Food has always been a passion of mine. Please join me as I hit spots around the world in search of great meals.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Freeman's Restaurant

The best part of having a food blog is that you get people reading from around the city who just love food. Or sometimes you get people outside the city who just love food. Either way, when you love food you are always in search of a new place to push your palate and such. With that being said, some of the people you meet via food are just much more interesting and have a more complex palate than yourself and it’s great to compare notes with them about places.

Where am I going with this? Well I wanted to invite you to submit little pieces of a place you ate at and I will post it here as a guest writer. My friend Rudy wrote me a bit about a place we had been talking about trying. Since Rudy beat me to the punch and went to dinner there before me, well I decided to post her re-cap.

I must let you know, I just sprung this on Rudy, so she didn’t have time to re-write this and post a long post on it. I’m just cutting and pasting it from my email. She was kind enough to agree to let me post. I’m sure she could have written a lot more, but what she wrote was suffice if I may say so myself. Thus enjoy the post and if you want to submit something as a guest writer please let me know.

“Went to Freeman's Restaurant last night. The atmosphere was amazing, it was a dark and rainy night............We made our way through a narrow cobblestone alley and at the end were two huge oak doors open into a rustic restaurant. There is a bar on the left and simple tables in a fairly small space. The walls are hung with stuffed trophy heads of wild boar, geese, elk, grouse and the like. The service was ok. We had a couple of appetizers, crab salad on toast and the artichoke spread which is a big portion and would be great to get if you were sitting at the bar) We both had the filet mignon, rare, which was perfectly cooked and tender and served with a horseradish sauce that cleared my sinuses. The wine list was very good although the wines by the glass yielded a very short pour, looked like maybe 4 ounces, so better to get a bottle. This is a great place to take someone special, very romantic in a Hemmingway style.”

So there you have it people. Not sure what type of rating on a scale from one to ten Rudy gives the place. Yet, I can tell you that she has been to some of the best places in the city so a positive review doesn’t come easy.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Sarabeth’s Restaurant

Anita was in town so it was necessary to find a new place to eat. I remember the times when Anita and I use to just visit our favorite haunt in the hood known to many as “Nacho Mama’s”. Now we must visit a new place every time she makes her way to the city. Come to think of it…why not? This city is so full of restaurants that you will never be able to hit them all. How neat is that? In many small towns and cities in the US one can make his/her way to every eating haunt in town. Not in NYC…that’s impossible.

So off we go to Sarabeth’s because that’s where Anita wanted to eat. And well…to be honest, it becomes rather difficult to pull Anita away from her choice of dinner once her mind has been made up. Not to mention that a friend recommended it to her so that was the icing on the cake. We walked several blocks chatting and looking at different menus to different places to eat. I think we passed three places we promised one another that we would visit in the near future.

We finally found Sarabeth’s on Amsterdam between 80th and 81st. Upon entering one takes note of the tea room feeling the location has. The earth tones and small saucer plates on the wall gave the location a home feeling. In my eyes it had a very mid-west farm house feel to it. So I was rather shocked when I seen the menu. No, it wasn’t the prices that threw me off, but the contents of the menu. There was a lot of Italian food on the menu. Upon my entrance I pinned this place for a down-home cooked meal type of place. But nope…a lot of Italian was on the list.

Of course when eating with Anita you have to know she is going to push the envelope on what she orders and will try and choose between a staple dish and something we have never heard of. So as always, when she choose the crazy dish, I took it upon myself to order the staple. For I know half way through the meal she won't like the crazy meal and will want to switch plates. I can tell after one bite if she likes what she is eating. Yes, this is a common practice and one I enjoy. Although, I sometimes start to wonder if someday she will ever choose a winner when it comes to crazy dishes.

In any case, we are seated and our waiter is a funny guy. But you know, one of those funny guys who can become annoying. I thought he was a good waiter though and his humor didn't reach that annoying level.

Oh, funny story. We are sitting and chatting and some nice girls come in and want to order a bottle of wine for a friend’s birthday. I hear them say that the bottle of wine they wanted was a bit too much for them and asked the waiter if he had any recommendations. In any case, in picked this up and whispered to the waiter that I would pick up the difference from the bottle they wanted and the one they were going to order. You see, I remember being in the situation many of times...a few bucks short to make that special night truely special. Thus, I figured that if I covered their difference it would come back to me three fold via good karma.

Moving on. I ordered the spaghetti and had him make it spicy for my Mexican taste buds. Anita had this squash-pumpkin soup to start and risotto for her main meal.

Soup: I thought the soup was o.k. and Anita didn’t like it. I felt it was missing something also. Since I don't eat a lot of pumpkin and squash I couldn't tell what it was...maybe salt or something of the sorts. Yet, they did provide some biscuits that were just tasty and helped move the plate along by dipping them in the soup. But in the end the soup did miss.

Spaghetti: I thought this was the best plate of the night. They made it nice and spicy just liked I asked. The had a good sauce with a fresh sweet sausage broken up into the sauce. I can tell when places use fresh sausage, it just has a lot crisp lighter taste then the traditional heavy sausage that's been sitting for a few days.

Risotto: This plate was good and the truffle olive oil they used on the risotto really gave it this smooth texture. I know, I know, risotto tends to be creamy anyways, but this one was just really smooth. The mushrooms that were used really spiced up the dish. This wasn't such a crazy dish for Anita to order, but it did have some elements that she had never tried in risotto, mostly the truffle olive oil.

We had tea at the conclusion of our meal which was really nice. I had forgotten how well one can converse after a post-dinner tea. I know, I know, you never thought you would hear me say that...God, I can’t believe I just wrote it. None the less they have a great tea selection here and they are served in awesome little tea kettles. Anita didn’t know that I had a former boss who schooled me on the proper way to drink and make tea. Serious, it was awesome all the stuff he taught me about tea. Did you know that there is one tea plant? Yeah, it’s just one type of plant...crazy right given all the differnt types of tea there are.

In closing, the one thing that Anita and I noticed about this place is that it seemed to veer off it’s path. One would think that this place would make down home comfy food with no pretense. Yet, now they have gotten into pasta and such. We weren’t sure if these dishes were always served, but I would tend to think that they weren’t at the start. Probably the owner thought she would put some personal dishes on there that she liked, I think this may have been a mistake and I’m sure if she were to serve some down home cooking for dinner with a touch of high scale she would get a better turnout for dinner. Yet, I have heard that her jams and brunch is to die for - so I haven’t given up on this place, I just might be more into the brunch and breakfast layout.