While traveling for work the last two weeks in Park Ridge, New Jersey, wasn’t exactly the most thrilling and exciting trip ever, it wasn’t the worst. There were some real gems in the surrounding area (especially Ridgewood) and here were my best of Northern New Jersey!
Best List / Must Eats
Fire & Oak – come Monday night and you can get $1 oysters and I’m talking about BIG, good oysters. However, skip the sushi and the seafood entrees. The sushi was terrible and the entrees were so bland that my coworker were passing the salt between us throughout the meal. So after you down as many oysters as you can, order yourself a slab of their chocolate peanut butter pie. It comes ala mode (but you can’t see it due to the mountain of whipped cream) and it is ridiculous how rich this dessert was. I had to pull myself away because it was just that good, yet I knew I shouldn’t polish it off on my own.
Sushi Village – Do NOT be alarmed by the fact this restaurant is in a strip mall, nor it’s exterior outlooks. Once inside, you’ll be completely transported to a modern, fresh feeling restaurant. The reason this place made it on my list is not because it was the best sushi I’ve ever had. The sushi was good (far, far better than Fire & Oak’s), but there were two things that got me:
- All you can eat sushi dinner for $19.99! It is a freaking deal no matter how you swing it.
- The “Spicy Seaweed Salad” – this concoction is pure genius! Take the usual seaweed salad, but add spicy krab and mix it in with some tempura crunchies…it becomes a mouth of happiness. So simple, yet so addicting and delicious.
Brooklyn’s Pizzeria – straight up good, wood burning oven, pizza in the area. I personally enjoyed our pie and I know how strongly people feel about pizza in that state and it’s neighboring one too. However, I found it to be delicious and I had to stop myself from devouring the whole thing. (Note: it’s cash only business)
Bricklane Curry House – my gawd…this place was the place that gave me one of those food-awe-haze moments. The Butter Masala was incredible to the point where I would say it comes close to my fave at Punjabi Tandoor’s Makhani. And their paneer pakora (which my friend has coined as “pan-pak”) was amazing too. I don’t know if I like Village Indian’s pan-pak or Bricklane’s more! AHHHHHH THE DILEMMA! (Oh! Don’t forget to order yourself a mango lassi – thick, creamy, and packed with mango goodness!)
Organic Tofu House – when I think of middle of nowhere cities in the woods…I don’t automatically think amazing Korean tofu stew. Who would?? However, this Korean tofu house was a real diamond in the rough. It’s in a strip mall and on the other side of the main street through Ridgewood. Complete unassuming and yet, for those who venture in, they are met with a quaint little restaurant that whips out a pot of bubbling, scathing hot, organic tofu stew! Man oh man…my coworker and I dove into our bubbly pots with little care for our tongues because we wanted the stew!!
Fire & Oak
2 locations in New Jersey
Westwood, NJ 07642
15 Oak St
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Bricklane Curry House
Multiple Locations – NJ and NY
Organic Tofu House
88 Godwin Ave
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
After a LONG week of eating in Atlanta, we were all pretty worn down. We were all just very tired and I don’t think we fully digested the first week’s food from our stomachs. Hence, week 2 was much “lighter”…though the highlight of week 2 was on Monday when we visited:
South City Kitchen
After this basket…I strongly believe ALL restaurants should only serve (especially to me) one of the 3 options for a “bread basket”:
- Cornbread and/or biscuits
- Popovers (see Island Prime post)
- In-house made herb bread
And all these options must be FRESHLY MADE and served WARM! Delighted Palate has spoken!
In the words of my colleagues, “The smoke flavor is intense! I don’t know how they got this much smoke flavor into this…I still have the smokey flavor in my mouth after eating!” In other words, this was one kicka** pork chop.
Though this was not my entree, I had wish I had a second stomach so that I could have ordered this as my second entree!!! This was one of the most flavorful, juiciest, piece of fried chicken I had ever tasted. The chicken, which you can see is primarily breast meat, was so tender and juicy that it boggled all of our minds! I’ll never look at a fried chicken the same ever again (sadly :(…).
Ok, there is no doubt that South City Kitchen knows how to smoke their food. This shrimp and grits was heightened by the tomato gravy to ridiculous levels. The gravy was smooth, tangy, spicy, and smoky. I don’t know how they did it and the only think I could think of was one of two possibilities:
- They intense, smoked the tomatoes before pureeing them for the gravy, or
- They add liquid smoke into the gravy
One way or another, I want this gravy slathered all over everything I eat now! The pieces of tasso ham added saltiness perfectly to each bite, and the shrimps were cooked just right. The grits? Well my friends, they made one smooooth vehicle for all the awesomeness that I had just ranted about.
Let’s just say if there was one overall theme to each dessert at SCK – they are sinfully rich and packed with flavors as advertised.
We all walked out of that restaurant with painfully full tummies, and despite the groans and insistence that we will NEVER eat like that again, we were all very, very happy customers.
As for the rest of the week? We revisited Fat Matt’s, then the next two days, we decided that we all needed a break from the eat-a-thon and truly attempted to eat “moderately” again. Thus, I am sad to report – SCK was the true encore of our ATL exploration.
I would just like to thank Atlanta for bringing out the fatties in us, and making us all a little softer, a little rounder, and a lot more of a nightmare for physical check-up at the doctor’s.
Delighted Palate & Crew
(See Week 1’s post here)
South City Kitchen
1144 Crescent Ave, Atlanta, Ga 30309
1675 Cumberland Pkwy, Smyrna, Ga 30080
Last month was San Diego’s 2011 semi-annual Restaurant Week. For those who aren’t familiar with Restaurant Week, here is the quick break down: for a week, restaurants all over San Diego county have 3-course (sometimes optional 4th course) prix fixe menu showcasing at times the restaurant’s best-sellers and/or customer favorites for dinner. However, this year’s fall round of RW included lunch prix fixe menus of 2-course options at certain restaurants! Some restaurants will also extend to a second week, but they don’t usually announce that on the website til the day before. For those wanting to dine at the 5-star restaurants, but don’t have the pocket change to spar, this is a great way to get the full experience of the restaurant at a discount!
This time, I made it a mission to hit up at least one restaurant…and ended up going to TWO restaurants with CP. Granted, it does get expensive if you’re going to more than one restaurant, but reading ahead of the menu choices and you could be walking away with a steal.
Our first restaurant of the week was a restaurant CP and I had already visited before, but I love – Whisknladle. The best part of their menu during RW was: their ENTIRE menu was part of the event. You could select any appetizers for your 1st course, any entree for your 2nd, and any dessert as your closer, all for $40. Now if this is not a deal…then I don’t know what is!
Caesar Salad – whole romaine lettuce dressed in “made-to-order” dressing (according to their menu), topped with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano and croutons. Nothing special, just a refreshing salad for CP and always a favorite for him.
Potato Gnocchi in a brown butter-ale creme, finished with a gratinee of Brie de Meaux and chives. Luscious! Wait…is that even an adjective to describe food?? Not sure, but that’s how this felt. The little potato pillows were just firm enough. with a little chew. to give you a bite, but somehow still remain light feeling. Then the rich, brown butter-ale creme that coated each and every single pillow was ridiculously rich and guilt ridden, but you couldn’t care. No, you couldn’t get over how smooth, a touch of sweetness, and creamy it felt in your mouth. Then that brie! Oh that brie…sweet, tangy, more oozing of creaminess. Man…this appetizer made me ‘oooh’ and ‘aaah’ as I devoured it. Needless to say that I enjoyed my appetizer very much!
Taglietelle with house made spicy pork sausage sugo, pepperonata, and a light sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano. Beautiful, wide, ribbons of pasta cooked just perfectly to uphold the even more amazing sausage sugo. That sauce held itself could have held its own against a battle of sauces. The weak, basic “bolognese” of tomato sauce and crumbled pork would cower in fear of Whisknladle’s sugo! I cannot keep myself from shouting, “SUGOI!!!” (sorry…I know…very cheesy >.<)
Seared Maine Scallops in a chilled green curry, roasted squash, tinkerbell peppers, spinach & capelin roe. What can I say? Can I ever escape ordering scallops when given the choice on the menu? Very, very rarely (if ever) would I pass up scallops. Whisknladle did not disappoint in preparing my favorite shellfish. Perfect sear to give the nice, crispy, caramelized crust, without overcooking (too many times that has happened to me). Sweet, salty, cripsy, soft, buttery, bitter (from the peppers), and light.
Dark Chocolate Pots de Creme topped with a layer of salted caramel and served with roasted banana cake. Ok this pots de creme was magical, but cloyingly sweet after your second or third spoonful. I suppose that’s why they had the banana cake, but I almost wanted something something salty on the side. However, I would have taken some ice cream to go with it, or whipped cream to just help break that sweetness. Still delicious, although it was the first time I had to leave a dessert unfinished (*GASP!*).
Oh look! There’s the vanilla ice cream that I needed! Except this was CP’s dessert and even though I had a little bit (to go with my dessert), I didn’t want to take more.
Our server was great – helpful, friendly, and attentive where needed. Again, Whisknladle remains on my top list!
1044 Wall St.
La Jolla, CA 92037
2. Crab Catcher
Now this is one restaurant I have never been to and had been in my “maybe” list of the Restaurant Week choices for several years. This time however, CP did not partake in the RW prix fixe menu since he did not find pairings that suited his taste.
Crab Bisque – roasted red bell pepper broth, Meyer lemon crème fraiche. This was not mind blowing, but I did enjoy the bisque. I could have used some more crab, but the bisque was thick and rich, and citrus from that lemon crème fraiche did help enhance the flavors. Although, I will say this bisque went great with the complementary foccaia they provide as part of the bread service.
CP’s Caesar Salad….told you – it’s a standby fave of his :). Different presentation (pre-cut for the lazy), same concept – romaine lettuce, croutons, parma, and dressing. “All hail Caesar!”
Dungeness Crab Pappardelle with sweet heirloom peppers and lobster mushrooms, in a creamy Thai basil garlic sauce. Man, oh man, where do I begin? Let me count the ways this was a fail for me: 1. Not nearly enough crab, 2. Pasta was cooked a little more than I like, and 3. This was the weakest sauce on pasta I have had in a REALLY long time. When I see “Thai basil garlic sauce”, I expected to get basil (I barely), garlic (not sure if there was any), and flavor – this was definitely NOT there. This pasta made me so sad. So very, very sad. The crab mound on top was the best part of this plate and I ate it all up. Everything else…I wanted to return.
Sea Bass with Maryland lump crab stuffing, fingerling potato, Haricots Verts, with a lemon thyme mustard sauce. For once, I was seriously jealous of CP’s entree – I WANTED IT FOR MYSELF!!!!!!! The sea bass was tender, falls to the slightest pressure of the fork, and the perfect sear. The crab added that extra natural sweetness, and I wanted it! *Sigh*…but next time, I’ll just order this one for myself!
Warm Chocolate Torte with candied macadamia nuts and topped with Tahitian vanilla gelato. This dessert should come with a warning: “You are about to enter chocolate nirvana!” I think this torte has to be, hands down, one of the richest, chocolatey-est, dessert I’ve had in town. They got it right by giving you a giant mound of vanilla gelato because you DO need it. Also, in the center of the torte is a mountain of oozing, warm, lava pool of salted chocolate. The only thing that could have made this better?…ANOTHER scoop of ice cream!
I would come back for the sea bass and the torte. Those are a must! Everything else…I can live without it again.
1298 Prospect St
La Jolla, CA 92037
Dungeness Crab Pappardelle locally grown sweet Heirloom peppers, lobster mushrooms,creamy Thai basil garlic sauce
My first time in New York was a complete culture shock and I just didn’t have enough time to do everything a tourist does in the city, PLUS touring all the eateries. However, my second trip to the city was just one of two things to do: go to work and eat. Guess what I liked doing more?
I must say though, one down side for a foodie in such a huge city with so many options for meals and snacks, is the hard question: what should I eat?!
So again…I will let my pictures do all the talking :):
Momofuku: má pêche
15 west 56th street
new york, ny 10019
377 Greenwich Street
New York, NY 10013
357 6th Ave
New York, NY 10079
Rice To Riches
37 Spring Street
New York, NY 10012
88 10th Avenue
New York, NY 10011
International locations and limited locations within US
Wafels & Dinges Truck (and Mini too)
Various locations in Manhattan (dependent on day and time)
Tasty Dumpling Inc
54 Mulberry St # E
New York, NY 10013
It was a whirl wind of a week of training and food! My favorites this time?…
- Locanda Verde – this restaurant really surprised me by the quality of food and the simple, yet dazzling flavors. This restaurant will be a must visit here on out whenever I find myself in the City!
- Rice to Riches – I now understand all the rave about this place…it’s freaking delicious (and I used to make rice pudding by the quarts).
- Morimoto – the toro tartare of course…the congee that came with the braised pork was soaked with pork goodness, amazing.
- Tasty Dumplings – um…duh, dumpling filling were great, but needed more to the ratio of wrapper. Also, their dumpling wrapping was too thick in my opinion.
I will be back New York! I love you and the whole city’s talent for creating some of the best morsels!
The past two weeks I have been on travel for training and have been getting as much as I could in every aspect: knowledge, networking, and most of all – FOOD.
Last week, I was back in the great city of Chicago and this time, I was actually in the city versus my first trip to the Second City where I was mostly there to sleep. Granted, it helped that my fellow colleagues all wanted to go out each night to get the most we could together.
However, when I first arrived in the city on Sunday night I was on my own since I had yet to know who was in town. I quickly checked in and headed straight out to take the metro to my first food destination: Blue 13.
I found this restaurant from researching online and had great ratings, along with fabulous raves from foodies like myself. When I arrived, it was quaint little restaurant with a warm overall feel to it in its minimalist interior design. As far as I could tell, there was only one server and one host who bus tables when it became busier through the night.
To begin the meal, I ordered a simple Mixed Green salad:
The salad of mixed greens, shaved carrots, and radish tossed with Dijon vinaigrette and topped with a generous amount of pecorino. A great, refreshing start to the meal. There is little for me to say about the salad other than it was a great salad. Plus, the fresh, hot bread that came out along with olive oil to dip in made a delish start to the meal.
For my entrée, as I was dining for one, I ordered the highly recommended “3 Birds” Lobster Pizza:
I know what you’re thinking already. Yes, I did know I was ordering a thin crust pizza in the city known for deep dish. However, if you come here, I am going to echo what I had found during my online research – this is a must have dish.
The crust was charred perfectly and thin so that you would have to do the fold right down the middle to make sure everything stayed on. This is a white pie with a roasted garlic puree base, caramelized onions, chunks of lobster, and manchego cheese to hold it all together with a sprinkling of herbs. This pizza has the sweetness that reminds you of a cheesy, yummy, lobster bisque. It all balances so well together that I couldn’t stop eating it. I pushed myself beyond the point of bursting because it was that delicious. However, I sadly left behind two slices that were stripped of their lobster pieces because my stomach said, “Please…no more!!”
Despite my comatose state at that moment, I still ordered a dessert because how can I call this meal completed until I did?! So of the 3 dessert choices, this was the one that perked my interest: Chocolate Chip Peanut Butter Waffle.
Understand that I had no more intention of stuffing myself, but when I saw “candied bacon” I knew I had to try it. What came out was a waffle, drizzled with chocolate sauce, topped with candied bacon and hazelnut, and paired with butter pecan ice cream.
First off – the candied bacon was the best part of the dessert. You’re wondering what did it taste like right? Just imagine breakfast, where you have a side of bacon with your pancake/waffle, and the maple syrup drips over to the bacon. It was sticky, sweet, crispy, and salty. The waffle did not have chocolate chips and needed more peanut butter. Overall, I would suggest you skip this dessert, try a different one, or just order yourself another lobster pizza.
This is the type of restaurant you go to with friends to just catch up, share some good food, and enjoy the evening. The two servers were great and attentive, but when it got a little busier by the time I had finished my meal, the lack of staff was apparent. Still, friendly service and great food is the equation for a satisfied customer who will return.
416 W Ontario St
Chicago, IL 60654-5714
The following night, after our first day of training, a group of us went out to grab dinner at The Publican where if it oinks, it will end up cooked at this restaurant. I loved the open space design which was to resemble a barn. To add to that, their booth seating had little doors to encapsulate diners as if they were in a pig stall. The rest of the restaurant was set up with communal tables where you could be sitting next to a complete stranger on one side and your friend on the other.
We went family style and ordered various dishes off the menu to share. I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking, with a few inserts by me, so enough grazing through the pictures!
Beets with Clementine segments and yogurt – this was my favorite side that we had ordered that night. Sweet and tart, great palate cleanser.
Charcuterie plate: pork pie, trotter-foie gras terrine, head cheese, milano, morteau sausage, pickles & mustards
Turnips with rosemary
Cajun Shrimp with Grits – the grits had soaked up all the Cajun spices and shrimp juices.
Fried Smelt with mustard greens and raw onions
Country Ribs with mustard greens & grilled red onions
Sweetbread with sweet potatoes, black trumpets & green garlic-watercress pesto
Pork Belly with fresh chickpeas and stuffing – decadent and you feel so guilty for eating this fatty yet delicious piece of the pig. (*gurgling sound*)
Lamb Sausage with lentils, mint, meyer lemon & yogurt – I love lamb…I love sausage…I loved, LOVED this dish. The mint and yogurt balanced out the gamey flavor of the sausage and the casing had a great snap to the bite.
Apple & Rhubarb Crumble with crème – heaven in one’s mouth.
Waffle with pear butter & plum marmalade – highly suggest that you do not waste your time with this one. It was nothing special at all.
Dark chocolate tart with vanilla ice cream – a darker heaven in one’s mouth. Then again I am the biggest fan of dark chocolate, so if you don’t like dark chocolate (WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?!) then this is definitely not for you.
The Publican also has a wide beer and wine selection, as well as servers who are willing to mix you up a great cocktail if you desire it. The restaurant has a fun atmosphere especially for big groups. Just make sure you don’t have any vegetarians in the group otherwise they will most likely go hungry.
837 W Fulton Market
Chicago, IL 60607
On our last night in the city, our dining group only grew to an even larger number than the previous night. This time around, upon my insistence on move to more ethnic flavors, we decided upon a restaurant that has several locations throughout the country, but still supposedly made great food. That night…we our taste buds did the samba at SUSHISAMBA!
Once again, we ate family style and tried a little bit of everything.
This dish was the sunshine of my night (wait…um…yea, I’ll still stand by my description)! It was fresh, bright, sweet, spicy, turns your life around because it was just that amazing. It would even put a smile to the worst Debby Downer that you know! (Unless he/she doesn’t like fish…but even then! This dish may convert him/her!)
Of the 3 seviches we ordered that night, this was the most disappointing for me. It didn’t have the vibrant flavors of the salmon nor yellowtail seviches. 😦 However, our fish adventures had just started because out came our platter of various sushi rolls:
Unfortunately, the mussels did not taste fresh (consistently) and so we asked for them to return it and traded for:
Spicy Popcorn Shrimp – sweet and spicy, fried tempura shrimp.
We also ordered the churrasco “supreme” (aka meatfest) with: rio grande grilled hanger steak, ribeye, pork tenderloin, chorizo and linguica. This was served with sides of white rice, black beans, collard greens, and farofa. Additionally, various dipping sauces including malagueta pepper oil and chimichurri:
The Miso-marinated Chilean sea bass roasted organic vegetables is one of those dishes that I still think about. This is the perfect example of a perfectly cooked fish that is so smooth, so fresh, so buttery, so fracking delish that I gurgle as I giggle with giddy.
Whole crispy red snapper spicy red curry sauce, scallion, ginger, coconut rice – the rice was good! The fish staring at me…not so much.
Side of Peruvian corn – it’s like hominy; I wasn’t much of a fan.
And of course, we had to have desserts. Note the plural form of that: desserts. We really went all out for dessert and there were no regrets what-so-ever afterwards because they were all delicioso!
Carmen Miranda: seasonal fresh fruit, pop rocks, lemon sorvete…sorry, no pictures for this one :(. I can describe to you what it was: a bowl of fresh berries that included strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries, with a sprinkle of pink pop rocks (not enough apparently since the tasters didn’t feel the effects of it) and a scoop of lemon sorbet.
I don’t know which one I liked more, but I did know I had a taste of everything and there wasn’t one that I didn’t like! Even though it is not a local restaurant, this place has a fun atmosphere and serves stellar food with great service. SUSHISAMBA…I think you will have to be part of my favorite small, national chain! One note though: of all the food we ate, it unanimous that the “sushi” part of the restaurant was something that fell short on with the exception of the “seviche.”
Several locations in the US
Thank you Chicago for showing me yet another good time! 🙂
Not going to lie…I find myself in a slump again. A writing slump that is. Somehow, the written word doesn’t inspire me nor does the food I’ve been eating. Yet, I know my passion for food never really dies out because I can talk about food anytime, anywhere, to anyone. So to prove this and also make my weekly post:
Last weekend, I celebrated the birthday of a very old friend at the Melting Pot in La Jolla. That afternoon was filled with melted cheese, melted chocolate, and a variety of dippers, with a side of good hearty laughs.
We had 2 cheese fondues for our starters:
Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue – Fontina and Butterkäse cheeses, spinach, artichoke hearts and garlic
Wisconsin Trio Cheese Fondue – Fontina, Butterkäse and Buttermilk Bleu cheeses with white wine, scallions and a hint of sherry
The spinach artichoke was by far the my and the table’s favorite. It reminded all of us garlic bread (when dipped with bread) and it was the first to disappear. It wasn’t that the Trio wasn’t good, but it was just not AS good! There was more depth and flavor for the spinach. However, I must say though…the Trio went surprisingly well with the granny smith apples. As odd as that combo sounds (trust me, I was like that too at first) but it’s not as outrageous as you’d may think. You can find some pie makers putting a slice of cheddar to their apple pie.
The veggies which was available for dipping too was more for us to feel better about ourselves for eating so much melted cheese.
What made me angry was that there was not enough cheese gosh darnit! See that bowl?! It’s deceptive and cunning because this is a double boiler so there’s a shallow bowl sitting on top of that pot. Now…if that whole pot was cheese…then we’d be talking!
For dessert, we had 2 chocolate fondues:
Cookies ‘n Cream Marshmallow Dream – Dark chocolate topped with marshmallow cream, with crushed Oreo cookies
White Chocolate Creme Brulee – White chocolate and caramelized sugar
I realized that I didn’t get a shot of the dessert dippers, but to dip into these bubbling sugar goodness, we had: pound cake, brownies, cheesecake, marshmallow, pineapple, strawberries, and banana. I personally would not have chosen the creme brulee fondue because it’s freaking melted white fracking chocolate! I don’t like white chocolate and plus…it’s not even chocolate!! (It’s cocoa butter!)
The dark chocolate fondue on the other hand: O.M.G! Loved, loved, LOVED! I dipped EVERYTHING in that melted, deliciousness! It was smooth, slightly bitterness, sweet, warm, and coats your whole mouth. Man…now I want chocolate.
By the end of the meal, I was still STARVING and wanted more food. We needed an actual entree, but this place is great for groups and parties (just don’t go expecting to be filled). Too bad this place would not be somewhere CP would like since he doesn’t like cheese and not a fan of sweets.
Anyone want to get some melted goodness?? 🙂
8980 University Center Lane
San Diego, CA 92122