Saturday, August 30, 2014

My New Indian Destination: Saaz Indian Cuisine, Southampton, NY

We Bergers love our ethnic food.  And we are so often deprived of our favorites as there is not great or really any, local Thai, Vietnamese or Indian.  So you can imagine, I was more than ecstatic to see the sign on Route 27 in Southampton that promised "Indian Restaurant Coming Soon".  We waited for months and I can honestly say, it was worth the wait.

The space formerly housed a Greek restaurant and before that a Mexican chain but you'd never know it.  The room is bright and elegant with white leather banquettes and a fireplace that will keep it cozy all year round.  Service is friendly (and they were especially playful with our two boys).

And the food.  The food is superb.  We were presented with pappadam and two chutneys upon arrival.  We all dove into the basket and chomped away on the spicy treat.  Only Big Z and his limited palette pronounced them "the worst chips he'd ever had".  Instead, he preferred the warm, buttery naan.  JB and I loved them both.

The hardest part of the meal is deciding what to order.  We stuck to some of our old favorites Rogan Josh, Chicken Tikka Masala and a Basmati Rice.

The lamb on the Rogan Josh was tender and had an ideal level of spice.  The Chicken Tikka Masala was creamy and delicious.  We used the rice to soak up the sauce.  We may have also just taken a spoon to the sauce when we ran out of rice.  

As you can see from the pictures above portions are not huge but the flavors are and that is more important.  Quality over quantity reigns true at Saaz.  

For dessert we chose a traditional Gulab Jamun which is fried dumpling, almost like a doughnut, in a pool of honey.  Wow, I could eat those every day. 

We left wanting more and I have a feeling there will be a lot more visits to Saaz.  They are open every day for lunch and dinner.  Lunch is an all you can eat buffet for $15 during the week or $16 on weekends.  Plus, according to their Facebook page, a weekday happy hour is in the works, too. Who's in? 

And good news.  They deliver.  Areas outside of Southampton will incur a fee, a small price to pay to have this experience sent straight to your home. 

Until our next Burger, 

Saaz Indian Cuisine
1746 County Road 39
Southampton, NY

Quicksie Seafood Review: Harry's Seafood, Wilmington, DE

I'm always suspect when there is only one "good" restaurant for out of towners. One restaurant - really? The whole city of Wilmington Delaware has one decent restaurant? I certainly hope not.

The restaurant is housed in a large warehouse-type building on the riverfront, which sounds picturesque but really isn't.  The bar was relatively packed - a good sign.  The tables of eaters less so - not a good sign.

I give them points for having a separate gluten-free menu and some interesting ceviches including a spicy scallop and poblano version and an eclectic ahi tuna with marcona almonds, sesame and cilantro. The fried calamari was adequate however I was thoroughly scared by the artichoke and crab dip.

My main dinner of big eyed tuna with soba noodles was doused in a lime soy sauce and lacking in the vegetable department.  Other fish choices at my table included the mahi mahi and the cajun trout.

Nobody raved about anything.  The best part of my meal may have been the free chocolate chip cookies back at the DoubleTree.

Come on Wilmington, I know you can do better than this.

Until our next Burger,

Harry's Seafood Grill 
101 S. Water Street
Wilmington, DE

Friday, August 29, 2014

A Hamptons Classic: The Almond, Bridgehampton, NY

In our almost 10 years in the Hamptons, one of our mainstays has been the Almond.  French bistro food in Bridgehampton is casual, yet elegant and it can be the go-to for any number of occasions.  In fact in the past few months, I have been there for a birthday celebration, a book club meeting and a wine-infused dinner with friends.  It is always an excellent choice.

The atmosphere is clubby and welcoming.  The hosts are gracious and fun, they offered to change a table when our party grew via an old fashioned "Chinese Fire Drill".  And the food is consistently good.

The asparagus starter, when in season, is an ideal choice and you can certainly have fun with the eggplant three ways.  You can also never go wrong with their raw bar items.

Recent entrees I've enjoyed included the surprisingly light goat cheese ravioli and the full-flavored scallops with corn and bacon.  French traditional classics like the roast chicken, steak frites, and even the hamburger are excellent choices.

If there was to be a weak spot, I'd say it's in the desserts.  Running across the street for something from Pierre's is usually a better bet.

We're lucky to have the Almond opened all year round in the Bridgehampton.  If you haven't been you should try it.  If you have been, you should go again.  And again.

Until our next Burger,

The Almond
1 Ocean Road
Bridgehampton, NY

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Unfinished Business: Brewology, Speonk, NY

Speonk (def.) 1) A town on Eastern Long Island that sounds like a bird noise. 2) A strange sounding stop on the Long Island Railroad. 3) The place where we lived for many years. 4) The home to a new restaurant by a critically acclaimed chef?

It is true. Speonk is finally coming into it's own with a real restaurant that serves more than just pizza, bagels or Chinese food. Brewology promises to be a high-end, year-round, foodie destination. 

The problem is - we didn't love it. 

Actually, we started off liking it a lot.

We had drinks at the bar with M&M.  Margaritas were delish.  Oysters were consumed.
The space is loud, very loud.  But that's fun, right?  I like noise, but not everyone does.

In lieu of bread, Brewology offers Soft Pretzels.  Yum. To start we shared 4 dishes.  The pickle plate was terrific and surprise, it had more than just pickles - radishes, asparagus and carrots were all tangily perfect.  A Red Caesar salad had Soft Pretzel croutons and a tangy dressing.  Fried green tomatoes were just OK as was the Fig-A-Licious, a plate of cheeses and figs.

Now I've heard that Brewology's burger is top-notch.  We should have ordered 4 of those.  But instead we ventured into braver territory. The Scallop BLT sounded good to both JB and me, and we were disappointed when it arrived.  The scallops looked like they have been through a war, just ragged and torn.  Bacon was good though (obv).

A "Long Island Cheese Steak" comprised of duck breast and smoked gouda appealed to our group on paper.  In person it was terribly rich.  It was a Wow at the first bite kind of dish, so-so at the second bite and please take it away after the third bite.

The best of the entrees was the Deep Fried Ribeye.  Kind of hard to make that taste bad.  Oh, and we all loved the Fried Potatoes Nests aka Fries.

We hoped to end well with dessert.  We didn't.  Our S'more finisher was overly deconstructed and more like a pudding.

Now I'm torn.  We want to like it, we want it to be good.  Maybe it was an off night? Maybe we ordered wrong.

I think they deserve a second chance.  I'll report back.

Until our next Burger,

295 Montauk Highway
Speonk, NY

Quicksie Italian: Ciao, Newport Beach, CA

Sometimes the further you are from home, the closer you really are. This is how I felt when I walked into Ciao on Balboa Island in Newport Beach. New York Style Italian food but with a laid back California attitude.

Our Antipasti included delicious bruschetta and fresh fried calamari. The entrees consisted of an assortment of Parmesans, Picattas, Florentines and Scampis. And a there was a lot of pizza.

Yes, Balboa Island may be famous for their frozen bananas, (Arrested Development, anyone?) but they also have food that is not just served on a stick.

If you fancy that on your next trip to SoCal - stop by. 

Until our next Burger, 

223 Marine Avenue
Newport Beach, CA

Best Pizza in the Country?: Pizzeria Bianco, Phoenix, AZ

I read a lot of lists, especially lists that talk about food.  Best burgers, best sandwiches and whenever there is a best pizza list, Pizzeria Bianco in Phoenix is always at the top.  Pizza in Phoenix almost sounds like a joke.  Wouldn't it be better in New York or Chicago? Why Phoenix?

I've probably been to Phoenix over a dozen times and every time I'm told that the wait is unbearable so I go elsewhere.  Until recently when the 110 degree temperature kept almost everyone away and we made a run, albeit a sweaty run, for it.

The place is tiny.  I understand why there is a line.  In one corner is a large wood-burning pizza oven, a bar in the other and just a handful of tables.

Wine flowed and helped quench our thirst from the Arizona heat.  While we waited for our pizzas, we noshed on a tremendous antipasto with wood-roasted vegetables, sopressata and cheese.  The vegetables were perfection, the eggplant was truly divine.

We each ordered individual pizzas.  The crust was very thin and the pizzas came out slightly charred. Some of my dining companions (most East Coasters, too) were put off by the burnt crust.

I ordered a Margherita with the basic mozzarella, tomatoes and basil.  It was fine but not amazing.  Not the best in the US by far.  Pretty though.

I also tried a piece of the Biancoverde, which is their white pizza, with mozzarella, parimigiano reggiano, ricotta and arugula.  The arugula was raw on top and didn't mesh well with the other cheeses.

And that was it.  In less than an hour I was able to debunk all of the top pizza lists.  Now off to find truly the best pizza in the US.  Ideas?

Until our next Burger,

Pizzeria Bianco
623 E. Adams Street
Phoenix, AZ

Saturday, August 02, 2014

Bacon Anyone?: North Fork Bacon and Smokehouse, Wading River, NY

Bacon may be our second favorite food after burgers. So when a restaurant called North Fork Bacon & Smokehouse opened in nearby Wading River, I knew we had to go.

Wading River is a tiny town on the North Shore of Long Island - almost in the North Fork, hence the name. The restaurant is even tinier with 5 tables inside and a few picnic tables outside. What is it with BBQ places and picnic tables

Ordering was a bit chaotic. We tried to put in an order of fries and a burger first for our boys. The fries came instantly. House-cut, freshly salted beauties were gobbled up. We placed the rest of our order and waited. And waited. When we inquired about the status of our order we were told nothing had been started since we hadn't paid yet. We thought we had an open tab. They were apologetic, gave us more fries on the house and free drinks. And honestly, I would have waited longer it was so amazingly good.

How do you order when everything looks so tantalizingly delicious? Bacon was a must. The bacon bites are cubes of house-cured beauties in a slight vinegar honey sauce. Ribs were dry rubbed and had a great fat to meat ratio. But the clear winner was the burnt ends. 

Burnt ends are always my favorite at BBQ.  I actually love any kind of burnt food (perhaps an homage to my moms cooking - sorry, Mom). Most BBQ places slather some sauce on top to cover up that burnt taste. But not here. At NFB they are as dry as can be and you can certainly add BBQ sauce if you like. 

The boys loved their burger and the creamy mac and cheese. You can get bacon on top if you wish.  We were too stuffed for sides or salads which they do have. 

I also hear great things about their BLT. Bacon is the new Black don't you know. 

Until our next Burger, 

North Fork Bacon and Smokehouse
1 Sound Avenue
Wading River, NY

Quicksie Sandwiches: Num Pang Sandwich Shop, New York, NY

Love Vietnamese sandwiches? You'll love Cambodian sandwiches even more.

Num Phang is a Cambodian sandwich shop with 5 locations in NYC. Lines are long, atmosphere is nil and taste is worth it. 

JB adored a 5-spice glazed pork belly sandwich. Freshly baked bread, pickled Asian pear, pickled carrots, cucumber and chili mayo made it complete. 

Sandwiches are designed as is and not allowed to be altered. So pick one and go for it. I've been eyeing the spicy organic tofu with leeks or the roasted cauliflower with eggplant spread. 

Salads and soups are available for the less adventurous. The midtown location is just 1 block from the Hampton Jitney making this the perfect stop before the ride out East. 

Until our next Berger, 

Num Phang Sandwich Shop 
140 E. 41st Street (btw Lex & 3rd)
New York, NY for other locations, menus and more