Murray’s Cheese Bar

264 Bleecker StNew York, NY 10014 • (646) 476-8882 • murrayscheesebar.com

Murray’s has been a New York icon for more years than the aged cheddar in their cheese cases. But more recently they decided to take that expertise and run with it, opening up a restaurant just a few doors down where the cheese flows like wine, or rather in tandem with it.

Our story begins with a robust, spicy blend of Grenache and Syrah by the glass. It was perfect for the cheesy tour de force that lied ahead, starting with the grilled artichokes, which wasn’t all that cheesy to be honest, but holy cow was it good, drizzled with an alici aioli (alici is an Italian fish sauce made from anchovies, in case you were thinking of googling it like I just did).

Equally impressive, and much cheesier, were the stuffed zucchini blossoms filled with spiced cream cheese, roasted corn and placed over a light yogurt sauce. Just killer.

But speaking of deadly, the Mac & Cheese was the real showstopper, making my Ultimate list with flying colors… and cheeses. My daughter technically ordered it, but I got all Daniel Day Lewis (circa There Will be Blood) on her and I “drank her milkshake.”

The sliders were also a solid yum, leading me to believe that the burgers are most likely awesome as well. And speaking of the A-word, the charcuterie and cheese plate is all that and then some. Obviously a lot rides on which meats and cheeses you choose, but you can never go wrong with the sweet San Daniele or the milky double cream. Also adding to the awesome are the inspired accouterments like the maple shavings. A stroke of delicousness!

Another worthy get is the grilled cheese, although I must admit I found the sandwich itself to be shockingly boring. What makes up for it in spades, however, is the kickass, sharp-ass tomato soup. Just dip the mediocre sammy in that red fountain of youth and your taste buds will feel like they’re twenty-one again, unless you’re younger than 21, in which case I’m not sure what the math would be?

Lastly, for dessert, while I appreciate the attempt to recreate iconic dishes with cheese, the Ch-mores fall miserably short and lack the contrast of flavors and textures that make S’mores so wonderful. Instead, the Ch’mores wind both looking and tasting like a cheesy blob. It was the biggest miss of the night and the primary reason I am docking a knife. Apart from that, I’d say it is a perfect stop amidst a Bleeker shopping spree, or for an early dinner with kids that doesn’t compromise for the adults.

Yellow Dog Eats

1236 Hempel Ave. Windermere, FL 34786(407) 296-0609 • yellowdogeats.com
 
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Located in Gotha, wherever the hell that is (technically Windermere)- just plug it into your nav and you will find this shack de barbecue that apparently a lot of other people seem to have found as well, because the place gets packed fast. Hence why they have two large, dirt parking lots around back, which is still not enough to hold all of the cars during a peak mealtime rush (obviously a lot other people know where Gotha is, that, or they also have navigation systems). And while all of this attention seems like a good sign for greatness, I can’t say Yellow dog hit it out of the park.

I dig the vibe though. An oasis unto itself, with a terrific outdoor seating area, complete with live music and mosaic tables. Inside the shack itself, it’s counter ordering style with laminated menus that are loaded with some of the best names I’ve ever seen in a restaurant. Names like What the Fig?, The Holy Crap, Hong Kong Fooey, The Thin Elvis, White trash, and my personal favorite, The Pig with Benefits.

Of the ones I’ve tried, I had to go purist and start with the Dog’s Famous Pulled Pork. “No tricks. No weapons. Just skill against skill alone.” (a movie quote for all you pop culture buffs). And while it is most certainly good, I can’t say I’m in love with their Fish’s Gold BBQ sauce. It’s a little too sweet for my tastes and whatever else is in it doesn’t quite net out as spice for me, falling somewhere closer to tang, which is an “also ran” in my eyes when you’re up against heat.

And speaking of heat, I have also done me a Fire Pig, which kicks things up a notch with the help of Srirracha, but I still can’t say it’s amazing. Definitely better, because the heat helps balance the sweet a bit, but in the land of pulled pork this doesn’t even pull a top twenty on my list.

There’s fun for the kids as well, with sammies like the Fluffy Love. Basically a peanut butter and banana with marshmallow whip, but not the jarred crap, the real homemade deal. It’s also just okay, however (Yes, I stole a bite from my three-year-old daughter. And yes, I’m a horrible father). One caution though, it’s messy as all get out. We’re talking marshmallow in the hair and peanut butter up the sides of the face like Heath Ledger as The Joker. And that’s just me! My daughter needed power washing! Told ya I was a bad father. So bad, in fact, that after this debauchery, we even shared a slice of coconut cake, but sadly that was the nail in the coffin for Yellow Dog, because once again they delivered below expectation.

All in all, Yellow Dog is a fun adventure, if you simply crave solace from hotel food and/or the Disney scene. But I would definitely keep the expectations lower than the Yelp star count. There’s much better BBQ to be had in Orlando, not to mention better sandwiches. Just not better names for them.

2 teeth

 

Leopold’s Ice Cream

212 E Broughton St. Savannah, GA 31401 • (912) 234-4442leopoldsicecream.com

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Once upon a time I used to work at one of the best ice cream parlors in the country, East India in Winter Park, Florida. The inventors of Oreo Ice Cream. I know according to Wikipedia Emack & Bolio’s in Boston claims they did it in 1975 and Huggs McShane from Portland claims they did it in 1978 but I can assure you they were both behind East India who had already been serving it for years by 1974.

The reason I bring this up is that I think it gives me unofficial ice cream expert credentials. So, if a court case were to ever break out over ice cream, I believe that I could serve as an expert witness if need be. Thus, it is with great pride and self-proclaimed expertise that I give a resounding two thumbs up to Leopold’s. Even with all the hype, Leopold’s sailed over the bar. Every flavor we tried was a work of frozen magic. Disney’s Elsa, eat your heart out.

My favorite was the Rum Bisque, made with a serious doses of actual rum, making it a clever way to circumvent open container laws. Another clever touch is the addition of hazelnut macaroon chunks throughout, making it more addictive than the alcohol within, if that’s even possible.

A very close second was the Honey & Almond (pictured). So rich with honey, if your eyes were closed you’d swear your tongue was halfway up the ass of a queen bee. But in a good way. It’s just awesome. Almost hard to believe how pure the flavor is, but I guess it’s to be expected from a town that prides itself so strongly on the sticky stuff.

And last but not least, the chocolate chocolate chip. A bit less inventive than the first two, but every bit as delish in its own right. Made with decadent chunks of dark chocolate folded into a rich, creamy ball of cocoa bliss. Screw Coco Puffs. This will make you certifiable for certain.

***Okay, year two and once again we made the pilgrimage to Leopold’s, this time trying a few new flavors, all of which proven to only further solidify my love for this former Hollywood Producer turned ice cream tycoon. The best of the new three being the Frozen Hot Chocolate, complete with marshmallows, of course. It’s basically Rocky Road without the rocks (walnuts). Next for me would be the Pistachio, loaded to the gills with chunks of actual pistachios. And finally, the plain old chocolate. It’s good for what it is, but a touch boring comparatively. But you really can’t go wrong here, no matter what you choose, so feel free to let your cravings guide you.

5 teeth