Eat It, Damn It!

Reviews, raves, slams, and damns.

Monthly Archives: December 2011

Hummus Kitchen

My haunts for food in Manhattan are usually below 23rd Street. Once you hit the Midtown and Upper East and West side, I’m utterly lost. There are plenty of places with great ambiance, but not necessarily great food. I don’t really enjoy paying through the nose for what should be a fairly inexpensive dish. However, thanks to the innovations in mobile technology, I can find some places in every section of the NYC island. That is how I found one of the Hummus Kitchen locations.

The Upper East Side location is small, but not cramped. The d├ęcor is pleasant and cozy.

Pomegranate Lemonade
MG got a glass of Pomegranate Lemonade ($2.50). I was thinking about ordering it, but when she did, I knew she would let me grab a sip to try it out. I’m glad I didn’t get one. The drink is lemonade, pomegranate, some mint, and a slice of lemon over ice. Simple, right? Only, I don’t think they used enough of the pomegranate or the lemonade. It just tasted like dirty water to me. MG liked it, saying she found it light and refreshing. To me, it tasted cheap.

The Hummus Kitchen
If an establishment has a particular food in their title, they should make an outstanding example of the dish. This logic led MG and I to get The Hummus Kitchen ($11.95) as an appetizer. The dish is a sampler of sorts with the restaurant’s Chickpea Hummus, Mushroom Hummus, Tahini Hummus, and Egyptian Hummus. Basically, it is hummus with various toppings. It was very good. For a group of diners, this is a “must have” dish. Their hummus is extremely creamy, more so than any I’ve ever had before and while the flavor did not leap out at me, it has a wonderful savory quality. This dish alone ensures that they get my business again.

MG and I both had our favorites, but were not really displeased with any of the options. The Egyptian Hummus is topped with some form of sauteed fava beans. While it was good with the pita, I thought it tasted better when just eaten with a fork. Something about the pita overwhelmed the beans, which were very tasty. The mushrooms on the Mushroom Hummus were probably sauteed with some form of wine (though I won’t swear to that). They went very well with the creamy goodness underneath. The Chickpea Hummus just has whole pieces of chickpea on top with an extra helping of paprika and olive oil. Very savory. The Tahini Hummus… well, you can guess. Creamy Tahini + Creamy Tahini = Creamy Deliciousness.

We had an option of white or wheat pita for the platter. We chose wheat. It was very fluffy and served warm. The dish also came with a green hot sauce. The sauce didn’t really stand out, but adds a nice bit of burn to the tip of the tongue.

Vegetable Soup
MG got a Garden Vegetable Soup ($5.50). She was overjoyed. According to her, the carrots were cooked perfectly. I tasted the broth and found it nice, but a little light.

Falafel Appetizer
Their Falafel ($4.50) has a very crunchy outer shell. The inside is not only ground chickpea, but I would swear bits of potato. The shell itself had a few flecks of sesame seed. These falafel are definitely on the larger end of any I’ve had before. They are tasty, but didn’t make me lick my chops. While nice, I would not go out of my way to order this again. The green tahini that it was served with did nothing for me.

Falafel Wrap
The Falafel Wrap ($8.95) was interesting. Yes, I used the scholarly word, “interesting” to describe this dish. First, I think it would have been much better on a pita. I didn’t ask for a substitution since this is my first time and I wanted to find out what their offering had to say for itself. Second, the wrap is dominated by the falafel. That is good and bad. It’s good because in a falafel wrap, one should definitely get their fill of falafel. However, since it was almost ALL falafel, it did not intermingle with any other ingredients. The chopped salad is there, but not in a great quantity. There was barely any pickle, tahini, or hummus in the wrap at all. It was mostly falafel on wrap. If you are enamored with Hummus Kitchen’s falafel, I would say avoid the wrap and just get the appetizer. I think you will be much happier.

Despite me panning some of their dishes, I will definitely be going to Hummus Kitchen again. Their namesake dish is quite a treat. It may not be my favorite hummus, but it does have a special quality. The additional topping they add to the hummus are not something I have tried before, but am very much looking forward to tasting again.

Hummus Kitchen
1613 Second Avenue
New York, NY 10028
212-988-0090
(Google Map)

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Jackson Hole Burgers

It is my favorite burger. I have been coming to this location for over a decade. Of all the burgers I’ve had, the taste of the Jackson Hole burger is my gold standard. It simply tastes “right”. When I think of what a burger should be, I think of the Jackson Hole on Columbus Avenue. However…

MG’s favorite burger resides at Veselka. She calls the Jackson Hole burger “boring” and lacking in seasoning. I disagree, but on this visit, I could understand why she has that opinion. I don’t know what type of beef Jackson Hole uses, but I am pretty sure that it is not all chuck. From the taste, there is probably some sirloin. It makes for a leaner burger with a different flavor. It does have a “steaky” sort of taste, which is not necessarily what many people want from a burger. I still love the burger, but MG’s estimation no longer fills me with a blinding rage.

Bacon Cheeseburger with Grilled Onions
On this occasion, I got a Bacon Cheeseburger with some grilled onions. Their burgers are advertised as 7oz. I would guess that they are bigger. Either way, unless you are absolutely starving, there is no need to order an appetizer. The bun is boring. It tastes like something you can get from any supermarket in the bargain aisle. It does not matter. The taste of beef and the toppings completely overwhelm the bread. The bun is merely a burger delivery system. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that is a plus or minus.

The burgers are grilled on a flat top, but because of the size, a metal bowl is placed over the top to ensure that it cooks through. The result is a very juicy burger, albeit without much outside char. Ask for plenty of napkins. I ordered a medium. On this occasion, it was lightly overdone. I only make note because this was an aberration. They are usually spot on with their medium.

The bacon is fine. The cheese is nothing special. The beef is the show. Give it a shot.

Chicken Salad Sandwich
MG, not being a fan of the burger, got a Chicken Salad Sandwich with bacon on wheat. She said that by itself, it was boring, but with the addition of bacon, a little salt and pepper, the sandwich was pretty nice. You may notice that there is no bacon on the sandwich in this picture. They forgot. However, the situation was remedied once we were able to flag our waitress. A nice pile of bacon (more than enough) was brought out to rectify the mistake.

Sweet Potato Fries
To accompany her sandwich, she got an order of Sweet Potato Fries. They were very good. Very crisp, properly cooked, and lightly salted, these were a big surprise. Definitely give them a shot if you need some deep fried potato.

Are MG and I every going to see eye to eye on this burger? No. Your mileage may vary. Remember, Jackson Hole has multiple locations and the burgers vary depending on where you go. My personal favorite is their Columbus Avenue location, but the Park Avenue location was also very good.

Jackson Hole Burgers
517 Columbus Avenue
New York, NY 10024
212-362-5177
(Google Map)

Marselli’s Deli and Catering

I really wanted a Chicken Salad Sandwich. I had an hour before my next appointment and I really wanted a Chicken Salad Sandwich. Where could I find a good chicken salad sandwich in the wilds of Purchase/Port Chester/White Plains/Purchase?

“Good” is the important word. Chicken salad can be had at almost any deli in the world. However, the differences in each can be very striking. Even on this site, there are a few different types of chicken salad ranging from awesome to “Eh.” What type of chicken do they use? Light or dark meat? It is in big chunks or little chunks? Is it just chicken and mayo or did the proprietors utilize any form of seasoning? What else did they put in the salad? After that, what are the bread options?

Marsellis Storefront
I decided to try Marselli’s. The store looks like it has been dipped in amber, not sticky, but frozen in time. For some reason, most delis don’t sell the daily paper anymore. They also have a lotto station for the degenerate gambler (no offense).

Chicken Salad on Wheat Roll
I got my sorely desired Chicken Salad with Bacon and Tomato on a Whole Wheat roll ($6.80). I was glad that they had wheat rolls as I usually find most wheat breads at delis pretty lousy. This rolls was fresh and airy. It wasn’t exactly light, but didn’t taste like it was made from plaster. Thumbs up! The bacon was standard supermarket fare, but they made it fresh which was very nice. It was still warm. The chicken salad itself was great. The chicken was mostly white meat and diced into small bits. They only filler I could find was little bits of celery. I don’t like the texture of celery, but these bits were small enough that it did not bother me in the slightest. I’m not sure what seasoning they used, but the flavor was wonderful.

This experience was great. It met my expectations and then some. They also do catering and have a huge selection of frozen items (pastas, wings, appetizers). Their service was prompt, the price was good, and the food was delicious. I would definitely try something else at Marselli’s.

Maselli’s Delicatessen & Catering
531 Boston Post Road
Kohl’s Shopping Center, Route 1
Portchester, NY, 10577
914-939-4595
(Google Map)

Lefteris Gyro

Lefteris is always hopping on the weekends. They don’t have many tables, so they get crowded pretty quickly, and there are always plenty of people waiting outside to get a seat.

Vegetable Soup
MG started with the vegetable soup. It was a rich minestrone filled with carrots, peas, and other bits of goodness. MG enjoyed it, and from what I tried, I would appreciate a bowl on a cold day myself. It comes with a big pile of warm pita triangles.

Grape Leaves
The Grape Leaves were great. They had plenty of flavor, and as you can see the portion is more than generous. I was surprised that they served it with tzadiki sauce. I’ve never seen that before. Though I did not like the sauce with the leaves, I did enjoy stealing some of MG’s pita and utilizing it as dip.

Gyro
The Gyro is huge. The lamb is tender and perfectly cooked. It is loaded with lettuce, tomato, and onions. It is a little oily, but who cares. The meat falls apart at the slightest prodding with a fork. The tzadiki sauce compliments it very well. It is simply beautiful. It is not my favorite gyro, but it does rank at number two on the hit parade.

Greek Salad with Chicken
MG got the Greek Salad with Chicken. It comes in what could be accurately described as a metal punch bowl. I don’t like the dressing, not because it is not tasty, but because it gives me a stomach ache. (Something to do with the vinegar. How can I eat grape leaves? I don’t know.) She absolutely adores this dish. From what I’ve tried, the chicken is well cooked, but still tender. There is a nice bit of charring, but it is not overdone. She recommends the dish highly.

If you don’t like raw onions, be sure to tell your waiter. There are onions of some kind on almost everything. They will be sure to leave them out if you ask.

If you want to avoid a crowd at Lefteris, go for lunch or sometime other than dinner hour. It is worth the trip.

Lefteris Gyro
1 Main Street
Tarrytown, NY 10591-3613
914-524-9687
(Google Map)

Vincent’s Clam Bar

“For someone that doesn’t eat much Italian food, there are a number of Italian food reviews on your site.” Allow me to set the scene. MG wanted to be out and about on a Sunday afternoon, so I took her to the eighth largest mall in America, the Roosevelt Field Mall.

Vincents Outside
After bouncing about this cathedral to commerce for a few hours, we were hungry. I was not about to eat mall fast food. So we hopped in the car and went out. What did we find? Vincent’s Clam Bar. We took a look at the menu on the door and decided it would be pretty good.

Vincent’s is more a giant hall with an attached kitchen than it is your usual eatery. The main dining area is cavernous, which makes it a little loud, but not unbearably so. They have a number of projectors up so that NY football fans can watch the game. The tables for two are on the smaller side and somewhat close together. If you don’t like overhearing anyone else’s conversation, Vincent’s is not a place you should dine.

The other thing you will notice is the size of all the plates. They are absolutely huge. I thought they were family portions, but every person, every plate, and every dish was enormous.

Complimentary Bread
We were started off with some “bread fresh from the brick oven” according to our waiter. It’s an attractive little loaf.

Oil and Rosemary
Instead of butter, they serve it with olive oil with rosemary, and I think the other spice was sage. Frankly, I would have preferred butter. The olive oil has an interesting flavor, definitely something that I don’t usually have, but it was not something I would want to have again. I’m not saying it was bad. It definitely has a unique and interesting flavor, but not one that I enjoyed.

Grandma Sunday Sauce
I got Grandma’s Sunday Sauce ($17.95). When I asked the waiter what the Sunday Sauce was exactly, he said, “It’s one of the best items on the menu.” That’s a good enough endorsement for me. It is meatball, sausage, and pork bracciole over ziti. Like everything I saw on the way in, it is not a dish that I could finish in one sitting, no matter how hungry. It was excellent. The meatball tasted primarily of pork, but it was tender and delicious. The bracciolle was tender, falling apart with each pull of the fork. The sausage was juicy and nice. The sauce is a great combination of sweet and spice.

Caesar Salad
MG got a side Caesar salad ($5.95) to start. They certainly do not skimp on the cheese. The greens were fresh and tasty, but the Caesar sauce itself could have used a little more salt.

Grandma Pie
For an entree, MG got a Grandma Pizza ($10.95). When I tried a slice, it reminded me of a story I heard about the origins of pizza itself. Supposedly, it was started by bakeries. At the end of the day, they would sell off their leftover bread and top it with a little sauce and cheese. It became so popular, bakers began to make it a regular item on their menus. Vincent’s Grandma pizza tasted like bread with sauce and cheese, but in a good way, not a Wonder Bread with a Kraft Single and ketchup combination. If you are in the mood for pizza and want something a little different, I would give Vincent’s a shot.

Pizza Stand
This is the stand they had for the pizza, three tomato cans with a doily on top. That was cool.

Go to Vincent’s Clam Bar if you are really hungry. Their portions will satisfy even the heartiest of appetites. They are not just smashing tomatoes and placing it over pasta and bread, some care is taken with their preparations. It is not the greatest Italian I’ve ever had, but I am curious to try their Rigatoni Alla Vodka (it looked delicious at another table). If you make a trip to engage in commerce at the Roosevelt Field Mall, Vincent’s is right across the street. Stop in for a bite.

Vincent’s Clam Bar
179 Old Country Road
Carle Place, NY 11514
516-742-4577
(Google Map)