Saturday, April 24, 2010

Next Up: Ristorante Marco in Greenville, DE

We Divas have been yearning for Italian food. An Italian restaurant has opened fairly recently in Greenville. Linda suggested we try it as our next outing and we were all excited at the idea. We will be going within the next few weeks and are really looking forward to it.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Glorious Day Trip to Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve

Inspired by the Delaware Center for Horticulture, we visited the Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve (http://www.bhwp.org) which is nestled in the lovely woodlands outside of New Hope, Pa. We spent the morning roaming the wooded trails enchanted by the spring ephemerals. Swaths of Virginia Bluebells, fields of Spring Beauties, and bright splotches of Marsh Marigold delighted us. We found ourselves getting close to the ground to examine the intricate design of Trout-lily, Jack-in-the pulpit, ferns and trillium while often retrieving old remembrances and confronting gaps in our knowledge. We searched for frogs in the algae covered pond enchanted as children as we spied them hiding in plain sight. There is much to see in this little gem with different flowers coming into bloom each month - all native to the area with over 80 rare or endangered species. We highly recommend taking the time to enjoy a visit.

By 1:00 we were ravenous and went a short way down River Road to Bowman's Tavern, a sprawling establishment with lots of space inside and a small patio outside. Their menu was extensive with a broad range of choices. We began our meal with an appetizer of Wild Pork Wings, pork shanks glazed with soy, ginger, lime, sesame and teriyaki on a bed of spring greens. The pork was tender and very tasty - it was gone within minutes.

Lorraine chose the traditional tavern dish of Fish and Chips. Breaded deep fried flounder served on a mound of french fries with a side of slaw. The fish was good except the narrow edges were too dry to eat, the fries were commercially prepared - good, but not exceptional, however the slaw was very good.

Nanzie also chose a tavern standard, a Po Boy. Four huge deep fried oysters with bacon strips, lettuce, tomato and red onion on a freshly baked roll. Throughout our meal we could hear these small cries of delight as Nanzie took another bite. A definite winner.

Linda chose one of the specials, Tilapia with tomato, mango and spinach served with wild rice and vegetables. She said the meal was very good.

I chose Liver and Onions, a dish I love but rarely make for myself. The liver was breaded and fried, smothered with lots of onions and served on a bed of wild rice with vegetables. The liver was tender and tasty, and the onions were perfect but the breading was a bit soggy. I had difficulty integrating the flavor of the wild rice with the liver...mashed potatoes would have been so much nicer.

In all we enjoyed our lunch and would recommend the tavern as a better than average place to eat. (http://www.bowmanstavernrestaurant.com/)

Written by Nancy M.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Stone Balloon Review

This is terrible. It has taken me almost four weeks to post this review and we Divas loved the place and the food.

Place: Stone Balloon, Newark, Delaware
Date: Tuesday March 23, 2010

The ambience and d├ęcor was warm and inviting with lots of natural materials, wood, brick and stone. For a Tuesday evening, it was quite crowded looked like there was a business convention in town.
The acoustics were not the best, but better than Koomas and seem to improve as the bar area cleared out. Interestingly there was a recent article the outlined that personal preferences regarding acoustics are varied. Some folks like a quiet restaurant - others think the restaurant seems “dead” if it’s not noisy. Also interesting: People eat less, but drink more in a noisy restaurant, and we all know where the money is in the business!

The Wines: Of course a glass of wine is how we started the evening. Wine by the glass - two sizes, 2 or 5 oz pours of the wines from the Cruvinet were offered. A Cruvinet is a temperature controlled wine dispensing system, similar to beer taps. It uses gas to keep an open bottle of wine fresh for about two months, a fact that’s revolutionized the wine industry. Restaurants can now serve an immense variety of wines by the glass without waste. Today, restaurants can open many bottles at any price range, then serve the wines at the proper temperature, prevent spoilage and increase marketability because of the Cruvinet’s elegant appearance. Thank you Diva Linda for looking this up. In addition to the wine by the glass from the Cruvinet, they also had a 10 page wine list, you are sure to find one to your liking and budget.


The Food: We started with the Kitchen Tasting Board, a variety hard cheeses, two different meats, hummus, marinated mushrooms, artichokes, roasted peppers, pate, croutons, olives, risotto, and pickled fish. There was a generous portion of each item and then some. We all loved it. There was not a piece of anything left on the board, not an olive, not a crumb of bread, with a glass of wine it was a great start of what was to come.

Each Diva chose a very different menu item - lamb, seafood, beef and stew! All portions were quite large and well prepared with plenty to share.

- Butter Poached Rib eyed cooked medium rare was perfectly done, and melted in your mouth.
- Slow Roasted Lamb had a delicious duxelles stuffing made with local Kennett Square mushrooms, and had just the right amount of fat, which contributed to its good taste and was easily cut away. The portion larger than one would expect. It had to be at least 2 ½ inches thick, wonderfully mild, and tender.
- One of the Divas ordered from the “small plates” section of the menu. A Baby Beet Salad with two different colors of beets, thin French green beans, nuts and blue cheese. The dressing was sherry vinaigrette. It was very pretty as well as delicious. The scallops beautifully seared nestled in a delicious mushroom risotto. These two items were the hit of the evening!

-There was also a special “Battle of the Chefs” prix fix menu special. I ordered from this menu which consisted of 3 courses for $35. It included Manchego Cheese and dried fruit, Portuguese Stew, which was chicken, sausage, fish, mussels and scallops in a nice tomato base, and a dessert. The Portuguese Stew was the least popular of all of the dishes but not to be under rated, just that everything else was so good. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

- Instead of taking the dessert that my prix fix meal came with, we upgraded it for an additional $3 and shared. We ordered the Chocolate Mousse Cake, a large serving and very rich and sharing is highly recommended especially if you just ate a full dinner.

One last item is the parking – There is free parking for the restaurant patrons behind the restaurant, but I warn you that it is not easy to find. If you park behind the restaurant be sure to inquire about the parking, otherwise you could get towed. We were in the wrong lot, and were glad that we moved our cars. The garage is covered and free and certainly a lot more pleasant since we could avoid the wind and chill of the evening. This lot is easy to miss.

All in all, we rated this restaurant quite high and all of us would go back again, especially since they do seasonal menus and is due to change the menu soon. The only down side was that three of the meals came out together and the third was delivered at least 20 minutes after the others. The manager came over several times and apologized, but there were no comps or special accommodations for the inconvenience. The staff was efficient, courteous and attentive, but not overly so.