Westchester Magazine’s Five Best Dishes of the Month
Julia Sexton, our restaurant critic and food blogger’s top five drinks and meals
1) The “Bulldog” at La Herradura in New Rochelle. I ordered this drink just because it was insane: It’s a small bottle of Corona beer turned upside down into a frozen Margarita. It’s unholy, an abomination, and I just had to have it. To my amazement, while I never order Corona beer and never order frozen Margaritas, this novelty drink actually sort of worked. The straw-colored, fizzy beer added crispness to the overly sugary frozen drink, while the Margarita’s lime lent some charm to an otherwise pretty blah beer. Plus, it looks rad and, when you drink it, it bubbles like a water cooler. So there.
2) Bibimbap at So Gong Dong Tofu in Hartsdale. I’ve loved this Korean soul-food dish since I first tasted it way back when. Basically (though specific ingredients vary), it’s a nutritive composition of sticky short-grain rice, carrots, squash, sautéed mushrooms, eggs, and pork, plopped on a rocket-hot stone and then served up—crackling, spitting, and volcanically hot—as a direct challenge to the diner’s personal safety. I waited until the rice had developed a sweet, golden crust, then I stirred it all up with some kochujang (chili paste) and went to town.
3) Lobster Roll at PJ’s in Wellfleet, MA. It’s the annual summer Sexton residency in the weird old house by the sea in Truro that was (pro) painted by Edward Hopper and is (con) a popular hangout of bats. Also (con), last summer, my local town beach was the site of the first shark attack on Cape Cod since 1936. But (pro), we do have great seafood in abundance. My newest discovery is the heaped lobster roll at PJ’s Seafood on Route 6. The lobster chunks are taut, fresh, plentiful, and nearly innocent of mayo. Plus, the top split bun is super-buttery and crisp. Sadly, they’re $14.99 (con), which really adds up every day.
4) Lamb Cooked Under the Bell at Dubrovnik in New Rochelle. This is the weirdest restaurant in Westchester—and I sort of love it. Some of the best cooking there is done outdoors over a wood fire, and nothing smells better than delicious things, cooked outdoors over wood, on a mild summer night. This lamb (and, especially, its fat) was beautifully golden, smoky, and delicious. It was cooked under an iron “bell” placed over that wood fire with more coals piled on top, sort of like an old fashioned Dutch oven. Gnawing this smoky lamb off its tiny bones while sitting under a starry sky was a primal, sensual experience.
5) Roasted Corn at home. Here’s a lazy cook move: if you’re too inert to shuck all those ears of corn and then boil your biggest pot of water and then wash the same big
pot later (because it doesn’t fit in the dishwasher), just pull off the silk and throw those ears on the grill. If it’s great, local corn (and it was), it doesn’t take long to cook. Just blacken the husks evenly, and then plop them—all black and charred—onto your diners’ plates. Now it’s their responsibility to shuck the corn, so you’re being passive-aggressive but also quite trendy; this is a method that Chef Christian Petroni of Fortina uses to cook corn. But besides being easy on the cook, it’s also more delicious than boiling—the blackened, ashy husks lend a smoky sweetness to the corn.