Thursday, January 17, 2019

Not New York

My amazing travel planner (you know that is Regis right?) found a great price on return fights from Costa Rica . . . . only catch they involved an 18 hour layover in New York. I've been to New York and enjoyed it, but with me, it's “been there, done it”, and I have never expressed much interest in going back. Lots of other interesting places to see, why go back to the Big Apple? It may have been the good price, but I suspect she thought it might be an excuse to get me back to NY.

So, we booked a hotel at the airport and planned to take the train into New York for dinner. I agreed to the plan, and although I really didn't care about it, I knew Regis wanted to experience New York again. However, when we actually arrived in Newark International Airport, got through immigration and found the shuttle to the hotel, she made the mistake of asking me if I “really” wanted to go into the city or if I'd rather just chill here at the hotel. Silly woman . . . giving me a way out . . . . I said I'd really rather just stay put, but I was game to go in if she wished. I was having a issue with my back so I was not 100% and we both decided that if we visited New York we really wanted to visited the High Line Park, and it wasn't the best in January, so instead of going in this evening she wangled a promise to come back to New York in the future when the political climate improves and during a better season.

That left us in New Jersey and needing some place to have a nice supper. The pleasant check in clerk at the hotel suggested that if we wanted someplace different than the hotel restaurant, there was a great “Steak House” just 10 minutes away by UBER. We looked his suggestion up on Google and it was actually a Portuguese restaurant and was rated #1 on TripAdvisor for the Area. The reviews were completely over the top. This looked like a place worth a visit.

We checked it out on Google Maps and it was a 20 minute walk. Perfect after a day on a plane, but the looks from the hotel staff did not bode well. “Walk . . . what do you mean walk . . . why would you want to walk?”. The first 10 minutes almost convinced us they were right; no sidewalks and traffic flying by at highway speeds, but at the first intersection it turned into a residential area and although we met no one else on the sidewalks, at least it was a little less hazardous.

We arrived at an almost empty restaurant and were shown to a table. The menu was extensive and we were amazed at the menu items we recalled from our month in Portugal, Steak cooked on a stone, Jumbo Shrimp cooked on a stone, Cataplana in a copper pan . . . . al items we had enjoyed in Portugal.

We decided against appetizers, although they sounded delicious. A salad large enough for four was delivered along with a basket of rolls to hold us until our mains arrived. As I saw meals delivered to patrons around us I was glad I had not ordered a starter, the servings were generous.

As the restaurant began to fill we really began to realize we were back in the USA. In fact we were dining in New Jersey not Costa Rica. The two guys at the table next to us spent their time trying to out BS each other, we knew that a table across the room featured a medical visit to New York, and when the fellow in the Jeans, blue check hat, and blue blazer arrived wearing a ball cap, I suggested to Regis he would not take off his hat because it featured a Texas map and Texans liked their hats, I was proved correct. By the time we left with happy full stomaches, the place was full and noisy. 

Our meals arrived and right away we realized that not going into the city for dinner was NOT a mistake. I was enjoying mine so much I decided I wanted to extend the experience with desert. The BS'ers beside us ordered creme brule and I thought that sounded like a good idea . . . he sent it back . . . ok, maybe not. When they left I spoke to the server and told him my dilemma, I loved creme brule but his comments on it were not positive. He gave me an honest answer . . . the creme brule was not made on site and he could not be sure, but suggested I could order it and if it did not meet my standards I was free to send it back. I appreciated his honesty and ordered something else and completely enjoyed it. I thought I was back in Portugal.

So we did not get to New York, but experienced an amazing dining experience. Any of my friends visiting New York, and flying out of Newark . . . ask me about this amazing spot?
Smoked Portuguese pork chops with mushrooms and balsamic

Crab stuffed shrimp (Regis's choice)

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