Bradley and Donna Monaco Olsen continue their adventures in blogging at this northern hot spot. Donna currently writes on Small Bites as Chef’s Tip, re-capping great cooking demonstrations in local restaurants. She is the co-coordinator for Westchester Community College’s Taste of Westchester program. Knowing quite a few chefs in Westchester, she enjoys seeing so many of them participate in this great program. Again, there are over 185 restaurants to try and it has been difficult to decide.
We have gone out each day to a different restaurant with many friends, enjoying everything we have seen and tried. As participants of Liz Johnson’s creative scavenger hunt we have taken many pictures to share, some with great chefs, and others of their creations. We have sampled four spots thus far. Here is our friends’ Erik and Amy’s birthday visit to Restaurant North.
Stephen Mancini and Chef Eric Gabrynowicz joined forces several years ago to create this amazing restaurant and have taken Armonk to new restaurant heights. It continues to be the hot ticket and difficult to get reservations even during the week. We had to settle for an after 8pm reservation on a Tuesday in order to get a table. Super nice, chef Eric came over to our table to greet us. When questioned on what tip he could give us for ordering he simply said PORK. Known for his way with our favorite indulgence, Bradley questioned him as to why no pork choice for dessert. He stated that he was outvoted on this front but if we ordered it this way he would not only accommodate us but our order would be cheered in the kitchen! And so it was settled, the birthday boy Erik would have a pork perfecta trifecta! We were so excited that we missed our chef photo opt but had a lovely visit from a very busy chef. (missed 100)
The place was humming at full speed. They are not only known for their food but for the level of service they provide. Here is our waitress Katie who searched for an extra candle as the place is rather dimly lit for some of us who are approaching our 50th birthday. Not our friend’s as they are still babies in our eyes…(50 points to start us off.)
We tasted the Red Letter from the Wolffer Estate in NY 2010 but opted with another selection to pair with our pork filled meal as this was a very dry and earthy tasting wine. (25+50)
Our photo of griddled pork confit with chickpea pepperonata at Restaurant North in Armonk, looked similar to the one posted on LoHud earlier in the month so we had to try it. Part one of our pork trifecta was very tasty and fork tender (wonder how many hours it spent submerged in its own fat?) and was complimented by the bite of the peppered chickpeas which were tender but not mushy. (250+50)
The star of the show was obtained from Meiller’s Farm. (50+50)
Our friend and fellow foodie, Kevin, decided to help us sing to the birthday couple and he tried the chicken liver mousse with swiss chard marmalade making all five us us take part in trying something new! (50+50)
We took a video (500) of us at our table trying this and enjoying HVRW (100) at Restaurant North.
Our salad was refreshing with pieces of brussel sprouts (the popular veggie this year and found on many menus – move over beets), baby cauliflower and Touissant (cheese). Featuring two Hudson Valley farms, Sprout Creek Farm and Guy Jones for the baby lettuce head. Here is an interview with him from The Valley Table Magazine, coordinators of the HVRW program. (50+50+50)
Our photo of Meiller’s Farm beef with parsnip and gnocchi at Restaurant North (50+50) is not as pretty as the one on the LoHud preview gallery site but…it sure was amazing! Bradley’s choice not to go “pig” for one course was a good one. How to describe the tender beef slices (ordered rare) could prove to be difficult in 150 words or less as it was a deliciously balanced plate. The crisps of parsnips made for an unusual bite and were a welcome balance of both flavor and texture to the parsnip puree, which helped to boost the weight of the buttery steak slices. It was an ample dish and the crispy yet still soft gnocchi (like a grown up tater-tot) added yet another texture. (200+50)
On this night the chef chose to serve the roasted pork over creamed arugula, and roasted baby potatoes and it was terrific as part two of our pork extravaganza! The outer part is amazingly crisp with a soft fatty undercoat that made us ooo and ahhh (it gets caught in your teeth for a bonus flavor boost minutes later). The proteins served at Restaurant North on this evening came from the Hudson Valley Meiller’s Farm (here is a review of this farm). (50+50)
Our non-meat selection was Cacio Pepe, a peppery fettuccine with a farm (unidentified) poached egg. The egg made for a creamy “al freddo” type sauce.
Our pork fest came to an outstanding finish completing the trifecta. Hands down each of us loved the desserts (usually my least favorite course except for cappuccino). These sweets (now made a bit salty) are well composed and plated beautifully, definitely not an after thought for this restaurant. We saluted Bacon Boy Bradley for the idea and Chef Eric for indulging us. Again,trying something new! (50+50)
The Oatmeal Cookie served warm in a skillet with vanilla ice cream was enhanced by the salty bits of crisp bacon strewn atop.
While a popular selection each year on HVRW menus this version was above the rest. The well executed espresso bread pudding was little cups of gooey coffee center goodness. A lovely representation of this dessert making it more complex then the norm.
Our chorus of HB2U to our friends while making a wish (probably for more pork) on the Guy Jones’ (50+50) Apple polenta cake with added bacon crumbles ended a lovely evening.
The hospitality at this restaurant is fabulous. They make each guest feel special and even send them off with breakfast muffins. They wrote a special note to the birthday kids!
Although you can see we managed to rack up quite a few points here at this fabulous restaurant we were in it for the triple play of food, service and atmosphere. Thank you chef Eric and Stephen for a special night at a very special place shared with our very special friends!
Put this one on your to do list for sure. There is still time to join us in the hunt!
Total points: 2,075