Thursday, January 26, 2017

Rooster Street Butcher (Lititz) 01/2017

*Click on pic's to enlarge them
This is much more than a butcher shop. 
It's actually a cafe that sells meat. They have a menu 

and, beyond that if you choose a piece of meat they will cook it for you.
It's a very simple, completely unpretentious place.
You go to the counter to order and you take your tray and dispose of recyclable and waste. You also serve yourself water if desired. Cutlery is in a box on the table.

Cabinets contain selections of cheese, charcuterie, salads

and meat.

which looks fantastic.
Some of these cuts we rarely see in Australia.

We had a simple meal in this simple place, a hamburger and chips.
They were delicious. McDonalds and the rest of them eat your heart out.
We finished with a cup of tea.
 Delivers more than it promises.
 Score: 13.75/20

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Kanpai (Lititz) 01/2017

This is the rebadged former Beijing Szechwan, the sign remains,
a Chinese smorgasbord which we enjoyed almost every day when we were here 5 years ago. Now it is a regular a la carte restaurant with a few lunch time specials ('till 3.00 pm) 
It now has a Japanese section of tempura and sushi as well as the regular Chinese menu.
Despite removal of the smorgasbord the room looks very much the same.

Even the table cloths are the same 
and the tables are set with knife fork and spoon 'though chopsticks are availableWe tried a few dishes to get a good feeling for the place. A won ton soup was a pleasant broth with two hefty won
tons. The pastry was thick and heavy. 
I can't remember worse!
A hot and sour soup 
was gluggy 
The most expensive dishes was a Seafood Combination, lobster, shrimp, scallop, Chinese veg. in white sauce.
All the ingredients were there but there was only a tiny piece of lobster. But for one thing this was a nice dish. The vegetables were not too coarsely cut and the seafood was not overcooked. The sauce was there too, not too much of it BUT the problem was the dish was tasteless.
 Sweet and sour pork ($8.95) was a huge serve compared to what you would get in Australia. 

It came with a reasonable sauce but the pork was covered in a solid flour and water batter that dominated the dish.
Sandra had a combination soup which was a meal in itself. A bit short on taste but an OK dish.

 Chicken chow mein was a surprise coming with fried rice and a spring roll and fried noodles.
 This suffered from the same problem as the rest of the meal, an absence of flavour.
Finally we ordered the only dish we have ever returned to the kitchen in a Chinese restaurant. Roast duck in a sweet sour sauce. The duck was ancient dry as jerky and cut into tiny pieces. Even if all you wanted was the batter, never mind the duck, it was inedible.

 Certainly among the worst Chinese food I have ever eaten.

Score: 9/20

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Scarpetto (Philadelphia) 01/2017

The restaurant area for Scarpetto occupies a ground floor bar and lounge area and the space that used to be the Lacrois restaurant (Smith & Wollensky) on the first floor of The Rittenhouse Hotel, a very upmarket establishment on Rittenhouse Square, directly across from Claridges. 
They now concentrate on Italian based fine dining. The restaurant space looks over the square, which is attractive, night or day, in all seasons. Tables are a good size but fairly close together. Perhaps because of the ethnic nature of most of the clients the place was rather noisy. 
Our Italian server, probably the major domo, was extremely enthusiastic about the food and the chef's ability to prepare it as requested.
Bread came early, always a problem for me because it's so moorish, offered with whipped butter, olive oil or a relish.
For an appetizer I chose Diver Scallop, preserved truffle, pea and allepo, which is a sort of pepper.
I was astonished at how incredible this simple dish was. The truffle was obvious but not overwhelming, the sliced scallop sweet and delicate.

This is not just a go to dish, it's a go to Philadelphia dish
Sandra drooled over her creamy polenta, fricasee of truffled mushrooms. It was creamy, buttery, smooth and just right for taste. Both $19
Unusually they had Sandra's favourite Moscato D'Asti which cost about the same for a 150 ml glass as a bottle of the stuff from Dan Murphy!
For my next course I had their house made paparadelle with rabbit.

It's a rarity to get pasta that is this good. I don't want to rave but the texture was excellent. The taste comes from the ingredients. Flavours were gentle and balanced and there was plenty of rabbit too.
Despite their best efforts Sandra's hake was just a fraction over cooked. Why chefs have so much trouble getting fish right defies me.
Regardless of this minor faultit was thoroughly enjoyable.
Dessert was not over tricked up, Cheese cake, poached pear, a kittle under cooked, vanilla bean ice cream and a stick of merengue.

Score:16 /20

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Nougatine at Jean Georges (Manhattan NY) 01/2017

This is taken from his website and shows that he certainly does not sell himself short. Though Jean-Georges Vongerichten is one of the world’s most famous chefs, his skills extend far beyond the kitchen. A savvy businessman and restaurateur, Jean-Georges is responsible for the operation and success of a constellation of three and four star restaurants worldwide.After all the most stars that foodie bible the Guide Michelin gives any restaurant is three. Others, evidently, think JGV is worth more.
I am becoming very wary about 'stars' A personal recommendation is more reliable. The restaurant business is enormously competitive and a lot depends on reputation so stars are important though it is hard to what they mean when a chef/restaurantuer has 15 or more restaurants in several countries under his wing, and he clearly has to spend a lot of time on the business aspect of his restaurants what sort of a genius must he be to collect so many 'stars' for so many of his restaurants?
Nougatine is a chocolate coated nougat - a very sweet thing indeed.
In this case the restaurant resides on the ground floor of the Trump International building at 1 Central Park W, adjacent to Columbus circle and the Time Warner Building, home of several leading restaurants, including Per Se.
It's an attractive room 


with a great view over Central Park.

For those not wanting too much to eat they have a Prix Fixe three course lunch which, at $38 is about as cheap a meal as you can get for a quality restaurant in New York
The menu includes half a dozen appetizers, nine entrees and a couple of desserts. From the a la carte menu the same meal would cost at least $70.
Fried calamari, Basil salt Citrus chili dip was a very small very tasty dish with an enormous bowl of dip for a very small serve of calamari.
Tuna tartare, avocado, spicy radish, ginger marinade.

a nicely presented dish, about as good as one might expect for a simple dish.
Sesame crusted salmon

not a very photogenic dish. This was a pleasant dish but certainly not a Michelin star creation.
Desserts were also pleasant but far from outstanding. 
Jean-Georges warm chocolate cake, vanilla bean ice cream.
Citrus pavlova, blood orange sorbet, candied kumquats.

One would expect this standard of food at any reasonable restaurant
Score:14 /20

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The Prime Rib (Philadelphia) 01/2017

It looks glossier than it used to with shiny black 'plastic' covered seating, white tablecloths, black serviettes. It presents as a sort of sophisticated glitz.
Supposedly among Philadelphia's very best steak restaurants The main change to the menu was nothing to do with the food, which seemed unchanged from what it was when we were here about 6 years ago. It was the prices. A 12 oz rib eye steak, bone on, is currently $62 A Bernaise sauce sir? Add $4. A side of mashed potato $10. Wine from $10 upwards. A jumbo crab cake appetiser, not very jumbo either, $20 or two for $39! With taxes and tips it's hard to have dinner for less than A$100 / person and that's being quite modest.
Never mind the price the food is important.
We started with soup. A lobster bisque ($14) proved very disappointing seriously lacking taste. 

French onion soup was better with a good cheese topping but not especially tasty. It's all about the preparation of the onions which were good without being excellent.

They claim to have the best jumbo crab cake around. Perhaps they do. There was plenty of crab and it was quite a delicate flavour but at $20 a pop it was not over impressive.

The ultimate test for a steakhouse has to be the steak. Sandra ordered the Filet Mignon ($39 I think) cooked blue. It was perfect. Tender, a decent size, totally beyond criticism.

Served with a little chard and horse radish we added a side of mashed potato ($10) which was smooth and creamy.
Score:13.75 /20

Oyster House (Philadelphia) 01/2017

This is a barn of a place 
which is extremely popular, especially at their happy hour when they offer oysters at a dollar each, but only one sort, which is clearly not one of the expensive variety. They call it a 'Shuck a Buck' and obviously make up for any lack of profit by the sale of alcohol. Also, I think you can only get your oysters one at a time.
The decor is very simple with a large bar and quite a lot of seating at small basic tables. 
Reservations are only possible for large groups.
Walls are decorated with oyster or fish plates.

The menu, which fits easily on one page, is actually quite extensive. Apart from oysters they have a shrimp cocktail, half a chilled lobster and a selection of cold plates including shrimps, octopus, calamari, mussels, clams and soups, snapper turtle or chowder, as well as sides. Mains include sauteed flounder, grilled Bluefish, Maryland crab cakes, striped bass, Oh Burger and more. Wines at about $9 - 10 / glass are reasonable but unexceptional.
We started with a Manhattan clam chowder 
which proved to be much tastier than an indifferent lobster bisque we had, at nearly twice the price,
the previous night.
The menu offers 9 different oysters and two clams with prices from $1.5 to $3, most being $2.50.
We tried the lot and noted significant variation in taste but enjoyed them all. Starting at 6.00 o'clock the were: Chintoteague, Cape May Salt (and they were salty) Ross Cove, Wild Fire Island, Salt Pond, Plymouth Rock, Well FleetLittle Shemogue and Kushi whilst the clams were from Littleneck and Cherrystone.
We thoroughly enjoyed our meal here and would not hesitate to recommend it as a place to eat oysters. Their other dishes looked pretty good too and I would be happy to come for another meal.
Another happy customer!
Score: 13.75/20