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Posts from July 2012

The Kill Devil Grill: Kill Devil Hills, NC, OBX

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If it's funky, we'll try to find it.

We stumbled on The Kill Devil Grill whilst searching for decent places to eat during a recent trip to the Outer Banks.  OBX has a shit ton of restaurants, most of which are mediocre as far as I can tell.  But, there are a few gems, and The Kill Devil Grill is one of them.

Situated right across from the beach on Beach Road, you'd think it'd be another somewhat sticky, sandy, kitschy place.  But it's not.  It's clean, sleek, and cool...and somewhat kitschy (a tiny old diner with an addition on the back).  More importantly, the food is damned good.

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albert's Montclair: Montclair, NJ [CLOSED]

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Baaaaaaaaaaa

I found myself on Church Street in Montclair a few weeks ago.  This wasn't be design, though.  I had planned to go to Mancinni's, to finally try that pizza that people have been raving about.  Their outgoing voice message noted that they open at 11.30 on Sundays, so off I went.  Unfortunately the sign on the door noted something altogether different, and they weren't open for lunch. 

Disappointed and unsure of what to eat, I took a walk up Church street.  There was that Raymond's place that everyone seems to love. People were lined up, waiting 20-30 minutes for the opportunity to eat that brunch of theirs.  I'm of the opinion that places like Raymond's cater to people who think they should like places like Raymond's.  But that's for another post.  And hey, perhaps they execute those standard brunch items really well, but I just can't get behind standard bruch foods.  There's no reason that I shouldn't have the choice to eat whatever food a restaurant specializes in on a weekend afternoon, rather than being forced to choose between frittatas, steak & eggs, pancakes, waffles, and the rest of it.  But that's for another post.

I walked right by Raymond's and the sheep standing around waiting for their turn, and noticed Albert's/Amici. Mostly empty.  Eager servers waiting to seat you.  A kitchen waiting to cook for you.

The menu had some southern influence, which didn't make much sense to me, given the name Amici, but the chicken fried steak with sausage gravy certainly caught my eye.  This trip to Montclair was coming together.

I grabbed one of the several empty tables outside, and walked next door to the wine shop (the very sexy Amanti Vino) to get a bottle of sparkling rose, which was going to go perfectly with the chicken fried steak. 

Unfortunately the chicken fried steak had turned into short ribs, and it wasn't available.  Another dish that caught my eye was the Cajun Benedict.  Poached eggs on grit cakes with andouille topped with a creole sauce.  "This would go well with my sparkler," I knew.

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The dish was enjoyable (the eggs were not runny enough for me), and it was really nice having the option to get these bold flavors on a Sunday afternoon. 

Italian American restaurants (like Amici was) are a dime a dozen, and very rarely are they exceptional at all. Very, very rarely.  Amici realized this when they hired Albert as the chef, I'm told, so they've switched concepts to leverage his strengths in southern/creole cooking.  I'd like to see a wider selection of cajun/creole, but perhaps they're working on that.

Give albert's a try.  Be a trailblazer, not a follower.  I guarantee you'll be more satisified. 

albert's Montclair : 32 Church Street : Montclair, NJ : 973.233.0300


Liberty House Restaurant: Jersey City, NJ

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Probably some of the nicest outdoor seating you'll find in New Jersey.  I mean, what a view.  But is there anything worthwhile beyond that view?  Our first visit suggested that there could very well be a decent restaurant here.

It sure doesn't hurt having Chef Kenny Trickilo running the show. I've been a fan of his since his days at Bistro 55, back in its heyday. 

It looks like the chef brought along some of his dishes, including the duck confit grilled cheese sandwich, and the roasted garlic with blue cheese.  Unfortunately that great pork chop didn't make its way over to Liberty House.

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The beausoleil oysters were perhaps in the top 5 of all oyster experiences of my life.  Beausoleil are typically briny, bright, clean tasting oysters, and these were no exception.  They were chilled, but not too cold, and all of that beautiful liquor was still in the shell instead dumped into the ice.  Absolutely outstanding, and if this serving was any indication of how they treat their oysters at Liberty House, it could certainly be my go-to place for sauvignon blanc and oysters in the summer months. 

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A friend ordered the soup special, which was a cold melon soup of some sort.  Refreshing, but a bit too sweet for his taste.  It would have been fantastic in a glass with 3 ounces of gin, however.

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She's a delicate little flower, ain't she.

Tuna tacos came 4 to an order.  Raw tuna with seaweed and spicy mayo.  Perfectly acceptable, although I'd prefer the tuna flavor and texture to be more pronounced. 

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The burgers were ordered m/r and came out a bit more on the medium side.  They were also not very juicy.  Other than that, they were acceptable, and served with a good, light fluffy bun, and very sweet  pickles.  I have a feeling if cooked a bit less, these could be really super burgers. With one of the two burgers ordered, we subbed sweet potato fries for the cottage fries, both of which where exactly what they needed to be.

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One of my favorite dishes at Bistro 55 was the duck confit grilled cheese.  This was just a fantastic sandwich.  Thick country bread stuffed with brie and duck.  The version at Liberty House didn't impress as much.  I'm not sure if it was different in some way, or it was just off for some reason.  It was fine, don't get me wrong, but not as good as I remember from my Bistro 55 days.

The cocktail list is certainly a step up from most cocktail lists, which sadly seem to focus on flavored vodkas and overly sweet concoctions, suitable for college parties more than serious contemplation.  This list does the same to an extent, but also has more tequila than you'd think, and fresh lime juice, which is fine by me.  However, a few of the drinks came out a bit too sweet, even though we stressed that we wanted unsweetened fresh lime juice.  Next time we'll sit at the bar (bar dining is almost always preferable), and provide some additional oversight and instruction. 

The selection of wines by the glass is robust and broad.  You'll not have to choose between 3 California chardonnays and a pinot grigio as you do at too many restaurants.  Sancerre, prosecco, sauvignon blanc from 3 continents, riesling, albarino, malbec, tempranillo all make an appearance by the glass.  Lots of food-friendly choices here.  Bravo, Liberty House.

The beer list is essentially non-existent.  Boo, Liberty House.  I'd like to see some craft beers filling the list here. 

The view really is wonderful.  The outdoor seating is comfortable and cosy. I got the feeling I was on vacation, what with this out-of-the-way location and magical setting.

Overall Liberty House really impressed me.  We're looking forward to returning.  And if you're planning an event, have it at Liberty House, and invite me.

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Make sure you get the outdoor tables that don't have this view.

Liberty House Restaurant : 76 Audrey Zapp Drive : Jersey City, NJ : 201.395.0300