crab
They gave us an amuse bouche to get our palates going, and it was refreshing! It definitely set the tone for the evening. It was crab meat with cocktail sauce, celery, and basil. It reminded me of coleslaw-like consistency with crab on top. The presentation was beautiful as well. 

Hudson Valley Foie Gras Confit and Warm Flan 
Foie gras is one of my husband and my favorite French dishes. We have had so many different kinds over the years, and this one definitely ranked high up on our list. It was served to us in such a beautiful presentation with so many different flavors and ways to combine each bite. There were 4 different sections on our plates. One being candied fruit brioche, then the foie gras warm flan, thirdly was the foie gras confit, and finally the black mission fig chutney and orange aspic. The foie gras confit was so creamy and rich in flavor. It was almost like dessert it was so good! The flan was equally as delicious, but definitely a little lighter and airier. The fig chutney, orange aspic, and fruit brioche added a sweet and fruit contrast to the rich flavors of the foie gras which complimented each bite so perfectly. Each bite we mixed and matched flavors and textures. It was a delicious as it was almost fun to eat! Definitely a must have dish! 

Baked Escargots in Garlic Custard
The escargot dish was probably the most unique escargot dish that my husband and I have ever seen or had. It was just as beautiful as it was in flavor. The menu made it sound so much less exciting than it really was and apparently this dish has been on the menu for 35 years, when it seems so modern! It seemed to have somewhat of a Spanish influence to it. It was baked with bread crumbs and nuts, and sitting in tomato fondue and garlic custard. It was nutty and garlicky and just oozing with flavor. Not your typical garlic and butter escargot. So much more than that!

Mosaic of Carpaccio "Surf and Turf"
The Mosaic of Carpaccio was probably one of the prettiest and most colorful dishes of all time. It was refreshing and savory all at once. Also, I have never had carpaccio that was both seafood and meat! Normally you get raw seafood or raw meat, but never both in one dish! Raw seafood including tuna and salmon surrounded raw beef in the center. It all sat in a light ginger mayonnaise and basil oil. The whole dish was lightly peppered and left to enjoy the natural flavors. Yum!

Seared Long Island Breast of Duck, Cauliflower, Grapes, Brussel Sprouts 
The seared Long Island breast of duck was rare as requested and so tender and juicy. It was thinly sliced and beautifully plated over creamy polenta, cauliflower, grapes, brussel sprouts, and topped with a light juniper berry jus. The duck was seasoned to perfection and each bite melted in our mouths.

Complimentary Dessert Confections
Even though we ordered dessert, they gave us a complimentary plate of mini desserts. It had mini chocolate cake which was super fudgy and rich! Yum! The other item reminded me a little of rugelach in texture and sweetness, but sliced thin. It had a light sprinkling of sugar on it. Very delicious!

Chocolate Souffle
For our main dessert we ordered the chocolate souffle. It came with a little pitcher of chocolate sauce to pour over it. It was very fluffy, creamy, airy, and rich! It was served piping hot and steamed up when broken up to add the sauce. We could not wait to dig in! I almost felt that it didn't "need" the chocolate sauce because of how chocolatey it already was, but I can always layer chocolate onto chocolate and be very happy! Who can complain about that? Not me! It was perfect for sharing and we licked the plate clean!

Chocolate Truffles Treat on the House 
When we were paying the bill they gave us a little bag of chocolate truffles to take home with us. These were just like the chocolate truffles my parents brought home from France when I was younger, that I still think about to this day. They were powdered with a chocolate cocoa like coating, and were fudgy and rich in the center. Very soft and melt in your mouth type of treat! Give me more! Luckily Spencer didn't want them when we got home, because I wasn't really going to share! All in all, this may be the best French restaurant in Westchester and one of the best I have ever been to. It was comparable to Paris and the French Caribbean. An absolute MUST try restaurant. I may have to invent a special occasion just to go back!