Westchester Magazine has picked their top 38 restaurants. I usually don’t agree with them and I would remove some, like Modern Barn for sure. Restaurant North has not been good in a very long time and it remains to be seen what the new guard will do there. What do you think? BTW -totally stole this thread from CH!
I noticed your theft from CH…
I am curious what others think, especially those who are regulars at some of the places mentioned. I tend to only go once or twice to most places in Westchester. I would rather eat authentic ethnic in Queens or Manhattan. (I’m not saying that there are not authentic places in the county, but they are in the minority.)
Some of the restaurants mentioned are quite good, others not so much. Several of the places I have consulted to prior to opening, or during/after renovations or reimaginings, and of those I find the majority to be pretty mediocre after the first blush wore off.
I though it read as if each mention was written by a different person and submitted for the article. They each read totally different. nothing linked them together. Also, they read as if written by a marketing/publicity department. A pet peeve of mine. Some thing I absolutely loathed in a former person who visited this board. The descriptions don’t really describe how the food tastes.
Also the use of photos cut and pasted from the internet. There are ten that were like that, with no attribution or credit to the photographer. In addition they didn’t include photos with every place covered. That’s just shoddy editing and over sight.
The only thing I wouldn’t argue with is how they described the cocktails at #8, Burrata. I completely agree with what they wrote. “Drink Smart: Don’t overlook the Liquid Kitchen menu; the craft cocktails are some of the best you’ll find in the county.” ;-)>
I know I am beating a dead horse, but you can’t really trust anything written by that pay-to-play ad mag. I probably mentioned it before, but several years ago I was offered a job by them to be their main food writer. And in the phone interview I was told in no uncertain words that they only cover advertisers, and only write well about them. I immediately turned down the position. At least the quality of writing has actually improved since then. It was piss poor in the past. Today it is only mediocre.
-mild rant concluded-
And that, in a nutshell, is why I don’t trust their reviews!
And in a nutshell (sighs) is where you will get far better food than any number of “top” Westchester restaurants serve.
Agreed, Rich. I am NOT a fan of Inn at Pound Ridge. I find the service to be very snotty and unaccommodating. A friend ate there this weekend and the fist they served her had a terrible smell. Obviously, she sent it back, BUT - why was it served? How can the chef send that out? On Top Chef it would be time to PYKAG!
I definitely have some issues with this list (what a shocker):
BHaSB was one of the biggest culinary disappointments of my life. I’ve written about it before. The service was simultaneously elitist and amateurish, with bussers removing plates filled with items we were still eating and subsequently rolling their eyes when told that the diners weren’t finished. We were expecting their highlighted ingredient to be something seasonal since we ate there at the end of June. They served us eggs. Dan Barber was greeting tables and when he got to our table of five, he gave us a smile-free, cursory nod that was especially off-putting since we were paying OOP and not expense-accounting the meal. Never again.
I used to love The Cookery, so much so that I hosted several group meals there. However, their “exotic” 2017 Valentine’s Day meal was so poorly executed (an appetizer of huge, deep-fried strips of duck tongue so rich that they deadened our appetites, tough-as-rubber beef heart, and a fried dough dessert that was underproved and undercooked) that I haven’t had any desire to go back.
We held a graduation lunch at X2O. The waiter literally ignored us for 45 minutes prior to taking our orders in favor of a bigger table (there were 5 occupied tables in the room), forgot entrees, served a well-done steak to someone who ordered med-rare, served the wrong drinks, never checked on us and then disappeared when it was time to drop the check. When I let the manager know what happened, we were given a business card offering a free weekday lunch for two (we were a party of 6) with a large-print disclaimer that tax and tip weren’t included. We recycled the card.
We went to a special-occasion brunch at North where, despite being the first table sat in the restaurant, we were ignored by staff in favor of tables of regulars until all of their orders were taken and Mimosas poured. They were so unaccommodating of my son’s distaste for fish and mushrooms that they could only offer him a pasta with butter (for a then-sixteen-year-old, 6’1" teen) and then the plate had a foreign object in it.
MP Taverna was also careless with their food. The shrimp in a shrimp dish were chopped up beyond recognition. The pomegranate seeds were so dried out that there was no juice, only pits encased in red wrappers. We had an issue with visitors that I will not describe here for fear of having my post deleted. There was no ventilation and the room was so oddly lit that you could see swirls of smoke constantly moving through the air. The music playlist was so short that we heard “What If G-d Was One of Us” 3 times in an hour.
I can only speak of Mulino’s holiday menu. After several calls failed to get access to their holiday offerings before our visit, they had in fact removed every item we wanted to order (things as simple as chicken cutlet or grilled chicken for our picky-eater guests). We asked our waiter if there was any way to get those items. He told us that management refused. We started to walk out. They stopped us at the door and suddenly their regular menu was available. We’ve had better pasta and meat dishes from EuroItalia Pizzeria than at Mulino’s.
I don’t think I’d put Polpettina on a “Best of” list. Some of their food is good and well-balanced, but the portions can be tiny for the price. I’ve ordered dishes where the advertised premium ingredient is nowhere to be found.
IMHO, the best thing at Fortina is their bone marrow. Everything else is fine, but the presentation and flavor delivered by that bone marrow is a show-stopper (yeah, I stole that from the GBBO).
Moderne Barn may not have the greatest food, but they have terrific customer service. When advertised items were unavailable, they went out of their way to make sure we were well-fed and happy.
Kittle House was fine except for being sat at a table that was no bigger than a minute and so close to others that elbow movement would have resulted in bruising our neighbors’ ribs or knocking over their wine glasses.
We like Tarry Lodge despite the “serve the cheapest ingredients with the biggest mark-up” mantra that most Batali/Bastianich venues practice. I’m usually quite happy with their seasonal vegetable preparations.
Despite the inconsistency in some of their dishes, we go to Aberdeen fairly often. I can’t get enough of the leek and chive dumplings, stuffed peppers, and beancurd skin rolls. We also like their e-fu noodles. I hate to say we are also guilty of not exploring their non-dim sum menu enough.
We like Burrata. They seem genuinely concerned with the quality of their dishes. Their pizzas are always beautiful in looks and taste. If you want less than the usual char on your crust, they are happy to oblige.
At first glance, this list feels like Westchester Magazine wanted to make it look like they were covering a large group of eateries with varied cuisines and price-points. However, a second look makes it obvious that the rankings are based on wanting to extend the venues’ advertising contracts. I’m sure that more than a couple of these restaurants rely on corporate expense account payments for the majority of their revenue. They’ll keep on advertising in the glossy, waiting-room publication and we’ll never get an objective review from WMag. Welcome to Westchester.
First off, love your post! I agree about Blue Hill and we have friends that want to go all the time and I never take them up on it. Our last meal there - well, I can’t even remember what I ate but I do remember the bill! And that there was nothing that knocked my socks off.
I have yet to get to the Cookery so can’t speak to that and have only been to X2O once and it was excellent - this was back at the beginning.
This has been our experience at North too. The last time we went was our last. We had a terrific server though - very knowledgeable and caring. But my porchetta was dry! How does that even happen. I understand that the place is better now - new management, lower prices. DH is anxious to check it out. I will be a tough critic and I’ll let you know if we go.
Yes, yes, yes. Their bone marrow is killer. Absolutely the best I’ve had. But I do love their pizza. I have not eaten the food because if there is pizza on the menu, pizza wins every time.
We go to the Tap Room at Kittle house and the last few times the service was unacceptably amateurish - wait staff barely understood English and when we asked about wine by the glass were told red and white. Really. At the Kittle House. I do love their brisket sliders though, but we were also cramped at tiny, badly located tables and we were done.
Um, not so much. Last time we went food was ok but service was awful. I had to beg to have my drink order taken. Give me my cocktail on a Friday night or I get very cranky!
I have not been to many of the places on the list. I remember they used to rave about Croton Creek Steakhouse where DH and I thought the meat had no flavor. Good they had the sauces. Westchester Mag - Its all about the advertisers!
Glad to see X20 getting back some love. Peter is the best chef in the county in my opinion. Fortina slides in just under the tag. Wonder if they’re spreading themselves a little thin, about to open a Brooklyn outpost as well as existing Stamford location. Great playlist but acoustics impossible.
Agree North survives on reputation, not much else. And pleased oldtimers Acuario and Sonora made the list.
As for WM’s alleged favoritism towards advertisers, every regional glossie suffers that accusation. John Bruno Turiano is a respected journalist and food writer and I don’t think his opinions are for sale. Just one correspondent’s opinion.
““Moderne Barn may not have the greatest food, but they have terrific customer service.””
“Um, not so much. Last time we went food was ok but service was awful. I had to beg to have my drink order taken. Give me my cocktail on a Friday night or I get very cranky!”
Okay, I should edit my review to say that we experienced great customer service from them. I think our server was a little surprised at the depth of disappoinment exhibited by the party who planned on ordering the advertised but missing dish. A manager was involved immediately, though not at our request. We were all really happy with the way it was handled. However, I totally get how shitty it is to not have a Friday night drink order taken. I figured that was Service 101.
Thanks for the kind words, Gwenn!
I love Peter Kelley. He is a terrific chef -humble and just a nice person. Agree about the noise at Fortina. You really have to be in the mood. Westchester Mag also gives a lot of love to L’inzio in Ardsley in the space that formerly housed my favorite restaurant, Italian Kitchen. I wonder how good it REALLY is.
i really enjoyed your post! As for Modern Barn, I will say that when we went there with a group of 10 the service was excellent and we had a great, round table upstairs.