Where more than food is on the menu: local eateries offering something extra-special, entertainment-wise.
So it’s time to plan yet another dinner out. But you’ve been here, you’ve been there. Sometimes the prospect seems as enthralling as meat and potatoes. occasionally you need to break the mold. Can you break it in Westchester? You bet your new Neiman booties you can. So pull them on, grab your friends, and get set for some dinnertime extras. And we’re not talking petit fours.
photography by chris ware
Learning how to cook—well—at MacMenamin’s Grill in New Rochelle.
Learning how to cook—well—at MacMenamin’s Grill in New Rochelle.
now you’re cooking
You rant along with Emeril. You stress out watching Iron Chef. You cheer the underdog on Top Chef. Now it’s time to get off the couch and into their shoes, and several restaurant kitchens await you with an array of classes. It’s sautéing without the stress, carving without the clock, and when the show’s over, you get to sit down, drink wine, and be served. Bobby Flay, eat your heart out.
If you want to get a mini culinary education, MacMenamin’s Grill wants to help: three to five classes are offered weekly. An average of 15 participants prepare up to six recipes in the extravagant kitchen, where a chef will guide you through the cuisine of exotic locales or of our own seasonal bounty. Options might include Havana Night Ceviches or Hearty Soups and Stews: just choose your heat.
Star chef Rafael Palomino offers a choice of three restaurant kitchens. Each month, usually on a Wednesday or Thursday, classes rotate among his Pacifico, Sonora, or flagship Palomino locations, with their respective South American, seasonal modern American, and Nuevo Latino cuisines. Chef Palomino will demo a three-course menu to a group of 12 to 15, then it’s your turn to strut your Top Chef stuff.
If you’re more watcher than doer, Plates chef Matthew Karp is your cup of tournedos. On either a Thursday or Sunday each month, this Bouley/Boulud/Bromberg scion presents seasonal dishes geared to the home kitchen. He demos, you devour.
115 Cedar St, New Rochelle
$85 pp, 7-10 pm.
Rafael Palomino classes
(914) 933-0200; sonorany.com
$65 pp and up, 7 pm.
121 Myrtle Blvd, Larchmont
$60 pp (wine not included) Class: 5 pm, then dinner.
Belly dancing and Turkish cuisine are served at Turquoise in Larchmont.
Sing for Your Supper
Like sushi and karate, karaoke emigrated from Japan on a one-way ticket, fueling bars, lounges, and the dreams of countless American Idol wannabes. It’s instant liberation: just choose your song, take the stage, and frolic through your own personal MTV fantasy. A record contract won’t await, but applause will—validation for anyone who ever stood in a bedroom wailing into a hairbrush.
Pete’s Saloon is jammed on Spotlight Karoake nights with 30- and 40-somethings letting their freak flags fly. There’s even an 80-something who, proprietor Pete Riekstins reports, does a mean rendition of “Mac the Knife.” So what if you need reading glasses to follow the screen’s lyrics? For three minutes, you get to be Orbison, Springsteen, even a tottering Britney. So order one of Pete’s lavish steaks or cream-sauced stuffed portobello’s for energy, gulp a Chianti or artisanal ale for nerve, and go grab your rock-star moment.Karaoke Thursdays from 10 pm; 8 W Main St, Elmsford (914) 592-9849; petessaloon.com.
Feast and Foxtrot
Schedule it into your Blackberry, email the sitter, text the kids, then prepare for some tech-free contact. Come Saturday night, the equipment you will be holding will actually be a hand, your significant other’s, as you step onto a dusky dance floor for a languorous sway. Look. Have those swipes of hazel always flecked his eyes? Is that the necklace she wore that night on St. Croix? Take another spin to the saxophone’s cascade and remember.
So it goes at the Doral Arrowwood Atrium’s weekly Saturday night dinner dance. The ambiance may be retro Stork Club, but the food is modern fusion. A rumba, a waltz, then some nibbles of cranberry-spiked smoked duck or puff pastry encasing a mushroom ragoût. A quick foxtrot and it’s back to the buffet for roasted bass sauced with tomato beurre blanc or perhaps pumpkin ravioli in maple cream. At the carving station, a rack of pork brims with apples and figs. The choices are difficult to narrow, the number of them heady. And when those hazel-flecked eyes widen, it could only be at the dessert table, where amidst the cakes and pies, a chocolate fountain flows as sensuous as a samba.
Buffet from 6 pm, five-piece dance band from 7:30-11 pm. Cost: $40.25 pp; 975 Anderson Hill Rd, Rye Brook (914) 935-6600; doralarrowwood.com.
Book and the Cook
Think of the cookbooks you return to time and again, the ones that stir your senses before you ever stir a pot. Cooking may be the destination, but it’s the journey that evokes and inspires. Our favorite cookbooks serve up revelations as delectable as any recipe, lingering long after the last pan is put away.
Both revelations and recipes are in large supply at Plates’ Book & the Cook evenings. The series pairs a celebrated cookbook author with Chef Matthew Karp, who prepares an authentic dinner straight from the page to your table. “The author is there to bring the menu to life,” explains co-owner Wendy Weinstein Karp, and patrons have recently been enlivened by a wine-paired menu from county resident Clay Gordon’s Discover Chocolate cookbook and a farm-to-fork dinner featuring dishes from Vermont’s Shelburne Farm’s bestseller.
Series dinners from $75 pp; 6:30-9 pm monthly on either a Thursday or Sunday. Signed, discounted cookbooks available.
121 Myrtle Blvd, Larchmont, (914) 834-1244, platesonthepark.com.
Plaza Garibaldi restaurant serves up drinks as well as mariachi shows.
Shake and Bake
In its native lands, belly dancing is often performed by men. Here, something tells me that wouldn’t be much of a draw. If we were Egyptian or Palestinian, we’d be doing it at parties and weddings but, frankly, I’d rather stick to a foxtrot. With all those bellies swinging around, someone could get hurt.
Turquoise in Larchmont promises “a taste of traditional Turkish cuisine,” and on Saturday nights, traditional Turkish belly dancing as well. Mosaic lanterns, Anatolian carpets and the lilting strum of the lute-like ud channel the soul of the Bosporus. There’s feta and eggplant galore, grilled whole fish jolted with lemon, spiced lamb cooled by cucumber and mint. And when the dancer jiggles her way to you, it’ll be your eyes’ turn to open wide.
Sip a Casablanca Storm at the bar, blink slowly, and you’re in a Moroccan alcazar. Zitoune’s textiles and mosaics beguile like the Alhambra, its cuisine seduces like a souk. Clay tagines incubate spicy merguez sausage tempered with lemon confit; phyllo b’steeyas harbor saffron, almonds and cinnamon. On weekend nights here, exotic scents waft as sinuously as the dancers’ hips.
Jackson & Wheeler’s belly-dancing evenings afford a tour of the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Each night showcases the dances from a variety of countries: Morocco, Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Turkey. The chef’s cuisine will vary, the music may shift, but the allure of the dance troupe is incontrovertible. And you’ll be giving as well as receiving: the restaurant donates 15 percent of the proceeds back to the troupe’s teaching programs.
1895 Palmer Ave, Larchmont
Shows Saturday, 9:30-10:30 pm.
1127 W Boston Post Rd, Mamaroneck; (914) 835-8350
Shows Fridays and Saturdays
Jackson & Wheeler
25 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville
Shows are usually the third
Sunday every other month,
starting at 7 pm.
Authentic mariachi is as far from a lone guitarist warbling “La Bamba” as a masa-paste sopes is from Taco Bell. Contrasting instruments, shifting syncopations, coloration as ribald as a sarape’s stripes—mariachi is unique and irrepressible, and it’s right here in Yonkers.
You don’t have to speak Spanish at Plaza Garibaldi restaurant, but it helps. Non-Mexicans are as rare here as a defrosted burrito, but my gringo family managed just fine. The mole poblano and beef fajitas were good, the music better. I chewed my way through chicken in chipotle to the throbbing bass guitarron; I inhaled guacamole to raucous trumpets and careening violins. At the next table, a young couple entwined arms; behind me, a toddler squeezed between chairs and waddled wide-eyed to the stage. The music swelled, the vocals soared, and outside, the six lanes of Nepperhan Avenue might well have been a back road in Jalisco.
134 Nepperhan Ave, Yonkers
Friday-Saturday 9-12 am;
Sunday 8 pm-12 am.
Food in your Future
Appetizer, entrée, dessert: go out to dinner and you can pretty much predict what you’ll get. Go out to dinner with Francine Tesler and you’ll have no idea. Tesler is a psychic, and she’ll channel your future before you can decide between the chicken and the fish. “I see flashes of images, like a slideshow,” she says. “I help the client formulate a puzzle from the images. I’m their map.” Still, there are some places she will not go. “I won’t read the same person’s future again for three months,” she says. “I want them to pay attention to their own intuitions.” Oh, and she won’t predict life or death either.
At Jackson & Wheeler, predictions are served up with international selections, a raw bar, pizza oven, and an award-winning wine list. And if you were destined to eat gluten-free, you’ll thank your lucky stars for their special dietary menu.
Your future will include Hudson River views at Slattery’s Landing, where giant steaks and lobsters rule. If you’re feeling romantic, try the shrimp and chicken Hugs n’ Kisses for Two. Or if you’re into groups, there’s the porterhouse for four.
Channel your lusty carnivore and order a bourbon-glazed steak or Gorgonzola-topped pork chop at Pete’s Saloon. The wine and beer list is just as substantial, but the more ascetically inclined shouldn’t fret: you can always nibble some steamed baby clams or arugula salad.
Jackson & Wheeler 25 Wheeler Ave, Pleasantville (914) 741-2000 jacksonandwheeler.com Readings by reservation every other Thursday, 5-10 pm.
Slattery’s Landing 5 Roundhouse Rd, Piermont (845) 398-1943 landingsteakhouse.com Readings by reservation, one Wednesday each month, 5-10 pm.
Pete’s Saloon & Restaurant 8 W Main St, Elmsford (914) 592-9849; petessaloon.com
Readings every Tues, no appointment required, 5-10 pm.
Want a diversion from the usual diversions? There’s more to do in Westchester than drinking and eating out. Here are some suggestions to help you sail, glide, climb, or samba the night away.
by fran claro
Get a Grip
The Rock Club New Rochelle
(914) 633-ROCK; climbrockclub.com
Reach new heights with an unforgettable athletic experience—an exhilarating climb up an ultra-high-tech rock wall. The club welcomes visitors Monday through Friday, 10 am to 10:30 pm; Saturday and Sunday 9:30 am to 8 pm. Book a belayer (a pro who holds the rope at the bottom) in advance. Newcomers are encouraged to learn belaying on-site so that they can help fellow climbers, making the sport more social. Trainers will lay out routes at the level of your ability. And you get to rent a nifty harness and special shoes to help you climb every mountain (er, wall).
Step Up Dancing
Smiths Dancing School Thornwood
(914) 747-6286; smithsdancingschool.com
From the moment you enter this shiny jewel box of a studio, your feet won’t stop moving. Samba, rumba, salsa, swing, fox trot, waltz! Introduce yourself to the graceful goings-on at the ballroom and Latin party every Wednesday night from 8 to 11:30 (other open ballroom dancing parties happen select Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays each month). The experience is infectious. You’ll get such a kick out of the atmosphere and the footwork that you’ll quickly line up your nearest and dearest for an evening of ballroom dance lessons with a professional instructor. Fred and Ginger will have nothing on you.
Westchester Skating Academy Elmsford
(914) 347-8232; skatewsa.com
Ice skating, a cafe, and swinging sounds all under one roof? You bet. Glide under the disco ball, head upstairs for a snack, and enjoy an overview of your sliippin’ and slidin’ friends. Early evenings only: Saturday nights 7:30 to 9; Friday nights, 7:30 to 10, sometimes with a live DJ and always with a shimmering light show.
Fencing Academy of Westchester
Hawthorne (914) 345-5005; fencewestchester.com
En garde! Thrust and parry and get to wear the coolest gear as you learn the basics of fencing, the art of attack, and defense. In a vast, beautifully lighted, sparkling studio, complete with bleachers for spectators, hone your footwork, learn how to fool an opponent, and prepare to lunge. Visit the academy weekday evenings: Monday to Friday, 3 to 9 pm; Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm.
Toss (Back) a Few. Darts and Drinks
Danny Mac’s Yonkers (914) 237-2320; dannymacs.com
You and yours can play or watch others hit the bull’s-eye at this lively outpost of the Westchester County Dart Association. Enjoy the authentic Old World atmosphere of a pub that looks as if it’s been transported from a cobblestone street in Ireland. Play darts every night except Tuesday and Wednesday, when you can hang out and enjoy watching local leagues compete. Pool? A full-size table is available for practicing your three-cushion bank shot, lining up the eight ball, and testing your skill with English. The pool league meets each Wednesday; visit then to observe and pick up expert cues on technique. Open six days a week till 4 am; open Saturdays till 3 am.
Center Yourself. Aikido
Aikido of Westchester Japanese Martial Art & Swordsmanship
White Plains (914) 946-7805; aikidoofwestchester.com
Take a bow, and come out posing when you’re introduced to this breathtakingly graceful martial art. You’re always welcome to visit and watch evening classes during practice times. Special nights? Wednesdays, from 8 to 9, when you can catch a Japanese swordsmanship class; Thursdays, from 7:40 to 8:30, when you can witness the ease with which students throw each other around. After your visit to the soothing sandalwood-scented studio, you just might decide to don a do gi, fasten an obi, and become a student yourself.
Take a Taste...Beers
The Lazy Boy Saloon White Plains (914) 761-0272; lazyboysaloon.com
What do you fancy? Dark? Stout? Wheat? Malt? Oatmeal, even? Before you get to the saloon for your beer-tasting party, check online for the selection of brews (plenty, plenty). In the saloon, mix and match; discover a new favorite. Tired of tasting? Head next door to the Lazy Lounge, where Wednesday night features an open-mike jam. The Lazy Boy Saloon is open seven days a week until 4 am; kitchen closes at 2 am.