Left at the Fork

the road | the food | a new direction

Category: Reviews (page 1 of 12)

NYSEG Stadium, Binghamton NY

REVIEW

Minor league baseball stadiums, like NYSEG Stadium, home to the Binghamton Rumble Ponies, AA affiliate of the New York Mets, haven’t gone all-in on the current major league trend of offering local food specialties at their concession stands. For sure, at the big league level, it can sometimes seem as if the fans are more interested in the food than the ballgame. In the boonies, hot dogs and beer are still more the rule, but regional food or, at the very least, extreme food, is finding its way onto the menus more and more in places like Charleston and Louisville and Fort Myers. Continue reading

St. Volodymyr the Great Ukrainian Catholic Church, Utica NY

REVIEW

Here’s one important lesson to keep in mind when searching for superior local food: keep your eyes, ears, and, especially, nose on the lookout for anything edible that catches your senses’ attention. Don’t depend exclusively on scouring the internet, following the Yelp and Tripadvisor lists for all your meals. At least, not if you want to find the really interesting stuff. Continue reading

Oneida County Public Market, Utica NY

REVIEW

The USDA has classified a portion of downtown Utica as a food desert, which means the residents have low access to fresh food. The Oneida County Public Market was established, in part, to help address that situation. Located outside the historic 1914 Union Station (and inside the station during the cold months), OCPM is a year-round, Saturday morning operation. Continue reading

Pete’s Hot Dogs Inc., Newburgh NY

REVIEW

First of all, let’s ask the important question: Do you like hot dogs? We ask because, if you don’t, there’s no point in reading any further. Pete’s sells hot dogs, and only hot dogs. Oh, there are toppings to choose from and, of course, they also offer drinks. You can even nab some packaged chips or cookies if you must. But Pete’s is about the tube steak, fast and hot. They want you in and out. And they’ll get no complaints from us. Continue reading

Land-Grant Brewing Company, Columbus OH

REVIEW

We made a pit stop in Columbus, Ohio during our day-long drive from Pennsylvania to Cincinnati, just long enough to enjoy a pair of beers outside on the warm and sunny patio at Land-Grant Brewing. The clear, deep brown Son of a Mudder was more refreshing than a typical brown ale, probably due to the slightly elevated hop level. The toasty brown flavors were not overstated, making it quite drinkable for even a dark ale-frowner like Sue, although she enjoyed a Kölsch-style ale that is perfect on a hot, sunny afternoon such as this. Continue reading

American Legion Post 1 Restaurant, Wheeling WV

REVIEW

Have you served at least one day of active American military service during wartime? No? Not a problem! You can still join the American Legion for a meal, at Wheeling Post 1, said to be the oldest American Legion post in the U.S. Step inside and you find yourself in what appears to be a bar with a few tables to the right. We arrived a bit late for lunch on a Saturday. The bar was well-attended but we were the only dining customers. Continue reading

Schwalm’s Cleona Restaurant, Cleona PA

REVIEW

Good country cooking is becoming ever more scarce in eastern Pennsylvania Amish country. We keep searching but the results have been lukewarm at best. Schwalm’s feels right but, based on a first visit, we’re just not yet convinced. There were decent things to eat (in a couple of cases, more than decent), but most of what we tried, while all perfectly edible, was simply standard issue luncheonette food. Continue reading

Tony’s Texas Hots, Johnson City NY

REVIEW

New York State hot dog cookery covers a broad stylistic swath, from the snapping, garlicky beef franks of “The City,” to the slashed, grilled-over-coals beef-and-pork beauties of Buffalo and Rochester. Virtually every city of any size will have one or more old-time hot dog shops, often passing the years with little or no attention, but with a steady, loyal clientele. Continue reading

Todaro Bros., New York NY

REVIEW

We love the New York City hero. We also love Philadelphia hoagies and Louisiana muffulettas and all their regional brethren. A muffuletta is defined by the olive salad garnish. A hoagie, unless otherwise specified, comes with lettuce, tomato, and onion (order a cheesesteak hoagie, as opposed to a cheesesteak, and you are requesting your sandwich to be garnished [however ill-advised] with lettuce, tomatoes, and onions). Continue reading

Swan Market, Rochester NY

REVIEW

Who doesn’t love grocery store dining? There’s something especially appealing about sitting amongst the shelves of canned beans and boxes of elbow macaroni while chowing down on a drippy burger or plate of crunchy catfish. We always thought you had to head south to find places like this, until now. The Swan Market is a German meat market/grocery, located in a residential Rochester neighborhood, that offers a bargain lunch four days a week. And the Swan is no Northern knockoff of a Southern tradition; it is thoroughly Rochesterian in character. Continue reading

Steve’s Pig & Ox Roast, Lackawanna NY

REVIEW

When they say Pig & Ox Roast, they’re not kidding (well, they are kidding just a little: they roast beef, not oxen, which are actually the same creature, the latter being trained and used as draft animals). Check out the long window along one side of the dining room, through which you can inspect the huge roasting contraption. If you come at the right time, you’ll see the hunks of meat (which include lamb and turkey, too) slowly becoming the stuff of which these fine sandwiches are made. Continue reading

Saltsman’s Hotel, Ephratah NY

REVIEW

If it’s spring, it’s milkweed time in Ephratah! Would you like to sample one of the more esoteric American regional specialties? Then head to Saltsman’s Hotel in late May or early June to try some verdant milkweed. Continue reading

Savenor’s Butcher Shop, Cambridge MA

REVIEW

Savenor’s Butcher Shop of Cambridge, MA is not listed on any “Best Burger in Boston” list. You won’t find it on one of those sprawling “Best Burgers in New England” lists from some obscure blog that pops up on your Facebook feed. They don’t even have the best burger in America. What they do have, however, is this: Savenor’s has the best burger in the universe. And it’s only available on Fridays (and now Saturdays) from noon to 3 p.m. Continue reading

Rose & Joe’s Italian Bakery, Astoria NY

REVIEW

We both grew up in the suburbs of New York City during the 1960s and have fond memories of the breads turned out from the ovens of our local Italian bakeries. These brawny Italian loaves were destined to be split and layered with cold cuts or loaded with meatballs and Italian sausage for heroes, or sliced vertically every inch or so and spread with garlic butter, then wrapped in foil and baked for ’60s-style garlic bread. Sometimes we’d just eat hunks torn from the loaf and smeared with margarine (or, rarely, butter), leaving the table blanketed with crumbs from the shattering crust. Continue reading

Rizzo’s Fine Pizza, Astoria NY

REVIEW

What exactly is Sicilian pizza? When we were kids in NY, we used to eat it all the time. Its defining characteristic, to us, was the thick, bready crust, sturdy enough to support every topping in the house (except anchovies). So when we heard about the oxymoronic-sounding thin-crusted Sicilian, we became curious: how is it possible? A little investigation turned up the fact that Sicilian pizza as made in the US is not like pizza in Sicily; it’s an Italian-American invention. There’s no reason Sicilian has to have a thick crust. But there are unique Sicilian characteristics beyond the rectangular dimensions. Continue reading

Wooden Heads Gourmet Pizza, Kingston ON Canada

REVIEW

We enjoyed the combination of prosciutto, rosemary, and roasted garlic, if not the crust.

We enjoyed the combination of prosciutto, rosemary, and roasted garlic, if not the crust.

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Pearl Oyster Bar, New York NY

REVIEW

You can eat some of the finest, and most expensive, seafood in the world in New York City, at restaurants like Le Bernardin and Oceana. What interests us more, though, are places like the Pearl Oyster Bar, a casual joint in the same urban spirit as the Swan Oyster Depot in San Francisco or the bar at The Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station. Continue reading

Waupoos Estates Winery, Picton ON, Canada

REVIEW

This salad garnish to a hamburger was fresh and summery.

This salad garnish to a hamburger was fresh and summery.

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Mike’s Deli, Bronx NY

REVIEW

Mike’s Deli is the Italian grocery of our dreams! And it’s barely a grocery at that; mostly, it’s a deli counter, packed literally to the rafters with hanging prosciutti, curing dry sausages, cheeses, oils, imported dried pastas, breads and rolls, jars of pickled vegetables… the sights, sounds, and smells cause sensory overload. Continue reading

Trattoria Mario, Florence, Tuscany, Italy

REVIEW

Noccioloni su' Fagioli: bean soup with pasta.  Bean soups with pasta or farro (a type of wheat) frequently appear on Tuscan menus.  The beans in this soup have been pureed to a smooth texture.

Noccioloni su’ Fagioli: bean soup with pasta. Bean soups with pasta or farro (a type of wheat) frequently appear on Tuscan menus. The beans in this soup have been pureed to a smooth texture.

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