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Since it always seems so difficult to pick out birthday presents, going out to a nice meal has become our default gift. My wife chose Emeril’s Chop House at the Sands casino in Bethlehem to celebrate her birthday last weekend. They’ve removed the phone number from the website – instead directing you to OpenTable.com to book your reservation. While it’s always reassuring to make a reservation with an actual person, web reservation sites let you see what times are available. I originally tried to book a table for Saturday but nothing was available between 5 and 10pm. Yikes. Friday’s options were 6:45 and 9:15. We went with the 6:45. That Emeril’s was so booked up was a fair indication that the food would to be good. We’d heard from a friend who attended the restaurant’s opening that the food was so-so. We optimistically assumed they just hadn’t worked out all of the kinks. Then my mom chimed in that the food was “too salty” at the Emeril’s in Las Vegas, though my dad said otherwise. We were undeterred!

We forgot the camera but snagged some inferior pics on my wife’s phone. I’ll post them if I can clean them up in Photoshop.

They started us with some toasts covered with a mouthwatering mushroom paté. I ordered a half-bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and my wife had their sangria – a delicious mix with a subtle taste of cloves. It took a while for the waiter to return to take our food order, but that was our only criticism of the night. We started with salads – the iceberg wedge slathered in Pennsylvania blue cheese for me and the grilled peach and chevre salad for my wife. Both were great – fresh and flavorful. And mine was so filling that I got a bit nervous knowing I had a 22oz ribeye on the way! My wife had the shrimp arrabbiata for her entrée.

Their steaks are accompanied by 3 sauces including bearnaise, Worcestershire, and horseradish. They were good but the steak was seasoned and cooked so well that I used the sauces only sparingly. Side dishes must be ordered separately, but I wanted to save room for dessert.

I was excited to see Penn State Creamery ice cream on the menu and was definitely going to get the Bittersweet Mint if it was one of the selections. It wasn’t (though they did have Peachy Paterno) so we shared the coconut cream pie. Yummm.

We had a great night and highly recommend it. The decor is great, the waitstaff was professional and the food was top notch. It was one of the pricier meals we’ve had in a while (though my steak and wine threw off the curve) but i can confidently say that we got our money’s worth.

My folks drove up Saturday to hang out and we decided to go out for an early dinner. They’d never had Thai food and I wanted to try Touch of Thai again to make sure it was worth my strong reco. We were the first ones there, but the dining room was half-filled by the time we left – a better crowd than they had the Friday evening when we first stopped in.

My folks had a bunch of questions about Thai food, but the menu had brief explanations of the dishes to make things easier. While we pondered the menu, we got to work on a couple bottles of wine. A white from Franklin Hill Vineyards flavored with kiwi and strawberry and a Mondavi Riesling. We have to try Franklin Hill’s more traditional offerings cuz they’re specialty fruit blends are too sweet. The Riesling was very good.

We started off with some vegetable spring rolls, fried crispy with a sweet chili dipping sauce, and the chicken skewers we enjoyed on our previous visit. My folks were liking everything so far. For the main course, my dad had a sweet and sour pork dish, my wife a curry, my mom the pad thai, and i had what was basically the pad thai with glass noodles. It was a huge plate of food, but i hadn’t eaten since breakfast and i wolfed it down. In fact, i don’t think anyone had leftovers – which is unusual for my mom and my wife.

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Amazingly we still had room for a little dessert – but little is not what we received. We figured we’d share the triple ice cream dish, though my pops went rogue and ordered the sticky rice and custard. Daring. The scoops of mango, ginger, and toasted coconut ice cream were ginormous, and the flavors and texture were top notch. I’m wondering if they get a local place like Purple Cow to mix them up special. The coconut was packed with toasted coconut and was the clear favorite.

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My dad was a bit stunned by the custard – it was a large slab with an odd yellow color. He had an eye on our ice cream so i decided to help him out and let him in on our frozen awesomeness. The custard wasn’t half-bad – kinda like a coconut custard but a bit more textural. Half the portion plus a scoop of ice cream or dollop of whipped cream would improve the dish.

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As we were finishing up, PA state rep. Robert Freeman arrived with a small group. He’s a lifelong Easton guy so he would know all the best spots – and i have to agree with him on Touch of Thai.

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  • the red and black
    For many Junes, this was my favorite cocktail. Yes, I realize that I sound particularly like a weird food writer person and not a person who lives among other people because most normal, sane people do not have a favorite cocktail for each month of the year, even if you agree with me — you do, right? –that a Perfect Manhattan is the ideal way to warm up on t […]

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