FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK :: A Short List of Favorite Eats… and a Drink!!

by Harvey Gold on March 11, 2015

A while ago I was asked to submit, to a web site, a few restaurants, pubs or saloons I thought were notable. Didn’t matter what or where, so I thought I’d share these notes with you. Two in Ohio, two in New York, one in Paris. Go to ALL OF THEM! It’ll get you out of the house and you’ll thank me later!

indexAt the Bistro on Main Street, in Kent, Ohio, in addition to a comfortably wide ranging menu, presenting serious kitchen gourmet meals to great apps like fabulous roasted brussel sprouts, and interesting sandwiches, a favorite of which is a grilled cheese with a thick slab of melt in the mouth smoked brisket, their equally ecelctic cocktail menu offers, notably, a Cucumber Cooler. This is made with mulled mint, lime and cucumber, lime juice, soda water and the choice of either Hendricks Gin or Effen cucumber vodka. I tried it with the Hendricks, my favorite gin, which already leans more towards cucumber than juniper. Presenting like a mojito, it’s very dry and refreshing, a perfect summer stand alone drink and a fine beverage to sip along with a meal.

Russo's Chicken Fried Steak as Originally Intended

Russo’s Chicken Fried Steak as Originally Intended

Another local northern Ohio favorite is Russo’s in Peninsula, Ohio. Chef Dave Russo, not surprisingly, is italian and leans the house slightly in that direction. I say “slightly,” because he spent several years down in NOLA hanging with the heavies, becoming one himself, so we find a great Jambalaya, and a number of Cajun menu regulars and specials. I’ll order up his Gumbo Ya Ya to start every visit there. There are also true nouvelle offerings to die for, Dave creating his own worcestershire reduction for his steaks. Then there’s my main course fave, a scary one. Named after a notable and dubious local luminary, Russo’s offers up Chicken Fried Steak for Gene Chicoine. Now I think he does an excellent pan gravy, but… he offers a nice appetizer, Fusilli with a Saute of Louisiana Crawfish Sauce. Rich, creamy, with a little heat. I’ll order the chicken fried steak and ask for the cream gravy to be replaced by this incredible delicious sauce. Yeah, along with his home baked breads and peppered olive oil I might need to chop and snort a couple Lipitors when I get home, but it is wonderful, decadent, comfort food. Russo’s always has a nice selection of multiple award winning Thirsty Dog craft beers, also brewed in Akron. Two of our YBN faves are their Orthus Belgian Dubbel and Cerberus Belgian style Trippel, one or both always available.

On an Onion bagel. A great choice if the marble is gone!

On an Onion bagel. A great choice if the marble is gone!

When in Manhattan, there are only two musts for me (now that a favorite eatery in Chelsea has changed their menu drastically). The first is Murray’s Bagels on 8th between 22nd and 23rd. With the legendaty H&H Bagels now gone, Murrays moves up on the respected elders list. Plenty of deli offerings, grilled sandwiches, specials, but…I can not go back to the city without , at least once, having whitefish salad on a marble (pumpernickle/rye) bagel with sliced onion. One has to go earlyish for this. While they have a never ending supply of plain, onion, garlic, everything, cinammon-raisin, and on and on, they only do one basket, split between spinach bagels and the marble, so it’s important to get there in time. I know, this is just a personal thing, but a great NYC bagelry really is a must stop.

imagesThe other must in New York City is also a breakfasty/lunchy destination (though I believe one could enjoy many of their offerings for a nice dinner), La Bergamote, also in Chelsea, on 9th Ave at 20th Street. In their new location (they moved across the street to the NW corner) very much the clean NY take on a French patisserie. One can get lovely baguettes stuffed with good things, excellent coffee and numerous pastries. But there is one reason to go to this particular shop for me. Years ago, when in Paris, I discovered Heaven, in the form of a croissant stuffed with chocolate AND almond paste. It had a slight glaze used as the glue to hold the toasted slivers of almonds on the outer pastry. In subsequent trips we returned to the same patisserie but never again did they have this particular manna– and believe me, this was my personal Holy Grail – to find this combination, or at least done properly.
A few years ago I met up with an old friend for a coffee at La Bergamote and while waiting at the counter for his cappucino, I started telling him this story of lost love when he, very casually, pointed at the glass case I was leaning on. Inches from my hip was a MOUNTAIN of the exact pastries I had been searching for. Spot on, heavy, sweet, buttery, decadent deliciousness! Whenever in the city, I get there immediately, and on my day flying out, I will always buy a few and carry them home with me.

indexSpeaking of Paris, Restaurant Paul, on Place Dauphine is a favorite. I have always contended one can eat and drink very well in Paris (and New York, for that matter) and not break the budget. Restaurant Paul, located on a little island in the Seine, reachable from one of the wonderful walking bridges, is the first place I ever tried the wine that has become a great favorite, Chateaux Neuf de Pape. This is a family owned and run eatery with, in my experience, some lovely food. I’ve also had an “only OK” meal there, but I sometimes order stepping outside my comfort zone and sometimes I’m right about not liking a particular dish, regardless of how well prepared. The service is lovely, the location is perfect, a little quiet in the middle of the City of Lights, and while not cheap, certainly offering value for the Euro.

Again, go to all these places!! It’ll be a great tour. Just don’t do the northern Ohio ones in the winter! Argh!


{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

carol westbrook March 18, 2015 at 2:35 pm

Thanks for the tips. I get to Manhattan once in a while, these are great picks. And I’m going to take your advice. I booked my trip to Paris (actually Lyon, via Paris) in May. Sorry to admit I will be wine tasting in the Lyon region, not drinking beer. But should you need a beer in Paris, look to the Moules-Frites restaurants, where you can get a good Belgian beer to go with it. Or Au Dernier Metro, a favorite bar with cold Leffe on tap. Bon Appetite!


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