In Food & Drink, Westchester on
May 10, 2018

Restaurant Review: Village Social Kitchen & Bar in Mount Kisco

IMG_2709.jpgI always love a restaurant where the servers could be confused with the manager. Someone who is thrilled to make menu suggestions, takes pride in everything that comes to the table, and makes the experience so unbelievably welcoming. We were driving back to Danbury after spending the day White Plains and decided to check out Mount Kisco for dinner. After a quick google search and text messages to friends in the area, we decided on Village Social Kitchen & Bar. I was apprehensive at first (as we were not dressed to impress) and was not sure what the vibe would be in fancy Northern Westchester, but I was not going to let that sway our group decision.

As we drove down the winding Main Street, past the gigantic Northern Westchester Hospital campus, we were pleasantly surprised at the bustling downtown area. If we didn’t have a restaurant already in mind, it would have been hard to choose. We counted a dozen restaurants on just a few blocks! There was everything from hip American gastropubs, an adorable wine bar, trendy Mexican & Asian spots, and the Exit 4 Food Hall. Even the Mount Kisco diner looked inviting! I can only imagine how awesome this town will be during the summer when everyone is eating outside under the string lights that are up year round. It’s safe to say we’ll be back.

Boy were we pleased with our decision. Village Social was dimly lit and sleek but surprisingly comfortable and inviting. The smooth concrete bar was expansive and the dining room was simply decorated with a mix of wood paneling and slick white walls. We were greeted instantly by one of the most friendly hostesses in recent memory and had a decent enough wait that we decided to grab a drink at the bar. The bar would have been perfect for a date night (and don’t worry, there are tv’s if you need to catch the game!) over a glass of wine or any of the craft cocktails and rotating selection of beers.

We were seated adjacent to the bar and right away were greeted by our server who came armed with water, menus, and recommendations from the impressive selection of specials. Chef Mauricio Nunez & crew’s menu was an elevated take on seasonal American food with Asian and Italian accents. It was heavy on the seafood and unique meat options and was hard to make a decision. We started with the PEI Mussels which were drenched in the “broth of life” as my friend called it, complemented by a mixture of sambuca, garlic, and lemon. We loved the broth so much that we asked for extra bread to sop it up.

We followed the mussels with their Bruschetta di Burrata (seriously can’t resist that creamy goodness on any menu) which was topped with the surprisingly delicious combination of butternut squash and pesto. That disappeared from the table quite quickly as we inhaled it.

Our friends chose to split the rack of lamb special which included a beautiful risotto. The kitchen was able to split it for them and we were warned that it may not look as pretty – but it’s hard to make rack of lamb look bad. The portion size was still pretty decent too. The lamb melted in our mouths and the risotto was perfectly cooked, which is sometimes a gamble.

My husband and I chose to share the Shrimp & Grits and Rabbit Sugo Pappardelle. I had never tried rabbit before, but the accompanying charred brussels sprouts, butternut squash, ricotta salata, and brown butter made it sound super appetizing. Sometimes you need to try new things! The shrimp and grits were divine. The grits were mixed with calabrian chili, smoked gouda, and pancetta and was decadent if not a little bit too rich. It was definitely worth splitting. The rabbit was very similar to a braised short rib, and was almost a ragu consistency. It was spicy but not overpowering, and was the perfect complement to the thick flat pappardelle noodles. I would have never chose to pair charred brussels sprouts with pasta, but the flavor and texture was a surprisingly great addition. It felt like spring in a dish and the plate was practically licked clean.

The dessert menu was enticing, with a banana cream pie with brûlée topping really stealing our attention, but we were so full from our rich meals and all that sopping bread! Our server was super gracious and even told us to come back the next day for their skirt steak special. As far as I’m concerned, he very well could have been the manager!

This is one of those places that you know will always be a good meal. The prices are standard for the area with the rack of lamb special topping out at $32 and craft cocktails averaging around $11. It still feels decadent but won’t necessarily break the bank.  It’s the perfect neighborhood spot for a date night, girls night out, or just a random Saturday with friends. Their brunch menu is extensive and mouth-watering. We can safely say we will be back, and are looking forward to warmer days to sit outside and enjoy the bustling ambiance of Mount Kisco.

In Food & Drink on
February 23, 2018

An Ode to the Neighborhood Joint

It happens all too often, especially these days. Leases expire, developers swoop in, and the neighborhood watering hole decides to close its doors and look for greener pastures. When I got the email that my old neighborhood bar was closing at the end of the month, memories of enjoying countless nights over refreshing beers and satisfying comfort food started to bubble up to the surface and I realized the magnitude of this loss. It’s like losing a good friend.

We were spoiled by the Craftsman Ale House, a hidden gem in Harrison. Situated just around the corner from the train station, the bar barely had a sign. In fact, the awning just said Bar & Grill. Nobody would have looked at this place at first glance and said “now THIS is where I want to open a bar”. It was divey and pure, with absolutely no frills. There was no trendy lighting, chairs, or bar top. The heat and AC barely worked. It was clean enough to not be dirty. The crowd was not your typical judgey Westchester scene. You could show up in your pajamas or your finest job interview outfit, and nobody would think twice. It was truly just about the beer – and the endless beer swag that decorated the place. Beer books and magazines lined the shelves, signs covered the walls, and brewery pint glasses filled the back of the bar. If you came on a good night, sometimes you’d even leave with some swag of your own.

We were spoiled with access to some of the best beers in the country, and this place was one of the first to really embrace the craft beer scene in the suburbs. Different breweries would come in each week for tap takeovers and to showcase their latest, greatest, and often rarest. I should mention that craft beer lovers really enjoy bragging.

Shout out to our favorite bartender, Dan
Photo Credit: New York Times

This was a beer joint where you were not-so-subtly shamed for wanting a Bud Light. They simply didn’t offer any big name (ahem, crappy) beers. You’d be greeted with a smile upon asking for their constantly updated beer menu, and it was maybe one of the easiest icebreakers to get to know the bartenders when they asked what kind of beers you liked. Bonus points when they automatically remembered your preference and would suggest what they’d think you would like, or pour you a sample of anything they had on tap to get you out of your comfort zone.

From releasing the stress of the long work week at happy hour, watching an epic game with some chicken wings (special shout out to the onion rings with chipotle mayo!), or even just needing to get out of the house at the first winter thaw – this was THE place. It was a no-brainer.

I’d get off the train and head down to the bar and always knew I wouldn’t be alone even if my friends weren’t there yet. I guess that’s the beauty of being a regular in a friendly place. The owner would randomly take out his special reserves and pass them around the bar in sample cups. Or the bartenders would even bring beer from their collection and share in a communal tasting with their favorite customers. These small gestures were certain to keep us coming back, and couldn’t wait to bring out-of-town visitors for a unique and homey experience.There was even that one crowded Saturday night when we walked in and there were no tables available so the manager pulled a table literally out of storage and placed it on the floor for us. What a way to make someone feel special.  

How do we say goodbye to a neighborhood institution? Sure, we may have moved away, but it was always going to be there if we needed that small dose of nostalgia, to meet up with our friends in the area, and of course enjoy a delicious pint. It may be moving to a new location, but it just won’t be the same. Just remember where you came from and what so many people loved about the OG. Thank you for the memories. Cheers! This one’s for you. 

In Things to Do, Winter on
February 2, 2018

6 Ways to Enjoy Winter When You’ve Had Enough

That pesky groundhog continues to see his shadow year after year. Most people aren’t too pleased about 6 more weeks of winter, but we live in the Northeast – its just a fact of life. The snow doesn’t look as pretty as it did in December, you get tired of cleaning off your car and shoveling your driveway, and the winter layers are just getting annoying. Instead of complaining about it, embrace it. Now that the darkest days of winter are behind us, it’s time to get out there and enjoy the beauty of the season!

Winter happens to be a season I fully enjoy. Here’s a few ideas to help you make the most of it:

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In Family Fun, Getaways on
September 22, 2017

The Best Places for Apple-picking Awesomeness

It should go without saying that apple-picking is the quintessential fall activity in this area. Just ask the hordes of people trekking north from the city in search of the perfect fall photo. Before you write it off as being too cliche, there is so much more than just frolicking through an orchard. More and more farms are turning into full-on tourist destinations. With hay rides, delicious local food and drink offerings, farmers markets, corn mazes, petting zoos, and did we mention apples?! – it is impossible to be bored.

Please don’t just do it for the Instagram.

Do it because apples are freaking delicious. Do it because there is nothing better than fresh-made cider and donuts…and apple cider donuts – the greatest invention ever! Do it so you can feel like a kid again (corn maze, anyone?) Do it to support awesome local seasonal family-run businesses. Do it because even science says it’s good for you.

Click through for some of our favorite spots!

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In Getaways on
September 14, 2017

Take a Hike!

We can’t stress this enough: GET OUTSIDE this season! The Hudson Valley and surrounding areas are absolutely breathtaking once the leaves start to change color. This region is home to some of the top-rated hikes in the entire country, and are quite popular for those looking to escape the city and get out into nature. From steep rock ledges to lakeside carriage trails, all of these hikes offer stunning views and you will have a hard time running out of places to go. We can’t believe we live among all of this beauty!

Our personal favorite is Minnewaska State Park Preserve in Ulster County, NY which is about 90 minutes from New York City. One day does not do this place justice so we will be posting separately about this amazing area that is worth taking a weekend getaway!

Be sure to download the app AllTrails and get hiking! Continue reading for more of our favorites!

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In Fall, Uncategorized on
September 13, 2017

It’s Fall Ya’ll

Fall is in the air. Sure it might not be crisp and cool just yet but the return of football, Pumpkin Spice lattes, and Oktoberfest beers really help kick things off. Wash away your summer blues and get ready to enjoy what is the most beautiful time of year in this area!

Early September is the perfect time to start planning for ways to truly maximize the gorgeous weekends of this unfortunately all-too-short season. We’ve put together some of our favorite ideas and must-do’s that are perfect for a weekend getaway or a quick afternoon activity.

We’ll have the best hikes, ciders & brews, seasonal deliciousness (all the apples!) leaf peeping spots, festivals, and even where to enjoy all of those at once! If you know anywhere that we need to check out, drop us a line!!

We’ll be highlighting our favorites and new discoveries throughout the season so be sure to check back!

 

In Family Fun, Getaways, Summer on
August 23, 2017

Summer Must-do: Visit a country ice cream stand

Hope everyone is enjoying their summer and what’s left of it! There’s nothing better on a hot summer night than some ice cream from the local stand. Our personal favorite is Dairyland in Sharon Springs, New York. You can’t miss the classic look of these stands, and they’ll never go out of style. People come from miles away and line up for the variety of hand-packed or soft-serve ice cream, milkshakes, and even the fried stuff from the grill! Some of our best childhood summer memories involve going to get ice cream, and it’s great to see other families doing the same. It’s a tried and true American Summer experience. On your next road trip, be sure to take a pit stop at one of the many stands lining the back roads of the Hudson Valley and Connecticut. For some reason, ice cream just tastes better in the country!

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It’s pretty hard to beat a chocolate/vanilla twist with rainbow sprinkles on a cone. What’s your favorite? 

In Go Northward on
August 8, 2017

Go Northward with us!

Go Northward was created to be a resource for those who are currently living in the northern suburbs in Westchester, Fairfield, and the Hudson Valley. It is also to provide a lifeline for those looking to escape the city. It’s not required to be rich, be married, or have 2.5 kids and a dog to enjoy life in the suburbs. The music, arts, and food scenes are thriving. Cooler than cool events and places are popping up every week. Some of the best talents and ridiculously interesting people from NYC have made their way…Northward.

At the end of the day, all we’re looking for is a sense of community. It’s hard to establish that when everyone is commuting from different places, so we want to help create a tribe of like-minded individuals. Maybe it’s the rabid passion for working hard and playing even harder to maximize your weekends. Maybe it’s the ability to fully enjoy all four seasons (our favorite being the incredible fall that is unmatched anywhere in the country).  Maybe it’s the opportunity to spread out and breathe, create, and grow. Whatever it is, it makes us better people when we can be proud of what makes us feel lucky to live here in the city’s backyard. This blog will be focused on sharing favorite places, uncovering hidden gems, meeting amazing people, and most importantly promoting all of the awesomeness in this area. So Go Northward and create a life you don’t need to escape from!!