Monday, February 21, 2011

when in Westchester, maybe MERITAGE in Scarsdale, NY (2-19-11)

Dining with large groups ultimately has its issues. Dining out
Saturday night ultimately has some issues, and dining out with your
family can often be a disaster.
Last night TEN of us headed about 10 minutes away from my mother's to
MERITAGE at 1505 Weaver St in Scarsdale, NY
( It is a nice, if too dimly lit, spot in
a mini-strip mall that makes you feel away from the crowds, although
Scarsdale hardly has crowds! The decor is nothing special, and the
service leaves a bit to be desired, but the food is quite good and
reasonable as well.
Since my sister only likes Chardonnay for white, we chose the Vincent
JJ Bourgogne Blanc 2008, which was declared too fruity by some though
most of us liked it as an aperitif while we ordered and said hellos.
We switched to a big okay Sonoma Chard "Overlook" from Landmark that
was instantly declared as corked. So I suggested we move to a light
red. Nobody at the table, other than us, had ever heard of the
DOLCETTO d'ALBA and the sommelieuse, who seemed pretty knowledgeable
said it was quite intense for a Dolcetto. The ROAGNA 2008 was more
than medium bodied and it satisfied all perfectly; we even had a 2nd
Samuel was super pleased with is TAGLIATELLE alla BOLOGNESE which was
a monster portion, so we asked for a doggie bag which they lost. At
the end of the meal they simply sent out a fresh 1/2 order to take
home at no cost, which was a good move.
The starters were all quite yummy from the pates to the Marinated
Artichokes, and my divine STEAMED MANILA CLAMS and MUSSELS in a
Garlic, Tomato sauce with ARUGULA Crouton, which turned out to be a
large slab of bread soaking in the sauce and dusted with pieces of the
greens for flavor.
The pasta category on the menu had "All fresh pasta is homemade" under
it, which gave me a giggle. Pasta dishes were indeed all fresh and
good including Will's LINGUINE with Cauliflower, Garlic, Olive Oil,
Chive & Bread Crumbs.
For the main course several ordered yummy chicken specials, fluke and
two of us had the Sauteed HUDSON VALLEY DUCK BREAST with Cauliflower
Puree, Apples and Dates. The preparation was perfect, but after asked
for mine rare to medium rare it came out RAW. They fixed it quickly as
our very giddy (her laugh was more bothersome than infectious) server
Callie giggled as she tried to apologize.
We were all tired and the dessert menu offered little more than
sorbet, ice cream, cookies, bread pudding, cheesecake and some
chocolate dish, which none of us felt we headed home, happy
for the most part, but realizing that large family dinner, especially
on Saturday can get dangerous.

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Friday, February 11, 2011

NYC has great tapas at GRAFFIT (2/9/11)

While in NY overnight for a recital I made agreat find just blocks
from Lincoln Center. GRAFFIT ( at 141 W 69th
just opened about 7 weeks ago and is already hopping.
I entered at 6pm down several steps to the almost hidden location to
find a long entry with long white bar lit from above and below (it
even has purse hooks under the bar!). The front room has high tables
with Plexiglas not to comfy high chairs and this is where the tapas
menu is found. If you wish to move to the elegant rear dining room you
must order off the main menu (although you can also order tapas along
with main courses here).
The front room has exposed brick walls with graffiti which upon
closer inspection has pictures of women's faces with long flowing
hair. The lighting is subdued, the Latin beat-themed (it did vary to
American and mid-Eastern at times) music was nice, but just a tad too

It was tough to decide what to eat by my excellent server Amalia
helped me choose from the large tapas and appetizer menus. Nacho, the
wine steward /manager from the north of Spain was there in flash to
help me with the wines as well. I started with a superb crisp acidic
Godella Louro do Bolo 2009 which was perfect with the PULP a la
GALLEGA a gorgeous presentation of Octopus served flattened and
squared off at the edges in a large rectangle dotted with cubed purple
potatoes and puree as well as white potatoes enrobed in paprika and
white puree with an odd flat disc of paprika potato as well. The dish
uses Spanish smoked paprika which is less intense than Hungarian, but
gave flavor and there was Olive Oil as well for flavor.
Tasty warm bread comes with the yummy oil as well.
Nacho let me taste the Priorat "Embruix" Vall Llacj 2006 which was too
bold at 4-1/2 years old so I went with the smoother Rejadorada 2006
Tinta de Toro (Tempranillo). It was great with my other two tapas:
CONFIT ARTICHOKES with Serrano Ham and Clams. The tiny clams were in a
salsa verde and there were sauces of "ham" reduction along with a
chemical "ham powder" that actually melted like cheese as the dish
warmed the powder. It was fun and reminded me of the ingenious new
style tapas dishes I had in Barcelona two years ago! The overall
effect and flavor was divine.
The final appetizer was the "Not your average" EGG with Seasonal
VEGETABLE STEW. Apparently one of their signature dishes and again
MAGNIFICENTLY presented the dish has a soft egg yolk wrapped in a
white made completely from CAULIFLOWER! YES! It was fun and it was
The vegetables in a superb rich broth included endive, sprouts, purple
potato, cauliflower and more. A true vegetarian's dream dish.
Dessert was a hard choice and I went with the WARM Liquid CHOCOLATE
FRITTERS with Orange Textures. These melt in your mouth mini fritters
oozed milk chocolate and sat on gelees, rinds and purees that you
could dip them in. The BLOOD ORANGE PUREE being the best (they should
bottle and sell it!).
Nacho suggested the PEDRO XIMEMES Bodegas Tradicion VSOP aged Sherry
which was super sweet and again a great match and really an extra
It was all a great treat...only the table next to me with a loud woman
with awful grating voice and her male friend who kept hitting me as he
got up and down were a problem. I will go back, but into the dining
room next time!