Friday, April 6, 2012

Next Door Bar and Grill

The kids were in activities til 8, so we decided to grab a grown-up dinner.  While we'll take our kids almost anywhere, Wegman's Next Door Bar and Grill is probably one restaurant I'd skip with them.  The menu is a bit out-there, the surfaces are hard and unforgiving (metal, antlers, highly polished wood), the dining rooms are loud, and the emphasis is really on the bar.  In many ways, it's one of just three ROC restaurants that wouldn't be out of place in Tribeca (I'd say 2Vine and Good Luck are the others).

My husband was running late, so I immediately ordered an appetizer--chicken meatballs--and began researching brisket recipes on Epicurous (Easter dinner).  The meatballs arrived just as he was sitting down (perfect wife timing!) and I was emailing myself the recipe that featured 36 cloves of garlic ("We are a garlic family," my son declared today).  They were well seasoned ground chicken topped with a dollop of nicely acidic and smoky marinara and served over a bed of yummy crisped spinach.

We both ordered soup.  He chose the seasonal Spring Pea Bisque, which was poured tableside over charred ramps, ham, and a lavender churro.  I hate peas (blech!), but he loved it!  I ordered the Miso.  The broth and mushrooms were delicious, but I'd say it had too much tofu.  Big puffy pillows of it; more than I would ever want.

When it came to the entree, we decided to share.  I chose the Grilled Organic Teriyaki Salmon.  It was supposed to be accompanied by bibb lettuce and radicchio salad, red radish, oven dried tomatoes, charred eggplant, lemon caper vinaigrette.  I did not notice the vinaigrette, and the charred eggplant was actually pureed as a base sauce for the salmon (which was perfectly cooked: tender, fork friendly, moist).  I had really wanted un-pureed eggplant and was disappointed. There also seemed to be too much lettuce for the plate, and the radishes just seemed to sit there looking for a purpose.  This dish could be reworked to better set off the ridiculously good salmon without so much fluff--and with real eggplant! (And maybe a roasted Meyer lemon or Blood orange, either of which would be delicious with the salmon.)

My husband ordered three Robata grilled skewers:  Trumpet Mushroom, Steak, and Chicken.  I know, "What is Robata?"  Here's an explanation.  Here's another one:  who cares?  Anything that comes off the Robata is straight up delicious.  The mushrooms were meaty and dense, sauced with a deep teriyaki glaze.  The steak was perfectly done and melt in the mouth smooth; the chicken was moist inside and crisp outside.  All skewers (which come two to an order) include scallions.  Grilling scallions does something magical to them, making them so sweet and smoky and yet still pungently green.  I could each a whole skewer of them.  Yum!!

By trading, we each got the full spectrum of main courses: steak, chicken, fish and veggies.  One of the minor benefits of marriage--that and the ability to share snarky observations about aggressively social salesman next to us while barely saying a word.

The one downside to the meal was that our service fell off a cliff after dinner.  After handing us the dessert menus, our server simply disappeared.  By the time she reappeared, I had already left.  Weird and very un-Wegman's.

Still, Next Door Bar and Grill is a must-do (where else will you see a wall of green apples, a ceiling of antlers, and a non-Amityville Horror red room?).

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