Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Raymond's (Ridgewood Location)

I have a general rule of thumb that has proven me correct about 90% of the time about diners in NJ.  If a diner has some type of  brick face/ stone work on the outside, you probably found a really good diner to eat at.   Most diners that are all steel or "modern"  usually don't pan out too well.  There are a few exceptions that I have found over the years, but mostly any diner with brick face is good to go.


I usually don't do this so fast about a place, but I can't help myself.   So diners are pretty commonplace here in New Jersey.  I would be comfortable to say that New Jersey has more diners than people.  Finding a good diner is pretty hard to do.  Most diners serve the same food pretty much across the board.   It's rare for me to say that a diner is amazing, and with that in mind this place was pretty amazing.  I know that I just gave away the ending to my review, but stick around cause it gets better.

This place is a newly established dinner in Ridgewood, NJ.  It's fairly unassuming when you look at it from the outside.   Yes, it has brick face on it so my hopes were already high on it.  It had a very simple look on the outside, which I like.  

I walk into the door and I was greeted by not one BUT two hostesses.  They kindly greeted me and did their normal job.  I was quickly seated at my table.   I was then given a menu.  Possible the best menu I have seen in a while.  I say this cause it was only ONE page.  Yes, I know a one page menu is pretty unheard of especially in the dinner game.  Most dinners that I have been to in my life give you a 10 page menu that has like size 8 font on it so they can cram in a lot.   This place was like NOPE here is what we have take it or leave it.

So after i adjusted to the idea of a one page menu the waitress (Nancy) walks over and asks if I knew what I wanted.  I order my standard coffee and ask her what she would recommend to me.  She rattles off a few of her top choices.  Then, as if she was struck by lighting, she enthusiastically recommended the french toast.  The sales pitch and tone of her voice really sold me on the idea.  So I sat there for about 5-8 minutes.  The following image is what they brought out to me

I have said this in the past, but it needs repeating.  I usually do not take pictures of my food.  I like to craft my words in a way that you would enjoy the meal of my words.  This is one of the exceptions.  Almost like crostinis that were re-purposed for french toast.  They were light and delicious.  They also had a center that I can only describe as creamy.  I poured the syrup on top to bring it home.  The fresh little fruits on the side combined with the french toast were a revelation.

Midway into my meal I felt the meal needed a side of scrambled eggs.  In my mind this meal was already complete, but you can't really go wrong with eggs and french toast.  I really had nothing in mind for the eggs, cause eggs are eggs.  Everyone makes them and there is no real way to make them better.  Plus, I asked for them to be scrambled soft you can't improve on something so simple.  I WAS WRONG.  I can honestly say that this was THE best eggs I have ever had in my life.  Seriously best eggs ever.  I was later told that the eggs were farm fresh eggs from a local farm not too far away.  Nancy had told me that they get the eggs fresh pretty much daily.  I then replied to her that that was possibly the first time I had real eggs.  Now I don't know if I can ever go back.

So basically, I love this place.  This has dethroned many of my favorite diners in NJ.  It has possibly set the bar high for many of my favorite restaurants.  They have taken my most favorite ideas of how a restaurant should be; simple, fresh and easy.   This place was so good that it made me mad.  I usually try not to gush over food and restaurants.   I try to put my emotions to the side, but when I encounter some place that does it right in so many ways, I can't help myself.   I am now honestly trying to find excuses to go there more often, because if breakfast was that good I can only imagine dinner.   I highly recommend going.  Make/find an excuse to go.  You will not be disappointed.

For more information follow the link below:


Please be advised that the location on the ridgewood raymond's has not been added yet.  Address is as follows 101 E Ridgewood Ave, Ridgewood, NJ 07450.  

Also on a more personal it's my brother's birthday today.  Happy Birthday.  Love you.   

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Samdan Restaurant

As part of my journey to healthier eating I have embarked upon finding a fresher food.  I have come to realize that grilled foods are fairly healthier than other foods.  That being said, it's hard to find a place that does grilled food well.  Most of the time most of the grilled foods you can find are of the Mediterranean origin (usually within an earshot of Greece).  As per any other "ethnic" food, everyone has their variation of recipes and what have you. 

Samdan Restaurant

Lamb is a hard meat to took.  Most any chef and or normal person would agree to that statement.   It's one of those types of meat that takes extra care to cook.   It's one of those types of meat that if over cooked you find yourself in the the rubber tire area; and on the other side undercooked and you have a bloody mess.   It takes time and skill to master, and most people can't or won't.   This place on a consistent basis has made some great lamb for me.  I honestly can say that this place is on my top three places that cooks awesome lamb.  I don't know if it's the cook or how they cook it, but I heart it all the same.

From the start of the meal, you get some really refreshing delights.   They start you off with this very freshly cut salad of tomatoes, zucchini and other fresh veggies in an olive oil dressing.  I often find myself looking forward to that part of the meal the most.   I am not a salad type of guy, but this is on my exception list.  It's super light and refreshing.   They bring a basket of warm pita bread to your table so I often combine the two.   That in itself is a meal.   I like to take my time and savor every bite of the salad, and like I said before I am not a salad type of guy.   This is a salad that can make a guy rethink his views on salads.   

The only thing I have ordered on a consistent basis is the lamb.  I can say that it's very consistent.  That in itself speaks volumes.   Being able to create a consistent lamb over rice is pretty awesome in my books.  And also, if you are in the mood for lemonade they make it very good here.  I would say that as far as lemonade goes it's number two on my list of awesome lemonade.  It's what I would consider coming close to the perfect lemonade.

The atmosphere and staff is very family friendly and welcoming. I would go as far as to say they make you feel like family.  The portions are large enough to fill your belly, but not over-sized to make you feel too full. 

So if you are looking for a great fresh meal that is prepared in a traditional, yet modern way go to this place.  It will give you a taste of the old country.

For more information follow the link below:


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Celebrity Bagels

Bagels!  Most any town within the tri-state area has a bagel place.  Most towns have several bagel places and claim to have the best bagels ever.  I have traveled to most of them and tasted them.  I have to say that most places are fairly generic until I found Celebrity Bagels.

Celebrity Bagels

The bagel I would say is pretty much like a pizza.  It's a staple food that a good amount of people agree upon and consume on a daily basis.  It's good for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It can be consumed plain and or with various toppings.  It has the ability to have different "toppings" on it and also in it.  The bagel is versatile, this is why it is popular.  It has the ability to take on what ever meal the consumer wants to eat.  

I know what most of you are saying right now, a bagel is a bagel.  I say neigh sir/ma'am  this bagel is totally above and beyond.  Most bagels I have had in my life are fairly generic in taste, look, and texture.  The recipe and style are fairly the same across the board when it comes to most places. 

Celebrity Bagels has taken this staple food to a new level.  I often take my friends and family members to this place to experience it.  The texture, taste and look of the bagel cannot be matched.  I still do not know how they prepare it, but I know that it's one of a kind.  I am sure the owner will never let that secret go.  

What makes it so good?  Honestly it's what I like to call the "fluffiness" of it.  It's soft and doughie inside with a nice and hard outside, just like me!  It goes perfect with pretty much any topping they provide at that place.  They also have a wide arrangement of pretty awesome spreads.  This place really takes bagels to a new level and I am there fairly often.  The best part of this place is that you can take their bagels freeze them and all you have to do is throw them in the oven/microwave for a couple minutes and IT'S THE SAME AS IF IT WAS FRESH.  That does not happen often.  I have had reheated bagels that tastes like freezer, but this defies the freezer.  

Heck my parents give these to my out of town relatives as if it were some type of gold and or precious commodity.  As it should be considered, because it's that awesome.  

So if your ever in Tenafly, NJ and you see this place out the corner of your eye.  You must stop in and grab a bagel.  You will certainly enjoy it.  Then you will think to yourself that all other bagels that you have had in your life were just placeholders until you found this place.  A bagel is not a bagel until you have had a Celebrity Bagel.  Just sayin.


Follow link for more info.  Sorry they don't have a website.  


Friday, April 12, 2013

The Green Papaya

The little Thai place that I think everyone should know about.   When I think of Thai food I usually only think of Green Papaya.

Green Papaya

Home cooked meals are pretty awesome.  I appreciate any place that can capture that feeling/taste when they cook.   Green Papaya has been able to achieve such a feet.  I remember when I first ate here and I ordered the Pad Thai.  I was immediately surprised on how good it was.  Something about the flavor profile they are able to make is pretty awesome. 

I was also pleasantly surprised cause the place isn't fancy, which I truly appreciate.  I am not a complicated man, but I hate it when the decor doesn't match the food.  This place offers a simple concept that I think most restaurants need to follow, simple easy food  that is good and fun to eat.  

I can honestly say that I have tried most everything on their menu and was not disappointed at all.  I also think these guys make some of the best bubble tea in the area outside of NYC.   Seriously if you only come to this place for the bubble tea I would not blame you.  In-fact I am usually there once a month picking up an order of bubble tea.  

I do not know what else to say about this place.   I highly recommend going.  They make awesome simple food that is awesome to eat.  Simple food made great. 

 Follow link below for more info