Where Do Your Cravings Go?

Goodbye for now…..that’s what you might say to your hunger, tugging at you when you befriend your craving with a good meal.  And just like a good friend, it always comes back.  They don’t really go away now do they?  I don’t know about you but, I live on the edge of misery if I let my craving go.

In much the same enjoyment of digging into something good to eat, to satisfy a craving, I have enjoyed digging into the local restaurants and dishes I’ve been writing about.  I’ve learned in food blogging, there is more to write about than I could have ever possibly imagined.   With a little pang of hunger, I will continue writing this blog (maybe not as often over the summer.)

So, akin to the opening of a new restaurant, you will be served something new.  I’m looking forward to checking out The Annata Wine Bar.  And I haven’t been to Collingswood and what’s known as Restaurant Row, or any of the new restaurants opening up in Voorhees Town Center.   There are a few others I will leave you guessing at.

I will say goodbye to writing this blog for school, but it is only goodbye for now.  I still have cravings – they don’t go away.  I’m still having fun!  And I really meant it when I said I love to eat!

Some of the local restaurants that I’ve been to and written about are listed below:

Tavro Thirteen: South Jersey’s Fine Dining Destination With A Big Impression

A little more than six months ago, on October 22, 2012, the doors opened for the first time to a radically distinctive venue cleverly named Tavro Thirteen.  This is a destination for anyone that loves food.  You can be a casual diner or an expert foodie to  enjoy any of the dining experiences happening at Tavro Thirteen.

Everything about this place is eclectic.  In other words, the rooms, the decor, the menus, the food and drink, the affairs that take place are a collection of the finest of various styles, techniques and ideas.  The owners, Effie and Gus Tzitzifas along with well-known and celebrated Chef Terence Feury transformed the Old Swedes Inn to a fine dining establishment that blends an historic bravado with a modern, trendy style.

This South Jersey restaurant is located at 1301 King’s Highway, Swedesboro, NJ in the 08085 zip code.  It’s easy to get to and is part of Historic Swedesboro’s downtown district, across the street from Sweetsboro Pastry Shoppe.  It’s a quaint area and the victorian architecture of the magnificent building is a bold feature inside and out.  The building, its colors and decor command your attention.  The bull out front symbolizes the meaning of the greek word “tavro” and the color red you see in the seating is no coincidence.   The bull likes red.  If outdoor dining is what you like, you won’t be disappointed here.  There are plenty of tables, but it must be said that if you stay here, you will miss so much.

From the first footstep in, you are on a visual journey.   Colorful, vibrant murals,  funky, fun accommodations and light fixtures require your admiration.  Everything is infused with special attributes.  Mike Pfeiffer, one of Tavro’s insightful bartenders explains, “the lights in the lounge were done by an artist from Philly, Warren Muller, and actually spells out Tavro 13.”  With a bit of a search, you can find it.  “We always challenge everyone to find the “V” because it’s kind of hard to find,”  he says.   In the bar, the light fixtures on the walls are bears, not dogs, which is a common misconception, but significant to the symbolic financial beasts of the stock market (bull and bear) and the upward-downward trend.

If you sit down at the cement-top bar (it’s 33 ft. long), Pfeiffer, or one of your bar masters, will tell you about their hand-crafted classic cocktails as you search the menu.   It is owner recommended to try Jack Rose!  Mike says, “they’re all pre-prohibition style.”

The drinks are house made, as he explains,  “we make our own syrups, even the honey, we make our honey syrup here.  And the grenadine is a little different too;  we use a pomegranate base instead of your traditional cherry flavor.”

house-made bitters and syrups

Tavro Thirteen offers so much pleasure in dining and the food is no exception!  With Owner/Chef Terence Feury in charge, get yourself ready for another journey but I warn, you must love food!  His menus are ever-changing, and the dishes you will find here are inspired by local, seasonal products.

Brian Smith, a resident of South Jersey, says, “Tavro is really good.  It really is…especially for Sunday brunch.”  He is right!  Brunch is really good.  I went with several others to try this for the first time.  Tiffany Hicks, one of my dining companions, “likes the variety of breakfast/lunch options.”  She continues, “you can taste the freshness of the food,” adding “the burger is tender, has a subtle yummy ‘kick’ to it.”  And she goes on to say “the deviled eggs with crab meat are definitely worth a try and the pastry basket is also fresh with a good variety to please everyone’s taste.”  To be truly honest with you, I was thinking the whole time that this is fancy.  Maybe even a little too fancy.  But Tiffany was right and I could not have said it better myself, agreeing that the food was just produced, unprocessed and fresh.  Once I tasted the Cavatelli, which is strong of garlic flavor, I was convinced that I am eating better than good!  I’m eating like I deserve to ~ tasteful, delicious, unique flavors!  Like Tiffany said to me, “I would go again.  I would love to check out happy hour as the atmosphere made me want to stay and hang out.”  If she only knew what I do now.  The bar menu  is a whole new experience.  I can’t wait to go back with her.  This menu too, is fresh, diverse and flavory.  My fiancé and I ordered several snacks.  As we tried one small plate, it led us to another.  Take a look at all of the different dishes my foodie playmates and I have tried.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I could go on and on.  The endeavors of Tavro Thirteen linger.   The staff awaits you for dinner, entertainment ( Hotsy Totsy  will be appearing for Mother’s Day Brunch from 12-2pm ) and whatever private event you may be a part of.   The menus change continuously so this destination does not have a journey’s end.  This is just the beginning.   This is a restaurant dining innovation exclusive to Swedesboro, exclusive to South Jersey.  Tavro Thirteen leaves a big impression, and I believe Pfeiffer says it best.  He says, “It’s the little things and it really seems to be working.  It’s definitely different for this area.  I like it.”  I think you will too!

Cooking Class at Fischer’s Pelican Part 2: Dessert

Dessert.  It comes at the end of the meal.  It is eaten last and leaves a lasting impression to any dish.  In this video below, I’ve continued from my last post with the third course of Chef Bill Fischer’s cooking class as he demonstrates how to make Chocolate Chambord Cake.


1 10″ chocolate sponge cake, divided in three rounds

8 oz. simple syrup ( 1 cup water & 1 cup sugar, dissolved)

3 oz. Chambord

16 oz. bk. Raspberries or red raspberries puree

1 qt. heavy cream whipped with 4 oz. sugar until stiff peaks

1 10″ cake circle


Brush first cake all around with simple syrup.  Lace with one oz. of Chambord.  Spread evenly with one third of puree, followed by a layer of whipped cream.  Repeat with second layer (syrup, Chambord and cream.)  After that, finish the top of cake in the same fashion.  Complete decorating cake and garnish with fresh berries.

A Delight In Dining Out: Cooking Classes At Fischer’s Pelican

If you are eating at a good restaurant, chances are you’re indulging in good food, enjoying the flavors that taste so fresh, and delighting in the fact that you are being served.  And chances are,  you are not thinking about cooking.

Until it is placed in front of you, you haven’t enjoyed one bit of it.  But what if you could enjoy it before it came to you?  Wouldn’t it be more indulgent if you could delight in your meal while learning from the chef how it is made?    Often, we don’t get to see what takes place behind the scenes.  We don’t know or see the chef.  And we leave with only a guess of the recipe and how it was prepared.  We leave with a full belly, maybe some leftovers and lingering flavors.  Wouldn’t it be worth the money you’re spending to really appreciate the whole experience of dining out?

Chef Bill Fischer is the owner and head chef at Fischer’s Pelican Restaurant in Sewell, NJ.  He’s a fun guy!  He’s has a sense of humor, he’s down-to-earth and he loves to share his knowledge.  The Pelican has cooking classes and Chef Bill is your host.  To gain his knowledge is value.  His restaurant cooking classes are unique.  They are an entertaining experience in dining out that happens to be your pleasure!  I recently filmed some video at Chef Fischer’s most recent cooking class and without a doubt, it was my pleasure to do this.  You will have to see for yourself.

The menu this evening was Beef Carpaccio, Arugula Salad, Trout Almondine and Chocolate Chambord Cake for dessert.  Keep in mind, it is only a sneak peek.  There will be more to come….

  • cooking classes are offered monthly
  • includes a three-course meal
  • $35 per person

Good Italian In South Jersey? Yes – No – Maybe So

Italian is illustrated by food and every dish is made in the tradition of its roots and represents its region.  No matter what locale, Italian dishes keep us loyal and devoted to their mouth-watering flavors, simple ingredients, and one-of-a-kind presentations.


Italian cuisine is a comfort and if it’s not good it’s a bust for your appetite.  The dishes are simple yet rich and full of essence with ingredients like olive oil, garlic, tomato, basil, oregano, and mozzarella.  The pasta, made of flour, milk, butter, and salt is never a side dish and is best prepared al dente.  Spaghetti is meant to be twirled and is not imperfect on its own but is exactly perfect with shellfish.  Bread is always on the table.  Italian dishes are not complete unless you are enjoying them with family and friends!

To the restaurant faithful:  you can enjoy good Italian dishes and Italian culture right in our South Jersey region. The map below will show you where.  Click on the blue marker to read a brief review,  a recommendation of Yes, No or Maybe (based on food quality, taste, portion size, atmosphere, service and overall experience), a link to their website, and the address and phone number.  Bon Appetite!

More Than Just A Crazy Friday At Wild Ginger

Thank Goodness It’s Friday!  It’s been a long week and the craving of the night is for sushi and beer!  Unfortunately, the owners of HARU in Sewell, NJ stood firm with a big, fat ~wait for it~



(to shooting video and even to take pictures of the chef making sushi.)

I’m sorry there is no video but that’s ok, because here is someplace better….

Wild Ginger

657 CrossKeys Road ~ Sicklerville, NJ

Wild Ginger  Asian Cuisine

Wild Ginger
Asian Cuisine

It’s right in the middle of a strip mall, a few feet down from Roger Wilco Discount Liquor Store.  Since this restaurant is a B.Y.O.B., it’s rather convenient to be just a few steps away.

Wild Ginger is a little different.

The atmosphere is moderately upscale but very comfortable and laid back.

sushi bar

sushi bar

It’s a casual restaurant with an urban-like feel and a contemporary decor.  It’s not fancy!  It’s very simple!

The food is a step-up from what you might expect in Asian fare.  They offer traditional Chinese dishes and a unique sushi menu, in addition to a large selection of appetizers, soups, salads and steamed, health food options.  The food here is much more abundant with flavor and freshness than you might expect.  It all looks so beautiful too!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The sushi deserved its own little slide show

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

After a Crazy Friday,

I’m glad I ended up here

and I hope you get to try it!

Don’t Forget To Tip Your Server

Kristin Pundock Redstone Grille  Server

Kristin Pundock
Redstone Grille

This week I sat down with Kristin Pundock from Redstone American Grill.  I thought it was important to put the spotlight on the one aspect of restaurants that diners can’t do without…..the server.

We all want good service when we eat out.  The server is important to us and we are important to them.  Listen to Kristen explain what a server might expect from their customer and why tips are so important.

Let’s Get To It and Do It

Hello!  Happy Spring to all my Local Cravings readers.  I am just checking in to share with you some goals for the next few weeks.

Since this is a blog about local restaurants in South Jersey – that’s where we will go!  Here are a few things on the blog menu:

Let Me See Your Sushi Roll  

Let’s attempt to roll some sushi.  Video on this is the ultimate goal.  There’s a place in Sewell, NJ called Haru.  It’s a BYOB, eat in or take out and fairly new to the area.  I love it here.  This is a photo of some sushi I ordered recently

Valentine RollIncredible Roll

Valentine Roll
Incredible Roll

The best thing about this place is the HARU SPECIAL ROLL (50% OFF) menu offered daily! At the very least, look for more photos and a personal review if you can’t go yourself.

An Italian Affair and Compare

Italian food is different everywhere you go.  I want to compare my top three favorite dishes at three different restaurants:

  1. Francesco’s in Cedar Brook, NJ
  2. Maplewood Inn in Hammonton, NJ
  3. Lamberti’s in Williamstown, NJ

Photos and detailed description will guide you as my reader.

Let us not forget some other things sitting on the back burner…..

Cooking Class with Bill Fischer

I spoke to Eileen Fischer, one of the owners of Fischer’s Pelican Restaurant in Sewell, NJ.  She said that her husband, Bill, loves to speak with people about his restaurant and craft.  At the very least, I will set up an interview with him but it would be great to take a class with him.  I’ve sent the email, so I will keep you posted on my progress.

A Dining Experience at Tavro Thirteen

This place is a must go!  The plan will be to go to dinner (I’ll have to rally up the troops) and share the experience through some photos and some audio.  You can look for a review of what the food is really like.  To spark your interest, check out some of the other stuff in the press

Last But Not Least

The Annata Wine Bar awaits us.  Stay with me to listen to an audio review from some friends about their recommendation of this unique place.

If You Are Irish You Might Be Looking For These

It’s Saint Patrick’s religious feast day.  If you are celebrating in true Irish tradition, you might attend mass in the morning and then you might be looking for craic.  It’s an Irish term that has no specific English translation.  Simply put, it’s pronounced “crack” and means “fun”, or having a good time or a good laugh. Ri Ra Irish Pub in Atlantic City, NJ is planning a Craic Tour for 2013  It’s one of the most authentic Irish restaurants in South Jersey, in my opinion.

And if you are Irish,  you may follow tradition with a pea, a stick, a piece of cloth, a coin and a ring.  But what do these have to do with St. Paddy’s Day?  Barmbrack, also called “speckled loaf” due to the raisins that are in the dough, is a traditional Irish sweet bread usually baked around Halloween and Saint Patrick’s Day.  The tradition was to mix these items into the dough.  If you are Irish, you may be looking for one in your slice.  Why?  There is special meaning to it.

  • the pea – you won’t marry this year
  • the stick – an unhappy marriage
  • the cloth – symbolizes poverty
  • the coin – symbolized riches
  • the ring – you will wed within the year

To find a coin in my sweet bread would be nice!

If you are Irish, you are definitely looking for beer!  Many of us in South Jersey who happen to be Irish today, we celebrate with authentic Irish beer, and since there is still some time left, I’m off to meet some friends and satisfy my craving.

South Jersey’s Tavro Thirteen: Big City Style From the Big Green Tractors

It wasn’t too long ago that I started listening to country music on a regular basis.  It all seemed so funny to me, especially that song about a big, green tractor called ‘Big Green Tractor’ by Jason Aldean.

Jason Aldean

Jason Aldean
This is my photo
I actually squeezed his bicep soon after I took this

That song took me from the city, into the country, and dropped me off.  Jason sings a lot about country life.  His song ‘Fly Over States’ tells the story about the midwestern farmers and their lands and why we should appreciate them.  Some of the lyrics to his song are below:

Just a bunch of square cornfields and wheat farms,
Man, it all looks the same,
Miles and miles of back roads and highways,
Connecting little towns with funny names,
Who’d want to live down there in the middle of nowhere

Thanks, Jason, for finding the country girl in me!  I climbed onto a big, green tractor and I found my way to the farm.

Well, the farm market.  Where I can buy food.  I visit many of them around town.  The Amish Market in Williamstown and Duffield’s Farm Market are two of them.  But it doesn’t stop there.  Sovoie Organic Farm ,  in Williamstown, NJ, sells their farm goods at Collingswood Farmers’ Market every Saturday beginning in May.  Yesterday, I took a trip to Whole Foods Markets in Marlton, NJ.  Everything in that store is fresh and organic.   Their suppliers are from all around the U.S.  Maybe, from some of those “fly over states” that Jason sings about.  The Muth Family Farm, another local farm in Williamstown, NJ, supplies their homegrown, organic vegetables and herbs to Marlton store.  What an experience!  All of my senses were alive!  Check out some of my photos below ~ you might SEE what I mean…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

What does all this have to do with local restaurants, though?  If, when you are dining out, and local, fresh, farm food is your choosing, then you may want to try  Tavro Thirteen in Swedesboro, NJ.  Their website boasts “a blend of big city sophistication and neighborhood familiarity” and is described as “the centerpiece for fine dining in South Jersey.  ”  It serves American cuisine, by an “acclaimed chef,” in a historic setting.  I haven’t been there but have read about the South Jersey restaurant in Robin Shreeve‘s blog, South Jersey Locavore, and also in South Jersey Foodie by Nicole Pellegrini, also known as Sockii.  If you have been there, please leave a comment about it.  I’d love to read your opinion.  I think it’s a visit waiting to happen for me.  I’m intrigued by Chef Terence Feury  and his popularity in our local area.  He creates his menu true to season, inspired by local, fresh food.  Tavro Thirteen offers a lunch, brunch and dinner menu that I’m predicting will leave an impressive craving to bring me back.  Jason brought me to the country, the country brought me to the farm, the farm brought me to the fresh food, and the fresh food is in our South Jersey local restaurants.  And I won’t need to fly over any states to get there!