Wild Edibles – Oysters are in Season!

I’m an oyster lover. Can’t get enough of those briny bivalves.

So when a girlfriend suggested that we get together at Wild Edibles Oyster Bar, I was game. Wild Edibles is a seafood purveyor that has a stand in Grand Central Station and its own small restaurant in Midtown East. It carries incredibly fresh fish and offers a sustainability guide so you can see how sustainable the fish is that you are buying or eating. I haven’t ever bought fish from them, but have often ogled the goods in Grand Central Station.

The restaurant is tiny, with a small bar and a few tables. It is definitely casual and extremely focused on seafood. If you don’t like fish or shellfish, don’t eat here.

But if you do…prepare to be amazed. You can choose from a variety of menu items, specials, or even just choose a fresh fish from the market case and design your own spices and marinades for it!

We went with a few oysters:

Kumamoto – small, sweet, creamy. A great beginner oyster. 

Skookum – like the Kumamoto, but with more body and richness. 

Salt Aire – Large, briny, pleasantly metallic. An oyster for oyster lovers. 

Beau Soleil – a classic oystery flavor. Mild, briny, with a very “oceanic” taste

Blue Point – Incredibly fresh and mineral-y. Full of body with a plump texture – one of my favorites of the night.

Canada Cup – Juicy and meaty, with a very tart, briny finish. Delicious with some cocktail sauce and a slice of buttered bread to cut through the salt of it.

 

These oysters were around $2.25 each – not cheap, but absolutely worth it. So fresh, so delicious, so unpretentious. And every day there is a happy hour, where oysters are only a dollar. Great service, great food, and at those happy hour prices, I will definitely be back for more of those marvelous mollusks.

Wild Edibles on Urbanspoon

Royal House Oyster Bar – The Butter, The Garlic!

I had grand plans to eat at Acme Oyster House.

I was going to order at least 3 different preparations of oysters. I was going to have my photo taken. It was one of my nonnegotiables on our New Orleans sojourn.

Needless to say, we never made it there.

We were too late, too early, too tired, too hungry, or all of the above to wait the line.

PS, lines for restaurants are a thing in New Orleans. They are outside almost every restaurant and everyone just waits pleasantly until they are seated. The open container laws might have something to do with how patiently everyone waits. 

However, being whiny New Yorkers, we all settled for a little oyster house down the street. And we are SO glad that we did!

IMG_20131027_143626_949Royal House Oyster Bar is located in a typical French Quarter style home on the totally charming Royal Street. Flanked with antique stores and vine-lined iron trellises, the restaurant’s most lovely aspect is its second floor which opens onto a narrow balcony.

The whole time we ate, we heard jazz musicians down in the street playing. Eating whilst listening to jazz waft up from the historic street below? Does it get any better? IMG_20131027_143632_546The restaurant is very relaxed, with a bar-meets-casual restaurant atmosphere. It is perfect fora  relaxed, boozy lunch, but it would be good for a low-key dinner, too.

IMG_20131027_144314_572Bloody Mary

This city just loves my favorite cocktail! And this one was almost…almost…as good as my famous 3 Day Bloody Mary. It’s made with olive and pepper infused vodka, so the alcoholic kick is very slight. It’s zesty and very vegetal tasting – You really get that oniony-garlicky-tonatoey-olivey kick. It’s practically healthy! I drank two…and then I napped.

New Orleans involves a lot of napping, post eating. IMG_20131027_145811_783Redfish beignets

Because our server told us that you can’t go to NOLA and not eat redfish. These are, as a dining companion put it “like General Tso’s chicken meets fish fingers.” By Jove, he is right! Meaty, mild redfish is encased in a thick, beignet batter and served with a sweet, spicy dipping sauce. The finishing touch is…wait for it…powdered sugar. It sounds horrible, I know, but somehow the sweetness negates any muddy taste and makes the clean flavor of the fish shine though. The bit of heat in the sauce keeps it from being too weird or sweet. This is a surefire way to get non-fish eaters to like a seafood dish! IMG_20131027_145817_754Crab claws in garlic butter sauce

A misnomer. This appetizer should be called crack. Just plain old crack. It’s that addictive. Miniature crab claws, already cracked, swim in a buttery ,creamy, vaguely spicy sauce that is so garlicky that you might smell my breath right through your computer screen. It’s bright with lemon and the crab meat is so insanely sweet that I was gobsmacked. The sauce is just unreal. The server told us the garlic makes it special, but I’m pretty sure that the butter helps too. Wow.

chargrilled oystersChargrilled oysters with butter, garlic, and Parmesan cheese

Notice a theme here? Garlic and butter are big players in the seafood dishes here, and with good reason. I find gulf oysters to be a little dull tasting and they really benefit from strong seasonings. This topping is perfect. The cheese might sound unconventional to pair with an oyster, but it just creates a nutty, crunchy aspect that enhances the mollusks mild salinity. The garlicky butter sauce is bread dippin’ good. This may be the best dish I had on the entire trip. It’s just so tasty – big and bright flavors in an unexpected combination. oyster po boyOyster BLT po boy

Awww yeah. Fully dressed. Now THIS is a po boy. Lettuce, tomato, pickles, mayo, bacon, fried oysters, and chipotle remoulade all layered on soft, dense French bread. The sandwich did need some more mayo, but it is a totally satisfying meal. A crunchy crust surrounds the piping hot oysters – soft but not mushy – really fabulous. The bacon is the perfect additional salty crunch and the pickles – what a revelation! Pickles and oysters are just delicious together – the salty, bright flavors work so well together and lighten up a rather heavy sandwich. I am a po boy lover, and though the accompanying fries were mediocre at best, this po boy is a winner.

The whole restaurant is a gold medalist! Royal House was a last minute stop, but it had some of my favorite food of the trip. Those buttery, garlicky oysters. That buttery, garlicky crab. The butter…the garlic! The atmosphere is totally delightful and just what I had imagineed before I visited The Big Easy. It’s all jazz and balcony and seafood and…lovely. Fair prices, efficient service, and really great food.

It’s relaxed NOLA at its best. 

Champlin’s – New England Seafood at its Best

One of the best things about living on the east coast is your proximity to other states and their indigenous foods. In one day, you can travel through 3 or 4 states and try everything from New York pizza  to Connecticut hot dogs to Rhode Island seafood!

 Champlin’s is a seafood shack in Narragansett, Rhode Island that is hailed as having some of the freshest and most delicious seafood in all of Southern New England.

 It is part restaurant, part fish market, and the vibe is uber-relaxed seafood shack.

 You might want to sit outside in the summer, but in the winter, it is INSANELY cold, and empty!

You order up front, gather hot sauce and lemon, and wait for your number to be called.

Stuffies

Stuffies are giant clams called quahogs that are chopped (they are too tough to eat when they are whole), then mixed with bread or crackers, peppers, and an assortment of other spices. The clam mixture is then stuffed into the shell and baked. It may be my FAVORITE way to eat clams.

This stuffie is good but not fantastic. A bit dry and crumbly, mixed with slightly sauteed red peppers and large pieces of clam. Sadly, it lacks the moist consistency and truly in your face briny taste of a truly awesome quahog.

Don’t get me wrong…it is still really delicious. Just not in the upper pantheon of quahog-ness.

Clam Cakes

A hot, savory doughnut. Crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside.  Bready, salty doughnuts studded with huge bits of tender and salty clams.

This could turn anyone into a clam lover. Dip it in some malt vinegar and it is a tangy-salty-fried haven of flavor.

Lobster bisque

Creamy, rich, and deeply flavored with the buttery taste of lobster. It has a balanced flavor with plenty of sherry and zippy cayenne pepper playing off of the naturally mild lobster. This seems less like a cream soup with lobster and more like the liquid essence of lobster that simply happened to be creamy. Really fulfilling and delicious on a winter’s day.

Or in the middle of summer.

Anytime you’re awake, really.  

Lobster roll

The lobster roll is exemplary, as far as Maine style lobster rolls go. That means that it has finely diced celery, a bit of mayo and is served on a buttered, toasted, top split hot dog bun. Lots of tail and claw meat, cooked until done but not rubbery, are mixed with crunchy celery and creamy mayo to create a delicious lobster salad. Nestled in that warm toasted bun, the lobster is tender but retains a light bite that keeps the shellfish from being mushy. It is light, rich and carries the fresh taste of the ocean.

I can’t recommend Champlin’s enough! The food is incredibly well priced, incredibly fresh and incredibly delicious. Though there is nothing earth shattering or amazingly inventive at this restaurant, that isn’t why you go there. You go there for fresh seafood, perfectly prepared. Only a few hours a way. Cooked by the people who caught it.

Man, I love the east coast!

Champlin's Seafood Deck on Urbanspoon

Fish Tag – A Smoked Salmon Bonanza

In New York, you have to keep your head down.

Nope, I don’t mean work hard.

I mean that you literally have to position your head downwards in order to see half the great restaurants here. 

After all, if I didn’t keep my head down, I would totally have missed Fish Tag.

Michael Psilakis’ fish and charcuterie oriented restaurant got mixed reviews when it opened, but it sounded intriguing anyway. However, it somehow got lost in the shuffle of restaurants on my radar, until my family and I were walking past it and caught view of it this past weekend.

 Though you must descend steps to reach the restaurant, the main dining space is incredibly bright and clean thanks to larges skylights and windows to a small outdoor garden. The look is clean and minimalist – very Scandinavian. The vibe is extremely quiet – not a place for small children or loud, raucous group parties.

 Grilled Cheese with Pork Belly and Poached Egg

A hearty and well made dish. Crisp bread surrounded mild, melty cheese and tender pork belly. The pork belly was more salty than smoky, which worked well with the cheese’s mild taste and the perfectly poached egg. This grilled cheese could have benefited from a slightly tangier cheese, like tallegeio, but it was still tasty and satisfying.

 Fig, Proscuitto and Manouri Bruschetta

Though the ingredients sounded wonderful, this was very disappointing. The figs were very soft and sweet – delicious on their own, but they rendered the dish too sugary. The prosciutto was in such minute amounts that it did nothing to add crunch or salt to the dish. The best aspects of this were the creamy manouri cheese(like a fattier, richer ricotta), and the perfectly charred bread.

 Gaspe Salmon with Bagel, Pickled Vegetables, Fennel Salad, and Creme Fraiche

There was a variety of smoked salmons offered, and I went with the Gaspe because it was described as lush, delicate, and succulent. I could go on and on about the way the salmon tasted but…why should I? That is exactly how it tasted. It had a firm texture, with a good amount of salt but not too much smoke, which is what I like in a smoked salmon. My father had the Irish smoked salmon. I really enjoyed that one more – it was even less fishy than my excellent gaspe salmon. The accompaniments were all first rate – the pickled cauliflower, briny olives, tart creme fraiche, tangy fennel, and chewy bagel made for a brunch fit for a Jewess*.

 Greek Spoon Salad with Tomato, Cucumber, Feta, Onion, Peppers, Olives, Grilled Kale, Radishes, Red Wine Vinaigrette

This simple Greek salad that would have been good on its own but was propelled to greatness by the grilled kale. The kale became so charred, so rich and meat-like that it added a whole other dimension to the salad. The tomatoes tasted sweeter, the feta tasted sharper, and the dressing tasted brighter. I will absolutely be grilling kale at home from now on.

Smashed Fries

Not listed as a side dish, our very sweet server let us order a side of these for the table. And they are. DYNAMITE! Made from starchy Idaho potatoes, these were somewhere between roasted potatoes, french fries, and hash browns. Thick as steak fries, but with the tender insides of baked potatoes and the crispiest crust I have ever had…these are phenomenal. Though I don’t think they were cooked in animal fat, they couldn’t be improved upon even if they were. Just greasy enough to remind you they were an indulgence, and perfectly seasoned, these were so good that any dipping sauce was totally unnecessary. A must order.

Fish Tag is a great spot for brunch with your parents. Not a destination restaurant, but the prices are very fair for the amount and quality of food provided. The service is great and the surroundings are nice but not stuffy. The smoked salmon is incredibly delicious, and those fries knocked my socks off. And, most importantly, it reminded me why it’s always important to look down in NYC.

Besides, you know, avoiding stepping in dog poop.

*Jewess (def): A woman raised in the Jewish culture. She is good at bargain shopping, bad at sports, and has impeccable taste in smoked fish. 

 

Fish Tag on Urbanspoon

Millesime – A Brasserie Blast from the Past

One of the hidden reviews that didn’t get transferred when my blog moved. Let’s give it another look, shall we?

Millesime has been called many things. A sleeper hit. The restaurant with the best Caesar Salad in NYC. But the restaurant that will make you reconsider crabcakes as the finest fish cakes in the world? It has never been called that.

 Until now.

Millesime, in the Carlton hotel, is a beautiful, Disney-fied version of a grand French brasserie. It specializes in traditional seafood, including a huge selection of fresh oysters. It’s large and spacious, with a magnificent domed ceiling. It’s a great date spot.

Oysters

You can’t go wrong with oysters here. The selection changes daily and whether you like large, briny ones or small, creamy ones, you will find fresh, impeccably shucked specimens here.

And the red wine and shallot butter served alongside is a total revelation. Who would ever pair red wine with oysters? But blending that deep, earthy red wine and some sweet shallots into that creamy butter, then pairing it with the hearty bread and a salty oyster is an amazing combination of deep and light, earth and sea. It is really a standout of the meal.

Smoked herring salad and warm fingerling potatoes

Another winner! The mild, smoky fillets of herring have an almost bacon-esque quality with a silky smooth texture. None of that odd fishiness that lesser herring sometimes has. The oil in which it is submerged is lemony and rich enough to spoon over the creamy, perfectly cooked potatoes. A truly perfect dish.

 The Caesar salad

Grilled romaine lettuce, topped with nutty Parmesan cheese and then dressed in a garlicky, limey dressing. The smoked cod is so thinly sliced that it is almost unnoticeable. This is tasty, yes, but the best Caesar salad? Hardly. It is a novelty item more than anything else – delicious, but not memorable, in my mind at least.

 Pike quenelles Jean-Louis Dumonet style

This is the best fish cake I have had in my life – crabcakes, be damned! A slightly crisp top gives way to a warm, velvety, pillowy interior that tastes like the world’s best hot crab dip. It is sweet and rich, languishing in this creamy, liquor-y, shellfish-flavored sauce that is so good that my dining companions and I started unabashedly spooning it into our mouths! It is truly and totally delicious, and I could have this for my meal and call it a day.

Chocolate mousse bar with tangerine sorbet

A perfect finish – smooth, deep, almost bitter chocolate tempered by sweet, tangy, bright sorbet. If the sorbet was just a touch hard, no one noticed or cared.

And why should we? This is a fantastic dining experience. Beautiful dining room, relaxed atmosphere, and a waiter who let us gab at the table for a good 3 hours without pressuring us to order a drink.

 And that’s why this review got reposted..because it’s such a winner that I really have to head back!

Millesime on Urbanspoon

Mussels Fra Diavolo – The Devil Made Me Do It!

I have very few vices.  I don’t smoke.  Don’t steal.  I gamble a little, but I don’t kick puppies or anything.

I do, however, have one devilish inclination that just won’t get out of my system…

Fra Diavolo.

Fra Diavolo is a pasta sauce that is made with tomatoes, garlic, and tons of crushed red pepper.  It’s main characteristic is the intense spice, which gives it the name “brother devil”.  It should be teeming with garlic and lip tingling spice. It’s super assertive and intense.

 Basically –  bad first date dish, great fifth date dish!

And although you can have fra diavolo plain, with lobster, or with other seafood, I prefer it most with fresh mussels.  Mussels are reminiscent of sweet, mild clams.  They are cheap, easy to prepare, and so delicious in this spicy tomato sauce!

I add fennel to this dish because it lends a really sweet, tangy note to an otherwise super savory dish, but feel free to omit it if you don’t like the licorice-y taste.

Mussels Fra Diavolo

2010-08-16 mussels fra diavolaIngredients:

2 lbs. mussels, cleaned (I like cultivated mussels, which come without beards or much dirt)

2 large cans peeled tomatoes

1 cup white wine

2 tbsp.  tomato paste

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 onion, diced

1 bunch celery hearts, diced

4 carrots, diced

1 fennel bulb, diced (reserve fronds for later use or toss)

1 bunch basil, cleaned

3 tbsp. capers

4 tbsp. butter

2 tbsp. (or less) crushed red pepper flakes

2 tbsp. olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

1. Put the canned tomatoes, tomato paste,  celery, onions, fennel and carrots into a large stockpot and set to medium high  heat. Let the whole thing boil for about 30 minutes, or until the veggies are all very soft and fragrant.

 

2. Now, add the capers, wine, and red pepper flakes. Let cook for about 10 minutes, or until the flavors start to meld.

 By this time, that sauce should smell fabulous

 3. Now, puree the whole thing in the food processor. This is the step that takes it from rustic to restaurant quality. No one wants a huge lump of onion in their mussels, but a nicely pureed sauce preserves all of that vibrant flavor.

That’s the consistency that you want.

 4. Now put some of the broth in a shallow pan over medium heat, and when it bubbles, throw in the rinsed  mussels.

 

 5. Cover the pan (you may have to do the mussels in several shifts to be able to cover the pan).

 The SECOND the mussel pops open-just a couple of minutes for some of them – take that baby out and toss it back in the pot of pureed sauce.

 6. When the mussels are all cooked (discard any that don’t pop open), add in a good handful of roughly torn basil…

and the butter. The butter adds a really luxurious, velvety finish to the sauce.
7. Taste for seasonings and serve.

This is everything you want a mussel dish to be.  Hearty, robust, spicy, fragrant, sweet from the tomatoes and salty from the capers.  The mussels are plump and juicy, infused with the savory garlic and fragrant basil.  Add some crusty sourdough bread and you are well on your way to heaven…well I guess you are really on your way to hell

But what a way to go!

Everything is Craveable at Crave Fishbar

Remember that time that a crane fell and totaled an awesome chef’s  ceviche-centric restaurant restaurant?

Well, Crave Fishbar flips the bird to that crane, proving that a reincarnation can be an improvement over the original.

BARELY avoiding making potentially offensive religious joke here.

 Crave Fishbar is on a busy restaurant crowded street in Midtown East. From the outside, it looks like a casual, nondescript restaurant.

From the inside, it is a dark, sleek space with a long bar, several high tables, and a few seats near the window. It’s narrow but well laid out, and is ideal for a first date – cozy but not cramped, romantic but not stuffy.

Bread and butter

Normally, the bread doesn’t really require a comment. This bread isn’t even anything out of the ordinary - no mysterious infusions or meat-laden butter, or anything like that. Just some soft, tangy bread with creamy whipped butter, ready to be spread. Just, in other words, what you rarely get. The bread is often too crusty or the butter is too hard, or there is only one roll when you really want two. This is a nice serving of bread with some sweet butter, and it is all that you really want when sitting down to eat on a chilly night.

Plancha grilled octopus with c Chinese broccoli and a cumin mustard vinaigrette

Up there with Periyali for the best octopus in the city. So tender that it literally cuts with a butter knife, with a very meaty, mild taste that is almost reminiscent of bone marrow. It is just so mild and rich. The broccoli is like a cross between broccoli stems and spinach, with a strong vegetal taste that perfectly counteracts the rich octopus. The vinaigrette is earthy and tangy, with the pop of mustard seeds adding yet another textural difference to the dish. The attention to that detail really elevates the plate.

Crispy pork belly with pistachio onion relish and roasted squash puree

I don’t care that this is called the fishbar. For all I care, it could be called the porkbar. This is a standout, must order dish. Juicy pork belly, almost sweet underneath its crispy, salty sheath of skin. The squash puree is incredibly warming, with notes of aromatics like cumin and coriander. The best part may be the relish – tangy, bright, and crunchy with pistachios. The pork belly is a very ample piece, and though it might be a bit much for one person, it is ideal to split.

Cauliflower with spicy prosciutto, breadcrumbs. and grana padano

Why don’t I make cauliflower this way? Boiled until it is just tender at the core, then sautéed with prosciutto, chiles, and crispy breadcrumbs. Served with torn basil and nutty grana padano, this dish is craveable in every sense of the word. It is somewhat salty, but that’s what makes it so great - it is the pasta of the vegetable world. Creamy, meaty, salty, just greasy enough…this really couldn’t’ be improved upon.

Crave Fishbar is a total gem. It isn’t cheap,but you know what? You get what you pay for. You could order a bunch of small plates, like my date and I did, or you could go the traditional route with an appetizer, entrée, and dessert. If this place were in Chelsea, it would be the talk of the town and packed every night. Because it’s in Midtown East, it’s still a little under the radar, and as such, you should run there before the secret is out.

Blue Water Grill – A Fantastic Brunch and All that Jazz

People like brunch because it’s convenient. Because it includes drinks. And because you can often do it cheaply and still have a tasty meal.

However, if you are willing to go up a wee bit on price, I have a brunch that will blow your mind.

Head to Blue Water Grill in Union Square. This BR Guest restaurant at first feels like any other corporate brunch in the city – upscale, immaculate, devoid of any personality. BUT, when you book a table, make it for the jazz room downstairs. Then, you are led from the light flooded, bustling upstairs to a small, elegant dining room below ground where, from 11:30 on, a jazz trio serenades you with some absolutely sensational live music. The longer you stay, the louder and more swinging the music gets. There is something about live music that is undeniably New York and enhances the multi-sensory experience of eating a good meal.

Spicy sausage and shrimp hash

Pork and shellfish are natural lovers – the shrimp makes the pork taste sweet and clean, while it gets the pork’s natural fattiness and full-bodied flavor. Here, huge snappy shrimp pair with jalapeno-scented breakfast sausage, creamy roasted potatoes, and soft sautéed onions. The shrimp is so sweet, with no wretched iodiney taste. Pairing the shellfish with such earthy, full flavored ingredients really ups the ante of a usual breakfast hash.

Fiery maine lobster and big eye tuna roll with green apple, avocado, and honey calamansi glaze

Fresher and more expertly made than I could possibly have imagined. The lobster is as soft and sweet as crab with the unmistakably buttery quality that only lobster has. Pairing it with the lean tuna, soft and mild, is inspired – their contrasting textures really complement each other. Tart green apple, creamy avocado, and a tart-sweet glaze complete this roll, made with excellent room temperature sushi rice. This isn’t authentic sushi, but it is incredibly delicious. It is another example of how well this restaurant does brunch.

Santa Barbara smoked salmon with accoutrements

If you ever see Santa Barbara Smokehouse fish offered, you change your previous plans, cancel all alternate ideas. This is one of the finest smokehouses in the country, is nationally recognized, and produces smoked salmon that is silky, mild, soft, velvety...it’s so good that it almost makes lox sexy. Fish this good needs not be obscured by lots of other stuff-  just a hard-boiled egg, some remoulade, and sour pumpernickel bread is necessary. A stiff, vinegar dressed salad of frisee and lightly pickled onions cleans the palate between bites, preparing it for more of that excellent smoked salmon. This dish is simple but exquisite.

Caramelized banana ice cream tower with hazelnut shell and toasted marshmallow sauce

This makes bananas foster look like Laffy Taffy. That’s how divine and purely banana-y this ice cream tastes. It tastes clean and almost floral with soft bananas interspersed in the airy ice cream. It is drizzled with bittersweet chocolate sauce and crowned with sticky, sweet marshmallow cream. Possibly the most delicious part of the dessert is its fragile hazelnut tower. Crisp, sugary, and buttery, tasting like a gigantic Florentine cookie. This dessert might have made my dad stab my sister with a fork for the last bite.

My family dines to win. 

Luckily, having to share dessert is the only downer to this brunch - each entrée, by the way, comes with a very nice mimosa or a VERY strong bloody Mary. The service is excellent, the food is way above par, and the live music is just delightful. Make no mistake, the price tag is hefty. You pay for some of the freshest seafood around. However, for brunch with the parents or a splurge-y treat…this is worth it. It’s tasty, elegant, and unique…

And all that jazz.

 

A Salt and Battery – NYC’s Own Fish and Chips

If you have ever been to England, you have undoubtedly looked the wrong way when you crossed the street, marveled at how the entire country closes early on Sundays, and eaten fish and chips.

I don’t mean fried fish and french fries. I mean fish and chips. Fresh British fish, served  under puffy golden batter alongside fat, pale yellow chips, doused with sour malt vinegar.Preferably eaten standing up. Preferably eaten slightly drunk.

There is, thankfully, a place to pretty much recreate that experience on this side of the Atlantic.

A Salt and Battery has been in Greenwich Village for a several years – it has beaten Bobby Flay in a Throwdown, been touted as the finest fried fish by The Village Voice, and has been the late night haunt for many NYU students.

The tiny shop, in a row of 2 other same-owned shops offering British candy and tea service, has only a few stools and a counter. Read the menu on the wall and order fast – if you are lucky enough to snag a seat, do it now. And do it with someone you know well – the food here isn’t right for a first date.

Fried Haddock and Chips

The real deal. Thick, flaky haddock is mild and clean tasting under a puffy, perfectly crispy sheath of golden batter. It is moist within its greaseless cage. It sits atop beautifully fried potatoes, thick and creamy within, crunchy without – just like in London. Doused with vinegar and salt until my mouth puckered, this was the best fried fish I have had in this country, without a doubt. The tartar sauce was also good, though a bit less tart than I like.

 

Mushy Peas

The perfect food for those of you who love squash puree and carrots cooked to oblivion. These are verdant and fresh without being overly grassy. They are served piping hot and need only a touch of salt to make them the perfect accompaniment to the main event.

Coleslaw

Incredibly crunchy though being very thickly sauced with a heavy, creamy dressing. Traditional without being overtly  seasoned, it provides a cooling and crispy component to the meal, juxtaposing those gloriously mushy peas.Don’t miss it if you love coleslaw – it’s a solid rendition.

Deep Fried Mars Bar

What, you though that state fairs invented these?

Imagine the world’s gooeist brownie with a molten, creamy nougat center, enclosed in doughnut batter. Yeah. Share one…don’t try to eat one on your own.

Your heart will actually beat slower from all of the fat.

 

The food is great, the service is charming, and the price can’t be beat. Don’t expect fast food – this stuff is made efficiently, but it’s made to order. And it’s worth it. Grab a  Boddignton ale, a jar of malt vinegar, and sit down to wait for one of life’s great pleasures.

And, be warned, A Salt And Battery…next time, I’m coming for the eating challenge. And I’m not going home until I win.

Seared Coriander Tuna and Soy-Sesame Soba Noodles

Step away from the ground chicken. You have had it enough. Step away from the delivery menus. You have paid that crappy Chinese restaurant’s rent one too many times. Step away from the bags of popcorn, the almost-too-old bagged salad in the fridge, and the freezer burned lasagna that your aunt made  in 2010.

Tonight, you are cooking.

It will takes some prep work. It will take  careful timing.

But it will be beautiful. It will be wholesome. And, damn it, it will be delicious.

Tonight you don’t just eat.

Tonight, you dine.

Seared Coriander Tuna and Soy-Sesame Soba

Ingredients:

1 lb. sushi grade tuna

1/2 cup cilantro, washed and chopped

1/4 onion, sliced

1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed

1 tbsp. coriander

 1 tsp. pickled ginger, minced

1 serrano chili, sliced or chopped

2 tbsp. soy sauce

For noodles

2 bundles soba noodles (usually served in bundles, otherwise, enough for 2 people), cooked

1/4 cup stock or water

3 tbsp. soy sauce

drizzle rice wine vinegar

drizzle sesame oil

1 tsp. sugar

more cilantro to garnish

1. Combine the 2 tbsp. soy sauce, onion, garlic, chile, and coriander in a Ziploc bag.

2. Add the tuna to the bag, close the bag, move the contents around so the tuna is fully immersed in the ingredients, and put it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes or up to 45 minutes to marinate. 

3. After marinating, drop the tuna in a pan on very high heat, and sear for 30 seconds on each side for rare. Save the marinade. Then, take it out of the pan and cut it against the grain on a cutting board. There is no need to let it rest before cutting. 

5. In the pan that the tuna was in, dump the marinade, onions, and chile. Extract the garlic cloves, since they will have leached all their flavor already.

6. When the onions have softened and the peppers have started to char (about 10 minutes), turn the heat down to medium and add the rest of the soy, the rice wine vinegar, the water or stock, the sugar, and the sesame oil.

7. Let it come to a boil on medium heat, then reduce the heat to low for about 5 minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Taste to make sure that the sauce is to your taste.

8. Put noodles in saucepan and coat with sauce.

9. Top noodles with tuna and extra cilantro, and serve.

This is totally how the other half eats – you know, the non-lazy, non-nyc-shoebox-sized-kitchen half. The tuna cooks so quickly it is shocking, and the salty, nutty, warm outside contrasts beautifully with the clean tasting, soft interior. This is ideal for anyone who likes spicy tuna rolls – it has all of those bright, spicy flavors. The noodles are soft and nutty, saturated with the salty, tangy flavors of the sauce. This dish can be served warm or cool, for lunch or dinner. Don’t keep it for more than one night, because tuna this rare really must be eaten quickly for safety reasons. Pair it with some Asian cucumber salad, pour yourself a glass of white wine, and enjoy dining like you have a personal chef.

Because, you do. It’s you.