Eat It, Damn It!

Reviews, raves, slams, and damns.

Monthly Archives: November 2012

The Burrito Poblano

Burrito Poblano Signage
I used to eat at Burrito Poblano often when I worked in Bronxville. Their quality has always been consistent, and they have been a good restaurant for a quick bite.

Complimentary Salsa
Here is the big bowl of complimentary salsa. The chips are nothing to write home about. The salsa is fresh and mild. Personally, I prefer my salsa with a little more kick, but this is safe for the meek and timid.

Other Toppings
The other toppings offer a bit more heat. The green salsa is the spicier of the two. I prefer the red for its combination of sweet and heat. The queso crema is a nice touch.

Chicken Fajitas
MG went with the Chicken Fajitas ($16.95). The main part of the dish is pictured above. I’ll get to the accouterments shortly. At its core, this is just chicken breast with onions and a medley of bell peppers. If you are a big fan of bell peppers, definitely order this dish. However, I am not a big fan. I will occasionally cook with bell peppers, but I put them in a dish for color more than flavor. They just taste dull to me. When I took a forkful of MG’s dish, I just tried the chicken. It left me cold. It was pretty well cooked, but nothing special.

Rice and Beans
The rice and beans are nice. The rice is fluffy and tasty. The refried beans have a little texture and are not the complete mush that some places make of refried beans.

Guac and Tortillas
Pictured above are the rolling tortillas for the fajitas, guacamole that comes with the fajitas, and an additional Side of Guacamole ($4.25). One of the things that Burrito Poblano does very well is guacamole. They don’t do anything special with it, but it is just fresh and delicious.

While the chicken of the fajitas is boring, the combination of the meat, onions, peppers (if that’s your thing), tortillas, guacamole, and condiments makes for a fantastic dish. This is a case of sum being far greater than the parts. If you are just going to eat the chicken, onions, and peppers alone, skip this dish. If you are going to take a bit of everything, this dish may just be the ticket.

Big Chipotle Chicken Burrito
I love the restaurant’s namesake, their burritos. On this occasion I tried something new, the Chipotle Chicken Burrito ($11.95). I’ve had their chicken burritos on many occasion and have loved them, so this wasn’t a huge departure. Check out the size of that thing.

Inside Burrito
Inside the burrito is chicken, cheddar cheese, rice, and beans. It is plenty for anyone. The chicken was nicely done, but the chipotle did not add as much kick as I was hoping. It was alright, but nothing amazing. Adding a little guacamole and crema made it really special.

Burrito Poblano is an excellent choice for lunch, dinner, or take away. Their service is prompt, so if you have a limited amount of time for lunch, you can eat there without worry.

The Burrito Poblano
85 Main Street
Tuckahoe, NY 10707
914-337-7900
(Google Map)

Safita Middle Eastern Cuisine

Safita Sign
MG did a little research. She wanted to eat someplace new for dinner. One of her choices was Safita. We looked up some reviews, and they were all overwhelmingly positive. Patrons even suggested a few dishes as especially great.

“Sounds good?”
“Sounds good.”

Complimentary Pita
Being a Middle Eastern restaurant, instead of complimentary bread, MG and I received complimentary Pita. There was nothing special about the pita itself, but the stuff that would accompany it was intriguing.

Dipping Oil Spices and Olives
Two of the three are pretty self-explanatory. First, there are olives, which I never touch. Second, Olive Oil, which I don’t like dipping bread into, and the third dish. This third dish was explained to us by our very friendly waitress. It is a mixture of salt, pepper, and sumac. (I hope I am remembering all these ingredients correctly.) Dip the pita into the oil, then dip into the spice mixture.

Pita Post Dip
…and there your have a bit of pita post dip. It was a little spicy from the pepper, but the other spices mellowed out the heat. Did I like it? I’m not sure. It was definitely different and far more interesting that pita dipped in olive oil alone. MG loved it.

Cheese Pie
One dish that was highly recommended in review after review was the Cheese Fatayer ($7). They are described as “Dough stuffed with Syrian cheeses, baked & rolled in sesame seeds”.

Cheese Pie Innards
Take a look at the inside.

If I had to compare it to something, I would say it was almost like an undercooked focaccia bread stuffed with a skim milk mozzarella. That description just really gives you an idea of the texture. The flavor was something far more complex. The cheese was like a cross between mozzarella, cottage cheese, and Swiss. There was some saltiness, some tang, some other stuff that I can’t really describe. It was really incredible. I can’t recommend this dish enough. It is very unique and very tasty. Each bite yields a new flavor. Count it as a must-order.

Kibbe
The Meat Kibbeh ($8) is listed as “Fried cracked wheat shell, stuffed with ground beef, onions, & Pine nuts”. The accompanying sauce has a yogurt base, something akin to a tzadiki.

Kibbe Innards
As you can tell, the wheat acts like the shell of an egg. The meat inside is not overwhelmed with pine nuts.

This appetizer was nice, but nothing exceptional. The accompanying sauce didn’t do much to elevate the flavor of the dish. It is not bad, but not a “must-order”. Get another order of the Cheese Fatayer instead.

Safita Fries
Check out those fries. They are fries, just in potato chip-eqsue format. I loved them. They are perfectly cooked, with a nice crisp outer shell and soft innards. The fries are topped with herbs, spices, and something vinegar based. I could not get enough of them. MG was not as fond as I, since she is not a fan of salt and vinegar chips. However, if you like a little tang with your fried potato, this is the dish for you.

Lamb Schwarma
For my main course, I got the Lamb Schwarma sandwich ($9). It was nice, but not much more. The lamb was well cooked and well seasoned, but it did not curl my toes. The meat is shredded pretty thin. I would have preferred it a little thicker. It might have given me more lamby flavor. I had a choice of Tahini Yogurt or Creamy Garlic and went with the Tahini Yogurt. It too was fine, but did not impress. What I did really like was the pita wrap. It looks like a flour tortilla wrap, but it is definitely pita. The accompanying pickles were also nice, a great mix of sweet and sour.

Chicken Schwarma
MG loved her Chicken Schwarma sandwich ($9) topped with Creamy Garlic. She was raving about it throughout the entire meal. I tried it and thought it was nice, but once again, I was not overwhelmed.

MG and I will definitely be venturing to Safita again. While I will probably skip the Schwarma on my next visit, I might try one of their specials. On the evening we went, they were featuring some sort of Sea Bass that sounded pretty good, but alas, I was in the mood for lamb. Nevertheless, though my entree didn’t bowl me over, I was very impressed with the appetizers, and the friendliness of the staff.

Safita Middle Eastern Cuisine
2217 Post Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
203-319-0000
(Google Map)

Sunny Side

Sunnyside Sign
Any longtime reader of this blog knows that I am a big believer in doing what you do well. If you have a very large menu, ensure that you don’t have any throwaway items. Nothing should be added to the menu just for the sake of having it on the menu. Do everything you do well.

Sunny Side seemed to have this philosophy. They specialize in breakfast and lunch. They have omlettes, pancakes, waffles, wraps, and sandwiches. They don’t venture into making anything too outlandish. They just make sure that they do a few things well. I should say, “They used to make sure that they do a few things well.”

The occasion of this review was my third visit to Sunny Side. The first time I went was only a short time after their opening. It was a Sunday morning, and the place was hopping. MG and I had to wait a few minutes, but were able to get seats at the counter. The food was good, the service was great, the prices were reasonable, and the d├ęcor was pleasant. Everything seemed to be in place for a return visit.

The next time MG and I returned was a weekday. We were there around 10am. This time, we were able to grab a seat at one of the tables. There was no wait. However, this time, it took a little while for us to get our food. “OK,” I thought. “It’s a weekday. Maybe they have a new cook. Perhaps they are working with a skeleton shift.” The waitress even apologized for the wait. “No problem,” I replied. An apology goes a long way with me. What she said next caused me to pause, “We’re really swamped today.” I took a look around, and the restaurant was only at around half capacity. Heck, the restaurant was not crowded, packed, jammed, or even full. I just let it slide.

Before we continue, I’ll throw a little math at you. I don’t know much about the workflow of a restaurant, how to staff it, or the proper amount of personnel required for a smooth running establishment. Nevertheless, here are the specs for my last visit:

4 waitresses
1 hostess (who also acted as waitress, I think)
1 busboy
14 bench tables (comfortably sitting 2-4 each)
7 seats at counter
5 individual seats for waiting, plus standing room in vestibule

I didn’t look inside the kitchen, so I don’t know how that was staffed.

MG & I were seated pretty quickly as we were willing to take two seats at the end of the counter. Our area was wiped off, and two mats were placed before us. A waitress came by quickly and took our drink order. One coffee. One tea. Enter the first issue: I had to ask to get some flatware to stir accoutrements into my coffee.

Tea in Questionable Cup
MG assures me that such staining is normal for cups after a while. What do you think?

MG and I sat watching the TV and waiting for our order.. and waiting… and waiting… I noticed that the people sitting in the five waiting seats had not moved. The vestibule was growing more and more filled. I don’t know if they were getting things to go or waiting to be seated. MG and I were still waiting… and waiting… I don’t think that the waitresses were slacking off, as they were continually moving about. No one was standing with hand on hip, chilling out, but though they appeared busy, I didn’t see them carrying many plates of food, either to or from tables. Throughout this observation, MG and I continued to wait… and wait… MG was growing agitated. This is important, as she is generally more patient than I. She gets grouchy without her breakfast, but even with that in mind, her anger appeared justified. She speculated that the kitchen is where the problem lay. I noticed that some people got seated at the counter right away. I wondered if the hostess checked with the folks in the vestibule, who had been waiting longer. Would they have been willing to take a counter seat to cut down on their wait time? Still, MG and I continued to wait… and wait… and wait…

At the half hour mark (Pause for emphasis), Yes, the Half Hour Mark (I think the capitalization helps), when I had only had my initial cup of coffee (no refill), MG was done nursing her tea, and we had confirmed that we had been there A HALF HOUR, MG got the ear of our waitress.

“Any idea how long until our order is ready?”
“Let me check with the kitchen.”
(pause)
“They say another 5 to 6 minutes.”

WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!? I ordered an egg wrap. MG ordered a waffle. These are not complex items. MG and I said “Thank you, but we have to go. What do we owe you for the coffee and tea?” To her credit, the waitress said, “On the house.” I’ll give her props for making that gesture of apology. However, what she said next was a little disconcerting. “We’re really swamped today.”

YOU ARE A PLACE THAT SERVES BREAKFAST ON A SUNDAY! YOUR ESTABLISHMENT SITS NEAR NOT ONE, BUT TWO HOUSES OF WORSHIP!! YOU ARE LOCATED ON ROUTE ONE!!! YOU’RE SUPPOSED TO BE SWAMPED ON SUNDAY!!!! YOU OPENED A BREAKFAST SHOP WITH THE PURPOSE OF BEING SWAMPED EVERY SUNDAY!!!!! WHEN THE SUNDAY CROWD COMES YOU SHOULD HEAR THE SOUND OF A CLOSING CASH REGISTER IN YOUR HEAD, SEE THE FLOATING OF SILVER COINS WHEN YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES, AND FEEL MONEY IN WADS PACKING YOUR POCKET!!!!!!

(Sorry. I needed to get that out.)

MG insists that the problem lay in the kitchen. She may be correct. It seems that they have enough wait staff. I don’t know. I do know that Sunny Side has a serious problem that they need to address. If this keeps up, they won’t have to worry about Sunday crowds (or any other day) anymore.

Sunny Side
1200 Barnum Avenue
Stratford, CT 06615
203-873-0522
(Google Map)

Pancake Man

Pancake Man Coffee
I think I missed the boat. Though the pictured cup of coffee ($2.25) was alright, I feel bad for not taking advantage of the mimosas that are proudly advertised on the main sign of the Pancake Man. Granted, I did have to drive… but mimosas. If you are hungover, what could be better? Since I did not have a hangover, maybe I shouldn’t feel too bad.

Strawberry Topped Waffle
MG ordered the Strawberry Waffle ($8.59). Her only gripe was that the strawberry topping was cold. I thought the entire dish was a disaster. While the batter for the waffle yielded a good flavor, the execution was horrendous. There was no exterior crunch, so placing a cold compote on top turned the center into a cold mush pile. The waffle itself wasn’t terribly hot, so the butter did not melt, but was a big lump underneath the mountain of whipped cream. Skip this. Get the pancakes instead.

Side of Bacon
The side of bacon ($3.85) was sufficient. Nothing spectacular, but a very respectable offering.

Down Home Skillet
The Down Home Skillet ($10.69 with egg whites) was the exact oppossite of the waffle. It was warm and delicious. Pancake Man offers multiple skillet options, basically homefries topped with various items. This dish was topped with bacon, onions, peppers, and cheese. Each skillet is also topped with two eggs, any style (I got egg whites), and comes with toast. The home fries are well seasoned and perfectly cooked. The toppings were wonderful.

The only complaint I have is that I asked for my skillet without cheese, but it arrived covered in dairy processed glory. I guess it was just an oversight, but it would be a big problem if I was lactose intolerant.

Pancake Man
952 Route 28
South Yarmouth, MA 02664
508-398-9532
(Google Map)