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
My SD Restaurant Week restaurant number 2 was with a coworker of mine, JT (and no, it’s not that JT). Since she was working during the MLK holiday (in lieu of another holiday), we choose a place closer to the office. Our selection was because of the number of choices the restaurant had for the pre-fixe menu, and here were our choices for La Bastide Bistro in Scripps Ranch:
I have to say, this was our favorite course of the meal. According to JT, the crab cake was loaded with lumps of crab meat. She loved it and it did look pretty darn good from where I was sitting! My salad was absolutely delicious! The best part is the highlighted item – warm goat cheese, drizzled in the lavender honey. My goodness, I could have eaten TEN of these croutons! Paired with a fresh salad, it made me feel like I was eating something healthy and good. Althought I would have to say that those mushrooms were a bit out of placed. Had they been marinated mushrooms, that would have made the dish twice as good.
Our entrees was not our first choices, because they ran out of the Cassoulet (White Bean Stew with Duck Confit, Bacon & Sausage). 😦 JT enjoyed her stew, and it smelled nice, but it was not what I would want either. My Duck Confit was sadly under seasoned and a little dry. Also, my fries should have been crispier too. There’s nothing worse than a limp fry!
JT and I both ordered the Tartin, but again…much to our disappointment, the apple filling was too sweet for us. It felt like canned apple pie filling to me, but I cannot confirm that this was the case. The best part of this dessert was the ice cream.
Overall, La Bastide Bistro completely failed my expectations and they were not even set high to begin with! That was probably the worst part for me. Would I come back? For the prices they are charging both in their lunch and dinner menu, I think I’d rather opt for a different option.
La Bastide Bistro
10006 Scripps Ranch Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92131
Restaurant Week has all of San Diego out and dining about the city. CP and I was part of the Sunday evening crowd, for the first day of Restaurant Week. Although we both have been to this establishment, I wanted to return because I thought that our first visit was not the best representation of what the restaurant could offer. Therefore, our first restaurant was a return trip to The Red Door in Mission Hills.
So CP did not go with the pre-fixe menu, but still had a starter. His choice – the Crab Cake, with fresh lump crab and no fillers. It is paired with roasted red bell peppers, kalamata olives and sun dried tomato with sweet basil dressing. Now the order actually comes with TWO crab cakes, and as you can see that was not the case. However, they quickly realized their mistake and added the additional cake (with all the fixings) immediately. They also took off this order on the receipt because of the mistake, which I found to be a nice touch of customer service. Kudos!
My first choice in my three course meal was the Shrimp Creole, which I had the first time I came here and fell head over heals for it. The dish was presented in a skillet rather than a composed plate, but still as delicious as I recalled. I couldn’t get enough of the sauce again!!
CP’s entree of choice: the Red Door Burger – char grilled ½ lb meyer natural ground beef, buttermilk bun, American cheese (but CP didn’t want it), caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato, and house burger sauce (aka thousand island). The shoestring fries were crispy, just the way I like it.
My entree, my second choice, was the Lamb Meatballs – ground Colorado lamb with roasted garlic, feta, pine nuts, home made gnocchi, tomato, spring raab, and chimichurri sauce. Um…how could I describe my thoughts? Let’s see…THIS is one of the MANY reasons why I am finding my personal desire to give up lamb to be SO hard! It was great dish as a whole, but one area of improvement – the meatballs could be a little more tender. After that, you have achieved perfection my SD friend.
Last time, I tried their fruit cobbler (which is one of two choices on the RW menu) and it was not that good. So I tried something different this time!
For my finale, I chose their signature dessert: the Banana Cream Pie with graham cracker-walnut crust, and chocolate & caramel sauces. I think this could be a good dessert if: 1. tone down the whip cream a little, and 2. increase the pastry cream filling.
I still love the restaurant and this time around, the service was much better. It’s a perfect time for you to try The Red Door during Restaurant Week to sample some of their signature items. The menu will be available through the end of the week on Friday (1/20). Bon Appetit!
The Red Door
741 W. Washington St
San Diego, CA 92103
Now that I have time again in my life, I find that I am slacking off on things! I have to exert extra effort to do things and that kind of enthusiasm quickly declines after one day. Allie of Hyperbole and a Half did a wonderful illustration that pretty much depicts this…in comic form actually!
Over the weekend, I attempted to organize my memory card’s ridiculous crap-load of pictures and realized, “Sh*t! How did I let it get this bad?? I haven’t even uploaded minuscule percentage of it for my friends!” Because some of the pictures actually have people in them! And it’s not just food! They know that it takes me forever to upload pictures for them, but because they love me (I hope), they allow for me to continue on with my ways. However, this weekend was to make up for it! For almost a year’s worth of photos, I planned on organizing, backing up, and uploading them for all to see!
…………….yea that didn’t happen. *sigh*
AND to add salt to the wound – I am falling behind on my weekly posts! *double sigh*
Well I did promise myself and you, that I would tell the rest of my New Orleans Adventure! Here goes!
NOLA – Part Deux!
So as you can see…my first official NOLA beignets were NOT from the famous Cafe Du Monde. I was tired, and still reeling from the whole event of the previous night (see Part 1), so I was in NO mood to stand in line for a beignet. Hence, this little cafe on Bourbon Street was our savior – Cafe Beignet.
Now, I had enough sense in me to know NOT to eat only sweets (and nothing else) as a meal. That is why you see an order of jambalaya and a shrimp po-boy. They were mostly to coat CP’s and my stomachs before the main attraction…
The FRESH beignets! Oh man…even though our actual food was sitting there, I dug into one of these puppies immediately. And honestly, it was good…yet at the end of the day – they are powdered doughnuts. Don’t get me wrong! I have nothing against it! Or hate it!!! I loved every bite of it, that I came back with CP the following day for another round. However, for me…it wasn’t something that made me go: this is genius! It’s simple, done well, tastes good…there’s nothing wrong with that at all.
That evening was done in high style and tradition. CP had made dinner plans for our last evening in NOLA. He wanted to keep it as a surprise from me (which is a hard thing to do!) and I must say, he did extraordinarily!
Just all around amazing restaurant. Sitting in the main dining room on the first floor, you can feel the history. That place has seen it’s fair share of faces, lived through disasters, survived through wars, and still manages to show up every night with its bells and whistles on. I loved Commander’s Palace and I would come back again. Although it isn’t cheap, it’s worth every penny for the experience and great food.
So going from the blazer type restaurant, to the down to the basics simple but still delicious, the following day…
This was our last official meal of New Orleans and we wanted something simple, but still good. The Gumbo Shop delivered us just that:
Simple, delicious, and warmed our stomachs to a state of blissful contentment. What more do you need?
So that wraps it up for CP’s and my first trip to the Big Easy. There were extreme highs and extreme lows in this trip, and not for the reasons most people associate this town with. Our time there was short lived, but the memories of the sounds, smells, and sights are forever with us. New Orleans…you are one H*LL of a city! As they say, “Laissez les bons temps rouler!
630 Saint Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116″
I think there has been enough time since we came back from New Orleans that I can look at my pictures again. A little more than a week ago, CP and I headed off to New Orleans for the Bowl game. We had our hopes high and we were excited for not only our first visit to this infamous city, but for the game. Let’s just say…it still hurts to think about the game itself.
Instead, I’ll focus on telling you about the food we had. Shall we start?
Our first stop was off of Bourbon Street. CP and I had been traveling practically all day and we hadn’t gotten lunch thus, we were famished. This dinner was a little later than we would have liked because we wanted to go to the “pep rally” for the Bowl game! Hence, we practically walked into the first decent looking place off the street.
CP and I both wanted Jambalaya and Red Beans n’ Rice. Hence, I suggested we both order each and split our dishes, welcoming us to this great city. Though the restaurant isn’t the well-known type and those that get hyped up, but it was delicious. Both dishes were flavorful and made you wanted to lick the plates clean. Also, the Red Beans n’ Rice at the Cajun Cabin was my favorite from the entire trip.
The next morning, we had a late start and went to one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants – Nola, for lunch!
The space was modern industrial and gorgeous, with an open kitchen and woodfire oven where they made their pizza appetizer. However, we weren’t here for the pizzas…
To start – warm herbed roll and bell pepper cornbread, served with room temperature butter. This was a great start!
CP and I both had the gumbo of the day as our appetizers. It was pretty chilly outside and this warmed us right up. The gumbo that day was andouille and smoked pork. I could use some right now!
Our entrees: Grilled Atlantic Salmon with black bean-sweet corn succotash, chimichurri butter sauce and tomatillo salsa (top), was CP’s choice. My entree was the Shrimp & Grits – grilled green onions, smoked cheddar grits, apple smoked bacon, crimini mushrooms and red chili-abita butter sauce.
The salmon was cooked wonderfully to the point where even I liked it! Cooked salmon is not my choice of fish most of the time (unless it is sashimi grade) since it tends to be a little “fish” for me. However, Nola’s was just perfect and we both loved it. The shrimps in my dish were huge and perfectly sauteed, keeping its juicy and tenderness.
You see that? You see it?! ‘Cuz I did!!! Pumpkin Bread Pudding!!!!
Mmmm…this bread pudding, though small, was packed with the flavors of the season! It was moist, spiced, warm, and melts in your mouth. The gingerbread-molasses ice cream that was paired with it, complemented it so well. Oh man…so good!
After our lunch, we walked along the river walk, did some shopping, and made our way to Mardi Gras World! We took the tour of their warehouse, looking at all the floats that had been used and will be used for Mardi Gras parades!
As part of the tour, they also serve you some King Cake!
Unfortunately, neither CP nor I got the baby so we were not royalty after all :(. Oh well, still had a delicious piece of cinnamon swirl pastry.
After the tour, CP and I just walked more around town sightseeing, before going back to the hotel to rest up for the game! Now…just looking through a few pictures, I feel immense sadness still, but I must continue!
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is truly an amazing venue. The place was enormous and just trying to imagine the conditions of the place during Katrina…it was hard. Anyway because I had to give the food vendors a little nod because they didn’t just serve the standard stadium fare:
Food choices included Jambalaya with hush puppies (which were dry as rocks…sadly) and alligator sausage with some remoulade sauce. The best of the two?…Alligator Sausage by a LONG shot! However, to make it better – ditch the cold bun and mix with the rice…perfection.
After the game…CP needed some more food…as part of our “drown out the sorrows and frustration”. Therefore, we found ourselves in a quite little bar at the end of the hub of downtown – Coop’s Place.
Simple order of Red Beans n’ Rice with smoked sausage, plus a side order of fries. Worst plate of food from our trip. The beans were cold and tasteless. However, we were both so tired and dejected that I didn’t even bother voicing the fact it was cold. Saving grace – sausage was good and the fries were good too.
That is part one of New Orleans, part deux will be later this week! :).
503 Bourbon St.
New Orleans, LA 70195
534 St Louis St
New Orleans, LA 70130
1109 Decatur St
New Orleans, LA 70116
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