I have so much I want to say about why we should all be buying our meat from independently owned, professional butcher shops and not run of the mill, “B” grade grocery stores. But I’ll save my soap box speech for another post. But it relates to why I recommend Crisfield’s Prime Meats as one of Westchester’s best local butcher shops.

Family owned and operated for as long as I have been a Sound Shore resident, the meat here speaks for itself. They specialize in high quality meats and they butcher them expertly. John, the owner, is always happy to talk to you about recommendations on cuts or how to cook something. It’s not uncommon for me to walk in to buy a simple chicken and getting side tracked and walking out with something totally unplanned like Heritage pork chops or a crown roast.

One of my absolute favorite things at Crisfield’s are the house blended “Super Burgers.” After having one of these, it’s actually hard to have another burger anywhere. They don’t always have them so call first to ask.

Crisfield’s also has a good selection of speciality sandwiches and house made foods. Among my favorite prepared food item is their fresh baked ham. It is SO good. I’ll go ahead and say it’s the best ham I have ever had. Sometimes, I don’t even bother with a sandwich- I just order a few slices and it doesn’t even make it home. So good.

Conveniently, they also have your necessary produce, sauces and other supplies you need to pull off a delicious meat focused meal. And if they don’t have something you need to round out your meal, you can always pop over to June & Ho, just across the street, to get what you need. Doesn’t get better than that!

Although I believe there is nothing better than supporting family owned and operated local business, what makes Cristfield’s stand out is the thing I care about most- commitment to quality and customer service.

  • All things Meat: Everything from fresh chicken breasts to speciality cuts that are hard to find
  • The Super Burger: Just trust me on this one
  • House cooked Ham: I don’t know how they do it, but they make the very best ham.

  • A Bargain: You have to pay a premium to shop at Cristfield’s.

Visit Crisfield’s at:

61 Purchase Street
Rye, NY 10580

About

Located in Armonk, NY, Modern Barn is spacious, elegant and rustic. The beautiful glass light fixtures bring your eyes up to the curved wooden ceiling and immediately you are transported to quite literally, a modern barn.

The brunch menu is appealing and the food portions are very large.

The Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary at Modern Barn was surprisingly briney. We suspect the brine to be olive juice, but cannot confirm or deny this. It is thin in viscosity and loaded with Horseradish. It is light in heat, but enough to keep you hooked. The garnish seemed inconsistent as we saw some Bloody Marys make it to tables with olives adorning them, while ours didn’t seem to make the cut.

The Brunch Scene

Modern Barn is large enough that brunchers of all kinds can gather here. The upstairs area seemed to be the place for families with younger children to dine, while the lower level had families with older children and couples. The bar area was full of singles and groups of friends. Looking around, despite the wide range of people and party size, no one seemed to feel rushed. Everyone looked relaxed and was taking their time, which is really important for brunch.

Local Tasters tip to Modern Barn: turn up the music ever so slightly.

Good to Know

Circular Booth at Modern BarnBunch is served on Sundays from 11am-2:30pm. Big rounded booths make this place suitable for families & celebrations.

If you are in a rush, we don’t recommend the bar for dining as the service was slow despite Local Tasters being the only patrons at the bar when we arrived. For example, we were brought warm bread and butter, but no culinary set ups and thus could not enjoy the warm bread. We worked to get someone’s attention for over 5 minutes, which was frustrating. When our food arrived, it was once again, quite some time before we were checked on to see if we needed anything. While not the end of the world, it was slow enough that we felt it should be mentioned.

All about the Eats

Modern Barn Armonk NY-34Local Tasters found the brunch menu to be enticing and had fun deciding what to order. Let’s tackle the final decisions one by one.

The “Morning After Pie” Pizza was a must order menu item for us. How could we resist a pizza with breakfast sausage, house-cured bacon, shirred eggs, thin sliced potatoes, peppers, onions, tomato sauce, mozzarella & parmesan cheeses? We couldn’t.

When it was placed down in front of us , we were extremely excited to dig in to this beast!

But… I can’t lie to you folks. It looked better than it tasted. Local Tasters agreed that consistency was the real issue here. The crust was not crispy or strong enough to hold up to the heavy toppings. Second to that complaint, despite its many ingredients, it severely lacked flavor, which is still perplexing. We thought that a little heat would go a long way to enhance the flavor profile and bring it all together. Ultimately, this dish got a collective thumbs down.

The Cape Cod Cakes were served with poached eggs, lobster remoulade and local mixed greens. By no means perfect, this dish was the star of our experience. The eggs were poached perfectly and this is the single most important element. Additionally, the fish cakes were very flavorful and well crafted. The sauce however was disappointing- it tasted like thousand island dressing. Although thousand island dressing could work here, there was too much of it and it overpowered the eggs. The side salad was very good, but could use more evenly dressed leaves. However, this dish was the clear winner, gets a Local Taste thumbs up and we would recommend it.

Modern Barn Armonk NY-26The Biscuits & “Ribs” are described as prime rib ragu, buttermilk biscuits, spinach, poached eggs and béarnaise sauce. This dish, while quite tasty, missed the mark for us. It was very heavy and similarly to the pizza, didn’t come together for us and felt disconnected. For example, if the egg was served with just the spinach it would be very good. Likewise, if the egg was with just the beef, it would be extremely tasty. However,  the spinach and the meat really didn’t work together. Meanwhile, under it all, is the the bread component that was very soggy underneath this heap of food that confused local tasters into thinking it was polenta, when it was really a biscuit!

The Final Say

Bread & Butter at Modern BarnLocal Tasters love the open space and rustic feel of Modern Barn. We are slightly obsessed with the beautiful, round booths that foster conversation and merriment, which always makes for a more enjoyable meal.

The food is really where Modern Barn lost us. The potential for each of the meals that we ordered is certainly there, but the execution lacked refinement. The portions were simply too big and the components somewhat disconnected. By the time we threw in our forks, we all felt overstuffed and yet unsatisfied at the same time. For the price, it is unlikely that we will return to Modern Barn for brunch.

Alvin & Friends Bloody Mary

About

Alvin & Friends is located in the heart of downtown New Rochelle, NY. It is known for it’s live jazz music scene and lively atmosphere. The main entrance leads you into the bar area where a beautiful baby grand welcomes you. The bar is a large open space that leads into the spacious dining room, and then eventually into the hidden back room. This back room is where we had the pleasure of brunching and yet, we had no idea it was even there! Alvin & Friends specializes in Southern and Caribbean inspired food.

The Bloody Mary

Alvin & Friends Bloody MaryAt first glance, The Bloody Mary at Alvin & Friends appeared to be thin, which is usually a bad sign. However, its thin viscosity was not a problem and the Bloody Mary turned out to be very, very good. It was well seasoned, slightly briny, with a low to medium heat level. Local Tasters found the Bloody Mary extremely enjoyable. It is well priced at $8.00 each.

 

The Brunch Scene

Alvin & FriendsAmbiance does’t happen by itself. It must be created and Alvin & Friends is one of the only restaurants that seems to understand this. It is clear that owner, Alvin Clayton, cares about his guests and works hard to create an ambiance for them. The ambiance is created by the colorful artwork that lines the walls, all or most painted by Alvin himself, combined with the live jazz during brunch, and the personal touch of Alvin coming by each table to say hello. His warm and welcoming personality makes you want to become Alvin’s best friend! Brunch is suited for most groups of people including couples, families and friends. It is not suited for children who can’t sit still, as most guests are there to relax and enjoy cocktails and brunch. Alvin & Friends gets a big, shiny, gold star for brunch ambiance.

Good to Know

Bunch is served on Saturday from 11:30am to 2:00pm and Sunday 11:30am to 3:30pm. Outside of Brunch, there is always something fun going on at Alvin & Friends including a wide variety of talented musical guests and Trivia Night! Be sure to check out their calendar.

 

 

All about the Eats

The menu at Alvin & Friends is rooted in southern cuisine, making it difficult to choose because everything looks tempting on the menu! Some of the items that caught our hungry eyes were fried green tomatoes with rum-cured salmon gravlax served with soft baked eggs, open face grilled chicken apple sausage sandwich with brie, Creole mustard aioli and of course, classic chicken & waffles.

Ultimately, we decided on the Caribbean style eggs benedict which came with jerk hollandaise and includes a choice of side salad or home fries and the Mo’ bay omelet with jerk shrimp sweet plantain, peppers and onions. For a little extra indulgence, we ordered sides of grits and sausage for the table to share.

We were three Local Tasters on this particular occasion and shared everything. Although the eggs benedict were cooked well, we missed having either a meat, fish or vegetable layer in-between the bread base and the egg. The egg itself lacked a little flavor and an organic, farm fresh egg would elevate this dish.

The Mo’ bay omelet was cooked very well, but also lacked seasoning and had an overwhelming amount of somewhat raw peppers while an underwhelming about of shrimp. It was also unfortunately, a very watery omelette from the vegetables. This is any easy fix. I would recommend sautéing the vegetables in advance with some added seasoning, draining, and then adding to the omelette for cooking.

The home fries were THE BEST home fries ever! The unexpected sweet potato version of classic home fries were sweet, savory and cooked to perfection. You rarely see sweet potatoes mixed with peppers and onions and the combination is delectable and craveable.

Also great, were the sides of sausage and cheesy grits. They were cooked perfectly and we couldn’t get enough.

The Final Say

Local Tasters really enjoyed Alvin & Friends. The Bloody Mary, the friendly staff, and welcoming atmosphere all contribute to a great Brunch experience. What takes Alvin & Friends over the top is the live music (be sure to call ahead and confirm music) and the personal greeting from Alvin himself. While we saw some room for improvement in the main dishes, we also would certainly not call the food disappointing. It was very good with some elements best described as outstanding. All and all, the final say from Local Taste is a solid Thumbs Up, and we look forward to returning to Alvin & Friends, and not just for brunch.

The Cookery Restaurant in Dobbs Ferry, NY is one of the more popular restaurants amongst the thirty something foodies crowd in Westchester. It’s food is rustic, flavorful and pushes the envelope just enough to make it a truly unique culinary experience, without going over the top.The Cookery Bloody MaryNow, we all know Brunch wouldn’t be Brunch without a Bloody Mary. Especially when I’m working hard to populate the Bloody Mary App I created. Like everything else at The Cookery, the Bloody Mary was unique. It was spicy while also oddly acidic. After a few sips, I am fairly confident the extra acidity was coming from Apple Cider Vinegar. While I appreciated the unique twist on the Bloody Mary, fellow feasters agreed we did not enjoy the pungency that was coming from the vinegar. The garnish was also non existent and this surprised me a bit given the creative nature of the restaurant. I think with some tweaks here, their Bloody Mary could be something of note, but not as it is now. Not for me anyway.

On the flip side, the cocktail that came with our Brunch, referred to as the ‘Brunch Punch’ was delicious! The cocktail changes, although I don’t know how frequently. On this day it was a cocktail with Gin, triple sec, orange juice and thyme. It was dangerously good.The Cookery Dining Room Upon entering, we experienced a positive and fun vibe that was coming from the dining room, while the bar area was quiet and empty. Typically, we saddle up to the bar and settle in, but we went where the crowd was. The crowd was predominantly young professionals enjoying friends and cocktails on a Saturday afternoon. It reminded me of weekends in New York City where this scene is the norm. But here in suburban Westchester, this vibe can be hard to come by. Immediately, we’re hooked.The Cookery The Cookery’s brunch is really unique for a multitude of reasons. First, it is one price for everyone. You can not order a la carte. For $35.00 you are offered a choice of an appetizer, an entree, a dessert, a small plate of passed Hors d’oeuvres, and the cocktail of the day. At first, $35.00 for brunch seems a little high, but think about it. An average brunch dish, say Eggs Benedict, ranges from $14-$18 at comparable restaurants and a Bloody Mary averages $12.00. So $30.00 is your average minimum brunch investment and all you get is a traditional breakfast dish and a drink. Here at The Cookery you get a full sized 3 course meal, a fantastic cocktail, and a tasting plate from the kitchen. It’s unconventional to not offer a la carte, but I can also quickly see why this makes it ideal to dine here with friends. One price, lots of options, no issues with the bill- I’m a fan. Brunch is served on Saturdays & Sundays.The Cookery Egg and MeatballNow onto the menu. There is nothing ‘typical’ about this brunch menu. Not a single thing looks ‘average.’ You will not find ‘blueberry pancakes’ or ‘two eggs any style with your choice of bacon or sausage.’ No- not here. Here they combine ingredients that you never thought to do. The Meatball topped with  Egg, for example. This I had to try, and I am very glad I did. Here is another unique combo for you- Waffles & Bone Marrow. Certainly not something you see everyday. But for those less adventurous, there are many approachable classics like the bucket of fried chicken or the griddle burger.

I did have some trouble deciding what to get- I wanted to try everything! But in the end, I choose to start with  the Meatball and an Egg, followed by Eggs in Purgatory and Warm Chocolate Polenta for dessert. My dining companion went with Egg in a Jar, French Toast with Smoked Scramoza Poached Egg and Stickabutta Pie. Here’s what we thought.

The Meatball and Egg was awesome. The meatball itself was probably one of the best I have every had. (I love meatballs.) The egg was cooked perfectly and the combination really worked. It was a sizable appetizer- a meal in itself. The Egg in a Jar was a perfectly poached egg over polenta with crispy pork and it was really, really good. This was a also a fairly filling appetizer. There was no clear winner here and I would recommend both without delay.

In the entree category we had a very clear winner. The Eggs in Purgatory were awesome! This dish was packed with flavor, and while savory and rich, also bright and clean. However, we thought the French toast with Housemade Sausage and a Poached Egg was just okay. We agreed that the dish was slightly disconnected and needed something to bring it all together, or at the least, the french toast needed to be a little sweeter. Overall, neither of us would order this dish again.The Cookery DessertDessert soon arrived. Although both desserts were good, they were both outrageously sweet.  Like crazy, insanely, diabetic coma sweet! This is of course is the intention and both were good in their own right, but for us, it was just too much. This was not unique to only the two desserts we choose, as all the dessert options were very sweet and this was a little disappointing. We agreed we would like to see something like mixed berries or a cheese plate as an option for those who can’t handle the sugar.The Cookery Polenta with Poached EggAll and all, I really do like most everything about The Cookery. In fact, I wish it was located a little closer to me. I applaud them for stepping out of the box and creating something unique. Certainly I didn’t love everything, but I think that’s the point- you have to try new things to find out what you like and what you don’t like. It turns out, I don’t like apple cider vinegar in my Bloody Mary, but I do like an egg on a meatball, and I wouldn’t have known that if not for The Cookery.  I am eager to try the other menu items and look forward to going back soon.

Fire Quacker Burger

I am always ready to welcome a new addition to downtown Rye, NY. When I spotted that Bareburger was open, I was eager to give it a try. Upon entry, the vibe here is quirky, friendly and upbeat- unique amongst the stale restaurant neighbors that surround it. I saddled up to bar and was thrilled with the locally and organic sourced menu, in addition to a notable beer selection on tap, as well as all wine being served on tap–all the rage now in case you missed the memo.

A little Inexperienced?

Then… I looked to right to find a child at the bar having lunch with her dad. ‘Hey there- bars are kid free zones. No exceptions.’ Then I looked to the bartender to find she wasn’t much older. Then to the staff. Same. It became clear quickly that it’s a young crew at Bareburger. I’m not hating on the youth here, but it means inexperience and that can make or break a dining experience. Usually the later.

 

In addition to an extensive Burger menu, Bareburger offers a wide variety of salads, appetizers and sandwiches.


The burger port of the menu includes options for beef, elk, bison, duck, veggie burgers and more. Or, you can build your own.

 

Traceable Ingredients

Here is what really sets Bareburger apart from other small chains–all the ingredients are traceable and responsibly sourced. The sources of each ingredient are published on a separate card for your review. An example of this is seen in the image below- the Duck is clearly marked to be from Maple Leaf Farms. It is listed as hormone free, antibiotic free, cage free and 88% lean. The details for many other ingredients are available including vegetables and even soda. This makes it much easier to order with confidence especially if you are someone with allergies, such as Gluten.

 

 

So, what did I decide on? Having come off a recent elk encounter, I jumped at the chance to have an organic elk burger, while my dining companion went for the duck burger. So we placed our orders and we waited. And waited. And waited some more. And then some more after that.

While waiting, multiple individuals asked about the status of their order. While our order was not asked about, it was obvious it was taking too long and the manager came up to us before we could get to him.

We couldn’t help but wonder what the wait must be like when the place is packed on a Friday night- this was the middle of the day.

 


Restrooms?

With only 2 Single person bathrooms in the family friendly joint, the wait for the restroom was also long. Considering that I was still waiting on the food, this was not too much of an issue. However, I can see how it can quickly become an issue, especially on a busy kids night like a Friday night.

Finally our burgers arrived, mine with a side of Grillo’s Dill Pickles. I ordered my elk burger medium-rare and it was more medium-well, but still very tasty. The duck burger was also quite good, but too spicy for my liking, but I believe it is meant to be that way.

 

The Grindhouse burger: Elk, manchego, country bacon, piquante relish, green leaf, paprika mayo, brioche bun


The Fire Quacker Burger: Duck, pepper jack, pickled jalapeño, red onions, spinach, tomato, habanero mayo on a biochemist bun

The food was delicious

Overall, we enjoyed the burgers themselves. But we were quite bored from waiting and eager to move on with our day that it did somewhat spoil the enjoyment of eating lunch. It was more of an eat and run by the time our food was set down in front of us.

I’m confident that with time, the kitchen and staff will find their grove. I don’t think they’ll ever get away from the family friendly craziness feeling inside that promotes a feeling of loud chaos, but I do think Rye needed a place like this and we’ll be seeing Bareburger bustling for a long time to come.

Bloody Mary at Lilly's White Plains NY

Lilly’s is one of the newest additions in White Plains, NY and we welcomed them with open arms! In a long line of pretty terrible bars along Mamaroneck Avenue geared towards the Westchester college crowd, Lilly’s finally gave those of us pretending to act like grown ups and seeking a proper cocktail, a place to escape at the end of the work day.

Not long after our first visit to Lilly’s, Westchester magazine featured Lilly’s as a “must try” for brunch, so we knew we had to try it and were happy to head back there and order another Bloody.

This is where we have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is the Breakfast Pizza featured in Westchester Magazine did not disappoint. Aren’t you just drooling looking at this picture?

Brunch at Lilly's in White Plains, NY
The Morning Lilly Pizza features Mozzarella, Fontina, Creme Fraiche, Corned Beef Hash, Truffle Oil and a Fried Egg

The bad news is that their Bloody Marys are inconsistent. Usually this indicates they do not have a solid recipe in place, but this caliber of a restaurant should- especially when offering Brunch on both Saturday and Sundays including a complimentary Bloody Mary or Mimosa with each Brunch entree- making it a soon to be Brunch hot spot. My hope is that Lilly’s focuses on developing a solid and consistent recipe for their Bloody Mary.

Lilly’s delivered a fantastic Bloody Mary the first time we tried it which was in late June 2015. It was savory- flavored for certain with Worcestershire and we felt the recipe reflected the ambiance of Lilly’s. It was a sophisticated Bloody Mary and echoed the exposed brick and dark red leather featured in the decor. We gave that Bloody Mary a thumbs up.

Brunch at Rye House Port Chester NY

Bloody Mary at Rye House Port Chester NYOur neighborhood has had new joints pop up everywhere over the past few years and trust me when I say- they are all welcome! One of the newer additions in the chain of restaurant openings is Rye House, located on Main Street in downtown Port Chester. They sum it up best in a description found on their website– “Rye House is a place for all times that draws its inspirations from old American commitments to hospitality and ingenuity.”

Rye House is fortunate enough to have Sarah, a very talented mixologist, behind the bar. Sarah’s background in the culinary arts certainly shines through when she is busy making infusions and picklings of all kinds and fresh, unique cocktails. When it comes to Sarah’s Bloody Mary, no two days deliver you the same garnish twice and I absolutely love that. Other bartenders should take note (or take a lesson) from Sarah!

The brunch scene isn’t generating the Sunday Funday crowds just yet, but I have hope.  The bar staff here truly care about making great, fresh cocktails and I have had some really good ones. Plus, I can walk here (if I really needed to!)  I enjoy the music they play and their brunch menu is pretty darn solid, especially the ‘Southern Benediction’ featured below…. it is as good at it looks- I promise! Word on the street is that live music is on its way too and I can’t wait! We have all the components here required for a top notch brunch experience!

SOUTHERN BENEDICTION Poached Eggs, BBQ Brisket & Creole Hollandaise
Poached Eggs, BBQ Brisket & Creole Hollandaise
Hudson House, Nyack NY

Sure, I like Bloody Marys. Well, lets face it- it’s more like a love affair. But the truth is, I rarely have more than one and usually I drink them in the daytime. The flavor of a Bloody Mary is bold and tends to overpower the palate so they don’t go well with many meals, making them less desirable during the dinner hour. However, this evening was a different story.

We had ended up a in Nyack, NY- just over the Tappan Zee bridge which spans over the Hudson river connecting Westchester and Rockland counties- just outside of Manhattan. It’s not far from us- about 20 minutes. We found ourselves at a bustling, higher end establishment called The Hudson House. The gent behind the bar was either obnoxious or highly amusing- I’m still not sure about which. But it was clear by his infused concoctions of Rosemary vodka and Chocolate Rum that he was a quality mixologist. In deciding what to order, I hadn’t considered a Bloody Mary for even a second. We were so impressed with the homemade chocolate rum cocktail  that we sat at the bar and spent our time helping the bartender brainstorm names for it. Our favorite, if we do say so ourselves was ‘The Wonka.’ We are still waiting to see if it makes it to the menu.

And then a Bloody Mary went by. After witnessing first hand how much care was put into the cocktails at The Hudson House, and seeing the tantalizing amount of fresh horseradish floating in the cocktail that passed before me… I just had to have one.

The garnish was of the classic nature and it was served in a mason jar, which is always a nice touch.  But really, this Bloody Mary was all about the flavor. And the flavor was spot on. It was, by far, one of the best Bloody Marys I have ever tasted. It tasted fresh and was bursting with high quality horseradish that blended into the drink harmoniously. The consistency was not thin, but it wasn’t too thick. The heat level was just right- some might say it could use more heat, but I disagree. I thought it was perfect and purposeful, allowing the flavors to come through rather than be disguised by Tabasco or hot sauce.

This Bloody Mary left me wanting more. And unlike most establishments, I would bet my money that they care about this house recipe and that it will taste just the same. I have no doubt that Hudson House cocktail creationist, Andrew Barrett, produced this 5 star recipe and cares about the quality control and consistency of delivering that recipe time and time again. Bloody fans everywhere can tell you – this is not usually the case.

I appreciated this Bloody Mary. I enjoyed this Bloody Mary. I will go back over the bridge for this Bloody Mary.