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Posts Tagged ‘NY’

We chose this restaurant because it’s just across the street from Lincoln Center. It even has a prix fixe pre-theater menu and the decor is modern and sophisticated with outdoor seating during warmer weather and a sexy bar – everything one could want in a NYC bistro with a famous name. Unfortunately, the experience was overpriced for what it was, and we were all a little disappointed, especially since this was to be our Christmas present to our family.

Menu items had French names – and the bistro’s name is pronounced in the French way which I unreasonably find even more pretentious – but none of it seemed particularly French. There was numerous hostesses, servers, and busboys, but service was not as attentive as one expects from a high class downtown NYC restaurant. Water glasses were not refilled without prompting and the food service was slow – despite arriving at 5:30pm for a 3-course dinner and being rather fast eaters, we had to rush dessert and coffee and then sprint across the street in order to catch our 7:30pm opera (yes, after literally running across the square and up three flights of stairs, we made it to our seats with less than a minute before the curtain rose).

A helpful wine steward helped select wines to our taste. We were started out with a basket of bread and butter and some tasty gougères. The appetizer of velouté de poisson was a small cup of a rich, cream-based broth with a couple mussels and tiny cubes of potato. I wish I had gotten the merlu as my main course, which was tender and delicious. My own moules à la “Moracain” were good, but not as special. The chocolate mousse cake was inexplicably drizzled with unattractive strings of mousse, which didn’t add anything at all to the experience – the tiny slivers of poached pears were the best part of it. My hot chocolate was watery and too-hot.

The restaurant isn’t completely hopeless, and it had an intriguing – and expensive – special pork menu and truffle specials which makes me think that perhaps our dining experience would have been better had we been willing to explore more of the à la carte and special menu rather than the prix fixe selection. And perhaps had we had a reservation a half hour or even an hour earlier.

1900 Broadway,  New York, NY 10023, USA

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There’s something about Southern food which suits the balmy summer as well as the chilly winter. Hattie’s is a pleasant family-friendly restaurant in downtown Saratoga Springs, with just the right amount of pretension to avoid being a “value” restaurant. I’ve stopped here three times already during Montreal-New Jersey drives – it’s my favourite stop so far.

There’s a website, blog, and even little brochures about the restaurant’s history. An old stove was being used as a flower planter in the front. Two window unit air conditioners enforced by ceiling fans keep the dining area cool in the summer. There’s no hostess, so upon entering through the front, diners have to scout out a waiter by the bar to get them a table. Outdoor seating is available during warmer months. The past three times I’ve dined here, I’ve sat at the same table by the bar, under historical photographs of the restaurant’s founder, Hattie, and newspaper clippings.

The bread basket includes warm cornbread and biscuits. Service is friendly, but not overly attentive. Portions are generous. My excellent chicken and dumplings were hearty, spicy, well-seasoned, and just perfectly satisfying for the cold wintery evening. This was my first time eating chicken and dumplings, which, according to a novel I recently read, is a Southern panacea, and after eating as much of the huge bowl as I could, I felt revitalized and was ready to go forth and try making them myself.

Families and couples alike seem comfortable here. I’d recommend going early to avoid a crowd. The restaurant has an auxiliary “chicken shack” fastfood-style place where one can get Hattie’s fried chicken and sweet potato fries.

45 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA

See my July 2012 review here.

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There’s something about Southern food which suits the summer. Hattie’s is a pleasant family-friendly restaurant in downtown Saratoga Springs, with just the right amount of pretension to avoid being a “value” restaurant. There’s a website, blog, and even little brochures about the restaurant’s history. An old stove was being used as a flower planter in the front. Two window unit air conditioners enforced by ceiling fans keep the dining area cool. There’s no hostess, so upon entering through the front, diners have to scout out a waiter by the bar to get them a table. Outdoor seating is available during warmer months. The past two times I’ve dined here, I’ve sat at the same table by the bar, under historical photographs of the restaurant’s founder, Hattie, and newspaper clippings.

The bread basket includes warm cornbread and biscuits. My sweet tea was mostly ice and subsequent refills were lukewarm. Service is friendly, but not overly attentive. Portions are generous, and an appetizer portion of the softshell crab over spicy and salty coleslaw and chopped pecans was enough for me for dinner. In contrast, my husband’s entrée portion of jambalaya, which had only one piece of sausage, was large enough for two or three people. We shared a dense piece of hot sweet potato pie with whipped cream for dessert, but the server said it wasn’t up to the restaurant’s standards and didn’t charge us for it. One wonders why substandard food would be served at all, but oh well, it was worth the price.

Families and couples alike seem comfortable here. I’d recommend going early to avoid a crowd. The restaurant has an auxiliary “chicken shack” fastfood-style place where one can get Hattie’s fried chicken and sweet potato fries.

45 Phila Street, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA

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This is a humble yet clean bbq place close to i-87 in Kingston, NY. The overhead lights are upturned steel buckets. The servers are polite, friendly, and helpful. We got a basket of oily yet flavorful cornbread and decent biscuits. I ordered a cup of the soup of the day – a satisfying chicken corn chowder in a coffee mug – and dripping from the bone smoked rib tips, not realizing that the tips came in a sizable basket suitable for sharing with multiple people. My husband got the special salmon with potatoes and coleslaw. The ice tea is available sweetened and unsweetened, though the sweet tea is significantly less sweet than Southern sweet tea. Northern sweet tea, perhaps. We didn’t have room for dessert, but the menu looked promising.

743 Route 28, Kingston, NY, 12401 USA

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Fort Ticonderoga

I recall that my high school US History 1 teacher had had a special fondness for pronouncing “Ticonderoga,” and would slip it in repeatedly whenever possible when covering the colonial period and Revolutionary War while twirling a yellow and green Ticonderoga #2 pencil.

As with many places in upstate New York, road signage to the fort was minimal for many miles and continuing to follow Route 9 (off of US-87) was something of a leap of faith. The entrance fee is a bit more than one would expect for an outdoor historical venue – $17.50/adult – but there’s a CAA/AAA discount and visitors are unlikely to turn back after the long drive.

King’s Garden at Fort Ticonderoga

The gardens are off of the drive on the way up to the fort and are worth a stop. There’s a small experimental garden with vegetables and flowers, and then the formal King’s Garden surrounded by brick walls with many shady nooks and crannies in which to rest. While it looks persuasively antediluvian, the King’s Garden was commissioned and built in the 1920s.

Further up the drive is the fort itself. The entrance is through the gift shop cabin, which also includes the popular America’s Fort Café. The sandwiches at the café are typical upstate New York fare (combinations of cheddar, bacon, apple, and chicken… or burgers), but service can be extremely slow even before the lunch crowd fills up the place, even when it comes to paying the check. The server included the gratuity in the total. It’s advisable to pay with cash with exact change or one could be waiting in line for over fifteen minutes like we were.

Once outside and on the battlements, bilingual (English and French) information cards tell the history of the fort. The view is lovely, with a refreshing breeze on a hot summer’s day. The costumed docents play fife and drums frequently as they give their tours. Inside the fort is a museum collection of weaponry and everyday objects from the time period.

The view from the battlements

A visit to Fort Ticonderoga will only take a couple of hours. Including lunch, we were able to breeze through in under two hours. This is one of those places that children who like military history will love, and it is worth a stop even for those unfamiliar with US history. I also saw chipmunks, a wild turkey, and a bird of prey on the grounds.

 

100 Fort Ti Road, Ticonderoga, New York, USA

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My husband and I went to Artisanal, a cheese-focused French-style bistro, twice when we were dating, and again during this past holiday season with another couple. Nothing has changed. Reservations are strongly recommended, though we were able to get seats by the bar. Service is friendly but sometimes unbearably slow. The menu is fairly simple. Gougères were cheesy, savory, and just as delicious as when I first bit into their hot puffy little spheres several years ago. The fondue du jour, a Gruyère, cornichon, and bacon fondue, actually worked, though was not as complex as the Artisanal Blend fondue. In addition to the bread which came with the order, we got juicy and tender beef tips, sausage, green apples, and crudités. Two small fondues were almost enough for four people, but it was just the right amount when we followed it with chocolate fondue, which came with a selection of strawberries, banana, dried apricots, spice biscuits, housemade marshmallows, and mini madeleines. One order was enough for the table, although we had to get a second tray of fruit and sweets to finish the small pot of chocolate. Apparently it was also a good addition to the postprandial coffee.

At the end of dinner, I realized that one might be able to purchase gift baskets at the cheese counter in back, and attempted to surreptitiously fulfill a Christmas request from my husband, which was a gourmet food basket with crackers and cheese. Unfortunately, I was waited upon by a young man who didn’t seem to know what he was doing and who took just as long as the table server had to fill my order. In a cheese-focused restaurant/cheese shop, I was surprised that there was no talleggio, and found the sole manchego to be rather bland; the Gruyère was ok. As I rushed to keep up with my departing party, they finally handed me my finished custom gift box, but told me to keep the shopping bag horizontal, which, as a we traipsed about NYC for a while afterwards, visiting Times Square and Rockerfeller Center, became rather uncomfortable to hold. Plus, they did not attach the large box of crackers which did not fit into the box; it keep slipping out of the horizontal shopping bag onto the ground.

While the food is delicious and very satisfying, the long wait in between ordering food and receiving food is too long.

2 Park Avenue (Entrance is on 32nd Street between Park & Madison Avenue), New York, NY  10016, USA

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