Real Tennessee BBQ at Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que

There was one request that my aunt had for our trip to Tennessee: Eat BBQ. So, I did a little research and found Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que. It had everything that we wanted: Fried Pickles, BBQ Chicken, Ribs and Mac and Cheese.

A Smackeral of Sauces

On our first afternoon in Tennessee, we decided to head over there for dinner and we were so glad that we did. I even dressed my daughter in a gingham dress so she could match the BBQ décor. We started our meal with the Trail Head Combo. It included Deep Fried Pickles, Mozzarella Sticks, Onion Rings and Hot Wings. The wings were not really hot, so I handled them just fine. The pickles were pretty small, so they were great to just pop in my mouth. The mozzarella sticks were like any I have had and the onion rings were crispy and had a great crunch.

Trail Head Combo

For our entrees, we were all so excited to try the BBQ items on the menu. My mother’s meal came with both fries and onion rings, so she was pretty satisfied with her choice of the Slider Trio. It had burnt ends, Carolina pork and sausage.

Slider Trio

My choice was the Chicken and Ribs Combo and I chose the Deep Fried Corn and Spicy Macaroni and Cheese as my sides. The corn was buttery, but not salty. I love roasted corn, so this was similar but sweeter than the Long Island corn that I love so much. I enjoyed the ribs, but when I added the Honey Q4U sauce, they were even better. I like wet rub BBQ better than dry rub. The mac and cheese was creamy with a hint of spicy pepper. This was some of the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had because it had a little kick to it, but it maintained it’s salty cheesiness as well. The chicken was great. It was basted in BBQ sauce, so there was no need for dipping. It was cooked perfectly and very moist. The biscuit that came with my meal was like the Cheddar Bay Biscuits that Red Lobster sells and everyone loves. It had a a great salty garlic flavor. I tasted TK’s Baked Beans and they weren’t my favorite because they were sweeter than other BBQ beans that I’ve enjoyed.

Chicken & Ribs

Big Daddy’s Ultimate Combo

My dad’s meal came with something called Hog Legs and they were just little legs of pork that he said were pretty good.  Aunt Rosie and my dad also had the salad bar with their meals and I was able to try the Tomato Bacon Soup. I usually like chunky tomato soup, so I enjoyed this, but I didn’t taste any bacon.

Tomato Bacon Soup

Tomato Bacon Soup

I was very happy that I was able to choose Bennett’s for our Tennessee BBQ experience. Fortunately, I read a bunch of positive reviews before I added the restaurant to our itinerary. My family congratulated me on another great pick. You’re welcome!

Bennett’s Pit Bar-B-Que, 2910 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN

Flapjacks Revisited

Back in 2010, we paid a visit to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and enjoyed breakfast at Flapjacks. I liked it so much then that I reviewed it. Take a look.

Rustic Chandelier

Rustic Chandelier

This time, we took the whole family and enjoyed breakfast. It is a Flapjacks, so I had to order Flapjacks. Duh. I got the Mixed Berry Pancakes. Four pancakes came with the order and a variety of fresh berries. I spread the butter all over them and poured some syrup on two of the four. I knew I wouldn’t be able to finish all four. I was surprised to find out that the pancakes were actually Blueberry. It was a pleasant surprise because they were delicious and fluffy.

Mixed Berry Flapjacks

The wait staff was so friendly and accommodating, I even overheard a conversation that a waitress had with a customer. It went something like this:

Waitress – “Sir, I will be right with you.”
Patron – “Thank you. I appreciate that.”
Waitress – “I appreciate you.”

I found the conversation so refreshing to overhear because I am from New York and you don’t hear this very often, especially in the hospitality industry, but we really should.

Apple Juice

Apple Juice

There are a number of Flapjacks locations in the Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg area, so it will be pretty simple to wander in and get yourself a hearty and delicious meal.

Flapjacks, 1016 Parkway, Sevierville, TN, 865.774.5374

Mannino’s is Great for Dates

After a long week, TK and I made plans with our friends to go out for a double date to Mannino’s in Oakdale, New York. It was a Saturday night, so when we arrived there was a one hour wait to be seated as a party of four, but fortunately, I was able to find a seat at the bar and enjoy a glass of Riesling beforehand. It was cool and refreshing, and I could feel myself relaxing more and more with every sip. Thank goodness.

White Clam Combo

       White Clam Combo

The food at Mannino’s is reasonably priced and very good. There is a great variety of dishes to enjoy, including the seafood and pasta dishes which are quite delicious.

We started our meal with the Rice Balls and the Clams Oreganata. The Rice Balls were small but crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside; exactly how they should be. The Clams were smaller than I like, but they had a great taste to them. I preferred the Rice Balls to the Clams Oreganata.

I guess I didn’t get enough clams because for my entree, I ordered the White Clam Combo. It had linguine, an assortment of different-sized clams, bay scallops and shrimp submerged in garlic, wine and oil. I made sure to empty all of the shells first to get them out of the way. This dish was very enjoyable and I finished the whole thing, even though it probably could have used a touch of salt.

TK enjoyed the Frutti Di Mare. It was chock full of seafood with shrimp, crab meat, clams, mussels and scallops. I made sure to take a snapshot of it before he started eating and he was super annoyed with me. That didn’t last and neither did his entree.

Frutti Di Mare

    Frutti Di Mare

After this delicious meal, we decided to make it a habit to go out on dates and to go to Mannino’s.

Mannino’s, 1575 Montauk Highway, Oakdale, NY, 631.218.0909

Shake Shack is no joke

IMG_5203Since the first Shake Shack opened up in Madison Square Park in Manhattan, New Yorkers were hooked. I’ve never been to that location, but I have eaten at Shake Shack in Citi Field and now in Westbury, New York. Among the many locations that the Shake Shack has, you can pick up some delicious grease at the Grand Central Terminal and the JFK Airport, if you want to make your fellow flyers jealous. The original location in NYC always has a line. That’s how good the burgers are! There is even a Shake Cam streaming video of the line on their website so that people in NYC can keep an eye on it and judge what the best time is to head down to Madison Square Park for a trademarked ShackBurger®.

My most recent visit to hamburger heaven, was to their Westbury location. On a Friday afternoon, the line wasn’t too bad when we hopped on. I ordered a ShackBurger® and TK had a SmokeShack®. My burger included cIMG_5205heese, lettuce, tomato and ShackSauce. I dipped the burger in ketchup as well. It was magical. The burger was juicy, pure and delicious; exactly how a cheeseburger should be. I tasted TK’s burger and that was so good, but with an added kick. His had cheese, applewood-smoked bacon, chopped cherry peppers (the heat culprits) and ShackSauce. His burger was a bit messier than mine, but it had a bunch of delicious flavors. It had the saltiness of the bacon, the heat from the peppers, the zestiness of the ShackSauce and the pure meat flavor of the beef. I thought he made a great choice.

We also shared a side of their Crinkle Cut Fries and they were crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Crinkle Cut is my favorite fry variety, with waffle as a close second. TK also ordered a Peanut Butter Shake and I ordered a Lemonade. The lemonade was perfect and refreshing. The Peanut Butter Shake was so good and quite dangerous. It is made with their Frozen Custard, so it is thicker and creamier than regular ice cream. If you like peanut butter (and we do), you will not be disappointed. You may actually tell your friends. IMG_5204

There are other menu items that deserve a shout out. Just because we didn’t order them this time, doesn’t mean we won’t in the future. They have Flat-Top Hot Dogs, dog treats and Concretes. Their Concretes include custard with toppings mixed in. There are a few that you can only get at this location, like the Westberry and the Old Country Rocky Road which sends five percent of all proceeds to Island Harvest, or you can build your own. The mix-ins aren’t your regular sprinkles and Snicker bars, they are for real. On the list, they included Belgian Waffles, Chocolate Truffle Cookie Dough and Strawberry Puree. Concrete is a definite for next time, but so is a burger and an order of fries. Shake Shack is so popular with New Yorkers because it is just that delicious.

Shake Shack, 860 Old Country Road, Westbury, NY, 516-620-2880

Another Great Outing at Cafe Joelle

IMG_4599Whenever the ladies want to go out to eat and enjoy ourselves, Cafe Joelle is one of the top places on the list. It has everything we need: good food, good wine and a seriously delicious dessert.

My colleagues and I decided to have a celebratory lunch at Cafe Joelle during the winter, so we headed down to Sayville, snagged a parking spot in the back of the restaurant and were seated right away. We each started our meals with the Pumpkin Soup. It was creamy, warm and hearty. I could taste the hint of cinnamon and nutmeg in this festive starter. All of us enjoyed it.IMG_4600

For my lunch, I decided on the Grilled Chicken Bruschetta with Salad and Creamy Balsamic Dressing. The entire portion was perfectly sized for lunch because it was a light option, but it had great flavor. It was like an open-faced sandwich that I ate with a knife and fork. The zesty bruschetta mixed very well with the crustiness of the bread and the addition of chicken and mozzarella. This may be a great idea for a meal to replicate at home.

Of course, we had to have dessert and at Cafe Joelle, there is no other option than the Chocolate Bag. I don’t even know what else is on the menu. It is a thick chocolate shell filled with fluffy white chocolate mousse and berries. A few dollops of whipped cream sit on the side ready for you to scrape it up with pieces of chocolate and berries. The photo below doesn’t really do it justice. It looks like a pile of mush because we just couldn’t wait to dig in. We know how delicious and sinful it really is.

Eating at Cafe Joelle is never a disappointment and you should consider bringing your significant other with you. It can also be pretty romantic.

Cafe Joelle, 25 Main Street, Sayville, N.Y., 631.589.4600


Nothing old about Old Fields


Spinach & Artichoke Dip

One of my closest friends is getting married and I have the honor of being a bridesmaid, so we had to go dress shopping on a Sunday morning. Fortunately, after the fitting, we were planning on brunch at Old Fields in Greenlawn, New York.

We began our meal with beverages and several of my friends ordered the Old Fields Famous Bloody Mary. I prefer to chew my food and not sip it, so I am not a fan of the Bloody Mary. However, my friends absolutely loved them. A full celery stalk was sticking out of the drink. It was quite impressive and slightly intimidating.

Then, we ordered and enjoyed the Spinach & Artichoke Dip. It was warm and so were the pita chips that were served alongside it. We all dug in and enjoyed our shared dish. This is one appetizer that I frequently order wherever I go and I was not disappointed this time.


Short Rib Grilled Cheese and Smoked Tomato Bisque

For my entree, I ordered the Short Rib Grilled Cheese and Smoked Tomato Bisque. I enjoyed being able to order a combination dish and not choose between a sandwich or a soup. The Bisque was tasty and I could definitely taste the smokiness through the thick and creamy soup. The Grilled Cheese was sweet and crunchy. The Short Rib was a great addition to the sandwich.

All of the ladies were happy with their meals and with the bridesmaid dresses as well, come to think of it. However, if Bloody Marys make you happy, then you should visit Old Fields.

Old Fields, 81 Broadway, Greenlawn, NY, 631.754.9868

My SJCNY Top 5 Summer Foods

When I am not eating, I work for a liberal arts college on Long Island. I created a Top 5 list of foods to eat this summer in the New York metropolitan area and St. Joseph’s College published the list to its website this week.

Check it out here, and then let me know what you think in the comments below.

My Top 5