Thursday, October 17, 2013

Upstate Trip to Tarrytown & Sleepy Hollow

It always amazes me that you can drive an hour north of Manhattan and find yourself in the beautiful Hudson Valley, surrounded by scenic countryside and fresh air. Looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, my husband and I recently went for an overnight stay in the lovely Tarrytown.

The drive isn’t particularly picturesque until you get north of Yonkers, but after that we enjoyed some great views of the initial onset of autumn and the amazing colour changes of the leaves. We stayed at the ‘Tarrytown House and Estate’, which is set in acres of sprawling grounds full of trees and gardens. The house itself is an attractive building, and is home to the ‘Cellar 49’ Bar and Restaurant. Our room was located in one of the other, less aesthetically pleasing, buildings about a 5 minute walk from the reception. It was a pretty standard room, nothing amazing, but it was clean with a nice bathroom and king-size bed. It was more than fine for us and I liked the fact it had a decent Kreuig coffee machine.

Unfortunately we were unable to get a reservation in the hotel restaurant, but as I knew this ahead of time, I made a booking a great place in Tarrytown itself. We drove 10 minutes to main street and as soon as got there I was really pleased that the hotel restaurant couldn't fit us in. The street was packed full of people enjoying the mild evening and there was an abundance of inviting bars and restaurants. We ate in the 'Sweet Grass Grill’ which has a farm to table concept with lots of vegetarian choices on the menu. We started with the trio of dips and spiced polenta fries, both of which were tasty. I then opted for the vegan shepherd’s pie, which was delicious. My husband had a vegetarian pasta dish which he wasn't too keen on as it tasted too much of truffle oil. We finished with the dessert special, peach cobbler, which was the highlight of the meal.

After dinner we strolled up Main Street and enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere and buzz of the place. It was hard to believe we were only an hour away from Manhattan, I felt as it I was in a village in the Cotswolds' back in the UK.

When we got back to the hotel we went for a drink in the bar and encountered a raccoon climbing out of a bin by the entrance. It scared the life out of me, much to the amusement of my husband!  The bar was fine, it had a bit of a stuffy atmosphere, but the staff were friendly enough and we enjoyed a glass of wine before bed.

The following day we went back to Main Street for brunch and then drove north to Sleepy Hollow. Naively I didn’t realize that this was a real place and thought it was a work of fiction created by Washington Irving for 'The Legend f Sleepy Hollow'. The weather had taken a turn for the worse and it was a miserable day, dark and drizzly, but you could still appreciate the quaintness and beauty of place, it was a lovely little village. There are some interesting attractions there, including Philipsburg Manor which was unfortunately closed for Halloween. It had been turned in a haunted house, which I am sure would be very scary at night as it looked creepy enough from a distance in daylight!

As the weather became worse we decided to call it a day and drove back to the city. We had a lovely time in Tarrytown and Sleepy Hollow and will definitely visit again as we still have a lot more to see. It’s also worth making the trip to enjoy dinner on Main Street, which I bet will look fantastic decorated for the holidays.  If you don't have a car, fancy renting one or just don't want to drive, you can get to Tarrytown by train from Grand Central Station.

For more information about the hotel please visit http://www.tarrytownhouseestate.com and restaurant http://sweetgrassgrill.com/.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

'Casa Pomona' - Restaurant Review

'Casa Pomona' is a Spanish style tapas restaurant located on the Upper West Side.  It originally opened last year, but due to a burst water main, was closed for 7 months.  I had tried and liked the restaurant before it closed, and was glad when it recently re-opened.

The restaurant it nicely laid out and decorated.  There is a bar a communal tables as you enter, and the main dining room is located at the back.  It is well spaced out, with plenty of room between tables and no one bumping into your chair as they walk by.

The menu is varied and has a good selection of meat, fish and vegetarian dishes.  As well as traditional tapas they serve a paella, again they have meat, fish and vegetable, as well as main course dishes.  I don't eat meat, so it was great to see such a wide variety of dishes from which I could choose.

We started with the 'Pan con Tomate', which was basically spicy tomatoes on toast and was delicious.  We then order a variety of dishes that came out periodically when they were ready.  The 'Patatas Bravas' and 'Salt Cod Croquettes' were delicious, as was the leek dish.  We enjoyed the spicy prawns, but weren't too keen on the mussels as they are served cold and had an odd taste to them.  We also tried the vegetable paella, which was worth the 45 minute wait (if you order as soon as you arrive it doesn't seem that long) and was a great addition to the meal.

Although we were completely stuffed, in the name of research (yeah whatever!) we tried a portion of the 'Churro's' which were served with chocolate dipping sauce. Delicious!

The service was very good, the staff were welcoming and friendly and we were served at a nice pace throughout the meal.

I would definitely go back to 'Casa Pomona', even though dinner can get a little pricey.  Those small plates add up and $25 for the vegetable paella seemed a bit steep to me. Add wine and drinks and you are probably looking at $100 for two for dinner.  It was well worth it though, and writing this is making my mouth water which must be a good sign!

For more information please visit http://casapomonanyc.com/ and you can make reservations via http://www.opentable.com.