Pastaio Soho, London

The merriment in London’s Soho neighborhood is all about. The streets are flowing with shoppers, and plenty of dining options await. Pastaio Soho, a lively restaurant that serves up the freshest pasta, is the place to be to relax and refuel in between shopping, and photographing the Christmas lights.

With two other locations in Westfield and Market Hills, their Soho location is conveniently located just behind Hamley’s, and the Carnaby Christmas Lights. Picadilly Circus, Leicester Square, and Covent Garden are all within a short walking distance. With festivities all about in London, a hearty and housemade pasta dish is just the thing.

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Blu Mar Restaurant in Southampton

One of the newest restaurants on the Southampton scene is Blu Mar, a Mediterranean seafood restaurant that marries pristine, wild seafood from Atlantic, Pacific and Mediterranean waters, caught or flown in daily, with seasonal ingredients, harvested locally and at their peak. The vibrant interior offers guests a stylish and comfortable experience while dining outside on their front patio invites guests to a peaceful garden setting in the early evenings and a more upbeat vibe during the latter part of the evenings on the weekends.

It must be complimented right away how top-notch the service is at Blu Mar. When my family came in to dine during a weekday evening in July, our waiter went above and beyond in not only recommending his favorites but why he recommended certain dishes and how those dishes would be presented. Since we were undecided on so many choices because everything looked so tasty, our waiter made the smart suggestion of bringing out multiple starters to split first and then decide upon our main courses based upon the first course.

During our dining experience, we ordered the following:

Halibut Ceviche: cilantro, onion, lime, jalapeño potato ($21)

Cold Asparagus Soup: crème fraîche, crab, mache ($17) note: mache is a European salad green.

Citrus Salad: orange, grapefruit, marcona almonds, pistachio, fennel, olives, and evoo ($18)

Bavette al Nero di Seppia: with squid ink and romesco sauce ($28)

Wild Alaskan Salmon: young potatoes, blistered tomatoes, charred green onion ($46)

Skirt Steak Chimichurri: fingerling potatoes ($43)

Moroccan Spiced Carrots: feta and mint ($15)

The restaurant also has a “simply grilled” section served with a choice of sauces, as well as pastas and vegetable sides. The wild Mediterranean and American seafood are grilled whole and deboned, unless otherwise requested.

There is also a sensational caviar service served with buckwheat bilinis and crème fraiche, and mezze plates to share. Mezze plates include burrata, marinated feta and olives, and Mediterranean hummus. All of their pastas are made in house and are cooked to order.

Each plate truly went above expectations, my personal favorite was the asparagus soup that was so refreshing and creamy and that fresh taste of asparagus was both a burst of color and flavor, very appealing. The warm carrots with feta and mint also complemented both the salmon and steak perfectly. Squid ink pasta is so delicious, I always love ordering it every time I see it on the menu, and this was definitely a winning dish at Blu Mar. We also appreciated that our waiter came over very regularly to bring us more water, check in to see how we were enjoying our food, and was always at attention, as were the other staff members.

Dinner is served Sunday-Thursday from 5-10pm, and Friday and Saturday from 5-11pm. Happy Hour is served daily from 4-6pm. // 631-488-4570

New Healthy Start Menu at The Surf Lodge

One of my favorite places to be during the East End’s summer season, The Surf Lodge in Montauk, recently debuted their new ‘healthy start’ menu that perfectly aligns with their newly opened wellness center, The Surf Lodge Sanctuary.

The new healthy fare menu is for those who want to wake up and feel good about what they eat and be able to continue the day with plenty of energy and motivation. The menu is perfect for before or after a morning workout and is diverse with its offerings for vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores alike.

Image courtesy of The Surf Lodge

Culinary Director Shaun Hergatt and Head Chef Robert Sieber have developed new menu selections featuring a variety of healthy bites like the Almond Chia Pudding, the delicious Matcha Bowl, Brooklyn Waffles (ingredients actually brought in daily from BK), Mexican Baked Eggs and more. There is also a selection of enjoyable toasts such as the Ricotta Toast with orange blossom honey, hazelnuts, mint, and pink peppercorns. 

Guests can also pair their healthy breakfast with one of their raw juice selections, a fresh roasted cup of Bluestone Lane coffee, or even a cocktail from the new cocktail menu, featuring some of the classics and new favorites. 

Header photo and image directly above is courtesy of Sam Hillman Photography

When we visited The Surf Lodge this past weekend to try the new ‘healthy start’ and ‘down the middle’ menu for the first time, we ordered the following:

Almond Chia Pudding: fresh fruit mint, toasted almonds ($12)

Farmer’s Breakfast Bowl: organic grains, broccoli, spinach, sunny side egg ($19)

Brooklyn Waffles: local strawberries, rum-mascarpone, maple syrup ($20)

East End Burger: Wagyu beef, white cheddar, special sauce, pickles, onion, French fries ($24)

Grilled Local Vegetables: romesco sauce, lemon ($10)

This is the type of menu you could enjoy almost every weekend, paired with beautiful views of the lake. And with all that is happening The Surf Lodge this season, there is always something to do at the property.

Additional menu items worth noting are the Peekytoe Crab Toast with paragon aioli, tobiko, chives, toasted sourdough; and Mexican Baked Eggs, chorizo, squash blossoms, and tortillas.

Image courtesy of The Surf Lodge

Click here to book a table. The brunch menu is currently available on weekends from 11am-2pm. Parking for non-guests is at the railroad station just across from Montauk Manor. // 631-483-5037

Hooked in Montauk Celebrates One Year Anniversary

Eat like a local! There are so many reasons why Hooked Montauk is one of my favorite eateries out east. From the freshest seafood to some of the friendliest service around, Hooked reels in healthy and satisfying salads, grilled, fish and poke bowls, to our East End classics such as their to-die-for lobster roll, local steamers, and ‘off the hook’ plates such as their BBQ Baby Back Ribs and Grilled Chicken Sandwich. It is everything you crave and more this summer season. A trip to the beach or park is just not the same without takeout from Hooked.

Hooked is offering a lobster roll special for those looking to bring lunch to the beach in a timely manner. Place your order for take-out before you arrive and enjoy a lobster roll and beverage for a special price. Hooked is located near many beaches making it easy and accessible for those traveling without a vehicle.

With a focus on lobster, discover one of my new must-try dishes for the season, the Tom Lob (pictured below): vine ripened tomato stuffed with lobster salad ($25). They also serve lobster mac and cheese which has been a crowd favorite, a lobster salad roll served with coleslaw, and whole local steamed lobster served with mussels and corn. Owners and long-time locals Brian and Gillian Mooney know how to curate a menu that is perfect for everyone from seafood lovers and those who are health conscious to those who favorite ‘land’ fare and love to dig in to exceptional food that is served up fast.

Tom Lob

Additional must-try, signature dishes are their Lobster Bisque, Kick’n Crab and Corn Chowder, and Grilled Mahi Mahi served as a sandwich with fries or over greens.

Hooked in Montauk is currently open seven days a week from 11:30am. The restaurant is also available for preparing food for parties of up to 20 people. // 631-668-2111

Toast And Co. Litchfield

Another gem has sprung up in the increasingly posh town of Litchfield, CT. Toast and Co., a quaint and rustic coffee house and eatery, serves breakfast and lunch as well as premium coffee and tea. Their menu of light fare offers something for everyone. From healthier options like smoothie bowls or the popular keto breakfast, to comfort food classics like a grilled cheese sandwich or BLT. They also offer breakfast sandwiches all day. Perhaps the star of their menu is their expansive list of toast and toppings.

The duo behind Toast and Co. are local entrepreneurs Mark Abbott and Christine Harding. Abbott used his carpentry skills to renovate what once was a jewelry store on Route 202 into the charming cafe it is today. Harding used her foodservice savvy to develop impeccable service and a tempting menu.

The culmination of their shared talents led to a cozy spot to gather, sip, munch, and catch up. This destination is a favorite among students of nearby Litchfield High School. As the name might imply, the creators of Toast and Co. are passionate about great bread and outstanding toppings. They have collaborated with another local Litchfield landmark, Bantam Bread, to offer the best and freshest hand-made bread. Atop a piece of artisan toast you can enjoy delicious and novel toppings such as fresh mozzarella, pesto and tomato or peanut butter and banana.

They also offer Ami’s bagels, also made fresh daily, alongside a wide selection of toppings. For those with a sweet tooth, Toast and Co. offers decadent extra-thick milkshakes, including their signature “bottom of the bowl” milkshakes which feature the addition of childhood favorite cereals like cinnamon toast crunch, fruity pebbles, and frosted flakes. Pastries, doughnuts, muffins, and other baked goods are made in house.

Local coffee roasters, Omar Coffee, based out of Newington CT provides Toast and co. with the fresh-roasted coffee beans they use to create lattes, cappuccino, espresso, and hot or iced coffee.

Toast and Co. opens at 6am weekdays and 7am on the weekends.


TBar Opens in Southampton

The Hamptons’ restaurant scene continues to attract new world class cuisine each year, and just expanded its selection of irresistible eateries with the opening of TBar Southampton.

One of New York City’s favorite hot spots, TBar Steak restaurant is sinking its chops into the East End, with its newest project from seasoned restaurateur Tony Fortuna. The joint venture, along with entrepreneur and partner Derek Axelrod whose family owned the French Connection clothing line, and the former owner of Mexican eatery Teqa, will take over the former Jue Lan Club space, which has transformed into a more casual sister of TBar with an airy, beachy vibe and the greatly coveted indoor and outdoor seating.

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Navy Beach

One of the most popular dining destinations in Montauk during the summer season is Navy Beach, and for so many reasons. It is not only a family-friendly oasis for a delicious and memorable meal, it is also a popular beachfront wedding and event space. Upcoming events include the Navy SEAL Foundation cocktail party on Saturday, June 22nd from 3-5pm. The cocktail party will be the kick-off to a seventh season of fundraising efforts at the restaurant.

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Ram’s Head Inn Launches the 2019 Summer Season

Courtesy of Madison Fender Photography

A favorite of many locals and summer sightseers, the Ram’s Head Inn is a classic hotel, restaurant, and event venue on Shelter Island. This is where my family and I escape to during the summer season, and we couldn’t think of a better destination for endless hours of play, great food, live music during select evenings, and the most peaceful and secluded setting.

The Ram’s Head Inn, known for its historic charm, is home to an acclaimed farm-to-table restaurant, led by Executive Chef Joe Smith. Open 7 days a week during the summer months for brunch, lunch and dinner, Smith’s seasonally focused New American menu boasts fresh local produce, game, and seafood, accoutered with herbs from the Inn’s own garden.

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Almond Restaurant in Bridgehampton

Set in the heart of Bridgehampton on Ocean Road and within walking distance to the Hampton Jitney stop and many local businesses is Almond Restaurant & Bar. The restaurant is a longtime favorite of locals and visitors alike for many reasons. With a focus on a farm-to-table menu, a strong wine list, a genuinely friendly and knowledgeable staff, and lively conversations all evening long make for an excellent evening out.

Almond’s New American menu with a distinctive French influence showcases a colorful array of land and sea fare with notables including the famous Le Grande Macaroni and Cheese that is so creamy and aromatic (perfect for sharing amongst the table).

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Brooklyn Chop House Will Open May 23rd in Southampton

Brooklyn Chop House will, for the second year in a row, open their doors in Southampton at The Capri Hotel. Opening Thursday, May 23rd, the Hamptons seasonal summertime location, will complement Brooklyn Chop House’s flagship in FiDi by offering guests a vacation destination to dine in that serves Pat LaFrieda steaks alongside Asian fare like Peking Duck and a variety of unique dumplings. The restaurant in Southampton will be open through Labor Day, Monday, September 2nd.

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Long Chim Melbourne at Crown Resorts

Long Chim is a popular modern Thai restaurant situated on the Yarra Promenade in Melbourne, adjacent to where the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival took place a week prior. Conceptualized by Australian Chef David Thompson, who is internationally known for his Thai cooking skills, Long Chim opened its Melbourne location in January 2017. The atmosphere is ideal for those who want to take in plenty of relaxation after a busy day, by taking in the South Bank riverside views, or prefer a spicy and diverse meal before a late night out at Crown Resorts (stay for the nightly gas brigades show)!

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Lunch at Ram’s Head Inn

Ram’s Head Inn on Shelter Island is that hidden oasis that everyone must visit, whether you are a seasoned visitor or resident of Shelter Island to one who is visiting for the first time. During my lunch on a Wednesday afternoon, my guest and I met families from as close as Manhattan and those vacationing all the way from Northern Italy, who expressed how much they loved the Inn.

Lunch for us was such a perfect time to dine outdoors. With the abundance of sunshine and picturesque views of the backyard and beach, it is the place to unwind and grab a delicious bite to eat. Continue reading

The Backyard Restaurant at Solé East 2018

We visited The Backyard Restaurant in Montauk on a Thursday afternoon less than two weeks ago. As a family of four with two young children, we always prefer to make our reservations for dinner as early as possible. The restaurant was very accommodating and seated us promptly adjacent to their backyard garden, which I had never explored before. We generally sit poolside just in front of where the musicians perform on select evenings.

I was very impressed with the ample amount of property Solé East has. Guests could easily spend the entire day on property, resting in one of the hammocks, or by the campfire during the evenings. My daughter loved running around and sitting in the swings. It is the perfect family and couples destination that is within walking distance to the Village of Montauk and its beaches. A bike ride to the beach is just 3 minutes!
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The Surf Lodge for Dinner 2018

The Surf Lodge in Montauk has recently introduced Culinary Director Ron Rosselli, who is elevating the dining experience at the on-site restaurant to a whole new level. I had the pleasure of coming in to dine at The Surf Lodge just last week where I also met with Chef de Cuisine Angela Bazan, who oversees the day to day.

Chef Rosselli has a strong appreciation for the great suppliers and the summertime life in Montauk. A combination of all his memories, plus his years of cooking in New York with Cafe Boulud, Locanda Verde, and The Standard Grill have aided in the creation of this Montauk inspired menu. Chef Bazan studied at the French Culinary Institute, now the International Culinary Center.  After training she worked throughout New York in trendy Brooklyn cafes, to notable culinary restaurants including the Spice Market, Standard Hotel, among others. She has also worked with chefs from Jean-Georges, Bobby Flay, and Nina Clemente.

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