Saturday, February 08, 2014

Berger Review/Chain Reaction: Bobby's Burger Palace, Lake Grove, NY

Another weekend, another Berger Review/Chain Reaction.  Bobby's Burger Palace has been a favorite of ours since it opened at the Smith Haven Mall in 2008.  Believe it or not, that location was the very first in the now 18 restaurant chain. I read recently that Bobby Flay, the owner and celebrity chef, chose this location to stay "off the radar" for his first foray into the fast-casual segment.  What he did not realize, was that that location was right on my radar, and we've been hooked ever since.

10 burger options are each interesting and well-composed.  You can choose from angus beef, turkey or chicken for your "burger".  And you can get them "crunchified" which, you guessed it, adds chips to your burger.

My favorite has long been the Napa Valley Burger with goat cheese, watercress and Meyer Lemon Honey Mustard.  They are very generous with the creamy goat cheese and the combination of the cheese with the tanginess of the Mayer Lemon is a win.  A big win.

Another one high on my list is the LA Burger with Avocado, Tomato, Watercress and Cheddar cheese.  This one is on the sweet side, and equally as good.

JB's fave is the Crunchburger with the aforementioned chips included on the burger with double American cheese although it is the salty side.  Tonight, to shake things up, he had the Dallas Burger with coleslaw, Monterrey Jack, BBQ sauce, and pickles.  The burger is coated in a spicy rub although not too spicy.

The boys always go for the plain burger and fries.  They cleared their plates in minutes and were surprisingly quiet from their stools.  A good sign.

JB and I also splurged on a vanilla shake (delicious, but freezing cold on a 25 degree night) and a side of beer-battered onion rings (I didn't love the beer coating, but JB was a fan).

They also have beer, wine and a Cactus Pear Margarita, if you feel like imbibing with your burger.  And the usual salads, veggie options if you are more calorie-conscious.

BBP has locations in NY, NJ, MD, CT, MA, NV, OH, PA, DC, put it on your list.

Until our next Berger,

Bobby's Burger Palace
355 Smith Haven Mall
Lake Grove, NY

On the Side: Be sure check out their Facebook page to learn about new store openings and the Burger of the Month.  I also hear a new menu is in the works.

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Quicksie Meatball Takeout: That Meetball Place, Patchogue, NY

Full disclosure - I have not been to the Meatball Shop in NYC.  Getting to one of their 5 locations has been on my list for quite some time, so when I heard about That Meetball Place in Patchogue, I had to find a way.

We were in the neighborhood on Super Bowl Sunday, if dinner was going to be excess, why not add lunch to the mix, too.

Short on time, we opted for takeout from their easy to follow menu:
Step 1: Choose Your Balls
Step 2: Pick Your Sauce
Step 3: Pick Your Style

Sounds simple, right?  Except the choices are endless, meatballs come in a classic version as well as chicken, lamb, pork, veggie and fish varieties.  Sauces include several Italian options, like marinara and pesto, but there's also Asian and Greek styles, too.  Styles range from a sandwich to a slider to over pasta.

We opted for two baguette sandwiches to share.  A Classic Meatballs with Marinara and a Moroccan Lamb with Cool Tzatiki.  Both were excellent, although I favored the Moroccan Lamb.  Those balls had more spice, were more dense and overall had more interesting flavors.  Each one was $9 and came with a small salad.  We actually originally ordered the Classic Marinara balls over pasta but that was a $5 upcharge and I didn't think that sounded too worth it.  The house salad that came with cucumber, olives and chick peas, was a nice surprise, although the dressing was too oily.

There's also a whole page 2 of the menu that features soups, salads and sandwiches, plus kid friendly items like pasta, mac & cheese and fries.

JB and I have plans to go for a real dinner soon.  I want to order one of each "ball" as we sit in the sports bar like atmosphere with massive flat screen TVs.  Who's in?

Until our next Berger,

That Meetball Place
2 West Main Street
Patchogue, NY

New Orleans Roundup - Green Goddess, NOLA, Acme Oyster Bar & MiLa: New Orleans, LA

Anyone will tell you that New Orleans is a foodie town.   Everything from your 5-star restaurant to your complete dive should be good.  The biggest challenge is making the room in your stomach (and liver) for all of the food and drink.

These were the highlights:

Green Goddess
I was so hungry when we got to our hotel in New Orleans that when the doorman pointed to the Arby’s down the street, I almost considered it.   He also recommended a French Quarter spot called Green Goddess that was in a nearby alley.  We were slightly frightened but oh-so-curious.  A few blocks and one wrong turn, brought us to the alley where we walked into a tiny restaurant that looked like someone’s ramshackle home. 

There were no open tables in the miniscule front room and as we were led to the even smaller back room, our heads told us to turn around, but our bellies told us to stay. 

Turns out the bellies were right.

Coming off of the meal at Wednesday’s Table, I was drawn to the Tofu Bahn Mi.  There were plenty of non-vegetarian options – pork, shrimp, steak (no chicken though) – but I was ready for some spice.  My sandwich had hints of a po boy but with all of the delicious Banh Mi flavors – radish, carrots, cucumbers and two huge patties of fried tofu covered in the familiar sauce.  A small salad dressed with the same sauce.  Where were we again?  It was seriously transporting. 

My dining companion ordered the completely different yet equally amazing brulee Fig chevre French toast.  Sweet, tangy and rich - this chef can cook. 

And might I add that this place is also easy on the wallet (well, they didn’t spend much on décor), less than $25 for two and we were fully satiated and ready for more adventures.

307 Exchange Place

New Orleans, LA


This was our only “planned” meal.  You can’t go to New Orleans without one celebrity chef meal.  Last time, it was David Besh at Luke.  This time we chose Emeril. 
NOLA is one of Emeril’s three establishments in the Big Easy, this one being the least fancy and the only one without his name in the title.  It is a packed three-story crowd pleaser a few blocks into the French Quarter with a heavily Southern-influenced menu. 
Shrimp and Grits was a must for me here.  I had really loved the ones at Luke and I needed to try Emeril’s.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed.  The shrimp were well cooked and atop bacon-laced cheddar grits, with a large barbecue sauce drizzle.  Really? Barbecue sauce?  It threw off the whole flavor of the dish.
Other dishes were better like the New Orleans style Caesar salad and the local Drum, but messing with a classic – not cool. 

534 St. Louis St.

New Orleans, LA


Acme Oyster Bar
Acme is at the top of many visitors' lists.  It is an institution of classic New Orleans food.  It is a dive and it is packed.  Even at 2:00 PM on a Friday in unseasonably cold and rainy weather, there was a wait outside.  It went quickly and we secured our seats at the bar.

If this were a typical review (not part of a roundup) this would be a quicksie review.  We were in and out in less than 30 minutes.  They serve these classics up fast.  Within minutes of ordering, I was indulging in their classic Red Beans and Rice.

This was not another vegetarian meal because in New Orleans, Red Beans and Rice also means Sausage and Cooking Meat.  Cooking Meat, you ask? According to my waitress, it’s the meat they use to cook the beans – most likely it was sausage and ham, but she couldn’t be sure.  No matter, it was just the fuel we needed to get us through the busy day.

If you need to order something you can be 100% definitely sure about its contents, I’d recommend the oysters.  They looked pretty incredible.

724 Iberville Street

New Orleans, LA


After many meals of Starbucks and swiping food from conference rooms, we had one final opportunity to enjoy the Crescent City.  We opted to avoid the French Quarter and headed to a hotel in the nearby Central Business District.  What appealed to me about MiLa (named for Mississippi and Louisiana from where the chefs hail) was that one of the chefs, Alison Vines-Rushing had worked for some of the best in NYC. Having worked for Jean-Georges and Alain Ducasse, I had a hunch that she knew her stuff.
Compared to the other boisterous joints of the past few days, MiLa was a respite of calm, quiet even.  And we had no trouble getting a last minute reservation on Saturday night.  Everything from the décor to the menu reminded us of a NY restaurant, but there were some nice Southern touches that reminded us of our locale.
Dinner started with sweet potato rolls, cornbread, sweet butter and a pureed lentil spread.  The sweet potato rolls and lentils were our immediate favorite.  An amuse bouche soon arrived of lobster tempura on a stick.  I was going to like this place.
We opted to share a lobster starter that consisted of lobster meat on a baguette with meyer lemon, garlic and olive oil.  A deconstructed lobster roll of sorts.   While not the easiest to share, mainly because each of us wanted the whole things, we welcomed the taste of lobster after being in such a shrimp heavy environment. 
Furthermore, for my main, I went for the standard seared ahi tuna over spinach.  I felt as if I hadn’t had a vegetable in days.  The southern touch here was the molasses sauce over the perfectly crusted and rare fish.  We all ate in silence, happy to have such an elegant meal. 
Dinner would not have been complete without dessert.  A chocolate peanut butter tart was just rich enough for 3 people to share.  
817 Common Street

New Orleans, LA


Round Up Recap:
Green Goddess: Go
Acme Oyster Bar: Go
MiLa: Go
Until our next Berger,