Westchester Eats

Vegan cuisine, radical ramps, Za’atar heroes, and more.



Flowers in Bloom

 

 

 

This garden-fresh starter features organic baby greens, thinly shaved fennel, and juicy orange segments bathed in a housemade dressing of sweet ripe mangos. Topped with a just-picked pansy that really is good enough to eat, it’s served at Bloom in Hastings-on-Hudson.

 

Artichoke Parmesan Spread

 

 

 

Best Uses: as a vegetable dip, filet of sole stuffing, spread on water crackers, dressing for sandwiches

 

Cost: $7.99-$9.99 for an 8-oz jar

 

What’s in It: artichoke hearts, Parmesan cheese, garlic, lemon, Worcestershire sauce, spices

 

Made By: Amoira’s Good Taste Foods of Old Greenwich, Connecticut

 

Inspiration: Owner Moira Mahon says, “I’m a big fan of small-bite foods, and tapenades are perfect to accompany appetizers. I used to bring my olive tapenade to dinner parties and serve it when I had guests. I received such good feedback I decided to start a fine-foods business. That was six years ago. I love to share with others homemade, high-quality foods.”

 

If You Like, Also Try: green-olive tapenade, roasted tomato spread

 

Found At: Zabar’s in Manhattan, Bedford Gourmet, Chef Central in Hartsdale,      A * S in Mamaroneck.

 

Great Restaurant Bars

 

Backals (2 Weaver St, Scarsdale 914-722-4508; www.backals.com). This spacious bar in a great-looking, mulit-leveled space, has a fireplace, mosaic-tiled floor, and fine food to boot (the braised short ribs are memorable).

 

The Bayou (580 Gramatan Ave, Mount Vernon 914-668-2634; www.bayourestaurantny.com). There’s no other joint in the county like the Bayou showcasing genuine Zydeco. Abita beers, 109 hot sauces, boudin blanc, and étouffée (crawfish stew) to go with the down-home music (The Radiators, John Hammond).

 

Blue (99 Church St, White Plains 914-220-0000; www.bluewhiteplains.com). Blue’s tall tables, padded blue banquettes, and moody lighting fairly whisper, “Olive or onion?” It’s a perfect setting for the hip, young corporate crowd, decompressing after work with the signature bright blue Martini. When it’s time for something to eat, it might be grilled lobster tails or spring rolls.

 

Coco Rumba (443 Lexington Ave, Mount Kisco 914-241-2433). Ask for a long tall Mojito garnished with mint, take a seat on the front patio, and call it South Beach North. Feed the fantasy with nibbles, such as mini-arepas or chicken “lollipops” with hot-pepper sauce.

 

Frankie and Johnnie’s Steakhouse (77 Purchase St, Rye 914-925-3900; www.frankieandjohnnies.com). A sedate, dressy crowd can get comfortable at this cozy mahogany bar with velvet couches and cocktails like Manhattans or maybe just bourbon straight up.

 

The bar at Zuppa Restaurant & Lounge (59 Main St, Yonkers 914-376-6500; www.zupparestaurant.com) is never-ending and dark, all the better to comfort the politicos who are regulars here. It’s boisterous, sophisticated, and happening. When you’re ready, move into the huge dining room for seasonal pasta dishes or maybe a zuppa di pesce for dinner, then sugary zeppole in a brown paper bag for dessert. Better yet, make it a party; there’s plenty of room.

 

The dark and elegant bar at Mulino’s (99 Court St, White Plains 914-761-1818; www.mulinos.us) fills up with well-heeled downtowners.

 

 Judith Hausman

 

 

 

V is for Vegan

 

Vegans don’t eat meat, fish, and any animal-derivative foods (cheese, eggs, butter, milk, and honey). While none of the restaurants below are strictly vegan or even vegetarian, they do offer vegan selections regularly.  

 

 

 

Blue Hill at Stone Barns (630 Bedford Rd, Pocantico Hills 914-366-9600; www.bluehillfarm.com)

 

The pistou of spring vegetables with chickpeas is a vegan dish Blue Hill often has on its menu. Additionally, cauliflower steak with spring fruits and vegetables and fennel soup are other vegan dishes that have been served. (Three courses: $65; 4 courses: $78; 8-course Farmer’s Feast: $110; lunch on Sundays: $42.)

 

Comfort (598 Warburton Ave, Hasting-on-Hudson 914-478-4677; www.comfortrestaurant.net)

 

Chef and owner John Halko honed his vegan cooking skills while catering film sets. “A healthy percentage of talent and crew have restricted diets. I’ve cooked for Madonna, who is a strict vegan.” Vegan dishes include roasted root vegetables with quinoa, barbecued tofu, lasagna made with eggplant, grilled zucchini, soy cheese, and spinach; and vegan chocolate custard. The tiny (14 seats), mostly takeout restaurant now serves breakfast, including the vegan scramble—tofu, soy cheese, and assorted vegetables. “Some people think vegan means no taste,” Halko says, “but when done right, vegan dishes are full-flavored and rich.” (Cost of vegan dishes: $4-$9.)

 

Global Gatherings (156 S Central Ave, Hartsdale 914-683-1833; www.globalgatheringsrestaurant.ws)

 

A vegan can have a filling three-course meal at this restaurant-and-home-décor haven. Start with a grilled Belgian endive-and-artichoke salad over baby greens with orange sections and candied pecan vinaigrette; then enjoy an appetizer stack of fried Massaman curry tofu; and finally, a main course blue-corn tamale with spicy soy sausage, squash, tomato, rice, and beans. ($8-$17)

 

Le Fontane Ristorante (137 Rte 100, Katonah 914-232-9619; www.lefontane.net)

 

An Italian restaurant willing to sacrifice the cheese? If you call ahead, Le Fontane will have any of the following dishes at the ready: farfalle with fresh artichoke and pesto, fresh tomato, and basil; homemade orecchiette with tomato and basil or broccoli rabe and portobello; grilled mixed-vegetable plate with polenta; pizza contadina with arugula, tomato, and asparagus; and farro with mixed roasted vegetables. ($10-$16.50)

 

Tomatillo (13 Cedar St, Dobbs Ferry 914-478-2300; www.mexchester.com)

 

The chunky homemade salsa and creamy guacamole are vegan-approved as are the spinach tortilla filled with grilled portobello mushrooms, black beans, rice, and chipolte-barbecue sauce; wheat tortilla with sautéed tofu and spinach; and the “green machine” burrito with fresh baby spinach, rice, black beans, guacamole and tomatillo sauce. So filling, you won’t even miss the cheese. ($3-$10)

 

Wobble Café (21 Campwoods Rd, Ossining 914-762-3459; www.wobblecafe.com)

 

“It’s easy to change the base of a vegetarian dish to make it vegan,” says co-owner Rich Foshay. “We’re always on the Internet looking for ideas.” The laid-back eatery almost always has a vegan entrée on its dinner menu, e.g., vegan gumbo, Moroccan tagine (a stew where vegetable oil is used instead of butter), or nutty-flavored tempeh and vegetables in tamarind sauce over brown rice. “We can accommodate vegans by altering many of our vegetarian dishes,” says co-owner Beylka Krupp. “Like our French toast. Instead of an egg-and-cream batter, we can use a purée of soymilk, bananas, and wheat germ.” ($8-$11)  

     

Dine In: Cabbage Hill Farm Trout

Courtesy of The Flying Pig on Lexington

(Serves 4)

 

shallot mustard vinaigrette (recipe below)

4 whole trout, cleaned and filleted

flour for dredging

8 oz bacon, diced

just the leaves from 40 Brussels sprouts

4 cubes butter

salt and pepper to taste

 

FOR MUSTARD VINAIGRETTE:

4 shallots, minced

2 Tbsp smooth mustard

2 Tbsp grainy mustard

2 lemons, juiced

2 Tbsp sherry vinegar

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 tsp fresh pepper       

1 qt canola oil

1 qt extra-virgin olive oil

 

Blend shallots and mustard in food processor. Add vinegar, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Blend, then emulsify with oils.

 

FOR TROUT:

Make vinaigrette and set aside. Season trout with salt and pepper. Dredge with flour, and then pat off excess. Heat a sauté pan and add enough oil to lightly coat the pan. Sear flesh-side down first until crispy about two minutes. Flip over and crisp skin to finish cooking.

Heat a saucepan and add diced bacon. Cook until almost done, and then add Brussels sprouts, salt and pepper, and a cube of butter. Cook until vegetables are tender.

 

TO SERVE: Mound veggies on a plate. Top with the seared trout and finish with a spoonful of vinaigrette.

 

The Flying Pig on Lexington

251 Lexington Ave, Mount Kisco

(914) 666-7445; www.pigcafe.com

  

The Daily Grind

 

Chef Greg Cortelyou, not Mexican, approaches the food at Sunset Grille in White Plains with a convert’s passion for authenticity. While other Mexican restaurants are content to use packaged, pre-ground corn (masa harina) in their tamales, Chef Cortelyou prefers to grind his own.

 

Every day, the Sunset Grille kitchen staff (who, helpfully, are mostly Mexican), slake the organic, dried corn kernels that the restaurant buys from Fizzle Flat Farm in Illinois. The process, which involves boiling the rock-hard kernels in an alkaline solution, softens the white corn and turns it brown-yellow. It also changes the corn’s molecular structure, making its vitamins accessible to the human body. After careful rinsing, the corn is called nixtamal.

 

The pale, soft nixtamal is processed into masa with a purpose-built grain mill—a rare piece of equipment north of the Rio Grande. “We thought about bringing one up from Mexico, but we couldn’t make the wiring work with U.S. electricity,” says Cortelyou. “We really lucked into finding this one in the Mid-West.” The corn is loaded into its stainless steel hopper, then spat out below in pale yellow, brown-flecked dough. Unlike the dough made from masa harina (made by simply adding water), the masa that emerges from the machine is corn-flavored and highly textured. 

 

Chef Cortelyou mixes his masa with meticulously house-rendered lard for traditional tamales, available in pork with red chile sauce or chicken with salsa verde.  Most of the masa is hand-pressed and toasted into fresh tortillas for Sunset Grille’s panuchos, or tortillas filled with refried beans and egg, topped with chicken, pickled onion and cotija cheese. Savvy customers choose the restaurant’s “Masa Tasting Platter,” or a sampling of all its fresh masa dishes.

 

“I lived in Mexico for years, where masa grinding is much more common, and everything tastes so much fresher. People come here and they don’t know why our food tastes so different from other Mexican restaurants around. They can’t put their finger on it, but it’s at least in part due to the freshly ground masa.”

 

Sunset Grille

68 Gedney Way, White Plains

(914) 227-9353; www.sunsetgrilleny.com.

 

Spring Ramps Up

By Julia Sexton

 

Look out onto your greening may lawn. Chances are you’re seeing tufts of stalky green-onion grass cresting above your trimmed turf. While it’s not a particularly pleasant sight, those weeds mean that spring ramps are in season.

 

Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are a member of the Allium family, and are a close relative to onion grass, chives, leeks, and scallions. In fact, they look a lot like scallions, but have flat, maroon-veined leaves instead of the scallion’s hollow green stalks. Tasting like a garlic-tinged, very intense leek, ramps grow wild from Canada to North Carolina and can be foraged right here in Westchester.