We were still destined for a few more restaurants this week but had to try Char, a newcomer to the HVRW family. This location was formerly Hanlon’s Neighborhood Steakhouse. Opened in May 2013 and situated directly off the Taconic Parkway (but don’t blink or you will miss the sign) is a large house shaped structure including an inviting front porch. The photos do not do the spacious and lovely dining room justice. Although grand in size the dining room is both warm and inviting. We sat next to a large fireplace in dim lighting (using our flashlight for the photos). The space is nicely decorated. Hi! Donna Monaco Olsen here, coordinator for the Taste of Westchester Continuing Education program for WCC to share with you from a wonderful meal during HVRW 2014. On this evening I was dining with the head of the WCC continuing education program for a chat about some new classes. Being a food writer in Westchester, I like to explore new places that are not on my normal radar. I am asked to recommend places to dine by many of the attendees of my cooking classes and this will be a definite northern recommendation. I have come to understand that a local young man from Mahopac is the chef. He certainly was on his game the night we were there. Chef Anthony Chach delivered a lovely selection of appetizers and a wonderfully cooked steak. We are hoping that he will do a cooking class for us for the fall semester.
My partner for the evening selected a seasonal libation. You know this writer and her amazement that everything is “pumpkin” flavored at this time of year. So many get excited at its arrival from croutons (Trader Joe’s) to coffee (Starbuck’s and Dunkin’), with everyone adoring its seasonal spice and essence but one. I am not a fan of anything pumpkin flavored except for PUMPKIN. That said, Sarah opted for the pumpkin martini which I did not taste. I was however intrigued by its luscious looking presentation including the dollop of whipped cream on top. She said it was a very tasty rendition of “pumpkin pie” with the rim coated in graham cracker dust to emulate the pie crust. We loved the baby gourds on each table adding a splash of fall color to the dining room and further accentuating the season’s pumpkin presence in our photo above.
At this restaurant the offerings for HVRW were vast. Most other menus are limited to a few selections making it easier to choose your meal. This had so many options that these diners had a hard time choosing from the appetizer list. Our fabulous waitress Shannon overheard our discussion regarding the tough decision. She mentioned that we were debating between three of the interesting choices to the chef and he sent out the third for us to try. Smart cookie!
We were intrigued and delighted by the flavor combinations presented in the appetizers. Asian Calamari ~ Tender Calamari Flash Fried w/Sliced Cherry Peppers Tossed in an Oriental Sesame Sauce w/our Wasabi Fusion Dip. Possibly our favorite of the selections tried as we loved the Asian twist to an ordinary fried calamari with the addition of a sweet, salty combo enhanced by a Wasabi kick! It is shown here without the peppers as our waitress also remembered me saying I was allergic to them but then brought them out separately for Sarah to enjoy!Butternut Squash Ravioli w/Brown Butter & Sage ~ Delicate Pasta Filled w/a Butternut Squash Puree in a Brown Butter & Sage Sauce Topped w/Chopped Roasted Walnuts
was even better than described. The butter sauce was not greasy tasting as it can be if not executed correctly. The brown butter enhanced the toasted walnuts with its nutty flavor. The ravioli were nicely cooked and the dough not too thick. The filling was a bit sweeter than expected and had cooked scallions on it not mentioned in the description.Spicy Tuna Scoops ~ Diced Ahi Tuna in a Spicy Sriracha Aioli Topped w/Sesame Seeds & Scallion served on a Crispy Tostito w/a Teriyaki & Wasabi Drizzle was very fresh tasting and reminded us of eating a spicy tuna roll in a Sushi restaurant. Again, the sweet, salty combination enhanced by the spicy Sriracha hit the mark. Familiarity is growing with this type of hot sauce made from a paste of chili peppers, vinegar, garlic, sugar, and salt. It is named after the coastal city of Si Racha in Thailand. It is sometimes referred to as “rooster” sauce for the logo of the white bird.10 oz. Black Angus NY Strip ~ Served w/Your Choice of sides From our Create Your Own Entree Section of the Menu. This was nicely cooked with a crisp char (pun intended). The menu offered many sauce selections to top your beef. Pictured on the side is the cognac peppercorn which was thicker than expected but delicious with a deep brandy flavor and nice pepper bite. The mashed were heavy but had a nice flavor. From the menu you can also choose from a variety of sides which is an unusual happening. It is a refreshing change for a HVRW menu. Black Angus Braised Boneless Short Ribs ~ Slow Braised Short Rib Beef Topped w/a Cremini Mushroom & Cabernet Demi Glace, Served w/Yukon Mashed & Haricot Vert. A lovely sized portion that must have been enormous before it began braising for hours in its own juices. It had a beautiful crisp exterior that gave way to the fork tender beef short rib. The mushroom sauce, although good, was not even needed as it was a most flavorful stand alone dish.
We were so full we could not even eat much of our desserts and even forgot to snap a picture. Not the highlight of our meal, the Smashed Cannoli Dip was a deconstructed version of a cannoli with cinnamon flavored crisp “shell” chips to dip into the sweet filling adorned with chocolate bits. A traditional Chocolate Mousse served without fanfare was the bite of chocolate needed to finish a very nice evening.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time at Char and would definitely revisit. We were made to feel most welcome by the manager and our fantastic waitress. Shannon was informative, helpful and attentive in all the right places. This restaurant also offers a happy hour with a hot buffet. Worth a trip up the Taconic for a terrific meal!
Here are the other HVRW items being offered that made it so difficult to narrow down our selections:
Autumn Pumpkin Soup ~ Creamy Pumpkin Puree w/Autumn Spices Topped w/Toasted Coconut,
Char’s Spinach & Artichoke Dip ~ Chunks of Artichoke & Chopped Spinach in a 3 Cheese Sauce Served w/House Made Tostito Chips,
Coconut Shrimp ~ 4 Pacific White Shrimp Coated w/Shredded Coconut & Panko Breadcrumb Served w/a Honey Mustard Dip,
Traditional Caesar Salad or Gorgonzola Salad.
Country Style Chicken ~ Lightly Coated Frenched Chicken Breast w/Sage Sausage Saw Mill Gravy, w/a Buttermilk Biscuit, Yukon Mashed & Veg Medley,
Duck a l ‘Orange ~ Crispy 1/2 Long Island Duckling Topped w/an AL ‘Orange Sauce Served w/Rice & Vegetable Medley,
ChimiChurri Skirt Steak ~ 8oz Black Angus Skirt Steak Glazed w/our Chimichurri Sauce Served w/Roasted Potatoes & Vegetable Medley,
Sole Francese ~ Egg Battered Boneless Fillet Topped w/a Lemon, Chardonnay & Butter Sauce Served w/Rice Pilaf & Vegetable Medley,
Penne Ala Vodka ~ Pancetta & Hickory Smoked Bacon Flashed w/Vodka in a Pink Rustica Sauce Served over Penne Pasta.
Southern Bread Pudding,
Go to: Char Steakhouse and Bar, 151 Bryant Pond Road, Mahopac, NY 10541 845-526-1200
Open: Tuesday – Thursday 4:00pm-9:00pm, Friday – Saturday 4:00pm-10:00pm, Sunday 3:00pm-9:00pm