Justin’s Tuscan Grill

Categories: Eat-in, Fancy
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Published on: February 21, 2014

After a long, difficult week, the wife and I decided to treat ourselves.  We’ve been to Justin’s a few times over the years, and decided a Friday night dinner there was just the thing.

Justin’s is just off Old Collamer Road, in the center of a nest of hotels near Carrier Circle (exit 35 off the Thruway).  As such, most of the diners there during the week are business folks who walk (or drive) over from the surrounding hotels.  The restaurant itself is fairly upscale.  The decor and pricing is decidedly higher-end.

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Carmella’s Cafe

Categories: Casual, Eat-in, Italian
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Published on: October 17, 2010

New Hartford is the original Carmella’s Cafe location. My fiancé recalls when there was a Carmella’s in North Syracuse, but it has since closed down. The website mentioned it was created as a chain. This restaurant is trying to hard to be an old time Italian restaurant, but it doesn’t have the authentic look and feel. They had classic music playing similar to Frank Sinatra and tables covered with red and white or green and white checkered table clothes. In the back of the restaurant the workers make the pasta fresh by hand; that’s about the only authentic feel this place has.

We were led to the back of the restaurant and seated right next to the computers the servers use to cash people out. It was somewhat awkward because there was always someone right behind us at the computers. I should have requested a different table, but there weren’t too many in this back section available. It seemed like they really wanted to keep the front of the store empty it seemed.

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Doug’s Fish Fry (Skaneateles)

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Published on: October 4, 2010

Wall Street’s RecommendationBuy

The Executive Summary:  What has become nothing short of an institution in the town of Skaneateles is, in my opinion, an above average seafood shack and worth visiting should you be in the area.  I can’t bring myself to give this the Strong Buy many might look for in this review…perhaps this is because I grew up on John’s Atlantic Seafood fried haddock (formerly in Mattydale Plaza, now on 31 in Baldwinsville) and have a childhood predisposition to that recipe.  However, the fact remains that the breading lacks the texture and flavour that I find more pleasing to the palate that John’s provides.  Couple that with John’s stellar sides and Doug’s moves firmly into second place.  But this is not a review of John’s so…

The Full Report:  Took the wife and kids out for the weekend to enjoy an autumn walk thru the Skaneateles shopping district and decided to try “the original” Doug’s as I’d been told that the former hub in Clay with the same namesake paled in comparison to the one on the Lake.  It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon and while the streets were bustling, there was at least 50% of the seats in the place empty.  Perhaps this isn’t the prime time for the joint…

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Bonefish Grill

Categories: Casual, Chain, Eat-in, Seafood
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Published on: September 11, 2010

Wall Street’s RecommendationHold/Neutral

The Executive Summary:  An above-average national seafood chain edges out the competition with its understated décor, good food quality and (at least in my experience) superior service.  It’s food will not stand head-to-head with a ‘real’ seafood joint a la the Clam Bar or John’s Atlantic (I’ll review those in coming months) which is why I personally would not go back again, but if you want a more sophisticated family-friendly chain or you’re a local teen looking to do better than Red Lobster for a hot date without breaking the bank on a classier boutique joint, this should do it.

The Full Report:  Arrived at the restaurant and found it floating amidst the parking spaces in the Fayetteville Towne Center (with its Siamese twin, Red Robin), just screaming ‘plain vanilla chain’ which is a shame.   They appear to have made a concerted effort to add a bit of class and ambiance to set it apart from competing seafood franchises like Red Lobster or Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., the latter of which is not in CNY at this time though I assure you is as kitschy as the name implies.

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The Silo

Categories: All American, Eat-in, Fancy
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Published on: August 14, 2010

A friend of mine has retreated from the hectic pace of Manhattan to the more bucolic surroundings of Chenango county.  To celebrate his birthday, the wife and I went to visit at his place on a private lake (not as fancy as it sounds).  I’ve reviewed a number of places in the area, but this time we were looking for something a little more upscale.  We made a reservation for the Silo Restaurant, which is technically in Greene, but actually closer to the hamlet of Coventry.

There was a wedding going on there that day.  And no, I don’t mean just “wedding reception.”   We were offered an 8 PM spot in the upstairs dining area because the wedding party was using the larger downstairs area, and we jumped at it.  This time of year, the sun is already setting earlier, so we were treated to a sweeping view of the grounds and the surrounding area for less time than I would have liked.  Right outside, next to a small fountain, the chairs and pavilion for the wedding ceremony were still set up.  We’ve walked the grounds previously, but I never thought of having a ceremony there.  Apparently it’s a regular thing for them.

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India House

Categories: Casual, Eat-in, Indian
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Published on: May 14, 2010

This may sound mildly racist, but if you go to an ethnic restaurant and at least some of the patrons are from the same area as the food, you can guess it’s probably pretty good.  About 80% of the times we visit India House, there are actually people from that area of the world eating there.  And they all seem very happy with the food.

The wife and I recently paid another visit to India House for dinner.  Situated in an old fast-food restaurant (I forget exactly which chain) on Old Liverpool Road, India House has been around for about 10 years.  It’s a popular place with the SU crowd – during the school year, you often find groups of students and professors there.

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Red Lobster

Categories: Casual, Chain, Eat-in, Seafood
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Published on: August 19, 2008

My wife and I keep late hours. We both work late into the evening. Many nights, especially in the winter, we go home for dinner, where she whips up something great. I think in 20 years of being together, she’s made maybe half a dozen dishes I really didn’t care for, and 3 I couldn’t possibly choke down. Before you bash me on being sexist, women’s rights, etc. let me tell you – she loves to cook. She just spent an absurd amount of money on re-doing “our” kitchen, in which I am not permitted.

And obviously, we like to dine out as well. So one recent Thursday night, we met at the Red Lobster on Rt 31 in Clay. At 9:30, it’s one of a handful of dining spots nearby that’s open late. Also, as a matter of disclosure, we own stock in Darden – the umbrella company which owns Red Lobster and Olive Garden, and recently sold off Smokey Bones. So we essentially were putting money back in our own pockets (it hurts less to think of it that way). (more…)

Basil Thai Cuisine

Categories: Asian, Casual, Eat-in
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Published on: June 30, 2008

Basil Thai is a small little place tucked back in the corner of 3 Rivers Plaza in Phoenix. Usually lots of parking, unless you get there late and the bar down the plaza is hopping. The location has been a succession of pizza joints in the past, and the seating remains the same – faux wood laminated “uni-booths” plus a couple tables.

There’s seating for approx 20 adults.

The place is owned by Pong and his wife, both of whom work in the kitchen and out on the floor. Most weekend evenings, you’ll find their son and daughter serving and bussing as well. (more…)

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