HRU Feedback (2017-12-10)

December 10, 2017

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The Curmudgeon on South Florida’s best restaurants

I enjoyed Gurf’s column on South Florida’s best eating places. (full column here) All his picks were very good. Here are in my opinion, four serious omissions:

1. Palm Beach Grill — Best value for wine, maybe in the world. Excellent food at decent prices. Great bar scene. The best prime rib and hot dog (yes hot dog — it’s priced at something like $15 and would be great value at twice the price) I have ever had, anywhere you would care to name. There is not a single item on the menu that is less than very good. The only negative is that it is so hard to get a reservation.

2. La Sirena — If you haven’t been there, you need to go. It is a consistently excellent restaurant in West Palm Beach. Second generation family owned and managed. The chef, Marcello is the owner and he is fantastic. His wife handles the front of the house. It’s owned by the same family that owned Burgomeister. It might have been Billy Haughton’s favorite restaurant in South Florida. The only problems might be that they only serve wine, no other alcohol, but it is a superb wine list and fairly priced. It’s also not very easy to get a reservation. If you ever are with a group of six or eight, the top floor is where their wine cellar is located. There is a table in the middle where you can have dinner. It’s a great experience eating great food surrounded by bottles and cases of some of the great wines of the world. A group of us have done New Year’s Eve in that room for the last five years. We will be returning again this year. All the food is great, but the whole branzino is the very best I’ve ever had.

3. Shanghai City in Boca Raton. This is an old style New York City type Chinese restaurant. The food is excellent. The prices are very reasonable. Gurf, you and I will feel right at home here. The average age is between 70-80 with 90 per cent of the clientele probably being ex New Yorkers. Everything is good. The lobster, fish, duck and rib dishes are especially so. They have excellent fresh daily specials. It’s usually very busy on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. A good place for lunch.

4. Cafe Martorano. A great southern Italian restaurant. The scene and noise can sometimes be overwhelming. The quality of the food is excellent with the owner Steve Martorano usually doing the cooking. They do run a heavy pencil. Celebrities and athletes are often there.

Some honorable mentions

Schwartz’s Deli — A knockoff of a Montreal deli, but their Montreal Smoked meat is the real thing. They get it imported directly from Montreal. It’s very good.

Hong Kong City BBQ — A divey looking place that has as genuine and as a good food as you will get in New York’s Chinatown. We used to come here with Wild Bill Perretti and a group for lunch. The food is excellent. The ambience not so much.

Hotdogopolis — Great assortment of hot dogs and the best french fries I’ve had in South Florida. It’s a Chicago-type hot dog joint. The variety of dogs is amazing.
Also, to the food aficionado, the quartet of The Boys, The Girls, Bambini’s and Grammas Bakery in Delray is a must. They are a group of food stores owned and managed by several brothers from Staten Island, who are also harness horse owners.

The stores are very close to each other on Military Trail.

The Boys is a supermarket like no other. You name it. They have it. Their produce, homemade foods, bakery, fish and meat and cheese sections are fantastic. Their prices, for what they have are very reasonable.

However you take your life in your hands shopping there. The parking is scary. The average age of the clientele has to be in the 80s. They use their shopping carts as though they are weapons of war. Narrow lanes and people going in every direction. It’s an experience shopping there, like no other.

A few doors away is The Girls. This store specializes in ice cream and candy. Their strawberry ice cream, made from strawberries grown right on the premises, is unbelievably good. Behind the store, they grow their strawberries and several other foods. A great attraction to all, especially kids, is that they have an assortment of exotic birds, mostly different types of parrots there.

Attached to The Girls is Bambini’s, a pizzeria whose pizza is excellent and whose hot subs just might be the best I have ever had. Their meatball and parmigiana chicken subs are delicious and are so big that they are a challenge to finish.

Next door to Bambini’s is Gramma’s an all purpose bakery that has anything one would look for in breads, baked goods and pastries. All is excellent and made on site.

— The Curmudgeon / Hanover, PA

Deep, talented field of young drivers a bright spot

There certainly was a lot stars shining in 2017. With the stake season over, I have to say it was an enjoyable year of racing. From the fan perspective, we didn’t have the Wiggle it and Miki matchups, but there was plenty of talent in all the divisions. Fear the Dragon and Seaside battled it out right until the very end and both had their monuments in the spot light. Very entertaining.

With so many things happening in harness racing, negative and positive, here is one thing that is certainly on the up swing. The amount of professional drivers must be 10 times what it was 20 years ago. I could remember a hot July night in 1994. While standing on the apron in Yonkers, I could hear the helicopter hovering above and landing in the parking lot. Out comes the team of drivers. For what we knew back then, the top class of privileged drivers that “only could.” John Campbell, Mike Lachance, Bill O’Donnell, Ron Pierce, Ron Waples, etc. They get their one drive and fly right back to the Meadowlands for more stake action. Today with the choice of drivers and the deep skills they have, it must be a trainer’s dream come true — very deep across and plenty of them, including the amateurs.

I admire all these young drivers and their ability. It’s the bright spot in this game for me right now.

— Al Pappalardi / New York

Less racing isn’t all bad

I think HRU should ask their readers the following:
Do you think we should have fewer tracks and less racing. I for one say yes because as a bettor seeing a preferred with only five entries and on a half-mile track is absurd and offers no value. I also think all claiming and NW should have an additional condition, must have finished top 4 last race. If some may think this would lead to short fields I don’t believe so. Would it lead to horses missing a race a week, possibly, but horses that have come off a layoff and qualifying do win so it’s a wash. I believe racing has become too complacent allowing too much racing into shape, which, from a bettor’s point of view, does not increase pool size. In fact, it lessens the size of the pool. Sure trainers will be able to race into shape, but they will have to finish top four to do it. I also believe this added condition will alter post position stats by the mere fact that, as it is now, drawing an outside post the driver will maybe try and leave but inevitably drop to the back of the bus or drop and give a little brush later in the race, or wait till the horse draws in better. And finally the drivers lackadaisical drives will hurt their pockets, so now with all of the above we the bettors are being looked after like we should be.

— Bob Adams / London, ON

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