House of Skip

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Memphis Taproom, Philadelphia

I'm always interested in finding hip, hangout places and I am always pleasantly surprised when they happen to have good food. Memphis Taproom is one of those places. It doesn't look like much from the outside, in fact at night you might not even know it was there, situated on a street corner in the Kensington section of Philadelphia.

As soon as my dining companion and I opened the door, we know many people had managed to find it. The bar was packed, as was the dining room. From the looks of it, it was going to take awhile to get a table in the dining room and there was not much room to wait around, so we decided to grab a table in the bar that was right near the front door. Some people might complain about being close to a constantly opening door, but for people watchers like my companion and I it was fun!

I signaled to the bartender and asked him if we could eat in the bar, he told us we could and provided us with menus and directed my attention to the board with the list of draft beers. Being a "taproom" they have a large selection of beers and judging from other reviews, many people flock there just for that. However, being fans for Diner, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network, my dining companion and I were there for the food that Guy Fieri raved about. We took a look at the beers and the menu, making a selection was difficult, but when we were ready, I went over to tell the bartender what we'd like.

My companion went with a lighter beer, Victory Braumeister Pils and I went with something a little darker and bitter, Sierra N. Hemisphere. He enjoyed his Pils and my Sierra was awesome, you know we are wine people, but every once in awhile a good beer is great. For food- we ordered two apps to share, the much talked and raved about Pork Rillon salad which had crispy, heavenly, melt in your mouth chunks for pork belly and roasted pumpkin on top of greens. The second app we shared was grilled brussel sprouts which were nicely caramelized and yummy.

Just as we finished up those tasty treats, our sandwiches came out. You can really sample quite a bit of unique food at Memphis Taproom without breaking the bank. I got the kielbasy grinder which was just great, exactly what you want to munch on while enjoying a beer, the roll was soft and a nice contrast to the snap of that kielbasa, which had a lovely beer mustard and just a touch of sauerkraut on it- yum! My companion had the roast pork sandwich with spiedie sauce, we had no idea what spiedie sauce was but after some googling have learned it is a style of sandwich that originated in upstate NY and involves a sauce or marinade of olive oil, vinegar, "Italian" spices and mint. He really liked his sandwich too. We were in agreement that Memphis Taproom is a cool hangout with unique and tasty food.

http://memphistaproom.com/index.htm

2331 East Cumberland Street
Philadelphia, PA 19125

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Nomad Pizza, Hopewell, NJ

So any of you reading this that have visited House of Skip before, know that my dining companion and I are pizza aficionados. In our quest to find delicious pizza, we have wanted to visit Nomad pizza in Hopewell for a long time. On a night when we had our 11 year old niece we thought it might be a good chance to pop in and try it out.

As a party of three we had about a 25 minute wait, but we took a peak in the nearby store, Twine and also took a walk down quaint Broad St in Hopewell, by the time we came back they called us for our table. We sat at one long table in the center of this small, narrow restaurant between a large party and a couple. Right behind us was the open kitchen with a really cool looking blue tiled pizza oven. The menu is fairly small and features a few tasty sounding varieties of Naples style pizza and a couple of salad offerings. Our niece, who had been complaining that she was hungry stated she wanted a caesar salad and "might have a couple slices of pizza", so my companion and I decided to get two pizzas, the marghertia pizza, traditional with tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil, we also ordered the Sicilian tuna pizza which had tuna, mozzarella, capers and tomatoes.

The caesar salad came out first and it was quite large, it was a nice presentation of three romaine heart drizzled with dressing served over a crisp piece of bread. While my companion and I thought the presentation was nice, our niece wanted to know they didn't cut it up for us. We tried to explain to her about presentation, but I think it was over her head, just another call me when your 30 moment :). The pizzas came out a short while later and the tuna made such an impression that our nearby table-mates commented that they'd like to know if it was good, this lead my dining companion to offer them a slice, in return they offered us a slice of their 4 cheese with sausage. It was a good trade and everyone agreed both pies were good, well except the 11 year old who refused to try either! haha! One of the nice things about that long table at Nomad's is getting to know your neighbors, that couple was very nice and commented on how well behaved our young guest was.

Now, the child had stated she didn't really want pizza and might have a "slice" after her salad, she proceeded to eat 5 slices of the margherita pie. The pies at Nomad are small, which is good for ordering multiple pies, I was impressed that she liked it enough to keep eating it. The dough at Nomad is thin but soft, it isn't that super-crisp cut the sides of your mouth crust, don't get me wrong I like that too, but this crust was enjoyable. I think the margherita pie could have used a little more basil, but was still good. The tuna pizza was amazing, my companion and I had no problem letting our niece eat most of the margherita pie as we devoured the tuna pie. It had such a unique flavor and the tuna was so great, capers were an added bonus. Our server was super nice and made a point to joke around with our guest, even though most pre-teens find that "corny" it wins points with adults.

We were presented with chocolates at the end of our meal and they were delicious too.You can check out Nomad in Hopewell, NJ or in Philadelphia, or by booking their pizza truck for your next event. You can learn more at http://www.nomadpizzaco.com/index.html

10 East Broad Street
Hopewell, NJ 08525 
(609) 466-6623

If you visit the Hopewell location, be sure to visit their neighbor Twine for some unique gifts and decorations.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Toast, Montclair, NJ

On our way to visit some of our favorite NJ wineries in Sussex County, we decided to head out early and have some breakfast on the way. We stopped off in Montclair, NJ at a place called Toast. The place was packed and is apparently well known for their breakfast offerings, although they also serve lunch. The place is small, there is a second floor as well, we were seated on the first floor near the window, it was a great spot.

Our waiter was very friendly and told us about some specials and brought us some much needed coffee. Looking over the menu made me even more hungry than I was already. Tons of yummy sounding pancake, french toast and waffle choices, however it was something savory that caught my eye. While some of the eggs benedict variations were tempting, I went with the corned beef hash which was playfully named, "Sundays on the Farm". Just like our favorite traveling chef bad boy Anthony Bourdain, I have become quite the "egg slut" and ordered my corned beef hash with two over easy eggs. The yolk broke over the delicious mix of spicy beef and itty bitty diced potatoes and onions to make a very tasty sauce. The corned beef was so good and there was plenty of it, I was impressed that the hash wasn't just all potato with just a little meat. My companion was super hungry and wanted something really satisfying, so he went with one of Toast's unique "scrambles", the one he chose had 6 eggs, chicken breast, jack cheese, avocado and a side of fruit. If this dish sounds gigantic, that's because it was, but my companion happily scarfed up the whole thing. He said it was awesome and really filled him up.

We were now well caffeinated and fueled for our long day of wine tasting. If you live near Montclair or find your way there on a road trip, stop in to Toast for some great breakfast, it is sure to keep you going all day.

700 Bloomfield Avenue
Montclair, New Jersey 07042
973-509-8099
f: 973-509-8092

http://www.toastmontclair.com/index.htm 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Isaac's Famous Grilled Sandwiches

After drinking lots of wine in the Hershey, PA area on our journey home from Bedford Springs, I was in need of a bite to eat, so my traveling/dining companion agreed to stop at Issac's Famous Grilled Sandwiches. It was not a regrettable stop. What a great place for a quick and inexpensive bite, especially if traveling.

We strolled into the Issac's in Litiz and were surprised to find that we would be seated, I thought it would be an order at the counter and find your own seat kind of joint. The place looks like a typical sandwich/fast food restaurant, booth seating, very colorful decor. With their pink flamingo logo, they have a sort of island flair to the design of the place.

But you really want to know about the food, right? A nice touch in the service area is that they also bring you a dish of pickles, kind of how a sit down place would give you a bread basket, I prefer the pickles :)

So, the sandwiches! I had something called the Salty Eagle (btw- I love all the sandwich names) which is grilled ham, swiss cheese, mustard, fresh tomatoes and lettuce. My companion had the Whopping Crane, that is sliced turkey, onions, fresh spinach, grilled with swiss cheese and honey dijon dressing. My sandwich was great, the meat was fresh and very tasty, the cheese was a nice complement, it didn't take over the sandwich, the cold tomato and lettuce was a nice contrast. My companion enjoyed his sandwich as well, he was impressed that it was indeed fresh spinach and not frozen or canned spinach. By far, we both agree the highlight of both sandwiches was the pretzel roll. Both of our sandwiches came on the pretzel roll, which is probably one of the reasons we gravitated to those choices. The rolls were soft and chewy and had that unique soft pretzel flavor that really went well with both the ham and the turkey.

This was a quick stop on our road trip and satisfied me for the ride home. I would definitely stop in again and recommend that you try it too!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Jean Bonnet Tavern, Bedford, PA

On a trip to what we thought would be "the middle of nowhere PA" for golf, wine and food, my dining companion and I were quite pleased to find several "good eats".

One of them is the historic, Jean Bonnet Tavern, which has been running as a tavern since the 1760s. The fireplace and charm make it very cozy. The staff is very friendly. The are known for having many beers on tap, but the wine list is a little skimpy, however, they do feature wine from a local winery, Briar Valley .

With a glass of wine each, my companion and I started out our meal by sharing bacon wrapped scallops. I don't think you can ever go wrong with bacon. The scallops were tasty and cooked perfectly, I think the bacon could have been a little crisper, but I appreciate the difficulty in cooking items that have different cooking times. They were still delicious. Our meals came with salads, which came out shortly after we polished off those scallops. For our entrees, I had a roasted pork loin with cranberry cornbread stuffing, carrots and sweet potato fries. The pork was divine, juicy and very flavorful. The stuffing was interesting and tasty, the carrots were simple and plain, which is fine with me, because I happen to like carrots. My companion had one of the specials, which was a duck sausage gumbo with seafood. It was definitely a unique dish and he really enjoyed it. The duck sausage was rich, which was a good contrast to the fresh seafood and veggies in the gumbo.

Even though the desserts sounded wonderful, we passed as we were pretty stuff, they really fill your plate up at Jean Bonnet's. If you ever find yourself passing through Bedford give it a shot, you won't be disappointed by the charm or the food. And they have a cute little cabin craft shop too!

http://www.jeanbonnettavern.com/index.html

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Bobby's Burger Palace- Eatontown, NJ

Bobby's Burger Palace is a fun place for a quick bite. Being a lover of all things on the Food Network and Cooking Channel, I've been obsessed with Bobby Flay for years. So, since he has several burger joints here in NJ, I thought it was about time to visit one. My companion and I trekked out to the Monmouth Mall and entered the unassuming Bobby's Burger Palace, which I think is a hip, modern twist on fast food, I've seen other bloggers and reviewers that have thought this wasn't successfully pulled off, I think they are just angry people. The colors are inviting and the seating is unique.

Some people don't like that you order at the counter and then find a seat and wait, I found that fun. Some called it "cafeteria style" but I would disagree with that because you aren't given a tray, your food is still delivered to you at your seat, you just have to order at the counter. Anyway, on to the food.

We were intrigued by the "Burger of the Month" entitled, the Brunch Burger featuring an egg, bacon and cheese, but passed on it because we've had similar burgers before. I went with the Napa Valley Burger which had watercress, goat cheese and meyer lemon honey mustard. It was awesome, the goat cheese was super soft and flavorful and the lemon honey mustard was subtle and added just the right tang to the burger. My companion went with the Philadelphia Burger which had provolone, onions and peppers. He loved it, it had all those classic cheesesteak toppings, the onions and peppers were grilled to yummy goodness. The burgers where really great, we ordered them medium and they were just that, slightly pink, really juicy and just delicious. The bun is just a little unassuming sesame seed bun, nothing fancy, which is good because you can really enjoy the burger and the toppings without it being overshadowed by some crazy bun.

Now, we did not have just burgers alone! We also shared an order of sweet potato fries! OH YUM! They were great and so was the horseradish dipping sauce was amazing. The fries were nice and crispy with a soft, sweet center. Who doesn't love that salty and sweet contrast? We did not have a milkshake (boo) but I hear they are pretty good. Maybe next time.

All in all, I'd say for a quick, inexpensive bite, Bobby's Burger Palace is a good call.

Check them out in Eatontown, Paramus, or now Cherry Hill, they also have locations in PA, NY and DC.

http://www.bobbysburgerpalace.com/

Monday, October 3, 2011

Blackbird Dining Establishment- Collingswood, NJ

As I headed out to dinner with my dining companion on Friday night, fear struck just as we neared out destination, what was the problem? TRAFFIC. We had not anticipated that the last 2 miles of our trip to Collingswood would take 20 minutes. Thankfully, when we arrived we scored a spot very close to the restaurant and the hostess at the door at Blackbird Dining Establishment, couldn't have been nicer and more forgiving of our lateness for our reservation.Apparently, many other diners had the same trouble, because the place was nearly empty when we arrived and filled up quickly after we were seated.

I had been wanting to get to Blackbird for a while, some trusted sources raved about not only Blackbird but also West Side Gravy, run by the same chef, Alex Capasso. The restaurants share an entrance in their new location in Collingswood, I had read some reviews online that said things had gone south after the move. Having never been there before, we cannot compare the before and after, but I think those people are crazy.

Blackbird has a classy decor with wooden floors and hammered copper tables. From just about any seat in the dining room you can see out the front window and watch the foot traffic in this quaint South Jersey town, if you've never visited Collingswood there are many great restaurants to visit along the main drag of Haddon Ave. HOS has previously visited and reviewed both Il Fiore (great, inexpensive Italian eats) and the Food Network featured, Pop Shop (amazing pancakes and we here the grilled cheese is ridiculously good.)

But back to the feature, Blackbird. In addition to the kind hostess, we were next greeted by a very cheerful waitress. She opened our wine, as Blackbird is BYOB, and told us about the specials. After looking over the menu one more time, we were ready to order. I started with a salad off the special menu, it was a spinach salad with gorgonzola cheese and pistachios. I also ordered an entree from the specials, the slow cooked shortribs, which sounded amazing. My dining companion ordered an appetizer that caught his eye immediately, Pan Seared Foie Gras, petite PBJ, salad of figs, walnuts,  and gorgonzola. For his entree he went with the pan seared lamb served over arugula.

My salad was yummy, simple and refreshing, which is how I wanted to start my meal. My companions appetizer was anything but simple, the flavors were complex and interesting, but worked together magically. It totally knocked his socks off! And I have to agree it was really good, we both knew right then and there that Chef Alex had some guts and was one creative guy. As we moved on to entrees we were not disappointed. My shortribs were fork tender and had any amazing flavor. There was just the right amount of mashed potatoes under the meat and tender asparagus spears scattered about. It was so delicious that I had to force myself to stop eating so I could take some home. And as another server came over to clear my plate, he offered that we could also take home the bone (which the meat melted right off of) if we had a dog, since we do not we declined, but that was a super thoughtful offer. There was nothing left on my companion's plate, as he had no trouble finishing the super lean lamb that was served over a yummy looking mound of arugula. The whole entree was fresh and healthy while still being delicious. The arugula had some pine nuts, golden raisins and a touch of Parmesan cheese to add flavor. My companion left with a full belly and a smile on his face.

We were offered dessert and coffee, but had to decline, however there were some really fantastic things on the dessert menu that I'd like to go back and try out! I have a feeling we'll be sampling Chef Alex's treats again soon.

So, in closing, Blackbird is a great place for an unique meal in a hip setting with super friendly and considerate staff. Thanks for a great meal!

http://www.blackbirdnj.com/

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Poseidon Mediterranean Bar & Grill Robbinsville, NJ

After much anticipation, Robbinsville finally has a new restaurant to replace the long vacant Santino's. When it opened, my companion and I got there as soon as we could, which was the there first Friday night. The place was packed and without a reservation we were seated in the very crowded bar, but really liked the seat right by the front window. What added to the really crowded feeling in the bar is that is is half the size of the bar when it was Santino's, rather than be the center of the restaurant the bar at Poseidon is smaller and closed off from the main dining room.

Our waitress was busy and completely overwhelmed, we ordered a bottle of white wine and told her to take her time, we drank our wine, put in the order for an appetizer and took in the scenery. When our waitress came back to take our order, we realized she forgot about our appetizer, she apologized profusely and went to put it in right away.

Shortly after that she brought our appetizer over and she apologized again and told us that on top of it being extremely busy (and loud) in there, this was also her first job as a waitress. We told her not to worry and that she was doing just fine, after all the mistakes she made didn't hurt anyone. We were having a nice time enjoying people watching both inside and outside of the restaurant.

Our appetizer was the calamari (we had wanted the combo of calamari and octopus but I don't think she heard us due to the noise, so we ate the calamari without a complaint). It was good, they give you a giant portion too, we could have easily shared this appetizer with two other people, my companion noted that recently we were at a bar and grill and ordered a calamari appetizer for four and it was probably half the size of the one at Poseidon.

On to entrees. I had ordered the sauteed scallops that was served with grapes and veggies, very yummy. The scallops were a good size and anyone who has read previous HOS posts, knows I always want them with a crust on the outside but still nice and fresh when you bite in, these scallops fit that description, no rubbery mess here. My companion ordered the seared tuna and also enjoyed it, again the tuna was a very large portion and he ended up taking some of it home. The tuna was prepared just as he requested, almost rare, with just a sear on the outside. The presentation at Poseidon definitely scores big points, both entrees arrived at the table on long,elegant, rectangular white plates.

We were stuffed, but not ready to leave our cozy corner window table in the bar, so we ordered a couple after dinner drinks and continued to people watch and chat with our waitress. After two drinks we decided we'd better head home as the rain outside that we'd been watching seemed to finally be slowing down.

We thanked our waitress, wished her luck and promised we'd be back. Poseidon is definitely a welcome addition to Robbinsville and I think my companion and I will keep it on the short list of go to restaurants when we want a good meal close to home.

So, be sure to visit Poseidon for yourself. I don't believe they've created a website, but here is how to find them:


2360 Rt 33
Robbinsville, NJ 08691
(609) 223-2749

Friday, August 19, 2011

Stace of Cakes, Trenton, NJ

I found myself in the position of not having any lunch today and since the weather turned out to be rather nice, I decided to walk down to the recently opened, Stace of Cakes on Willow St. I had read about them in the paper and became a "fan" on Facebook, so I knew they were serving lunch now.

The place is adorable inside, with bright colors and fancy trinkets, like a metal and glass chandelier and cupcake stands with crystals hanging from them. I was greeted by a kind and lovely lady whom I assume is Stace, but I did not ask. The lunch menu is not large, but has something for everyone. Salads, sandwiches, wraps, I would say, light fare. I noticed something listed as "curried chicken salad" and I didn't know if it was chicken salad as in the kind made with mayo or if it was just curried chicken over a salad, it turns out it could be either and I opted for the curried chicken over salad. She excused herself to go prepare it and I stared dreamily at the cupcakes in t he display case.

While I was waiting the "Stace of Cakes" truck pulled up outside and a man came in, based on the fact that a little voice from the back room said "Daddy's here" I guessed it was Mr. Stace of Cakes. He smiled politely and asked if I was being waited on and I told him I was. I didn't mind waiting for my salad because I knew that meant Stace was taking the time to prepare it fresh for me. When she came back out with my salad she informed me that this came with a drink and a bag of chips. I was astonished as it was only $4.75! I took a water and the bag of chips (even though I knew I wouldn't eat them).

After staring at the cupcakes, I decided that if I was going to try out Stace of Cakes, I might as well sample the item in their name! I asked what kind of special flavors she had today, knowing from the Facebook page that it isn't just chocolate or vanilla. She rattled off a few, but I heard something that appealed to me right away, pineapple coconut. So, a nice size salad, chips, a drink, a cupcake and friendly service for around $8, including a tip, not a bad.

My walk back to the office was a little quicker than the walk there as I was anxious to try my goodies. The salad was a perfect size in a square plastic container, nice crisp lettuce, grape tomatoes, slices of cucumber and red onion, all topped with a delicious curried chicken. I hadn't gotten to the cupcake yet, but it was obvious to me that Stace can cook. The chicken was well seasoned, juicy and very tasty. The whole salad was very fresh and yummy. I rationalized that in addition to my lunch being healthy that the cupcake was also small (no giant sized monstrosities at Stace of Cakes, just normal cupcakes) and so I could give it a go.

I took it out if it's container and pulled back the paper, taking a small bite, but still getting both icing and cake in there. The icing was yummy, with shredded coconut on top and the cake was moist and had chunks of pineapple in it. The icing was very flavorful and not just a sugary paste. It tasted homemade and I think that is the key to success, not some super fancy, showy cupcake, but just one that tastes good and reminds you of something your mom used to make.

I'll definitely be taking the walk back down to Stace of Cakes the next time I find myself without a lunch, though I can't always justify the cupcake. However, based on the taste of that cupcake, I will consider cupcakes and cakes from their for my next special occasion. FYI she needs 2 to 3 weeks notice for a specialty cake.

Oh! And before I forget, they also feature vegan lunch items and vegan cupcakes and they also serve breakfast.

Find Stace of Cakes

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Stace-of-Cakes/133169093368613?ref=ts

http://www.staceofcakes.com/

11 N. Willow St, Trenton, NJ

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Monks Cafe, Philadelphia


~Originally posted 3/23/09
A friend and I traveled to the city of brotherly love this weekend to check out some American history. That's right folks, Skip is a history buff too. My friend and I went to check out the Liberty Bell, the Betsy Ross House and Independence Hall; if you haven't been or if it's been awhile I highly recommend it. You've got to have a great appreciation for the hard work and sacrifice that went into the founding of our country. But I digress, you've come here to read about Monk's Cafe!

After taking in a healthy dose of history, two girls were in need of a good beer. My friend had suggested Monk's as she had been there before, it did not take much to convince me, I read they had a beer list as big as the phone book! And boy, they weren't kidding. There were so many beers I found it difficult to choose. Monk's is on S. 16th Street between Spruce and Locust in Philadelphia, it's a charming little place. You walk in through a plain black door, into a dimly lit bar area, beyond that the walls are lined with wooden booths and tables. Monk's has a bit of a rustic feel, some might even describe it as a dive bar. I thought it looked like a fun place to hang, like a friend's basement.

I've been told they have great muscles, but since neither my friend or I eat them, I cannot report on that. However, the menu looks like a typical bar menu, appetizers, salads, burgers and sandwiches. They did have some unique entrées that I would not expect at a bar, such as, spicy polenta and duck ragout, not to mention a veal cheeks appetizer. Needless to say, there are some things that make Monk's special. My friend and I both happened to want to try the same thing for lunch, chicken and apple sausage on an Italian roll. We both agreed it was very good, it was the least greasy sausage I have ever had (because it was chicken) but still had a lot of flavor. They put a spicy raspberry mustard on it, which was a perfect combination. Despite the fact that, as with most bars, there was a lack of "healthy' food on the menu, this sandwich did come with a mixed green salad on the side. We also split a basket of fries, they give you way too many, I don't think we even ate half of that basket. The fries came with a great dipping sauce, Bourbon mayo, to borrow from Rachel Ray, YUM-O.

Okay, on to the beer! I was getting dizzy trying to read all the beers, but I finally decided on Alvinne Podge Stout. I am a fan of a nice stout, I like a dark beer, usually if I am having just one or two (they are just too heavy for multiple beers). I really enjoyed it. My friend, as I said, had been there before and was some what familiar with the beer list, she started with Lindemann's Cassis Lambic Belgian Beer, it was on the sweet side, but a little tart too. She then moved on to Bezelbeth French Malt, which she shared with me, it was interesting, but not terrible.  I hope that my friend will comment and elaborate on what she thought of her beers and Monk's in general.

So, bottom line, Skip recommends a trip to historic Philly, especially if it includes lunch at Monk's. Of course, it helps if you have good company too.
Skip gives Monk's - 4 cosmos

try it for yourself--
www.monkscafe.com

Full Moon Cafe, Lambertville


~Originally posted 2/14/09~
If you have ever been to Lambertville, you may have noticed this cute little cafe with all the lunar decorations. They are right on Bridge Street and are usually only open for breakfast and lunch. There is only one occasion for which they open for dinner, a full moon. They recommend reservations, there are quite a few regulars who do not miss a full moon dinner at the Full Moon Cafe, as I found out recently.

I had been to the Full Moon Cafe for breakfast once, I had a fabulous crab and brie omelet, I suggest you try it, even if it was a little light on the cheese, but then again, I love brie. Since a full moon dinner is there specialty I thought I would try it. I invited some old friends to join me there for a bite on the last full moon (February 9th).

I will say this, when I was there for breakfast the service was fast, they are very efficient about getting folks in and out, so don't expect to lounge at this cafe. However, the wait staff are very intuitive and considerate of special circumstances. When I arrived for my full moon dinner, the rest of my party was not yet there, I was seated and the wine I brought, the cafe is BYOB, was immediately put on ice. Upon two of my guests arriving we discovered the last guest would be delayed, our waitress was very courteous about this matter and gave us ample time to review the menu, taking time to explain things to us, as it was our first visit.

On to the food, we started with a salad of mixed greens, tomato and mozzarella, all very fresh and the perfect amount of dressing. For the main course I chose a white fish called Barramundi, it was cooked to perfection, I always worry about it being overcooked and dry, but no worries that night! Other guests with me that evening tried a dish that would have been my second choice, Chimichurri steak with kalamata olives, they told me it was wonderful. With your meal you can choose to sides, I picked (and would highly recommend) the roasted fingerling potatoes and the sautéed spaghetti squash, they also offer brussel sprouts, even though I still don't understand why any one eats them.

The Full Moon Cafe had quite a few tempting desserts, but we decided to pass, others around us seemed to be enjoying the key lime pie and carrot  cake. As I mentioned, they are BYOB and upon making my reservation the hostess took my email address and emailed me the menu one week prior to the full moon dinner so that I could choose a beverage accordingly, I think that is a great feature. I had a fantastic time at the Full Moon Cafe, but I will warn you this, some of the menu items are a little pricey, we paid $5.50 for a pre-dinner salad and some of the other appetizer choices were as much as $9.50 and were not necessarily meant for sharing.

One other thing to remember, if you are not familiar with Lambertville, there is only metered street parking, so make sure you bring quarters.

The Full Moon Cafe is definitely worth a visit:
23 Bridge St
Lambertville, NJ
609-397-1096

a list of the full moon dinner dates can be found at www.restaurantpassion.com

Ajihei, Princeton

~Originally posted 2/9/09

So, I love sushi and there are so many places now to get it in my area. I just found a new great place, or shall I say my dining companion found it, after all, he does most of the research. Ajihei is a sushi place in Princeton, on Chambers Street. You have to go down some stairs to get to it and it is so small, you just might miss it. But I recommend you look hard, because you don't want to miss this place.
The place is tiny, but home-like. There are small wooden tables, no frills here. There is a man behind a counter rolling sushi while you dine, the fish is on display behind glass, it looked really fresh, and it was! We started with wasabi shumai. Now, I highly recommend shumai, those little dumplings are one of my favorites, but if you are not that into wasabi, you may want to get another version. The wasabi shumai at Ajihei will cure any sinus problems you have.
I had a spicy tuna roll and a shrimp tempura roll, both delicious. My companion had a sashimi dinner, which he enjoyed very much, all the fish was really, really fresh. It was a very cold night that we were there and our waitress came over with hot green tea as soon as we sat down and she refilled it often, which was excellent, because it was yummy and I was cold.
If you are looking for the ultra-modern "fusion" type sushi places, don't visit Ajihei. However, if you want to feel like a Japanese family invited you to their house for dinner, then wander down Chambers Street for this basement gem.
Ajihei does not have a website, but here is there address so you can easily find them:

11 Chambers St
Princeton, NJ 08542

Happy dining!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Yummy Jambalaya

Yummy Jambalaya

1/2 a white onion diced
1 red bell pepper diced
3 cloves of garlic chopped
4 slabs of bacon diced
2 links chorizo sausage (or sausage of your choice)
1- 28 oz jar of diced tomatoes
to your taste:
Chili powder
Cumin
Celery Salt
crushed red pepper flakes
Cayenne pepper
Salt
Ground Black Pepper
1 lb Mahi Mahi (or fish of your choice) -note Mahi holds up well to stew-type dishes
1 lb shrimp (cleaned and tails removed)


Start with a large pot, I like to use my Le Creuset dutch oven. Over medium heat, add a little olive oil to the pot, add onion, garlic and bell pepper, let them sweat it out for about 2 minutes and add the bacon, let the bacon cook until it starts to crisp up and stick to bottom of the pot. Now you want to add the sausage, I used hot chorizo, but you can chose anything you like, be sure to scrap the bacon off the bottom of the pot so the flavors mingle.

After the sausage has had time to brown (probably 3 to 5 minutes) you now want to add the can of diced tomatoes, again being sure to scrap the bottom on the pot to get all the juicy bits of bacon and sausage incorporated in the sauce. Add all your spices, I don't measure I just dump to my taste, I recommend you do the same, some like it hot, some don't, ya know? Give it a few good stirs and put the lid on and walk away, I found something else to do for about 10 minutes so I could let that pot simmer and all of those flavors infuse themselves into the tomatoes to make a yummy sauce.

Now, after that I chopped my Mahi Mahi into bite sized chunks and threw them in the pool, I let that go for a few minutes while I prepped the shrimp, then the shrimp joined the party too. After adding the shrimp, I probably only left it on the heat for another 5 to 7 minutes, I didn't want the shrimp to get tough. I was making this ahead for later in the week, if you are going to eat it immediately after cooking, just wait until the shrimp turn from opaque to that nice pink color.

I took the pot off the heat and let it cool off (those cast iron babies get hot!). Once it was cook, I put it in the fridge for safe keeping. I had made this ahead of time so that on a night where my companion and I were on different schedules (him golfing, me at karate) we could both come home and heat it up and eat whenever it fit into our day.

Enjoy!


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Spice Loaf

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Spice Loaf

3 cups almond flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup grape seed oil
1/4 cup of honey
4 eggs
2 zucchini - shredded
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 cup chocolate chips,plus a handful of chips

Set your oven to bake at 375. In a large bowl combine the almond flour, baking soda and salt. In a medium bowl, mix eggs with oil and honey. Combine wet ingredients with the flour mixture and then add the spices and zucchini. Mix until well combined and then stir in the chocolate chips. Pour the mix into a loaf plan and top with a few more chips.

Bake for an hour, but keep an eye on it depending on the consistency and your oven it could be done sooner but this was the first time I tried this and it took about an hour til the middle was not still wet. I would also alert you that I eyeballed it with the spices, and so the measurements above may not be exact, but they are close and I would say use each to your own taste.

I think it is delicious!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hello Readers!

This is just a quick note from Skip.

For a few years now, I've been writing reviews and other observations on a domain which I acquired through another site. I am transitioning to this new format and I hope everyone enjoys it.

To my new readers, I say welcome and I hope that you will find my past reviews helpful, where possible (and when I do not forget) I will post the original date of the blog review.

To my faithful readers, I hope this transition is smooth and you will be able to find all the old reviews you know and love, as well as read all the new ones. Our rating system at House of Skip (1-5 cosmos, 1 being poor and 5 being excellent) is under going some changes. We here at House of Skip want to bring you the most relevant information in addition to entertaining you. We will take some time to try out some new rating system ideas and hope that if you have any feedback you will be willing to share it (new readers too).

Thanks all for your continued (or new) support! Stay tuned for more adventures from Skip and her companion.

xoxoxo,

Skip <3

Rocky Hill Inn, Rocky Hill, NJ

The Rocky Hill Inn has both a "dining room" and a "tavern", so if you are feeling casual and just want to hang in a bar atmosphere (as my dining companion and I did last night) then you can just mosey in to the tavern and either have a seat at the bar or get a table in the rustic looking tavern.

Recently the magazine, NJ Monthly came out with a list of the Best Burgers in NJ. Rated # one on that list was Rocky Hill Inn, so you know we here at House of Skip had to give it a try.

I have to preface this by saying that the service at Rocky Hill left a little to be desired. I want to get this out of the way before I get into the burger and lose track of what I wanted to say. We waited a long time to place our order and their seemed to be mis-communication or no communication between the staff. We were given water, asked if we wanted bread (to which we replied no), another person came and gave us bread and after we gave in and each ate a piece, another person came over and asked if they could take the bread away (there was one piece remaining on the dish) and all the while we still had our menus and it was clear we'd not seen a waitress.

That aside, I loved the Rocky Hill Inn. It was a nice, casual, rustic looking place where you could have good food in a relaxed atmosphere. When our waitress finally did come take our order, she was very nice. We each ordered a beer, I chose the Sam Adams Summer Ale because I rarely drink beer anymore and I really like that one, always the adventurer by companion chose a beer he'd never heard of called Weltenburger, which was a German beer that was very tasty. We also ordered an appetizer to share, calamari and each ordered the Rocky Hill Burger.

There were a lot of people around us ordering it, I have a feeling the magazine had an impact on that. They also added to the menu "Award winning burger by NJ Monthly". Our beers came and shortly there after one of the confused looking staff brought us the calamari, the calamari at Rocky Hill Inn is breaded with corn meal, we were surprised that there was no sauce to accompany it, but no sooner had a commented on that than the confused boy appeared again with a small dish of sauce. And we are so glad he did! The sauce was the star of the dish, it was vinegar based and very tangy, it had a bit of a sweet and sour flavor to it which was great. The calamari was fresh and good, the verdict may still be out on the cornmeal, it is unique and while the calamari were very non-greasy (a big plus in our book) they were a little dry, though a good dunk in the sauce helped with that. My dining companion (who is a far cry from a chef or even cook) thought the sauce would pair well with a grilled calamari vs a breaded and fried version. I have to agree with him on that one and if I can try to replicate that sauce I may try that one at home, I'll keep you posted. :)

Now, on to the main attraction. Between the departure of the calamari and the arrival of the burgers all we could think about was getting our hands on those burgers.  We watched others come and go and couldn't wait to sink our teeth in. I will make one other note about the service- our waitress came to our table so infrequently that she completely missed us having our appetizer and had even asked the kitchen why it wasn't out yet, to which they informed her we'd eaten it already- we can only assume that she was busy with other tables? Any who, the burgers. I swear bells and sirens should accompany the arrival of these things. Nice to a nice pile of handcut fries, sits this gloriously glossy bun, under the bun is a burger cooked to perfection, seasoned with just salt and pepper, piled high with grilled onions, bacon, cheese, an egg, lettuce, tomato and pickles. My companion and I both grabbed a hold of the burger and sunk our teeth in! It is crazy, but with all that is on this burger, it is not overwhelming, each thing complements the other. The cheese is very light, there is not this big glob of cheese in the way, it is just a nice amount to give it that tangy flavor. The bacon is smoky and crunchy and adds so much to the texture. By far the richest thing on the burger is the egg, the dripping yolk adds a unique taste to the burger. With the bacon and egg my companion questioned whether this was a breakfast sandwich! I must note that dipping the fries in the yolk that had dripped on to the plate was a divine experience too. Finally, the lettuce, tomato and pickle added a fresh and cool component to the burger.

Hats off to the Rocky Hill Inn for a darn fine burger, you are now not only a NJ Monthly award winner but have the stamp of approval from House of Skip. My dining companion and I throughly enjoyed our burger and most of our experience at the Rocky Hill Inn. We would have liked to sit at the bar but it was packed when we came in and packed when we left, I guess that is a good sign. :)

Do you want to taste burger perfection? Get your butt to the Rocky Hill Inn

137 Washington Street, Rocky Hill, NJ 08553
Phone: 609-683-8930
Fax:     609-683-8931 


Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tattoni's, Hamilton, NJ

~Originally posted 10.12.09~
For my readers from the Mercer County area, you know that the Chambersburg section of Trenton has long been home to great Italian restaurants. For those of you that aren't from the area, you don't know what you are missing. Recently, a long time Chambersburg resident, Tattoni's Restaurant, moved into Hamilton, their new home is on Rt. 33. And oh how lucky we are to have them!

If you've been reading House of Skip at all, you know that my dining companion and I have a thing for BYOB's, since Tattoni's is one, we took the opportunity to bring an Italian Chianti with us! The decor at Tattoni's is simple, a room full of tables, walls covered with Italian scenes. The staff is great, really friendly and have their job down to a science, of course some of them have worked for Tattoni's for over 20 years. Of course, each table is provided with the customary basket of bread, we also got a nice antipasto. I was craving meat sauce something fierce, so that is exactly what I got, Spaghetti with meat sauce. The meat sauce had so much flavor, absolutely great. The pasta was cooked just right, although the sauce was so good I could have eaten it by itself, okay maybe just with bread.  My dining companion ordered the Spaghetti with Crab sauce. Now, my guess would be that the meat sauce and the crab sauce both start out as just tomato sauce and then they add either the meat or crab and let them cook together. My companion said the crab sauce was great. It did come with a whole crab on top of it, which was a little messy since it was covered in tomato sauce. We both really enjoyed our meals and I was thrilled when the waiter told us that they sell sauces by the quart, I'll definitely be taking advantage of that! Also good to note that all non-pasta entrées (i.e. roast pork, grilled fish) come with a side of pasta. So, you can have a little of everything at Tattoni's.

We will surely be visiting this place again and suggest that you do to. You will find good, homemade food in a great atmosphere for a reasonable price.

Four Cosmos for Tattoni's
Tattoni's Restaurant
1280 Highway 33
Hamilton, NJ 08690
609-587-9700


Ted's On Main, Medford, NJ

~Originally posted 3/31/09~
Ted's On Main is like a a little piece of New Orleans, right here in New Jersey. The dining room is small, cozy, and full of warm colors like golds and reds. Many of the photos and decorations are reminiscent of that of New Orleans, you can tell the French and Carribean influence.

Ted's is a BYOB restaurant with excellent staff.  The menu is sophisticated, yet simple, you won't be overwhelmed. As soon as I opened the menu I got excited, one of the appetizers was a Roasted Organic Beet Salad! That is what I started with, while my dining companion had oysters rockefeller, he said they were amazing. My salad was fresh and satisfying and my companion enjoyed his oysters as well. I was in the mood for something light, so I went with Sautéed Scallops with Butternut squash risotto, it was delicious and exactly what I wanted. The scallops were that perfect combination of crispy on the outside and fresh on the inside. At the suggestion of our waitress my companion ordered Citrus Grilled Hawaiian Butterfish with Carribean shrimp cous cous and mango key lime butter, he was not disappointed.

My dining companion had read that Ted's On Main was known for their desserts, so of course we had to find out for ourselves. Being that Ted's tries to give you that New Orleans feel, my companion decided to order the bananas foster. I found something that was calling my name, warm chocolate pecan pie! It was difficult to pass up something they called Chocolate Chip Cookie Meltdown, but I don't often have pecan pie. Both desserts were wonderful and certainly showed why people talk about the desserts at Ted's.

We had a late reservation, so when we arrived at Main Street in Medford, the other businesses were closed, but it seemed as if there were a lot of cute stores in the area. Ted's fits right into this quaint little section of town. So, don't just take my word for it, check it out yourself!
www.tedsonmain.net

Thai Orchid, Blue Bell, PA

~Originally posted 10.1.09~
On the quest for more delicious thai food, my dining companion and I enlisted the help of a friend. Upon researching several places, it was decided we would all three dine at Thai Orchid in Blue Bell, PA. We arrived at this cute and tiny little place, elaborately decorated with orchids, elephants, and all things gold and shiny. We were very hungry and had great anticipation for fabulous food, based on the fact that they are Zagat recommended. With wine in tow (they are BYOB) we took our seats and admired the decor.

Upon opening the menu, our friend declared, "I want the fortune bags", all jokes aside (I couldn't help it) they were tasty, thin fried pastry shells, tied into a bag filled with chicken, shrimp and crabmeat, served with sweet plum sauce. They were really good and the sauce was also good, a little tangy, a little sweet- that's a good combo in my book. My dining companion went with the Tom Yum soup, which he always gets a thai places, it's a spicy lemongrass and coconut soup with shrimp, lime and vegetable. He said it was salty and not as spicy as some others he's had, but overall he liked it. Since it was a little chilly out, I went with soup as well, I opted for the Thai ravioli soup, because it sounded similar to a wonton soup, it was chicken and shrimp dumplings in a broth with vegetables, the broth was a little bland and could have used more vegetables, but the dumplings were tasty.

For our entrées I ordered Thai Eggplant, which was eggplant sautéed with chicken, peppers and "aromatic herbs" (according to the menu), it was very good, the sauce was light, yet I did sense a little coconut and a little kick of spice. Like many restaurants that serve spicy dishes, the menu at Thai Orchid had asterisks next to them indicating the spice level, my dish had two. Our friend ordered Mussaman curry, which only had one asterisk, and was a red curry sauce with peanut sauce and coconut milk. Despite the fact that it was offered on the menu with chicken or beef, when our friend asked if she could get shrimp instead the waitress didn't even bat an eye, she said it would be no problem. We were all impressed with the ease in which you can make substitutions or special requests. My dining companion ordered green curry with shrimp, which had three asterisks, it was very spicy. And he enjoyed every bite! There was a lot of shrimp in both my companion's dish, as well as the one our friend ordered. We looked at the dessert menu and while it was our friend's idea, she ordered only a thai iced tea for dessert, my companion and I ended up sharing a ginger ice cream. The presentation of the ice cream was great, it is a small scoop, served in a hard chocolate shell with a mango sauce nicely swirled into a design on the plate. The ice cream was good, upon trying some our friend stated it was like "creamy gingerale" and I would say that was an accurate description. It was yummy and light and the chocolate shell gave you just that little taste of chocolate to go along with it, my companion really enjoyed the mango sauce.

So, in review, Thai Orchid is an adorable place, with great staff and wonderful food. Stop by and enjoy  the nice atmosphere and delicious Thai cuisine. And tell them Skip sent you.

check them out at:

www.thaiorchidofbluebell.com
 

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Frog and The Peach, New Brunswick



~Original post date: 2/23/09~
 
There is a reason The Frog and The Peach is called one of the best restaurants in New Jersey. They recently received 3 and 1/2 stars from New Jersey Monthly Magazine, being noted for both their food and their service in Zagat's as well.
From the moment we walked in I knew we were in for a treat. We sat at the quaint little bar, the wall lined with so many wines it was almost intimidating. The staff is pleasant, friendly and knowledgeable about their extensive wine list and extremely appealing menu.

We were seated in what is usually the outdoor dining area, but is now enclosed for the winter months. It was beautiful and quiet. Our waitress was superb, attentive but not hovering. We had a delicious black bean and artichoke puree soup, which both my dining companion and I enjoyed very much. My companion chose a lovely napa valley chardonnay to go with our meals. My meal was a butternut squash and goat cheese tortelloni, anyone who knows me, could predict I would choose this item off a menu, I love butternut squash and goat cheese, so it was a winning combination. The dish was topped with broth and parmesan cheese, I loved it, what made it unique was the chunks of mortadella ham,a little salty and added such flavor to the dish. My dining companion is equally predictable, he loves tuna and so the Seaweed crusted yellowfin tuna (rare of course) was calling his name. He loved it and said the peanut noodle cake was interesting, in a good way.

On to dessert! Of course, where there is creme brulee then my companion must have it! I tried a light, lovely almond cake that had a sweet Grapefruit Pomegranate Granité on the side. Overall, this dinner was an experience and extremely romantic. The setting of this restaurant really lends it to the idea of romance and the staff is very good at keeping the right distance to allow for that intimate feeling. In saying that this is an experience, that experience comes with a price tag. This is not an inexpensive restaurant, but if you are in the position to treat yourself, this is the place to go. The food is amazing, the service is top notch, well worth the price.

Reservations are highly suggested. As with any restaurant in New Brunswick, there is no parking, you will need to park in a public lot or as we learned, they Hyatt around the corner is also a good place to park, it is just a short two block walk to The Frog and The Peach, as is the Wolfson garage, there is metered parking on the street, but that will be difficult to come by most evenings. The restaurant also offers valet parking for a fee.

http://www.frogandpeach.com/default.aspx