Left at the Fork

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Category: Reviews (page 1 of 15)

Terrapin, Virginia Beach VA

REVIEW

Calling all Deadhead locavore herpetologists! Here’s your restaurant! Owner/executive chef Rodney Einhorn named his restaurant after the Dead’s Terrapin Station while also paying tribute to the local diamond-back terrapins. Terrapin has long been “the best restaurant in town,” but they recently underwent a makeover so that today’s edition is a more casual and accessible place, while retaining the uncompromisingly fresh and creative food. 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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Steinhilber’s, Virginia Beach VA

REVIEW

If you spend some time in Virginia Beach, and local cuisine interests you, you’ll probably do a little research. The name Steinhilber’s will come up repeatedly, touted for their fried shrimp. So you do a little more digging on Steinhilber’s and discover this is no beachside fried seafood shack. Rather, it’s an expansive, old-school restaurant from 1939, on the grounds of a former country club, popular for weddings and anniversaries. If that dissuades you from paying Steiny’s a visit, you will have made a huge mistake. Continue reading

Taste of Smithfield, Smithfield VA

REVIEW

When you’re in Smithfield, Virginia you’re in the heart of ham and peanut country. Sure, times have changed, as they always do – the giant pork processor in town, Smithfield Foods, is now Chinese-owned, and the last Smithfield ham smokehouse in town was shut down last year. Hogs no longer graze on harvested peanut fields to fatten up, but the law still requires the hams to be produced, and smoked, within the town limits to be called Genuine Smithfield Hams. (What Smithfield Foods plans to do is still up in the air; they have a large backlog of aging Smithfield hams available to carry them for a while.) Continue reading

12 Farms, Hightstown NJ

REVIEW

We’re keeping our fingers crossed. Restaurants like this rarely open in our neck of the woods, and even more rarely do they stay open very long. Yet 12 Farms, the farm-to-table eatery in Hightstown, has been up and running for over four years and, as far as we can tell, is thriving. Yippee! Continue reading

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

Ice Cream on Grand, Englewood NJ

REVIEW

Ice Cream on Grand is one unique ice cream shop. All the ice cream is homemade, using fresh fruits and quality ingredients, but it has none of that preciosity you find in those urban ice cream sanctuaries found in city neighborhoods populated by 20-somethings. There are crowd-pleasing flavors and colors, like at Baskin-Robbins, but unlike BR, this ice cream is really, really good. 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

Paul’s Pasta Shop, Groton CT

REVIEW

We live in a part of the country where casual Italian restaurants are more common than fast-food restaurants, so you might figure it’d take a lot just to get us to walk through the doors of an Italian eatery when we travel, not to mention come away impressed. But impressed we were with Paul’s Pasta Shop of Groton, which would have fit in quite nicely with the rest of the old-time joints back in our old NJ Italian neighborhood (when it was still an Italian neighborhood). 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

Buttonwood Farm, Griswold CT

REVIEW

We’d heard good things about the ice cream at Buttonwood Farm, but it was a dreary, drizzly evening as we motored through the rural Connecticut countryside. Surely we’d be their only customers when we arrived, if they were even still open. Perhaps on this most uninviting day for ice cream they decided to close up early. Turning in to Buttonwood from the country road, we were astonished to see an ice cream stand and parking lot bustling with activity. What were they all here for? Was there some sort of event we were unaware of? Continue reading

PJ’s Pancake House and Tavern, Robbinsville NJ

REVIEW

PJ’s is one of those longtime Princeton breakfast institutions that seem to exist in just about every college town: not especially known as a haven for breakfast epicureans, but popular. They’ve been branching out lately, expanding to five restaurants in the area with the recently opened Robbinsville spot. They’re also trying to break out of their breakfast-only identity, with what they call a tavern menu and outdoor bistro-style seating. Judging from the Robbinsville  location, we’d have to say the tavern-like atmosphere kills the breakfast mood more than it helps the lunch/dinner vibe. 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

Kohr’s Frozen Custard, The Original, Seaside Heights NJ

REVIEW

Kohr’s Frozen Custard, The Original… Kohr’s Frozen Custard Inc. … The Original Kohr Bros. Frozen Custard … those are just three of the many Kohr’s custard stands you’ll find up and down the east coast, mostly along boardwalks in New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia. Are they the same company? Are they related in some way? Continue reading

Jersey Roll, Seaside Heights NJ

REVIEW

Pizza, cheesesteaks, frozen custard, Italian sausage sandwiches – that’s been our Jersey boardwalk menu for as long as we can remember. And that menu has served us well. Today, however, the honor roll will have to make room for a fifth member of the fat and salt brigade. The pork roll, egg, and cheese sandwich at Jersey Roll, towards the north end of the Seaside Heights boardwalk, is not only worth saving precious boardwalk stomach real estate for, but can compete with any in the Garden State. Continue reading

Johnson’s Drive-In, Siler City NC

REVIEW

Tucked away in a corner of central North Carolina, Siler City is a half-hour from Greensboro and any interstate highway, which makes Johnson’s Drive-In a destination lunch. Serving up burgers and fries since 1946, Johnson’s is a humble house that sits among chain fast-food joints on Highway 64 that crosscuts town. Inside, you’ll find a dozen counter stools and a handful of four-tops and, most likely, a long line of hungry customers. Open only for lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the business closes when they run out of burgers—which happened to a patron’s son sitting next to me at the counter. “I knew I was cutting it close when I got here at 1:50 last summer,” he explained to me. “But I live in Florida and haven’t been able to return until today.” Continue reading

Maverick Chocolate, Cincinnati OH

REVIEW

We enjoy Hershey’s milk chocolate as much as the next guy… actually, we probably enjoy it much more than the next guy. Most chocolate enthusiasts find Hershey’s sour and gritty. Try as we might, we have no idea what they’re talking about. We really don’t think it’s about nostalgia, either, but who knows. That said, our catholic palates embrace the “good” stuff as well, especially the interesting, nuanced bean-to-bar chocolates crafted by artisans like the folks at Maverick Chocolate. 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

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