1.03.2012

Binghamton Restaurant Week Continues

Big Hungry Shelby here, reporting to you live from Binghamton Restaurant Week…my second stop was made in order to take advantage of Restaurant Week’s mega-deal of a three course lunch for only $10. And since it’s Big Hungry Melinda’s birthday week, she chose Lost Dog Café as the destination of our ladies who lunch extravaganza.
Lost Dog has been a long-time favorite of mine when looking for a change-up from the usual Southern Tier-area Italian food, or a bit of a hipper dining experience. It’s also a good place to take those friends who are – what do you call them? Oh yeah, vegetarians. Shudder.

This downtown locale has a great city feel from the start – colorful draperies adorn the tall windows, a mix of music thuds through the room, there’s banquette seating and a cool bar, with vibrant art covering the walks. The menu echoes this vibe, with a mix of vegan entrees, café staples, tons of great coffee options, inventive desserts and world-cuisine appetizers.

One of my perennial favorites – and a big recommendation from me to you – is the chicken muffalletta sammie. Not exactly loyal to its New Orleans roots, this sandwich sports jack cheese, roasted red peppers, a slammin’, salty olive tapenade/relish and crusty French bread. Another lunch standout I sampled a few weeks ago is the brie and berry chicken melt, which pairs grilled chicken with melted brie cheese and a sweet raspberry sauce on that same French bread. This is a knockout, delicious treat for lunch – and Lost Dog’s winning sweet potato fries complete it for a filling and unique meal.

Two other heavyweights on this menu are the rigatoni ala vodka, which features perfectly al dente pasta in a bodaciously savory, tangy, creamy tomato and parmesan sauce, and the French press coffee, which is served in a mini-Bodum French press and delivers a punch of rich, fine coffee flavor.



Bodacious vodka sauce

While I had that great pasta for lunch this week, Melinda chose the mojito grilled chicken off the Restaurant Week menu. She was pleased with her selection: tender grilled chicken served over rice, black beans and corn with a sweet yet kicky “mojito” sauce, which smacked of lime and mint, just like the cocktail.


Mmmmmmmojito

We also enjoyed our two desserts: flourless chocolate torte, rich with a coconut infusion and dark, dense chocolate, and lemon bars atop a pool of raspberry sauce. These were sweeter than most lemon bars, with a yummy lemony bite and a crumbly, shortbread crust. But my favorite dessert off the normal menu at Lost Dog is the mambo chocolate love cake, which is one of those volcanic wonders where the molten chocolate “lava” pours out of the center when you spear it with your fork. YUM.


I wish you were a chocolate volcano

Other notables on the Lost Dog menu are the chicken lemongrass dumplings, which are much brighter tasting than most run-of-the-mill potstickers. The Bangkok shrimp also are outstanding, tempura-battered and served with a delectable, spicy sauce. The attention to detail on all the food here is just really special. While it’s not the kind of spot you want to bring your meat-and-potatoes devotee father, it’s the primo choice for your aging hippy aunt who’s joining you in Binghamton for First Friday.


Aunt Sunflower is going to love this salad with its chickpeas and peppery balsamic dressing!

If your travels this week are taking you outside of New York State, as mine did over this past weekend, and you need a place to pull off the road and get a tasty burger, look for a Fuddruckers. Seriously. I haven’t been to one of these since I was a kid, but on the way home from Staten Island on Saturday night, my family and I stopped at one in NJ, and I was blown away by how much I enjoyed my bacon mushroom burger. I expected a flat disk of dried out meat with some pre-cooked bacony garbage and a few watery mushrooms, but my burger was juicy and flavorful, with buttery sautéed shrooms and thick-cut, quality bacon. Miss TI, Morgan, got a hot dog the approximate length of the Great Wall of China served in a buttered, toasted roll like you used to get at Howard Johnson’s 468 years ago, and Miss TI’s Outstanding Teen Kaili and I both had chocolate shakes that were to die for. Fuddruckers may be a chain, but there’s a reason it’s been around so long – someone is looking after the quality of the food in this mass-produced beef wonderland, and doing a bang up job. WTG, Fudd!



Weiner

That caps off my culinary adventures for this week, Big Hungries. Oh, and I have news: a new batch of BHS shirts are finally, finally in! They are great quality Gildan 100% Ultra Cotton and are $25 a piece. If you would like to sport your hunger for the world to see, please message me on Facebook, and I can send yours out to you right away! My personality is big; my hunger is bigger!

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