The Blue Collar Foodie is Going to The Picnic and They are Providing Amazing Food, Beautifully Presented Meals, and Cuisine that Reigns Supreme

As promised, I decided to take Kat out for a fancy meal right in our own backyard at The Picnic Restaurant located at 14-25 Plaza Road North (in the Plaza Building), Radburn, Fair Lawn NJ 07410.  I am embarrassed to say that this was our inaugural trip to this now well established eatery that is located seriously down the street from my house.  As a foodie, I should be ashamed of myself for allowing a restaurant such as The Picnic to exist in my very own neighborhood, for now two years, without taking its menu for a spin, but such is life.

The Picnic is located in the historic and unassuming clock tower building in the heart of Radburn, which for everyone that does not speak Fair Lawnese, is located within Fair Lawn, NJ.   From the outside you never expect a top-notch restaurant to be contained in this small strip mall which also contains a liquor store, which is the perfect place to buy your own bottle, Wink-Wink Nudge-Nudge, a dry cleaner, and a deli.  But once you enter The Picnic, you will feel as if you were whisked away to a contemporary New York City Restaurant thanks to the competent designer that created the interior decor.

The Picnic is not a large restaurant by any means.  In fact, part of its charm is the intimate dining area that they offer their patrons.  As with any high end restaurant you are going to want to make a reservation before strolling in off the street, and I would also suggest a business casual dress when dining at this restaurant as most of the guests will be dressed to impress.  Their reservation system is quite unusual as well, mostly because their hours of operation in the summer are only Tuesdays through Fridays from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m., which means when attempting to call for a reservation you will most likely get the answering machine.  No worries though, if you leave a message stating that you want a reservation for 2 at 7:30 on Wednesday, they will call you back and confirm or deny your request when they arrive to prep for dinner.

Once Kat and I entered The Picnic our server opened our wine bottle and gave us our menus as well as explained the specials that were being offered that day.  We actually went to The Picnic to partake in the special Anniversary Prix Fixe menu that The Picnic was offering, I was happy to see that the regular menu was just as reasonable as the Prix Fixe menu so we were able to order whatever we wanted.  While perusing the menu, Kat and I discussed the offerings, which from what I am told vary day to day.  On this specific day, Kat decided upon the Classic wedge salad with bacon, crouton, cukes, tomato, egg and Thousand Island dressing for $7.00 and the Pork Milanese with peach, sugar plum and mustard compote atop for $26.00 as her entree.  I decided to go with the BLT salad, which was described as sliced tomato, bacon, crouton, chopped egg, micro salad, with a cream dressing for $8.00 and the big bowl of Prince Edward Island Mussels, swimming in a creamy Provencal sauce, served with a baguette “to sop up the goodness,” for $20.00.

As stated above the Menu changes day to day, which is great for variety but can cause some issues when dining at this establishment the first time.  We were unsure if the entrees came with sides considering under the entree portion of the menu there was a listing a sides to order.  If there is one thing I have learned from years and years of eating at Restaurants is never be shy about asking your server questions about your meal before ordering it.  There is nothing worse than ordering something that you think is going to blow your mind and receiving a dish that is not what you expected, it can really ruin your dining experience and leave a bad taste in your mouth. With a little helpful clarification from our server we had our answer and were satisfied with our order.

Once our order was submitted to the kitchen, our server returned to our table with a plate of bread and butter.  It is relatively amusing to say, but I feel that you can tell a lot about a restaurant by the bread they serve before the meal.  If they lack bread all together you most likely will be disappointed by their portion size, if they serve a plain loaf of bread that is uncut, it most likely means the food will lack the individual attention most fine dining needs to reach a level of greatness, and if, as The Picnic does, they serve individually sliced and seasoned pieces of bread, there is a decent chance that you will impressed by the upcoming meal.

After a short time our appetizers arrived and the plate presentation was superb.  The Wedge Salad that Kat ordered was larger than I expected and was full of fresh vegetables overflowing from the bowl it rested in.  My BLT Salad appeared to be meticulously constructed by the Chef’s within in the kitchen of The Picnic and looked as if it was a piece of artwork.  Lucky for me it was edible art and with my first bite, I could taste the freshness of the ingredients that graced my plate.  I savored each bite, but alas before I knew it my plate was empty and the taste of bacon lingered on my tongue making all my taste buds smile.  Kat must have liked her dish as well because after noticing my plate was bare, I also observed that every last scrap of salad had disappeared from her plate as well.

With one course down and another course still to come, I filled our wine glasses and we began to converse about our daily activities.  Within minutes our entrees arrived and were placed in front of us.  Kat’s pork chop was thin and delicately fried to a golden brown color that almost made me wish I had ordered what she did.  Then my attention turned to my meal and that thought floated from my head as I investigated my giant bowl of Mussels.  As you already know, I can eat, so I was concerned about the portion size of the entrée that I chose to order, but I was happily surprised when the dish arrived, it was much larger than I expected.   Now, I have had my fair share of mussels, as they are my second favorite shellfish, and I believe with conviction that, I can say that these mussels were close to the best mussels that I have ever had in my life.  With food, as with sports, I can be a, “what have you done for me lately kind of person,” but I think if all the mussels I have eaten tasted like this, they would have claimed first place in the shellfish category years ago.  The sauce that they were served in,  merely added to the wonderfulness that was this dish, and I fully understood why they served it with bread, because wasting any bit of this nectar would be heresy.

As for Kat’s pork, not only was the pork done just right with a crisp out coating and a deliciously moist inside, the compote on top made my taste buds do back flips.  The combination of peaches and plums offered the proper amount of sweetness to the dish and the juxtaposition of the mustard created the perfect balance.  I was only able to wrestle one bite of this fantastic dish away from Kat, but it was enough to taste the complexity and yearn for more.   Kat’s pork chop came with a dollop of creamy mashed potatoes and a summer squash medley that created the perfect meal.

As the keys of my keyboard go clickity- clack, I am already anticipating the hate mail I, The Blue Collar Foodie, will receive for reviewing The Picnic Restaurant.   Some of you might think that The Picnic’s pricing is too high to be included in my blog, but I can assure that this is not the case.  The Picnic offers remarkable cuisine that can easily compete with any of the renowned pompous New York eateries that will end up costing you double if not more than what the Picnic charges.

Still not convinced?  Let’s do the math shall we.  However you get into the city, you are paying a toll, because remember you always pay to leave Jersey.  We will use the George Washington Bridge as an example for this equation, which costs $12.00 to cross.  Once on the island of Manhattan, you might notice that every single restaurant, bodega, corner store, gas station, and lemonade stand has a liquor license, unlike New Jersey.   This at first seems splendid, until you realize that the restaurant you are attending is going to charge you $40 bucks for a carafe of Carlo Rossi, whereas The Picnic allows you to bring your own bottle of wine, thus saving you at least $30.00.

So now I say to all my fellow frugal foodies, I believe the Picnic has saved you $42.00, before you even entered their establishment, so what are you waiting for an invitation?  Well here it is, a call to arms directed at all the Foodies in Bergen County, visit The Picnic Restaurant and I guarantee that you will be pleased with what you find there.  It is not every day that a world renowned Chef, like Christine E. Nunn opens an eatery in your back yard, and we should all flock there to show her our gratitude.

Judgment:

Overall:                    4 out of 5

Taste:                       4.5 out of 5

Presentation:          5 out of 5

Value:                       3 out of 5

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The Blue Collar Foodie Thais one on in Ridgewood Foodie Style at Malee!

Every foodie in Bergen County is familiar with the Ridgewood Avenue Restaurant row that offers a plethora of cuisine from every corner of the world.   The best part of this seemingly endless strip of remarkable eateries is that most of them are bring your own bottle and for the most part a reservation is usually not needed.  The latter is the key to this foodie haven because one could potentially park their car in one of the municipal lots and meander through downtown Ridgewood in search of a restaurant that tickles their fancy.    I stumbled upon Malee Fine Thai Cuisine, located at 2 East Ridgewood Avenue, in Ridgewood, New Jersey, doing just that many years ago and fell in love with their food, hospitality, and overall charm.

Ever since we happened upon Malee Thai all those years ago, whenever anybody suggests we get Thai food, I instantly recommend this establishment.  So when our friend Lorin, whom you may remember from my Blue Moon Café review, came to town and requested Thai, I knew just the place to take him.

The first thing to remember is that Malee Thai is a “bring your own bottle” restaurant, so you should stop at a liquor store on your way, or bring one of your favorites from your personal collection.  The second thing to keep in mind is that parking can be a bit of a pain in the arse, but have no fear Malee Thai is situated just minutes away from a municipal parking lot that is located just around the corner.  If you are parking in any of the lots or on the street in Ridgewood it is imperative that you read the signs regarding the rules and regulations of your parking space, or you will have a great dinner at one the Ridgewood Restaurants and then have no chariot to take you home for a relaxing after dinner cocktail.  Once you are packing a bottle or two of the happy juice, and parked LEGALLY, you can make your way to your destination.

As you approach the restaurant you may notice that there is outside seating located on their patio.  You may also notice that this beautiful outdoor region is Train Track Adjacent.  I am not saying that you should not dine outside, because on occasion I have been known to choose this option, I am merely reminding you that trains are loud and they will be close by when they whiz by your delicious meal.  I have seen too many reviews of Malee, that bring up this point and condemn the restaurant for this seemingly obvious point, as if when they sat down outside the restaurant they were oblivious of the giant train station a mere three feet from their table.  On this particular occasion, Kat, Lorin, and I decided that we were in the mood to eat inside due to the noise and the fact that it was at least 215 degrees out.

We visited Malee on a Friday at approximately 8:00 P.M. and did not have a wait at all for a table for three.  As soon as we were seated, we were greeted by our amicable server with a smile and our menus as well as three glasses of water, which on a summer evening is always appreciated.  After perusing our menus for a rather long time, due to the large selection of variety Malee offers, we finally made up our minds, and it seemed as soon as we placed our menus on the table our server arrived and was happy to take our order.

Lorin, whom is a vegetarian, had an extensive selection to examine before making his decision, which is a welcomed rarity for veg heads like Mr. P.  After quite some deliberation, his final verdict was the Vegetable Pad Woon Seng which was described as Bean thread noodles stir-fried with mixed vegetables and egg, for $14.00.  Kat, who I was almost sure, was going to order her regular surprised me once again and decided to go with the Pad See Eew which was described as steak stir-fried with thick, flat rice noodles, egg, and broccoli in a sweet brown sauce, for $12.00.   As for your fearless blogger, I ordered The Gang Ped Yang, which was described as boneless roast duck simmered in red curry sauce with fresh basil, pineapple, bell pepper, and cherry tomatoes, for $19.00.  Finally as an appetizer for the table to share we requested the Fried Tofu described as deep-fried, crispy tofu served with a tangy sauce with ground peanuts for only $5.00.

After sending our order off to the kitchen our server returned with a complimentary basket of Shrimp chips, which can be described as simply the best Styrofoam you will ever eat.  Try them and you will understand just how tasty they are.  Our server also opened the bottle of wine we brought from our personal stock, I recommend bringing a sweet white wine due to the spic that some Thai dishes deliver.  With a glass of wine in our hands and tales dripping from our tongues, we anxiously awaited our first course.

As the plate of fried Tofu arrived at our table, we all peered inquisitively at the plate in front of us.  None of us had ever had fried Tofu before, but all agreed that everything tastes better fried, so we each took a triangle of our fried goodness from the plate and dipped a corner in the sauce that was provided.  The tofu itself was pretty much what we expected, the fried out coating was crispy and fried to perfection while leaving the inside soft and palatable, yet like all Tofu slightly tasteless and bland.  Like Superman swooping in to save Louis Lane, the sauce rescued this dish; it provided a tangy and vivacious flavor that brought this dish from purgatory to heaven.

After we polished off the 6, which by the way is very good portion size for 5 bucks, fried tofu triangles, we poured ourselves another glass of wine and pontificated until our entrees departed the kitchen and landed on our table.  Their arrival caused a pause in conversation due to their brilliant appearance and intoxicating aroma.  I should add a small caveat at this point in my review and discuss the heat options that are available at Malee for most of the dishes they offer.  If a dish at Malee contains an element that is traditionally spicy they give you the option of mild, medium, hot, or very hot.  Believe me, when dealing with ethnic food, one must never be a hero.  Unless you have climbed the ladder of spice at any particular restaurant, I recommend taking some caution when ordering hot or very hot from any Thai restaurant.  The chefs at these restaurants have a very different idea of what spicy is than their Americans counterpart, so just because you can rock a five alarm chili means absolutely nothing. To be completely honest the “very hot” they serve us, from what I have been told is really their medium.  Precede with caution my fellow adventurous foodies, for the hottest I have been able to enjoy is Hot which is what I ordered on this occasion.

The food at Malee Thai is always so fresh and succulent that I am honestly never disappointed in any dish I order, but this was the first time I ordered a duck dish, and I was extremely satisfied.  The skin was crisp and the meat was juicy and tender.  As with a lot of Indian or Thai plates, my dish came with a side of rice that you place on a plate as a bed for the entree to be placed on.  The combination of the rice, the broth, and the duck concoction was tremendous.  The heat of the broth was expertly countered by the sweet pineapple and the rice, creating a flawless balanced package on every forkful.

Kat’s and Lorin’s both had noodle dishes that not only looked spectacular but seemed to offer quite a large portion size for their price.   They both must have been impressed by them as well, because by the end of our meal neither of them had any food left on their plates.  Kat commented that she was full half way through but just could not stop eating because of its phenomenal taste.

Malee Thai offers a wide variety of dishes for foodies to experiment with but I do suggest that anyone that is visiting Malee for the first time try the Pad Thai.  Pad Thai is the most commonly eaten Thai meal in the United States, and sadly most people have never had a truly great Pad Thai dish.  I have eaten at quite a few Thai spots in my day, and believe me when I say that Malee Thai has the best Pad Thai that I have eaten in the Tri-State area.

When the ambiance of Malee is combined with the food and the staff this restaurant just can’t be beat, and the fact that it is around the corner is a welcomed bonus for any family bound foodies.  To top it off, this establishment allows you to bring your own bottle of wine which can save you quite a bit of money.   I love eating at Malee, and I think if you give it a whirl, you will too.

 

Judgment:

Taste:                        4 out of 5

Presentation:          4 out of 5

Value:                       3 out of 5

Overall:                    4 out of 5

Malee Thai on Urbanspoon

The Blue Collar Foodie’s Tips for New York City Restaurant Week!

July has snuck up on us once again like a ninja on a zombie and that means a few things for us all.  First and foremost, it means that the summer is well on its way to being over and the lovely sunny months will soon be behind us.  It also means that the Major League All Star game has come and gone and the second half of Baseball season will commence bringing with it, all the glory of wondrous playoff races.  As a foodie what this time of the year should mean to you is the beginning of a phenomenal event in New York City known as Summer Restaurant Week.

For those of you who don’t know, New York City Restaurant Week, which actually runs from July 16, 2012 to August 10, 2012, offers a three course pre-fixe menu meal for both lunch and dinner at the amazing price of $24.07 for lunch and $35.00 for dinner.  This year marks the 20th anniversary of this fantastic event and all foodies should converge on New York City to take advantage of the crazy savings that this affair offers.

There are over 300 restaurants that are participating this year and the over 20 different types of cuisine that can be found all across, what everyone knows as the greatest city in the world. (Follow this link to see the participating restaurants.)  I have been to other restaurant weeks in the past and I enjoy everyone I attend, but there is just something simply divine about donning your finest attire and strutting through the doors of a restaurant that at any other time you could not even pretend to afford the bread they serve as an appetizer.

The Pre-Fixe menus that are offered at the participating restaurants, read like a foodie penthouse forum magazine and our compromised a myriad of choices that range from vegetarian to carnivorous and back.  Just a glimpse into some of the extravagant offerings that can be found at any one of the restaurants will tantalize your taste buds and have you rushing to OpenTable:  NYC Restaurants to make your reservation.  (A Pre-Fixe menu contains a sampling of what the restaurant has to offer.  They usually have at least three options for the appetizer and entrée course but may only offer one type of dessert, you can see these menu’s on the NYCGO restaurant Week website.

As a service to my readers I will walk you through the process of attending restaurant week so when you get there you can impress your fellow foodies with the knowledge of a seasoned professional.  Follow these simple instructions and you will be ready to take on Restaurant Week and appear as if you have been doing this for years:

1:  Choosing the Restaurant:  This is by far the best part of this game, I assure you.  It takes me days of research and menu perusing to find the perfect restaurant for our group outing to New York City for Restaurant Week.  Sometimes we choose a restaurant because the menu offerings are so stupendous that if we missed dining their we would cry ourselves to sleep, other times we venture to a restaurant that was in a movie that we love watching, and then there are the restaurants that look so inviting that the images seem to beckon us from the interwebs.  However you decide to choose, make sure they offer something for everyone in your group and then move on to step 2.

2:  Making Reservations:  Remember Restaurant Week is not a secret, not only am I Blogging about it, everyone foodie in the New York area is screaming from the roof tops about it.  Facebook, Twitter, and even Instagram is going to be a flutter with Restaurant Week jibba jabba, so you need to plan your visit as soon as possible in order to secure a reservation.  I also recommend that you call the restaurant that you have decided on before making your reservation in order to make sure that they are still participating in the event.  The secret is to call twice, once to make sure that they are doing Restaurant Week and then again to make the reservation.  I have no proof but, I feel that whenever I do both in one phone call, I get stuck at the table near the kitchen or the bathroom, but then again I am a conspiracy theorist, so it may just be me being crazy.  You can also use opentable.com to make your reservation after confirming that the establishment is participating in order to gain points for your open table account and hopefully not have to share your table with a urinal.

3:  Wine List Research:   The day of your reservation you should check the restaurant’s website to see if they offer a wine list that you could peruse, if you do not see one online you can contact them and ask them if they could provide you with one via E-mail, their answer should be yes.  Once you have procured the wine list you should jump on the Googles and do some research.  If you are trying to impress your friends or a date, nothing will do this better than choosing the proper wine for the sophisticated meal you are about to eat.  Read reviews, check prices, use the internet to become an expert on three or four wines that you may order, so if they run out of one, you have a backup plan.  If you do not have time to do this research, the Blue Collar Foodie’s rule is to never select the cheapest bottle!  Not only does is scream cheap, but it is usually marked up the highest and you will not get the best bang for your buck. The best value is usually in the second or third cheapest wines on the list, which are still marked up of course but, not as much as the bottle of Chateau De Cheapo which makes the Jug of Gallo taste like a vintage Bordeaux from France.  When in doubt download a good wine application for your smart phone and let it make the decision for you.

4:  The Pregame:  In order to save some money on the wine from the restaurant which can be a bit overpriced, we usually meet up in the city in the neighborhood or the restaurant we chose at a local watering hole.  Think of this activity as classy tailgating, which as blue collar foodies we can all get behind.  Once again you should go to googles and find a moderately priced bar in the area and make it your rally point so you can have a few drinks before your meal and be on time for your reservation.

5.  The Event:  The time has finally arrived to chow down on some of the best food New York City has to offer.  If you did your research up to this point properly, you should already know what wine to order and what you will be eating on the menu, so sit back and enjoy the scenery.  These restaurants are not only expensive because of the quality of food you are about to receive but also because of the ambiance and history they exude.

If for whatever reason you cannot make it to New York City for this marvelous event, don’t fret, foodie nirvana may still be able to be achieved.  The Picnic, located at 14-25 Plaza Road North, Fair Lawn, NJ, is celebrating their second anniversary with a Pre-Fixe menu of their own for just $35.00 a plate, for the entire month of July.  This establishment is also B.Y.O.B which helps save even more money.  I will be attending the Picnic’s Anniversary Celebration soon, so expect a review in the near future.

Celebrating America in true Foodie Fashion at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Newark

When I was five years old, and everyone was running around pretending to be cops, astronauts, or firemen, I was digging in the dirt, training to be a paleontologist.  A word that I could barely say, but I knew that it meant digging for Dinosaurs so I committed it to memory and for the next 10 years repeated it every time anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  Even though, I am all grown up and a paleontologist I am not, I still have an affinity for our gigantic fossilized ancestors.  Therefore a few years ago when my good friend introduced us to a BBQ joint named Dinosaur Bar-B-Que in Harlem, I have to say I was smitten.

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My friend is a native of the North, as in the true upstate New York, not Rockland County like all of us Bergenites, believe to be upstate, and way up there in damn near Canada, the first Dinosaur Bar-B-Que was born, in Syracuse, New York.  Since 1988, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que has been kicking ass and taking names in the BBQ world and slowly traveling south to our neck of the woods bringing its biker and blues outlook with it.  In 2004, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que set up shop in Harlem, and instantly became my favorite BBQ spot in the area, even though I had to travel into the city just to taste some of their delicious cuisine.  In April 2012, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que made this foodie happier than a hippie in a hackie sack circle, when they opened the doors to their newest location in good old Newark, New Jersey.

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Since July 4th is right around the corner and we are supposed to be celebrating America, I thought that a review of a BBQ joint was necessary considering that BBQ is about as American as Apple Pie and Capitalism.   We arrived at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, which is located at 224 Market St. Newark, NJ 07102, at approximately 7:30 P.M. on a Saturday and although parking was quite tricky, we did not have to wait for a seat which was a welcomed change from the Harlem Venue, which is always packed.  As we approached our table, we noticed that the same biker/blues inspired theme could be seen in this location as the Harlem one.  Pigs of all sizes adorn the walls made out of a variety of textiles, while movie posters from the back in the day fill in the gaps.  Behind our table, a wonderful hand painted mural of Market Street complete with the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que mascot, the green Tyrannosaurus Rex like Dinosaur from the logo, crossing the street decorated the far wall.

As we scanned the menu, our waiter arrived to take our drink order. Dinosaur Bar-B-Que, understands that although the food they serve is extremely important, one cannot overlook the magnitude of a truly prodigious beer menu at a BBQ establishment.   Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s beer list reads like a who’s who of the craft beer realm.  From the old standards like Pabst and Budweiser to the craft beer locals like Brooklyn and Ramstein, anyone can find something to wet their whistle at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.  Kat was particularly happy that she was able to procure her new favorite vice, Angry Orchard hard cider, which pairs with BBQ much better than wine.

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Our guest foodie, Rory, and I ordered a pitcher of Ramstein while Kat ordered her cider and then it was back to the insanely difficult task of choosing just one of the tantalizing offerings off the Dinosaur Bar-B-Que Menu.  Rory and I decided to go with the four meat BBQ combination platter for $24.95.  I ordered the ¼ chicken, St. Louis Ribs, BBQ Brisket, and Pulled Pork, whereas Rory substituted the ¼ chicken for a homemade sausage link.  As for sides, I chose Gumbo and Turkey Neck Greens, while Rory went with the Gumbo and Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s world famous Mac and Cheese.  Kat decided on the 10 oz. center cut Skirt Steak, BBQ spiced & grilled, served with a Red Chimichurri Steak Sauce for $20.95 with a side Black Eyed Pea Salad and of course the Mac and Cheese, which is why I did not need to order it because I knew I was going to steal some of hers.   We also decided to order an appetizer to hold us over until our entrees arrived, which we decided would be Fried Green Tomatoes with a Smoke Shrimp Remoulade for $8.95.

With our food order in and our glasses full, we then began to wax poetically about the nonsensical things that were occurring in our lives.  Our dinner conversation lingered while our libations were consumed, attempting to deal with the most horrific waiting period that befalls modern man, the time frame between the ordering of the food, you can smell permeating through the restaurant, and the moment it is delivered.  No matter if it is 5 minutes or 50 minutes, it always seems like an eternity to me.

Our Fried Green Tomatoes arrived at our table complete with a pile of Smoked Shrimp, that impressed both Rory and I.  I was expecting ground up shrimp for flavor or small salad shrimp to be a part of this dish, but I was appreciatively surprised when I saw the heaping portion of moderately sized shrimp mixed with the remoulade, or tartar sauce like concoction.  Since Kat does not eat shrimp, her dipping sauce was the standard sauce for these Fried morsels of yumminess, a Cayenne Buttermilk Ranch Dressing.  The Green Tomatoes were deep fried flawlessly and were crispy on the outside while not too mushy on the inside.  The addition of the Shrimp Remoulade which even Kat tried, with some coercion, added just a bit of smoke and spice that catapulted this dish to new heights.

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Shortly after eating our 1990’s movie appetizer, our entrees arrived as Rory poured us another beer from the pitcher.  Our food was placed in front of us and each one of us began to inspect the fine fare that was just presented.  Some foodies believe that BBQ is an ugly dish, a plate that cannot be elegantly displayed and therefore not a true foodie find.  To that I say, insert however you spell the sound that a raspberry makes here.  I believe that it is simply un-American to not find a plate piled high with dead animal, unquestionably gorgeous.

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I attacked my four meat combo with the strategy of a five star general.  First I poured out a small dollop of Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s own Sensuous Slathering Sauce,  a squirt of Wango Tango Habanero hot BBQ sauce, and a dab of Devil’s Duel Pepper Sauce onto my plate so I would be prepared for dipping.  I decided to take on each meat separately, using a divide and conquer technique and then partake in the side dishes throughout the meal to cleanse my palate.

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With the sauces ready for battle and my strategy intact, I approached the front line, the chicken which consisted of a leg and a thigh.  There is something quite special about Bar-B-Que’d dark meat chicken, which cannot properly be described using the English Language.  The skin was crispy and just the right amount of burned, while the inside was juicy and flavorful.

Dinosaur’s Gumbo was more or less a Chili-like blend that combined a Tex-Mex flavor with a New Orleans attitude.  The base for the Gumbo had definite Upstate Chili roots but then the combination of the Chorizo sausage, Smoked Chicken, and Okra that complements the broth creates an explosion on flavor in each bite.  A very good side dish, which they also serve as a small plate meal with rice and corn bread for $6.95.

After defeating the Chicken, I set my sights on the St. Louis Style ribs; which are making my mouth water, as I think of how to impress upon you their awesomeness.  People throw around the words fall off the bone or finger licking good all too often when recounting their experiences with ribs.  Well, in this case, these ribs are smack your mother in the face good, which if you don’t know, is far better than fall off the bone according to the foodie colloquialism handbook.  Seriously though, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que’s ribs are outstanding and if you have not tried them yet, you need to drive, take the bus, bike, hike, or skateboard tonight to Newark, New Jersey and strap on a feed bag.

The Turkey Neck Greens reminded me of some of the greens that I have had at my favorite soul food restaurants in Passaic or Paterson, New Jersey.   The bold flavor of the collard greens mixes well with the onions and spices that Dinosaur has added to create this side dish.  Meanwhile, the essence of the Smoked Turkey Neck enhances these probably unhealthy but wonderfully tasty vegetables.

With two ribs down and one saved for later, I pressed on towards the BBQ pulled pork. I once again reached for the Sensuous Slathering Sauce and applied it liberally to this small mound of meat that graced my plate.  With each forkful I realized why I could never truly follow the Jewish or Muslim faith.  Dinosaur’s pulled pork has just the right smoke flavor without being too much, and combined with their Bar-B-Que sauce it is simply divine.

After I devoured the final bite of the pulled pork, I focused my efforts towards the 14 hour smoked, hand sliced Bar-B-Cue Brisket.  Brisket is by far the hardest of the Bar-B-Qued meats to cook in my opinion due to the tendency for it to get tough when cooked for long periods of time.  Dinosaur’s Brisket does have a slight bite to it, which is to be expected from Brisket, but it is juicy and utterly delicious.  With the addition of a small amount of Wango Tango Sauce and the house cured pickled jalapenos it is served with, it is a delightful treat.

I was lucky enough to be dining with friends that understand my passion for food, and Kat and Rory offered to allow me to sample the delicacies that decorated their plates that I had yet to try.  Rory gave me a bit of the Hot Link he had ordered instead of the Chicken, and I accepted it thankfully.  The sausage itself was bursting with immense flavor, and I thoroughly enjoyed the fact that it was housed in a crispy skin.  Kat allowed me to try both her Skirt Steak, which was expertly cooked and when dipped in the Chimichurri Steak Sauce brought me to flavor county, and Dinosaur’s Mac and Cheese.  As stated before, I love the Macaroni and Cheese that is served at Dinosaur so, I was grateful for this small addition to my meal.

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Since I was almost full to the brim, I returned my focus to my plate and finished off my last rib, which I saved for last because I love them so much.  After savoring my last rib, I placed the bone in the graveyard that my plate had become, and reached for the built in dessert that is added to each and every Dinosaur Bar-B-Que dish, the Honey Corn Bread.  I am a huge fan of corn bread, while Kat would rather have any other type of bread in the history of bread, so I rarely get to eat it while we are at home.  But at Dinosaur Bar-B-Que I get two, and that makes this little foodie very happy.

The amount of love I have for Bar-B-Que and for Dinosaur Bar-B-Que cannot be summed up in one article or blog.  The true admiration I have for both this style of cooking and this restaurant cannot really be discussed, for I fear that this blog would forever have an NC-17 rating.  Let’s just say that if you have not been to Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and you are a fan of Bar-B-Que cooking you are doing yourself a grave disservice.  The parking may stink at both the Harlem and the Newark locations, but any mild inconvenience is worth experiencing this amazing American tradition.  Also keep in mind that this restaurant is literally around the corner from the Prudential Center, where the New Jersey Devils play so check the schedule before you get stuck in a hellish amount of traffic.

Judgment:

Overall:             4 out of 5

Taste:               5 out of 5

Presentation:     4 out of 5

Value:               3 out of 5

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