Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sea Catch Restaurant - Washington, DC (Old Georgetown)

Well, today we decided to take a drive to Washington, DC for a variety of reasons.  Originally, Zelda wanted to go to the Ann Hand store to look for some new broaches, but we found out earlier in the week that they were not open on the weekend.
That said, we headed to Georgetown for lunch before meeting up with our friend Rob in Alexandria to pick up some Sine Qua Non wines that he let me take off his hands from last fall's offering.  Thanks again Rob.
On the drive down, I asked Zelda to hop on the iPad and Google crab cakes near Georgetown, and this was one of the places that came up.  From looking at their website, and knowing the area, I was a bit afraid that this might be a tourist trap with boring food, but I don't think that was the case.
We arrived and parked at the garage right next door.  We walked over to the restaurant and first thing we saw was the ice covered raw bar.  This was a huge pyramid of ice, filled with fresh oysters that looked delicious! 
We saat and ordered some wines.  Zelda had a nice New Zeland sauvignon blanc, that was crisp and refreshing, and had the qualities that we love from Marlborough sauvignon blancs.  I had a pinot noir from Oregon that was actually a pretty pour example of classic Oregon pinot noir, but what can you do.  Regardless, I drank it, but wouldn't order it again.
Zelda had the fried filet of cod sandwich served with French fries and cole slaw, and it was delicious.  The breading on this was light and airey, and exactly how I like my fish and chips.  The fish inside was tender and flakey, and cooked very nicely.  All in all, this was a hell of a good sandwich.
Being this close to Baltimore, I went with what I was craving, and ordered the Crab Cake Sandwich with fries!  Anyone who knows me well knows how critical I am of crab cakes as I LOVE the ones that I make, but this was delicious.  This was sauteed and served on an English muffin, wth simple flavors that showcase the taste of the crab.  There is nothing at all I would change about this sandwich, and the flavors rocked!  The fries were good, as was the slaw, however, the slaw seemed to have an over abundance of parsley in it.

Overall, everything here was great.  The ambiance was nice, the service was good, and it was a nice lunch date!  One thing I will note, and one of my pet peeves is the fact that the prices they advertise on their website do not match their prices on the menu in house.  My sandwich was $3 more than the website advertises.  I know this is nit picking, but I do really find that annoying.

Even so, I'd go back for the crab cake!  Yes, it was that good.  Cheers!
1054 31st Street NW
Washington, DC 20007
Phone: (202) 337-8855

Friday, April 8, 2011

2009 Bedrock Wine Co. Sémillon Lachryma Montis, Botrytized Old Vine Monte Rosso Vineyard

This was pulled from the 55 degree cellar and transported to Drew's Bay Shore Bistro in Keyport, NJ and put on ice through dinner.  We then popped this with dessert, and I cannot believe how ready for business this wine already is based on how young it is.

Popped and poured, with a gorgeous nose of peach nectar, apple, pineapple, pear, and caramel!   There was quite a bit going on with this wine, and it also had what I consider this sweet smell, that is one of the qualities that I love about French Sauternes.  If only I had a better way to describe exactly what I mean.  It's almost like a burnt sugar smell.

On the palate, more green apple, peach, pear, honeysuckle, pineapple, apricots, and loads of sweetness.  Definitely had some Sauternes qualities, however, if tasting it blind in the lineup, I think it would be easy to pick out as a non-Sauternes.  Maybe not though. 

Regardless, this was a nice end of the night drink, and I look forward to many more of these in the future.  We were only allocated one bottle, but when I saw more locally, I picked up every one that they had! 93 points!  Cheers!

Debiase Wines Pinot Noir Fritschen Vineyard (Russian River Valley - CA)

Our good friends Tom an Denise brought this wine along with them for us to try, and what a treat it was!  Tom decanted this at home for a bit, and poured it back into the bottle before we headed to Drew's Bay Shore Bistro in Keyport!

The nose was dominated by strawberry,and it was not shy!  Gorgeous dark berries are all over the nose, especially raspberry, along with some floral hints, and just a bit of earthiness and spice.

On the palate, even with the decant, this wine is young, but it proceeded to open up VERY nicely over the course of an hour and a half or so.  I expected there to be a lot of heat on this wine at this young stage, but that was not the case at all.  I never would have guessed this was a 14% alcohol wine.

Gorgeous strawberry and raspberry all over the palate, with some nice pomegranate nuances as well!  Some cherry tones round out the velvety palate, with just a hint of vanilla creaminess, and a nice finish.

All in all, I was very impressed with this wine considering this was the first time I had it, and also the first time I had wine from this vineyard.  I definitely look forward to having this wine again in the future...if I can find some!  A great example of why we love Russian River Valley wines!  92 points.  Cheers!

2007 Rivers-Marie Chardonnay B. Thieriot Vineyard

Here is a wine that we've had at many offlines, yet we've never popped one of our own. Tonight was the night as we dined with our good friends Tom and Denise. They were bringing their son Tommy's new pinot noir, so I wanted to bring a white so that his Russian River pinot noir was the star, and it was.

This however was popped and poured at Drew's Bay Shore Bistro in Keyport, NJ, and well worth the wait! Gorgeous golden straw color in the glass, with just a tinge of green to it. On the nose, tons of citrus, ranging from lemon, lime, pear, pineapple, and melon with just a hint of spice.

On the palate, the first thing I noticed was how creamy this was, with great acidity and balance. This is why I love Thomas Rivers Brown's wines! More of the same on the palate, with some elements of honey, and just a bit of spice. Overall, this wine was a rockstar, and extremely enjoyable! 92 points!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Local Smoke BBQ - Cookstown, NJ

Before I headed South to Texas for 2 months, the location that was formerly home to Adam's Rib right outside of McGuire Air Force Base had a sign up saying that Local Smoke BBQ was coming soon. Well, they just happened to open while I was gone, so I had to check it out my first full week back to work. Note that I had some damn good BBQ in Texas, and visited anywhere from Rudy's, to the famous places in Lockhart such as Kreutz, Smith's, and Black's. That being said, maybe I was expecting a little more.

Even so, I arrived at 11:15, and there were already 5 of 6 tables seated with 3 and 4 people each. It's great to see that people are already starting to fill this place seeing they've only been open for about 3 weeks.
I ordered a sliced brisket sandwich with fries and a drink for just over $10, and was on my way to fill up my cup with my beverage of choice, sweet tea. Unfortunately, the sweet tea was not homemade, and very uninspiring.

I grabbed a table by myself in the window, and not two minutes after I sat down, there was a line out the door! Good lord! This is definitely a good thing I think, and again, great to see this place being filled up! Adam's Rib was the same way for the first two weeks, and slowly died off, and I don't think the place made it 6 months. I don't think this will be the case here.

As I sat there, I checked out the two different BBQ sauces they had on the table. First they had their homemade sauce, as well as a Carolina styled sauce. Needless to say, I will be checking them both out. A few minutes later, a gentleman brought my sandwich over, and I was ready to chow down. The first thing I noticed was the roll. It looks like a nice, roll, and it definitely was. Nice flavors, but I don't think they were homemade. Maybe I am wrong. Even so, it worked. The next thing I noticed was the thick sliced brisket! Definitely sliced thicker than I have seen, and definitely a lot leaner than anything in Texas. I am guessing that this is from the flat, opposed to the point, which is not nearly as lean. It was also smothered in BBQ sauce which is fine.

On my first bite I could immediately tell that this brisket was not cooked this morning, but it had been re-warmed. This is not a bad thing in the least, but you can usually tell from the tenderness of the meat when it's been cooked the day(s) before. It was tender, but seemed a little dry, but the dryness was masked by the BBQ sauce. I definitely think it would have been better straight from the smoker with a good couple hours of rest to soak up the juices.

The flavors from the smoke however are nice! Anyone who knows me knows that I smoke dozens of briskets a year in my smoker, and these flavors were much better than the flavors I get from my smoker. This is the real deal, with a nice "bark" as we like to call it, and great flavors. I didn't however see much of a smoke ring, but that doesn't mean anything anyway.

Overall, nice flavors, but I would love to taste a brisket that was done overnight, opposed to one that I feel was rewarmed. Maybe I am totally wrong here, but the bottom line is that these guys know how to BBQ, and know how to extract great flavors from their smoker. The fries reminded me of Burger King, and I would much rather see a homemade fry, but these were OK.

There are definitely other things on their menu I would try before ordering this again, and their menu can be seen at: For aps, the Slow-Smoked Jalapeno Poppers caught my attention, and I will have to try those one of these days.  I am also curious to try their pulled pork sandwich, along with their burger, hot dog, and most importantly, their ribs!

Despite me not being crazy about the brisket, I think that these guys definitely have some talent. In reading their bio on their website, they have kicked some serious butt on the local BBQ circuit! Tons of 1st place
finishes in different categories such as Pork, Ribs, Brisket, etc, as well as a boatload of 2nd and 3rd places. They also have a few overall wins as well. Check out their team accomplishments at: Again, there is some talent there, and I hope these guys do well, because this is just what this area needs!

At the end of the day, I may not have been crazy about my brisket, but I will definitely be back to give some of their other items a whirl! This restaurant is a great resource to have near the base, and God knows we need to keep the military fed and their stomachs happy! I know that mine always is!

Stay tuned for my next adventure here! What will it be? A burger? Ribs? Maybe even a hot dog? Hmmm....we'll see soon! Cheers!

Local Smoke BBQ
19 Wrightstown Cookstown Road
PO Box 82
Cookstown, NJ 08511
Phone: (609)286-2298

Saturday, April 2, 2011

West Side Gravy - Collingswood, NJ

Well, was it West Side Gravy we ate in, or was it Blackbird?  The beauty of it is that we ate at both!  While physically we were in West Side Gravy, we actually ordered items from both menu's!  So again, Chef Capasso's latest venture is an absolute winner!  What is there to say other than another killer night on Haddon Avenue with Chef Capasso and his team!  Stay tuned for details as this post is no where near complete!  Cheers!

West Side Gravy Mac and Cheese:  This consists of shelled pasta, cheddar, gruyere, fontina cheeses, fresh herbs, and toasted breadcrumbs.   Usually, these are really small shells, but this time around, these were made by the larger shells like the ones served with Blackbird entrees.  Either way, this is some damn good mac and cheese, and I think that it is the freshness in the herbs that give it such great flavors.  Add a few of my favorite cheeses, and of course this is a recipe for success.  This is always a treat, and one of those must order appetizers.

We also had the Blackbird Tuna Tartare.  This stats out with sushi grade tuna, cubed and mixed with scallion, cilantro, pickled ginger, and tossed in a miso dressing, and garnished with pea tendrils.  This very well could be my new favorite appetizer at Blackbird.  The flavors here all went so well together!  The freshness of the scallion and the cilantro, along with the zing of the ginger and the Miso worked together extremely well.  This is to rock star appetizers what Simon Cowell was to American Idol!  No, we haven't watched Idol in years.  Sorry!  Will definitely be ordering this app again in the future!  May even have to go back this week just to have it again to see if I can duplicate it!

Zelda ordered the Tilapia tonight, that was pan seared and served with herbed couscous with a provencal sauce.  Chef Capasso's version is prepared with a shellfish broth with fresh herbs and finished with just a bit of wine and cream.  Zelda loved this dish, and from the taste that I go, I thought it worked very well also.  This was then topped with a sauteed spinach, and pea tendrils.  Overall, another great tilapia dish, and one that I would definitely order in the future!  Usually however, I order one of the more exotic meats that is on the menu, and tonight was no different as you will see below!

For my entree, I selected the Blackbird Crispy Duck Leg Confit, with chocroute (French technique for saurkraut), pomme puree (mashed potatoes), jus de canarde.  This was absolutely amazing, and some of the best duck I had ever had.  First, the duck is salt cured, and then cooked in its own juices for a long period of time, making the duck tender, and the skin crispy!  The duck separated and shredded from the bone with no effort whatsoever.  This was served over a bed of mashed potatoes, topped with the chocroute.  For their chocroute, Chef Capasso uses bacon and beer to braise the cabbage, which had a deliciously sweet, but also very pungent flavor.  This rocked!  Another awesome element about this dish was the crispy skin!  All I can say is wow....perfection!  And let me tell ya there was more than enough to go around with two good sized legs.  For the price of this entree, this was an absolute bargain, and the red wine stock really added a nice element to the gravy for this dish.  I had ZERO room for dessert!

Overall, what is there to say other than awesome here?  After two months away with the Air Force, it was a pleasure to visit West Side Gravy/Blackbird for a great meal!  All in all, another awesome night.  And I have to say, I was craving a massive wine tonight, so I dug deep into the cellar and grabbed a 2006 Mollydooker Carnival of Love shiraz.  Not a wine that I typically care for, but tonight it hit the spot.  Far from perfect pairing for the menu that we had, but it definitely worked, and my palate was happy.  Yikes, did I just admit that?  Cheers!  -F. Scott

West Side Gravy
714 Haddon Avenue
Collingswood, NJ  08108
Phone:  (856)854-3444 and

2006 Mollydooker Shiraz Carnival of Love (Australia, South Australia, Fleurieu, McLaren Vale)

It's not often I pull a wine like this from the cellar, and never really buy wines like these anymore.  But tonight, I was in the mood for a massive wine, and having this one in the cellar for many years seemed to make it the right wine.  And as much as I hate to admit this, I actually enjoyed this massive fruit bomb!  Stay tuned for formal notes coming soon!

2008 Congruence Wine Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley, CA)

After having the 2007 Congruence and loving it, I figured it was time to open a 2008.  If I remember correctly, this wine is 95% Napa Valley cabernet sauvignon, and the final blend got a bit of petite verdot, as well as some cabernet franc.  Sorry, I don’t know what the exact blend was here.  Popped and decanted at cellar temperature for 4 hours.

Gorgeous garnet color in the glass.  On the nose, I get a ton of black cherry, ripe jammy raspberry, cassis, currants, and just a tad of vanilla.  The nose is rounded out by a bit of spice, some floral notes, coffee grounds, and espresso.  Needless to say, there is a ton going on within the nose here, to the point that it was almost overwhelming.  But is that really a bad thing?  I don’t think so.

On the palate, first thing that I notice is the lack of alcohol, and the lack of oak on this wine.  Everything here seems to be really integrated, and that was shocking to me.  There is nothing worse than opening a wine in its infancy and being smacked in the face with a giant oak log.  Not the case here at all, and the alcohol seemed very integrated as well.  Maybe this was because we were drinking it at cellar temperature?  I don’t know.

The fruit is the shining star here, and the palate shows nice currants and cassis, with more mocha tones, black cherry, and raspberry.  Definitely a bit of dusty tannin here, however, they are well integrated at such a young stage.  Even so, I think that this wine will easily age for 10 plus years, however, it is drinking so well now, I think it is going to be hard to keep my hands off these.

When it comes to our house cab, I really wish I could afford to serve this to all of our guests.  This is a hell of a well made wine, and you can tell that some serious time and thought was put into this. Overall, this is a winner, and I need to figure out somewhere to come up with a bit of extra cash, and order another 6-12 bottles.  Hell of a good wine, and 93 point worthy.  Guessing this could gain 1-2 more points, if not more, with some time on its side in the cellar.  For all of you who took advantage of this on the Berserkerday Birthday Sale, you are in for a pleasant surprise!  Great job!  Cheers!

Phone:  (973)202-2923

Friday, April 1, 2011

Tastebuds - New Hope, PA

Well, my first Friday night home in almost 2 months, and you bet I wanted to have a great dinner!  I was craving a steak, so Zelda recommended we head back to Tastebuds in New Hope!  Great call, and once again, we were super impressed, and our stomachs left very happy!  This place has a solid meal dinner in, dinner out, and at VERY affordable pricing for the quality of food you get, it's amazing that they are not reservation only on the weekend!  Add BYO to that, along with great service from the two man team on the floor, and you have a recipe for some serious success!  Stay tuned for another shining review in the next day or two!




Again, this is one of the best cuts of meat you will find at a restaurant in this area.  The grade of beef rocks, and the flavors here are awesome!  FILET OF BEEF TENDERLOIN, ANCHO CHILI RUB, PEPPERY GREEN BEANS,  WHIPPED POTATOES, CUBAN ESPRESSO SAUCE $33


Coffee Creme Caramel?

Cherry bread pudding?

49 West Ferry Street
New Hope, PA
Phone: (215)862-9722