Max Brenner: A chocolate lover’s dream

I took a trip into NYC to meet my college roomie and since I had been wanting to try Max Brenner for months, we made reservations for lunch. It was finally the perfect opportunity! She loves chocolate too, obviously.

We headed downtown from Penn Station, walked through their little chocolate shop and over to the hostess stand to check in. I considered buying chocolate, but decided against it because it was a balmy day in the city and I didn’t want a puddle of inedible cocoa by the time I returned home later that afternoon.

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We were seated quickly and greeted by the waiter who explained a few things on the menu and recommended a several items. We ordered shakes and then our lunches. My shake of choice was the Chocolate Hazelnut and my roomie got a Cookieshake. Fortunately, my shake included a whipped cream topping and sadly hers did not. We both loved our beverages and the cup added to the experience. The straw laid perfectly in its little spot and there was no mess from the whipped cream, like a diner shake might yield. Everything sat perfectly and then relocated into my belly.

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For lunch, I got the Turkey Club Waffle Sandwich and she ordered the Brenner Lunchette Burger with fries. My sandwich was pretty light because the waffles were thin, so I wasn’t overwhelmed by a sweet or savory taste. They were substantial substitutes for bread slices. The sandwich included cold turkey, salty bacon and creamy avocado. With waffles, it was organized better than a club sandwich with toast because nothing slipped or fell out. The honey mustard and chili aioli gave the sandwich a zesty flavor. I didn’t finish my lunch because I didn’t want to overindulge and miss out on dessert. This was a chocolate restaurant after all.

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For dessert, we decided to share the Chocolate Chunks Pizza with roasted marshmallows and peanut butter. We got the half size, so we didn’t feel to gluttonous. The half pie came out with roasted mini marshmallows sprinkled all over it and peanut butter swirled on top. Underneath, there was a layer of milk and white chocolate. When we took our first bites, we were surprised at how light the crust was. It was much lighter than a pizza dough and didn’t confuse my taste buds, like some dessert pies do. The marshmallows, peanut butter and chocolate were warm and melty, and that’s exactly how they should be. If your marshmallow isn’t warm and stringy as you pull and poke at it, you aren’t eating it right.

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After we had eaten our fill, we remarked at how tasty everything was. We didn’t even get a full representation of the menu, so I will have to schedule future visits to really see how their hot chocolate measures up to my favorites.

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If you are a chocoholic, you need to get your fix at Max Brenner. Come on, you deserve a treat!

Max Brenner, 841 Broadway, New York, NY, 646.467.8803

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Beyond Philly was beyond tasty

Even though I am currently on a diet, when my husband said, “Where do you want to go for lunch? I will go wherever,” I chose a place I have really wanted to try: Beyond Philly in Blue Point, New York.

The location is a small blue cottage at the end of a small strip of shops on Montauk Highway in Blue Point. It used to be an ice cream shop called Sprinkles, but that didn’t last.

When I walked in, there were a few people eating at the tables inside, but I was taking mine to go. I didn’t have to wait long for my meal and it was a Saturday afternoon.

I ordered TK a Tornado in Philly and got myself a Greek Chicken. I also bought my son a Grilled Cheese which was only $2.99. Bargain!

The Tornado in Philly which was a cheesesteak with a potato in it. He loved it. I had the Greek Chicken which was chunks of marinated chicken, onion, lettuce and tomato with yogurt sauce. The chicken was very flavorful and I would get that same chicken in any sandwich. It was a pleasant surprise because a lot of chicken ends up dry or just boring. This was the opposite. I really enjoyed the combination of flavors from the chicken and the yogurt sauce.

The most shocking of the whole meal was that my son ate his whole grilled cheese sandwich, which was not small by any means. He never finishes anything except macaroni and cheese, but he was a big fan of this.

Fortunately, we tried Beyond Philly and really liked it. Their menu is full of reasonably priced, unique sandwiches. We will definitely be back to try some other options.

Beyond Philly, 168 Montauk Highway, Blue Point, NY, 631.868.3896

South Ocean Grill: Small place, huge taste

For a late Valentine’s Day dinner, my husband and I made reservations for South Ocean Grill in Patchogue, New York. I had heard wonderful things about the food and that the location was very small and intimate.

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Inside South Ocean Grill

We took a ride service to the restaurant because I figured parking would be an issue and we wanted to have a few glasses of wine. I believe the only parking is on the street with signs that specify where patrons can park. When we walked in, the desk to check in was right there, so we told them our name and sat right down. The hostess sat us down at a table with two plush round leather armchairs with little red pillows on them for added comfort, and they were really comfortable.

We looked over the drink menu to choose wine and I ordered a Pinot Grigio and TK got a Sauvignon Blanc. I can’t remember the winery for either of them, but they were enjoyable. The waitress poured the wine into our glasses and left us a little carafe to refill at our leisure. We skipped appetizers and ordered our entrees with our wine. I decided on the Pan Seared Jumbo Scallops and Rock Shrimp and TK chose the Palm Beach Ribeye. My scallops and shrimp were served on a bed of creamy risotto. The scallops were cooked perfectly. They were little soft pillows of flavor. The risotto was buttery and wonderfully tasty. I made sure to share some of it with TK because a meal this good is meant to be shared. He agreed that the scallops weren’t chewy at all, like they sometimes are. They were cooked exactly as they should be. He also enjoyed the risotto I shared with him and remarked on the flavor.

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Pan Seared Jumbo Scallops and Rock Shrimp

He shared his ribeye with me and it had a tasty marinade on it. I could taste an Asian flavor and TK reinforced my thoughts and told me that it was marinated in soy sauce and ginger. He loved it, but did say that he didn’t like the amount of fat that was left on the meat. To that, I told him that he should get the Filet Mignon next time, because there will be a next time and he agreed. The Ribeye came with a baked potato and he was pretty happy with that.

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Palm Beach Ribeye

I was finished with my meal before TK because it was delicious and I like to eat seafood before it gets cold. I sipped on my wine in my comfortable chair and waited for TK to be finished with his steak. When he finished, we ordered the Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie to share. Peanut butter and chocolate is my favorite combination and whipped cream is a great addition to anything sweet. Of course, we scooped up some whipped cream to start every bite. It was a great ending to a fantastic meal.

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Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

Fortunately, South Ocean Grill offers reservation options on Open Table. I strongly recommend booking a table at a specified time because I counted approximately 28 table seats at the restaurant. I will be doing so when I plan my return trip. After all, I heard great things about their salads and their flatbreads.

South Ocean Grill, 567 S. Ocean Avenue, Patchogue, 631.307.9999

Liquid perfection at Roast Coffee, and it’s not coffee

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Roast’s Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Do you love peanut butter? Do you love brownies? Do you love peanut butter brownies, but sometimes don’t feel like chewing? OK, that was a strange question, but Roast Coffee & Tea Trading Co. has created a Peanut  Butter Hot Chocolate that tastes just like a peanut butter brownie, but in liquid form.

This, my friends, is the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had, and being that I don’t drink coffee or tea, I have had MANY. It is smooth and decadent, and you really taste that peanut butter. Too many other peanut butter flavored drinks have a chemically created peanut butter taste, but this is not like that. It has a real creamy peanut butter start and finish, courtesy of the actual peanut butter they pump into your beverage.

If you choose to add whipped cream to the top, you will not be sorry. It is the perfect cold weather treat and you will wonder how you celebrated past holidays without it. For Christmas, I am asking for a Roast gift card, so I can buy one of these a week until it departs from the menu to make way for spring beverages.

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Here it is again in all of its fluffy beauty.

The food of my people at Puerto Rico’s Cafe

On the night before we were set to leave Orlando, we decided to eat Puerto Rican food at Puerto Rico’s Cafe in Kissimmee, Florida. We like to get authentic Puerto Rican food and we remember it being great when we visited years before.

Puerto Rico’s Cafe is very unassuming and it is decorated how you would see a home decorated in Puerto Rico. The food was what you would expect to come out of a Puerto Rican kitchen.

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Native Decor

We started out with Acapurrias and Empanadas. The Acapurrias were meat-stuffed, deep-fried fritters. Empanadas are little pockets stuffed with meat or cheese. My son Jackson actually ate the Cheese Empanada because we told him it was a grilled cheese and it worked. He said it was delicious and I did like the Empanadas better than the Acapurrias. I’ve helped my dad make empanadas and they are a great handheld food, and now we know we can make them for Jackson and he will actually eat them.

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Acapurria and Empanada

For my entree, I decided on the Mofungo Relleno con Pollo or Stuffed Mofongo with Chicken. Mofongo is made from fried plantains and stuffed with meat, seafood or chicken that is formed into ball.  I’ve had Mofongo in Puerto Rico and the fried plantains were made into a cup and filled with meat. Now, I like it both ways. TK had Mofongo Relleno con Mariscos or with shrimp. The meat, chicken or seafood is always flavorful and tender. It is made and served seconds after, so it is piping hot. The Mofongo was paired with a bowl of chicken broth, but I only tasted it to make sure it was broth and didn’t actually eat it.

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Stuffed Mofongo with Chicken

TK said his Mofongo Relleno con Mariscos was delicious and he still remembers how good it was.

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Stuffed Mofongo with Shrimp

If you are looking for a place with delicious food where you don’t need to deal with the tourist crowd, Puerto Rico’s Cafe will satisfy your appetite and curiosity.

Puerto Rico’s Cafe, 507 W. Vine St., Kissimmee, FL, 407.847.6399

Dining alongside dinosaurs at T-REX

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Prior to arriving in Orlando, Florida, we made a reservation for T-REX in Disney Springs™ . I knew that my son would love dining alongside huge moving dinosaurs.

On the way of our reservation, we shopped around Disney Springs a little bit and then I went to go check in for our reservation. We had two reservations for six and they were able to combine them so we could all eat together. Since, the reservation was very early, they sat us a few minutes after check in.

The hostess walked us by the large animatronic dinosaurs and themed rooms, and led us to a table in the Ice Age room. The whole room glowed blue and we could see a giant fossilized Tyrannosaurus Rex. It was pretty cool. We couldn’t see it in our room, but apparently there was a meteor shower periodically that made all the dinosaurs start to move around and roar. We had a Triceratops right behind our heads that moved from time to time.

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When it came time to order, I got myself a Funky Buddha Floridian Hefeweizen and the Tuna Tataki. The  beer was light and crisp, and the tuna was fresh and delicate. It was seared ahi tuna with sesame seeds on top of white rice, sauteed spinach and salsa with mushrooms. There was a wasabi sauce drizzled overtop and a soy sauce on the side. I ate around the mushrooms and dipped it all in the soy sauce. It was the perfect meal if you are expecting to eat a Ghirardelli ice cream sundae afterward, which I was.

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After dinner, I made sure to stop in the gift shop because they had children’s sunglasses and my son kept complaining about the sun being in his eyes.

Consider T-REX when you are making dining reservations in Orlando because it is a unique and fun family experience.

T-REX, Disney Springs™, Lake Buena Vista, FL, 407.828.TREX

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A Friendly Morning at Relish

My close friend Colleen and I decided that we needed to get out and enjoy some breakfast together. We chose Relish in Kings Park, New York because I read a recent article about how wonderful their food is.

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The location looks like it used to house a diner. When we drove up, we were lucky to find a spot in the parking lot. We had to wait a few minutes in the vestibule, but we got there before a rather large crowd walked in. So, we timed it perfectly. We were seated at a large table, which made us feel a little guilty.

I ordered from the menu and Colleen ordered from the specials. I had the Banana Nutella French Toast. It was sweet and fluffy, and completely indulgent. The Nutella was drizzled over the top and also sandwiched between the slices of toast. I loved it. The more Nutella, the better.

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Colleen had the Carrot Cake Pancakes with Cream Cheese Frosting and Walnuts. The pile of pillowy softness showed up and they were dusted with powdered sugar and covered in sweet frosting. She let me take a bite, so I thought that they were rich and flavorful, and she agreed. I could taste the sugary frosting and cinnamon, and I could see the pureed carrots in the pancakes. This would be the perfect fall breakfast.

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We completely enjoyed our meals and felt totally glutenous after our stomachs were full of sweet and hearty breakfast. The last image pretty much sums up how I felt about Relish’s food. We need to go back for lunch or dinner in the near future.

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This pretty much sums it up. 

Relish, 2 Pulaski Road, Kings Park, NY, 631.292.2740