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TOSCANA GRILL – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , , , , on July 22, 2009 by ballymote

blog pics 013Our Friday night dining group ventured to Mullica Hill, NJ last week to dine at one of my favorite South Jersey BYOB’s, Toscana Grill. It’s a place we have been to often and it never disappoints. This week was no exception. Toscana does have a liquor license but permits patrons to bring their own bottles without a corkage charge. They feature wines from the local Heritage Vineyard. My wine for the evening was the Kaiken Ultra Malbec. I picked up several bottle of this surprisingly tasty wine at a “blowout” sale at Canal’s on the Black Horse Pike across from the Hamilton Mall for $9.09. BLOG PICS 016The wine usually sells for anywhere from 15 to 20 dollars depending on where you find it. I had purchased previous bottles for $15.99. It has a wonderful nose and the dark fruit flavors are well balanced with a long finish for a wine of so little pretensions. Do not confuse this wine with the regular Kaiken Malbec as there is a world of difference in the “ultra”.

One of my favorite items on the Toscana menu is a simple wedge salad. It’s always fresh and loaded with blue cheese, tomatoes and bacon. It’s the perfect start to a meal. I had the crab cake encrusted tilapia and it was tender and flavorful. It was accompanied by asparagus and a risotto cake.

Joe had brought with him a home made wine that some guy he works with makes every year. Normally, I decline offers to even taste these home creations but he had coaxed me into trying it on a previous occasion and I have to admit that this guy does a nice job. It’s the third time I have had this wine and although the first time stands out as the best effort, they are always interesting.

The bill for each couple came to $52.00 so you can see that Toscana Grill is not a place that will kill the family budget.

OCEANOS RESTAURANT – BYOB

Posted in BYOB Restaurant Reviews, Oceanos Restaurant, South Jersey BYOB Reviews, Wine Dinners with tags , , , , , on July 5, 2009 by ballymote

Our Friday night dining group met at Oceanos Restaurant at 222 Haddon Ave. in West Berlin. blog pics 012Let me say at the beginning that I enjoyed the food here. Having said that, I do not think our group will be returning anytime soon. One word that was not mentioned anywhere on their web site, but which was prominent on the property signage was “Diner”. It did not have the typical look of a South Jersey diner but it most certainly DID have the infamous “diner type” menu. As an example, someone mentioned a “spinach pie” appetizer and was asked what page that was on and someone else in the group replied, “I believe that would be on Page 93″. An exaggeration, yes, but, there were a LOT of pages to the menu. I think some of our group were prejudiced before even ordering because they felt they were in a diner (as Jerry Seinfeld would say “not that there’s anything wrong with that”).

I felt there were tons of great selections and I totally enjoyed my 10 oz. filet accompanied by four small crab cakes and a baked potato. My meal, which included lobster bisque and a rice pudding for dessert came to $20.95 and the portions were such that I ate half and took half home. The  total bill for each couple “with tip” was an extremely reasonable $50.00. My wife found fault with the overly sweet sauce on her mussels and another diner felt the spinach pie was “too salty”. I’d go back and so would another male (Jerry, the Bruchetta King)  of our group. The problem is we’d probably have to go alone. My wine for the evening was a 2004 Hook and Ladder Zinfandel. BLOG PICS 017It went well with my meal as the soft pepper spices complimented the filet without overpowering the crab cakes.

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