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Steel Magnolias - Valdosta GA

I've been here twice in the last two months, both times on a Saturday night. Great food, nice service, all around enjoyable meals that exceeded my expectations.

Nice list of specialty cocktails and an eclectic wine list. In both cases, I think something for everyone to like. I enjoyed the Silver Spur (Tanqueray Gin, Sparkling Rose, cardamom syrup, fresh mint) and the Porch Swing (house infused watermelon vodka, lemonade, champagne splash, fresh mint) on my two visits. Cocktails are $8 each and come in a mason jar.

Everyone enjoyed the shared starters, each with nicely distinct rich flavors and a feeling of indulgence: fried green tomatoes, feta cheese, peach chutney aioli ($8), grilled daily flatbread which came with pork belly the time we had it ($8), and the ahi tuna tar-tar with cucumber, tomato, corn & feta with cilantro aioli & balsamic ($11).

The main courses were all hits too:

Wicked good seafood stew (mussels, clams, fish, shrimp, and scallop with sausage and potato in a lobster saffron broth with pesto and grilled crostini) ($27)

Whole bronzino creamy grits, arugula, olive-caper gremolata, grilled lemon ($27)

Steel Magnolias shrimp & grits, andouille sausage, roasted red pepper gravy ($17)

Sea scallops & pork belly, smoked gouda grits, sage brown sugar glaze ($28)

The place fills up quickly with a mix of ages and styles, and has a good vibe. The main dining room on the ground floor can get a little noisy, but you can always escape to the roof top where there's live music on select nights.

Frankly, I'm surprised not to see the restaurant already on Chowhound. As far as I've been able to tell (during my recent limited visits to Valdosta the last several months), this may be the best restaurant in town. (Oops, or maybe I'm letting the secret out!)

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

132 North Patterson Street
Valdosta, GA 31601
(229) 259-0010

For those coming from out of town, it's an easy 3 miles and a straight run off of I-75.

http://www.steelmagnoliasrestaurant.com/
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Steel-...

May 26, 2014
njfreqflyer in Southeast

12 Islands Taverna - Millburn

Stopped by for dinner on Saturday night, and really enjoyed the food.

We stuck with a mix of cold and hot starters and a salad. The portions are sizable. The "Pikilia tis Pareas" is an assortment of 5 mezedes -- the melitzanosalata (eggplant), tzatziki (cucumber & yogurt), hummus, fava bean spread, and skordalia (mashed potato) -- with pita, and can easily feed 3 people. The hummus this night featured chick peas and black eyed peas, which gave it a non-traditional color. All were really good and had great texture. All had healthy amounts of garlic.

The oktapodi (cold octopus salad) was more pickled and vinegary than I've had anywhere else (think giardiniera), and it really grew on me as I kept going back to it throughout the meal.

The Ellinikia salata (greek salad) was also large, and well-balanced; tasted very fresh. Big chunks of feta too.

The Gigantes beans in tomato sauce were ok, and were probably the weakest dish of the evening. Usually a favorite of mine, the tomato sauce seemed a little BBQ saucy here.

Finally the oktapodi sta karvouna (grilled octopus) -- yes we had octopus two ways in one meal! -- was simple, charred, and satisfying.

All in, I think the tab was about $70 (not including the wine) for the two of us, and included several unfinished items to take home.

Service by the FOH and the wait-staff was very pleasant and eager to please. I'll be back to try some of their main courses, which include traditional greek dishes (and a vegetarian variety of moussaka in addition to the one with ground beef), grilled meats, and seafood including a whole fish of the day.

The place was packed by 7:30 PM, but tables turned-over at a pretty good pace. With the warmer weather, there's a couple of tables out front on Main St, and several more in the courtyard in the back.

It's BYOB, and they have a nice little arrangement with UnWined Boutique, next door. The restaurant has a brief list of bottles and prices, you can make a quick call and there's free delivery, or you can run out the back door, visit the shop and pick something out yourself. Restaurant patrons get a 10% discount.

Open for lunch (Monday - Friday) and dinner (7 days).

Take care: as of this date, the Millburn location is not accepting reservations. And the listing on OpenTable which is clearly labeled "12 Islands of Stirling" is for the Stirling location only.

http://www.12islandsgreektaverna.com/
https://www.facebook.com/12IslandsMil...

RECOMMENDED.

Ref: bropaul's recent review of the Stirling location here:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/970705

May 11, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Keiji salmon

It is indeed the.best.salmon.ever.

I've had it from Yama-san many times over the years at the Hump and subsequently at Yamakase. I do believe that it's seasonal, however, so may not be available for special order at any time, even by Yama-san. I'm thinking it's an October - November kind of a thing.

May 09, 2014
njfreqflyer in Los Angeles Area

The Monk Room, Newark

Well on a mid-week (and non event) night, I parked curb-side on the street pretty much right in front of the restaurant for free. Plenty of pay-lots within a block or so given its closeness to the Prudential Center.

Jan 25, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Any geoduck in Central/Coastal NJ.

Also known / labelled as "mirugai"

Jan 19, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

The Monk Room, Newark

I stopped in for a quick dinner last week. Super staff, nice looking room, plenty of exposed brick, great food. I had a "Caprazy" ($8) starter of fresh mozzarella and fire roasted tomatoes, and a "14 1/2" pizza ($16) with San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella and homemade ricotta. Both were very good.

No octopus on the menu yet, but according to a post by tommy:eats, The Monk Room has tweeted that it may be coming soon:

http://www.tommyeats.com/tommyeats/20...

https://twitter.com/TheMonkRoom/statu...

Great addition to the area. They're open for lunch and dinner now, and considering brunch.

Jan 18, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

The Monk Room, Newark

Now open. From the folks who run Porta in Asbury Park. The Newark venue is around the corner from the Prudential Center and across the street from Newark City Hall.

http://themonkroom.com/
https://www.facebook.com/themonkroom

20 Green St
Newark, NJ 07102
(973) 368 2771

Jan 18, 2014
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Were should we go!

Since you didn't limit your query to "where should we eat?" I suggest you also make a visit to Sickles Market in Little Silver and the H-Mart in Edison.

http://sicklesmarket.com/
http://www.hmart.com/

Oct 06, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Were should we go!

Bringing my nieces and nephew to Spirito's tonight for their first visit and those wonderful ravioli.

Oct 06, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Asian/latin/Speciality Markets near Lakewood

Unless things have changed since I left the Toms River area about a year ago, there's a small Asian (Filipino) market called "Little Divisoria" in the Pleasant Plains section right on Rt 9 / Lakewood Ave on the stretch south of Rt 70 and north of the GSP. It's in the strip mall behind Aamantran, an Indian restaurant.

If you expand the scope of Asia a little... there's also a great little Turkish market called "Yener" (actually the sign says "European Food Market") another couple of miles south on the other side of the GSP overpass (in the same strip mall as El Familiar & Il Giardinello restaurants). Best pita around - brought in fresh once a week.

Oct 06, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Fine dining in Newark

How about Nico Kitchen + Bar at NJPAC? That might be as nice a "room" as there is in the immediate area.

http://www.nicokitchenbar.com/

Sep 29, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Mulligans Toms River Closed..

No, that's been a Boston Pizza for a few years.

Mulligans is up a little farther north on the southbound side of Hooper near the Brick line. Between Church/Kettle Creek Rd and Silver Bay Rd.

Was a good place for a drink and some live music.

Sep 28, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

After NJPAC concert dining options?

+1 for Seabra's. It's the real deal. Sit at the counter (bar) if you can.

It looks like you're visiting from the Boston area. Nico's is good, but not special. Seabra's is worth the visit. I assume you're staying in either the Hilton or the Marriott Courtyard. It will be less than a 5 minute taxi ride to get back there, and taxis should be available at the corner near Seabra's even at the late hour (or easily summoned by phone).

Sep 07, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Mitsuwa -- what should I pick up

Yuzu. (citrus)
Shochu. (barley alcohol)
Asahi kuronama. (black beer)
Nori. (seawood strips)
Takoyaki. (octopus fritters)
Shiso. (leaf)
Uni. (sea urchin)
Hotate. (scallop sashimi)
Fresh wasabi. ($$$$)

May 24, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Mitsuwa Edgewater NJ sashimi quality

Most of the sea urchin sold at Mitsuwa (and consumed here in the U.S.) is going to come from Santa B or San Diego. In fact, a lot of our west coast sea urchin goes to Japan since the Hokkaido supplies can not meet their domestic demand.

H-Mart (at least the one in Edison) also sells packaged uni. Although in my opinion, the grade there is a lower quality than those sold at Mitsuwa.

I've never seen "on request" sushi made-to-order. In the past, I have purchased some of their party platters which have been very well received. As stated elsewhere, the fish and sushi from Mitsuwa is better than 99% of the sushi retail outlets in NJ.

May 16, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Upscale Sushi N. NJ

How about Manu's in Newark (Ironbound)? I've only been there once, but I thought it had a good vibe.

http://manussushilounge.com/

May 12, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

New to the Toms River Area can someone tell me about any good restaurants in the area? (please no chains thank you)

Solid recommendations from board regulars on Siam Spice and El Familiar within TR proper. Nobi is the best sushi you're going to get in the area, but it's been a while since I've been there.

I eat very well and frequently at Villa Vittoria in Brick. Another great place is Atlantic Bar & Grill in South Seaside Park which has re-opened, with Chef Mike back at the helm.

Take note: if you're new to the NJ restaurant & BYOB scene, not all restaurants have a liquor license. Of those above, VV and ABQ do have full service.

Apr 14, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Yamakase "Reservation"

Glad you enjoyed it. I was there Sunday night for one of my periodic visits, and I think the jamon is actually iberico.

"Sushi bar" may not do justice to the setting. It's more like a counter seat at Yama-san's in own kitchen / dining room. There's no little glass display case separating the diner and the chef. You sit at the counter and can see everything he's doing to prepare your food.

And as someone who has been to Urasawa, I would rather go to Yamakase any day and every day. In my opinion, it's better, more enjoyable, and certainly has a lower price point. The guidance in this thread and others about price is accurate. Plan for $200 and up.

Apr 01, 2013
njfreqflyer in Los Angeles Area

Yamakase

There has never been a corkage fee in the many times I have been there. Perhaps foddiemahoodie meant "tip and tax."

Mar 23, 2013
njfreqflyer in Los Angeles Area

Red Wine and Sushi?

Agreed. My sushi dinners tend not to be a binary "red or white" situation, and are frequently a multi-bottle meal. I would probably stay away from big and bold reds, but have had my fish with well-selected reds many times. And yes, it is appropriate to share with the itamae.

Mar 10, 2013
njfreqflyer in Wine

Siam Spice - Toms River

Quiet night in Toms River yesterday, but a busy evening at Siam Spice. Our group of 5 was seated by 6:15, but the place was packed by 7pm, so reservations remain essential on Fridays and Saturdays. Their food warms the belly and the soul, and dazzles the taste buds. Can food be stimulating and be comfort food at the same time?

Started with beef and chicken satay, and a couple of curry puffs. Kids loved the satay. I went for one of my stand-bys, the pad kea mow with tofu. Other dishes included: spicy calamari with basil, basil combination seafood (shrimp, calamari, mussels) with tamarind sauce, grilled strip steak with green curry sauce, and pad se eeuw with chicken. The spicy calamari in particular had a bit of a pepper kick to it.

These guys continue to do a great job. Worth the drive even if you're not in Toms River.

Feb 23, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Sunday Brunch-Jersey Shore

Klein's Fish Market in Belmar. I haven't been there since last summer, but I recall a fairly good set-up for brunch: breakfast items, carving station, pasta, sushi, and discounted drinks with the brunch menu.

http://www.kleinsfish.com/menu_galler...

Feb 23, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Sunday Brunch-Jersey Shore

+1 for a gin bloody mary

Feb 23, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Uni

I've used it raw and cooked. There are several recipes at:

http://puha.org/assets/sea-urchin-rec...

The bruschetta has been very well received when I've made it at home for friends and family. Also good in risotto with a little bit of crab.

Jan 28, 2013
njfreqflyer in Home Cooking

Need Sushi grade fish

Um ... fish fresh enough and handled correctly to be eaten raw. I suspect that none of the fish available at a local supermarket is appropriate to be eaten raw regardless of what the fish counter staff might say (well, at least I don't think I'd be that trusting). On the other hand, I would trust a knowledgable fish monger (e.g., Mark and his staff at Metropolitan Seafood) when he says I can eat raw a particular fish that he's selling.

Jan 06, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Need Sushi grade fish

Metropolitan Seafood does carry appropriate grade fish, and I've used them several times for sashimi. Note, however, that not every item of a particular day's inventory is going to be that quality. Call ahead to see what they have. The owner, Mark Drabich, is a great guy.

Jan 06, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Need Sushi grade fish

Twenty minutes away. Up Rt 31 North, then East a bit on Rt 22.

Metropolitan Seafood & Gourmet
1320 U.S. 22
Lebanon, NJ 08833

www.metroseafood.com

Jan 05, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Where can you buy Kabocha Squash?

Mitsuwa in Edgewater.

Jan 02, 2013
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Nice restaurant for Christmas Eve Dinner in Manchester Township?

I recommend Villa Vittoria in Brick. I eat there frequently. It's the sister restaurant of Il Giardino Sul Mare. Similar menus; both are about the same distance from Whiting.

In either case, a reservation is recommended.

2700 Hooper Avenue
Brick, NJ 08723
(732) 920-1550

Dec 16, 2012
njfreqflyer in New Jersey

Feast of 7 Fishes - Christmas Eve Dinner

Lugo Cucina e Vino at Revel in Atlantic City appears to be promoting an a la carte approach:

http://blog.nj.com/artful_diner/2012/...

Dec 07, 2012
njfreqflyer in New Jersey