Sunday, September 28, 2008

Vidalia - Lawrencville, NJ

Another restaurant we have been looking forward to reviewing, and another great meal at Vidalia tonight! We have been meaning to get over here for years, and we finally got the chance to check it out for a light dinner before the Dessert Theatre in Hopewell. Vidalia is nice and cozy, and a very comfortable restaurant to come to. It is small and quaint, with nice decor, and you just feel at home there in front of the large picture window. Even sitting right next to the door, I felt as though I was in a nice atmosphere, and this would be yet again another great place to hang out on a cold winter day, watching the snow fall on the quiet streets of Lawrenceville. We had a reservation for 6:15PM, but they had no problem accommodating us 15 minutes early. The service was very friendly, and we started off with soup and salad. Zelda opted for the caprese salad, that had nice tomatoes, and very good fresh mozzarella cheese, over a nice salad. Was it worth $10? Probably not, but it was still good. I opted for the Vidalia onion soup, that was absolutely perfect. It came to the table still bubbling in a nice crock, smothered in cheese, with a nice crouton. At first, I thought that this needed just a hint of salt and pepper, but once it cooled enough taste it well, I realized that I was 100% wrong. This is a nice, understated soup, seasoned perfectly, and not overpowering. I think that he makes an onion base to start this soup, as it does not taste like a beef stock. Regardless, it was grand, and I look forward to trying it again, along with the stuffed Vidalia loaf. For dinner, we both opted to eat easy and light, but there were some great things on the menu that I would love to go back fo in the future. Zelda opted for the vodka rigatoni, which had a nice sauce and fresh pasta. I found this very tasty, and the sauce had a different bit of flair than the conventional vodka rig you have at most places. It was a pleasant surprise. I opted for the linguini in clam sauce, and was vey pleasantly surprised. Sure, there is nothing hard about either dish that we ordered, and both of these dishes are not truly representative of what this restaurant really is. The linguini was very nice with a good broth that let you taste nice fresh clams. The only think I would change on this dish would be to add some fresh diced clams as a bit of a filler. There were however 12-15 clams, and they were wonderful. More to come when I get a chance! 21 Phillips Ave Lawrenceville, NJ 08648 Tel: 609-896-4444

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Hannah and Masons - Cranbury, NJ

After a long Air Force day, then a little shopping, what better night to go out on a nice date with Zelda. We left Quakerbridge Mall, and headed to Canal's Mercerenceville to find a nice bottle of wine for dinner, since more than likely we'd head to one of Jersey's great BYOB's.
Our original plan was to hit Fiddlehead in Jamesburg, but upon arrival, we found out that you have to call the day of to get a reservation. That being said, off to Hannah & Mason's in Cranbury we went. We were originally going to come here on our anniversary, but now it looks like we'll hit Fiddlehead instead.
A little background on H&M. This is a restaurant that we have driven past many times, and have never stopped. For a long time, we didn't even know that it was there, but the restaurant really got into the public eye when world renowned Chef Gordon Ramsay showed up there to film his show Kitchen Nightmares. Since hearing of the filming on Valentine's Day 2008, we have been meaning to get the H&M, and now we finally got the chance.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by the gracious hostess who was helping and elderly gentleman come down the stairs. When asked if she could squeeze us in, she managed to get us a great table right in the center of the first floor dining room. The room was finished in a nice green/blue color, with nice, clean white trim. I am assuming that this is the color scheme that Chef Ramsay chose for the re-launch, but without asking we'll never know.
Our hostess returned and opened up our 2005 Chateau Montelena, and came back with some red glasses. Our waitress, Britney then came over to our table, and greeted us with the days specials. We both opted for the Seafood Chowder as an appetizer, and while we waited, we were brought out a basket of nice, grainy wheat or pumpernickel rolls. I'm not sure what exactly they were, but they tasted nice with some butter, as well as a whole clove of roasted garlic. That was a nice touch.
Our soup came out later, and there were all kinds of large chunks of cod, salmon, and scallops. They definitely did not skimp on the fish, so that was nice. There was also corn and potatoes, along with various spices. One thing that I can say about the soup is that it needed just the slightest bit of salt and pepper. As much as I would have loved to do this, none of the tables at H&M have s&p shakers on them, yet they are on the wall in the back near the kitchen. What do I make of this? Maybe the slightest bit of arrogance, but this seems to be common practice these days at many restaurants we have visited.
Next were our entrees. Zelda ordered the Tuscan Chicken - palards of chicken, aged provolone, marinated tomato bruschetta, lemon beurre blanc, and orzo salad. This was a very tasty dish, and to me, it was the melted provolone that made it so tasty. I know, it's just cheese, but I love it. One thing that we found odd however was the orzo salad as we weren't sure at first, and it was not specified on the menu that the orzo was served cold. This is not a bad thing at all, but I would either mention it on the menu, or I would change it and serve something warm with it. Just a minor detail really, and a pick by myself.
I opted for the H&M Class Filet Mignon - porcini mushrooms, imported blue cheese, port wine reduction, toasted walnuts, and garlic whipped potatoes. I ordered it medium, and the chef truly knows how to cook a steak. This came out absolutely perfect! The steak was also rather large for a filet, and for $26, I would not have expected such a large filet. What a treat! The beef was from a good grade, and tasted absolutely delicious! One thing I did however was remove all the blue cheese. I am not a big fan of blue cheese, but I don't mind it. I did however find it overpowering, and it really took away from the beauty of this cut of beef. Once it was gone, it was perfect. The porcini mushrooms however were almost non-existent, but that is a good thing as I am not a big fan. I also did not see or taste any of the toasted walnuts, but to me, I want to taste the beef! The garlic whipped potatoes were nice, but there is nothing special about making garlic mashed potatoes. The blue cheese did however make a nice mix into the potatoes.
Dessert was skipped tonight as we were both stuffed, so we finished our glasses of wine and hit the road. All in all, a great little restaurant close to home, with a nice atmosphere, and great service. The entire staff was a treat to dine and chat with, Britney was a great server, and we really look forward to seeing their episode air on Kitchen Nightmares! We'll definitely be back! Cheers!
39 North Main Street
Cranbury, NJ 08512
Phone: (609)655-3220

2005 Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon

A very young cab with a tannic backbone that will be great in a few years. In short, leave these in the cellar a few years to age. Unfortunately, we picked this up on the way to Hannah & Mason's, all knowing that it was going to be young, but something worth trying. If you are going to pop one of these now against your better judgement, I'd suggest a 4-5 hour decant.
Full review to come!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn - Hopewell, NJ

Today we had lunch at: Hopewell Valley Bistro & Inn 15 E Broad Street Hopewell, NJ 08525 Phone: (609) 466-9889 Perogi with fried onion appetizer Fish and chips Grilled vegetable sandwich Full review to come!

Saturday, September 13, 2008

2007 Don Miguel Gascon Malbec

As much as I hate to say it, can a $9 wine really be our official red of summer "on the bistro." It sure looks like it, as there is nothing else that we drank more of in the red category. WOW! Great guest wine and great daily drinker. Cheers

2006 Andezon Côtes du Rhône

Nice daily drinker. Full review to come!

The Tortilla Press - Collingswood, NJ

The Tortilla Press(856) 869-3345
703 Haddon Ave, Collingswood, NJ 08108
Great little place with great service! Full review to come!

Friday, September 12, 2008

2004 Justin Vineyard Isosceles

Nice bottle, very young, but will be outstanding in a fea years! Full review to come!

Metropolitan Cafe - Freehold, NJ

Full review to come... Appetizer: ravioli Entrees: Australian Rack of Lamb Stuffed chicken

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Los Tres Amigos - Lawton, OK

Los Tres Amigos (580) 353-3380 5203 Nw Cache Road Lawton, OK 73505 Full review to come!

Monday, September 1, 2008