Archive for the ‘ New York Restaurants ’ Category


Best Restaurants in Plattsburgh, New York

Tuesday, July 23rd, 2013

Foodies will rejoice over these Fantastic Four Restaurants in Plattsburgh, New York

Everyone expects to find great dining options in the big cities, but what I like to do on Mike’s Road Trip is discover epicurean delights in small town America. As a connoisseur of good food, I look at a number of factors when deciding to recommend places for my readers to dine. I evaluate the atmosphere/environment, the quality of the ingredients, the menu selection, the presentation, the service, and, of course, the taste and creativeness of the meal itself. I really believe that eating should occasionally be an experience, and not just something we do purely for sustenance. Food is one thing that we all have in common, no matter our ethnic, religious or political beliefs…a good meal is something we can all agree brings people together and often creates memories that will last beyond the consumption.

Even though Plattsburgh is a relatively small community, it serves a significant tourism population that descends on the area for its rich history and Lake Champlain recreation. I believe that you will see the number of high quality eateries increase as the four trailblazers below have elevated the culinary offerings to a level you’d experience in any large city. Plattsburgh has a good chance at becoming a destination for gastronomic enthusiasts.

I visited the Lake Champlain region on two different occasions and dined at nearly a dozen Plattsburgh restaurants to come up with this final four list of the best Plattsburgh restaurants. I have to thank the North County Chamber of Plattsburgh for providing me with a list of prospective restaurants to get my culinary tour started. Without further ado, here are the four best restaurants in Plattsburgh, NY.

Anthony’s Restaurant & Bistro – Locals will not be surprised to see Anthony’s make the list because they basically started the gourmet food movement in Plattsburgh all the way back in 1980.  After all these years they still dazzle diners with their European-American cuisine enjoyed in the unique and intimate atmosphere of a historic nineteenth-century farmhouse. Patrons have two options when dining at Anthony’s, the upscale main restaurant, or, the more casual and moderately priced Bistro.

Anthony’s is lead by owner/chef, Scott Murray who began his employment at the restaurant in 1983…many years later he become the head chef, then eventually owner of the restaurant.  Anthony’s has a long and loyal following—one of the contributing factors for this is the extremely long tenure of not only Chef Scott, but his team…many of whom have been with the restaurant for well over a decade.  The longevity of the staff has certainly helped in producing a consistent product, which everyone knows is one of the key ingredients for restaurant success.

An area in which Anthony’s specializes is the creation of many wild game dishes, such as Bison flank or wild boar.  Wine aficionados will really appreciate the insanely extensive wine menu (over 270 bottles)…probably the largest restaurant selection I’ve ever seen. During my visit, I started off with the ceviche (shrimp, calamari, scallops and avocado), which was a mouthwatering seafood safari. For my entrée, I had a perfectly prepared filet of Seabass which was presented on a bed of roasted vegetables.  This was not only a healthful choice, but so colorful and downright delectable. One of my favorite types of dessert is a slice of pie.  My favorite fruits are berries…so, when I saw the freshly baked blueberry, raspberry and strawberry pie, my decision was predestined.

Anthony’s Restaurant and Bistro Information:
538 Route 3 Plattsburgh, NY 12901

Irises Café and Wine Bar – Irises serves contemporary American cuisine in an upscale setting within a wonderfully historic 1867 building in the heart of downtown Plattsburgh. Inside dining offers intimate booths with intriguing local artwork adorning the walls.  During the summer months, many folks choose to dine on the outside patio to watch passersby…while the setting sun casts an appliqué of shadows on the historic structures that make up the core of downtown.

Irises is lead by Chef Kevin O’Hara whose menu is a tapestry of locally inspired New American cuisine. I was excited to dive in, so I started my meal with what I was told is the most popular appetizer on the menu…the crab stuffed portobello mushroom. The combination of lump crab and meatiness of the portobello with melted dill havarti, citrus cream sauce and balsamic reduction was a sensational amalgam of ingredients.

I then had the Arugula salad…which I found light, refreshing and had great flavor. However, I would have liked to have seen it with a few more ingredients. For my main course, I tried a dish from the specials menu…Char, which is a fish I don’t believe I’ve had before. If you’ve never tried Char, the perfect description is in between salmon and trout. This dish was served with grilled asparagus, rice pilaf and a horseradish cilantro sauce. It was divine. To finish the meal off, I tried the apple raspberry crisp. The fresh apples and raspberries were from the area and the dish was beautifully plated with a dollop of vanilla ice cream and a spot of caramel sauce brushed into the shape of an apple. Being a “wine bar,” you’d expect a great wine list, and Irises doesn’t disappoint. I actually tried a couple of flights so I’d had the perfect wine with each course.

Irises Café and Wine Bar Information:
20 City Hall Place Plattsburgh, NY 12901

Latitude 44 Bistro – Latitude 44 is one of the newest restaurants on the Plattsburgh culinary block…they serve up flavorful American dishes in a casual and vibrant setting.  As soon as you walk, in you notice the kitchen staff hard at work entertaining guests at the chef’s table. As you flow into the space, there is a lounge with illuminated fish tank… then finally, a more intimate dining area.  On pleasant evenings, guests will enjoy dining on the patio.

Latitude 44 is lead by chef/owner David Allen.  The menu is an eclectic collection of vibrant American dishes that tease the palate into a culinary frenzy. I started my meal off with a beer and some sweet potato fries, which were served in a unique cone shaped apparatus specially designed for serving gourmet fries. The sweet potato fries were flavorfully seasoned and accompanied by a  poppy citrus dipping sauce. I then tried the coconut shrimp with ginger puree, which was followed by my Mahi Mahi entrée— which I have to say was one of the best Mahi dishes I’ve ever had.  I’ve eaten Mahi many times in Hawaii, but for whatever reason, it’s never been as good on the mainland.  That is, until I had it at Latitude 44.  The dish was pan seared with a cauliflower puree, tomato and espelette pepper broth, then garnished with garlic scapes…which really made my photo pop. Not that I wasn’t full at this point, but I do have a soft spot for warm Apple Crisp à la mode with caramel whipped cream.

Latitude 44 Bistro Information:
5131 US Avenue Plattsburgh, NY 12901
Latitude 44 Bistro

Aleka’s Grill – New to the downtown scene, Aleka’s Grill serves up traditional Greek and Mediterranean dishes in a fun and casual atmosphere. Aleka’s is not in the same fine-dining category as the previous three, but the food here exudes love and passion.  The owner (Peter Kritziotis) is half Greek and half Italian, hence the blending of the two ethnic foods. I have spent a fair amount of time around both Italian and Greek families, so I know that they show their love through the food they prepare…trust me when I say, no one leaves Aleka’s hungry.

I am a huge fan of fries…regular, yam, sweet potato, parsnip, you name it, I’ll try ‘em. When I saw “Greek Fries” on the Aleka’s menu, I paused.  Never hearing of “Greek fries” before, I had to give them a try.  I was so glad I did…the deep fried potatoes were covered with feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, oregano, fresh herbs and topped with olive oil and white wine vinegar. It was a combination full of zest and flavor. My entrée was the Falafel Salad, one of the most popular items on the menu and one that isn’t quite a traditional salad. This platter of Greek goodness includes deep fried Falafel served on a bed of mixed greens with hummus, feta, kopanisto, tabouli, dolmas (stuffed grape leaves), sundried tomatoes, kalamata olives, cucumbers, tomatoes & marinated root vegetables (turnips & beets) served with warm pita and Tzatziki. After all that, I stayed with the Greek theme and tried the Baklava—this sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo pastry filled with chopped nuts and sweetened with honey is traditionally served cold, but here they warm it up which gave it an entirely different texture, which was quite good.

Aleka’s Grill
103 Margaret Street Plattsburgh, NY 12901

While I visited many other Plattsburgh restaurants, these were without question the best-of-the-best.  I’m sure there are a few others in the same caliber, so if you know of one that should have been included, please give them a shout-out by posting a comment below and share your experience with my readers and me.

Five restaurants NOT to miss in Lewiston, NY

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the idyllic village of Lewiston, NY during my epic “Best of the Road” rally this summer.  I was so impressed with the community of Lewiston—the people are friendly, outgoing and gregarious. The town is full of culture with a thriving art and music scene.  And, the town sits right on the banks of the mighty and majestic Niagara River.  The quality of restaurants for such a small town also thoroughly impressed me.  Here are my top five restaurant picks you must try when visiting Lewiston, NY, located just below the iconic Niagara Falls.

Mangia Cafe and BakeryWhen you step inside Mangia Cafe & Bakery you’ll feel like you’ve entered a formal, yet cozy colonial dining room.  If it’s a nice day, enjoy the wonderful patio. The bakery case will draw you in with its assortment of goodies, like homemade cookies, sweet rolls, muffins, brownies, pies & cakes, and whole lot more.  Everything I ate at Mangia’s was superb, including:

  • The tomato tart with caramelized onions
  • Salmon croquettes with freshly made tomato cucumber salsa, organic spinach and olive oil/lemon dill dressing
  • Chicken Waldorf sandwich on multi-grain bread with fresh fruit
  • Quiche with roasted red pepper and fresh fruit salad

The Brickyard is the place to go for some seriously tasty and huge portions of BBQ.  All the meats are slow smoked to perfection using a nice blend of Hickory & fruit woods in an authentic wood-pit barbecue smoker.  If you’re like me and want to try a bit of everything, check out “The First Timer,” which includes: pulled pork, 1/3 rack ribs, 1/4 smoked chicken, brisket, smoked turkey, and house rubbed Buffalo wings. Bring your appetite, or a few buddies, cause this platter will easily served 3-4 people.

Casa Antica was one of my favorite places in town.  This family-run Italian restaurant prides themselves on a warm, welcoming atmosphere, and their authentic homemade dishes originating from various regions of Italy. If the weather permits, dine al fresco on their beautiful outdoor patio, often with live music. Like many Italians, they don’t want you to go away hungry, so bring your appetite, share, or be prepared to take home some leftovers. There are so many wonderful dishes to try, that you may have a tough time deciding.  Here are some of the items I had a chance to try:

  • Chilean Sea Bass: Served in a lemon caper white wine sauce. Over home made spinach fettuccine and fresh spinach.
  • Veal chop Florentine: cut veal chop stuffed with perschutto asiago cheese and spinach. Topped in a balsamic reduction sauce with sautéed Portabella mushrooms and onions. Served over roasted potatoes and fresh vegetables.
  • Arancina: Award winning rice balls are stuffed with aborio rice ground beef mozzarella cheese and snow peas.
  • Risotto Asparaci e Capesante: Pan seared scallops served over a creamy risotto with sautéed asparagus and onions.
  • Banana Peppers: Stuffed with Genova salami and pecorino cheese topped with our famous three cheese cream sauce.
  • Involtini di melenzane: Breaded eggplant rollatini stuffed with ricotta baked and topped with melted mozzarella and marinara sauce.

Carmelo’s is where western New York chefs and foodies alike go to eat…partly for its “farm-to-table” philosophy—harvesting fresh local foods and presenting them to patrons in the most creative and delicious ways possible. Carmelo’s is fine-dining at it’s finest, with an amazing staff that anticipates your every need. During my visit they had a special menu created just for team “Road Bros” and our guests, which included:

  • Road Bros Cocktail: Steam Punk hard cider/Hudson Valley Baby Bourbon
  • Starters: Butcher’s Plate: assortment of T-Meadow cured meats; Farm Stand Salad: Peggy’s Herbs/David’s Asparagus/Coulter’s Strawberries
  • Main Course: T-Meadow farm Suckling Pig: Carolina BBQ sauce (this was an entire roasted pig carved up at our table.
  • Sides: Cayuga Pure Organics: Faro Risotto; Hurtgam Farm Braised Chard; Roasted Root Vegetables in port jus

Owners: Eddie and Ken

Lewiston Village Pub was a big surprise for me…sure, they offer everything you’d expect in a pub, but for those like me with more discerning tastes buds, they accommodate us as well. From burgers to Lobster, Ahi to wings, they have something for everyone…including one of the largest selections of beer in the state of New York, with 40 on-tap.  They also have a full bar, entertainment, games and much more to make for one hell of a good time while in Lewiston.

If you’ve been to Lewiston before and have visited any of these five restaurants, please post a comment below and let my readers and me know what you think. Or, if you have another local favorite, post their name and site below as well.

To see just how much the folks in Lewiston love their restaurant scene, watch the video below as they sing about their culinary prowess.

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