Tag Archives: lobster mac and cheese

Maine Take 2: Table, A Farmhouse Bistro- Blue Hill

14 Jun

On our family trip to Maine in August 2010, we rented a cabin in the Blue Hill area and had a great time exploring the more remote parts of the beautiful peninsula. By far, the highlight of the food we tried was at Table, A Farmhouse Bistro. We had an absolutely fantastic meal there, but upon searching for a link for this restaurant, I have discovered that it has sadly closed.

DSCF1729

I cannot explain how sad this makes me, as Table was fantastic for food, aesthetics, and service.

DSCF1732

I absolutely loved the interior, and I hope the restaurant that replaced it has maintained the beauty of this rustic yet updated design.

DSCF1734

Here was the menu:

DSCF1735

DSCF1736

And some of our food…

DSCF1744

DSCF1745

We even tried a bottle of wild blueberry wine, which was surprisingly very good

DSCF1746

DSCF1749

But it was really the lobster risotto and lobster mac and cheese that were fan-freakin-tastic. Over-flowing with big hunks of lobster and great flavors across the board.

DSCF1755

DSCF1759

DSCF1761

DSCF1763

DSCF1767

What a shame that this place has closed!

Advertisements

Mermaid Inn

20 Mar

I absolutely love oysters.  In fact, one of my favorite things even as a little kid were those cans of smoked oysters. (Yes… I have been a foodie practically since birth… and also a very, very strange child).  I had been hearing great things about the Mermaid Restaurants and their oysters. Not only were they rumored to be very tasty, but they have a “Happy Hour and a Half” every day from 5:30pm – 7pm with east coast oysters for $1 and west coast for $1.75.  Awesome deal.

As if that wasn’t enough to sway me, Blackboard Eats put out a special that took 30% off the bill. It didn’t include the Happy Hour, but hell… 30% off is pretty damn great. And finally it motivated me, with a deadline, to try it out.

There are three locations: The Mermaid Inn on the Upper West Side (Amsterdam between 87th and 88th), The Mermaid Inn in the East Village (2nd Ave between 5th and 6th), and The Mermaid Oyster Bar in Greenwich Village (Macdougal between West Houston and Bleecker).

We stopped into the one on the Upper West Side and were immediately warmly greeted and shown to our seat.  With 30% off, we decided to go whole hog… err… fish… and try out a number of yummy looking items.  I gave my usual peppers allergy warning (“I am allergic to peppers. The vegetable.  Black pepper is fine but anything made from the vegetable is a problem: Red, green, yellow, chili, jalapeño, red pepper flakes, paprika… old bay.”  I am so sick of saying this… but… c’est la vie).  He wrote it down and very diligently confirmed what I could and couldn’t have.

First, we started with the Grand Platter: 12 oysters, 6 clams, crudo, shrimp cocktail, and 1/2 chilled lobster.

DSCF7806

All the oysters were fantastic, but I decidedly have a preference for West Coast oysters.  Shhhh… don’t tell.

DSCF7807

The lobster was pretty good, but I am a total lobster snob after spending so much time in Maine. It’s just NEVER as good.  Do lobsters lose something the moment they cross the bridge out of Maine? It’s a phenomena I cannot explain.

DSCF7809

The crudo was a delicious tuna with avocado… oh… and PEPPERS.  I took a bite and my mouth felt itchy… then a second later Mike pushed a jalapeño across his plate and told me to stop eating immediately.

DSCF7814

The wait staff was INCREDIBLY apologetic and immediately brought me out a FULL SIZE portion without peppers. And it was SOOOOOO delicious.

DSCF7817

We followed up our tower with lobster mac and cheese. This was perfectly cheesy (without being soupy) with great crunch on top and big full chunks of lobster meat cooked in.  The lobster in here was actually even more flavorful than the chilled lobster.  This was DELICIOUS.

DSCF7824

And then we had to try the lobster roll. The fries were perfectly average but the lobster roll was pure heaven… until… my mouth went on fire… and then the fire spread.

DSCF7821

Old Bay was lurking in every crevice of that sandwich… and was now burning every crevice of my mouth.  This was actually one of the worst burns I have ever experienced.  Because Old Bay is a powder, rather than burning a single spot like a normal altercation with a pepper might do, this spread across every part of my mouth and lips and hit hard.  I went immediately to the back and asked for a glass of milk (it is the only thing I have found that stops the reaction from spreading).  My waiter looked at me as if I had just told him that his puppy had died.  He sprinted into action, toppled over everyone in the kitchen, and ran back with a full jug of milk and a glass.  I went back to the table and a fresh lobster roll (sans old bay) was brought out.  And it was insanely good.  Perfectly buttered and crisped roll with perfect lobster meat.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing too well, so I asked for a glass of ice, which I proceeded to hold, embarrassingly, over my quickly inflating and blistering lip. At this point the manager came out and was beyond apologetic… mentioning that she was shocked to hear that the kitchen messed up not once, but twice, and that they had it backwards thinking my allergy was to black pepper, not the vegetable.  She immediately said they would be comping… the ENTIRE MEAL.  In my experience, it is really fascinating to see the difference in reactions I get from restaurants when peppers wind up in my food.  Many (too many) are totally indifferent or deny the hell out of it (“Oh it’s a jalapeño, not a pepper!“)  Some places comp the dish that was in error, or throw in a free glass of wine.  Frankly, I don’t expect anything. I would prefer the pepper wasn’t there in the first place, but accidents happen (it scares me to think what would happen if I WAS anaphylactic though).  I was SHOCKED when she said she was taking care of the entire bill.  And I felt awful. It wasn’t the waiter’s fault, and their care and attention was above and beyond.

It made what could have been an “I will never come back here!” boondoggle into an experience that will make me very loyal to this restaurant.  I can’t help but respect a place that takes ownership of its mistakes and goes above and beyond to compensate.

And just as I thought this restaurant had done enough to impress me, out came Fortune Teller Fish. Does anyone remember these from childhood? You put them in your hand and it tells your fortune depending on how it moves.  What a novel bit of nostalgia!

DSCF7827

And then… there came the chocolate mousse. Heaven.

DSCF7828

Beyond the above and beyond care for my allergy and comping the meal, the food here was sensational.  I was incredibly impressed and kind of wish I lived closer so I could be a regular at a place like this. Especially for those oysters!

Highly recommended.

Total Nom Points: 8 out of 10

Catch: Top Chef’s Hung Huynh’s new NYC Restaurant

7 Nov

As you all know very well (or should by now), Mike and I are total Top Chef sluts.  So when we were in search of a dinner location, we decided to try Top Chef’s Hung Huynh’s (Season 3 winner) new restaurant in Meatpacking.  Catch is a 3 floor restaurant, with the top floor dedicated to rooftop drinking.  It is owned by Mark Birnbaum (some of you will see this as funny as I do) and Eugene Remm and is the third restaurant in the EMM Group (the other 2 are Abe & Arthur’s and Lexington Brass) but I know them better as the owners of Tenjune (and many other night clubs).

The address is 21 Ninth Ave, but the entrance is actually around the corner on 13th street next to some construction and only identified by a C with an anchor above the door.  You feel lucky to have found it, then you get into a completely unidentified elevator bank where you look around for a sign.  You try to keep up appearances (after all, you are in the Meatpacking district), but deep down inside you can’t help but wonder why it’s so trendy to not tell people where to get into your business.  Lucky for us, someone else came in and immediately hit Floor 2… which opens up to a very modern, very Meatpacking space.

IMG_2117

I absolutely loved the weird fish in a suit on the menu cover.  Hipster? Sure! But it gave me a chuckle.  I immediately read the request for no flash photography, so apologies in advance for these dark iPhone photos!

IMG_2115

We started with oysters (I have been on a kick lately) and they were very good.  Not Imperial No. 9 good, but good.

IMG_2119

We then had The Catch Roll, which is crab, salmon, and miso honey… with just a touch of awesome.   The sweetness of the miso honey was absolutely perfect on the roll.

IMG_2120

There was nothing not to like about this. The textures, the flavors… it all came together perfectly.  I wanted to lick the miso honey off the plate but I refrained…

IMG_2121

Next up we tried the Macaroni and Lobster Cream.  You know everything about macaroni and cheese that is good in the world? This was all of that with lobster and a slight crunch on top.  It was heaven.

IMG_2123

We also tried the White Flatbread with clams, parmesan, and garlic.  This was good, but not great. If this was all I ate here, I would be disappointed.  It just wasn’t clammy enough.  The crust was nice and crispy, the garlic and cheese were good, but I was expecting more clam.

IMG_2124

For our entree, we split the Scallop & Cauliflower which came with pistacchio and tamarind brown butter.  This was one of the most unique scallops dishes I have ever had.  I love scallops, so I eat them a lot, but they get pretty basic.  They taste so good just simply seared, that they really don’t NEED anything else.  This was a very happy addition, however, as it added to the flavor without overpowering it.  Awesomely delicious.

IMG_2125

The dessert menu looked so scrumptious that we just had to try SOMETHING.

IMG_2126

So we opted for the peanut butter cup souffle.

When it came, the souffle was hot and domed (perfectly cooked) and then picked up what I think was ice cream off the plate and dropped it into the center.

IMG_2127

I was a bit worried about this, since really a souffle is good because of the texture, but this actually cooled it down so we could eat it and didn’t detract from the flavor.  I will say, however, that it is a souffle.  A peanut butter souffle.  I was hoping for a bit more chocolate in it.  It was still good.  But only if you like souffles (I like them… but I don’t LOVE them).

IMG_2128

What I did love, however, was the peanut butter popsicles (tasted like fantastic peanut butter gelato dipped in a hardened chocolate shell) and the little square chocolate cups filled with ground peanuts and what I think was peanut butter, sugar, and maybe some honey.  Scrum-diddly-umptuous.

IMG_2129

Overall, the food here was spectacular.  Very unique flavor combinations and artfully put together.

The one drawback, however, was our waiter.  He was everything that people hate about the Meatpacking district.  He was snooty, inattentive, and downright douchey.  He looked down his nose at us (I think because I was taking pictures) and made 0 effort to deliver even the most basic service.  For instance, he came to take orders from the tables around us on 3 separate occasions, all of whom sat after we did, each time barely spending a moment to put a “1 second” finger up towards us as he didn’t even make eye contact.  It took a good 30 minutes before he took our order, we somehow never got bread (pretty sure everyone else did), and when he came to finally take it, he made us feel as though we were entirely inconveniencing him.  It was a shame he was so bad since everything else was so good.

But the food was absolutely worth it.  It became obvious why Hung won Top Chef… his food tastes as good as it looks.

Total Nom Points: 8.5 out of 10

Pier 9

23 Sep

 

Pier 9 opened up on 53rd and 9th Ave earlier this year.  It took over the space that used to be Agua Dolce and seemed to become this new place overnight.  

Inside is very “under the sea” with dividers made of old sails, a watery color palette, and some plants that looked almost tropical.  It was almost a little TOO designed.  But it looked very nice.

DSCF5015

 

They put most of their menu onto a mirror, however, it seems as though must had changed since they finished this according to the menu we were given.

DSCF5016

 

 

We started with the lobster mac and cheese.  It was labeled as “non-traditional” and good thing, it certainly was anything but traditional!  It was like big, individual tubes of pasta stuffed with lobster and cheese and topped with lobster.

DSCF5017

 

It was delicious.

DSCF5020

 

 

Perfectly creamy and a really beautiful presentation.

DSCF5018

We also received biscuits, which Mike very much enjoyed.  

DSCF5021

 

They had peppers, so they brought me some surprisingly delicious toast instead.

DSCF5022

 

Mike got the burger.  Yup… even in a seafood restaurant, Mike judges by their burger.  He enjoyed it, but said it wasn’t anything super duper good.

DSCF5026

 

I got the scallops over celery root puree, eggplant, capers, raisins, and pine nuts.  It was a wonderful mouthful of textures with great flavor.  I was really impressed with this dish.  And the scallops were perfectly cooked and great on flavor.

DSCF5027

 

For dessert, we chose the s’mores donut. It was a homemade donut with marshmallow and s’mores ice cream.  I’m not a huge donut fan, but I LOVE s’mores.  Problem is… what I love most about s’mores is the combination of crunch, sticky, sweet, chocolate, melty goodness.  In this dessert, the donut reigned the plate and I thought it was good, but not my kind of dessert.  

DSCF5029

I was not expecting to like this place.  It had all the makings of a place that was so overstyled that they would let the actual food take a back seat. But this was food first.  And it was creative and delicious.  Well done.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

 

 

 

Nomming Thru Maine: Mid-Coast (Lincolnville, Camden, and Rockland)

21 Jul

After Acadia, we drove back down the coast a bit to the “Midcoast” region (we were in Lincolnville, Camden, and Rockland).  This is the area I was most familiar with from family vacations growing up.

There is one main street through Camden right next to the beautiful harbor (where we later took a great kayak tour).   A must-stop in Camden is Cappy’s Chowder House.

“Good food served here” is right!

Mike got a side order of cole slaw.  It grew on me.

We started with a salad that I remember enjoying but don’t remember ordering.

Mike chose… you guessed it! A burger. He enjoyed.

I was having a tough time deciding, but when the waitress said the lobster mac and cheese was her favorite, I was sold.  And it was SO. GOOD.  Wooooey.

Overall, Cappy’s is dependably good and a very New Englandy restaurant.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

_______________________________

Continuing our drinking fest, we stopped at Cellardoor Winery in Lincolnville.

Turns out they are not yet planted for long enough to produce their own wine.

So they just mix their own.  And whomever is choosing this mix has a great palate. They also did a very nice job decorating their tasting room (they are building a big facility across the street).

We were especially intrigued by their chairs made from tractor seats and axe handles.  Quite comfy actually!

We enjoyed almost every single bottle we tried (and it was a healthy sampling with many to choose from).  We actually wound up buying a bottle.

______________________________

In Rockland there is a great sandwich shop called The Brown Bag that I grew up going to.

Their specials menu included a grilled trip cheese sandwich with avocado, tomato, onions, sprouts, and pesto mayo.

It was delicious!  The perfect balance of toastiness and cheesiness.

Mike chose the Brown Bag Ham Sandwich (with Grilled Ham, Havarti, Capers, Artichoke Hearts & Special Sauce)

For the road, we got a whoopie pie (which The Brown Bag is famous for).  Delicious.

Overall, The Brown Bag is just a perfect sandwich place.  Everything is delicious, fresh, and in a great atmosphere.

Total Nom Points: 7 out of 10

_____________________________

We stumbled upon a specialty shop called Fiore that sells artisan olive oils and balsamic vinegar.  I LOVED going around and sampling every single thing in the store.  Wound up taking home an 18 year aged balsamic, a blackberry ginger balsamic, and an olive oil that tasted SOOOOO good but I can’t remember which one it was (WHOOPS!)

_____________________________

Our final special restaurant stop of the trip was Primoin Rockland (it’s actually right before the border of Owl’s Head).  You will have to forgive this review for lacking in detail in some cases… we MAY have had a lot to drink by this time.  MAYBE 🙂

Primo is all about sourcing their food from what is fresh and local.

We sat upstairs and it was beautifully decorated.

We started with a chef tasting of asparagus cold soup shooters and a tartare that was good, but I can’t remember what it was.  D’oh!

We ordered the wild boar carpaccio.  It was delicious.

Mike had a roast chicken with bacon.  It was so tender and yummilicious.

I had the Sautéed scaloppini of Pork “Saltimbocca” served on a bed of roast garlic mashed potato layered with wilted garden spinach, prosciutto and a sage, mushroom~Madiera jus.  HOLY COW! (Or… Pig…) Nom Nom Nom

For dessert, Mike chose the artful parfait.

I went with the Warm Belgium Chocolate “Budino” ckae with mint stracicella gelato and fresh berries.  I don’t know what Budino nor stracicella is… but I’m curious why it’s Warm Belgium and not Belgian… but who cares about grammar when you’re eating delicious chocolate?

The final bite from the chef was a chocolate… thing… Man this is when the night is really fuzzy.  I remember enjoying it, but NOT the candied ginger orange peel to the left on the plate.

Overall, I was pretty impressed with Primo.  Everything was quite delicious and it was a great place to have a romantic meal.

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10