Left at the Fork

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Category: 2 Cars (page 1 of 6)

Mother’s Cupboard, Syracuse NY

REVIEW

Ever hear of a frittata? Of course you have! Who hasn’t? It’s an Italianish open-faced omelet. Wait a second, though. We’re not speaking of THAT frittata. We’re talking about the frittata as served in and around Syracuse, New York. Also known as a fretta, a Syracuse frittata is a jumbled amalgam of eggs, potatoes, peppers, onions, sausage, pepperoni, and broccoli, or some subset of those ingredients. Cheese is optional. The other distinguishing feature is that it’s usually a massive plate of food, so much so that, unless the diner is accepting some sort of challenge, everyone orders a half or quarter portion.

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Consol’s, Endicott NY

REVIEW

If you ask around in Endicott for the best Italian restaurant in town, you’ll hear about two restaurants repeatedly: Oaks Inn and Consol’s. It’s local sport to debate the relative merits of the two restaurants. Both are many decades old, both serve old-time Italian/American food, and they are just across the street and down the block from each other. If you dine in both to see what’s what for yourself, however, things become less, not more, clear. Why are these two restaurants compared at all? They don’t even play in the same league.

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Buck Hill Brewery and Restaurant, Blairstown NJ

REVIEW

We ordinarily restrict ourselves to the liquid refreshments at brewpubs. It’s not that we think brewpub food is bad, per se, it’s just that there’s usually more interesting things to eat elsewhere. We’re glad to have broken free from our usual habit at Buck Hill, however, as we were afforded the opportunity to indulge ourselves with the Fat Buck Fries. This poutine cousin tops fries with beer-braised brisket, cheddar and mozzarella, and beer gravy. Not only does it supply you with your minimum daily requirements for calories for the day, it’s also dizzily delicious.

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Top of the Morning Cafe, Utica NY

REVIEW

Apparently, the New Jersey/metropolitan NY diner tradition of a late-night sandwich or burger with a plate of onion rings doesn’t exist in Utica. Oh, there are diners, alright, plenty of them, in fact, but try finding one that’s open past 7PM. Seems most of them close after lunch, while a few push it to early evening. We searched hard for a diner open past 8PM on a Friday and were led to Top of the Morning Cafe.

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Miss Monticello Diner, Monticello NY

REVIEW

If you find yourself motoring through the Catskills in New York when hunger strikes, we suggest locating a diner and settling in for a quick meal of American classics. We like to think that much of the appeal of diners is their fungibility and predictability, but in all honesty that probably overstates the situation. Yes, if all you want is an omelet or a burger, just about any diner will do, but some diners really do a better job than others. One of the most reliable of the breed is the Miss Monticello. Continue reading

Charlie’s Cafe, Norfolk VA

REVIEW

The omelets are fluffy, the neighborhood is vibrant, and the restaurant has character. Reasons enough for Charlie’s Cafe’s success. How do they get those omelets to billow as they do? They run the eggs through a milkshake blender. It’s not clear who originally thought of doing that, although some think it may have been Charley himself, three owners ago.

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Smithfield Inn, Smithfield VA

REVIEW

The Smithfield Inn was built as a residence in 1752. Seven years later it was converted to a restaurant and inn. Like any restaurant over 250 years old, it’s obviously gone through many owners and had its ups and downs. For a long time in the 20th century it was well-known for traditional home-style Southern cooking. It was eventually even owned by Smithfield Foods, the giant pork processor and home of the world-renowned Smithfield Ham. Continue reading

Chesapeake Bay Farms, Pocomoke MD

REVIEW

Have you noticed how dairy farms have taken to making and selling ice cream on site to the public? It’s part of their struggle to survive as small farms, like much of America, participate in the gig economy to make ends meet. From an ice cream lover’s perspective, it’s a welcome trend, bringing not just the chance to sample homemade ice cream, sometimes even made from the milk of the cows grazing on that farm, but also the opportunity to get out and enjoy rural life for a few hours. Continue reading

The Shack, Groton CT

REVIEW

When The Shack opened in East Lyme in 1989, it was practically a shack, albeit a shack that quickly became known for the quality of its breakfasts. Thirty years have come and gone, and there are now two additional Shacks not all that far from the original, in Waterford and Groton, and that first Shack has found a new, more modern home in East Lyme. They’ve also expanded their hours, now serving all three meals (except on Sundays, when it’s still breakfast only). Continue reading

David’s Place, Oakdale CT

REVIEW

We love coastal drive-in restaurants, even more than we love diners. There’s something about dining on fried seafood and inhaling the inimitable aroma of onions and potatoes and vaporized cooking oil mixed with the salt air that gets our juices flowing. If we’ve just spent the day in the sun, within sight and sound of the water, it doesn’t even matter if the drive-in is ten miles inland, as David’s Place of Oakdale, CT is. Our memories supply the salt air. Continue reading

Smakosh Restaurant, Uncasville CT

REVIEW

The name of the restaurant is Smakosh, which doesn’t sound familiar to American ears. Is it someone’s name? What ethnicity is it? Turns out that it’s a Polish word for gourmet, and if you figured that out ahead of time you might assume that Smakosh is a Polish restaurant. There are a smattering of Polish dishes on the menu, although most of the offerings are straight-ahead American breakfast and lunch foods like Benedicts, western omelettes, burgers, and tuna salad. It’s those Polish dishes, however, that brought us here, as well as the fact that they, like us, consider pierogi a more than suitable breakfast option. Continue reading

The Original Steaks, Seaside Heights NJ

REVIEW

Philadelphia cheesesteaks are traditionally served on long rolls. While it’s rare to encounter one on some other kind of bread, it’s not unheard of. One of the best cheesesteaks in the region is served on a round hard roll, just across the river in Camden’s Donkey’s Place. And here in Seaside Heights, the dueling cheesesteak joints known as The Original Steaks and Steaks Unlimited, across the street from one another, employ pizza bread as the absorbent vessel for the thinly sliced beef, goopy cheese, and well-cooked onions. Continue reading

Dentato’s Clam Bar, Seaside Heights NJ

REVIEW

There’s something about dining within view of the ocean that stimulates the appetite for some local shellfish. And at Dentato’s Clam Bar on the boardwalk, the shellfish is … well, we don’t have a clue. We’ve never sampled any, and anytime we’ve been there we’ve never seen anyone else sampling any either. We’ve HEARD of people eating clams at Dentato’s, and they may well be wonderful. But as long as they keep delivering one of the best Italian sausage sandwiches at the Jersey shore, those clams will just have to wait. Continue reading

Churchill’s Fine Teas, Cincinnati OH

REVIEW

Even if you’re not a tea drinker, we urge you to step inside Churchill’s Fine Teas in Cincinnati’s Findlay Market, for at least a moment or two. The heady aroma of tea leaves, spices, and herbs is fairly intoxicating, and the shop is an oasis of calm amid the bustle of the market. Look around, admire the tea sets and tea cups, all the while inhaling, inhaling, free of charge. Continue reading

Eckerlin Meats, Cincinnati OH

REVIEW

Cincinnati has a number of signature foods, but perhaps the most exotic and regionally focused of them is goetta. First things first: it’s pronounced as if the o wasn’t there, i.e., getta, and it has German roots. OK, so what is this goetta? It’s a sausage-like loaf of meat and oats that is sliced and fried in a pan, usually for breakfast. Continue reading

Gold Star Chili, Cincinnati OH

We well remember our first taste of Cincinnati chili. We were summering in Washington, D.C., our first jobs out of college, and a friend told us about a place that recently opened up in the ‘burbs (Virginia, we think) that served something called Cincinnati chili. Chili, we knew – spicy hot, cumin-scented, but what did Cincinnati have to do with it? Continue reading

Taste of Cincinnati, Cincinnati OH, May 27th through 29th 2017

REVIEW

Either you love urban street festivals or you don’t. They’re not for everyone. We’re street festival veterans and you can put our names down among the lovers. In our New York days in the ’70s, we’d never miss the annual Feast of San Gennaro in Little Italy, or the Ninth Avenue International Food Festival. It usually takes years of festival-going to learn each festival’s strengths and weaknesses. Continue reading

Chili Time, St. Bernard OH

REVIEW

It was 1943 when Pete Vidas opened Chili Time on Vine Street in the Cincinnati enclave village of St. Bernard. Of course, chili was on the menu but Chili Time was by no means a chili-only establishment. The burgers, especially the big production Timeburger and Big Time, were famous, far if not wide. Eventually, Chili Time moved across the street to its present location. Continue reading

Annie’s Ice Cream, Jim Thorpe PA

REVIEW

We prefer driving trips to flying trips. It’s true that the “getting there” eats into the “being there” time, but we are diehard proponents of the old saying, “Getting there is half the fun.” We enjoy the driving itself just fine but we take it slow, stopping often along the way wherever and whenever we please. Sometimes we stop for local sights, or a state park, or a bit of local history. Most of the time, though, we stop for food. Continue reading

Wild Rice Days, McGregor MN, August 31st through September 4th 2017

REVIEW

It’s funny to consider the luxury foods of your childhood. Of course, that all depends on the era, and the part of the country, in which your childhood falls. For us, that would be the proverbial ’60s in the Northeast. What were the luxuries to us? Port-wine stained cheese spread in ceramic crocks, from WisPride and Kaukauna Klub; little metal-lidded glasses of refrigerated Sau-Sea baby shrimp cocktail in sauce; Rice-A-Roni wild rice pilaf. Continue reading

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