Central Park Bistro in San Mateo California has all the qualities it takes to make a memorable dining experience. Most restaurants excel in a few areas while being average in others, but the overall experience is good. Central Park Bistro excels in all areas which produces a tasteful and memorable experience….
A friend recommended that I take a Ferry from Seattle WA. over to Bainbridge Island for a quick tour. The ferry ride alone is a treat for those who are used to being landlocked, With the stunning Seattle skyline views to the East and a quaint Northwestern Puget Sound Village to the West I knew Bainbridge Island Tour would be rewarding. I departed the ferry and headed for Downtown Bainbridge. Even in January the town was alive with shops, restaurants, citizens and tourist making their way around the City of Bainbridge, and I must admit it was inviting, but I had come to see nature. On a whim I hit find parks on the GPS and it returned Bloedel Reserve. Only 6 short miles from downtown I headed up 305 toward Bloedel Gardens.
I love gardens and the natural landscaping. With very little information on the Bloedel Reserve I didn’t know what to expect. The gate was closed and an attendant came out and told me admission was $13 dollars and ask if I wanted to come in. Upon entrance I was told to park in the only parking lot and come into the guard house for instructions. The only way to view the Bloedel Reserve is to walk. You can see all of the grounds on a 2 hour walk or you can choose to walk directly to the main house if you are not up to the long walk. You are given a guide which explains how and why the Bloedel’s transformed this 180 acres of former timberland into a blend of natural and naturalized landscaping.
I highly recommend that you devote the 2 hours and walk the complete trail. Some of the notable things you will see is a man made pond designed to attract ducks. This pond was so thoughtfully created that is allows ducks to live there but has straight sides and is deep enough to keep dogs and other animals from walking in and grabbing up waterfowl. The trees are second growth forest but are still large and impressive. One can even see a Dawn Redwood along with all of the other native trees like Hemlock, Douglas Firs and Birch trees. Make sure to visit the Japanese Garden and Guest House. The Gate and Dry Garden was designed by Dr. Koichi Kawana, and the Guest House was designed by Paul Hayden Kirk, a Seattle Architect. Surplus wood from the U.S.S. New Jersey was used on the floor of this quaint but impressive guest house. The main house and surround gardens are breathtaking as well as the view of the Puget Sound from the back of the house.
I can honestly say that I was continually in awe of the spectacular views and perfectly thought out gardens and landscaping. I took hundreds of images and could have easily take hundreds more. I visited in the middle of winter and can only imagine what it must be like in Spring or in August when fall is in it’s full glory. This place is a must see for those that have a love of horticulture and gardening. The history is notable and the story of the Bloedel’s and the Collins family who owned the property before that. If you are in Seattle you must plan on a visit here as it is well worth the time and money.
Most of the time, when a restaurant has been voted the best local eatery in town, the food served is pretty good. This time however, we could not figure out why Tony’s Main Street Cafe had earned this award in 2009. Maybe that had been a better year for the cafe?
Tony’s is located in downtown Denison Texas, which is still the heart of town. Although downtown areas strive to be quaint, having to pass the kitchen to get to the restrooms is not my idea of quaint. And the seating was cramped, too many tables in the dining area, which had a cashier counter for some reason. The staff seemed disinterested, like we were disrupting their day.
The menu looked promising – prime rib sandwich, Reuben, pastrami on rye, French dip, burgers, etc. – all offered with homemade potato chips.
We ordered the prime rib sandwich and the pastrami on rye. After what seemed like an unusually long wait, considering there was only three other tables; one was leaving, one was eating, and the others got their order just before we did; the result was disappointing.
Both sandwiches had meat that was very overcooked. The slab of meat that passed for prime rib looked like it came off of a shoe. One thick slice, that was all. Prime rib should have a pink center, medium to medium rare, and this was well done. And it was on a plain hoagie roll with no lettuce or tomato, not even a pickle for garnish. As for the pastrami, both the meat and the bread were greasy, like it had been grilled on the flattop with too much butter, or oleo. There was only a slice or two of pastrami, I could barely find it. The flavor of the pastrami was good, let’s hope that Tony decides to cut back on the grease and increase the amount of meat on the sandwich.
The homemade potato chips were cold, greasy and a little overdone. They had the taste of being cooked in old oil at too low of temperature, so the oil soaked in to the chips. And no salt. One thing that does need salt is any potato based food, especially when fried.
On a better note, the neighboring table had ordered the Cobb salad, and it looked great. It covered the huge platter it was on, seemed to be fresh, and the guest had to ask for a take-home container.
We hate to kill a restaurant with just one visit so if you are in Dennison you might try it and let us know. Downtown Denison has so many choices for food that it might be a while before Tastes Like Travel ventures back to Tony’s Main Street Café. There has to be a reason that Tony’s won best new restaurant in 2009, let’s hope they get the mojo back soon.
While visiting the Choctaw Casino in Durant, Oklahoma, we journeyed out one afternoon in search of good local restaurant.
As we headed into downtown Durant on Hwy 69, we passed a small building on the right, painted dark green. The sign outside said “Sherrer’s – Serving fine food since 1948”. We thought it looked interesting, but decided to drive through town first to see what else might catch our eye.
After a full circuit through town, nothing that was open looked as interesting, so back to Sherrer’s we went. We arrived at about 12:30 during a holiday week, and there were just a few other patrons.
We placed our beverage order with a nice guy, who turned out to be not only the cook, but the remaining owner’s son. As we talked with our waitress, we noticed some framed newspaper front pages in the back of the bar area. Upon closer inspection, it was a front page from the 1948 Durant Democrat, heralding the imminent opening of the Sherrer brothers’ new restaurant. It told of the new, fully machined kitchen – including an electric slicer!
As we returned to our seats, a spry older man caught us looking at the bar. As we talked, we discovered the man is one of the two brothers Sherrer (Leon) who started the restuarant – still going strong at 90! We listened as he told about starting the business and all the changes in the 52 years he had been in business and involved in his community.
Our appetizer of tortilla soup arrived, with fresh chips. The soup had a good taste and the black beans were a nice touch.
Then came the homemade burger and chicken fried steak sandwich, both with French fries. Both were served in a basket with tissue paper. The burgers are a full 1/3 pound, and include all the trimmings. The mushroom and swiss cheese mushroom burger was delicious, with freshly sautéed mushrooms.
The chicken fried steak sandwich was a classic too, tasty and not greasy. The French fries were hot, crisp and freshly fried. Just the way you remember good French fries!
With the good food, friendly owners, and a bit of hard work, we discovered why Sherrer’s has been in business over 50 years. Have lunch or dinner there the next time you visit Durant, and say ‘hello’ to Mr. Sherrer for us! This family diner is a great place to have a genuine home cooked meal.