Mint Premium Foods

19 Main St. Tarrytown, NY 10591 • (914) 703-6511

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I’ve always loved this place ever since it was on the other side of the street and just a specialty shop, so when I heard they picked up sticks and crossed the street to open a restaurant I was all “yoinks!”

And when I saw what they had done with the place, “ooo la la!” Not in a fancy shmancy way though. More like an authentic quaint shop you might expect to find in Provence.

Now I know some people complain about the price/portion size ratio but I have to say, the Truffle Eggs Benny was anything but small. Pricey, perhaps. But let’s be fair, it’s covered in lox and caviar. If you want to stay under 10 bucks go grab an Egg McMuffin. So where was I? Oh yes, the salmon and the caviar over potatoes and English muffin with the headliners, of course, poached eggs and Hollandaise. It sounded like the stuff foodgasms are made of, and I typically loves me the caviar and eggs thing, but for some reason this didn’t meet expectations. Somehow the truffles brought out too much of the fishiness and saltiness of the caviar. The English muffins, which looked like Thomas’, were overpowered- should’ve used a more substantial, homemade muffin or bread. The potatoes needed more seasoning, because they disappeared into the sauce. And the H-sauce could’ve stood for some more kick to cut through. But this is all getting very nitpicky. It’s still good, it just doesn’t hold up to the raves. There is similar version at Joseph Leonard using crème fraiche as opposed to H-sauce and it blows this away. Or as they say in France… coups il loin. I have zero idea if that’s an accurate translation or not. But if not, blame Google.

So, when all is said and done, I still feel compelled to give Mint 3 knives, regardless of the over-hyped Benny, because truly love the market side of things. So many great cheeses and cured meats, and olives and artisanal jarred goodies that it’s enough to carry them over line of three-dom.

3 teeth

 

Lola

2000 4th Ave. Seattle, WA 98121(206) 441-1430 tomdouglas.com

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When you’re staying at a hotel and you ask the concierge for restaurant recommendations, it’s always a bad sign when they recommend the one located in the hotel, just off of the lobby. It’s like, “Suuuure, and I bet your mother thinks you’re quite the catch as well.”

Well damned be my pessimism, because Lola in the Andra hotel is actually rock solid. Now, I only had breakfast there, but that was easily enough to see that Lola has serious skillz. How serious? Let’s just say Dick Cheney is hilarious by comparison.

But as serious as it is, I was giddy as a schoolgirl with my order of Tom’s Favorite Breakfast (that Tom being Tom Douglas, a Seattle restaurant icon). It’s grilled octopus, sliced purple potatoes, tender greens, bacon and green garlic yogurt capped with a sunny side egg. It’s also fan-fricken-tastic. And sure, I was like you going in, “Octopus for breakfast?” So, I asked our server if it was worth the experimentation and she responded with an emphatic yes. And now I can see why. Live and learn people, octopus is the new breakfast of champions.

However, one trick pony Lola is not. Oh no, no, no. The omelette with morels, English peas and minty feta is also dope. Made doper still by thick, meaty slabs of bacon and squashed garlic fried potatoes.

Even the tea here is worth a shout out. No run-of-the-mill mint for these cats. They mix it with licorice and it was fantastic. Normally I’m more of a juice guy, but this was so good I downed the pot like it was the cup of life.

So after such glowing praise, why not 5 knives you ask? Well, after I go back for lunch or dinner, check this review again and we’ll see…

UPDATE: So, after going back for lunch, once again Lola served up an impressive performance with their delicious sockeye kebabs, served with a yogurt, dill cacik-like sauce, a fresh Greek salad and warm, fluffy pita. It was truly awesome. So now why not five knives? Well, I went back again for breakfast and this time I tried the eggs benny and I have to say it was a miss. Sure, the eggs were poached to perfection. And the ham they use is wonderful. But the fresh baked muffin from Dahlia across the street was chewy and hard to cut through. So much so that it brought the whole dish down with it. Not to mention the knife count.

4 teeth

Yardbird

1600 Lenox Ave. Miami Beach, FL 33139 • (305) 538-5220 runchickenrun.com

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This place makes me happy. Just one toe through the front door and I knew we were dancing. Great contemporary, rustic Southern décor. Awesome music, like Aretha Franklin’s “The Weight,” pumping out of the speakers. And when it came to service, textbook Southern hospitality.

Every slurp, sip, gulp and bite was a crowd-pleaser and judging from the menu, there’s more where that came from. Fortunately I live over 1000 miles away or I’d be getting my arteries bilged about every other week.

Served in mason jars, the cocktails are as potent and flavorful as they are irresistibly charming. I recommend both the Blackberry Bourbon Lemonade, if you want something more refreshing, or the Bloody Mary, if want something spicy… and packed with goodies (like okra, a pickled green bean, a cornichon stuffed olive and a crispy strip of bacon, because how could you not?).

As a starter we shared the fried green tomato BLT with pork belly (pictured), tomato jam and a homemade pimento cheese. It’s got a little something for everyone. The refreshing acidity of the tomatoes. The savory decadence of the pork. The spice of the jam and cheese. I highly recommend next to the kale salad.

The kale salad being my wife’s idea to be fair. It’s made with cheddar, apple, golden raisins, red onion and cornbread croutons. Definitely one to add to the Ultimate Salad list, I mean c’mon- corn bread croutons!

And I had the eggs benny. Two poached eggs served in a skillet, casserole style, along with a buttermilk biscuit crumble, cured bacon, and cheese grits I believe – just awesome!

Thankfully we were too full to take the waiter up on his suggestion for a maple glazed bacon donut, otherwise I think we’d still be trying to crawl out from under the table.

I’ll tell you what though, next time I’m in Miami, this place is at the top of my list. And that donut is going down… into my belly (to be read in a thick Scottish, Fat Bastard accent).

5 teeth

Gordon Ramsay

The London West Hollywood • 1020 N San Vicente Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069(310) 358-7788 • thelondonwesthollywood.com/dining-en.html
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Let’s just say Gordon should spend a little time yelling at himself after this performance.

We had a tasting menu and about the only thing I can say was excellent was the amuse bouche: An espresso cup filled with chestnut soup and milk froth. After that, it was a complete nosedive.

The first course was the most tasteless salad I have ever had in my life. Seriously. This is not an overstatement. I’ve had airplane salads with more flavor than that. Absolutely pathetic. Everyone at the table was dumbfounded that they could actually serve something so bland and uncreative at that price.

Then came the oxtail jam ravioli, which sounded promising, but the sum of the parts didn’t equal much. Capo and Via Veneto both destroy this meek attempt at an Italian staple.

After that I split mains with a friend. I had the salmon, again, just eh. He had the filet mignon and it was good, but not great.

And last but not least was the hazelnut dessert- which was also good, but not jaw-dropping. In fact, the only thing, apart from the soup that was a standout was the wine. So kudos to sommelier and shame on Gordon.

So why not one knife you ask? Well, for dinner it most certainly deserves the snub, but if you happen to be doing breakfast, it’s actually pretty damn good. In fact, the eggs benny with proscuitto is quite stellar. As is the raisin walnut bread. Perhaps the best bread I’ve ever had. Bought an entire loaf on the spot to take back with me to New York. That said, Gordon doesn’t bake it. He buys it. And his waffles suck hard.

Additionally, for lunch, his fish tacos are also excellent. But his sweet tomato salad is just sad. So it would appear that Gordon  can’t seem to make a salad to save his soul.

2 teeth

 

The Grill at Silverado

1600 Atlas Peak Rd. Napa, CA 94558 • (707) 257-0200 • http://www.silveradoresort.com
 
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As I walked into the dining room of this country club restaurant, my skeptical taste buds were already rolling their little taste bud eyes, because the vibe of the place was very dated and our server came off as a dowdy diner waitress.

Nonetheless, they were conveniently located in my hotel, so me and my skeptical taste buds pressed on. And I’m glad we did. Not that things were amazing, but they did surpass expectations, albeit those were very low.

For example, no fresh squeezed juice for breakfast, but at least the organic option they served wasn’t half bad. And while the eggs benny was a touch over-cooked, a big pet peeve of mine, they were still pretty darn tasty, much to my surprise.

But if you wanna talk surprises, the morning angel was truly the Belgian Waffle. Among the best I’ve ever had. Far surpassing actual Belgian restaurants that specialize in Belgian Waffles such as Petite Abeille in New York. So what made them so incredible you ask? They were airy, with deep squares that soaked up the pure Vermont Maple like a sponge of breakfast-y dreaminess.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting you make a special trip for this waffle, but if you happen to be staying at the hotel or playing a round of golf here, you could most certainly do worse.

3 teeth

 

The Ultimate Eggs Benny

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Of all the meal times, I think breakfast/brunch is probably my favorite. And of all the breakfast options I would have to say that Eggs Benny is probably right at the very tippy top. Sure I eat other breakfast foods more often, but that’s only because I don’t want to die. But if I could, I’d eat Eggs Benny at least 3 or 4 times a week. But enough about me. Let’s get down to brass tax. Here are the best Benny’s I’ve ever had:

Coast – Santa Monica, CA

This is a traditional Eggs Benny. No twists. Just perfectly done. Eggs are always nice and runny. Hollandaise isn’t too overbearing. And the consistency of preparation is remarkable. I mean, I’ve been getting this Eggs Benny for over 20 years and not once have they ever dropped the ball. That’s pretty impressive.

Joseph Leonard – New York, NY

It’s actually a Salmon Benny, but wow is it something special. For starters, they skip the Hollandaise and use a scallion crème fraiche, which is so much lighter, yet every bit as decadent somehow. Even the scone beneath the salmon and egg was a nice surprise, bringing a complexity of texture to the dish, while still letting the smokiness of the salmon shine. Not to mention the perfectly cooked eggs- oh yeah, them.

Boon Fly Café – Napa, CA

While the two above are truly sensational, this last one is perhaps my favorite of the lot. Mainly because I am a heat seeker, so anything with a little kick to it usually wins my heart. And this Benny definitely won every little piece of my heart now baby. The heat I speak of comes from their jalapeno Hollandaise, which is drizzled over the wonderfully poached eggs, which sit atop thick country ham so fresh I could swear I heard pig squeals as I bit into it. And then all of it rests on a homemade country bread foundation. But to truly put its awesomeness into context, it’s been 4 years since I ate there and I still dream about it.