Liberty State Park After DARK : Liberty House Restaurant

RER 10.12.12

RER 10.12.12
Who: The Birthday Girl and her Super Great Boyfriend

What: Birthday Dinner, take two

Where: Liberty House Restaurant, Jersey City, New Jersey

When: Friday, October 12, 2012: 9 pm

How: This is how…..

It was late and they were getting hungry. Too much fun made them forget about their responsibilities to their stomachs. A quick call made faces fall, but despite grumbling bellies they waited, moderately patiently. The woman said nine or nine thirty... Only an hour and a half(ish) away.

Finally the time came and they drove away in his little car, ready for her birthday dinner.

The night sky was vivid and dark, making each light on every building seem brighter and more beautiful. The road to the restaurant was cobbled, and not particularly kind to the suspension on his car, but the trip, with the view and laughter, was worth it. Even from the parking lot, the loud booming of music could be heard, breaking the silence of the closed Liberty State Park. The restaurant was bright, like a beacon, standing out competing with the New York City skyline.

They held hands, hesitant because of the loud party music and the late hour, but they were both ready to celebrate with food. The walk through the parking lot was cold, but not too long, and with bated breath they entered the Liberty House Restaurant.

Little did they know that the Liberty House was home to several event spaces and that night there was more than one event, loud events. One of these events was her birthday.

Seated quickly with just a drink menu, they were allotted time to absorb the sights; the interior as well as just outside the large glass windows close to their table. The décor lacked the class that they were both expecting. Being mostly glass, beautiful from the outside like a floating greenhouse by the Hudson River, they anticipated the same kind of elegance on the inside. But instead, they were confronted by mass produced patterns, cheap feeling décor. It was lacking the white table clothes and subtle romance, but indulged in the tackiness of a chain eatery. Despite all that, they were comfortable and ready to eat.

She was dreaming of a birthday filled with indulgence in food, to taste and to smell things that felt familiar and exotic all at the same time. Just the night before, she and her party gave into five different preparations of foie gras, just for her. Tonight was hers too, as her boyfriend reminded her. So, the two set for celebration, combed through the menu, asked several questions and chatted with the server.

In their almost agonizing wait at home, the two spent time with the restaurant's menu online, and basically picked out their entire meal. But they quickly apprehended that the menu was different; different variants of the same proteins, as well as ingredients more suitable to the fall season that had just befallen. The waiter explained that was the first night of the new menu, so everything was new and different, but fresh and exciting.

They had to reorganize their plan and start mostly from scratch, beginning with the appetizers.

The couple ordered a half order of the papardelle with pork ragout, giving in to her constant yen for fancy pasta. The wide pasta however did not feel homemade. This was just the first fall. She was craving, as usual, fresh pasta, its decadence and special effort. But, unfortunately, that was not the feeling the pair got while hastily consuming it. The sauce was too loose to even cling to the pasta. It was just wet tomatoes, with a few ingredients requisite of a ragout floating in it. The sauce was not hearty as the term ragout often incites. The ground pork was still juicy but did not hold its pork flavor, the mushrooms added interest. The sauce though, was lacking flavor.

The charcuterie board was a more interactive appetizer with four kinds of cured meat, ranging from duck to pork, a healthy mound of large grained mustard, giant caperberries, mini gerkins and black and green olives with their pits. It also included two small roasted peppers, one red and the other yellow, and a marinated artichoke heart. The selection was delicious; the meats salty, some heavier and darker than others, fatty, and round. Mixing the mustard with the meats along with bits of each of the different peppers resulted in fun combinations, elevating the meat to something more. The extras were not anything specially, and only served as distraction from the meat, to cut the fat.

The appetizers were the perfect amount to tide over the two hungry diners, but their entrees could not come soon enough. They noted the crowd thinning as it got later, but the music getting louder with the passing time. 

When the entrees arrived, they were not severely impressed by the presentation of the dishes, but they were still eager to try the Cowboy Ribeye and the special Bronzino fish.

The giant cowboy ribeye came with golden beets, kale, and potatoes. The server recommended the entree, after giving a repetitive spiel about the new menu, and the staff had a tasting just the night before. Given his rave reviews, she ordered it, especially after the steak disaster the night before. The steak was well spiced, salty and peppery, enhancing the innate flavors of the meat. The cut was fatty and remained juicy, marbled and delicious. The golden beets gave a note of sweetness to the savory dish, a different chew, softer, lighter, but also firm compared to the meaty medium rare steak. The potatoes also offered another texture, though a similar consistency to the beet. They had a creamier twist and flavor, adding a different kind of sweetness to the steak. The tuscan kale that was underneath the giant steak added an earthiness to the dish, and sopped up all the salty seasoned sauce that marinated the steak

The bronzino fish was deboned, leaving the meat bare and almost boneless on the plate. The meat of the fish was not pretty on the plate, just a heap of white colored meat, speckled with an ochre colored sauce, that was both sweet and spicy, tangy and mild. There was not enough of the sauce to properly flavor the fish, which was a pity, because it was delicious. With the special came the choice of two sides. He chose the lobster macaroni and cheese as well as the wild mushrooms. Part of the appeal of the macaroni was the addition of the lobster, elevating the mundane. However the macaroni and cheese was lacking, and most of all it was lacking the lobster. The side had a béchamel creamy base, and was topped by a few strands of sharper cheddar cheese. There was very little flavor of cheese as the béchamel just tested like a roux, not fully finished or completed. The wild mushrooms were meaty and earthy in flavor, however they chewed like re-hydrated dried mushrooms. The flavor paired nicely with both the fish and added a spike of flavor to the lackluster mac and cheese.

What is a birthday dinner without dessert? Even the dessert menu was new, boasting seasonal flavors and rang of autumn. There were creative combinations and fall plays on traditional desserts. Not knowing what to expect, they chose the first two that really sparked their curiosity. A birthday song to Miss. America, a whisper of flame and an unspoken wish later, it was time for them to taste the desserts.

The desserts were both extremely beautiful, and oddly like night and day, contrasting in color and in tastes. They both appeared like angelic floating vessels, blending the sweet with the savory in a sea of intrigue.

The amaretto cheesecake looked delicate and pristine, each garnish serving a purpose to enhance or morph the thick nutty cheesecake. There were stewed apples, glistening with the sweetness of sautéed fruit, still tart and crisp on the tongue. The plate also donned a large dab of another reduced fruit, that felt grainy like fig, but carried the ultra sweetness of strawberries. The cheesecake itself was set on a graham crust, thin but detectable. The essence of the amaretto pervaded the cheesecake, sweet, creamy and tangy all at the same time. It was topped with almond brittle, almonds swimming in burned candied sugar, topping the dessert like a heavy crown.

The other seasonal dessert was a pumpkin sponge cake with topped by an intense chocolate mousse, the gorgeous darker twin. The plate was sprinkled with candied pumpkin seeds, bringing on another element of savory interest, to combine with the not so sweet meats of the pumpkin and the bitter decadence of the mousse. The thick mousse completely disguised the thin layer of the pumpkin cake, overtaking every taste on the plate. Had the layer of mousse been a third of the size, the balance would have been amazing. The delicate candy fixture atop the dessert felt like citrus angel wings, accented by a sole strawberry and blueberry. The rich colors brought the dessert to a highly aesthetic level. Though they wished that the chocolate was milder and tamer, delicate like the sugar wings.

The night of birthday luxury concluded with dancing in their seats to stolen party music, and the warmth of a full belly and a good time. It was a delicious birthday, surprises and tricks, underwhelming pastas and startlingly beautiful sights.
RER 10.12.12

RER 10.12.12

No comments:

Post a Comment

food for thought...