Stitch and Bear

A long-running Irish blog with reviews of the best restaurants in Dublin and throughout Ireland. Some wine and cocktails thrown in for good measure!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Eating on the Road in America

America is the country of eating well. Everywhere we went, we encountered huge portions, the friendliest service and excellent value. We ate like kings during our week in the states, and here is a summary of the best.

Ed's Steakhouse, Bedford, PA

When we came off the turnpike into Bedford, Pennsylvania, I was exhausted. I had just driven for approx 2.5 hours from Dulles Airport. It was my first time driving in the states, and I had been given a "medium" car by the rental agency. Of course I should have realised that in American-speak, a medium car is somewhat equivalent to a tank by Eurpean standards. I actually loved the Ford Fusion that I drove in the states, but I was glad to get off the road at the end of that first day.

Once we'd checked into the Quality Inn in Bedford, we ventured out to see what was around. There were the usual cluster of fast food outlets, but we also found the local treasure that was Ed's Steakhouse. It looked small from the road, but turned out to have plenty of seating, and is clearly popular with the local residents. Our starters of creamed spinach with cheese, served with garlic bread, and portobello mushroom, arrived quickly along with some small fresh-baked loaves of bread. Before we'd barely finished the starters, the main courses had arrived. I had the mesquite flavoured flank steak and my other half had the steak and prawns. Portions were massive and both steaks were excellently cooked. Service was excellent and friendly throughout and we left very content indeed. Top marks to an excellent local restaurant.
Ed's Steakhouse, 4476 Business Route 200, Bedford, PA 15522

Montana's Cookhouse, Niagara Falls

We spent our second night in Niagara Falls. It turned out that the entire population of Niagara Falls that night was us, the two Irish tourisets and six japanese tourists (slight exaggeration) but the place was deserted, even though someone had forgotten to turn the lights off. We enjoyed having the town to ourselves though, but it did prove a challenge when trying to find somewhere to eat. We climbed the hill from our hotel, the Sheraton on the Falls, up past the amusement arcades until we came to Montana's Cookhouse and Bar.

We stepped in the the unrelenting cold and seated ourselves in the bar area where several locals were enjoying their drinks. We didn't feel too hungry so we ordered the Nachos and Baby Back Ribs. Both portions were enormous, and as our server said "You guys just ain't used to these portions". We did our best with this delicious food, but we had to admit defeat before the end. Great ribs and well worth a visit.
Montana's Cookhouse and Bar, 5759 Avenue Victoria, Ontario, L2G 3L6

The Cellar, Corning, NY

We arrived in Corning from Niagara, and checked into the Radisson SAS hotel. Corning town is spread out along the banks of the river, and is famous for it's glass factory. If you walk along the main shopping streets, you will find many shops featuring examples of local glassware.

We walked along the charming West Market Street, where we had our choice of several restaurants to choose from. However, as we had spent several days eating american food, we were in the market for something a little different and we were tempted by the sleek looking The Cellar, which advertised itself as a Tapas Bar, Wine Bar and Martini Bar. At this stage, a light powdering snow was falling and we seated ourselves at the window so we could watch the world go by.

The Cellar has an extensive, if a little pricey winelist and we chose glasses of red and sparkling wines from the local Finger Lakes region. We ordered plates of baked brie with fruit, a tomato sald, wild mushroom ravioli and Babaghanoush. The salad arrived first and turned out to be light and tasty. The baked brie was not really ripe enough to be truly melting in the middle but the nice sliced fruit and crackers were a lovely accompaniment. The wild mushroom ravioli turned out the be the star of the show. They featured a lovely meaty flavour and texture in a deliciously creamy walnut sauce. Truly very good indeed. The babaghanoush, a baked aubergine dish served with wholemeal pittas, turned out to be slightly bitter, as if the aubergines had been undercooked. We pretty much left it as it was. Sitting in the window of The Cellar watching the snow falling down around us was charming and we smiled all the way home as we walked arm in arm down the street.

The Cellar, 21 West Market Street, N.Y.

Passage to India, Harrisburg, PA

Our last night out on the road was spent in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. We stayed in the Comfort Inn on the banks of the Susquehanna River. At this stage I had covered a lot of road, and was fighting a flu as a result of getting sprayed by freezing mist in Niagara. I didn't want to venture far from the hotel, so we went to the adjoining Passage to India restaurant for our dinner.

The restaurant appears popular enough, and they've decently redecorated one dining room, which looked absolutely lovely. We ordered prawn and crab starters which arrived quickly. We were given sauces but had to ask for poppadoms to accompany them. My deep fried prawns, served with a tangy sauce, were tasty but I was disappointed with my main course. It was too heavy with an overpowering spice. I like spciy and will frequently be found in the 4-chili section of any menu but I found this to be cloying and full of heavy spices. My other half's main course of chicken jal frezi turned out to be much tastier and lighter. Overall, we had mixed feelings about this Indian restaurant whose food seems to be slightly dated.

Passage to India, 525 South Front Street, Harrisburg, PA

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