Phil and Ben arrived from Boston about 15 minutes early on Saturday morning. I had forgotten how nice it is to have friends who are as habitually prompt as I am. After giving them a quick tour of my building, we headed out to the stadium where we were meeting up with Phil’s bro who turned out to be equally as prompt, having arrived just a few minutes ahead of us. Our loge seats were left of the left field fair pole and were covered which was absolutely key since the temperature was supposed to reach the mid 90’s. In our shaded seats we were pretty comfortable the whole time and were much better able to enjoy the good ol’ fashioned ass whooping the Yanks laid down on the White Sox, 14-3. Defending world champs? psssssss. The Yanks went on to sweep the series. Moose struck out the first batter but didn’t have his usual control as he went to full counts on way too many players. It ultimately didn’t matter as the Yanks lit up the scoreboard like a Christmas tree.
It was really great seeing Phil and Ben again, and they’re both exactly the same. You never think much about it, but it really is a comfort to know that even though you haven’t seen old friends in a while, they haven’t changed and when you get together it still feels like old times. Fatherhood hasn’t changed Phil’s easy-going nature at all; he’s still able to shrug off another losing season at rotisserie baseball, and he still doesn’t like condiments on his food. That’s reliability! And Ben, he’s still the same character too. Funny observations and one-liners all day, he’s still one of the best all-around drinking buddies ever. Good to know all the booze hasn’t dulled his keen sense of curiosity and intellect- while at the stadium drinking our Coors Lights in the Stay-Cool plastic bottles, leave it to Ben to take it upon himself to figure out what makes the bottle stay cool. I couple of pokes with his thumb later, he discovers that the bottle is apparently constucted form dual layers of plastic apparently laminated together. Good ol’ Ben, our own personal Mythbuster.
After the game Phil did his ritualistic purchase of a Yankees t-shirt (he’s done this after every game we’ve seen at Yankee stadium together) and then we headed back up to Westchester for dinner at Mariano Rivera’s new steakhouse in New Rochelle. As we walked up to the restaurant, a big bouncer-looking guy stopped us at the door and sternly asked if he could help us, as if it were the entrance to a night club or something. After we mentioned we had reservations, his demeanor changed and he respectfully granted us passage. The interior was casual but somewhat elegant with a giant painting of Mariano on one wall and brass and wood adorning most of the room. While the website said the restaurant required casual business attire, there were a couple of people under-dressed, most notably a guy wearing shorts at the bar. However he was wearing a big-ass Yankees world series ring, so I assume he was some sort of back-office person in the organization and that gave him enough clout to wear whatever the heck he wanted.
We were a little early so we were asked to have a drink at the bar. The bartender seemed a little overwhelmed at the tiny bar even though it wasn’t exactly stacked two deep with patrons, and he had trouble entering our orders into the computer system. But I realize I may be a little too critical when it comes to that sort of thing just because of my vast experience with good bartenders. In any event we finally got our drinks and waited for our table. And waited. And waited…
We were finally seated about 45 minutes later than our reservation time, which is not great, but not horrible either considering it was their first Saturday of service ever. I didn’t expect too much of the restaurant since it is 1) owned by a ball player and 2) in New Rochelle. So I was pleasantly surprised that we were brought an amuse bouche of fried yuca. It was a tasty little bite of yuca mash which I think was covered with corn meal before being fried. Any place serving an elegant amuse certainly cares about their food and isn’t just trying to run a restaurant based on the fame of its celebrity owner. But just as the amuse suggested that this was to be a serious restaurant, the wine list hinted otherwise, being dominated by low end wines. The benefit of this was a deep selection of wines under $50, but nothing stellar. I opted to try a Greg Norman petite sirah which turned out to be a nice medium bodied wine full of fruit but lacking any sort of complexity. But for $30 a bottle, it was a terrific.
We had quite a few apps, starting with an intersting brie and roasted pepper soup. It was an attractive presentation with the white brie soup on one half and reddish brown pepper soup on the other. I anticipated roasted bell peppers to form the base of the pepper, but was pleasantly surprised when it tasted of chipotle. The combo made perfect sense with the brie soup tempering the heat of the peppers. That soup was a winner. Next up was the tuna tartare set atop a thin tortilla cracker with a layer of diced avocado salsa below. The tuna was of high quality and as a lover of the tuna/avocado pairing, I was really happy with this app as well. Then we had a mushroom ravioli finished with truffle oil. I could be picky and say the mushroom stuffing could have been more intensely seasoned, but considering it was finished with a healthy dose of truffle oil, it really didn’t matter. It was delicious. The only weak app was the sesame crusted chicken. While it was perfectly prepared for what it was, it was just very ordinary and lacked the sizzle of the prior apps. Onto the entrees…
I ordered the ribeye medium rare but it arrived a little further done than I would have liked. Fortunately for them, I was too hungry and didn’t feel like sending it back. Fortunately for me, the quality of the meat was good enough that even medium, it was still not dry at all. Ben ordered the strip steak medium rare and strangely half of it was medium and the other half was perfect. Not sure if it was uneven butchering or uneven grilling that was the culprit, but he too admitted that even the medium half was still very flavorful and juicy. Phil had the filet mignon medium, and surprise, surprise, that arrived medium rare. Considering this was a steakhouse, they really need to get control of their grilling. On the plus side, they did give us a 15% discount for no apparent reason. Maybe it was just because it was opening weekend. Overall, I have to say, it was way better than what I expected for New Rochelle, but not good enough to warrant a repeat visit given how many other great steak houses I can go to.
Yesterday I took the day off from work to play the monthly golf outing with Twoin. This month was Mine Brook, a very flat course with patches of disrepair, but otherwise pretty decent fairways and greens. Unfortunately, yesterday was the hottest day of the year so far. Twoin eventually quit after 13 holes as he had wrenched his neck/shoulder and was in pain the whole day and was just miserable. I however had a terrific day. This was probably my third round playing the Nike Powersoft golf ball and I have to say, I am now thoroughly convinced; this is the best all-around ball for my game. I never really appreciated how much having a high spin ball could shave strokes off my game until I started seeing my approach shots consistently hold the green instead of running through them. In the past, my approaches would roll thru the green and add more pressure on my chipping game, resulting in potentially big scores on every hole. Now that I can stick the greens and my mishits don’t go bounding away, I have much better scoring chances. The only other ball I could get to check up like this was the Callaway HX Blue, but I would lose about 15 yards off my drives with that ball. With the Nike, I’m probably only losing 5 yards or so, but sometimes it will make up those yards by running down the fairway. The Titleist DT SoLo was the other inexpensive ball I was experimenting with, and while that ball had big benefits off the tee (much straighter, almost impossible to slice), it could not spin worth a lick, and so I have to give it the nay-no. I’ve found my new ball and at $15 per dozen, it will leave me more money for drinks in the clubhouse. As for Mine Brook, I shot a clean 88 with one birdie, a missed a second birdie chance that just barely lipped out. I won two closest to the pins for $12 each (one being a particularly pretty 200 yd 4-iron), but the thing I was happiest about was coming in 3rd in the blind stablefjord pairing where the prize was… a box of Nike Powersoft golf balls!