Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Bear Cafe in Woodstock must be the best restaraunt in the Catskills...

On our way up to Clinton, Lynn and I stopped at Woodstock as an easy to find and entertaining half-way point between Long Island and Upstate NY. We were a little wary, however, of the famous town because our tastes are not as earthy as we imagined the restaraunts of Woodstock might be. In our short, overnight stay we managed to find one of the most charming and dramatic restaraunts we had seen anywhere outside of Manhattan.

This restaraunt, Bear Cafe, only about two miles past our inn. The atmosphere was rustic with many tables situated streamside where a dramatic rushing current frames the cozy, but energetic dining room. The menu was the best melding of vegetiarin and carnivore I have ever seen with delicious sounding plates of Flat Grilled Bean Curd with Asian Greens (my choice) sharing space with Sesame Crusted Alaskan King Salmon (Lynn's choice). The crowd was attractive and interesting without being too self-conciously posed (as is the fashion in much of Eastern Long Island).
295 Tinker Street (Route 212)
Woodstock, NY 12498
(845) 679-5555

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Strangely unsatisfying- Hudson's wonderful Swoon...(?)

Lynn and I had eaten in Swoon in 2006. It was unknown to us at the time and we stumbled upon it when we went through Hudson on a Sunday around 2:30 when we were particularly hungry and impatient to find something good to eat. We were too impatient to bother with bad food, we had the kind of impatience that demands good food. We managed to find Swoon (after seeing that the Red something restaurant was closed). It was with great relief that we found that this place was a real find. Indeed, in our state of Upstate NY exhaustion we felt like we had found a kind of Shangri La with regard to food.

Having re-visited the place recently we were oddly underwhelmed. There was something worn out about it. Maybe it was the beat up menus placed before us or the serviceable but uninspired service, but it didn't seem the same. This was perplexing because our food was good, the atmosphere pleasant and as was said earlier, the service was satisfactory. The rose' we had was actually pretty amazing. But, as in Proust, memory is an oddity and doesn't follow convention, pattern or desire...

340 Warren Street
Hudson NY 12534
ph 518.822.8938
fx 518.828.9082

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Grey Horse Tavern in Bayport Stumbles out of the Gate....

(Above: Poorly Behaved Grey Horse Patrons banished to the porch)

The Grey Horse Tavern, recently opened on the footprint of the old, beloved Bayport House in Bayport, NY (Long Island) is, so far, a mixed bag. The food is first rate(with a better chopped style salad than nearby Painters in Brookhaven)-The Artisanal cheese plate is also very good with a seamless mix of Long Island and European cheeses. The swordfish I had was the best and most confidently prepared swordfish I have ever taste.

Now for the bad news: The service and atmosphere couldn't be worse. It is not neglectful service, it is merely incompetent. The waitstaff disappeared for long stretches with no real explanation on their return, drinks were mixed up, tables were far too close together and the acoustics are as bad as I can remember in an "upscale" restaurant. In easy to please Suffolk Co. these "problems" are usually not enough to sink an establishment. And, most of these kind of things can be remedied with a couple of staff meetings and a little elbow grease. Now it is incumbent upon GHT to get to work on these loose ends. If they do, they will have a first rate establishment. If not....

Grey Horse Tavern
291 Bayport Ave.
Bayport, NY
T: 631-472-1868

Long Island's Mastic Sea Food is Fantastic!

Mastic Sea Food in unfashionable Mastic just off the Montauk Highway is a mind-blowing Old School seafood market. The men there walk around in huge black overhauls with HERCULES stamped on them. There are Mastic seafood hats on sale for 10.00, the t-shirts are two for 10.00. The abundant oysters, clams, mussels, tuna, shark, haddock, squid, etc is a briny feast for the most jaded seafood lover. And, it might be the best place to get lobster on Long Island. The next best place for seafood on Long Island is probably Cor Jays'(I am spelling it wrong) and MSF has it beat with price and selection and it also has a more accesible location (for us of course)-The service is tremendous with patient, burly dudes of all ages alert and informative...

Mastic Sea Food
(631) 281-9608
1051 Mastic Rd, Mastic, NY 11950

Monday, July 14, 2008

What else can we say-Dockers in East Quogue might be the best restaruant on Long Island...

Dockers in East Quogue (the only "Hamptons" that seems cool anymore) is Mark and Lynn's new favorite restaurant. As with many perfect dining experiences, it defies easy description, but I will try. The setting overlooking the water is the outstanding physical feature of the place. The waitstaff is efficient, attractive with good instincts (they handled my mother-in-laws request to order fried flounder, an item not on the menu, with good humor and poise). The drinks are imaginative and interesting (the Oystertini; a traditional martini with a single Oyster and tobasco is my new favorite drink).

The food is sublime, my father in law enjoyed his stuffed sole more than anything I have ever seen him eat in a restaurant and my tuna tartar was perfect and beautiful. The atmosphere is a rarity on Long Island; chic, but laid back. This place is it...


94 Dune Rd.
East Quogue, NY
Tel: 631-653-0653

Monday, July 7, 2008

Ralph's ice is comfort food raised to an art form in Patchougue NY

Created in 1926 by the beloved Ralph Silverto, Ralph's ices is a family owned institution on Long Island. With over 50 locations on "the island" Ralph's is first rate comfort food in the summer. Ralph's has over 100 flavors of ice cream, sherbert and cream ices at any given time, many of them low in fat and/or sugar (many flavors are low in cholesterol too). Drinks and smoothies are also available too (the "Ralphacino" is a popular offering). Lynn and I are especially fond of the Patchogue location which is conveniently located near our gym (allowing us to reward ourselves for exercise with minimum guilt) and has a nice, young staff and is typically open very late.

Patchogue location
126 East Main St (Rear)
Patchogue, NY
(631) 758-1700<

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Mark and Lynn Visit Pigale and the W Hotel

Lynn and I went to see one of the very last performances of Dangerous Liaisons with Laura Linney on the 28th of June. We had tried to find an interesting restaurant in the theatre district and had focused in on a Chilean restaurant. We drove into the city and arrived around noon for a 2pm performance-We parked just around the corner from possibly our favorite restaurant in NY, Pigale (at 790 8th Ave)-The restaurant is French and the food is an unusual combination of sophisticated fare with a comfort food vibration. The niciose salad is a particular favorite of mine as is the steak tartare. Lynn is particularly fond of the monkfish. The cocktails are great (made with an unusually light touch)-The interior is memorable as well with angled overhead mirrors, framed french newspapers and framed photos of french folk heroes....

The W Hotel
is, in many ways, the polar opposite of Pigale. The Times Square "W" has been a favorite of ours since we moved to New York. The hotel has a striking entrance with a cascading waterfall behind glass (on four sides)-We had entered around 5 pm and the bar on the ground floor (called "The Living Room Bar") was packed with shoppers and tourists with awkward shopping bags. An alert host picked up on our disappointment and made a deft suggestion that we try the Blue Fin Restaurant and Lounge just one floor up. We walked up a flight of stairs and found a bar/restaurant mostly empty. We had a couple of great martinis (Lynn's blue colored with Hypnotiq).
The oysters were good, not great, and a bit expensive. The cheese plate was unbelievable, however and our long-legged Russian waitress dutifully wrapped up our oyster shells so that we could sow them in our driveway.

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I (Mark) have written for The Christian Science Monitor, Clear Magazine, Picture Magazine, Film Score Monthly, Dan's Papers, Rue Morgue, In Flight USA and a lot more publications that I can't remember.... My wife Lynn was a model with the Ford Agency and her photography has been featured in most of the publications I have written for...


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