It was much quieter than at its sister restaurant; there was less of the chatter and more of the tinkle of silverware, there were less parties and more partners. The lights felt brighter, and the rooms felt more open. Amanda’s is like the older sister, wiser, and perhaps with a more elegant taste.
Amanda’s is kind of a staple in Hoboken, just like the couple that owns the restaurant. The Flynn’s own more than one eatery in Hoboken, and they just added a third location to their collection. Amanda’s is the fanciest of the two existing, and probably of the soon to be three. The restaurant has been in Hoboken a while, and my parents speak fondly of meals and memories there. They recall when the restaurant was only one storefront, a few small rooms. I remember too, long ago graduation dinners and other special occasions. But the restaurant has grown with success and popularity and it has spread to the adjacent store front; more rooms, more space, and more potential for patronage.
This Friday dinner was an impromptu family meal before my younger sister returned to school. At first we were headed to the Elysian for dinner, but it was going to be a raucous wait that we were not prepared for (though I do look forward to trying it out eventually). So we reconsidered and went to Amanda’s for our dinner.
It was in fact quieter.
We sat at a table near the threshold of the two storefronts, separate rooms. White tablecloths and napkins, tastefully mismatched china, wooden chairs and mild false candlelight. There was just the murmur of people enjoying dinner, not a bar and music, and fancy lights, just a traditional meal.
For an appetizer I enjoyed a house made acorn squash gnocchi with shitake mushrooms and a sage cream. The gnocchi was irregularly shaped, a mark of its authenticity. The texture was a little bit gummy and chewy, which is common with gnocchi. The mushrooms were mildly salty, but very fragrant and rich. The rubbery texture of the mushrooms mimicked the homemade potato pasta. The plate was lavishly decorated with a puree of the squash, sweet and rich, while the rest of the dish was rested on a steamed portion of acorn squash, bitter and not quite appetizing, though aesthetic.
For dinner I had a pan roasted cod, atop potatoes, crescents of chorizo, red peppers, swimming in a clam ragout. They brought me a spoon, and I could not imagine for what. But when the shallow bowl arrived, I understood. I really wasn’t prepared for how wet the dish was going to be. The cod was flaky and moist, it was delicate and took on the salty broth. The white meat starkly contrasted the pale pink broth, heavy with the red grease of chorizo and swimming red peppers, and the dark dull grey of the clamshells. Every thing was delicious, and delicate, but also a little salty. The potatoes offered a great counter texture to the flaky fish, and tender baby clams. But it also contributed a starch to drink up the broth and dampen the saltiness. The chorizo also did not have the same kind of feeling in the mouth, but it did not have the same fatty spicy taste I was expecting. I felt on the whole the dish was delicious, but not very memorable, because each component was a little lackluster. The dish was very safe, but in the end I feel like Amanda’s is not trendy or too innovative, but traditional and comfortable.
For dessert I ordered the key lime pie, which I have not had in ages, from there or anywhere really. And my sister ordered the chef’s cheesecake. The two desserts danced across the table, as she and I alternated tastes, both oddly fascinated with the other’s dessert. The key lime pie was tart and delicious, creamy and crunchy because of the substantial graham crust. But the cheesecake really captured me. It was creamy and smooth, room temperature and glided on the tongue like a ribbon. I was in awe of the lovely texture, and the subtle flavor. It was not dense and cheesy like many a cheesecake can be, but it was much sweeter and so much lighter. The crust wasn’t heavy or extremely present, but allowed the filling to shine.
Amanda’s has high standards and quality, from the waitstaff to the food, from the details in the décor to the details in what the staff must wear. This attention is also in the menu, that appears to change every month, picking up on seasonal clues and as well as the popular staples. The ambiance is quiet and classy, fun and comfortable at the same time. In many ways, it feels like home, from the varied rooms, to the friendliness of the people working there.