Caravela in Tarrytown, Prix Fixe at Xaviars of Piermont, and Look Out Hot Dogs: Here Come Frankie Rolls!

One of the sad things about food journalism is that we’re obsessed with the new: new chefs, new dishes, and being the first on our block to try new restaurants. I’m not claiming to be superior—in fact, our brief at EDP is to try out the new spots and report. But, once in a while, it’s nice to check out the veterans still chugging away on the scene.

Paella Valencia at Caravela

 So, the other night I dodged my directive and returned to an old favorite, Caravela Restaurant (53 N Broadway, Tarrytown, 914-631-1863). Though this 25-year old has been slow of late (like so many restaurants nowadays), Caravela was packed during my visit. It was nice to see that Restaurant Week having its usual effect. Every table was taken, and the staff were happily hustling back and forth with overloaded trays. We sat down in the cozy, wood-and-cork room to very welcome nibbles of chorico and olives—and a splash of Alvarinho never goes to waste after a long day.

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Stuffed squid Setubal with linguica and sweet peppers

 

 As befits a restaurent named for a ship, our meal involved a steady parade of seafood. Snappy squid caps stuffed with bread, and garlicky, paprika-stained linguica. Whole, grilled sardines that tasted like every coastal vacation I’ve ever taken, and bouncy, pan-seared scallops lying over soulful celery-root puree. We had tender, warm octopus rounds served with olive-oil poached potatoes, and a timbale of mushroom slices in a nut-brown port sauce dabbed with the occasional ruby of lingonberry jelly.

 But that’s the thing about the Cabrals—both Fernando (who owns Caravela) and Henry (his son and the owner of Tarry Tavern down the street)—they believe in old-school hospitality. Though many Restaurant Week participants privately grumble about the influx of cheap patrons, who won’t exceed their discounted tab by even one cup of coffee, Fernando Cabral takes it in stride. “So, I give them a break, a full-size portion from our regular menu. They’re going to have a good meal, and then they’ll come back with their friends.” Sadly, he couldn’t linger to tell us Restaurant Week war stories—the place was jammed and he had to hop.

Paella Valenciana mined the happy ground between chorico and seafood, with every grain of saffron rice tinged the luminous red of the sausage. It arrived bursting with clams and mussels, big shrimps and juicy pork and chicken chunks, and could have fed an army rather than the single diner it was geared for. It landed with mariscada in green sauce, a rich seafood stew of swordfish, lobster, clams, mussels, monkfish, and shrimp; it was a veritable net haul from the world’s richest waters.

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Pan-seared scallops with celery root puree and spaghetti squash

Finally, feeling that we had eaten the entire Atlantic, we sipped our port and reflected that sometimes it’s important to revisit the classics. Caravela is a Westchester-dining-world grandfather, whose progeny went on to populate Westchester’s current scene. Cabral’s brother and former partner, Manuel, founded Aquario in West Harrison, while a former employee opened Solmar right down the street. Over on Main Street, Tarry Tavern is run by Fernando’s son, Henry Cabral (with occasional help from his father). At the center, the restaurant that started it all, Caravela, quietly presides. It’s celebrating its 25th anniversary in this spot and offering a fabulous prix-fixe deal three courses for $28, so take a moment away from your quest for the new, and drop in on a classic.

 


This week, it’s a grab-bag of cool, foodie, winey events. Strap on the feedbag while you can, folks, because, hark…summer is coming.

Sweets for the Sweet at Wine Geeks Armonk
April 8, 7pm
$35 for materials (that’s wine and food, and not, say, loose-leaf binders)

Here’s a great way to learn about these challenging wines, so you can talk varieties like Muscat, Beumes de Venise, and Tannat with the best of them (although the full list hadn’t been finalized at press time). You’ll learn pairing wines with desserts, with learning materials provided by Beascakes Bakery & Breads of Armonk. Classes conducted by Sommelier Derek Todd, former wine director of Blue Hill at Stone Barns.

Prospero Winery 2009 Cabernet Franc Release at the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester
March 24, 6pm – 9pm
$25 for all four food pairings; $25 for all four wines

According to the Ritz-Carlton, Westchester, invitation, “The 2009 Cabernet Franc is produced from premium vineyard sites in the Chalk Hill region of Sonoma County. It is harvested at peak ripeness and barrel-aged for 18 months in American and French oak, it is full on the palate with deep violet hues, expressing earthy notes, herbs, and spices. It pairs well with rich, red pasta sauces and grilled meat.

To that end, and to celebrate the release and enhance the experience for guests, the hotel’s culinary team has created a tasting menu to complement the Cabernet Franc and other wines. The Cab Franc will be paired with a Lamb Duo, with a Lamb Chop and Lamb Polpetta. A Mushroom Cappuccino with Parmesan Foam will be paired with the Tapestry Riesling. Hamachi with Avocado Mousse and Meyer Lemon will be paired with the Cremosa Chardonnay, and Smoked Duck Carpaccio will be paired with Cabernet Sauvignon.” Yum. And if you drink too much, you can always get a room upstairs.

Early Spring Prix Fixe at
Xaviars of Piermont
Through March 27
$55 per person

Oh, yes folks: I might have been Irish last week, but I’m always Scottish, which means that I love a good deal when I see one. Here is a fab offer from Chef Peter Kelly, who is opening his most elegant room for bargain-hunting gourmets. From the invite, here’s what your $55 buys:

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Warm Asparagus Custard
Spring Morels & Snipped Chives
Roulade of Wild Atlantic Salmon Cooked “Sous Vide”
Centered with Crushed Truffle
Sorrel Coulis & Flueron of Puff Pastry
or
Tiny Crisped Soft Shell Crab in Rice Flour
Salad of Baby Lettuces with Nettles, Ramps & Fava Beans
Buttered Dashi Broth served Tableside
~~~
Baby Spring Lamb Duet with Mustard Greens
Chops “Scotta Ditta” with Basil & Violet Mustard
Braised Neck with Smoked Potato Fondue
or
Hudson Valley Duckling with Olive Jus
Seared Breast with Roasted Sweet Vidalia Onion Soubise
Braised Leg served in Agnolotti with Red Currants
~~~
Individual Hot Meyer Lemon Soufflé
Wild Strawberry Ice Cream & Butter Cookies
or
Belgian Chocolate Dome
Crème Brulee Center & Chocolate Ganache
~~~
A Selection of Petit Fours & Chocolates

 


Bombay Frankie Rolls at Little Kebab Station

Whether you call them kathi rolls, or frankie rolls, they amount to the same thing. We’re talking spicy, yummy, sort-of-greasy street food at its absolute finest. This tiny Mount Kisco storefront celebrates its Bombay food truck heritage with a frieze of painted street vans wrapping around its ceiling. Meanwhile, ugly fluorescent light recesses are disguised with wonderful Bollywood stills, making this one of the cheeriest 10-seaters around. Its colorful dining room might be small, but its kitchen does a roaring trade in delicious takeout kebabs, breads, and curries. Our favorite grab-and-go snack is this addictive little charmer: it’s a spicy, seekh kebab frankie roll of layered-on egg, minced spiced lamb, spiced onions, lemon, and mint chutney. Mmmm….especially if you hit Captain Lawrence in Pleasantville for a growler before you hit this strictly BYOB nook.

 

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