Healthy FoodsIn honor of Healthy Aging Month, BrightFocus Foundation is launching an online Healthy Recipe Contest for the month of September. Contestants submit a recipe that contains at least three ingredients from a list of healthy foods that may be beneficial to brain or eye health.

The winning recipes will be chosen by BrightFocus. Contestants submitting one of the top three winning entries will receive a $100.00 Target gift card and BrightFocus prize pack. See the BrightFocus instructions on how to enter the contest, including providing a photography of the recipe dish.

Healthy foods on the ingredients’ list include carotenoids (dark green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables); fruits and vegetables abundant in vitamin C, such as tomatoes, broccoli, citrus fruits and green peppers; vitamin E foods, including fortified cereals, nuts, and green leafy vegetables; and sources of omega-3 fatty acids, including wild salmon, tuna, walnuts, and flaxseed oil.

Although research is still ongoing regarding the impact of diet on brain and vision diseases, some studies suggest that a healthy and nutritious diet may lower the risk of developing macular degeneration or glaucoma. A healthy diet also may help Alzheimer’s patients cope better with the disease.

BrightFocus Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing brain and eye health by funding research worldwide on Alzheimer’s disease, macular degeneration, and glaucoma. BrightFocus also provides the public with information about these diseases, including risk factors, current treatments, and coping strategies.

Bon Appétit!



Bernards Inn - Dining RoomOn Tuesday, September 23, 6:30 p.m., the Bernards Inn, 27 Mine Brook Road, Bernardsville, New Jersey, will host a “Bourbon Tasting Experience,” affording guests the opportunity of sampling premium bourbons and learning more about the complex & distinctive flavors of American’s native spirit.

Special guest, and Master of Whisky, Kevin Loser of Fedway Associates will take guests through the flight of six premium bourbons – from the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby to a bourbon at the head of the “craft spirits movement.” Cheese platters and freshly baked breads will be served.

The Bourbon Line-Up is noted below…

Bulleit Bourbon: One of the hottest bourbons on the market today. Created using a higher than average rye content, which produces a rich, spicier style bourbon that is perfect with ice or in a classic cocktail.

Woodford Reserve: the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby. Produced using pairs of copper pot stills, this is a full-flavored bourbon loaded with depth and complexity.

Blanton’s Bourbon: the original single barrel bourbon. A soft and easy drinking whiskey with layers of sweetness.

Four Roses Single Barrel: the single barrel offering from one of the most awarded distilleries in America. Hand-selected by Master Distiller Jim Rutledge. 2011, 2012 & 2013 Whisky Magazine Icons of Whisky America.

Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel: From what was once the “private stash” of Master Distiller Eddie Russell, this big, bold bourbon is bottled without being chill filtered.

Journeyman Feather Bone Bourbon: a bourbon at the head of the “craft spirits movement.” A four grain bourbon that is amazingly smooth and well balanced.

The cost of the Bourbon Tasting Experience is $65.00 per person (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (908) 766-0002.

Bourbon tasting attendees will receive a 15% discount on their dinner for that evening.

Bon Appétit!



RapiDOUGH Pizza - Farrell BrothersRapiDOUGH Pizza Pies, 99 Market Street, Collegeville, Pennsylvania, the newest addition to the Providence Town Center dining scene, serves up hand-crafted pizzas, calzones, and salads with locally sourced ingredients and house-made cheeses in about 5 minutes.

The Brothers Farrell – Nick, proprietor of the highly regarded Sovana Bistro in Kennett Square, PA, and Tom, owner of the trendy The Classic Diner in Malvern, PA, – have created a new restaurant concept that combines fresh ingredients with rapid food preparation, which adds a decidedly modern twist to the standard pizza parlor. Between them, the Farrell brothers have half a century’s worth of experience in the restaurant business. And if you’ve ever dined at Sovana, which I reviewed in September 2013, or The Classic Diner, you certainly realize that the boys know what it takes to deliver high quality food.

RapiDOUGH Pizza Pies simplifies the restaurant experience without compromising on food quality or personalized service,” notes co-owner Nick Farrell. “We use only the finest ingredients to make our homemade dough, sauces, cheeses and dressings, delivering a fresher and healthier alternative to your typical pizza.”

Customers create their own delicious meals or choose from the many unique house creations using intuitive ordering software at iPad kiosks. The electronic ordering provides consistent food delivery to the table in about 5 minutes.

“We designed an interface to streamline the ordering process while also offering diners the ability to customize their orders,” adds co-owner Tom Farrell. “The ordering kiosks essentially eliminate wait time to place an order, allowing us to promptly serve meals even during peak hours.”

Located near the Movie Tavern in the Providence Town Center, the RapiDOUGH menu features brick oven pizza pies and calzones with fresh mozzarella, basil, and a choice of red, white, or green sauce for $8.00. Fresh salads start with seasonal lettuce and a choice of house-made dressings for $7.00. A number of fresh toppings are available to add to a pizza, calzone or salad for an additional charge. All natural drinks are sourced by 3rd Coast Soda Co, dispensing a healthier alternative to traditional sodas.

If you’re a pizza fan, you can’t afford to pass this one up. And, to my knowledge, since RapiDOUGH Pizza Pies is the only non-chain eatery in the Providence Town Center – in my book, that’s reason enough to give it a try.

Bon Appétit!



FRog and Peach - Southern Italy Wine DinnerOn Friday, September 19, 7:00 p.m., the Frog and the Peach, 29 Dennis Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey, will host a special wine dinner headlining the wines from the Campania, Basilicata, and Puglia regions of Italy.

Not too long ago, the wines of southern Italy, with few rare exceptions, were thought to be only of local interest. Today, all that has changed. Wines from the south, produced from a fascinating variety of indigenous grapes, have finally gained the respect they deserve. And it goes without saying that the south is also home to one of the world’s most loved and respected cuisines. Executive chef/proprietor Bruce Lefebvre has created a menu inspired by this traditional cuisine to pair with these extraordinary vintages…

Reception: Ponte Falanghina, Beneventano, Campania, Italy, 2012

First Course: Sea Urchin Crudo: Local San Marzano Tomato, Cucumber, Olio Verde; Wine Pairing: Benito Ferrara, Greco di Tufo “Vigna Cicogna,” Campania, 2010

Second Course: Il Pesce al Cartoccio alla Napoletano, Sea Bass “in the bag,” Neapolitan Style; Wine Pairing: Askos Verdeca, Masseria Li Veli, Valle d’Itria, Puglia

Third Course: Ziti Ripieni, Salami, Pork, Caciocavallo Cheese, Pesto; Wine Pairing: D’Angelo ‘Il Canneto” Basilicata Rosso IGT, 2010

Main Course: Braised Beef with Porcini and Hazelnuts; Wine Pairings: Galardi “Terra di Lavoro,” Roccamonfino, Campania, 2010; Ponte Taurasi, Campania, 2005

Dessert: Bundino Cremoso, Italian Crème Caramel; Libation Pairing: Limoncello “di Bruno”

Bruce Lefebvre Chef/Proprietor; Jim Mullen Wine Director

The cost of this special wine dinner is $115.00 per person, including tax & gratuity. For more information, or to make reservations, please call (732) 846-3216, x 17.

Bon Appétit!



Ho-Ho-Kus Inn - Crystal RoomThe Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern, One East Franklin Turnpike, Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey, has announced that it has been honored with the coveted “2014 Award of Excellence” from the Wine Spectator.

The Wine Spectator Restaurant Wine List Award recognizes restaurants whose wine lists offer interesting selections that are appropriate for their cuisine and appeal to a wide range of wine lovers. This award recognizes a wine list of 100 or more quality wine selections that thematically match a restaurant’s menu, price, and ambiance. The Inn was noted for the overall quality of its wine program and service, with special strengths, including the selection of moderately priced wines from California, France, and Italy.

“Many of our guests are unaware that a generous portion of the space underneath the tavern room is actually a wine cellar. Nestled against the Inn’s stone foundation, hand-laid in the late 1700s, are over 300 labels of wines for every budget from all over the world. And our Crystal Room displays our 1100 bottle temperature-controlled custom wine cabinet,” noted co-proprietor Laurie Hamm. “We are thrilled to have received this highly sought after recognition.”

The Ho-Ho-Kus Inn is open every day from 11:30 a.m. – 10:00 p.m. (weekdays) and until 2:00 a.m. on weekends. Brunch is served on Sundays from 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Reservations may be made by calling (201) 445-4115 or through the Open Table link at

Bon Appétit!



Terre a Terre - Fork & Cork Unionville Vineyards DinnerOn Tuesday evening, September 16, 7:00 p.m., Terre à Terre, 312 Hackensack Street, Carlstadt, New Jersey, will host a five-course tasting with a menu featuring locally sourced ingredients of the season and carefully selected wine pairings from Unionville Vineyards in Ringoes, NJ.

Amuse: Tuna with Grape, Radish, and Melon Rind

First Course: Shellfish Bisque with Lump Crab Croustade

Second Course: Radicchio Salad with Spiced Pears, Aged Blue Cheese, and Nuts

Third Course: Scallops served with Baby Cabbage, Leaf, Pork Belly, and Celeriac

Fourth Course: 48-hour Sous Vide Short Ribs with Butternut Gratin and Leek

Fifth Course: Croissant Pudding with Peach and Carousel Farm Lavender

The total price per ticket is $79.00 (plus tax & gratuity). For more information, or to make reservations, please call (201) 507-0500.

Bon Appétit!



Veekoo Asian Cuisine

564 Lancaster Avenue

Berwyn Shopping Center

Berwyn, Pennsylvania

(484) 318-7655

Veekoo Berwyn - Exterior When husband-and-wife team Tony & Shelly Li, proprietors of the popular Veekoo Asian Cuisine in Royersford, discovered that a significant number of their loyal patrons lived and/or worked along the Main Line, they decided that it might be a good idea to expand their culinary endeavors in the direction of that burgeoning client base. Thus, on Wednesday, July 9, 2014, Veekoo’s second location made its debut in the Berwyn Shopping Center.

If a restaurant has particularly good vibes – and serves up equally good food – it can be difficult (if not impossible) to duplicate the same magic at a new location; quite often, something gets “lost in transition.” Fortunately that is not the case here… If you’re a fan of the original Veekoo, you’re bound to flip over the new Berwyn outpost.

Veekoo Berwyn - InteriorWhereas the interior of the original Veekoo exudes a decidedly casual elegance, its younger sibling is more stylishly chic in tone – though just as comfortable. The main dining area is awash in subdued lighting, rich mahogany, and black leather & napery, with pale gold draperies, silver hanging beaded room dividers, and a creamy white rear wall adding beautiful touches of color and textural contrast.

Veekoo Berwyn - Sushi BarJust to the right as you enter there is also a more diminutive dining space dominated by a sleek high-top seven-seat sushi bar. I don’t know who was responsible for the striking interior décor, but he/she/they did an absolutely splendid job of understating the case… Modish the decorative embellishments may be, but they still manage to envelop diners in a beguilingly warm ambiance.

Enticing décor notwithstanding, it is the superior quality of the pan-Asian cuisine that keeps patrons coming through the door. The food at Veekoo Royersford has always been several cuts above any similar eatery in the area; but I think the Berwyn location actually goes it one better. Presentations just seem better focused, more provocatively presented, and apportionments a tad more generous; in addition, the menu incorporates a number of interesting items not found at Royersford restaurant.

The sushi/sashimi is particularly recommended here… and there are a slew of possibilities. You may order sushi or sashimi à la carte, chef’s special rolls, or also a number of entrées, including the “Love Boat,” a Titanic-size vessel filled with 18 pieces of sashimi, 10 pieces of sushi, and 3 rolls. On the other hand, I have always been of the opinion – as have other food writers – that sushi/sashimi is best consumed as an appetizer rather than the main course.

Veekoo Berwyn - Tuna Tataki SushiIn this regard, recently sampled was a starter of tuna tataki, thin slices of black pepper seared tuna set on a bed of asparagus and baby spinach bathed in a pungent yuzu sauce. The yuzu is a tart, aromatic East Asian citrus fruit with a taste that has often been described as a cross between a grapefruit and a lime. Yuzu kosho, a spicy Japanese sauce made with the zest of the fruit, plus chili peppers and salt, proved the perfect foil for the meaty tuna.

Veekoo Berwyn - Lettuce Wraps w ChickenOther non-sushi appetizers include all the usual suspects. Of particular note are the luscious steamed dumplings – vegetable, chicken, or pork – served up with a ponzu sauce. My nod, however, would undoubtedly go to the pristinely fresh lettuce wraps – diced chicken or shrimp – companioned by a rich, viscous hoisin sauce.

Veekoo Berwyn - Jumbo Shrimp with VegetablesThe thing that really sets Veekoo apart is that, no matter what your predilections on a given day – comfort food or more innovative fare – you will not be disappointed. Among the former, for example, the chicken in black bean sauce is a perpetual winner… ditto the spicy basil chicken with vegetables, which is indigenous to the Berwyn location. On the other hand, it’s difficult to beat my wife’s favorite, pristinely fresh jumbo shrimp with a colorful array of crunchy vegetables (pictured). Other comfort favorites include shredded pork in garlic sauce, roast pork fried rice, sautéed fresh green beans, chicken/beef chow fun, and a zippy Chinese eggplant in garlic sauce.

Veekoo Berwayn - Salt Baked FlounderBut if you really want to know what this kitchen is capable of, be sure to check out the chef’s specials. They may be more expensive than the aforementioned entrées, but they are certainly worth the added expenditure. Take the salt-baked flounder, for instance… This is really something of a misnomer, as the morsels of filet are lightly breaded and then sautéed (rather than baked) with a touch of salt and pepper. The seasoning is perfectly complementary, and the fish itself moist and flaky.

Veekoo Berwyn - Black Pepper Filet MignonOn the other hand, if you’re more carnivorously inclined, the black pepper filet mignon is something of a must. Delicate beef medallions are accompanied by crunchy snow peas and bathed in a zesty black pepper sauce. The filets are incredibly tender and the sauce produces just enough heat to invigorate rather than incinerate your sensitive taste buds. I generally don’t order beef in a Chinese restaurant, but this is one dish that is certainly worthy of a return engagement.

Veekoo Berwyn - Lemon ChickenThe lemon chicken is another not-to-be-missed presentation. A white meat breast is pounded thin, lightly battered, and gently fried until the crust reaches a delightfully crispy consistency. It is then cut into bite-size pieces, garnished with slices of orange and accompanied by a ramekin of the chef’s special lemon (lemon-orange) sauce. While the crust is ingratiating crispy, the chicken itself remains tender, and the sauce adds just the right combo of sweetness and spice.

If you’re a devoted fan of the original Veekoo in Royersford, you will certainly want to pay a call at Tony & Shelly Li’s chic & stylish new facility. Just remember… like its elder sibling, Veekoo Berwyn is a BYOB restaurant.

Bon Appétit!



Crystal Springs - OktoberfestOn Saturday, September 20 – Sunday, September 21, Oktoberfest at Mountain Creek Resort, 200 Route 94, Vernon, New Jersey, returns for its 29th year. The state’s largest Oktoberfest celebration attracts over 12,000 people annually with dozens of German beers, spit fire roasting, German sausages, live music, and activities for children of all ages. This year, the event will also welcome a special guest, famed chef and author Francis Mallman, who will help kick off the festivities on Saturday, September 20.

During Oktoberfest festivities, guests will enjoy German classics like bratwurst, knockwurst and weisswurst, as well as whole calves, rabbit, lamb and chicken cooked in a fire pit on the main lawn. Outdoors, food can be purchased from stands (à la carte items from $2.00 – $12.00; $50.00 Oktoberfest Bucks pre-sell for $45.00), while two dozen German beers will be available on draft ($7.00; pint, $13.00). The Hofbrau Premium Feast at the Red Tail Lodge ($15.00; $19.00 at the door) will provide great value with a buffet of bratwurst, knockwurst, sliced pork, sliced beef, pulled pork, potato pancakes, German potato salad, red cabbage, corn on the cob, and soft drinks. A VIP tent ($99.00) will offer seating and an all-you-can-eat Oktoberfest buffet with German sausages, roast pork, giant pretzels, bar service and more from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. VIP ticketholders also receive a souvenir t-shirt and 1-liter beer stein.

On Saturday, September 20, 1:00 p.m. – chef, author, and renowned expert on grilling and open-fire cooking Francis Mallmann, a native of Argentina with three restaurants in South America, will be on hand signing copies of his new book, Mallmann on Fire. At 5:00 p.m., Mr. Mallmann will also take part in a “Mallmann on Fire Dinner” in the Chef’s Garden at the Grand Cascades Lodge, featuring recipes from the booked served family style and paired with wines from Bodega Garzon in Uruguay ($95.00 plus tax & gratuity, which also includes a pre-release copy of the book). The multi-course feast will be prepared by Crystal Springs’ Executive Chef John Greeley, using the Chef’s Garden wood-fired grills, oven and smoker. Five wines will be paired with the menu, including three from Bodega Garzon in Uruguay. The event will begin with cocktails at 5:00 p.m. and dinner will follow at 6:00 p.m. The full menu is noted below…

Small Bites served Fireside with Cocktails: Griddled Red Barlett Pears wrapped in Iberico Ham… Cast Iron seared Octopus with Pimenton de Murcia

Dinner Family Style:

Rustic Bread with Flavored Oils

Shaved Hearts of Celery with Portobello Mushrooms and Meyer Lemon; Wine Pairing: Bodega Garzon Albariño, 2013

Garden Salad with Fire-Roasted Beets and Feta

Grilled Whole Snapper stuffed with Fennel; Wine Pairing: Bodega Garzon Sauvignon Blanc, 2013

Various Pork Cuts: Argentinian Beef “Parrilla” and Lamb “Asador, ” Local Vegetables “Rescoldo”; Wine Pairings: Bodega Garzon Tannat, 2012; Tikal Patriota, Malbec-Bonarda, Mendoza, Argentina, 2008

Burnt Peaches and Figs with Amaretto, Lemon Zest, and Mint; Wine Pairing: Susana Balbo, Torrontes, Late Harvest, Argentina, 2010

The weekend’s events are fun for the entire family with rides, games, live music, dancing and more. Oktoberfest hours are Saturday, September 20, 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., and Sunday, September 21, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Admission is $7.00 per person (children 5 and under are free) – food, drink, and rides are priced separately. General parking is $5.00, preferred parking $20.00. Tickets will be on sale soon. For more information, please visit

Bon Appétit!



Photo Credit: Jason Varney

Photo Credit: Jason Varney

Tempting as it may be, there’s no need to journey to the Jersey Shore for delicious seafood, as Philadelphia’s best restaurants are serving up the very best the ocean has to offer… and are also offering special seafood deals to further sweeten the pot.

Check out the freshest seafood in town…

A.BAR, 135, South 18th Street – Chef Eli Kulp debuted his new menu at this summer, offering patrons a globally inspired assortment of ocean-centric fare. Chef Kulp improved on the bar’s already-excellent raw bar treats, serving daily-changing oysters with traditional and kimchi-celery mignonettes. He has also added a tempting selection of crudos, shareable snacks, and more substantial snacks and sandwiches: Striped Bass Tiradito with almond milk, habañero and cilantro; Clams on Toast, little necks with oregano, chili and parsley; and Soft-Shelled Shrimp, crispy fried with “devil oil,” cumin and coriander. Dishes range in price from $2.00 each for Cherrystone Clams on the half shell with tabasco cocktail sauce to $27.00 for Whole Grilled Herb-Stuffed Branzino with wax beans and blistered tomatoes. For reservations, please call (215) 825-7030 or visit

CUBA LIBRE RESTAURANT & RUM BAR, 10South 2nd Street – During the entire month of August the restaurant is celebrating National Rum Day with a festive Mojita Flight, featuring classic, passion fruit and pomegranate cocktails for $12.00 and a Ceviche Flight, headlining three distinctive tropical ceviches, including mushroom, shrimp, and mixto for $12.00, designed to complement the tropical cocktails. On Tuesday, August 26, 6:30 p.m., the restaurant will host an interactive Rum and Cheviche Class with Chef Guillermo Pernot and one of the bar’s top mixologists. The two-hour class will feature four different ceviches, five different types of rum, and five mini-cocktails. Tickets are $59.00 and are available in advance online. For reservations, please call (215) 627-0666 or visit

LONDON GRILL, 2301-2303 Fairmount Avenue – August is Lobster Month at Fairmount’s popular neighborhood bar and restaurant. Specials will include: Creamy Lobster Bisque with essence of lobster, sherry & tomato, garnished with crème fraiche; Savory Lobster Cheesecake, a spreadable delight of cream cheese, peppers, onions, lobster meat and seasonings cooked to a soft perfection and served chilled with crisp salad greens and crostini; Lobster Ravioli with brown butter and chanterelles; and New England Lobster Roll, a buttery, split-top roll filled with diced fresh lobster meat and tossed with celery, aioli and lemon and served with lettuce, tomato, and hand-cut fries; Dishes range in price from $8.00 – $26.00. Guests may also indulge in a three course New England Lobster Dinner for just $32.00. Larger lobsters are also available with 48-hour advance notice. For reservations, please call (215) 978-4545 or visit

OYSTER HOUSE, 1516 Sansom Street – Still time to catch the restaurant’s wildly popular Twin Lobster Dinners on Wednesday, August 27. Guests may enjoy two 1-pound lobsters, shipped direct from Maine’s Ready Seafood Company and out of the water for less than 24 hours before being steamed to order, served alongside fresh, local corn on the cob with a side of drawn butter for just $26.00, a perfect light dinner for two, or a hearty feast for one. For reservations, please call (215) 567-7683 or visit

PENNSYLVANIA 6 (PE6), 114 South 12th Street – This coming Tuesday, August 26, the restaurant will serve up a 1-pound grilled Maine Lobster Dinner, accompanied by a shaved fennel, zucchini and summer squash salad with roasted Meyer lemon vinaigrette and warm potato salad… Just $19.00 per person, so reservations are strongly recommended. For more info, or to make reservations, please call (267) 639-5606 or visit

Bon Appétit!



McCloskey’s Tavern

17 Cricket Avenue

Ardmore, Pennsylvania

(610) 642-9280

 McCloskey's Tavern - ExteriorA family affair, McCloskey’s Tavern, the Main Line’s oldest Irish pub, has been setting ‘em up for over three-quarters of a century. In recent years, however, this welcoming establishment has gone from a local happy-tappy to an acclaimed “Best of Main Line” award-winning restaurant noted for the quality of its cuisine and service.

Everyone comes to McCloskey’s – and I do mean EVERYone. On any given day, the crowd is likely to range from recognizable regulars like a sweet senior lady dining solo while nursing her ever-present Manhattan, to couples, to families, to students, to professorial types, to office workers, to day-trippers of every size, shape, description, and persuasion. No matter who you are, however, this is a friendly place – and the bartenders & servers do their best to make it so; regular or first-timer, you’re bound to feel right at home here.

McCloskey's Tavern - HummusAnd the food isn’t bad either – certainly several cuts above the usual “pub grub.” Nearly everything is made in-house, so that should give you some inkling as to what this place is about. Take the traditional Mediterranean hummus, for instance. It may not look like much in the photo, but it is homemade, overflowing with an addictive garlicky flavor, bathed in extra virgin olive oil, and accompanied by freshly grilled pita triangles. An absolutely delicious snack or starter.

McCloskey's Tavern - Chicken Quesadilla… As is the quesadilla, a flour tortilla filled with a savory mixture of cheeses, meats, and vegetables that is then folded into the shape of a half-moon, toasted under a broiler, and cut into strips before serving. The dish, of course, originated in Mexico; and the name is derived from tortilla and the Spanish word for cheese, queso. While McCloskey’s presentation changes weekly, recently sampled was the chicken version, packed with chunks of tender white meat, shredded cheddar, black beans, tomatoes, and onions. Sidekicks include a spicy salsa and sour cream.

McCloskey's Tavern - Panko Crusted TomatoesThe appetizer of panko-crusted tomatoes is another fabulous snack/opening move. Set on a tangle of greens, slices of tomato are coated in panko breadcrumbs, deep-fried, crowned with crumbles of herb goat cheese, and drizzled with a pungent balsamic reduction.  I’m not quite sure what my wife and I expected, but the dish was a most pleasant surprise. A true gastronomic gestalt, the combination of flavors and textures was just right… but the whole was infinitely more enticing than the sum of the parts might suggest.

McCloskey's Tavern - Buffalo Chicken SaladThe only semi-disappointment among the starters was the cheesesteak spring rolls. They were good, but not terribly exciting… and the so called “spicy” chipotle dressing could have used a bit more pizzazz.  The two salads I sampled also fell into the “good” but not “great” category. The Cobb salad – hardboiled egg, tomato, bacon, cucumber, avocado slices, and bleu cheese crumbles on a pillow of romaine and watercress – wasn’t bad at all… but the greens looked like they’d seen better days. The buffalo chicken salad (pictured) – crispy chicken tenders in a zippy buffalo wing sauce – also had a good deal going for it, including a great after burn courtesy of that first-rate wing sauce; but, once again, the greens looked a bit tired.

McCloskey's Tavern - Paddy 'O MeltWith the sandwiches & burgers, though, the kitchen is right back at the top of its game. The “Paddy ‘O Melt” (pictured), a takeoff on the traditional patty melt, combines a burger (or chicken breast) with sautéed onions and melted Swiss cheese on toasted whole grain bread. If you’re a dyed-in-the-wool burger fan, don’t pass this one up. A variation on the theme, the grilled veggie sandwich – roasted peppers, sautéed spinach, garlic, onions, avocado, goat cheese, and basil oil – is also served up on that luscious toasted whole grain. I didn’t have opportunity to sample one during our several visits, but a woman at an adjacent table practically inhaled the sandwich before my eyes… It was messy but awesome. Definitely worth a try.

McCloskey’s also offers diners a number of entrées, several pastas, and what the menu calls “Traditional Fare.” These latter include: meatloaf with gravy, mashed, and vegetables; Dijon crusted salmon with tarragon cream; an excellent rendition of fish & chips, and there famous homemade crab cakes. There is also a dynamite shepherd’s pie (pictured) – a blend of ground beef, veggies & spices topped off with a generous portion of homemade mashed potatoes – which I can never seem to turn down.

McCloskey's Tavern - Peanut Butter PieDesserts are homemade by Ms. Bartender – and they are very good, indeed. My absolute fave…? What else…? the utterly irresistible peanut butter pie. Many peanut butter pies can taste oddly artificial and sport a rather off-putting texture. No worries here, though, as this is definitely the genuine article: beguilingly tasty, marvelously creamy consistency, beautifully textured graham cracker crust, and, just to add to the fun, artistic slashes of dark chocolate.

McCloskey’s Tavern is one of those little “joints” – in the very best sense of that word – with which it’s easy to strike up a long-term relationship. It serves up an excellent selection of craft beers and good, solid fare at more than reasonable prices in a casual, unpretentious atmosphere buttressed by super friendly service… And that’s a combo that’s hard to beat.

Bon Appétit!