Monday, May 30, 2011

Vincentown Diner - Vincentown, NJ

After such a wonderful experience the last time we visited the Vincentown Diner, we figured we'd stop there today on the way to the Vincentown florist where we buy our gorgeous hanging baskets every year. Unfortunately, it couldn't have been any more of a drastic turn for the worse on this visit.

We walked in and were immediately seated, and then had about 12 minutes to browse the menu before Jessica, our server came over to greet us. We immediately placed our order, and were looking forward to their delicious milkshake once again. Zelda ordered a black and white shake, while I ordered a vanilla shake.

As we sat waiting, we saw the gaggle of wait staff sitting at the counter, or standing around talking. At this point, 15 minutes had passed buy, and still no milkshakes, or even an offer for water. Meanwhile, the manager came over and broke up all the chatter, and not 2 minutes later they were back at it, lolly gagging around. Meanwhile, other customers had come to the restaurant and were also waiting at their tables ready to order.

Our shakes came out a minute or two later, and about 4 minutes after that out came our burgers. I opted for their burger that was featured in the NJ magazine, and at this point I don't even remember what it was called.  Regardless, I ordered it medium, and it came out well done. I waited for our server to come back, but after about 10 minutes, she never returned.

The burger was OK and did have some flavor, and the au jus on the side made it tolerable once it was dipped. The thick cut fries were cold. Zelda's turkey burger was OK thankfully, and she had no complaints.

Another 10 minutes passed by after we ate and our server came over to ask us if we needed anything. No asking how everything was, and she never even came to check and see how everything was. Talk about terrible service.

That said, I asked for our check, paid cash at the register as you walk out, and stiffed the waitress for the first time in probably 10 years. What a horrible server, and horrible staff that we encountered in their dining room today. The first time we were there, the burger, shakes, and service were second to none.

Today obviously, being Memorial Day, I guess they didn't feel like being there working, so they took it out on their customers. What a shame. Definitely don't plan on going back as there are much better diners with better service in the area. Diner beware!!! The service today at the Vincentown Diner was the worst I have experienced in NJ. Way to thank a veteran on Memorial Day! 

Vincentown Diner
2357 US Highway 206
Vincentown, NJ 08088
(609) 267-3033

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

2010 Kaella Winery Rosé of Sangiovese Ciel du Cheval Vineyard

Had the pleasure of tasting this at a Wine Library Forum offline on 30 April 2011.  Special thanks to board member Sheila F for bringing this along.  I have seen the notes on this wine on the board, and the much praise that it received.  After having it, I am a HUGE fan, and I immediately placed an order for a case.  Special thanks to owner and winemaker Dave for digging deep into his cellar to fill my order.

Crazy, gorgeous, vibrant pink neon red color in the glass!  I absolutely love the shade of Rosé like this, but that was not the true beauty of this wine.  On the nose, some great watermelon notes dominated for me, with hints of strawberry, and Pal bubble gum.  The nose was rounded out by some great floral notes, and it was so spring, and so refreshing! 

On the palate, this wine was amazing, and different from many I have enjoyed, or not enjoyed.  It wasn’t your typical rosé, it wasn’t a Provence styled rosé, but it was delicious!  The first thing you notice is just the right amount of acidity.  Some fresh cherry, cranberry, grapefruit, and strawberry on the palate, with just a hint of watermelon again.  This wine is so refreshing, and would be great as the evening cools down after a hot summer day.  The finish was medium and nothing out of the norm for a rosé. 

All in all, I cannot tell you how pleasantly surprised I was with this wine.  I made it a point to try this as I’ve read about Dave’s wines on the Wineberserkers and Wine Library Forums, and I went out of my way to make sure I had a sip.  This is the first Sangiovese based rosé I’ve heard of and tasted, and all I can say is that I am so glad I did, as this is going to be a great summer sipper!  Kudos to Dave!  Keep up the great work at Kaella!  90 points.  Cheers!

Kaella Winery
19501 144th Ave NE, Suite D-500
Woodinville, WA 98072 | 425.241.8585 |

Monday, May 16, 2011

2007 Next of Kyn Syrah No~1 Cumulus Vineyard

Drank this from a friends cellar who also made the list, and just doesn't know any better (but a HUGE thanks for sharing - LOL).   Needless to say, he came walking down the street, we popped and poured it "on the bistro," poured about a 1/2 glass, and I suggested we decant it in the cellar for a couple hours while we sipped some non vintage Krug. 

After a 2 hour double splash decant, we poured glasses for the 3 of us and let them warm up outside for about 15 minutes.  It was still below the temperature that I would probably drink this at, but it still showed wonderfully.  Gorgeous DARK purple in the glass!  And I mean dark! 

On the nose, great blackberry, raspberry, black cherry fruits, with some nice floral notes of violet, lavender, licorice, and spice.  On the palate, the first thing you'll notice is just how smooth this wine is.  As the wine warmed up, it actually seemed to gain a little acidity, which wasn't a bad thing in the least.  More dark fruits on the palate, with blackberry and black cherry dominating.  Some smokey notes, black pepper, and spice round out the palate, and the alcohol seemed to be integrated very nicely at this stage.  The finish was long and lingering, and I wouldn't expect anything less from Manfred. 

This is definitely a venture that I am very glad to have gotten in on from the ground level, and probably one of the most exciting wineries I look forward to watching evolve.  95 points now, and I can definitely see this getting a few points better with time.  What a treat, and I am glad to have our entire allocation in storage!  Cheers!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sonata Restaurant - Philadelphia (Fishtown), PA

Well, after attending an offline with the Wine Library Forum Members on April 30th and being wowed by the cuisine, I felt the need to go back, but this time I was brining Zelda! And once again, I left a very happy camper!

We definitely took a chance driving down on a Friday night, but with so many other options in Philadelphia, we weren't worried about it in the least. Needless to say we got down there in about 40 minutes, and were lucky enough to find parking on the street less than a block away.

For years I had heard of how bad of an area "Fishtown" section of Philly was from friends, but after seeing it two weekends ago, that is the furthest from the truth! The area is eclectic, friendly, artsy, and just a cool neighborhood to hang out in. I have no idea how much revitalization has been done in this area, but there are definitely some gorgeous houses!

We walked into Sonata to find a pretty full restaurant, but there happened to be a two top open to the left of the door, and the hostess seated us there with no worries! Woo hoo! Our server came over and filled our water glasses as I pulled out Riedel's and opened a 2006 August West Rosella's Pinot Noir. Perfect pairing for the menu at Sonata, and a delicious wine!

For starters tonight, Zelda had the Corn Soup with Cilantro Corn Fritters and it was very nice. It was both sweet and savory at the same time, and the fritters were very tasty! This is my kind of spring soup, and was plenty hearty, but not over filling. The flavors worked and melded nicely together, and this was a great pick.

I couldn't resist the Crispy Pork Belly once again, with a smoked tomato marmalade on the side, served with 3 rounds of compressed apple. Again, this was delicious, and the flavors were amazing. If this were a dish, I would order it in a heartbeat, but as an app it is plenty delicious. The marmalade had great smoked flavors, and a nice sweetness to it as well. This is a winner, and worth the trip alone.

For entrees tonight, Zelda ordered the Seared Salmon, served with saffron cous cous, grilled asparagus, and a blood orange vinaigrette. The salmon was cooked nicely, and the cous cous had great flavors that paired perfectly with the vinaigrette. She did make a point that the salmon may have just been a bit fatty on the bottom, but aside from that it was very nice.

I went the fish route tonight as well with the Lemon Fish, and again, the flavors were really nice. Although the menu doesn't state, I think that this might be cooked via sous vide, as it was very delicate, and cooked absolutely perfectly, with no char or sear marks. The pea risotto was fabulous, and the tarragon butter gave it nice flavor too. Finally, the tomato cardamom broth was genius, and overall the made for a delicious entrée.

We couldn't skip dessert tonight, and Zelda had the chocolate plate consisting of Chocolate Decadence that was nice and rich, along with a Warm Chocolate Beignet that was oozing chocolate, and finally a Chocolate Hazelnut "Chipwich" that was also great.

I opted for the Caramel Banana Crème Brulee served with a super light and airy peanut butter mousse, and topped with a piece of homemade peanut brittle. What is there to say here other than heaven? This was fabulous, and had some of my favorite elements on it.

Needless to say, twice in a period of 7 days spoiled me, and I had great meals both times at Sonata. From the cozy ambiance, to the great service on both nights, to a super nice (and young) Chef Mark Tropea, we were truly impressed! Look forward to going back to visit again soon! Cheers!

Sonata Restaurant - A Contemporary American BYOB
1030 North American Street
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Phone: (215)238-1240