Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar - Glen MillsBeginning today, Sunday, July 22, and continuing through Friday, August 3, 2018, all locations of Harvest Seasonal Grill & Wine Bar will be celebrating their own version of “Restaurant Week.”

All locations will be featuring a special four-course dinner menu priced at $35.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity).

First Course (Choice of) – BBQ Pulled Pork Flatbread: Chipotle Blackberry BBQ Sauce, Poblano Coleslaw, Mild Cheddar… Summer Garden Flatbread: Romesco Sauce, Shaved Asparagus, Roasted Cauliflower, Radish, Cilantro, Mild Cheddar, Eggplant… Avocado Artichoke Dip: Organic Yogurt, Kale, Roasted Red Pepper Oil, Herbed Naan Flatbread, Black Lava Salt… Organic Pork Potstickers: Blackberry Chipotle BBQ Glaze, Fried Green Tomato Relish, Pickled Radish

Second Course (Choice of) – Small Nutty Watermelon Salad: Watercress, Strawberry, Blueberry, Almond, Lime Vinaigrette… Small Modern Greek Salad: Bibb Lettuce, Kale, Cherry Tomato, Cucumber, Red Onion, Kalamata Olive Crumble, Sheep’s Milk Feta, Banana Pepper, Herbed Crispy Chickpea, Greek Dressing

Third Course (Choice of) – Sesame Chicken: Organic Coconut Jasmine Rice, Bell Pepper, Sweet Onion, Asparagus, Bean Sprout, Sugar Snap Pea, Ginger Tamari, Toasted Sesame… Cedar-Roasted Salmon: Tangerine Mint Yogurt, Roasted Fingerling Potato, Chive Pesto, Seasonal Squash, Asado Grilled Carrot… Impossible Vegetarian “Meatballs”: Saffron Polenta, Blistered Heirloom Tomato, Banana Pepper, Roasted Garlic Pine Nut, Basil Oil, Sheep’s Milk Feta… Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes: Fried Green Tomato Relish, Chili Corn Rémoulade, Seasonal Squash, Roasted Fingerling Potato ($10 Upcharge)… Churrasco Flat Iron Steak: Roasted Chili Spice, Raspberry Chipotle Creamed Corn, Charred Pepper, Chimichurri, Corn Shoot, Grilled Cornbread Crouton ($8 Upcharge)

Fourth Course: Choice of Seasonal House-Made Desserts

Harvest Pennsylvania locations are in Radnor, Glen Mills, North Wales, Newtown and Moosic. There is also a Harvest in the Moorestown Mall, Moorestown, NJ. Please make reservations by calling individual restaurants.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Chow Bistro

454 Main Street

Collegeville, Pennsylvania

(484) 902-8495

www.chowbistro.com

Chow Bistro - ExteriorIn my initial review of Chow Bistro – August 2014 – I noted that Chef Guy & Cathie Clauson’s independently owned & operated restaurant provided a welcome respite from the chain-inundated Collegeville dining scene… Four years later, that original assertion remains valid. Comfortably ensconced in a stately old stone building adjacent to Ursinus College, Chow continues to offer an attractive alternative to the area’s surfeit of chain eateries.

In the interim, the restaurant’s interior has changed not at all. Well-spaced tables are complemented by a decorative potpourri of paintings, wall screens, and assorted objects d’art… And the cuisine remains similarly eclectic, ranging from Thai red curry to fish tacos to hand-cut pappardelle to Moroccan lamb meatballs to center-cut filet mignon.

Chow Bistro - Arugula - Watermelon SaladDuring my recent return visit, the Three Mushroom Soup, rich, creamy, and alive with earthy flavors and seasonings proved a fabulous starter. However, as I noted in my first review, the kitchen does seem to have a particular talent for turning out a host of first-class greenery, which always makes salads a good bet. Of particular note is the Arugula and Watermelon Salad teamed with crumbles of feta cheese (pictured). This may seem like a rather odd combo, but the watermelon & feta provide delightfully sweet & creamy counterpoints, respectively, to the peppery arugula… But it’s the subtlety of an enticing honey-lime dressing that succeeds in bringing the components together into a tasty (and tasteful) gestalt.

Chow Bistro - Braised Beef Short RibsEntrée-wise, the presentation of incredibly tender Braised Beef Short Ribs is utterly spectacular in its simplicity. Roasted carrots and cipollini onions add color & texture, an assertive Cabernet jus spikes up the flavor, and a savory mound of whipped potatoes contributes a luscious supporting performance. An absolute must for confirmed carnivores.

Chow Bistro - SwordfishMeanwhile, at the opposite end of the spectrum, the Adobo Rubbed Grilled Swordfish with mango mojo and green rice is – and there’s no other way to say it – downright terrible. It is very easy to overcook swordfish… and if you do, the meat not only becomes dry and exceptionally chewy, but it also loses its flavor. And that is precisely what happened here. Even with the zippy adobo seasoning, all remnants of flavor had departed. To the chef’s credit, the swordfish was removed from the check.

A similar faux pas took place during one of my previous visits four years ago; and it also involved seafood. In that case, Prince Edward Island Mussels. The moment the crustaceans emerged from the kitchen you knew something was wrong – so did the entire dining room – yes, the smell was that bad. The broth, which was billed as garlic-herb butter and white wine, looked and tasted like dishwater. The mussels themselves were equally tasteless and degenerated into jelly-like shreds when extricated from their shells.

Once again, I can’t help but wonder, as I did in my initial review, how a kitchen that is capable of turning out such an array of excellent dishes could allow items like the above-mentioned swordfish and mussels to escape its precincts apparently unnoticed.

Chow Bistro - Chocolate Terine NapoleonFortunately, desserts are right back on track… The current catalog includes such sweet endings as White Chocolate Cheesecake featuring a pretzel crust, macadamia dust, and salted caramel; Vanilla Bean Crème Brûlée garnished with blackberries; and Tres Leches Cake with toasted coconut and mango coulis. My nod, however, goes to another of those lethally addictive chocolate/peanut butter combos. In this case, the Chocolate Terrine Napoleon (pictured), which features decadent peanut butter mousse sandwiched between two slices of dense dark chocolate cake. Yum.

Chow Bistro - Interior 3One final item that needs to be mentioned, which was not in my first review, is the noise factor. If you’ve ever dined here, you know precisely what I mean. The ceiling is low, the surfaces hard; and, when the joint is jumpin’, the decibel level is, indeed, formidable. Just recently, for example, with the restaurant moderately occupied, and a party of six in attendance going full-tilt, it was nearly impossible to carry on a civilized conversation with my dining partner without shouting. I’m not quite sure what the answer to this problem might be… but consideration of acoustic wall panels – which I’ve seen employed in numerous eateries – might be a good place to begin.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Nicholas7On Thursday, August 2, 2018, 7:00 p.m., for one night only, Restaurant Nicholas in Red Bank, New Jersey, will present a special five-course menu featuring the wonderful world of vegetables, fruits, grains, roots, nuts, and all the good things that grow from the earth. The result will be a vibrant, elevated cuisine that showcases the very best of what the summer season has to offer.

First Course: Edamame Dumpling, Ginger Chili Vinaigrette, Seaweed Salad

Second Course: Avocado Toast, Homemade Sourdough

Third Course: Coconut Curry, Golden Raisin Foam, Crispy Yucca, Stewed Lentils

Fourth Course: Summer Squash Cannelloni, Tempura Fried Squash Blossoms, Hazelnut

Dessert Course: Vanilla Coconut Cake, Vegan Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream

The price of this special vegan dinner is $75.00 per person (plus beverages, tax & gratuity).

This is a ticketed event, and seating is limited. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 345-9977.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Main & Vine California Bistro

789 East Lancaster Avenue

Villanova, Pennsylvania

(484) 380-3688

www.mainandvinebistro.com

Main & Vine - ExteriorPresided over by long-time restaurateur Jay Stevens and partner Kim Strengari of the Conshy Girls Restaurant Group, Main & Vine California Bistro, which made its debut on May 16 (2018), has obviously been dressed to impress. With the assistance of the Gacek Design Group, the space that was previously home to the late – but not greatly mourned – Avenue Kitchen has been completely and tastefully transformed.

Main & Vine - Pizza BarThe sleek, modern, open-floor interior, which, among its other decorative embellishments, boasts a 26-seat curvaceous bar, adjoining lounge, main & side dining rooms, and 12-seat pizza bar (pictured), still somehow manages to exude a certain bistro-esque charm… That being said, however, the atmosphere here is decidedly “bustling” and the noise level can be somewhat “daunting.” If you happen to be dining with a group – as I did during one of my visits – no problem. On the other hand, should you be planning a quiet little tête-à- tête, bear in mind that the Main & Vine’s seating arrangements are not particularly conducive to the intimacy of dining à deux.

At this juncture, perhaps a word of explanation is in order… Every restaurant has within its precincts a certain number of “dead” tables; so derogatorily designated because they are situated in less than advantageous locations. “Within earshot of the kitchen and nose-shot of the john,” as the late Jay Jacobs so charmingly put it. Knowing this full well, the savvy restaurateur or host/hostess will inevitably attempt to foster these upon innocent looking diners in order to get them filled ASAP.

Several of Main & Vine’s tables for two would certainly qualify, as they are either located in close proximity to open doorways or in the middle of the main thoroughfare that runs to and from the kitchen. Should your host/hostess attempt to seat you here, avoid them like the plague – and don’t be shy about voicing your seating preferences in no uncertain terms. If you are dining à deux, your best bet is the side dining room, or the rear dining area adjacent to the pizza bar.

So much for logistics… on to the food. Although the restaurant bills itself as a “California Bistro,” the only thing strictly Californian on the menu – other than the Napa-Style Sourdough Pizzas – are the wines and brews. The cuisine proper would best be described as eclectic with a variety of intriguing – French, Italian, Latin, Asian, American – subtitles. And while Executive Chef John Vogt’s contemporary dishes are obviously carefully prepared and artfully presented, there are times when they could do with a touch less innovation.

Main & Vine - Seared Barnegat ScallopsTake his Seared Barnegat Scallops, for example. They are beautifully prepared to a golden brown, moist and marvelously meaty… But Mr. Vogt insists upon piling on the accoutrements: acquerello risotto (an aged carnaroli rice), arugula pistou sauce, black grapes, shaved fennel, and saba (an ancient condiment that results from cooking selected grape musts over fire). The result: The bivalves get lost in the sauce. I have always been of the opinion, that various seafood presentations benefit most from those accompaniments that intrude the least. Sometimes less is more.

Main & Vine - Pan Roasted SalmonOn the other hand, the Pan Roasted Salmon set on a seabed of olive oil poached potatoes, spring onions and leeks gets an incredible flavor boost from an enticing horseradish crème fraiche. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that this is Wild Isles salmon, which is widely considered the salmon against which all other farmed salmons are measured. Sustainably raised in the wild open ocean waters off the Shetland Islands’ rugged coastline, it is this unique environment that gives the fish its firm texture and buttery sweet flavor… And Chef Vogt prepares it to perfection.

For those more carnivorously inclined, the menu offers diners a choice of Adobe Rubbed Flat Iron Steak or New York Strip Steak Frites with Cabernet butter and garlic parmesan fries. My nod, however, would undoubtedly go to the Sunday evening “Family Table” special Sunday Gravy. The rich red sauce is rife with pulled beef and pork and served over a variety of pasta possibilities. Not to be missed.

Main & Vine - Veg CruditeTo start things off, there is a raw bar, should you be so inclined, that features the likes of Shrimp Cocktail, King Crab, Oysters, and Tuna Tataki (lightly seared and served rare with a citrus based soy sauce). For those who wish to share, the kitchen puts out a beautifully arranged Vegetable Crudité (pictured). Roasted and raw vegetables – baby carrots, fennel, new potatoes, radishes, and asparagus – are teamed with avocado green goddess, Point Reyes blue cheese and beet hummus dipping sauces… And the result is as attractive to the eye as it is to the palate.

Main & Vine - Arugula & Asparagus HalvedOther starters include Chicken Fried Oysters, Red Thai Curry Mussels, Black Mission Fig Toast, and a variety of salads. My dining partner and I recently shared the Arugula & Asparagus, which was very conveniently halved for us in the kitchen (pictured). The presentation was comprised of nicely trimmed peppery greenery, raw and grilled asparagus, prosciutto, shaved parmesan, and an excellent truffle vinaigrette.  Not a particularly photogenic dish but enticing nevertheless.

Main & Vine - Meyer Lemon CakeDesserts are a high point. The Banana Profiterole Split, for example – house-made gelato, caramelized bananas, candied walnuts, chocolate sauce, and Luxardo cherries – adds a touch of whimsy. The Meyer Lemon Cake (pictured), other hand, is a more serious affair: rich, moist, irresistibly creamy, and delightfully delicious.

Libations include cocktails, mocktails, and brews via drafts, bottles & cans. The list of wines by the glass – overwhelmingly Californian with a single nod to both Oregon and Washington State – is certainly passable… but hardly likely to quicken an oenophile’s pulse. The Josh “Craftsman’s Collection” Chardonnay isn’t bad… ditto the Sean Minor Pinot Noir. The Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon is very good – but it will set you back $20.00. Then, of course, there are the “Prestige” selections that start at $22.00 for the Jordan Russian River Chard and continue through to the $28.00 Prisoner Red Blend.

The bottom line…? Main & Vine tends to dredge up a number of mixed emotions. The food is quite good… on the other hand, not quite good enough to bring me back on a regular basis. And while the sleek, modern, open-floor interior is visually striking… it is also hardly conducive to a sedate dining experience. If you’re a party of four or more, a good time will undoubtedly be had by all… providing, of course, that the noise level will permit polite conversation without benefit of shouting. On the other hand, if you’ll be dining à deux, I would strongly suggest seeking out a more intimate venue.

 Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Restaurant Image, GeneralSoon-to-be-open Garden State Hot Spots…

Coming this August (2018), acclaimed chef Juan Placencia (Costanera, Montclair) will open Somos Restaurant, 185 River Road, North Arlington, New Jersey. Somos, translated “we are,” will be a celebration of all Latin American flavors with a global perspective, featuring an approachable menu of small & shareable plates, specialty cocktails, and wines from the Old and New World.

 

Slated for an August (2018) opening, The Ashford, 145 Newark Avenue, will be a downtown Jersey City dining destination for every day of the week.

From the team behind Manhattan’s acclaimed Chinese Tuxedo, this stunning five-level space will offer guests an accessible yet chef-driven modern American menu supplemented by craft cocktails and extensive beer and wine lists.

The Ashford will also boast the largest rooftop in Jersey City. With the open kitchen and bar, it will be a secluded space to enjoy a menu of light bites and cocktails.

 

Opening this fall (2018), The Edge Restaurant & Bar, 109 North County Line Road, Jackson, New Jersey, will be a stunning new dining destination conveniently located close to all Shore points.

A seven-nights-a-week restaurant, its accomplished chef will offer an inspired New American menu with touches of Latin & Asian flavors sourced from local seafood, meats, and produce. Open for dinner and brunch.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Stir Restaurant, Philly MuseumOn Tuesday, October 9, 2018, the dining facilities at the Philadelphia Museum of Art will be the first component of the Frank Gehry-led redesign of the museum’s interior to open to the public.

The 76-seat restaurant, Stir, will be run by Starr Catering with Mark Tropea, a former chef for residents of 15 Central Park West, an apartment tower in Manhattan, presiding over the open kitchen. Mr. Tropea plans to offer seasonal fare emphasizing strong local sourcing with such offerings as Kennett Square mushrooms, Barnegat scallops, and a burger topped with Lancaster cheddar.

At the same time, the museum will also be opening the Café, a new, enlarged cafeteria, also run by Starr Catering, that will feature stations with artisanal sandwiches, seasonal salads, and brick-oven pizza.

The new dining options will not have an outside entrance, so museum admission will be required for entry. Stir will be serving just lunch and brunch; the Café will be open from morning until late afternoon.

Photo Above: An artist’s rendering of Stir, a Frank Gehry-designed restaurant. While Stir’s interior promises to be visually stunning, and the Starr Catering Group enjoys an excellent reputation, “The proof of the pudding,” as Cervantes so wisely noted, “is in the eating.”

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Crystal Springs - Wine CellarRestaurant Latour’s incomparable Wine Cellar at Crystal Springs Resort added another new honor to the many accolades and awards it has already received. It was recently inducted into the Wine Enthusiast America’s Best Wine Restaurant Hall of Fame.

A perennial entrant on Wine Enthusiast’s America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants list, this year, Restaurant Latour was elevated to the newly created Restaurant Hall of Fame. Restaurant Latour joins such industry luminaries as The French Laundry, Per Se, Daniel, Gramercy Tavern, and Eleven Madison Park. Over 30 restaurants were enshrined in the Hall of Fame… Restaurant Latour was the only one from New Jersey to be so honored.

Also, this month, the Wine Spectator once again awarded Restaurant Latour its highest honor, the Grand Award. Only 91 restaurants worldwide hold this distinction; and Restaurant Latour has received this honor every year since 2006.

Overseen by Crystal Springs Resort’s COO Robby Younes and Wine Director Susanne Wagner, the Wine Cellar at Crystal Springs is considered one of the finest collections of wine in the country with more than 105,000 bottles. Restaurant Latour and the Wine Cellar are located at Crystal Springs Resort, 1 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg, New Jersey.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Soul of SakeOn Tuesday, July 17, 2018, 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Miss Sake USA will host a special event at Ani Ramen House, 218 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, New Jersey.

The special event will feature Soul of Sake collaborating with Coco’s Spirit to introduce sake and Suntory Whisky flight and the art of blending sake and whisky.

Tickets include 2 featured sakes by Sake Discoveries and 2 featured Suntory whiskies. Three (3) appetizers will be served family style; and each guest will receive their choice of a bowl of ramen.

The ticket price for this event is $42.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity); and space is limited. To purchase tickets, please email info@aniramen.com.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Stage Left - Gary Lipp Wine DinnerOn Thursday, July 19, 2018, 7:00 p.m., Stage Left Steak in New Brunswick, New Jersey, will host a special dinner paired with selections from Gary Lipp’s COHO Wines.

Hors d’Oeuvres: Americano & Negroni Sbagliato

Jamon & Cheese Croque Señor: Cabernet Sauvignon “Headwaters” 2013, Napa

Seared Tuna with Amish Bacon: Pinot Noir “Stanly Ranch” 2014, Carneros

Wagyu Flatiron Steak with Truffled Smashed Fingerlings & Jersey Corn: Merlot “Michael Black” 2013, Napa… Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, Napa… Merlot “Michael Black” 2013, Napa… Cabernet Sauvignon “Summitvine Ranch” 2007, Diamond Mountain

Peach Cobbler with Cheesecake & Peach Ice Cream: Coffee or Tea

The cost of this special wine dinner is $139.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 828-4444.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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Key West Lobsterfest 2018Seafood lovers, take note! Time for a road trip. The famous annual Key West Lobsterfest will take place from Thursday – Sunday, August 9-12, 2018. Now in its 22nd year, the festival celebrates the bounty of the Florida Keys lobster season that opens on August 6th.  Famous for its sweet and tender meat, the Keys’ spiny lobster is often served steamed with drawn butter, paired with seasoned stuffing, or in innovative dishes conceived by local chefs.

Festival events begin at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, August 9th, when lobster aficionadas will gather for a traditional lobster boil at The Roof, 201 William Street at the Waterfront Brewery. As well as lobster, plates will be piled high with shrimp, andouille sausage, crawfish, corn on the co, and new potatoes. Other attractions include live entertainment and libation specials. Reservations are strongly suggested.

Friday’s schedule features a “Reef & Ritas” catamaran sail and snorkel trip, beginning at 1:00 p.m. There will also be a lively nighttime Duval Crawl with stops at establishments in Key West’s popular downtown and harbor areas.

The festival’s anticipated highlight is the Key West Lobsterfest Street Fair in the 100 through 500 blocks of Duval Street. From 12:00 noon to 11:00 p.m. on Saturday, August 11th, seafood fans can sample local chefs’ and restaurants’ lobster specialties from tempting appetizers to full dinners. Offerings feature fresh crustaceans caught by Florida Keys fishermen.

A free outdoor concert is slated for 1:00 p.m. – 10:30 p.m. with Alphonse, Cool Breeze and the DurtBags performing from a stage at the intersection of Duval and Greene Streets.

Lobsterfest will conclude on Sunday, August 12th, with a lobster brunch buffet at First Flight Island Restaurant & Brewery, 301 Whitehead Street. Reservations are suggested.

For more information, or to make reservations or purchase tickets, please click on http://www.keywestlobsterfest.com/.

Bon Appétit!

TAD

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