Foodie by April

Local restaurant reviews by an food explorer & enthusiast!


Leave a comment

Inlet Seafood Restaurant, Montauk, NY

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Made our annual trek to Montauk again for summer 2016 and we hit up some of our favorite restaurants, which included the Inlet Seafood Restaurant. Their site is http://inletseafood.com/.  We hadn’t been there in about three years (summer 2013) and we wanted to revisit them to see if those scallops were just as good as last time. They were! This was one of the more “fancy” places to eat during our 5 day/4 night stay – and this wasn’t snobby or stuffy by any means.  After all, this place is owned by local fishermen, and they are as down to earth as you can get. They don’t mess around here and you KNOW the fish will always be fresh out of the water. 

Since Montauk is now a regular summer vacation for us, we quickly grew tired of the upper crust, overly priced atmosphere of some of the restaurants. We go there to relax and don’t want to feel pressured to dress up and look proper. That would defeat the purpose of why we go to the east end. This is also why I don’t stay in the main part of town – it’s just too loud and crazy …not to sound old, but we like to stay in a more peaceful area and so we head slightly west of Montauk.  We go there for the beach and like to stay on the beach, but we head into Montauk for the incredible food. Joni’s http://www.jonismontauk.com/ and Naturally Good Foods Cafe http://www.naturallygoodfoodsandcafe.com/6.html are not to be missed, especially if you’re looking for vegan/vegetarian options.  Alas, we’re only part-time vegans and we balance that with some fish here and there. So while in Montauk, we really enjoyed the fresh fish, but alternated with some vegan food.

Back to the Inlet. The view is amazing, as you see from our table on the upper deck.  Why sit inside (if the weather cooperates) when the view is that beautiful? The calamari appetizer pretty much did us in, but it was worth it. It was cooked perfectly (not chewy). We were so full afterwards that it was a struggle for me to finish the scallops entree. The scallops are not to be missed and they come with a velvety smooth sweet potato puree and Swiss chard. Healthy never tasted so good!  My BF had a very large plate of sushi that was even too much for him, but he finished it anyway.

No room for dessert, but after we returned to our ocean front room, we had a jelly croissant from the Montauk bakery that we bought earlier that day. The bakery wasn’t open later than 4 pm, which was mind boggling since it was usually open till about 10 pm when we’ve stayed in Montauk during previous summers.  They waited until the day we left to start their extended summer hours :(  That’s okay since we figured out to get there earlier and save our dessert for after dinner. We still love you Montauk bakery – just stay open later from June 21st on – please!

Montauk can get crazy in the summer season. Maybe they call it the “high” season because lodging prices skyrocket through the roof.  Still I will continue to return there and the Inlet remains one of my summer favorites. Go out and try them and head to the beautiful east end of Long Island to make unforgettable summer memories.


Leave a comment

Raan Thai, Smithtown, NY

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Met my girlfriend at Raan Thai in Smithtown recently and was completely blown away by how flavorful, delicious and artistically presented their food was!  Needless to say, I was very impressed…and here I was all along being very loyal to Thai House on Main St. in Smithtown, when Raan Thai was here for me and I was being very closed minded.

Had their lunch special, which is very reasonable, and it’s not easy to find a decent place for lunch open on the weekend lately. Their competition is closed for lunch (at least on Saturdays). This is what prompted me to meet my friend for lunch at Raan Thai. We each had a small salad, but easily enough for the first (or was it the second course) for lunch…can’t remember if we had the vegetable soup first or the salad. At either rate, I loved the cabbage in this vegan soup…I’m not full-time vegan, but am sometimes for several days lately …not giving up fish – yet. The salad was also great; they offered a peanut dressing or a golden bean dressing. Had to have the bean dressing since we both were curious about something different from the usual Thai peanut sauce/dressing.  Delicious!  My friend had the Spicy Drunken Noodles and commented that they could have been spicier, but she still enjoyed the entree. I had the Pad See Ew, and loved it. I asked for extra veggies (beyond the Chinese broccoli) and a little tofu. It couldn’t have been any better, and I know it sounds like a boring, glowing review, but I totally underrated this place.  The decor is clean and fairly plain, but tastefully modest and casual.

I’ll definitely be back soon and highly recommend checking them out. Here’s their site: http://raanthaiterry.eat24hour.com/menu.

Happy summer🙂


Leave a comment

Azulejos Mexican Restaurant, Smithtown, NY

Went out for our anniversary a few days ago and it had been a while since I went to Azulejos with my “other half”. This little gem is located very inconspicuously on Middle Country Road in Smithtown. It’s east of the Main Street area of town, and close to all the dealerships in the area, but west of the Smith Haven Mall. It’s not a hopping or happening location, but it seems that Azulejos is building up a steady following.  Every time I pass them by on the weekend lately, the parking lot is filled.

Check out their site here:  http://www.azulejoscuisine.org/

It was a Tuesday night and they weren’t busy, but there was a small number of people there. We arrived at 6:30, and had our choice of tables. I chose one by the window, as it’s still light out now since it’s spring time.  By the time we left, probably about an hour later, a few more people showed up.  The atmosphere is warm and welcoming. My guess is that this place is a family-run operation, but they really love what they do. Service is friendly and attentive without being too obtrusive.

When I saw the Lobster Empanadas on their specials menu I knew that they would be amazing and they were.  They were cooked perfectly and the reason why you only see one in the picture above is because my boyfriend had to take his immediately. It’s part of their tapas (or small plates) menu.  We shared an order of two and I could have easily had two more (of course between the two of us) as my main entree. They were THAT good.  It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten – seriously. 

For my main entree I had the Chiles Poblanos, which was a vegetarian version stuffed with mushrooms, onions and some chipotle aioli. Simply beautiful in presentation, but also the flavors were spot on!  How can I describe it – it wasn’t too spicy (I don’t have a very high heat threshold), but it was spicy enough. You’ll just have to go there for yourself and try it.

My boyfriend had the Shrimp with Green Sauce. It was very good, but he would get the Shrimp Fajitas next time.

Go check out this place soon …happy spring🙂


Leave a comment

Baby Moon Restaurant, Westhampton Beach, NY

I first went to this restaurant in April 2012. At that time my boyfriend, his coworker friend and I were also going to a concert at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center to see the artist Shelby Lynne. This time around, three years later, the three of us were doing the same thing! We had our reservation for Baby Moon on a Saturday night and again we were going to see Shelby Lynne at the PAC in Westhampton Beach. Talk about Deja Vu!  This place has been around for about 45 years. Check out their website here: http://babymoonrestaurant.com/. You know they’re doing something right if they’ve been in the Hamptons for this long.

We got there a little before 5:30 for our reservation, and it’s a good idea to get to this restaurant before 6 on a Saturday night. After 6, the place REALLY fills up and by about 7, it’s totally packed!  Last time we were there, I think I had some kind of flounder as my entree; maybe it was stuffed.  This time, I went healthy and had Orecchiette with Beans & Escarole. Orecchiette is little saucer-shaped pasta with a dip in the middle, which scooped up the beans and creamy sauce that formed from just the beans, garlic and olive oil. No butter in this dish!  Believe me, I love the taste of butter as much as the next person, but we’re all getting older and I’m trying to be more mindful of what I’m eating.  So, yes, this was a very healthy dish, but also very tasty. I did toss around having a fish dish, as I’m still eating fish about once a week or so, but not eating chicken really, and haven’t eaten red meat in about 15 years.

We did order a couple of appetizers though. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how I loved their Bruschetta and we got grilled calamari. I really, really  wanted the fried calamari, but we’re all trying to watch and went boring (healthy) for most of the meal. The grilled calamari was actually good! It had pesto sauce drizzled on it, and if it wasn’t for that it would have been super bland I bet. Calamari is one of those fishes that needs seasoning. That’s why I love it deep-fried, and Thai House (Smithtown, NY) serves it with their chili sauce, which is amazing. But – I’m reviewing Baby Moon in this post, so let me get back on track.

My boyfriend had Rigatoni Baby Moon–Asparagus, Peas, Eggplant & Tomato Sauce, their take on a  pasta primavera. Whenever you go to a restaurant nowadays, everyone sneaks in butter. It’s something you may not have noticed, but it’s a trick most places are using lately. So, I reminded him to ask our server if the dish is made with butter, and she said it wasn’t – just olive oil.  She seemed a little surprised that we asked, but we explained how it seemed that the butter is getting sneaked in for added creaminess. I liked that they don’t make a practice of doing this at Baby Moon – that was impressive.

Our friend John had the Baked Eggplant with Pasta and Tomato Basil Sauce off the healthy/low carb menu.  It looked good and he commented that their marinara was very good.

Just couldn’t leave without having dessert, even though I was really stuffed! I did take home about 1/2 of my entree. Both John and I had the coconut sorbet – served in a coconut shell. I love anything coconut!  It was smooth, creamy and everything I hoped it would be. My boyfriend took a few spoonfuls of my sorbet🙂  Last time we had dessert at Baby Moon, it was Tiramisu, which was one of the best we’ve ever had.  This time we just didn’t have room for that.

We had a leisurely dinner for about 1.5 hours and then had to leave for our concert to see Shelby Lynne at the PAC around the corner in Westhampton Beach. By the way she is an AWESOME performer!  Her website is: http://www.shelbylynne.com/.

Go check out Baby Moon for traditional Sicilian Italian fare and some new healthier options as well. Happy summer!

 

Kura Barn, Huntington Village, NY

1 Comment

I was trying to figure out where to meet up with my girlfriend and her boyfriend, as we like to meet up about every two months for dinner with my boyfriend.  Since we live about 25 miles apart, Huntington Village is usually where we end up.  Her son happens to be working at the Kura Barn in Huntington Village, and so I suggested that we go there.  Turns out my boyfriend’s parents were going there in the 80s and his mom said she took cooking lessons there.  It’s a family owned and run restaurant and now it’s still part of the same family; only it’s the cousin of the original owner who is running the place now. It’s a very cozy Japanese restaurant, and you can see their menu on the website:

http://www.kurabarn.com/

Let me start out by saying I ordered way too much food!  I knew about Hijiki from having it at another Japanese restaurant years ago – it’s a black seaweed and and tofu salad that doesn’t look appealing at all, but I love it.  That was filling in itself, and then I ordered the shrimp & scallop teriyaki for my dinner and also “upsized” my meal (thank you McDonald’s) to add the classic Japanese house salad with the ginger dressing (love that dressing) and also miso soup.  After finishing the miso soup, Hijiki salad and house salad, I was almost done.  I probably barely had room for dinner.  However, my girlfriend got their lobster sushi; this isn’t listed on the regular menu.   They have a little book of stuff you can order, and this is a picture book of food (like a mini photo album). It has appetizers and entrees – she ordered her lobster sushi from the little book.  The portion wasn’t enough to fill her up and so I ended up sharing some of my Teriyaki with her, and my boyfriend had their Sushi Kura Barn, which was a huge portion.  He’s never full on sushi, and he had too much.  So, he gave her some of his food. My girlfriend’s boyfriend had the chicken Teriyaki and he finished that pretty quickly.  

This place seems much more authentic than most Japanese restaurants that I’ve been to – I’m not a big fan of hibachi.  They have dishes like Sukiyaki, a Japanese type of stew or hot pot, which I haven’t had, but my boyfriend’s father had made that for him when he was a kid.  His dad was a karate sensei and had been to Japan a few times; this was someone who really knew about the culture first hand.  So, this place offers dishes beyond the usual fare at most Japanese places, and yet I chickened out and stayed in my food comfort zone and had Teriyaki.  I know we will be back there, and next time I’m getting one of the hot pot stews or sushi, but not Teriyaki again.  That’s what I order most of the time, and that’s just staying too safe.

The service there was great, but it also helped that our bus boy was my friend’s son.  My girlfriend took every opportunity she could to stuff dollar bills into her son’s apron as he came over to pour us more water or refresh our green tea. It’s like he was a stripper with all those dollar bills she was throwing his way.

The owner was very warm and friendly and came over to say hello as we were leaving. The cozy house setting does make you feel like a guest for a family dinner without all of the typical family baggage, and yet the seating wasn’t cramped like many Asian restaurants can be. I can’t wait to return.  

This gallery contains 7 photos

Azulejos, St. James, NY

Leave a comment

There’s a new Mexican restaurant in Smithtown (really St. James)  and you’ll find it where the former spot for Uncle Bacala’s was on Middle Country Road (near the Toyota dealership and some auto body shop that I can’t think of the name of right now). It’s definitely located in a challenging spot since it’s far from the main part of town in Smithtown. It’s just a few minutes from the Smithaven Mall – you must try this place for authentic and very tasty Mexican food!

We went there about a week after they opened, the weekend after Memorial Day weekend, and I made a reservation a couple of days beforehand.  It is a small place, but they were getting ready to open the upstairs section for patrons.  I would check out the upstairs section next time we go there.  When we went, they were only open for one week, and so we expected they needed to “work out some kinks” before everything was running smoothly.  Some people weren’t as patient as we were with their service, but I expected that it would take longer for our food to arrive.  The place was packed, and the downstairs portion doesn’t fit a whole lot of people.  Everything was fresh and tasty.  The fried calamari appetizer was slightly overcooked, but was still very good.

I had the vegetable fajitas and my boyfriend had the chicken fajitas. I tasted the chicken and it was well seasoned without being overly salty. 

We we skipped dessert that night. I would try something next time we go there. Check out their site (including the menus) at:
http://www.azulejoscuisine.com/.

This place has great food, and ambience. Definitely worth stopping by for a tasty, authentic Mexican meal. Planning on going back there very soon myself. Enjoy. Here’s a quick review of Azulejos in a local magazine:
http://www.etweekmedia.com/featured_restaurants.cgi

 

This gallery contains 3 photos


Leave a comment

Quinoa and Kale Salad – I cooked something!

Image

Although I love eating out and having an exotic, ethnic meal prepared for me, once and a while I like to actually cook.  In my case it’s been some baking here and there.  Years ago I found a recipe online for peanut butter cookies called “The Whole Jar of Peanut Butter Cookies”, but I’d usually cut the entire recipe in half, since I didn’t want to have 5 dozen cookies lying around.

I’ve subscribed to Smitten Kitchen for a few years, and once I made her green bean and tomato salad.  Most of the time, I just glance at the recipes and forget about them.  Life seems too busy for me to cook a recipe myself.  Then I saw this recipe for the above salad and made it last week and it was delicious!  Go to http://smittenkitchen.com/blog/2014/03/kale-and-quinoa-salad-with-ricotta-salata/ for the Smitten Kitchen recipe.  I pretty much followed her recipe, except we went vegan (sans ricotta salata) and it was still wonderful.  Trying to watch the cheese (cholesterol), as we’re all getting older.  I left some of the rib in for the kale for extra texture.  I used toasted sliced almonds; this way, I didn’t have to toast them (saved time).  It can’t hurt to eat lighter, but who says it can’t taste decent?  The combination of the dried cherries (got mine from Trader Joe’s), two different kinds of mustard and white wine vinegar – was the perfect balance of sweet and savory.  We both had lunches for most of the week last week and it just tasted better each time I ate it.

If you’re someone who doesn’t cook much (like me), this is something you can even handle.  I felt really proud of myself after making this, and that’s my photo above.  (Smitten Kitchen has her own photos of the salad on her site.)  Most of the time, I am doing the eating out and taking photos of food that someone else carefully made.  It felt like I really accomplished something when I made this salad.  You can do it, too!  It’s healthy, but it has so much flavor going on.  Raw kale, but it’s mixed with all the other ingredients and flavored so well that it just might turn you on to kale.

Happy cooking and eating….and happy spring, too.