Monday, September 27, 2010

Oh no she didn't...

...oh yes...I did!

Move back to the Midwest that is. Bread basket of America. Home of the deep fried cheese curds, Obama, deep dish pizza, da Bears, BUTTER. Yep, I'm home. And my mom loves it.

I have embarked on a 2 year journey at Kellogg to earn my degree in Meat & Beer Admiration. Though its no coincidence that I only applied to this one school moments from my home, I am going to take every opportunity to re-visit my favorite haunts and fatten up for the winter to ensure I don't freeze. Kidding, kind of.

I'm already back at it, looking into a new tour if you will. The focus: take us through the offerings at Bat17, here in Evanston. An establishment that makes me want to be a better-fed person, experience 17 varieties of sliders, have the larger triple-play California Dreamin' sandwich and top it off with some dessert. I was in fact so enthusiastic on my first visit that I not only pronounced my love for the waitress, but also told her i'd be back to try everything on the menu. So true to my word...this is our new "tour," readers. I look forward to sharing my every budding experience and hearing your passion-filled responses (please).

Now... I suppose we'll have to reconsider the name of this blog...

Friday, August 14, 2009

A P Supermarket

614 Clinton Street

Because why not?

See? I knew your question and could sense your head scratching with this post. I know you – all of my readers – and can anticipate your reactions before you utter a word (or post a comment – which nobody has aside from my lovely sister Larah, ahem). But yes, back to the point – the A & P supermarket. I feel as though it is only right to talk about the place that I frequent for food with by far the most regularity. It is a great grocery store and has probably the best prices in town.

The store really is quite large and inventory runs the gamut – everything from wine, cheese, produce, and meat to dry goods. It’s all there. Like the grocery stores I remember back home in the land of plenty. There is a seafood counter, though I wouldn’t necessarily vouch for its freshness and quality. But every week there are savings to be had – and on good items (i.e. staples in my kitchen) like wheat thins, laughing cow cheese, diet coke, vegetables, Coppola wines and apples.

I went ahead and signed up for the A & P super special savers card (or whatever its called) and now I get a report at the bottom of each receipt that lists how much money I have saved in some specified period of time. This is always a point of pride for me – It feels so good to save $$!

I do visit the Garden of Eden when I want to stock up on my shirataki noodles and other specialty items that the A & P doesn’t carry – but really, it is much farther away, and unless I want to bring my old grandmother wheeling basket, I really prefer not to lug groceries. (Yes, I do actually have an old lady grocery basket that I use for big shops…What?! It’s practical!)

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Rogo’s Bar and Grill

734 Willow Avenue

Let me begin by saying – I <3 Rogo’s spinach and goat cheese salad. Ok, that is the most important take away, so if you are skimming, you needn’t read on. For those of you that genuinely enjoy reading my restaurant reviews – I know, so many fans! – well, I <3 you too!

Rogo’s is just another neighborhood bar that happens to serve top-notch food. I wouldn’t have even ventured in this place unless my fearless companion, el chelulite, had done the foot work and test drove it, delivering rave reviews. I am once again thankful for her ability to look beyond aesthetics and see what’s inside of a person – ahem – restaurant, yes restaurant, that really counts ;) She introduced me to the delicious sweet potato fries (absolute perfection!) though I found the salad on my own.

I have to say, I was never a fan of the salad serving as main entrée, especially at dinner. But as of late, I have had no other choice. I am getting ever closer to the middle of my 20’s and my metabolism is beginning to turn on me. It is a salad like this that makes fitting into a size 26 jeans still possible. The spinach and goat cheese is complemented with portabella mushrooms, warm grilled chicken and topped with a light balsamic vinaigrette dressing. It is perfection – or as close to perfection as a salad can get.

Rogo’s also serves drinks and offers a number of weeknight specials, but for me, these are just petty details. The bar itself is a bit common and feels every bit like a local watering hole. The sandwiches and salads that Chels has tried are also fantastic, so I am a supporter of this establishment and recommend stopping in for a casual weeknight dinner. So, fellow readers, whomever has made it to this far without x-ing out, let’s go to Rogo tonight!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Margherita’s Pizza and Café

740 Washington Street

Last Sunday after a particularly long romp in Fire Island, I ventured with my beloved Chelly bean off to get some sustenance. We were both famished and positively couldn’t pick a spot – until we came upon Margherita’s and decided that anywhere pizza, pastas served with heavy cream, and abundances of cheese covered the menu, we might satisfy our been-at-the-beach-all-weekend-and-need-some-real-food-now appetites. In we went.

Upon being seated, the waiter must have noticed us drooling excessively at the other patrons dishes, so he graciously brought us some bruschetta. Very nice; delicious tomatoes. It took a long time to decide what to order – our neighbors chicken parmigiana looked fantastic – but ultimately we settled upon the restaurant’s namesake pizza and the penne alla vodka. The hearty portions hit the spot and we were served some great comfort food. The pizza reminded us of a delicious childhood pizzeria, Buffos, and thus we were in Highwood-heaven with the more bready crust and thick layer of cheese. The penne alla vodka was creamy and rich – and served in quite the quantity.

Five star Italian cuisine? I think not. But this is a solid neighborhood spot for a post-beach feast, or a dinner when the calories just aren’t counting. The restaurant is very simple yet lively and the tables are very close, so it feels like you are dining with extended family (the Jersey side…). I would recommend this place for a nice family dinner, or a date with a long-term partner that you no longer need to impress with a nice, slender figure. Unfortunately, my family lives in Chicago and I do not fall into the later category (unless you count Chelsea), so I will hold off on Margherita’s for the time being. But to those of you that do visit - Buon appetito!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Modern Nails

728 Washington Street

Seeing that I have been getting manicures since I was in about 6th grade, I am always game to try the hot, new place.  So I tried Modern Nails, the new place on Washington, a few times just to be thorough, and have come to the conclusion that I probably will not return.  Though this is definitely one of the more polished nail shops I have seen (ha) the skills of the manicurists overall are not uniform and I just don't feel like risking another bad manicure when I know a dozen other places I can get a great one every time.

The shop is nice and clean, and the manicurists are very friendly and professional, yet the quality of your manicure/pedicure totally depends on who does it.  The shop owner, or overseer, who looks on the other workers with stern hostility is a bit frightening, even for me.  Can't imagine being her employee!  I have had two pedicures that were fantastic - long massages with hot stones - but on the downside the polish chipped really fast.  I just had my first manicure there today and granted I did get a harder color (ballet slippers) I was left unfulfilled, as the polish is very streaky and uneven.  I do appreciate a great massage, but I need the nail polish to look nice and last for longer than 12 hours.

So, I have decided that I will probably not be back.  If you're looking for a great manicure in Hoboken, Viva La Nails a few blocks up on Washington is always on point.  

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Pizza Tour on Hold –

Sorry to disappoint my curious readers hanging onto my every last word, but the pizza tour is being called off. Gasp! I know it seems a bit drastic, but due to the fact that my waist line is expanding faster than we’re printing money to fuel the stimulus, I really must. My oldest sister Christie is getting married in May, and I’m pretty sure that she will turn into a wild bridezilla if I show up at her wedding stuffed like a sausage into my (very forgiving silk) bridesmaid dress. Ha!
So in an effort to ease your disappointment, I will not give up food all together. At least not yet. I will just stick to the basics – small cheese plates, wine and sushi. I am very eager to try that new Tuscan steak restaurant at the W…but, really…must…stay…on…trackkk.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Grimaldi’s Coal Brick Oven Pizzeria

133 Clinton Street / 201-792-0800

I’ve always been a softie and rooted for the underdog. So when everybody raved about Grimaldi’s having the best pizza, I was skeptical and felt the need to defend my love for Benny Tudinos. (Don’t ask why a pizza place would incite such deep emotions…it’s a slippery slope.) So I decided to order in a mushroom pie one Sunday morning and test this so-called winner out.

The pizza was pretty good, but I wasn’t wowed. It must have cooled on the journey and in doing so the crust lost all crunch and instead had a hard pull to it. The cheese was still fresh and delicious, and there are no complaints on the tomato sauce—so I decided that judging them based on delivery might not be responsible journalism.

A few weeks later, with Chelsea in tow, I headed to Grimaldi’s to test the pizza in its natural environment. Hey – its only fair. Though Chelsea is a phenomenal dining companion, she often times dulls my senses by insisting on drinks (hehe – stick to the truth, Chel)but seeing that she’s my only known companion in Hoboken, I comply. So we order a large pitcher of beer along with a medium mushroom pie and wait. To my disease and sorrow, I realize all of the raving is justified. The crust is thin and crispy, the cheese tasts rich and delicious, fresh mushrooms as they should be and delicate sauce. Loved it. All four slices. And though I do love pizza, that my friends, does not happen very often ;)

So in all – Grimaldi’s is delicious pizza, though probably best enjoyed when dining in, which works out nicely because this restaurant is probably the nicest pizza joint in Hoboken.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Benny Tudinos

622 Washington Street / 201-792-4132

Meet my BFF Benny. We’re tight. He serves by far and away the LARGEST slice of pizza I’ve ever seen. Not only is it the largest – but it is also one of the more delicious slices I’ve had in my life. I’m not going to call it the ‘B’ word yet—but I’m inching ever closer.

I have visited Benny Tudinos a number of times since this pizza tour commenced, all in the name of the contest of course, and am yet to leave feeling disappointed…or hungry. The pizza is spectacular – a substantial crust that crunches, flavored tomato sauce that isn’t too sweet, cheese…lots of delicious cheese and most notably the sheer magnitude of the slice. BT’s also offers a number of other dishes, but I am a loyal devotee to their pizza.

The only draw backs are some of the shadsters that this establishment employs. My little sister, 18, stopped in alone one Monday and was joined by a large, 30-something employee. He chose to plop himself down in her booth, uninvited, and comment on the color of her eyes. Then there’s Chelsea. Lovely Chelsea. Stumbling in quite often at 2am, she is often solicited for her phone number by Benny’s pizza makers. Yikes! So, I personally prefer to take my pizza to go. I walk down the street and as I maneuver the massive slice, people stop and stare in amazement. Then a few seconds later I hear, “where did she get that pizza?!?!”

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Mile Square

221 Washington Street / 201-420-0222

Katharine: "Chel - I'm hung over. I need some food. Now."
Chelsea: "Ugh me too. Where should we go? I want chicken fingers."
K: "I want pizza. Let's go to Mile Square."
C: "No way—it’s too far. I can’t make it."
K: "Commonnnn its so good, Chelly bean."
C: "Fine. See you there in 2 minutes."

And so goes the conversation between Chelulite and Fat Kat most Saturday mornings. Yes, there are usually that many name references (I don’t know why but I always call Chelsea by one of the many (usually semi-offensive) pet names that I keep for her), and yes, Chelsea always pretends she doesn’t want to go to Mile Square, though I know secretly she’s already getting dressed and ready to meet me there. Call is playing hard to get, call it bluffing badly; I call it love. Then we dive into one of our standard morning-after meals. A pill alone won’t solve this one. We need the care of our favorite smiley waitress and New Jersey grease to normalize. The four cheese pizza is our go-to. It’s great. It has a nice soft crust and thick layer of delicious cheese. They sidestep the whole tomato sauce convention in favor of more cheese. And I say right on. I was never one to follow conventions. Conventions that reduce my cheese intake anyways.

Though Chelsea claims that she doesn’t love their chicken fingers, she has no problem returning and repeatedly ordering them each Saturday. So if you ask me, she's just pretending (again, back to playing hard to get…). Why? It defies convention and would be irresponsible for me to guess in this widely followed, public forum. So I will leave this one open for Chelsea to comment on.

The food is always as expected and the environment is casual, so it’s perfect for lunch on a Saturday—if you live like Chelsea and I do, always. Prices are as expected and the service is always very nice and attentive. Date spot? Not if you want it to be a repeat occurrence. Family friendly (aka kid friendly)? I shudder at the thought. Just stick to bringing your friends in for lunch and we’ll all do the Saturday shuffle together. Hey – no judgments.

Side note: Do not let the sweet talking waitress fool you like she did us. The refills on diet coke are not free. I repeat NOT free. One Saturday morning, when we were still a bit hazy from our shenanigans the night before, the waitress took advantage of our camel-like thirst and continued bringing us refills. The total was like $60 - about $40 of which was on our diet cokes! Do not fall for those fluttering eyelashes and that sweet smile... just like they say in health class –know what you're getting into and protect yourself!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Uptown Pizzeria

54 14th Street

The best to date. The store front was small, but more attractive than the others. I ordered a slice of mushroom pizza and a bottle of diet coke--total $5. There is no seating, so I took my slice and perched along the side counter. The slice was not huge, but large enough and extremely flavorful and fresh. The light crust was just phenomenal; it was equal parts thin and soft, with a perfect light crunch at the bottom of the crust. The tomato sauce was flavored well--not too sweet and not too chunky. The mushrooms were sautéed beforehand and added to the overall appeal of the slice. Needless to say, I will be a repeat customer. Well done, Uptown pizzeria pizza makers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

The Dining Room at Anthony David's

953 Bloomfield Street

Wow. I live just a few blocks from this place and have been walking by, swearing to try it for six months. Finally, I found a reason to celebrate and ventured in for dinner with Chelsea (who so often makes repeat guest appearances in these reviews :) ) last night. In addition to being a BYO, the restaurant offers a $35 5-course tasting menu Tuesday-Thursday, which is the route we decided to go (with much hesitation I must add because we wanted to order everything on the menu). The dining room is very cozy, with plush seating, an intimate setting, soft lighting and a homey, but upscale feel. It doesn’t try to be trendy or modern which I appreciated. Great spot for groups, romantic dinners, or just a good ol' amazing dinner.

We were floored. To start we had bread that we dipped in a smooth, slightly thick white bean and olive oil spread. Was delicious. First course: a hearty lentil soup with carrots and smoked chicken. The portions were small, but appropriate for a dinner of five courses. The soup was homey and warm, perfect for a cold day in winter. Second course: very gourmet bruchetta. The toasted bread was topped with a mild white cheese, sautéed, sweet red pepper and hardboiled egg yolks. The flavors complemented each other perfectly and were heightened with the dash of balsamic vinaigrette on the side. Third course: a light pasta dish comprised of delicate shell noodles wrapped up like penne, fresh crab and spinach. The dish was small and although I don’t particularly care for crab--I found myself really enjoying this dish. Fourth course: a small shrimp atop sautéed spinach and sweet corn. The best dish by far. So sweet, with flavors that did wonders together--all in all an amazing bite, I loved it. Final, fifth course: a tender duck breast with blue cheese mashed potatoes with a red wine sauce with cooked cherries. Amazing duck, very juicy and flavorful, cooked perfection.

In all the five courses, brought flawlessly from the kitchen provided plenty of food and really impressed us. The flavors were refreshing plays off classics and transitioned perfectly as the courses moved on. Though the menu is very pricy, the $35 tasting menu and BYO policy allow everybody to experience the food and ambience for a bargain. I can't wait to return.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mario’s Classic Pizza

742 Garden Street

Not Good.  I ordered a slice of cheese pizza (total $2.68) to go at this little corner shop and though it was livelier than others, with a TV playing sports and a few people dining in, the pizza itself was pretty horrible.  The crust was flaky—not exactly crispy, but flaky like a pot pie crust—and the inner crust was still a bit gooey and undercooked.  The tomato sauce wasn’t very noticeable and the cheese was the sort of translucent, greasy cheese that doesn’t really melt like normal, but gets a funny, runny consistency.  All in all, this pizza was a big disappointment…I didn’t even finish my slice (which is truly a remarkable thing) even though the slice was significantly smaller than most of the others I’ve had.


Sunday, January 4, 2009

7 Star Pizza

7 Star Pizza

342 Garden Street

Good pizza.  Though this will not be considered the best, I think it’s a solid contender and stand up well to the competition.  As the first official stop on my pizza tour, I entered the small, undistinguished store front very hungry (which also might be a reason that the pizza was as good as it was…) and ordered one slice of mushroom pizza and a can of diet coke.  Total $4.25.  The pizza slice was huge—larger than the paper plate—and had a nice crispy crust, yet wasn’t too thin for my taste. My gripes: the tomato sauce was quite sweet and the mushrooms were canned.  All in all, the pizza crust was perfect, not too thin and yet still very crispy, but the pizza was a bit sweet for my liking.  On to the next…

Saturday, January 3, 2009

It's on

As my search for the best pad thai has met fruition, I am now moving on and devoting myself full time to finding the best pizza in Hoboken.  In the few months that I have been in Hoboken I have had some good pizza—Grimaldis & Benny Tudinos—but I haven’t moved much further.  And while satisfied with these places, I know that there are other spots that I must try.  So I am pushing on with you, my fellow readers, and together we will embark on an expedition that will span from the depths of 14th Street to the foothills of Newark Street.   Though I know that there will be tough times, and moments that I will have to use the core of my strength to push myself—I know that together, well, “YES WE CAN!!”


Off we go…moving around the city of Hoboken in no particular order…

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!  I am reporting live from Miami.  Down here with some wine, cheese, family (cheeeseee) and of course our puppies... I just wanted to wish my many loyal (Kent) readers a happy holiday and blessings for a healthy new year.  Speak to you in 2009!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Bin 14

My girlfriend and I tried out Bin 14 this past Saturday night and had a really nice time. This in a nutshell is my kind of place. Great wines, delicious small bites, pizza, not overly expensive, intimate tables and rustic, yet chic décor. This newcomer at 14th and Washington is equal parts cozy wine bar and hip meeting spot. Not only does this nook serve up small dishes and thin crust pizzas from the wood burning oven, but there is a very informed wine sommelier that helped me pick the perfect Spanish Chardonnay. I loved it.

Chelsea and I split two light bites—one lobster salad bruschetta and one pumpkin bruschetta—and both were delicious, but be warned - TINY. Each of us got one bite of each after cutting them in half—so be advised—if you’re going for dinner, you might want to go ahead and order whole menu :)

We sat at the bar, and loved the whole scene. The place was already packed (in a good way) and the restaurant was very gala and abuzz with conversation. I would recommend this place to anybody looking for a nice, low key tasteful date. Actually, if anybody is interested…

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sri Thai

I am searching for the best pad thai in Hoboken. Anybody have any suggestions? I have tried a few places, some verging on inedible and some coming quite close to perfection, yet I am still left wanting. The best to date comes from from Sri Thai (234 Bloomfield Street). The little neighborhood joint serves it up hot and consistently delicious every week without failure. The pad thai noodles are not too firm, the sauce has a nice creamy peanut taste and the serving size is plentiful. I usually order a side of rice and peanut sauce along with my noodles, and unfortunately Sri doesn't have brown rice...or the perfect rich and flavorful peanut sauce for that matter. Oh well, cant win 'em all.

Though I have never been to the restaurant, I have ordered the noodles for delivery a number of times and the service is always prompt.

For those of you that love pad thai as I do, and know the impact a balanced sauce has on the whole dish, I can tell you that Sri is pretty darn close. I have found a spot that meets my thai needs and leaves me happy, but I have not yet found the best. I will move forward with my quest and keep all of my thousands upon thousands of readers waiting anxiously. haha. Ok, I will carry on with my search for the best for some pretty selfish purposes, but until then, I will be a regular Sri Thai customer each Sunday and remain 90% satisfied,

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Being the sushi enthusiast that I am, it was only natural to check out the more "upscale" sushi offerings in Hoboken.  Chelsea and I decided to check out Teak on a Monday night to take advantage of their weekly sushi deals.  We went in under the guise that this would be a bargain of a meal, with all prices 1/2 off, but it just wasn't so...


The restaurant is really trendy, with a packed bar, indoor/outdoor seating and modern lighting and decor.  The music was  bit loud, but in general the ambiance was nice was upbeat and lively for some Monday night fun.  This place is ideal for meting up with friends, or maybe a date with a looker that you aren't too interested in talking to...


We both started out with miso soup, which was quite a large portion (when comparing to the typical black-bowl most places serve) and delicious!  The soup has mushrooms and is some of the best I've ever had.  Following the soup, we had the tuna tar tar, a green ginger salad and some sashimi.  All of these items were good, but nothing that I would over-zealously rave about.  After these sushi bar appetizers, we had a few of the more innovative and exotic rolls which were delicious, but again, nothing that we haven't experienced before.


When the check came, Chelsea and I welcomed the biggest surprise of the night.  The check.  Despite the Monday night 1/2-off special, the check came to around $100 (granted there were a few glasses of wine in there...).  So overall, I would say Teak has solid sushi, but for the price you pay, taking a trip to Tokyo (or a walk down to it's sub-sect Robongi) might be more worth your while.  

Sunday, October 5, 2008

City Bistro

Leave it to my father to walk around Hoboken (his first visit ever) and find the greatest restaurant in a matter of minutes.  So we read a couple reviews and found a winner...City Bistro.  I am about to make a BIG statement.  Ready for it?  I think I had the best steak last night...ever.  Seriously!  (ok, maybe top 5, but!)

My parents came in town, so naturally, I took this opportunity to order a steak (meanwhile they probably think I'm a carnivore, as every time they visit/we vacation, Katharine:Steak is akin to a moth:flame).  I ordered the pecan crusted filet mignon, which came with roasted potatoes, haricort vert and bistro wine au jus and I was blown away.  While I am certainly a pizza connoisseur, and I like to think that I know a thing or two about a good filet, when in the company of Fran and Paul (mom and dad), I am confident that our combined century of experience with beef will not lead us astray.  It was unanimous, the steak was huge, tender, cooked to perfection and with a soft pecan crust it was absolutely mouth watering.  When I finished the thing, despite having far surpassed my elegant sufficiency, I could only think of how much I wanted another.  I'll say it again--wow!

My dad ordered the marinated pork chops that came with mashed potatoes by special request (a Kent tradition...ha I guess that makes us sound like true-blue American fatties...but I assure you, we just have good taste) and my mom ordered a chopped salad.  I am not typically a fan of pork, but these chops were tender and very flavorful.  My dad and I both ordered a glass of Pinot Noir and were very happy with the wine. The chopped salad was prepared very nicely with a light sherry vinaigrette dressing that was a great complement to the finely chopped vegetables and greens. Overall, the food was delicious and left us all satisfied.

City Bistro is sort of a mid-sized restaurant uptown, with a loud dining room and a decent following (for a Saturday night at least).  There is a big bar (a draw on its own) and a handful of tables exclusively for diners.  Our waiter had about as much enthusiasm as a 5th Avenue doorman during the Puerto Rico day parade, but aside from that we really enjoyed our meal.  I would recommend this place for families (not with young children, as I would never encourage the presence of those things in the places I like) and any sort of dining occasion between friends.  I wouldn't say this place has a romantic atmosphere really, so I wouldn't necessarily recommend taking a 1st or 2nd date here, but I guess I can be a tough judge ;) 

(hey..."its the economy stupid")
*Early Evening Menu* served 5-7pm Mon-Thurs, $17 gets you a 3 course dinner 
*Happy Hour* served 5-8 (pm people) Sun-Fri, all drinks 1/2 price

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Empire Coffee & Tea

I walk by this place every morning on my way to the train and it looks so cute--the quintessential corner coffee shop.  I am annoyed by the gentrification of our local neighborhoods,  and the overwhelming presence of Starbucks.  I am even more annoyed by the fact that I give Starbucks business in light of my feelings.  So, I am always happy to support a local business, especially when it is as charming as this little shop.

It's still warm outside, so I try an iced version of their daily special--pumpkin spice coffee.  The people behind the counter are very friendly and blew me away when they added my milk and sweetener for me!  Such a little gesture, but as far as coffee service goes, its rather unusual.  I loved the pumpkin spice iced coffee, it tasted like a fall drink yet had an original flavor combination.  The shop has loads of different flavored beans, all of which are on display and easy for customers to smell and sample.  

In light of the new Starbucks that just opened on Washington (the third one to open within 1 mile?!), I say go out and support Empire Coffee.  Try some of their flavored coffees or teas outside on the patio, revel in their kind staff and service and start your day with a better caffeine kick.  

Saturday, September 20, 2008

The Brass Rail

Two of my sisters were recently in town visiting me, and I thought this would be an excellent time to try the American restaurant on Washington St. called The Brass Rail.  I had heard a lot of great things about their brunch, and after reading through their dinner menu, I thought it looked like the perfect place.  The menu features your key American dishes (ie steak, salmon, chicken, etc.), but left me wanting.  Chelsea joined me and my sisters, and so together the four of us embarked on a somewhat underwhelming and unmemorable dining experience.  Good thing I was there with my jokes and the wine flowed like water :P

We arrived and were seated promptly.  The weather was very nice so it would have been preferable to sit outside, but the tables were all taken, so we decided the upstairs dining room would be fine.  The wine selection was about average, with a few red and white offerings from the expected international growing regions.  When the waitress came to take our drink orders, my sister asked which region in France a specific red wine was grown.  The waitress responded, "umm...the wine is"  Eek.  Maybe I'm a tough critic because I work in PR, but that was pretty bad.  She should be better briefed, or just stay in the kitchen.  

We all shared two starters--tuna tartar and corn chowder--and were provided with a sense of what was to come.  While both items were prepared according to their typical standard, there was nothing remarkable about these offerings.  I wish I could be more descriptive, but because of my lack of enthusiasm, the words escape me...

When our entrees arrived, we were all really hoping that something would knock our socks off...and low and behold...the most average item on the menu received our highest ranking-the  chicken!  Who would have thought?  Maybe I should preface this by saying that I order poultry next to never.  I think that ordering chicken in a nice restaurant is akin to visiting paris and choosing to sit indoors and watch movies all day.  It is boring and simply shouldn't be done. With that being said, my little sister's major faux pas actually worked out well.  The chicken was very tender, served on the bone with spring vegetables and mashed potatoes and prepared very simply, yet classically.  If I order chicken in a restaurant, this is how I want it to be done.  As for the other dishes, again there is nothing remarkable to say.  I had a strip steak that was bland and over cooked, Christie had the salmon which was prepared with couscous and vegetables, and Chelsea had some white fish (name escapes me now) that was on par with what I imagine my blessed-auntie Helen's cooking would probably taste like if she ever picked up a spatula. (sorry Auntie Helen, no offense intended)

We decided to cut our losses and skip dessert for fear we might be served something really tragic, like room temperature, botched up apple pie without any vanilla ice cream. (the horror!) So we left feeling a bit disappointed, but still had nice conversation and a "gala" time (according to Coleen, ha ha).  On our walk home, we passed this new little bakery called Sweet  and were happily surprised when the owner decided to allow us to come in despite having been closed for 30 minutes.  We sampled the mini cupcakes and I must say, the red velvet was heaven.  This was the best thing that I ate all night, and it was small enough, that I felt I had only minorly offended my "diet" (ha).  Sweet is really charming and the woman working there was a pleasure to talk with.  I would definitely recommend stopping by Sweet for some of their cupcakes.

So, in context of everything, I would say that The Brass Rail cooks and serves pretty mainstream, average food, and is generally skipable.  Granted my expectations were set pretty high, I still think that this place is way over-hyped.  I would not recommend having dinner here unless you want food that you are likely capable of cooking (and in many cases surpassing).  Sweet on the other hand is worth visiting.

Thursday, July 17, 2008


So I have been to a few sushi places in town and I think that so far Robongi is by far the best. Let me start by saying that I love sushi, and I eat it about three to four times on a given week. At Robongi (not sure exactly on the renunciation, but I was assuming the name was a play off Tokyo's young Ropongi district) the fish is fresh, the outdoor seating is lovely and the BYOB policy is fantastic. It was a cool summer evening, so we decided to sit outside, and it really made our dining experience very pleasant. We got there around 6:30 and there were plenty of tables, but by 7:00 everything was taken. The atmosphere is very nice for friends or just a casual date (though I wouldn't recommend this for a first date really) and the service is excellent; very attentive.

I started out with a green salad which was shamefully on the wanting side of basic, but was happily surprised when the fish came out. I ordered the night's specialty roll which included shrimp, lobster, tuna and salmon. This was absolutely delicious--though would constitute a meal on its own. I get lots of ridicule from my friends on this one, but I happen to love tamago (also called 'egg' some places) when dipped in some eel sauce. Actually I douse all of my sushi in eel sauce (and have successfully converted most of my friends to this practice). At Robongi the tamago has such a nice smooth texture and isn't too "eggy" and the eel sauce is nice and thick with a sweet, rich flavor. If you haven't tried either of these items, I highly suggest that you do.

My sister got the chicken teriyaki bento box--but be warned--this could easily provide enough food for a small country in Africa (no, but really, it could feed 2 -3 people with ease). This came with miso soup, a green salad, a tuna roll (which she got wrapped in cucumber instead of rice), 4-6 pieces of sushi, white rice, shrimp shumai AND chicken teriyaki. A lot of food, right? I told you. I can happily report that all of the side items were delicious, the chicken was very tender and the teriyaki sauce was in perfect balance.

For all of the diet conscious people out there reading my blog (ha, Chel) I can happily report that Robongi is able to wrap any sushi rolls in brown rice or cucumber. I personally am a huge fan of wrapping rolls in cucumber because it gives the roll a nice crunch.

So all in all, Robongi is a neighborhood winner. Bring your best friend and a chilled bottle of white wine (or have your friend bring the wine and really luck out) and enjoy a nice evening dining al fresco.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


So I was poking around online, looking for a great guide to Hoboken restaurants, stores and night life and I found nothing.  I love trying new places, spending my days poking around little boutiques, experimenting with new restaurants and finding great places to go with friends at night, so I decided that I would start writing reviews of the places that I try.  Hopefully over the next few months/years I can share some of my favorite spots (and those to avoid) so that others can take advantage and experience the best of Hoboken.  

Because I am new in town (moved here in May) I am just getting started, but definitely have begun to get the basics.  If you have any suggestions for me, please share them.  I am always excited about a good recommendation.  

I am headed to the Hamptons this weekend but hopefully next week I can begin writing some reviews and getting this project underway.  Until then, Happy 4th of July!!