September 16, 1994 |
Esmarelda's Restaurant & Bar, at Second and Bainbridge Streets, takes its name from an old portrait of a woman whose origin seems as much an enigma as the Mona Lisa's smile. But one thing is for certain: Nothing could be more clear-cut than this restaurant's charming allure. It's housed in the quarters that once belonged to Pyrenees, an enchanting eatery and a mainstay in the Queen Village neighborhood for many years. Physically, nothing much has changed. Which is good.
January 24, 1993 |
In restaurants as with other things, looks can be deceiving. Judging by the fanciful emperor's palace used as the logo for King Tien restaurant, I expected to be dining in elegant splendor. Instead, I found a drab, dimly lighted restaurant in the Dreshertown Shopping Plaza, decorated in '60s-style with cream-colored walls, black booths and fake flowers on the tables. The menu, filled with all-too-familiar dishes, is similarly in a time warp, offering nothing to place King Tien in jeopardy of being on the cutting edge of culinary adventure.
December 10, 1989 |
Thanks to a magnificent reconstruction, the historic Buck Hotel has one of the region's most stunning dining rooms. The familiar Colonial facade that has stood in the middle of Feasterville since 1735 remains unchanged, but behind it is a cozy hideaway - the Carriage Restaurant - that opened in mid-October. Warmed physically and psychologically by gas-fed logs, the elegant room fairly shimmers in mellow mahogany woodwork, warm colors, subdued lighting, elaborately etched glass panels framed with gleaming brass posts and flame sconces with hurricane shades.
January 19, 1990 |
It's a new time in Poland, but even as Poles here and abroad gather to talk about the astonishing events taking place, the foods gracing the tables are steeped in the old traditions. Governments change, but stuffed cabbages, potato pancakes, borscht and pierogis are forever. They're the foods of the people. In Port Richmond, the heart of the city's Polish enclave, there's a cafeteria-style restaurant called Syrenka that does justice to these dishes. The food is authentic, inexpensive and delicious.
October 23, 1988 |
Even in an area rich with splendid Italian restaurants, Diamond's Kent Cafe stands above the crowd. Indeed, with its homemade cuisine, cozy setting and friendly treatment of guests, this family-run restaurant is one of the stars of Trenton's Chambersburg section. Were it not for its front awning, Diamond's would look like any other rowhouse, but inside are two romantically lighted dining rooms, their dark- paneled walls fringed with plastic Christmas greens and tiny white lights.
December 22, 1993 |
When she was a child in Poland, Krystyna Eljasz would wait breathlessly outside in the falling light of Christmas Eve, scanning the sky with her sisters and brothers, watching for the first star to appear in the night. The four-week pre-Christmas season of Advent was drawing to a close, and, for the children who had fasted this day and been tantalized at the same time by the fragrances coming from the kitchen, the star meant two things: The symbol, of course, of Jesus' birth, and the signal that the wait was over.
August 2, 1987 |
If modesty is a virtue, The Saloon, the popular Jeffersonville restaurant, is as pure as Caesar's wife. Now in its 10th year, this family-operated restaurant serves dishes of modest achievement in a mundane atmosphere, unless you are lucky enough to be seated in the preferred dining room. The lobby and main dining room are picturesque places, thanks to rich pine and oak paneling, dark-green wallpaper prettily imprinted with pink and white flowers, and immense baskets of dried flowers.
February 14, 1988 |
Chances are good that even if you've never been to Italy to experience one firsthand, you'll know that La Trattoria in Medford doesn't look a bit like a real trattoria. A real trattoria doesn't look like a front porch on Main Street U.S.A. A real trattoria looks, well, kind of earthy. It is not cute and tea- roomish, with everything from lacy paper valentines on the curtained windows to fancy parasol-type umbrellas over some tables. That said, I'll get to the probable reason for the new South Jersey restaurant's name: a kitchen that turns out the sort of great sauces and simple dishes that one might find in - you've got it - a trattoria.
November 6, 1988 |
The gang is in place in a harvest-orange vinyl booth. Conversation competes with a pop tune - Robert Palmer's "Simply Irresistible" - wafting from a miniature 1950s-era juke box on the tabletop. A waitress in polyester whites saunters up with six glasses of water. "Is it the usual, gang, or are we going to be brave today?" Anna Marie Spielberger chuckles to the group of regulars. Moments later she reappears through the aluminum kitchen doors with plates heaped to the brim: a California burger, onion rings and fries; eggs sunny- side up, crisp bacon, silver-dollar-size homefries, and a cheesesteak platter aromatic with fried onions, balanced in the crevice of her right elbow.
April 8, 1988 |
Dishes such as barbecued fresh chitterlings with ox tripe or deep-fried red snapper probably are not going to stir up images of Korean cuisine for many of us. These two preparations, however, happen to be popular items at Seoul Garden, a relatively new Korean restaurant on Spruce Street near 48th. To those unfamiliar with Korean food, please note: It's multi-dimensional and fully seasoned. And most of the dishes are prepared without employing complex techniques. While the food is analogous to that of other Asian cuisines, it has its own character.