Café Mirage, 531 North Main St, Port Chester, New York 10573
Phone 914-937-3497
Fax 914 937 2769

Monday - Thursday 11:30AM to 10:00PM
Friday 11:30AM to Midnight
Saturday 4:00PM to Midnight
Sunday 4:00PM to 9:00PM

     

On the Byram River, a Worldly Menu

By M. H. REED
Published: April 9, 2006
PORT CHESTER

DEVELOPMENT along Port Chester's downtown waterfront has recently tended toward the mammoth with soaring shopping malls and movie theaters lining the major intersection. But a drive north along low-profile Main Street to Cafe Mirage can restore one's sense of scale. Situated along a small-town stretch of road next to the Byram River, the restaurant offers a view of a gentler time: ducks and geese taking a dip in the river.

This homey restaurant is one of a kind: welcoming, laid back, accommodating. The open kitchen adds to the informality. An eclectic menu built on basic bistro fare is full of surprises, adding pungency, peppery heat or fruity sweetness to dishes that have their roots in Asia, France or regional America. The excellent breads served here came from the Kneaded Bread, this cafe's Main Street neighbor, and superior butter was worthy of the bread.

A blackboard menu listed fresh shellfish of the day. The little neck clams proved cold, pristine and delicious. A bowlful of steamed little necks arrived in a broth zesty from the coppery liquor they released. Bangkok mussels were also steamed, in fragrant, mildly spicy coconut milk, which underscored their sweetness.

Spices — from mellow to incendiary — flavored many dishes, and in the case of chilies, diners could specify their preference. A request for medium heat with big, crisp Thai lemon grass shrimp brought a dish a tad on the fiery side of our notion of medium. Served with creamy pinked goat cheese and a bed of greens, unusual smoky duck quesadilla had lots of flavor. Although skewered cubes of beef (Korean bulgogi) were tough, glossy stir-fry noodles (pibimguksu) were satisfying and countered the sharp pungency of kimchi.

A sampler of three soups was worth trying, especially since it gave us a favorite for future visits: elegant, silky lobster bisque. An Asian sampler met with less success: the lobster spring roll needed seasoning, the tuna dumplings were hard, and the crisped noodles wrapping two shrimp were unpleasantly sharp.

Salads, an inventive lot, were fine both for starters and for entrees. Combinations may include citrus, various cheeses, pignoli, avocado, steak or shrimp.

Few places are successful cooking ostrich; the meat is lean and easily overdone. Here this special was as tender and as succulent as the lamb chop paired with it. Grilled andouille sausage, mashed potatoes and fresh, buttery spinach (without a hint of bitterness) shared the plate.

Tender rib eye steak under melted Gorgonzola and shell steak au poivre with pommes frites made other fine choices. Classic and spicy hot Jamaican jerk chicken came with black beans and rice. Although curried shrimp crisped with coconut were mellow, the soba noodles that accompanied them were mingled with almost undetectable julienne jalapeños, a sneaky addition that had us reaching for the water glass, although some diners will find the unexpected jolt delightful.

Brought with chopsticks, sesame-crusted yellowfin tuna with wakame (seaweed) salad was decent, and better than overly sticky seafood-packed gumbo and fresh but dull fried tilapia.

A great bread pudding depends upon great bread, and this kitchen's pudding had star quality, making an also-ran of good, intensely chocolate mousse. Then there is the splendid cheese plate, perfect for a shared ending or a light supper. Ours held generous portions of Brie, Manchego, goat, blue and Cheddar, all appealingly ripe and even better eaten with that outstanding bread.

The limited wine list is adequate, but beer was the best match for the food's assertive flavors. An international selection of more than three dozen brands of beer cools in a refrigerated case covering an entire wall. A bottle of icy cold beer would be just the ticket for a restorative time on the patio next to the Byram River, no longer seen in the dark of a late summer night, but still heard.

Cafe Mirage

531 North Main Street

Port Chester

(914) 937-3497

GOOD

ATMOSPHERE Eccentric little cafe hung with old cigarette and movie posters and a couple of small inconspicuous television sets. Outdoor patio, weather permitting. Pleasant, accommodating service.

RECOMMENDED DISHES Bangkok mussels, steamed little neck clams, duck and goat cheese quesadilla, Thai shrimp, ostrich and lamb chop combination special, shell steak au poivre, sesame seared yellowfin tuna, bread pudding, cheeses.

PRICES Lunch: salads, sandwiches, pasta, $7 to $14. Dinner: entrees, $18 to $24.

CREDIT CARDS Major cards.

HOURS Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to midnight. Saturday, 6 p.m. to midnight.

RESERVATIONS Accepted.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS Ramp.

THE RATINGS Excellent. Very Good. Good. Satisfactory. Poor. Ratings reflect the reviewer's reaction primarily to food, with ambience and service taken into consideration. Menu listings and prices are subject to change.

Review published: April 9, 2006


March 2005

In recent years, become a town that remarkable number of worthwhile restaurants Even in this context, Cafe Mirage stands out as a place that merits notice. Judging from the full houses we've encountered there on our visits, a lot of happy diners agree with us. Owner Dave Haggerty presides in the kitchen, while his wife, Katy, keeps everything running smooth in the dining area, where a staff of attentive servers sees everyone's properly taken care of. The place is bright and cheerful, and if you like watching a well-run kitchen operating, it's right there where you can see it all. There's a prevailing atmosphere of good cheer and warmth that are ideal accompaniments to fine food.

The menu here is eclectic, with many cuisines nicely represented. The oyster bar offers whatever oysters and clams are currently at their freshest, as well as Thai-style mussels in coconut milk with Thai spices. There are dishes with a pronounced Korean style, some from the Caribbean, and others that bear the unmistakable and inimitable flavorings of Louisiana. You can choose sandwiches-including a generous half-pound cheeseburger-and exceptional salads. In addition to the regular menu, there are nightly specials. Also, check out the well-chosen wine list and the wide selection of domestic and imported beers.

We began our recent meal with a couple of wonderful salads: one featuring mixed greens that seemed like they'd just been plucked from a garden, enhanced by that gorgonzola cheese and a fine Dijon vinaigrette; the other combining arugula, grapefruit, gorgonzola, red onion, pignoli, and a bracing poppy seed vinaigrette. Lobster vegetable spring rolls were succulent and crisp. By the way, the bread here is first-rate, too.

Our Cajun-Creole devotee opted for the house gumbo, with "mudbugs" (crawfish), along with shrimp, scallops, andouille sausage, and rice, all set off by a marvelously savory sauce. Prince Edward island mussels, a favorite here, were fine in the mariniere version, and were probably equally excellent in the alternative cream sauce, flanked by outstanding frites. Plantain-crusted Tilapia was another winner, the fish moist and perfectly cooked, flanked by marvelous black beans and rice and ambrosial mango salsa.

The list of desserts include such goodies as a bread-and-butter bread pudding with caramel and golden raisins, intense bittersweet chocolate mousse, a seasonal fruit plate, a nice selection of I cheeses, and-our choice to share that evening - a fine crème brulée, nicely crisped on the top.

Cafe Mirage is located at 531 North Main Street in Port Chester, NY. They I serve lunch and dinner from Monday through Saturday, and - worth noting - they're open late. They close at midnight on Mon. and Tues., 1 a.m. on Wed. and Thurs., and 2 a.m. on Fri. and Sat. It's comforting to know that in an area not famous for late-night establishments that you can find great food at those hours. Call 914-937-3497.

Visit www.cafemirageny.com , for directions and further information, including their current menus. And, if you'd like to reserve the place for a private party, that can be arranged in advance. Cafe Mirage is a winning combination of top-notch cuisine and hospitality that you'll find habit-forming.

by Robert Hirschfeld
 


June 2004

Dining After Hours In Port Chester

GOT A CRAVING FOR CURRY at a quarter to ten? Find yourself mooning for mussels at midnight?

Cafe Mirage is the area's answer to all late night needs. Chef/owner Dave Haggerty burns the midnight oil even later these days-he serves after-hours diners (firemen, nurses, doctors and, of course, other restaurant industry people) his eclectic mix of Caribbean, Cajun, French and Asian-inspired fare until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays (or would that be Saturdays and Sundays?)

Prince Edward Island mussels served marinieres-style may be a classic favorite, but my dinner companion and I would come back for the mussels "Bangkok," served in a warm coconut milk bath with just a touch of heat.

Diners in search of heartier fare can dig into steaming bowls of andouille-spiked seafood gumbo, spicy Jamaican jerk chicken with black beans and rice. or a shell steak served with pommes frites. Pass on the "sounds-more-exciting-than-it-is" plantain crusted tilapia with mango salsa, which was bland. Opt instead for the sesame-crusted seared tuna - it's good enough on its own, but made even more likeable thanks to a generous portion of ginger risotto.

The menu offers everything from a half-pound cheeseburger for $11 to farm-raised ostrich steak for $23; from the daily selections of raw oysters to the chef's desserts of perennial favorites like chocolate mousse, creme brulee and bread pudding. Some of the fare you eat here will be better than others, but it's the kind of place you'll keep coming back to.

What draws you back? Well, importantly, the food is generally pretty good. But it's also just a nice, easy place to be. The casual, friendly atmosphere, easy attitude of servers and cheerful orange interior make this just the sort of place to go to unwind after a long day at work (whether the work ends at 6 or 11 p.m.) or to fuel that late-night hankering for hollandaise- topped pan-fried oysters.

-Marge Perry

CAFE MIRAGE
531 North Main Street, Port Chester (914) 937-3497
Hours: Lunch, Monday to Friday, 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.; dinner, Sunday to Tuesday, 6 p.m. to 12 a.m., Wednesday and Thursday, 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Friday and Saturday, 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Appetizers: $7-$11; entrees: $17-$23; desserts: $7-$8

Mirage Port Chester
531 N. Main St. (Terrace Ave.) Port Chester, NY, 10573 (914) 937-3497

There’s “always something interesting to try” on the Eclectic menu at this “small”, “funky” “converted gas station” in Port Chester where the “big flavor” combinations come from “very different” dishes, shaped by French, Caribbean and Asian influences and best enjoyed with a beer from the “extensive list”; a “late-night gathering spot for chefs from all over Westchester and Fairfield”, this “fun hangout” stays open till between 12 AM and 2 AM, depending on the night; N.B. it was renovated post-Survey.

“Cafe Mirage is an oasis in Portchester” is what the Journal News had to say about this completely original restaurant. This past summer Cafe Mirage expanded and renovated their dining room to accommodate the growing numbers of diners. Chef/owner Dave Haggerty calls his menu a melting pot of Caribbean, French, Asian, Cajun, American cuisines. The menu offers selections like Arugula salad, prepared in a completely inventive way, fried Oysters, Thai and/or Curry Shrimp, that can be prepared mild, medium, hot, or, for the very daring, volcanic. Cafe Mirage also serves dishes like Farm Raised Ostrich that the New York Times said is “skillfully cooked” a grilled salmon they called “succulent.”

A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, with experience on the East Coast that includes an apprenticeship at the Ritz Carlton, Dave buys every ingredient personally to create what Westchester Spotlight Magazine called the “Best Late Night Menu In Westchester.”

Open well after every other restaurant has closed, Café Mirage is a “late-night gathering spot for chefs from all over Westchester and Fairfield,” according to the Zagat’s Survey. The restaurant has fish, pasta and meat specials every night as well as a selection of over 40 beers from all over the world that is forever growing. The wine list includes domestic labels, some from New York, and French wines, as well as 12 selections by the glass.

Dave’s wife, Katy, is in charge of the front of the house, overseeing the eclectic, fresh, wholesome food and wine is reasonably priced and enjoyed by all. Dave makes all the desserts and regulars love the Chocolate Mousse.

   

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