Hampton Winds: Four-Star Cuisine at Two-Star Prices

So over a year ago I first learned about this little known restaurant called Hampton Winds. While my husband was chatting with our resident hot dog vendor at Easton’s Center Square, he asked him what his favorite restaurant was & he told us about this restaurant at Northampton Community College that is run by students. He said he liked to take his wife there for a nice Friday night dinner, the food was good & the price was right. I tucked that little nugget away for another day and didn’t give it  much more thought until my husband and I were enjoying a very nice birthday dinner at Oak Steakhouse (in Easton) last December and our junior server turned out to be a student at the NCC Culinary School who also worked part-time at Oak. She talked to us very passionately about their restaurant and how good the food was and what a wonderful experience she was having there. Now this restaurant made my GO TO list! I’m only sorry that it took me 11 months to finally get there.

Before I go any further, I must say that our only negative experience was actually finding the restaurant. We made reservations through Open Table and they gave us the address to put in our GPS. We arrived about 10 minutes early because we didn’t know exactly where we were going and after driving around the entire campus, asking several students & finally tracking down a janitor in the library building we were finally informed that the restaurant was located across the road at the Alumni Hall and he gave us specific instructions to find it. Needless to say, we arrived about 10 minutes late for our 6pm reservation as a result of not being able to find the darned place. We did make sure to talk to our server at the end of our meal and let him know that they need to do a better job of communicating where they are located (he admitted that it was an often communicated frustration from their patrons).

So, having said that, the rest of our dining experience was excellent. We were seated at a table near a window in a large open room that was very nicely appointed and had a welcoming fireplace at one end. The menu was presented and it actually had more options than I had expected from a culinary school. I honestly half expected that we might only get 2 or 3 options depending on what they were preparing that day so I was pleasantly surprised. You could choose up to a 5 course menu but we opted for 4 courses based on the choices.

We were greeted shortly after being seated by our server: Rudy. He was warm & friendly and asked if we had any wine that we needed uncorked. The restaurant is BYOB but we aren’t big wine drinkers so I brought Blue Moon & he brought me a glass. After answering ALOT of questions from us we finally decided on Mini Crab Cakes for Tony & Roasted Mushroom soup for both of us and a salad for me. They brought out a nice bread basket (filled with pretzel rolls (Tony LOVED these), butter rolls, cinnamon muffins & carrot cake muffins as well as a plate of complimentary appetizers of goat cheese & sun-dried tomato crostini w/an apple relish (I ate both & they were yummy). Tony said the mini crab cakes were very good and I loved the earthy flavor of the mushroom soup, although it wasn’t Tony’s favorite. The salad was excellent, I liked the deconstructed presentation & the gorgonzola cheese was incredibly flavorful and made the salad. Bread basket & appycrab cakesmushroom soupsalad

Before they brought us our entree, we were served a palate cleanser of wild berry sorbet which was a very nice touch. For our main course Tony chose the Grilled Strip Loin, Lyonnaise Potatoes & Vegetable Melange while I opted for the Trout Meuniere, Israeli Couscous & Greenbeans. I was really torn between the Chicken & the Salmon dishes so I asked our waiter what he would recommend and he did not hesitate to suggest the Trout. I really appreciate it when a server is not shy about making a recommendation and because he was so enthusiastic about his recommendation, I opted for the Trout. I am so, so glad I did because it was outstanding! Even Tony liked it and he isn’t a big fish eater, but it had a lovely flavor and just the right amount of char. The Israeli Couscous was a little bit bland but the vegetables were perfectly cooked. Tony’s steak was good but he felt it needed a little bit more seasoning. The potatoes were very interesting, layers of sauteed onions & potatoes with a very cool presentation. The vegetables were perfectly cooked too, nice & al dente.

palate cleanserTrout entreeSteak entree

Now for the wow part of the meal…dessert! We had planned to just have one dessert but when we found out that the dessert special was an Apple Upside Down Cake: cinnamon bun cake w/apple & caramel topping with a granola crunch & vanilla ice cream we had to add it to our planned dessert of Pumpkin Cheesecake. We opted to get the cheesecake to go and share the apple cake at the table. Well let me tell you, this was one of the best desserts I have ever had! The cinnamon bun cake was amazing & to prove how good it was: normally Tony will have just a bite or two and let me have the rest of the dessert. Well last night he devoured that dessert, it was just that good (too bad for me!) It was the perfect ending to a very good meal and we made sure we let Rudy know.

We took some time during the meal to talk with Rudy and he is a culinary student at NCC. He is on his 5th week working in the front of the restaurant but his passion is cooking and most specifically bread making. He said they all have to rotate working in the various aspects of the restaurant and I think that is a really good idea. It gives them an appreciation for all the pressures associated with the various jobs. Overall it was an excellent experience and our total bill was just $75. We chatted with our neighboring diners as we were leaving and they too were here for the first time and had truly enjoyed their food. The restaurant has a holiday menu coming up and a few of the dessert options (egg nog cheesecake) look like they would be worth a visit just for dessert & coffee!

Hampton Winds 3835 Green Pond Road, Bethlehem, 610-861-4549, Tues-Fri Lunch 11-12:30, reservations recommended & Dinner: 5:15-6:45, reservations required. http://www.northampton.edu

#HamptonWinds#ILovetoEat#TheHundryRealtor#NCCCulinarySchool

At last…Aman’s Artisan Indian Cuisine

I find it rather fitting that it has taken me over two months to write and post this latest blog entry for one of the newest additions to downtown Easton’s thriving restaurant scene. I say that because it took Aman’s many more months than they originally expected to open their new restaurant downtown on Northampton St. next to Maxim’s 22 but believe me the wait was well worth it! The interior is absolutely beautiful, a far cry from the previous tenant, Cheeburger, Cheeburger, that closed almost 2 years ago. Classy and elegant, yet casual and comfortable would best describe the interior of this new space. I absolutely love their dishes and they make for beautiful table settings.

For my first visit here on August 2nd of this year I brought my sister, who was visiting from Northern California, and my daughter, both who are huge fans of Indian food, to dinner and from the time we entered until the time we left we were continuously pleasantly surprised. The restaurant is BYOB so we quickly ran across the street to the Easton Indoor Market and picked up a couple bottles of wine from Tolino Vineyards to enjoy with our meal (there was a $5 corking fee which was very reasonable for two bottles of wine). After we were promptly seated, the service was excellent without being intrusive and the food was spectacular. We started with an appetizer of Lasuni Honey Gobi (battered cauliflower florettes stirfried in a sweet and tangy sauce) & paired it with freshly made garlic naan.

 

For our main dishes we chose Salmon Fish Tikka (wild caught Atlantic salmon roasted with a yogurt and herb marinade), Lamb Tikki Masala (tender meaty lamb cubes cooked in a creamy tomato and onion sauce), Mattar Paneer (pressed curd cheese and green peas cooked in a creamy sauce) and Basmati Rice. Each was excellent but I think my personal favorite was the Salmon Fish Tikka, yes that is a sizzling platter!

 

Of course it wouldn’t be me if we didn’t have dessert so we chose two items to share: Gulab Jamun (milk puffs soaked in cardamom syrup with shredded coconut) and Aman’s Orange Kulfi (Aman’s house special: hand churned orange flavored Indian ice cream). Wow, the ice cream was out of this world good & the milk puffs were just a little bit too sweet for my tastes but still good!

Overall this was just a wonderful dining experience and I was so impressed that I went back a few weeks later with a client for lunch.  We had garlic naan, Chicken Tikka Masala (tender chicken cubes cooked in creamy tomato & onion sauce), Daal Makhni (Panjobi style black lentils sautéed in butter in a garlic-ginger sauce) and Basmati Rice. I have a new favorite now because the Daal Makhni was to die for! We didn’t have room for dessert on this visit because this was just too much food for the two of us but the restaurant shared some of their signature rice pudding (Kheer) and it was so good! Even with all we ate, we still brought 2 dishes of leftovers home for lunch the next day.

If you like Indian food or if you’ve never had Indian food and want to try it,  I highly  recommend you make a reservation and plan a visit. They offer a lunch buffet during the week and reservations are highly recommended especially on the weekends.

Aman’s Artisan Indian Cuisine, 336 Northampton St. Easton PA 484-298-0400 http://www.Amanseaston.com

#TheHungryRealtor #ILovetoEat #AmansEaston #EastonRestaurantScene #IndianFood #EastonPA

 

It’s Taco Tuesday!

In honor of Taco Tuesday, I’m posting today about a fairly new taco shop. Easton Taco and Rotisserie opened quietly last September, so quietly in fact that I only recently started hearing about this great new restaurant. I visited last week and was pleasantly surprised by the new and clean interior of the unassuming storefront in the West Ward.

 

I was warmly greeted by the owner, Emilio, and he led me to a table in the artfully decorated room (literally, the walls are covered with artwork from local artists).  The menu was much more comprehensive than I expected and I truly  had a hard time deciding what to have for lunch.

 

I ultimately opted for a chopped salad, a steak empanada and a roast pork (pernil) taco especial. The chopped salad was good and the house-made vinaigrette was excellent. The empanada was fresh and very tasty but the roast pork taco was outstanding! I even ordered another one because it was so good!

 

I  liked the fact that they brought cold bottled water to each table for the convenience of self refills. For people like me that drink a lot of water I enjoyed not having to wait for a server to refill my glass. This place is BYOB and they offer “fauxgaritas” where you can add your own tequila.

The owner was extremely pleasant and took the time to introduce himself and talk to me. He specifically mentioned that they like to get to know their customers and foster a relationship. He had no idea who I was,  so I introduced myself as a local realtor and we had a very nice conversation about the local real estate market. The only negative I could really mention is that there’s only on street parking available, although there are no meters so that’s a plus.

I definitely plan to go back soon and I look forward to sharing this place with my son & daughter-in-law, who enjoy discovering good Mexican food with me.

Easton Taco & Rotisserie, 1054 Northampton Street, Easton, PA  610-438-0974 http://www.eastontaco.com

#TacoLove #TheHungryRealtor #TacoTuesday #ILoveToEat

Tucker Silk Mill

I’ve been going to Tucker Silk Mill for over a year now, ever since they opened in the restored Silk Mill at 13th Street in Easton. If you haven’t had a chance to visit this amazingly restored site, you need to add it to your list of things to do in the Easton area!

Did you know that tucker means “good food” in Aussie slang? I learned that from their chaulk board wall and this restaurant certainly lives up to it’s name. They’ve been open for about a year & a half and their vibe & interior decor is seriously cool. Lot’s of great things to look at inside from the colorful coffee area to the old-fashioned viewfinders that are located on the tables along with lots of slides to browse through…seriously a unique feature.

My sister, Kathy, was visiting from California and I knew I wanted to bring her here for lunch because she would appreciate their healthy, fresh menu & their tea selections. We visited on a chilly May day but the restaurant was warm and welcoming as soon as we walked through the cool beaded front door. The place has a casual atmosphere and you pick up a menu on a clipboard from the front counter where you place your order and then seat yourself. They showcase their homebaked desserts right on the front counter so I was doomed from the beginning due to my love of desserts!

I started with a cup of café Americano and my sister ordered a pot of chai tea with turmeric (Parma Masala Turmeric Chai) both were perfect for the cooler weather and because I love desserts we got a slice of their zucchini walnut bread to nibble on while we waited. The bread was delicious, not too sweet and had just the right amount of nuts. With so many items to choose from, we struggled to make a decision, but ultimately ordered a few items with the intent to share.

I ordered the Hot Cheese Toastie: Pair and Deez nuts which had “falling off the bone good” smoked ham, swiss cheese, bosc pear and walnuts… it was very, very good and the perfect choice for a cool day! My sister ordered the Aussie Lambwich, which had slow roasted lamb with roasted butternut squash, tzatziki, zucchini & mixed greens on sourdough bread, it was seriously an amazing sandwich.

Since we didn’t realize how filling the sandwiches would be, we had also ordered a Tucker Toast: Too Fruitylicious and OMG not only was it beautiful but it was so fresh and tasty. We ended up taking it home and having it for breakfast the next morning and it was still wonderful. While we were waiting for our sandwiches we enjoyed looking through the viewfinders, it wasn’t something we had done since we were little kids. All in all it was a lovely lunch and the service was pleasant & the setting was perfect.

#thehungryrealtor#tooprettytoeat#tuckertoasts#lunchwithmysister#tuckersilkmill

Tucker Silk Mill, 1247 Simon Blvd, Easton, PA 18042 (814) 857-8502 Open 8-4pm Tues-Sun

http://www.tuckersilkmill.com

Emeril’s Burgers and More

I hadn’t actually planned to write about my dining experience at Emeril’s Burgers and More, it was a rather impromptu decision on a Tuesday evening and since my husband and I both love their burgers and felt like doing a little gambling, we thought we’d grab dinner there. For those of you who may not be aware, Emeril’s Burgers and More is located inside Sands Casino in South Bethlehem. They’ve been there for quite a few years now and I can honestly say we’ve never had a bad dining experience. Depending on what night of the week it is you may have a little bit of a wait but they’re always able to move things along fairly quickly so it’s not too bad. On this particular evening it was not crowded at all and we were able to be seated right away. They appears they recently changed their menu , see below for more details.

Although I usually opt to create-a-burger, I decided to go for a more traditional Bourbon Street Burger with bacon, grilled onions, cheddar cheese,  bbq sauce and I chose a side of french fries. My burger was cooked perfectly, medium rare, and was absolutely wonderful. My husband  noticed a new item on the menu right away and since he was feeling adventurous he decided to order their Carolina Chicken and Waffle Burger. I have to say I was very skeptical just because in my mind I couldn’t envision a chicken and waffles burger. When it came however, it was a piece of fried chicken and bacon sandwiched between two waffles with a side of maple syrup & cole slaw. I wasn’t sure exactly how he was going to eat it and he ultimately opted for a knife and fork approach and dipped it into the syrup. He said it was outstanding and he ate the entire thing, which was quite an accomplishment as you can see from the picture. He opted for onion rings as his side and as usual they were cooked perfectly. You know a good onion ring when you bite into it and the whole onion doesn’t slide out of the breaded coating.

I want to also mention our server, Kristin S. because she was just delightful, attentive without being overbearing, very pleasant and she didn’t miss a trick. Overall it was a wonderful dining experience and we will continue to go back in the future.

**As an added bonus: we stopped by Emeril’s Chop House at the end of the evening (which is also located inside Sands Casino) for a slice of their amazing banana cream pie, to go. The picture below really doesn’t do it justice, but I have to say that this is hands-down the best banana cream pie I have ever eaten. Banana cream pie is my favorite pie (pumpkin pie is a close second) but I’ll tell you this place knows how to do banana cream pie! It’ll set you back about $9 for the slice, but it’s worth every penny.

Banana cream pie

#thehungryrealtor#chickenandwafflesburger#bananacreampie#emerilsburgersandmore#emerilschophouse#sandscasino#iruntoeat#iwalktoeat

Spring into Easton: Here’s something a little different to try!

For today’s blog post I thought I would do something a little bit different. As many of you know, I am a huge fan of our local downtown district and to that end I wanted to share with you an upcoming event scheduled for this Saturday, April 13th. The Greater Easton Development Partnership (GEDP) in conjunction with the Easton Main Street Initiative (EMSI) is sponsoring their annual Spring into Easton event which takes place downtown from 12 to 4pm. This is a free event and a wonderful opportunity to check out your favorite shops (or discover some new ones) and try a sample from one of Easton’s many wonderful restaurants. It’s basically like a pub crawl but for food!!

The weather is supposed to be beautiful and you can literally pick and choose which establishments you want to pop in to and try a free sample of food. Many of my favorites will be participating: Sette Luna, Bayou, Pie+Tart, 3rd & Ferry, River Grille, State Café, Quadrant, Two Rivers, Mesa Modern, Sweet Girlz, Tierra de Fuego, Porters Pub & Maxim’s…just to name a few, LOL. I’m also looking forward to sampling a few newcomers. Here’s a link to the schedule for this Saturday’s event and as an added bonus, if you pick up a game card in the Center Square and get it stamped with at least 15 locations you can be entered into a drawing to win some nice prizes, including downtown Easton gift cards!

https://www.springintoeaston.com/

I have attended this event in the past and it is a wonderful way to spend a nice Saturday afternoon. If you’re lucky you might even run into me while I’m out & about during the event.

#springintoeaston#esmi#gedp#thehungryrealtor

Union and Finch (and burgers, oh my!)

After spending a gorgeous spring afternoon shopping at the Promenade outdoor shops on Saturday, my husband, son, daughter-in-law and I all headed further West to check out a place that has been on my to-visit list for the past year. We weren’t expecting to find that this restaurant was nestled in a predominantly residential neighborhood, so we were pleased to see that they had a private parking lot in the rear of the restaurant and easily found parking. Once inside we were very pleasantly surprised to find a light, bright & clean restaurant with extremely friendly help. From the moment we entered the front door we were greeted warmly by the hostess and even though we were early for our 6pm reservation, we were immediately seated and assured that it wasn’t an inconvenience at all (yes, first impressions DO count).

We immediately started perusing the drink & main menus and soon Dave, our server, was at our table to thoroughly delight us with his personality & service. It took us a while but after a few samples and some consideration we decided on drinks and I had the Clown Shoes Clementine beer which had sweet orange peel, coriander & summit hops and was light & perfect for what felt like a summer day.

Menu 2

Dave then completely threw a monkey wrench into our meal plans when he started telling us about the daily specials…wow! The special appetizer was a cheesesteak egg roll so we had to try those and we had also read on Yelp that we had to try the poutine as well so that took care of appetizers (the white bean hummus w/veggies was nixed for another time because we knew we just wouldn’t have room for too many appetizers).

 

We came prepared to try their burgers based on their #1 ranking on the Lehigh Valley Burger Quest Facebook Page but instead of having their Union Burger as planned, three of us had the special burger: The Margherite Burger. This was described as a grass-fed beef burger with mozzarella cheese, roasted tomatoes, a slice of panchetta & garlic aoili on a cheesy ciabatta bun…OMG. Well, no sooner had we placed our dinner order then our appetizers came out and wow, those cheesesteak egg rolls were amazing. I wish we had ordered more! The poutine was equally good, the gravy had a wonderful au-jus flavor, and since this was a first-time for me eating poutine, I’m definitely a fan now.

Probably my only complaint about the visit was the fact that we barely had time to finish our appetizers before our burgers came out. Having said that, the burgers were EXCELLENT! Each was cooked exactly as requested, and we ranged from well-done to medium rare, so kudos to the kitchen staff. Each burger came with fries and a pickle slice. The fries were so fresh & delicatedly coated with coarse salt & pepper along with truffle oil & they were very tasty. We all ate our pickles, they were that good. They actually have a pickle jar on the appetizer menu so we’ll have to try that next time…and there will be a next time.

Burger 2

Probably the biggest compliment I can give to this restaurant is the fact that I could not finish my burger. You might think that is an odd reason to compliment them but the burger was so generously sized that I honestly could only eat half. I have a fairly healthy appetite so this is saying alot. I never even looked at the dessert menu, which is a rarity for me too. I do look forward to visiting again so I can try some of the other items on the menu. The table next to us had the chicken & waffles and it looked like a gastronomer’s delight!  #unionandfinch #lehighvalleyburgerquest #thehungryrealtor #burgers&fries #ilovetoeat

Union and Finch 1528 W. Union Street, Allentown, PA 18102 http://www.unionandfinch.com