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Northern Westchester AKA Chowhound wasteland!

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Choclate Chick just wrote:

"Hey SLO, I think you are right on. What is the deal with Northern Westchester restaurants anyway? With so many transplants from Manhattan, you'd think there would be some better options. If you know of any gems, please, do tell..."

Unfortunately it's also a wasteland for any good markets (unless you consider Wholefoods and Turcos top notch!)

Williams Gourmet Chicken, a legend on the UWS, doesn't seem to be getting the raves it got in the city.

Amazing really, as Choclate Chick said, with so many transplants from Manhattan.

Please keep us posted on any new finds.

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  1. There are lots of good restaurants in Ossining. To name just two, Goldfish just opened a few weeks ago. They're a seafood and oyster bar with very NYC atmosphere and good food. Also, for breakfast and brunch, there's wobble cafe -- www.wobblecafe.com Great migas. Voted best breakfast in Westchester.

    5 Replies
    1. re: webmaven


      Where is Goldfish? Sounds like something worth checking out.

      1. re: ltlevy

        Did a google search and found the answer to my own question...

        6 Rockledge Avenue (formerly Dudley’s)

        1. re: ltlevy

          Well, my wife and I finally made it to Goldfish, and were very disappointed. It is a fairly fancy place, linen tablecloths and napkins, and rather expensive.

          When we walked in we saw 2 different rooms. One was the bar with tables throughout, and the other was a smaller room with just 6-8 tables. We opted for the smaller room, hoping to avoid any bar noise. The room has no sound absorption qualities at all! The chef came around to talk to someone at another table and his voice projects. The room just amplified it to no end (side note: I was in the middle of a mild migraine at that time, so I suffered from some noise sensitivity. But my wife also felt it was loud.). Then the bar side got even louder and that started to echo into the room we were. With the prices they charge, one would hope for a nice quiet place to enjoy the food.

          For an appetizer we both opted for the Chunky Shrimp and Crab Bisque soup. It was a rather large serving (~ $8), but we were both shocked that along with the crab and shrimp there were sea legs. At those prices, I don't want to see fake crab filler!!!

          For the entrees, I had the crab cakes, which were quite good. Not much filler, and a nice crisp pan fried crust on the top and bottom.

          My wife had a scallop dish in a vanilla anise sauce. This dish was ruined by sand from the scallops. When it was brought to the waiters attention, he first questioned whether it was pepper or not. She said no it wasn't and he then left saying nothing else. He came back later and said he tasted the sauce and noticed something grainy, but was sure it was pepper (from the taste). My wife told him it was not the pepper, and he basically told us that anything can happen. Again, not the expected service for such a restaurant.

          Lastly, the busboy would come by to check on us, but would always ask if we want more bread or water. Now, I can understand that you wouldn't want to waste bread, but water? Just fill it!!! We both got the feeling that he was really asking for permission to not have to do anything.

          All in all, a total disappointment.

      2. re: webmaven

        I've been to the Wobble Cafe ... even had the Migas. The space is great. The look, the feel, the atmosphere all fabulous. Wish I could say the same for the food, I found it passable at best (as did all in our party). I haven't been back, maybe I should give it another try but I don't understand the raves. I'm not sure what the criteria is for "Best" breakfast in Westchester.

        I would like to try Goldfish - don't need a very NYC atmosphere, but am intrigued with the comment about good food.

        1. re: webmaven

          Did Goldfish retain the wonderful, historic bar at Dudley's? Do they have live music there? What have you eaten there, what are the prices like? Sorry for the rapid fire questions, we used to enjoy having cocktails at the bar in Dudley's, along with the jazz pianist/singer, and I am hoping that the atmosphere is still fun, and that the food is even better. Thanks for your response!

        2. Northern Westchester has some gems. All within 15 minutes of Caramoor. My favorite for food is Stoneleigh Creek in Croton Falls. Small menu but super ingredients. The wine list has great values. Purdy's Homestead in Purdy's has a great seasonal menu with awesome desserts! Jaipore, over the line in Brewster, has excellent Indian fare in a good setting. I like the Blazer, but the burgers have been hit and miss as of late. Most people up here in the Northern Wasteslands get home way too late to dine during the week. It makes it tough for restaurants to make the big bucks! They have to survive on Weekend business only. Also, there is very little lunch trade.

          2 Replies
          1. re: winston1

            Point taken about too late to dine out during the week and slow lunch trades.

            It's interesting to me, having grown up in Port Washington on Long Island, that in spite of the drawbacks of Long Island there are significantly more excellent, very good and good restaurants there than in Westchester. I don't mean excellent as in expensive, rather meaning a broad spectrum of price ranges with excellent food. Seems there are the same late home and lunch trade issues on Long Island.

            I know Jaipore has gotten some great reviews, but I prefer Mughal Palace (in Valhalla) and that is only in comparison not a strong vote for either.

            All just opinions ...

            1. re: SLO

              Have noticed same on LI...I think it is due to population density.

          2. 2 pts about westchester dining. the first is that w/the cost of land/rents being so high, the only places that seem to "make it" are those who open to rave reviews and sustain that business, whether it's b/c of good food or a certain clubby atmosphere (food really not so great, but the management/owners have perfected the art of kissing up to a core of regulars). the high cost of doing bz. up here, combined with the geography, in that everything is spread out and vehicle-based, isn't really condusive to supporting a lot of diverse choices in a range of prices.
            the 2nd is that, like pps have said, westchester does have some great places to eat if you are open to them. just b/c it's not like manhattan doesn't mean it's good. i, for one, (mostly) like westchester for what it is and wouldn't want to see it become a carbon copy of manhattan.

            2 Replies
            1. re: blaze

              That being said Blaze, please tell me some of the places you enjoy in Northern Westchester. I don't need the restaurants to be like Manhattan. I'm open, I'm open...where do you chow?

              1. re: chocolate chick

                Chocolate Chick and anyone else (although I know there are threads and threads about PC)... Curious .... Where do you go in Port Chester? I really like Cafe Mirage and "Q" as well as Pantanal, Misti and Inca y Gaucho.

            2. i second the rec for Purdys Homestead in Purdys as a special occasion place w/awesome desserts. can't beat Jaipore for Indian (they also do take-out...mmmmm). Il Forno in Somers is good for Italian (also do take-out; restuarant can get very crowded on weekends). i've only been to Stoneleigh Creek once; food was good, but i found it too cramped and claustrophic. Blue Dophin in katonah is good for Italian, but it is very popular so be prepared to wait.
              now i'm going to step into it now since talking bbq is like discussing religion, but i enjoy Blue Smoke in Mahopac, esp. pulled pork sandwich. haven't strayed south in a while but i hear the greek place in mt. kisco is getting good reviews. plan to hit there tonight for take-out.
              oh, yeah. if you're looking for something lighter, i HIGHLY recommend Ladle of Love in mt. kisco. it's on the expensive side but the soups are homemade and awesome, they have panini sandwiches and salads, and the owner, leslie, is the biggest sweetheart!
              kira sushi (armonk) and mt. fuji (kisco) are consistently fresh.

              7 Replies
              1. re: blaze

                I've been to Ladles of Love a couple of times and have been blown away by the quality. That is great soup. Unfortunately, it is also very pricy soup!

                1. re: spa

                  I agree .. excellent soup. Leslie has done an exceptional job and she deserves lots of praise. Also agree about it being pricy, but I'd rather pay her prices and know I'm getting something incredible, than pay less and get .. well you get the picture.

                  1. re: SLO

                    Have you tried their stuffed brownies? Yum.

                2. re: blaze

                  Agree that the desserts at Purdys Homestead are delectable, but alas, I'm not sure the rest of the food quite scales the heights of the desserts. Also agree that the Blue Dolphin is very good Italian (particularly for seafood dishes and seafood pastas). The service is friendly, but be prepared for a wait.

                  Jaipore can be very good, but of late I haven't found it so consistent. Perhaps I've been spoiled by the superlative take-out Pakistani cuisine at Westchester Groceries, on Commerce Avenue in Thornwood. I like Azteca in Mount Kisco for very good Mexican, in a somewhat raucous and funky setting: lots of local hispanics eat there, and I think they're on to something. Not so for the crypto-Mexican being served across the street at Casa Miguel.

                  1. re: NickM

                    NickM.. Just an FYI .. the place on Commerce Ave. in Thornwood has new owners. So far the same cook. I agree, their food has been (and I hope will be) amazing. Also can't beat the price!

                    1. re: SLO

                      I have also been to Westchester Groceries 3 times. I had very strange experiences. Although I thought the food was terrific, I was seen as less important than the male customers. There would be other people behind me in line and if they were men (they usually were)I would have to wait. I'm sure there is a cultural aspect to that, but I ended up walking out on my 3rd visit, because I just didn't have the time to wait. Hopefully, the new owners will not do this.

                      1. re: chocolate chick

                        I've had the exact same experience, and have walked out as well when I didn't have the time. Once when I walked out, I looked for the Chinese place that has been referred to ... near the Post Office, but I don't think I found the right place. Anyone know where it is?

                3. It's Holy Smoke in Mahaopc and I agree, it's Real Pit BBQ. The sides are so-so, but the pork is Very Good!

                  1. About Williams Gourmet Chicken--we've been several times and really want to like it. Some of the side dishes are very good (and some aren't), but we find the rotisse chicken to be awfully greasy. It's more than juicy--it's oily. Weird and kind of unpleasant.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: spa

                      William's GC is owned by a relative, I think he told me he was the son in law of the owner of the original Williams on 86th and Bwy. in Manhattan. I agree with Spa. Everything is a little off there. I have been 3 or 4 times, and I think the issue is that the side dishes seem to have been sitting around for a long time. And the chicken really is greasy....Too bad.

                    2. OCEAN HOUSE Oyster Bar & Grill in Croton, NY is a gem.

                      At 49 Riverside Ave, used to a be a old dinner shaped like a train's caboose.

                      Perfect portions and fresh local ingredients.

                      I think the number is 914.271.0702, you can call and see how busy they are, I don't think they take reservation as there is limited seating.

                      I also think it's BYOB.

                      Wonderful place.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: harlanturk

                        I was just there two weeks ago, a thursday night. We got there at 5:30 pm and got the last table for 4, so it is a popular place. They don't take reservations over the phone, but you can put your name on a list at the door for a particular time and with luck, come back and get your table then. And yes, it's BYOB.

                        That said, I was underwhelmed. It's very popular, but I thought my scallops entree was kind of uninteresting; the sides were nothing special; my son ordered the "steak" which turned out to be skirt steak (we were warned), which seemed a bit of a "cheat" for the price charged, and it came much more done than ordered. I did have a selection of oysters on the half shell which were delicious.

                        All in all, I thought the quality didn't really live up to the prices.

                      2. to SLO, wondering about the Chinese place near the PO in Thornwood (for some reason, I couldn't reply directly to your post)

                        I think they probably meant Pacific Palace

                        But there's also ACE, down the way a bit. It's a teeny litle Japanese fusion place, creative and delicious. I always forget it's there and must go back soon!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: spa

                          I know and have been to ACE. I thought it was OK not delicious.
                          Maybe I'll give it another try. Thanks for the info on Pacific Palace.

                          1. re: spa

                            We finally got back there tonight, and enjoyed it very much. I didn't feel like sushi, so I had the bibimbap (delicious--love the crusty rice laden with bits of good things at the bottom) and we shared a couple of appetizers (fish kebabs with a fruity hot sauce, monkfish crepe). Most memorable, though, was the citron (yuzu) tea, which I see from googling is Korean. It seems like it would be just the thing for a stuffed head and a scratchy throat. the place was empty though--only 2 or 3 other tables filled at 7:30! Hope this is an anomaly. This area needs such small, interesting places.

                          2. We should remember Memphis Mae's, too. I'm not a bbq expert by any means, but I love that place.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: spa

                              We tried Memphis Mae's and were unimpressed as were some of our friends that went on another night. The ribs did not fall off the bone and everything had the same spicy flavor.

                              But I did think ACE was imaginative and of very high quality.

                              I also enjoyed my meal at Frodo's in Pleasantville. Worth a trip.

                              1. re: chocolate chick

                                What I like about Memphis Mae's are the sides. Perhaps that's an unconventional way to evaluate a bbq place, but since I don't eat beef or pork my choices are often extremely limited at places like this. I enjoy the scope and quality of MM's veggies. And I hadn't heard that about the ribs. People I go with love the brisket.

                                I do like Frodo's, too. and Strega--have you been there?

                                1. re: spa

                                  Second Frodo's and Strega ...

                                  1. re: spa

                                    No, I've lived in Northern West. for 8 years and haven't tried Strega. I know they are the same owners. I'll have to try it. Any other places you love?

                                    1. re: chocolate chick

                                      Not the same owners. The guy at Frodo's used to be at Strega.

                              2. I also second Stonleigh Creek - love their mussels. Granite Springs Inn in Granite Springs is very good. 121 was very good too, although I haven't been there in a year.

                                1. memphis maes and holy smokers: big w bbq will not disappoint...on rte.22 in pawling

                                  1. can you be a little more specific where on rt. 22?

                                    3 Replies
                                    1. re: blaze

                                      Big W operates out of a smoker in front of Pawling Collision, on the west side of Route 22, just north of the stoplight at the Hannaford Shopping Center. I think he's there after 4 pm Wednesday through Sunday, till he runs out of ribs. Admittedly not exactly Westchester, but well worth the drive.

                                      1. re: NickM

                                        Big W is well worth the drive. Unfortunately, as a chowhound on another topic found out, sometimes he not there even if it is a Wed. through Sun. I would suggest giving him a call just to make sure he'll be there.
                                        845.855.0454 and Roadside: 845.489.6067. These are the phone number on his card which I got about a year ago, hope they still work.

                                        1. re: SLO

                                          BIG W is truly a great (and i'm not just talking about the northern wastelands) BBQ joint. It ranks among the best Q i've ever had, and i'm the guy who drives WAY out of his way whenever in the south to go to pooler, ga, for B&G's ribs. A big surprise at BIG W is the BBQ chicken. it's just phenom.

                                    2. A pizza place in Croton-on-Hudson, called CAPRICCIO'S II makes the best Italian fare in Westchester ... and pizza.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: harlanturk

                                        The pizza is ok (although the eggplant is cut way too thick on the eggplant pizza)...but...best Italian fare in Westchester?!?!? Yikes, you really need to get out more!! Their red sauce is completely tasteless, bread is a (small) step up from Wonder, house salad dressing is awful...sorry, no need to continue to bash--the pizza (plain) is ok if you're really hungry....

                                      2. for burgers: can't beat the blazers in purdy's (or piper's kilt, which is southern westchester)

                                        for pizza: nothing is better than maria's (yorktown)/portofino's (golden's bridge) except for maybe sal's but that's in mamaroneck.

                                        i also really like blue dolphin in katonah, 121 in north salem, the flying pig in mt. kisco, and my absolute favorite: the iron horse grill in pleasantville. the food, the ambience, and the service is top notch and well worth the price, especially the peaky toe crab appetizer (if it's still on the menu).

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: jon

                                          I don't think it'll ever leave the menu. The owner told me he can't remove it or too many people would complain!

                                        2. Hey, how come nobody has mentioned Zeph's in Peekskill? Absolutely fabulous place with the best eclectic menu. Anything you order is great; last time I was there I had a rib-eye steak with
                                          gorgonzola butter. We're still talking about it.
                                          Vicki Zeph plants her own veggies and herbs right
                                          outside the place. Can't say enough about it.
                                          Susans, also in Peekskill, is good and has a great Sunday brunch. Try Kathleens Tea Room around the corner also.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: smoobie

                                            Zeph's is good, but for my money I think that Iron Horse is the best around.

                                            1. re: MisterBill2

                                              If you are in northern westchester, Zeph's is a fantastic restaurant---low key, great food, nice relaxing atmosphere. Yes, Iron Horse is also very good, but a different part of the county.

                                          2. In Yorktown, just steps from the Triangle is Empire Human... very good, not great for Chinese food. However the sushi chef in the restaurant is outstanding. Better than what we get in NYC. They have a special of 4 rolls for the price of three: we get one tuna role, one spicy tuna roll, one eel with avocado roll and one shrimp tempura roll.
                                            I also order their hacked chicken from the Chinese appetizers for $4.95. Absolutely wonderful.

                                            We went to SOUTHBOUND in Valhalla because it was voted the best BBQ in the county. All I can say about that is that it must be the ONLY BBQ in the county. Now if I want BBQ I wait until I am on the Henry Hudson PArkway in NYC, just off the 125th street exit and have great BBQ at DINOSAUR. Free parking if you shop in the Fairway next door.
                                            And I love their T shirt.which you can buy at the bar. It is the first restaurant I have been in were whites are in the minority. But no one seems to mind. Not them, not us.

                                            Purdy's Homestead is a step ahead. But in COld Spring, not exactly Westcchester but very close. Excellent.....Kathryns Tuscan Grill. Great pasta, great wine by the glass. That could be Catherines with a "C". Also, THE VALLEY on Route 9 just outside of Cold Spring.
                                            Have you tried "THE HEIGHTS' in Yorktown, very good, also music one night a week, not for a great occasion like Purdy's byt exceptionally agreeable.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: bstevelman

                                              Hanada Sushi in Yorktown Heights is quite good. The Hibachi/sushi place (name??) in Croton is very good. The Bistro in Yorktown Heights is good too. Unami, Memphis Mae's BBQ. Ocean House (Croton), Peter Pratt's (Yorktown), Thai Angels, Lexington Square, Temptation Tea House (Mt Kisco), and Zeph's, Division Street, and Susan's in Peekskill. All good. We eat out quite often and I don't see the area as a "wasteland" at all. As for shopping, between Turco's (yorktown heights) and Zetinya's (croton) there isn't much you can't find around here.

                                              1. re: bstevelman

                                                Interesting about the sushi chef at Empire Hunan. A co-worker was just telling me that he eats sushi there regularly with a friend who goes there for the Chinese food and was wondering if the sushi was as good as the real sushi restaurants (he is not particularly picky about his food). I agree that their Chinese food is pretty good. Nothing fancy but what we get is good.

                                                Have you tried Holy Smoke in Mahopac for BBQ?

                                                PS Hanada Sushi is now known as Hanako.

                                              2. Cole' Market in Montrose is a good market, a little pricey but a nice selection of meats and seafood are available. They also have off premises catering available.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: kimmykimmy

                                                  I agree; and Zeytinia in Croton has a very nice vegetable selection (and good prices), nice fish and meat, and lots more international condiments (oils, seasonings, etc) than you'll find in the grocery stores around.