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PORT JEFF STATION, LONG ISLAND: Station Coffee Shop, Where Everybody Knows Your Name

When you enter Station Coffee Shop in Port Jeff Station, it’s kind of like entering the show Cheers.

 

Sometimes you wanna go..
Where everybody knows your name
and they’re always glad you came.
You wanna be where you can see,
the troubles are all the same.
you wanna be where everybody knows your name

Sometimes, you really do want that. You may not even be looking for it, but a tiny mint green and mirror lined restaurant in Port Jeff Station, tucked away amongst a grocery store, a gym, dollar store, post office and more, is the warm, cozy place I only just discovered now after living on Long Island on and off for the past eight years.

I can’t even take the credit for this. My father’s good friend told him about it, and he told me about it.

I didn’t know what I was expecting, I had just heard how it was good and I should go try it. When you walk in, you are reminded of luncheonettes from the past. One long column of booths upon booths, adjacent to one long counter with stools. Three of those stools are missing towards the far end of the counter, where the waitresses pick up your food to bring to you. It’s completely open, the setup. You can watch the cooks make your food if you wish.

And speaking of the food, it’s great.

I have ordered the same exact thing over and over again now, and I love it so much my dad now orders it, and he loves it!

And it’s nothing fancy either.

Check out the Greek Chicken Wrap with fries (that are cooked well done! CRISPY FRIES FTW):

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Beautifully moist, flavorful grilled chicken. Lettuce, tomato, feta cheese, and of course the wrap itself.

But what takes it over the top for me is the housemade dressing that’s put on the side:

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There’s something really special about a housemade dressing with the big herbs in it versus a store bought dressing. This dressing is the shop’s Italian dressing, but it goes great with the rest of the Greek wrap. It’s a simple oil/vinegar/herbs combo, but that’s what’s great about it. Less is more.

What really took me back was how the waitresses know you by name after only going about three times now. And you feel like you’ve known these people for a long time!

One of the waitresses I met today, I felt like I knew her forever. Such a kind, sweet soul.

This is an experience that sometimes, we can forget about in our day to day lives.

With fast casual restaurants still on the rise, the personal touch of the waitress or waiter can get diminished.

Thank goodness for these places that are still holding on.

And thank goodness for the Greek chicken wrap at the cozy coffee shop where everybody knows your name.

STATION COFFEE SHOP

504 Jefferson Plz, Port Jefferson Station, New York 11776

Hours

  • Mon-Sat:
    6:00 am – 8:00 pm
    Sun:
    6:00 am – 3:00 pm

 

 

Phone
(631) 331-7323

 

 

LONG ISLAND: Thai House, Smithtown 

There are restaurant where you are drawn to them like a magnet.

Where you go once and you’re hooked, and out of new habit, frequent.

That’s the case at Thai House in Smithtown, Long Island.

Continue reading “LONG ISLAND: Thai House, Smithtown “

National Fried Chicken Day!

It’s an American classic meal.

Today is National Fried Chicken Day!

What’s your favorite kind of fried chicken?

My mom cooks an awesome baked version of the classic, which I have always loved.

But there are so many places to buy it too!

Today I decided to go with boneless fried chicken tenders from Popeyes . Yum!

Have you had its Mardi Gras Mustard sauce before? Delish!


COMMENT BELOW: Where do you go to get your favorite fried chicken?

LONG ISLAND: Mamma Lombardi’s

Sunday dinner, everyday.

That’s the phrase that pops in my head when I think of Mamma Lombardi’s in Holbrook.

It’s a warm, inviting atmosphere where you’re taken care of to the T by the staff. So much so, it’s like you become part of their family during each time you visit.

And the food? Trust me, you’ll always be full after a visit to this Italian Long Island staple restaurant. The portions are huge, but who would have it any other way? It’s Mamma’s cooking. Fresh, flavorful, delicious. The pictures truly are a thousand words.

Check out some photos of my 4th of July trip to Mamma’s below:

   

Mozzarella en Carrozza.
  
Fried Zucchini.
  
Veal & Peppers Parmigiana. Mamma usually makes it with sweet peppers, but i requested it be made with hot peppers this time. SO good.

Mamma Lombardi’s

400 Furrows Rd.

Holbrook, NY 11741

631-737-0774

http://www.mammalombardis.com

 

TOLEDO: Real Seafood Company

 

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TOP PHOTO: Toledo skyline BOTTOM PHOTO: The Docks, Toledo.

There’s something magical about the water. The salty air, the breeze that sweeps your face, and when the sun shines on it, how that water glistens.

I really wanted to be near the water this past weekend. Living in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey growing up, I remember from being a little kid up until now always connecting with water, whether it be a beach, lake, pond, etc.

This past week I was really craving that experience. Cincinnati and Columbus are both cities I’ve been to here in Ohio that are on the water, but as I love to explore and venture to new cities, I decided to travel north to Toledo.

When traveling to any new city, a great guide to check out before you go is the city’s tourism (CVB) website. In this case, I was browsing Destination Toledo for my “plan.”

Perusing the restaurant section, I read about this place near the water called “The Docks,” in which the website described it as the following:

“Discover acclaimed waterfront dining at The Docks, a restaurant complex on the banks of the Maumee River. Savor daily fresh catches from Real Seafood Co., which also features a raw oyster bar. ”

I immediately knew I needed to check this out. After driving through the downtown area (which reminded me of the city of Dayton except Toledo on a huge body of water), I drove over to The Docks, which is directly across the Toledo skyline (see picture above, great photo opportunities here!)

I got there in the afternoon, so it was perfect timing for lunch. I had a choice to make, there were choices such as  Zia’s, an Italian restaurant, Real Seafood Company with its fresh seafood, El Vaquero at The Docks, Mexican food.

Of those three, I next consulted with the app Urbanspoon for user reviews of these restaurants.

After reading them, ultimately, my gut was saying, “I WANT SEAFOOD!”

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I’m SO glad I made that choice. Here’s why:

Lobster!
Lobster!

The atmosphere: Immediately walking into the restaurant, I was impressed by the decor, and the friendly waitstaff. Right off the bat the staff were very kind and as the hostess escorted me to my table, I had told her how it was my first time to Toledo. The waiter I had overheard this, and later in the meal, chatted with me about Toledo, as well as Dayton (he used to come to the Gem City to visit). Two words to sum up the decor: classy and bold. There are details in the walls, from the nautical paintings that were painted on the walls, to the words above the open kitchen listing the fish the restaurant serves, to the colorful display on the wall that’s near the restrooms, to one part of the restaurant with the beautiful mesh covering a section of booths. This restaurant is HUGE,  an open floor plan that has different levels, including a big glass fireplace in the middle of the restaurant you can be seated next to. There’s a hanging lobster from the ceiling (see picture above!). The seating itself was comfortable, tables and chairs as well as booths (I sat in a booth). And with it being right on the water, there were great views of the Toledo skyline that you can sit and look at. Another thing I loved, love songs were playing throughout the restaurant (i.e. “Kiss From a Rose” by Seal).

What I ate/drank: Rolls, bleu cheese cole slaw, Parmesan Encrusted George’s Bank Lemon Sole with skillet fried hash brown potatoes , chocolate decadence cake, diet coke.

Price: The Parmesan encrusted sole was $14.95, which came with the homemade rolls and bleu cheese cole slaw, on top of the side dish of the hash browns.

With the cake, diet cokes, and tip, I paid a total of  $31.90.

My thoughts: When I first got there, I had asked the waiter to break down for me the popular dishes. He explained how the fish is fresh caught and fresh delivered to the restaurant each morning. He took me through the lunch menu and which fresh fish I should look out for, the featured specials (which change frequently), but it was when he got excited about the Parmesan encrusted sole in the lemon sauce, I got excited and was sold on that. The service was a good pace: I wasn’t rushed yet the food came out at a reasonable time. The waiter first brought out warm homemade rolls with perfectly cut triangles of butter.

House made rolls. These came with my lunch entree.
House made rolls. These came with my lunch entree.

The fact these were served warm really made them amazing. When you cut these open, there’s fresh garlic inside, on top of the poppy and sesame seeds you see on the top there. They were light and not overly dough-y. Delicious.

Homemade bleu cheese coleslaw vinaigrette
Homemade bleu cheese coleslaw vinaigrette

The waiter then brought a small dish of its homemade bleu cheese cole slaw. It wasn’t the creamy kind, which I loved. The cole slaw was light, the vegetables were crunchy, not soggy, and the blend of the big chunks of bleu cheese and the fresh black pepper I had the waiter put on was a great “appetizer” before the main event.

PARMESAN ENCRUSTED GEORGE’S BANK LEMON SOLE.
PARMESAN ENCRUSTED GEORGE’S BANK LEMON SOLE with skillet fried hash brown potatoes, $14.95 (LUNCH PORTION)

The main event was incredible. I’ve had a fair share of seafood in my life thus far, and this was really some of the best I’ve had. The crust and the lemon sauce really brought it over the top, along with the scallion garnish. The sole itself was cooked great (moist, not dry, bright white inside). The crust was crisp but not super greasy. The lemon sauce, paired with the Parmesan from the crust was a nice sweet/savory blend I enjoyed. And the waiter recommended I get the hash browns crispy, which I’m glad I did, because those were great too, not greasy, but with a great crunch.

Homemade decadence chocolate cake.
Homemade decadence chocolate cake.

My sweet tooth couldn’t resist the also homemade chocolate decadence cake: a flourless chocolate cake in a tart berry sauce. It was magic. Creamy, chocolate filled bites of heaven.

Why you should go:  The seafood was some of the best I’ve ever had. The atmosphere is beautiful: you can take in views of the city of Toledo on the water while enjoying VERY fresh seafood. The restaurant is a 2014 Diners Choice winner from the popular online reservation site OpenTable, and if you go on a busy night or weekend, especially now that its getting warmer, I recommend making a reservation either on that website or by phone. If you go in the afternoon however, you won’t have trouble getting a table. The restaurant also has a six-foot raw bar with clams, mussels, and other fresh catches. The restaurant is so big it can accommodate big parties as well.  And if you don’t love seafood,  not to worry. The menu also has chicken and steak entrees as well as a variety of sandwiches and burgers. There’s something for everyone. As I flat out said on my personal Facebook page, RUN, don’t walk to Real Seafood Company!

Location/Hours:
22 Main St.
Toledo, OH 43605

Reservations at:
(888) 456-3463 (DINE)

Hours of Operation
Mon-Thursday 11:00am-10:00pm
Friday 11:00am-11:00pm
Saturday 11:30am-11:00pm
Sunday 12:00pm-9:00pm

Happy Hours
Sunday-Friday 4:00pm-Close (drink specials end at 9:00pm)
(Bar & lounge area only)

realseafoodcotoledo.com

DAYTON: Lebanese Festival

One of the many cool things I’ve noticed while living here in Dayton are all of the festivals for different cultures that happen throughout the year.

In the past few months alone, I have checked out the Celtic Fest, the Germanfest Picnic, and today, I checked out the Lebanese Festival.

All of them have been rich in the culture, full of authentic food, and of course, FUN!

I’ve never been to a Lebanese Festival before, and was really excited to check it out this afternoon. If you’re looking for something to do this weekend, head on over to this festival.

It’s not a super huge festival, but that’s what makes it so great. The location, St Ignatius of Antioch Maronite Catholic Church, is very centric location for people to access it.

There’s a huge tent (where the authentic Lebanese food is at!), plus other tents of food if you don’t want to try the authentic (which you should!), such as hot dogs and ice cream. And there’s a separate beer and wine tent just outside the big tent, and different sodas on sale.

There’s also face painting, some rides, and little shops you can check out where there are belly dancing wraps you wear around your waist, jewelry, and more.

But to me, the three huge stars of the Festival are the people, the dancing, and of course the food.

So what did I choose for my lunch? It was a tough choice.
Here’s the menu:

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There were a number of sandwiches to choose from, with or without meat, and some great sides, including tabouli salad, hummus & pita, stuffed grape leaves and spinach pies. The people behind the counters were SO friendly and greeted me very warmly.

I decided on the Kafta as my sandwich ($6):

IMG_4469Kafta, according to the menu is freshly ground sirloin seasoned with salt, pepper, allspice, onions and chopped parsley, shaped and grilled over an open flame, topped with hummus, lettuce and tomatoes, wrapped in pita bread. The meat was almost of a soft meatball consistency, and was sweet with the seasonings inside it. I loved the balance of the sweet with the savory, creamy fresh hummus. A great wrap, indeed.

And as my side, I decided on the stuffed grape leaves ($3):

IMG_4466Now I’ve had grape leaves before, but never like these. I loved that these were meatless. It was a refreshing, the rice mixed with the tomatoes made it very light and not overly filling.

But after I had my lunch ($9 – a GREAT deal!), my sweet tooth came a calling.

There was a homemade Lebanese pastry table where you could get 3 pastries for $5, and also get a little cup of Arabic coffee for $1:

IMG_4471The pastries reminded me of Greek pastries (i.e. baklava): there was a presence of filo dough and nuts (I noticed a great presence of Pistachio nuts in the desserts I saw). Each one was very good in its own way, sweet, a little sticky, yet very very good.

And the Arabic coffee. I was told by the woman that if I loved coffee I’d LOVE this! Normally I don’t drink my coffee black, but I actually liked this little shot of black coffee. It was super strong, yet it balanced really well with the sweeter pastries. Delish.

While I was taking in all the delicious food, there was plenty of entertainment inside the big white tent. There were TONS of awesome belly dancers, including ones that danced with swords and veils. There was also a local group of musicians that played on a stage for the first time, that did a great job covering some pop songs instrumentally.

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The festival wraps up at 11 p.m. tonight, but don’t worry, if you want to take in some yummy food and check out some awesome dancing and music, the festival runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. tomorrow!

The verdict: Lebanese food and the Lebanese Festival = awesome.

The Lebanese Festival

Saint Ignatius Maronite Catholic Church
5915 Springboro Pike (Route 741)
Miami Township

 

CONNECTICUT: Holiday treats (and veggie eats!) at Shake Shack Westport

The holidays may be over (for now!), but that doesn’t mean we can’t discuss what we ate!

Last week I was in CT visiting some friends with my brother.

We headed back to Shake Shack in Westport for some grub. (Here’s my previous post on the ‘Shack.)

Lo and behold, the custard menu was upon us. But not just any custard menu. The holiday flavors.

For every day of the week last month, you could try one of these 7 unique flavors:

Egg nog, figgy pudding, Christmas cookie, chocolate orange chestnut, gingerbread, candy cane crunch and apple spice cake.

I must say, ALL of these flavors sounded fantastic to me. I’ve heard about egg nog frappuccinos at Starbucks from a friend of mine, so I’m sure milkshake form would be incredible! I’ve always wanted to try figgy pudding after the famous Christmas song spoke highly of it. I’m a huge fan of gingerbread (and gingerbread lattes at Starbucks) so I know that’d make a great milkshake. Candy cane crunch sounds fantastic and if it’s similar to peppermint stick ice cream, it would definitely make a great milkshake. And the apple spice cake is making me think of the apple pie Cold Stone Creamery creation.

But as I was there on a Thursday, the flavor I got in milkshake form was the chocolate orange chestnut. This one had me really curious. Do you remember the chocolate balls the supermarkets used to sell where you whack them and it magically turns into orange-looking slices and it tastes like chocolate-orange? That’s exactly what I thought of when I was gearing up for this shake.

The addition of chestnuts I was most curious about. I’ve had water chestnuts in Chinese food, but never non-water chestnuts in my drink, or food for that matter. (I’m currently hearing the phrase “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire..”). Would my drink taste roasted?

Here’s what resulted:

This milkshake was amazing and here’s why:

1) It wasn’t too sweet.

-The chocolate frozen custard mixed with the tangy orange and strong appearance of robust chestnut made it a nice balance of flavor.

2) It was not too thick, and smooth.

-You’d think mixing a bunch of chestnuts in a shake you might feel the texture of the nuts in your mouth. Wrong. This was smooth sailing.

3) It was filling.

-While the cup size may have been small, this shake will fill you up fast, along with your meal.

Which now brings me to my second topic of discussion in this post: the ‘Shroom Burger.

I made the picture bigger for you all to take a close look at this wondrous creation.

For you vegetarians and vegivores out there, this is a MUST-TRY.

I took a bite of this, and literally said “WOW!” in a loud voice to my brother and our friends.

The ‘shroom burger is not an ordinary burger. Far from it. It takes a large Portabella mushroom, some Muenster cheese, batter. Then it’s fried into that beautiful looking patty you see above. Then add juicy tomatoes, crunchy, crisp lettuce and the creamy, tangy Shack Sauce. Presto!

The mushroom is a perfect substitute for meat. It’s meaty, juicy and filling. My bite into the burger was filled with crunch from the batter, meaty/juicy from the ‘shroom and then BAM! The melted, tangy cheese soars like a rocket into your mouth. Hence why I said “WOW!” so loudly in Shake Shack that day.

My friends have been telling me to try that burger for awhile now, and I completely understand why now. Holy moly what a burger.

So, if you’re near a Shake Shack and are feeling adventurous, try one of its unique custard flavors and the ‘Shroom burger. You won’t regret it!

Shake Shack

1849 Post Road E.

Westport, C.T., 06880

Hours:

Sun. – Wed. : 11 a.m.  – 10 p.m.

Thurs. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

203-682-6570

LONG ISLAND — Chicken Pot Pie by Town and Country Market, Miller Place

Have you ever seen a restaurant, or perhaps a deli, driven by it several times, yet never have gone inside?

This was the case for me when it came to the Town and Country Market in Miller Place. I had driven by it several times, yet had never gone inside. Not because I didn’t want to go in, I just always ended up going to the usual spots.

But not until a few days ago. My dad started going into the market a few weeks ago and now it’s his new favorite breakfast spot. He always tells me how the owner and the staff are very nice, how he always gets an egg sandwich on a whole wheat roll and amazing coffee to go with it, and how he keeps seeing homemade chicken pot pies there that we should try for dinner one night.

So a few nights ago, I ended up going into the market to get dinner for my parents and I.

I’m so glad I did.

The man behind the counter was very friendly, and told me all about the homemade pot pies and how there are big ones, small ones, ones with regular pie crust and ones with cornbread crust. He told me how the small chili cornbread crusted pot pie is “rediculously good” (see last post for reference), and how it’s very filling and delicious. I need to try this one next.

But for now, I got a large chicken pot pie.

I ended up getting a sandwich the first night I went to the market (which was amazing too!). But tonight, since my parents were very won over by the pot pie a few nights ago, we ended up getting another one for dinner again, so I could try it.

After heating it in the oven for about an hour at 350 degrees, here is the beautiful, golden brown pie:

This pie, from first glance, looks like a beautiful seasonal fruit pie from the bakery. But lo and behold, this pie is magical. Its warm, buttery, melt in your mouth crust, with its creamy chicken vegetable filling was incredible.

The chicken was fork tender, juicy and moist. It was very flavorful and the creamy filling mixed with the fluffy potatoes, juicy string beans, peas, corn and diced carrots, made for an amazing dinner meal. It most certainly was filling, but like the counter person told me, wasn’t as filling as the chili cornbread crust probably would be.

If you’re looking for a quick, easy meal to bring home and heat up for yourself or for your family, a chicken pot pie like this one (or maybe a chili cornbread pot pie!) would be an excellent inexpensive meal idea.

And if you’ve been curious about that restaurant in your area that you haven’t been into yet, definitely stop in! You may be happily surprised.

Town and Country Market

85 North Country Rd., Miller Place, N.Y. 11764
Phone: (631) 403-4383

MONDAY – SATURDAY
5:00 A.M – 7:00 P.M

SUNDAY
5:00 A.M – 6:00 P.M

FREE DELIVERY SERVICE UNTIL 3PM
CURB SIDE ASSISTANCE

LONG ISLAND — NATIONAL PIZZA MONTH – Vegetable Personal Pizza at Miller Place Pastaria

Have you ever had an “a-ha!” moment? That moment when you’re doing something (or eating something), where everything just clicks and you want to burst out and say “A-ha!”

This happened to me while eating pizza with my dad this afternoon.

One thing I’ll tell you about myself and my family: we have a lot of places we frequent in our area where we live. Is it the same for you all, where there is that group of familiar neighborhood restaurants you head to because they are just that amazing?

One place my family and I go to often is Miller Place Pastaria.

Not only does the pastaria have amazing Italian pasta dishes and entrees, but it also has fondue (which is very popular), amazing seafood dishes (salmon francese!), and of course, pizza.

This morning dad told me he was craving a vegetable pizza from the pastaria, so we immediately hopped in the car and headed over to the pastaria. We were greeted by the owner / chef, Charles Zein, who showed us our table.

We decided on splitting a personal sized veggie pizza, as the only other option was an 18″ large, which to us was way too big for two people.

This pizza was worth our wait:

Never have I tasted a vegetable pizza with vegetables tasting so…fresh…not salty…not processed or preserved. It was the perfect size for two, we each had three tiny slices that filled us right up. The broccoli was soft and texturally mixed well with the sweet red onions, tangy and sweet green peppers, and the meaty mushrooms. The sauce was sweet, tangy and flavorful, not too tart and not too sweet.

It was the crust and dough gave me the “A-ha!” moment, though.

The dough was so light, yet had a very slight crisp on the bottom at the same time. The crust was light with a slight crisp too, but it was particularly sweeter than most doughs I had. I actually thought of zeppole’s when I ate it. But I liked it.

“A-ha.”

Besides the pizza, the pastaria has a very warm, inviting atmosphere with the golden yellow hue on the walls, the gorgeous paintings and the soft classics playing on the speakers overhead. There are specials there almost everyday, including prix fixe Early Bird menus, Two-For-Tuesdays and different pizza specials throughout the week. Not to mention the amazing, friendly staff!

If you’re around the MP area, Miller Place Pastaria is a must try.

343 Route 25A

Miller Place, N.Y. 11764

1 631.928.4467

http://www.mppastaria.com

http://www.facebook.com/MillerPlacePastaria

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