Saltbox, Montauk, NY

Looking back on 2017,  I remembered I never posted about our vacation in Amagansett last summer. Suddenly I realized it’s mid-March already. Since Montauk can be a little crowded and crazy during the “high” season (July through August), we like to stay outside the main part of town in Amagansett. I was looking through the over 500 photos on my phone and remembered we went to a new Seafood restaurant called the Saltbox. You might want to visit the website for the Saltbox and check out their menu page.

I’m a seafood lover. Although, I’m mostly vegan (and vegetarian), I am not ready to give up fish – yet. While we’re vacationing in Montauk, we like to mostly stay low-key in the atmosphere (and price as much as you can on the East End), but we like to go to at least one pricier and trendy restaurant for the short 4.5 days we’re there. This place really made it worth our while. It was pricier than our usual fare, but the quality of the food and presentation was excellent!

Seared Scallops

I have to say these scallops were the best I’ve ever had – really. The plating, the taste and the flavor contrasts between the spicy quinoa salad with the cilantro jalapeño aioli and those perfectly seared scallops – the combination was pure heaven for scallop lovers.

Baja Fish Tacos

My boyfriend had the Baja fish tacos. He opted to order four of them, but could have ordered only three. He was stuffed, but ate all of them since they were that good. I had a taste and they were very flavorful from the sriracha mayo; absolutely worth trying.

The summer season is only a few months away and I might want to go back to the Saltbox again this year. It’s tough since we’re only there for four nights, and sometimes we like to mix in some new restaurants with the tried and true places for lobster rolls.

Even though we were stuffed from dinner, we had some jelly filled croissants waiting back in our hotel room to have for dessert. This was our vacation and it was definitely the time to indulge. We picked up the croissants from the Montauk Bake Shoppe earlier in the day since they tend to close early whenever we’re there. If you want to have some for dessert, it’s a good idea to pick them up earlier the same day so you can have an after dinner snack 🙂

Spring is next week, but we still have snow on the ground here on Long Island. More snow is predicted again for next week. I’m hanging on for the real spring weather. At least there’s more daylight now. Here’s hoping you try some new interesting cuisine for the spring 2018 season. Until next time…happy food exploring.

Advertisements

Curry Club, East Setauket, NY

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

It was a “special occasion” so I was in the mood for Indian food. Since it’s pretty fattening, this is an occasional indulgence for me. My other half is also a fan of this cuisine, which makes me extremely fortunate. Curry Club has been around for over 20 years, since 1996, and there is a reason why they’re still around. Let’s face it, they are practically the only game in town for Indian food in Suffolk County. Now if we were looking for Indian food in Nassau, Hicksville is the place to be! The food is authentic and very good at the Curry Club. The only other restaurant I really liked in Suffolk County for Indian food was House of India in Huntington Village.

Curry Club has always has held a special place in my heart. I first went there in 2000; my sister had graduated from SUNY Stony Brook and we went there afterwards to celebrate. I had revisited again when I was early on in my relationship and we went there around 2008. It was my man’s first time having Indian food at a restaurant and not frozen chicken tikka masala from Trader Joe’s. He was hooked, too.

Hadn’t been to Curry Club in a while- maybe at least four or five years. The ambiance was classy and seemed they updated the dining room chairs and maybe the tables. It was crowded and this was a good sign, but it was a Friday night and my boyfriend and I had a 6:30 reservation. We arrived on time and were seated immediately. I love that! I had Shrimp Korma and it was very good, but I forgot how creamy and somewhat bland korma is. It’s very good, but I prefer more spicy curries nowadays, and less creamy. My boyfriend had the vegetable curry and I really liked his sauce much better than mine; it had much more character. We also had the vegetable Biryani since the entrée doesn’t come with any rice. It was a huge portion, and large pieces of veggies (like string beans, cauliflower and peas). Delicious! Next time I’d get a more plain rice since this was really a stand-alone entrée and the flavors were in too much competition.

Almost forgot to mention, their lentil soup (also known as Dal) is smoothly pureed and wonderful. They use the yellow lentils for this soup, and it’s a winner in my book.

No room for dessert. We took home a very large amount of food in our doggy bags. Will definitely be coming back soon. Highly recommend this place for great Indian food in Suffolk! Check out Curry Club online and make sure to have reservations set for weekends, as they get very crowded. 

If you’ve never had Indian food, I’d recommend having a curry, but ask for it on the milder side, or get some tandoori chicken (if you’re a meat eater). If you like very hot and spicy, then try the Vindalu, or also called Vindaloo, but this is very, very spicy for me. Venturing into this cuisine doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating; it can be fun! 

 

 

Porto Fino Restaurant, Huntington, NY

Met up with good friends this past weekend at Porto Fino Restaurant in Huntington Village. My friends mainly like Italian food; this makes our choices limited. Since we had been to this place a while ago, and it was good (from my vague memory from a few years ago), it was a convenient location to meet in the middle of the Island. Even though I eat a lot of Italian food (since I’m living with an Italian American man), good Italian food doesn’t get boring when it’s done right. My friend wanted to meet at this place because she remembered the food was very good, portions were large and prices were reasonable. Sounds like a winning combination then, right? Oh and they take reservations, which is key on a Saturday night.

We arrived at 7:00 pm, and my friends were already waiting inside for us. The place was packed to full capacity. The manager informed us that there would be a wait since there was a family who arrived 45 minutes past their reservation, and this was holding up some of the availability. My girlfriend and I are not very patient when it comes to eating out, and we did have a reservation. I cut them some slack that night, as it appeared that everyone who lived in the general area was out having dinner and this place was hopping for a reason. It’s a casual atmosphere and they serve pizza, but offer much more on their extensive menu.

One of the main reasons I think they were so busy is because the food is delicious and they give you family style portions for reasonable prices.  My entree was the Rigatoni Toscana, which comes with crumbled sausage, but I asked our server to leave out the sausage since I’m a Flexitarian now, or more likely a Pescatarian. We mostly eat a vegan/vegetarian diet, but with some fish every week or two. This is also known as pesco-vegetarianism. This entree was simply wonderful. They prepared the escarole, cannellini beans and rigatoni with garlic and olive oil; this was perfection and better than expected.

My boyfriend ordered the Shrimp Marinara, which has become his “usual” since he’s very recently avoiding tofu more since men supposedly should avoid soy. I don’t really agree with this theory, but respect his choice anyway. I am avoiding cholesterol this week, and so I didn’t even taste any of his shrimp. They were huge and he said they were very good, as was the marinara.

My girlfriend got their special – it was a seafood stew, also known as Cioppino. On the menu they have a Linguine Portofino, but this special was probably much larger and looked amazing. She was somewhat underwhelmed with the bland flavor, and ended up getting a couple of sides of marinara to liven up her entree. She liked it much better after adding the sauce. The white wine and garlic wasn’t cutting it. From my own experience I also think this dish makes more sense with a marinara.

My friend’s boyfriend got the Penne ala Vodka and added broccoli to it for a healthier spin on this decadent entree. He was the only one,  who ate everything on his plate. The rest of us took a large container of leftovers home, but he’s usually the one who finishes his entree and sometimes has a soup and appetizer. The guy has a very healthy appetite.

My friends shared the chocolate mousse cake. This looked off the charts mouthwatering! Again, I didn’t have any since I’m going for my annual physical soon and getting my blood tested. In the near future there will be an occasion for me to have dessert out, and I’ll fully enjoy it – guilt free. The calories won’t count that day.

We will get through this winter together. Happy food exploring.

 

Toast Coffeehouse, Port Jefferson, NY

Tofu Scramble

 

Coconut Multigrain French Toast

We wanted to get to Toast Coffeehouse in Port Jefferson for a while, but it’s such a popular place and it doesn’t seat that many people, so getting in on the weekends is impossible. I am not one for waiting close to an hour for a table during peak brunch time on a Sunday morning. When I’m hungry, I’m “hangry” at times and my “bitchy resting face” is evident when I need food. We got there relatively early, maybe about 9:15 AM, and this was a Friday morning. There were people there, but it wasn’t filled to capacity. If this was the weekend, it would be nuts. After an hour, it was completely packed!

At this point, I’m a mostly vegan/vegetarian, but still eat fish around once a week or every other week. You could say I’m in the lite Pescatarian realm. Since eggs affect my stomach sometimes, and I enjoy a good tofu scramble, I ordered the Tofu Scramble for breakfast. As you can see from the photo, this was not a real Tofu Scramble. I’ve made my own and have had it numerous times from a couple of restaurants; my favorite is either from Joni’s Kitchen or Naturally Good Foods & Cafe both in Montauk. This Tofu Scramble at Toast was just some cubed tofu that was browned – not much effort going into this and far from a decent Tofu Scramble! It was okay for what it was – just some grilled veggies and tofu on a plate with some very good real potato home fries. Found the portion to be on the small side for the price, and I don’t like to eat huge meals. Not all that impressed with this dish. However, if you want to make a real Tofu Scramble, this recipe for a 10-Minute Scrambled Tofu looks decent. I haven’t made my own in a while since I wasn’t too successful last time I tried, but I may give this recipe a whirl.

My boyfriend ordered their Coconut Multigrain French Toast. This was topped with mango and bananas, and he felt the portion was pretty light and the price was rather steep for the portion size.  He was disappointed, but I think he liked the taste of the French toast.

We both left feeling underwhelmed. I really wanted to tell the waitress that I wasn’t impressed with the cubed tofu, and that this wasn’t a Tofu Scramble, but I didn’t say a word. I would probably go back at some point and get a regular omelet or scrambled egg breakfast, or maybe their Avocado Toast, but never the Tofu Scramble again. Can’t exactly recommend this place for breakfast/brunch, but there are plenty of interesting options. They have some choices for vegans, but not many. You can check out the Toast Coffeehouse menu and decide for yourself. Besides the Port Jefferson location, you can also visit them in Patchogue as well.

I’ll hold out for a Tofu Scramble burrito when I go to Montauk this summer. Happy spring 🙂

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.  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 Kitchen and Naturally Good Foods Cafe are not to be missed, especially if you’re looking for vegan/vegetarian options for breakfast, lunch or dinner!  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.

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. They’re now under new ownership, but have the same great chef. You can order takeout directly from this site for Raan Thai.

Happy summer 🙂

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 🙂