Equus in the Castle Hotel & Spa, Tarrytown, NY- Outstanding Food and Service

Castle Hotel and Spa in Tarrytown, NY is such a beautiful place. It is a picture perfect fairy tale hotel – a corner room at top of the castle with windows on two sides overlooking the Hudson River at sunset. I felt like Rapunzel letting down my hair and letting my prince up. The Equus restaurant is really something – deserves a top rating and review. It was perfect… even the French fries.

Unfortunately, this meal was eaten so long ago that these items have rotated off their current Summer menu. I had to reconstruct the meal from pictures and memory.imageFrench Fries, like the authentic fries from the good French bistros.imageSome sort of squash soup. This was delicious. I remember the taste and smoothness but not the ingredients.imageLobster Salad with foam. Also excellent. The lobster was tender. image Lamb… I really regret not writing the ingredients down. This was the best dish of the night and possibly the best lamb that I have had this year. I remember being surprised at how good it is and how impressed I was. The dish itself when described to me sounded heavy but it turned out to be just right. The grain that accompanied the lamb balanced out the red meat well. It was so good that I thought of thanking the chef!imageCobb Salad: Avocado, Bacon, Cucumber, Onion, Blue Cheese, Shrimp. Good and fresh.

Well worth the money. Outstanding food and service. Outstanding hotel and staff. Highly recommend both.

This experience took place at

Equus
Castle Hotel & Spa
400 Benedict Avenue
Tarrytown, NY 10591
914-631-3646

Cellar 49 in Tarrytown, NY- A Weird Basement Restaurant in an Estate Mansion

I found myself at Cellar 49 in Tarrytown, NY. This is the on site restaurant for Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center, one of the Destination Hotels. This was a completely weird experience. The estate is large and well-manicured; the restaurant is located in the basement or the wine cellar of this majestic old house. All sounds great so far, right? image For a 8:30pm dinner, there were no other diner in the restaurant. The servers had nothing to do and were way too friendly. See this little hut in the photo? It was built to block the entrance to the kitchen. The picture in the middle of the wooden wall blocks the window into the kitchen.imageWINGS / sweet chili or honey buffalo. Surprise! These honey buffalo wings were excellent. Not really spicy but they were fried perfectly and seasoned with enough sugar to keep me going until tomorrow morning.imageBABY BEETS / smoked / yogurt / candied cashews / herb puree. Interesting plating and concept. Liked the color play but the beets were not seasoned properly. The herb puree did absolutely nothing.imageSMOKED PORK CHOP / grits / chard / peach preserves. The glaze and the execution were what made the dish stand out. The meat was tender, juicy and sweet- like all good tropical fruits. I was impressed by how tender it was because this chop was thick and wide.imageDUCK TACOS / chorizo / onion slaw. The concept was intriguing and worthy. The execution was terrible. The duck was dry. The combination of duck and taco was a no go. Did not taste the chorizo – perhaps it was masked in the slaw.

Although we were the only ones in the restaurant, the noise level was intolerable. The loud conversations from the bar were piped directly into the restaurant space. It was not just loud, it was crystal clear. I heard the entire conversation about someone they know between a woman and the server.

Overall, the food was a little awesome when they hit it right; when they didn’t, it was disappointing. Out of the four dishes, two were excellent. The entire experience of eating at a restaurant alone in the basement of an estate mansion while listening to loud conversations next door was just weird. I wonder how destination hotels stay in business with no one dining in their restaurants.

This experience took place at

Cellar 49
Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center

49 E Sunnyside Ln,
Tarrytown, NY 10591
Phone:(914) 591-3183

Koku in Armonk, NY – Asian Fusion and Chinese Dialects at Their Best from Fuzhou, China

There is a new restaurant in Armonk, NY. As a resident of Armonk, I am so delighted that I now have more options on Asian Fusion restaurants. Koku took over Made In Asia next to the CVS in town. The restaurant is modern with hip designs that are comparable to those in the City.  I walked in with my 12-year-old and the brainless hostess sat us right in front of the bar where it was loud and child-inappropriate. Of course, I declined and sat ourselves at the sushi counter and watched the actions.

The friendly sushi chefs were absolutely amazing behind the counters. I couldn’t figure out what language they were speaking and I decided to ask.

“What language are you speaking?”
“Chinese!”
“That’s not Chinese!”

I exclaimed in both English and Mandarin, the official language of China and Taiwan. They then quickly switched into Mandarin and conversed with me. They were speaking the Fuzhou dialect.  I am slightly surprised because the Fuzhou dialect is close to the Min Nan dialect which is also known as Taiwanese. Yes, I can also maneuver in Taiwanese. Confused, I looked up Chinese Dialects in Wikipedia… OMG. This is a moment when having the 5,000 years of Chinese heritage means the world. We really should be more proud as a people. Grilled squid with Teriyaki sauce. Although this dish was in the menu in the restaurant, it is not listed on their website. That’s unfortunate because it was excellent. It was done the authentic Japanese way. The squid was still tender. It was so good that my picky small human changed her opinion on the squid and ate a lot of it! She used to reject eating squids. Salmon roll. Respectable. This is also not on the menu. My new sushi chef friends decided to treat us and made this crab and guacamole appetizer for us.Nabeyaki Udon: Noodle soup w. shrimp, chicken, egg, fishcake & vegetable. Sadly, this is the only dish that under-delivered. The broth was too young. The noodle did not absorb any of the goodness from the broth.

The restaurant appears to be staffed by people, other than the bartender and the hostess, from Fuzhou. They are the friendliest bunch I have ever known in Armonk. They all commute from Flushing; one of the chefs moved from Virginia for this job. They were so eager to please and to make sure that we like the food. They were so eager to deliver high customer service. I don’t think I could ask for more from a restaurant. Koku has great pricing, excellent food, wonderful staff, and a lively atmosphere. Highly recommended it.

This was a completely opposite experience than my recent trip into Chinatown. There was no belittling of me, click here to read my Chinatown post.  Koku’s people are young, vibrant and want to do the best they can. Chinatown is of the past and Asian Fusion in Armonk represents the future!

This experience took place at

Koku
454 Main St
Armonk, NY 10504
Phone:(914) 730-0077

Bartaco in Port Chester, NY- Sexy and Yummy

The thing about Bartaco in Port Chester, NY is the fact that they somehow transformed the experience of eating simple food like tacos into something sexy. It reminded me of what Abercrombie & Fitch did with their clothing- finding young, fit and sexy people to wear and sell their clothing. Bartaco did the same with their food, website and menu. The site is beautiful, easy to navigate and well designed for their young audience. Their menu is simple yet filled with items that are a little risqué for the norm. Great job.

When it comes to the restaurant decor, the same technique is applied. So once you start drinking the Bartaco CoolAid, the food started to taste good as well. Well, good enough anyway.
Grilled Corn with lime, cayenne, cotija cheese
Guacamole, Chipotle Slaw, Spicy Cucumber SaladCheese Quesadilla and Plantains
Rotisserie Chicken  Pork Tamale
Tacos​: steak, pork, chicken  Tacos: baja fish
Tacos: Portobello mushrooms, falafel   Churros with chocolate dip

The food is not superb but pretty good. The variety is amazing. It’s fresh and interesting enough to keep the diners entertained, engaged and wanting to come back again for the party atmosphere and interact with the casual and easy going wait staff. I was pleased and happy.

This experience took place at

Bartaco

1 Willett Ave
Port Chester, NY 10573
Phone:(914) 937-8226

Coriander Modern Indian Restaurant in White Plains, NY- What Delicious Indian Fare!

I LOVE Coriander’s food! Let me get down on my knees and be thankful for the delicious Indian food I had the other night with my wonderful friends. I only stumbled upon Coriander’s in White Plains because one of my friends is a vegetarian.

Why do I love Corianders? Because it is Indian food that is re-imagined, cooked to near-perfection and served in a contemporized setting. Only one down side – slightly dried lamb and a very very nosy and pushy waitress named Rositta. During dinner, Rositta had asked me to “read” her the menu because she could not see what I was pointing to; Rositta also took my menu away with force while I was “reading” the menu; Rositta loudly interrupted our conversation multiple times to make sure she was heard. Rositta acted like our aunt and we were in Kindergarten. I guess I can love that, too, as long as I am in the right mood. It can be liberating to be bossed around.Eggplant Chaat: thinly sliced globe eggplant, garnished with sweet & sour chutneys, candied red onion, fresh cilantro & dusted with garam masala.This was awesome. This was a vegetarian’s delight. It made vegetables taste like proteins. I LOVED it.Edemame with Indian spice: Yum.Naan: Solid.Basmati and Mint ParathaShrimp Rangoli: pan seared shrimp, garlic, curry leaf, mustard seed, tomato cream sauce. The sauce was to die for. The shrimp was inconsequential. Spicy sauces made out of Ghost and Habanero peppersLamb Vindaloo: a spicy red & green chili, tomato based sauce, with tender, curried lamb & baked potatoesHomestyle Lamb Curry:slow cooked, tender lamb in a browned tomato & onion curry. Flavored fully with traditional indian spices.Pumpkin Kofta Curry: handmade vegetarian “meatballs” roasted with Indian spices, simmered in a new england Pumpkin curry, flavoured with garam masala & cinnamon. My vegetarian friend loved it but I found it to be too sweet. Macaroons: nothing special.

The food is outstanding. Minus Rositta, it would have been just perfect. 🙂

This experience took place at

Coriander
74 Mamaroneck Ave
White Plains, NY 10601
Phone:(914) 358-4500

Zenzo Sushi in Mamaroneck, NY – A Ranking of Mamaroneck Ave Asian Fusion Restaurants 

There are four Asian Fusion restaurants in Mamaroneck, NY and I have been to all of them now with Zenzo Sushi rounding up the end of the list. Each has its own uniqueness. Below is a quick summary of them. Click on the name below to read my past reviews.

  • Red Plum – the least expensive and probably the most fusion (bastardized) version of Asian food
  • Haiku – the middle of the road, balancing the fusion with the traditional. I was pleasantly surprised by their specials of Chinese Soup Dumplings… Almost as good as those in Flushing but much closer geographically to home
  • Ginban – Decent food. Friendly staff, caters to families. Big on presentation. A tie with Haiku.
  • Zenzo – The surprising winner with a strong selection of sashimi. Worth returning to try other non raw items that are on the menu. We went off menu and simply ordered whatever we fancied.

Sashimi: Hamachi (Yellowtail), Toro (Fatty Tuna), Maguro (Tuna), and Hotatekai (Scallop). The presentation was clean and elegant. Sushi: Uni (Sea urchin), Ikura (Salmon Roe).

This experience took place at

Zenzo Sushi

328 Mamaroneck Ave
Mamaroneck, NY 10543

 

Ginban Asian Bistro and Sushi in Mamaroneck, NY- A Playground for the Children

Ginban Asian Bistro and Sushi in Mamaroneck, NY is one of the four Asian Fusion restaurants on a short stretch of Mamaroneck Ave off the Metro North Station. I often wondered how these four restaurants compete and survive. Ginban apparently is the family friendly one. When I was there, there were two groups of families with small children. The children (4-5 of them all around 5-6 years old) ran around the entire restaurant playing hide and seek, without discouragement from parents nor the restaurant staff. They were very noisy and I asked to sit as far from them as possible.

Interestingly, Ginban is positioning itself as a “cutting-edge” and hip restaurant filled with adults. The image and reality are diametrically different.Sushimi Delux. 21 pieces of assorted raw fish. Can’t complain. It’s fresh raw fish cut up with wasabi, soy sauce and ginger. Beautifully presented!Salmon roll  Miso Soup. Decent.Fried Rice with Chicken. Decent and edible.Tempura Fried Ice Cream. Was told that this is their most popular dessert. Yuck. It was horrible. The batter was greasy. Vanilla Ice Cream. My 12-year-old critic did not like it. Now, for a child to not like ice cream…

In conclusion, if I had a family in Mamaroneck with small children and want to eat dinner out in a restaurant with contemporary atmosphere (almost like the City but not quite), Ginban is where I would come. My children could eat the generic chicken fried rice, be exposed to slightly more exotic dishes like salmon roll, and run around in the restaurant after they finish eating. I can then eat in peace with my husband, partner or friends. It’s all about targeting your demographics- Ginban’s website content should be re-written.

This experience took place at

Ginban Asian Bistro and Sushi
421 Mamaroneck Ave
Mamaroneck NY 10543
phone 914.777.8889