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Emma's great, Aberdeen not so...in White Plains

Many chowhounds mentioned Emma's Alehouse in White Plains so when we could not get a brunch reservation at X20 today, we headed over to Emma's to give it a try. We're glad that we did. As soon as we sat down, they brought us three warm donuts, which quickly disappeared into our eager mouths. The donuts were not too sweet or overly flavored with additives. The light dusting of powdered sugar was enough to impart a slight sweetness to the warm, moist donuts.

We started off with the mac & cheese, which was surprisingly good. I loved the fatty pieces of bacon and the fresh peas. They balanced out the creaminess of the parmesan quite well. For mains, I had the duck confit sandwich with warm potato chips and my husband ordered the open-faced dry-aged steak sandwich with gorgonzola, which was served with a nice side of fries. I helped myself to most of his fries. The lamb confit was tasty, but I could not finish it all so I got the second half of the sandwich wrapped to go. We wanted to try their desserts so we ordered a creme brulee and the apple cobbler. My husband's creme brulee disappeared quickly and then he helped me with the apple cobbler. The apple cobbler could have been a little less sweet for my taste buds but I'm sure most people would not mind. The apples were delicious and warm.

All in all we enjoyed brunch at Emma's and would recommend it. I noticed a lot of other patrons ordering the bloody mary, which I also would have ordered had I not been driving. Unfortunately, another place that was mentioned often on these boards, and which we tried for dinner earlier this week, did not leave such a good impression.

After reading everyone's recommendations on Aberdeen, we decided to give it a try.
I ordered the jumbo shrimp with black bean sauce and water spinach, my husband ordered the braised duck with black mushrooms.The jumbo shrimp was cooked perfectly but that did not do much to help carry the rest of the dish. I usually love black bean sauce and water spinach, not necessarily in that combination, but my dish was bland (there was hardly any flavor to the black bean sauce) and not very tasty or memorably. The braised duck was equally flavorless and not as tasty as we'd hoped. We ate a few pieces of the duck and mushroom but the majority of the dish remained on the plate when we asked for the bill. My husband ordered a bubble tea, his favorite drink whenever we're in China. They served it just like they do in China, in a plastic cup with a plastic seal so that you have to pop an opening with the thick straw that comes with it. He said it was tasty and managed to finish it even before our first entrees arrived.

I know that many chowhounds rave about Aberdeen but we just didn't experience what all the hype is about. We thought it was mediocre Cantonese food, at best, and very overpriced to be sure. I see now what so many chowhounds were saying about Westchester eateries being overpriced for what you get.

We've eaten at 42 (okay but nothing special), via quadronno (average food, high prices). And we're planning to do Nanase later this week. We are in White Plains until Sunday and then we move out of the US. If there are places in White Plains or the surrounding areas (I have a car) that we should try before we leave this area, please let me know. Thanks in advance!

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  1. If you're planning to do Nanase, make sure you make a reservation, they do not accommodate walk-ins for dinner. If you can, get to X20, it is imo by far the best restaurant in the county.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Marge

      Thanks for the tip about reservations at Nanase. We're also going to try and do X20 again, as you recommended. We like to have a fabulous 'last supper' before leaving an area. We're hoping that X20 will be it. Thanks again!

    2. I'm sorry to hear that about Aberdeen. I have had great experiences there, but haven't been in a while. I hope it was an off night, and not a general downhill trend.

      1. Was this restaurant recently reviewed this past Sunday in the Times? I may be mistaken but I remember reading something about an apple cobbler, creme brulee and doughnuts in the same article.... I'm glad you enjoyed! Its unfortunate that Aberdeen has gone downhill. That was one of our favorites before they moved to this current location.

        4 Replies
        1. re: RawTunaFan

          I don't know if it was reviewed in the Times or not. I stumbled upon Emma's because it was mentioned by several chowhounds. It's rather out of the way from the main drag in White Plains so I doubt that I would have just stumbled upon it by chance. However, it's definitely worth the 5-10 minute drive to get there. Their mac and cheese was especially tasty and memorable.

          Perhaps Aberdeen was just having an off night or we just ordered the wrong dishes. I ordered take-out from Bao's one night and found that I liked their food better than Aberdeen's.

          1. re: lecker

            I've been to Aberdeen several times - only for Dim Sum. I've been disappointed every time. The dim sum is mediocre at best, and very expensive.

            But, at least its across from the only decent (albeit very dirty) asian market in the area.

            1. re: lecker

              To both RTF and lecker;
              Yes, Emma's was just written up in Westchester section of NYT.
              As well as in several threads here:

              Has one of its very own here as well.

              1. re: Jon1856

                I think you'll really really love Nanase. It's a special experience.
                If you have time, I'd recommend Bengal Tiger. Great Indian food - I've tried many items off of their extensive menu and am always impressed.

          2. Call Nanse prior to going; I drive by it most nights and it has been closed more than its normal wednesday closing. try Meritage near five corners in scarsdale/new rochelle

            1. Thanks to everybody who recommended or mentioned X20 as a good dining experience. My husband and I just enjoyed a great deal of foie gras, quail, lamb, belly pork there and Belgian chocolates there. The menu reminded me of the menu at Harvest Supper in New Canaan. If you have a chance to get up to New Canaan, definitely try to do dinner at Harvest Supper. I prefer the small space and atmosphere of Harvest Supper to bigger venues, but I really enjoyed the meal at X20. The service was excellent and we were pleasantly surprised by the wine choices. We ordered a bottle of Rockpile, 2006 Zinfandel from Cemetary Vineyard in CA. It was delicious and very very fragrant. We're thinking about trying to order a case from the vineyard. Let's see if they will ship it overseas.

              3 Replies
              1. re: lecker

                Went to Emma's but was totally unimpressed with the food. The beef stew in ale was tasteless. The hostess was very apologetic and then brought me what she thought was a better dish, the chile. Not so good either. I was so looking forward to a good restaurant with lots of comfort food choices. But not without taste and not at these prices. Emma's will not be seeing this diner anytime soon.

                And what's a bar without Campari? Isn't it too early to hit a sophomore slump?

                1. re: paceprof

                  The bloody mary, the corn beef hash and eggs = the best brunch in westchester. have you had their warm pretzels? fantastic. the "strip" in wp's is not worth it, hit emma's for brunch. my wife and i have been all over westchester, and their fare is simply the best.

                  1. re: eatwp

                    Glad to hear that it may have improved. But that's already four years ago that I first wrote my review.

                    Remember what Bourdain wrote in No Reservations about brunch in general.