David Chen

85 Old Mount Kisco Rd. Armonk, NY 10504 • (914) 273-6767 • davidchens.com

david-chen-chinese-restaurant

Remember about 30 to 40 years ago when most Chinese restaurants were decorated like a Disney theme park? So much so, that if you saw one today and the owners weren’t actually Chinese, you’d probably accuse them of playing into racist stereotypes. Well, that’s David Chen- the dated part, not the racist part.

The place literally feels like it crawled back out of the 80’s. It also feels like they haven’t updated a single thing since. The table we were seated at was literally falling apart, sagging like the back of an old horse. The glasses, while not technically dirty, were so old, they were permanently fogged from being in a dishwasher 10 million times. Even the fish in the tanks look pre-historic.

But let’s try to look past all of this for just a second and focus on the food. While nothing was out and out bad, per se, it was very old school Chinese (shocker). Very oily lo mein. Over-cooked and under-meated crispy orange beef that would’ve had the old lady from the Wendy’s commercials of yore rolling in her grave. And shumai the size of baseballs. The only thing that rose above a snarky dig was the seafood pot, loaded with a variety of fresh shellfish. Granted I can’t say I loved that either because the sauce was just okay.

And as for service, even that was a little iffy. Beyond the language barrier, which naturally has its issues, we were served entrees before appetizers and everything came out SO quickly it gave you the unnerving feeling that it had been sitting in vats dating back to their grand opening. And as we dug in, we noticed we actually DIDN’T have the obligatory chopsticks that you’d expect to find in a place like this. We also didn’t seem to have knives either. So not sure which cultural norm they were trying to appeal to on this one, so I’ll just chalk it up to a poor table setting.

But before I leave you on a down note, as you hopefully know by now, I like to offer solutions. And fortunately this one is VERY nearby. Less than 2 minutes. Rice is FAR superior in every way. The food is cleaner, fresher and flat out better. With contemporary twists on classic dishes as well as décor. Service is better too. The only nit there is location. It’s in an inward facing strip mall. But whatevs. I’d rather have good food. From this century.

2 teeth

 

River Market

127 W Main St. Tarrytown, NY 10591(914) 631-3100rivermarketbarandkitchen.com

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When I saw where it was located I have to admit that my skepticism grew exponentially. In a housing complex is usually never a good sign. But when we opened the door, I have to admit I was pleasantly surprised by the décor. Contemporary lines. Earthy materials such as wood and brick. It’s very well done.

As for the food, the menu as a bit all things to all people with the intent of being farm-to-table. And while this would normally be a red flag for me, I kept my hopes up, because it is the sister restaurant of Crabtree, which I like very much. That said, it’s no Crabtree. And they wasted no time establishing that as the first major miss came with the first course.

The roasted oysters are a culinary crime against mollusk-kind. And at 18 bucks a crime against your wallet as well. Served tepid and tasteless.

Fortunately the other starter made up some ground. The seared foie gras with blackberries and caramelized apples was a solid good. Granted I’m not sure if I’ve ever met a foie gras I didn’t like, so please take that with a grain of salt.

As for “solid good” that was pretty much the theme from there on. The swordfish entrée and the spicy lobster linguini as well as the lemon tart were all just that- good. Nothing rose to excellent or sank to ridicule.

Not a must-try place. But if you’re in the area and aren’t sure what you want, chances are they’ve got you covered for a nice meal. Also, if you have kids, it’s a nice spot for an early dinner. Sort of like Village Social in Mount Kisco.

3 teeth

The Ultimate Short Ribs

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Daniel – New York, NY

I literally remember not a single detail about them other than the fact that post chewing, somehow it was etched in my mind that these where the end-all-be-all ribs of the short variety. Perhaps it’s because I suffered from such an intense foodgasm that I blacked out, lost in a blur of moist, beefy fractals. That or I was really drunk. Whatever it was, they left an indelible impression. Apparently.

Vinegar Hill House – Brooklyn, NY

Everybody comes here for the pork chop ever since Ted Allen went on Best Thing Ever and raved about it, but as much as I loves me a good pork chop, I actually think Little Owl beat them (take note Ted). But sadly, it’s what Ted overlooked that is truly remarkable. Their short rib stew with gorgonzola and roasted veggies is like nothing I’ve ever tasted in my life. Every bite is literally packed with so much flavor it’s enough to give your taste buds A.D.D. It’s not overdone though. It’s perfect. No, it’s beyond perfect. It’s my short rib soul mate.

Elevation Burger

228 Market St. Yonkers, NY 10710(914) 358-9400elevationburger.com

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I guess I’m not a “build your own burger” lover. I mean, isn’t part of what makes a restaurant great a point of view? Inventiveness? Show me what YOU can do. I know I can stick a ton of shit on a bun to suit my own palate. But when I walk into a restaurant I don’t want what I would do. I want what YOU would do. “Perspective” as Ego from Ratatouille would say.

So, Elevation scored zero points for me on the menu, per the rant above (shocker), but what about the quality of ingredients? They’re just okay. I honestly can’t say they’re any better than Shake Shack or 5 Guys or In and Out or BGR or Westchester Burger Co. And at least most of those guys bring something new to the party with an inventive burger or two… or ten.

But, with all of that said, if you happen to already be at Ridge Hill and you are jonesing for a burger, Elevation will do. Just don’t make a special trip and keep your expectations… less elevated.

2 teeth

Via Vanti!

Mount Kisco Train Station • 2 Kirby Plz. Mount Kisco, NY 10549 • (914) 666-6400 • viavanti.com

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If you want 4 star Italian or better, this isn’t it. I’m sorry Yelpers, but you must be smoking the oregano if you think this place is that incredible. It’s just okay at best. Granted I thought the service was worthy of 4 stars. But the food is only marginally better than an Olive Garden, with crazy inflated prices. Which is hard to believe that some of you thought it was a great value! I guess compared to NYC, but that’s not saying much.

Here’s the breakdown. I had a glass of their most expensive wine by the glass, basically an Italian Pinot Noir and it was hardly worth $6 much less the $15 they charged. And having just had a glass of wine two days prior at Village Social that was excellent, it only exacerbated the issue for me.

As a starter, we shared the sunflower seed salad with grapes, which was good, best thing we had.

And for entrees, we all had various pastas. The kids had farfalle with meatballs to the tune of $17 bucks each! Does this sound like a cheap place?

I had the Arribiata with Shrimp for $24, which was far from spicy and equally distant from worth it. Granted I like a lot of heat, but this thing didn’t even register on my scale. Tasted more like marinara.

The wife had the orcchiette and that was probably the best of the bunch, but there is a place in Irvington called Mima that makes a very similar dish, but does it about 5 times better.

And as for the gelato, “amazing” it is not. If you want “amazing,” go to Eataly in the city. Then you will know what amazing is. And this is not that.

But I suppose I only have myself to blame. I mean an exclamation point in the name is a pretty big hint that you’re not exactly in for a culinary delight.

Now, before I leave on a down note, I wanted to offer some sage advice; if you truly want excellent Italian at a great price in Westchester, then go to The Cookery in Dobbs Ferry. Sure it’s harder to get into, but that’s because it actually deserves its stars.

2 teeth

Bareburger

265 N Central Ave. Hartsdale, NY 10530 • (914) 949-2900 •  bareburger.co

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While I like the whole natural burger concept and the décor is a faux rustic cool, that’s about as far as my praise can go.

Oh wait, I forgot that the onion rings were quite good. I think they are breaded in an herbed batter similar to that used on mozzarella sticks- but it is WAY better on rings.

Okay, now for the rub. First, the kitchen is tragically slow, making an outing with hungry, tired kids something akin to waterboarding for parents. Fortunately the server was friendly and accommodating.

The other drag, and the much more serious offense, is that nothing other than the rings made it above the “eh” mark, and I even had their best seller, The Roadhouse, with its recommended bison patty and brioche bun.

Wifey had the Mediterranean and it was pretty bland I have to say. Westchester Burger Company’s version blows it away.

And the fries sort of reminded me of In and Out fires, but in a bad way. A little cardboard-y.

Plus, the burgers on the kids menu are so friggin’ small, they’re even too small for kids! My son blew through his in about 6 bites and needed to order a second, from the turtle-paced kitchen.

Even the oatmeal cookie, baked apple ice cream sandwich for dessert was so underwhelming that between all for of us, we didn’t even finish it, and it’s not huge by any stretch.

Now, if I haven’t managed to sway you yet, I saved the best, and by that I mean “grossest,” for last. The bathrooms. They were so filthy it was like someone has a water balloon fight in them, only instead of water in the balloons, they used urine. Nothing like an unsettling trip to the lavatory to wash your hands before you eat, only to find yourself feeling even more dirty than when you entered.

Sorry Bareburger, but I don’t think I can bear another visit.

2 teeth

 

 

The Ultimate Brownie

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Sherry B Dessert Studio – Chappaqua, NY

The Dulce de Leche brownie at Sherry B’s is so damn good I’d swear she figured out a way to use orgasms as an ingredient. The buttery, gooey sensation when you bite into this god-like rectangle is almost not to be believed. Pushed as far as one could possibly go on the richness scale before turning disgusting (a la Fat Witch), it just makes it to that hairline threshold of “now I know why I was given a mouth.”

Greensquare Tavern – New York, NY

While a Blondie is debatable as a brownie, versus a glorified rectangular chocolate chip cookie, this Blondie manages to make me care less about such things, because whatever it is, it’s just good ass good. Moist, chocolaty, chunky, awesomey. Without going grainy and sugary.

Pret-A-Manger-New York, NY

I know. I know… Pret? Really? REALLY. I mean think about the level of difficulty here. To be able to mass-produce a brownie THIS good is worthy of note in my eyes. This densely packed parallelogram of chocolaty gusto deserves nothing but respect. Done with a dark chocolate that yields a bitterness to it almost as if there might also be a hint of coffee in there somewhere. But whatever it is, I stand my ground.

The Ultimate Osso Bucco

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The Cookery – Dobbs Ferry, NY

When you go to an Italian restaurant the first thing on most people’s minds is pasta. Maybe pizza. Maybe a caprese salad. But very seldom is an osso bucco top of mind. Well, if you ever should happen to find yourself near Dobbs Ferry, NY (Hometown of Mark Zuckerberg), then I strongly suggest you make a stop inside The Cookery for some, you guessed it, osso bucco.

This thing is fall off the bone pork perfection. And yes, I tend to drop alliteration when I get excited. It is so moist and full of flavor, it’s enough to make brisket and short ribs jealous.

And best of all, you pair this baby up with a bottle of Amarone for only $60 (which is unheard of in a restaurant), and it’s game over.