Na zdrowie! The Blue Collar Foodie Raises His Glass To The Royal Warsaw!

When most gourmands speak of exotic food they are usually referring to Tibetan, Ethiopian, or perhaps even Lebanese fare, but not the Blue Collar Foodie. The problem with the stereotypical foodie is that they ooze pretentiousness like a beached Chris Christie, mid-August, secreting perspiration. This is one of the sad but true realities that cause a large percentage of tremendous eateries to go unrecognized in the epicurean realm. This lack of apparent gastronomic flair causes a chain reaction which results in the general public not seeing the delightful offerings from restaurants that don’t add Truffle Butter or Kale to every dish on their menu, which is of course printed on recycled paper that has been shat out by organic compost eating worms.

I, however, pride myself on attempting to never judge a book by its cover. I stress the word “attempting” in that previous sentence because to be honest, if a restaurant looks and smells like a Frat House on a Friday Morning, one is allowed to pass a quick and fatal judgment before exiting immediately. Barring any catastrophic foodie faux pas though, I will seriously try anywhere and anything at the very least twice before I come to a conclusion on whether or not I am a fan.

This method of hardly ever saying, “no,” to the phrase, “Dude you wanna go try (fill in the blank restaurant) tonight?” has allowed me to taste, savor, and appreciate dishes that some self-proclaimed connoisseurs will never get the chance to chew on. This has been my motto since I was young, and when a friend of mine brought up a restaurant by the name, Royal Warsaw, located at 871 River Drive, in Elmwood Park, NJ, that I had not been to in a while, I of course followed my foodie decree.

The Royal Warsaw serves Polish food. I know you are not a child, and if you are, stop reading this immediately, I curse like a drunk who stubbed his toe on another drunk. Since you are not 7, I assume that as you read the name of this restaurant you immediately knew it was a Polish restaurant, but I need you to think to yourself when the last time you went to a Polish restaurant actually was. No, Stanislaw the last time you went to your Babcia’s house does not count.

For most of us, the answer to that simple question is either never, or very rarely. Polish food is not the type of fare that brings the hype like some other highly sought after cultural culinary styles. However, I must inform you that if you have never been to an authentic Polish restaurant, you are missing some serious grub.

The Royal Warsaw has ample parking which wraps around the entire building, but that is not to say the parking lot does not fill up quite quickly. Even though you may have never heard of this joint, I assure you that the rather large Polish population of towns like Elmwood Park and Garfield sure have, and they tend to convene at this establishment regularly to taste a small bite of home and perhaps even knock back a pint or three. Furthermore, the Royal Warsaw also offers an outdoor patio so during the spring and summer; one can eat al fresco and usually avoid the somewhat long waits for a table in the main dining room.

On our journey to the Warsaw, we decided to dine outside because we had a group of six and were rather famished from our Sunday activities. Once we arrived, we did not wait at all, and we were ushered into the garden area where we were seated and handed our menus.

Na Zdrowie!

Na Zdrowie!

Here, my friends, is where the fun begins. First off, the menu is extensive and has a crap load of options so the first thing you are going to want to do is order yourself a beer. Not a domestic beer either you twit, order something that sounds or looks Polish. Now, hopefully you brought some friends with you so you can spend the next few minutes trying to pronounce half the things on the menu. This part is always hysterical considering that I am under the impression that I would have to rip out my tongue in order to pronounce some of the things that appear here. Don’t believe me, here is the test, pronounce this; Przekladaniec Zakopianski. Seriously, that is a thing!

After chuckling at the horrible pronunciation attempts of you and your friends, the next step in the ordering process at the Royal Warsaw is to read their English translations of the dishes they offer, which they are generous enough to provide.

Most likely your beer has arrived by now and the waiter is asking if you are ready.   Take this opportunity to ask him any questions you may have about the menu and ask if there are any specials, you will thank me for this later, and then ask for a few more moments to decide.

Now just like our group, you will have all the knowledge you could possibly want to order the perfect item off the slightly intimidating menu at the Royal Warsaw.

We decided that since we were ever so hungry, an appetizer was in order, and went with the Polish Style Plate which consists of Potato Pancakes, Russian Pierogies, and Grilled Kielbasa. With the appetizer out of the way, we one-by-one carefully selected our meals, with the occasional assistance in pronouncing the dish provided by our trustee waiter.

With a cold Warka or Zywiec in hand, my friends and I told stories of the weekend as if it was a battle, and we were the lone survivors. As we were joking and laughing about the hectic recent past, the kitchen staff was working feverishly to create our Polish Style Plate which zoomed out of the Kitchen at a speed that the Enterprise would be jealous of. Yes, that was a Star Trek joke! You got a problem with that?

Polish Style Plate

Polish Style Plate

Behold in all of its glory the Polish Style Plate, well one-fifth of its glory because the damn dirty apes that I was feasting with could not wait for me to take a picture before they started to dismantle this dish with their filthy paws. I highly recommend this appetizer for a group because it is the perfect portion size to tantalize your appetite when shared, without filling you up before your entrée even arrives. Not to mention the fact that each item on this dish tasted better than the next. I mean, how could you possibly go wrong with eating Pierogies and Kielbasa at a Polish Restaurant? The answer is you can’t, and that is why you need to order this plate of freaking yummy!

After demolishing the Polish Plate, we set our sight on the entrees that our waiter assured us would be out momentarily, after he of course filled our mugs with more tasty beer. Shortly after our waiter left, he returned with our meals in hand. I reminded my table mates that I am trying to inform you wonderful people about the amazing food that The Royal Warsaw offers. I further explained to them how intricate my food porn was to these articles. They were nice enough to afford me the opportunity to take one photo of their meal before they began eating.

Plate a la Warsaw

Plate a la Warsaw

I started with my wife’s plate because, well, “Momma didn’t raise no fool,” and Kat gets pretty Hangry sometimes. That comment is not going to go over well, but hey these are the sacrifices that I make for my readers. My wife’s dish, which was lovingly named the Plate a la Warsaw and contained Stuffed Cabbage, Polish Sausage, Mixed Pierogies, and Hunter’s Stew. The star of this dish was the Hunter’s Stew which is an amalgamation of sauerkraut and mixed meats; Mmmmmmmmm mixed meats! I suggest if you order this dish using this pleasant Polish porridge as a dipping sauce of sorts for every bite you take.

Schabowy Cutlet

Schabowy Cutlet

Tara ordered the Schabowy Cutlet which basically translates to Breaded Pork Chops with Mashed Potatoes and Polish Salad. The presentation and aroma of her dish was utterly magnificent, and the flavor was nothing short of fantastic. The crispy exterior gave way to the tender meaty insides while the sauce blended everything together in style. This was hands-down one of the best pork chops that I have ever tasted, and for only $13.95, the portion size was out of control.

Polish Style Grilled Keilbasa with fried sauerkraut, onions, and garlic bread

Polish Style Grilled Keilbasa with fried sauerkraut, onions, and garlic bread

Next up was Steph’s Polish Style Grilled Keilbasa with fried sauerkraut, onions, and garlic bread. We already discussed how amazing this hot link of pig meat is, but I will further state that if you enter this restaurant and don’t at least try some Warsaw Keilbasa, I may have to rethink our entire blogger to reader relationship.

The Royal Warsaw Escargot

The Royal Warsaw Escargot

Steph believes in the theory, “go big or go home,” so she paired this monster meat stick (TWSS) with an order of Escargot. I know what you are thinking, what the hell does Poland know about snails. Well smart ass, if you look at a map, you will notice that Poland is only one former war mongering super power away from the capital of terrestrial pulmonate gastropod molluscs, France. These snails were the perfect combination of buttery, garlicky, and… ummmmm… snaily… deliciousness.

Schabowy Moskvian Style

Schabowy Moskvian Style

Marco decided to rock the Schabowy Moskvian Style which was described as Breaded Bone-In Pork Cutlet served with mashed potatoes and fried sauerkraut. This picture does not do this pork chop justice because there is nothing to use as a scale, but I assure you it was impressive. Once again the crispy outer coating was the perfect companion to the tender juicy pork that it was protecting. When this flavorful chop was paired with the lightly fried sauerkraut, it was a duet that Disney would have been jealous of.

I have accepted my short comings as a food journalist and so should you! Pretty picture though right.

I have accepted my short comings as a food journalist and so should you! Pretty picture though right.

Lastly, I photographed my wonderful dish. Unfortunately, by this time I was three Warkas in, and I had only ingested a fraction of the calories I had expended playing baseball that day.  Due to the combination of sun, hunger, and inebriation I forgot to write down what the heck I ate actually was. I remember it tasting like it was sent from the heavens and shit it looks beautiful, but I have no idea what the hell it was. My fellow bloggers might chastise me for even including this dish in my post, simply stating that I could have easily rewrote the day and stole a friend’s dish as my own.   To them I say, why? The only reason I can’t remember exactly what the dish was is because it was a special, and I remember it tasting and looking amazing so I felt that it was my duty to include this dish in my review.

The purpose of this post is to remind you to open your mind when it comes down to selecting your meal destination. Sure, you look awesome posting those photos of Fried Cambodian Spiders or South East Asian Snake Wine but sometimes this leads to the classics getting over looked. The Italian restaurant that is still making its own pasta, the local seafood joint that travels near and far to procure the freshest seafood, and the local Polish restaurant that believes in the philosophy of using, ”meat from healthy breeding, fresh field vegetables, garden fruits, and fish from clean waters to produce cuisine that is honest and simply tastes good,” need your praise and business too. I highly recommend that any foodie located near Bergen County follow my advice and hit up The Royal Warsaw for a great meal and a few drinks!

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Eat, Drink, and Be Merry At The Twisted Elm, All Before Noon!

Sometimes it is difficult to be a foodie and not lose some man points from time to time. I occasionally find myself choosing to attend a wine tasting instead of a bar crawl or missing out on a trip to the ball park due to a restaurant opening. Most of the time I try to blame Kat for these somewhat less than blue collar decisions in order to make sure that my man card is not revoked or suspended. With that said, there is one thing in the foodie culture that I feel gets a bad reputation for being pompous, pretentious, and damn near douche, and that is Brunch.

Shenanigans I say to every red blooded American male that scoffs at brunch as if it was high tea with a side of ballet. I have heard this argument far too many times from my blue collar brethren, and I can no longer sit in silence while the best meal of the week gets discriminated against by ill-informed scallywags that think a scone is that fancy thing on the wall that holds a light bulb.

Relax, The Blue Collar Foodie did not go soft, I am not going to have to change my website to I am just trying to preach the Gospel of Brunch, as if I was Matthew, and Bacon was Jesus. That is right people, brunch equals bacon, and if you can’t get behind that type of algebra then we simply can no longer be friends. I am serious, I will wait, go to right now and unfriend me because if you hate swine, you can’t be a friend of mine!

If that simple equation does not change your mind about brunch, I would like to formally invite you to the advanced brunch symposium that The Twisted Elm, located at 435 River Drive in Elmwood Park, NJ, holds every Sunday from 11:30 A.M. to 2:30 P.M where you will be schooled in Brunchology. Your first lesson is as follows; Twisted Brunch=Bacon + Booze! Solve for stop talking junk about brunch and get your arse to the Twisted Elm.

Twisted Elm MuffinsThat is right the Twisted Elm, this food critics’ favorite Gastro Pub is serving brunch and just like everything else I have ever eaten there, they did not disappoint. First off, just for walking in the door and choosing to allow the Twisted Elm to blow your taste buds out of the back of your skull, they will give you a complimentary brunch cocktail of your choice; a Bloody Mary, Mimosa, Bellini, or a Screwdriver. If a free drink is not enough to entice you to venture over to the Elm, they also will provide your table with a basket of assorted breakfast muffins complete with a berry butter that will make you want to slap your mother for serving you that bland salty stick of non-sense that you once thought was butter, but now will only refer to as “I damn well know it is not Berry Butter!”

Just in case you are not yet convinced that Brunch is as manly as eating a steak off the bone sans utensils while shooting a shotgun on a construction site from behind the wheel of a monster truck, let’s talk food! The Twisted Elm is not about to serve just any old fare to their Brunch clientele, much like the other food that is served at this establishment, they add their own twist. See what I did there? Twist… Twisted… Suffice it to say, this is not your grandma’s brunch menu. With dishes that inspire foodgasms like the Huevos Rancheros, Fried Chicken and Bacon Waffles, Irish Eggs Benedict, and Shrimp & Grits, The Twisted Elm is taking brunch to a whole new level, and I am all about it.

Twisted Elm DrinkOn my most recent visit to The Elm, Kat and I could not decide what we should get so we decided to order two items that piqued our interest, and we would share them. I decided that the Chicken and Bacon waffles needed to be in my belly, and Kat, being the pizza addict that she is, found the Sausage and Egg Brunch Pizza to be quite intriguing. While the rest of our group ordered, visions of Bacon Waffles danced in my head, and I was ecstatic. With our orders on their way, there was only one thing left to do, imbibe our brunch intoxicants and discuss our love for having an excuse to drink at 11:30 A.M. on a Sunday. Oh, and adjust our fantasy football rosters of course.

Twisted Elm Chicken and Bacon Waffles Soon our food was delivered to our table and as it arrived, I was happy that we had just got finished running the Elmwood Park Chamber of Commerce 2nd Annual 5K Run-Walk, because the first thing I noticed was that the portion sizes were amazing.   I am not talking slightly larger than I was expecting, I am talking, so big that Roseanne Barr and Chris Christie would have a hard time finishing these wonderfully indulgent plates of yumminess. Within seconds, I was no longer intimated by the magnitude of my meal, but rather I was captivated by the notion that I would get to eat every last bite of the food that was being placed in front of me, because it was at that moment that the tantalizing aroma of this deviousness made its way to my olfactory senses.

I fiercely fought the urge to rip into my food with the tenacity of a caveman before everyone’s plate was in front of them, and I had taken all the necessary photos. After a well fought battle, I was able to cut a piece of chicken, stab a small section of waffles, and dip both of these magical morsels into the Blueberry agave maple syrup that is served with this dish. That forkful of food is what Willis was talking about, why Ferris Bueller really took a day off, and the only thing in this Universe that Ron Burgundy loves more than Scotch. The combination of the crispy savory skin, the tremendously moist meat, the soft baconey waffle, and the sweet syrupy goodness made my knees buckle worse than Robert Griffin III this season when any defensive player gets within 5 feet of him.

Twisted Elm PizzaI was slightly depressed that I had made, what Kat declared as “a legally binding agreement that could potentially lead to divorce if broken” once she saw my meal. That is until I tasted her Brunch Pizza which apparently was made of anti-depressants and flavor grenades. I was worried that the eggs and sausage would not mix properly on top of a pizza crust, but my apprehension was pointless because this pie was a marriage made in foodie heaven. The fact that the sausage was breakfast style instead of Italian added the perfect amount of tanginess to subtleness of the eggs and cheese.   It also helped that this astounding pizza was cooked to precision in a brick oven causing the crust to be crispy and light.

Twisted Elm Eggs BenedictWhile Kat and I were demolishing our meals, our friends were busy inhaling theirs. They informed us that the Shrimp and Grits and The Irish Eggs Benedict were both worthy of a test next time around. Meanwhile, we all were very happy with our complementary cocktails that were expertly blended and, as always at the Elm, top notch.

Just to reiterate my point, brunch is not some mamby pamby meal that is only for old ladies and rich folk, at least not at the Twisted Elm that is. Their behemoth portions, fantastic cocktails, and foodie inspired dishes unite every Sunday to create the perfect pre-kickoff man date that you have been waiting for. Instead of losing a man point every time I go to Brunch, I postulate that every Sunday that you are not at the Twisted Elm for Brunch you lose 2 man points, starting now!

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The Blue Collar Foodie Visits Bhoj, a True Sub-Continental Delight

Throughout my many years as a foodie I have visited countless restaurants searching for phenomenal interesting cuisine.  Since I have been on this endeavor for such a lengthy amount of time, it gets harder and harder to find new restaurants to take a bite out of.  I sometimes feel like a nomad wandering out of town, to another county, or even across state lines in pursuit of a foodie find worth talking about.   Imagine my surprise, when I was informed that I had been missing out on some of the best Indian food in the state, right in my own backyard.  After receiving messages from several of my Facebook friends urging me to give Bhoj, located at 430 Market Street, Elmwood Park, NJ 07407, a try, I had no other option but to heed their advice.

Kat and I are no strangers to ethnic food, which you know if you read this blog, so when I mentioned the possibility of Indian food for dinner Kat did not even let me finish the question, before responding, “YES!”  After a long day of work and a short stint at the gym, Kat and I hopped into the car with our appetites and headed to good ‘Ole Elmwood Park to experience all that Bhoj had to offer.

At first glance, Bhoj, does not seem like much, due to the fact that it is located in a shopping plaza with a Dunkin Donuts, a liquor store (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, Bhoj is a BYOB), and a Laundromat, but as I have learned quite a few times on my epicurean adventures, looks can be deceiving.  As we entered Bhoj, the intoxicating aroma caused us to forget what the building looked like outside and focus on the interior of this enchanting restaurant, which was decorated with an authentic Indian theme.  I felt like Tucan Sam as I followed my nose through the restaurant as we were seated by our waiter.

Once we were seated we were welcomed to the Bhoj by our server and handed two menus and a list of specials.  While perusing the menu our waiter brought over two glasses and filled them with water while we attempted to make our decision.  When the waiter came back, as per usual, Kat and I could not make up our minds so I asked him to suggest an appetizer.  More often than not a waiter or waitress will choose an item on a whim when requested to advise a diner on what they should eat, but not at Bhoj.  I was happily surprised when our waiter engaged us in a short conversation in an attempt to judge our likes and dislikes before just offering a random dish for us to order.  Armed with the knowledge that he collected from our conversation our waiter competently recommended the Vegetable Samosas with Channa which was described as crispy golden brown triangle pastry stuffed with potatoes and green peas.  We of course took our waiters advice and ordered this alluring appetizer while we scrutinized the menu some more looking for the perfect entrée.  Our waiter also asked us what degree of spiciness we would like our appetizer to have, E.G. Mild, Medium, or Hot.  We requested medium, but our waiter seemed slightly suspicious about our heat tolerance and suggested Mild Plus for the appetizer and if we wanted more heat, he would adjust our entrées accordingly.

Indian Dipping Sauces

Dipping Sauces

Once our appetizer order was in, a waiter came to our table and placed a basket of crispy flat-bread that I believe was Khakra and a dish divided in thirds which housed three distinctly different sauces for said Khakra.  I have to admit that Bhoj scored some points with this foodie by adding the dipping sauces, which were wonderful by the way, because I am huge sauce fanatic, so much so that I have an entire shelf dedicated to sauces is my refrigerator much to Kat’s chagrin.  As we chowed down on the complimentary Khakra we made our final decision for our main course and relayed them to our waiter. I decided upon the Bhuna Gosht for $17.95 which was described as Lamb cooked in special thick gravy with exotic spices and tomatoes, whereas Kat went with the Chicken Tikka Masala for $16.95, which was described as boneless pieces of Tandoori chicken cooked in a creamy tomato sauce.  We also ordered Garlic Naan for $3.95 and Basmati Rice for $1.50 to complete our meal.


Khakra all dressed up

Shortly after we ordered our entrées, our appetizer arrived on the table and it was presented beautifully on the serving plate. The two overstuffed triangle pastries were fried to perfection and placed on the dish surrounded by the Channa creating an edible piece of art that any refined foodie, including Kat and I, would feel bad destroying.  That is, until we tasted the first bite, and then we devoured every last morsel of this fantastic dish as if we were a bunch feral carnies that have never used a fork before.  Yea, that is right! It was acting like a feral carnie good!

Vegetable Samosas with Channa

Vegetable Samosas with Channa

While we were demolishing this delectable treat, our waiter approached the table to inquire about the spice level, so the Chef could prepare our meals properly.  Although, this seems like a minor detail, it is interactions like this that separate run-of-the-mill eateries and exceptional establishments.  Kat and I felt that the waiter and therefore Bhoj, honestly cared if we were enjoying their cuisine and wanted to do adjust the spice level to the appropriate tolerance so we would have the best possible experience they could provide.

After we were done with the appetizer, our table was cleared and the table was prepared for our main course.  When our dishes arrived the smell alone caused me to salivate like a rabid Chupacabra in heat.  As is the custom, Kat and I spooned a portion of rice on our plates, which we then topped off with a serving of the entrées that we ordered.  Each bite revealed more and more of the depth of flavor these dishes possessed.  The addition of the Garlic Naan only added to this magnificent feast.

Bhuna Gosht and Chicken Tikka Masala

Bhuna Gosht and Chicken Tikka Masala

The portions were extremely generous and we only ate half of our meals before we felt as if we could not eat another bite. That is, until our waiter approached the table and asked about our thoughts on dessert.  He highly recommended the rice pudding, and since he had not steered us wrong all night, we followed his guidance like he was our gastronomic Sherpa.  Once again his expertise navigated us down a path of culinary enlightenment.  The rice pudding not only tasted great but snuffed out any lingering effects of the tingling sensation that accompanies proper Indian cuisine.

I have to say that I was exceedingly impressed by Bhoj.  The ambiance enhancing modern Indian music combines with the traditional design theme to create an environment that is perfect for dining, while the tremendously helpful and attentive staff serves some of the best tasting Indian food that I have found in this area.  The lesson to be learned from Bhoj, is that sometimes what you are looking for can be found closer than you think, as long as you have an open mind and an open stomach.

Bhoj Indian on Urbanspoon

The Blue Collar Foodie Visits The Twisted Elm Tavern

As a Blue Collar Foodie, my epicurean journey started with dive bars and unexpected foodie finds across this wonderful state of ours. The places that I frequented in the early days of this culinary adventure would make the typical fastidious foodie cringe with disgust. I however loved every minute of it! I still enjoy eating a gourmet meal off a paper plate in a wood paneled wonderland, while the glare of a 50 inch television broadcasting a sporting event illuminates the dark and dingy dining room, but my new true love is the Gastro Pub.

A Gastro Pub is quite simply a bar that serves high end food paired with craft beer and they have been sprouting up in the Garden State faster than reality shows that focus on drama fueled D-bags from the planet orange. My preferred Gastro Pub right now is none other than the Twisted Elm Tavern located at 435 River Drive in Elmwood Park, New Jersey. This relatively new eatery in Bergen County is the brain child of co-owners Jim Rogers and George Kantakis, and according to this foodie, they have struck gastronomic gold!

Twisted Elm Sign

The Twisted Elm Tavern offers its customers two distinct atmospheres to enjoy the imaginative creations of the Elm’s Head Chef Albert Scazafave. First and foremost is the “sit down,” experience, which I recommend for the Twisted Elm virgin, which is comparable to any high-end restaurant you will find in this area. The second way to appreciate the many offerings of the Twisted Elm is to belly up to the bar, where you can not only have a great conversation with one of the exceptionally sociable and educated bar-tenders, but order anything off the dinner menu as well.

The Twisted Elm’s décor is littered with artistic photographs of local historical sites that initiate countless conversations about native folklore, which is always entertaining for a townee like me.  The rustic yet refined approach to design that the Twisted Elm has chosen lends itself very well to the genre of Gastro Pub, and creates a home-like appeal with a fine dining flare.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Spanish Chorizo

Spicy Garlic Shrimp with Spanish Chorizo

Even though I have never been disappointed in any dish I have devoured at this spot, I do have some favorites that standout amongst the crowd. First off the bread and butter that are served will challenge your self-control, because between the enticing artisanal everything butter and the fresh baked bread, if you are not carful you will fill up before your meal begins. As For appetizers, I highly recommend The Spicy Garlic Shrimp($12), which combines garlic shrimp with Spanish chorizo in a mouthwatering sauce perfect for seafood lovers, or The East Meets West Ribs($12), which are covered in a sriracha barbecue sauce, that, I am not ashamed to say, have dreams about. As for the Main Course, I am a sucker for the Skillet Mac and Cheese with Lobster($15), which delivers a tremendous amount of Lobster flavor thanks to the gigantic pieces of lobster mixed into the cheese sauce that has a slight smoky flavor due to the loving addition of my favorite condiment, Bacon! That is right, you heard me, I said condiment, bacon makes everything taste better, and therefore it is the only meat that should be considered a condiment. The aforementioned Pork Shank ($24) also makes my list of culinary contenders on the Twisted Elm’s menu, due to a perfectly executed chasseur sauce that displays the Chef’s wide array of influences.

Smoked St. Louis Ribs with Sriracha BBQ sauce

Smoked St. Louis Ribs with Sriracha BBQ sauce

As you are eating the generous portions the Twisted Elm offers please keep in mind that not partaking in one of the daily dessert specials would be a foodie crime punishable by excommunication and a lifelong sentence of eating at McDonalds. The evil genius that constructs these decadently suggestive concoctions deserves the utmost praise, for these deserts leave me speechless each and every time I indulge in one of these masterpieces.

Twisted Elm Dessert

Since this is a foodie blog I have spent a substantial amount of time describing the Gastro facet of the Twisted Elm but I would be remiss if I did not inform you about the Pub side of this establishment. The Twisted Elm Tavern is not your ordinary local watering hole slinging Pabst Blue Ribbon and Budweiser long necks; they offer a rotating craft beer selection that is handpicked by an unofficial Cicerone, a beer sommelier, which fluctuates with the seasons. The beer menu, which is listed on a large blackboard behind the bar, regularly features craft brewing legends such as Stone Brewing, Dog Fish Head, Rogue, and Flying Dog.

To add to the allure of the Elm’s libation selection they offer much more than just craft beer. The Elm consults a sommelier to choose the wine that they offered to their customers who prefer grapes over hops. Furthermore, much to my wife’s delight, they also serve artisanal Hard Cider by Crispin.   To top it all off, they of course offer a full bar complete with every kind of alcohol your heart desires, or you can allow one of the bartenders to whip you up a specialty cocktail designed by their own in-house mixologist.

Whether you are looking for a peaceful gourmet meal with friends or a place to watch the game and have a couple of craft brewed cold ones, The Twisted Elm has got you covered. As a parting piece of advice, I suggest that if you decide to go to the Twisted Elm Tavern, please leave your inhibitions and diet at home. The Twisted Elm experience is all about adventurous dishes and extraordinary beverages that all combine for a gastronomic expedition that calorie counting and hesitations will not support.

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Urbanspoon Leads The Blue Collar Foodie Down the Road to Juicy Platters

One day last week Kat and I were famished and looking for a cheap local spot to grab some food on the go.  I reached for my trusty I-Phone and opened up my Urbanspoon application for guidance.  For those who have not used the Urbanspoon application or the Urbanspoon website, it is a Foodie’s dream come true.  Whenever you find yourself wondering where to eat, in a foreign place or right in your own backyard, you can turn to Urbanspoon for some much needed assistance.  You have the option to browse Urbanspoon’s vast database of restaurants utilizing their many built-in filters, including but not limited to types of food, prices, hours of operation, and top picks.  If you are feeling frisky you can always just shake your phone and the application will randomly chose a restaurant in your area for you to visit, I can’t tell you how many times this application has solved our restaurant choice arguments after a long day in the city.

On this particular random weekday the Urbanspoon’s magic 8-ball like powers lead us to a local eatery named Juicy Platters located at 22-18 Broadway.  Upon further review of the Urbanspoon Application’s profile of Juicy Platters, I found that they serve Greek, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern fare and the average price for an entrée was listed as under $10. After a quick review of the menu, reading a few reviews online, and, of course, the okay from Kat we were in the car and on the way to Juicy Platters.

Without truly knowing what to expect we ventured down Broadway looking for this new restaurant that we have never seen before on our travels up and down the commerce-laden strip that is Broadway in Fair Lawn.  When we arrived, we saw that Juicy Platters is nothing more than a tiny store front in the plaza that used to house the Hyway Theater. This establishment is comprised of the main counter where the customer can place their order, a rather large kitchen and a small eat-in bar with five chairs.

According to the aforementioned online reviews, Juicy Platters is known for their tzatziki-style white sauce that you can pour over your platter and chicken wings.  Armed with this useful knowledge, Kat and I, ordered two Mixed Platters and an order of Super-Hot n’ Garlic wings.  The total including the Vitamin Water we decided to split came out to $24.40, which we gladly paid and then grabbed two empty seats at the small eating area.  As we waited for the food to arrive, we did some people watching and noticed that most of the clientele that was coming in and out of Juicy Platters were ordering their food to go.  There were quite a few customers that picked up their orders while we were in the restaurant and all seemed to be repeat patrons, which usually is a good sign that a restaurant is doing something right.

When our mixed platters arrived, the first thing we noticed was the generous portion size that was offered at Juicy Platters.  Not only was there a huge amount of rice that filled the aluminum serving container but the mixed grill meat was damn near over flowing.  Kat and I both drizzled the white sauce over the top of our mixed grill platter and each took a bite. With that first bite, Kat and I knew that we had stumbled upon something delightfully unexpected.  Seconds after taking the first bite, Kat uttered a phrase that I cannot add to this review, but let’s just say I knew that she liked it. The meat was tender, juicy, and plentiful, while the sauce was tactfully seasoned to complement both the meat and the rice, and the vegetables were flawlessly cooked.   Juicy Platters had not only shattered our expectations but done it at a price that is both honest and affordable.

We savored each bite like it was the last as we slowly but surely made our way through our Mixed Platters.  We were so overjoyed by this remarkable dish, that when the wings came out, neither of us attempted to even open the box that they were housed in. Finally, I was able to pull myself away from the Mixed Platter long enough to try one of the boneless wings that we had ordered. Sadly, I was unimpressed with the wings that Juicy Platters offered. The wings were not bad, but compared to the Mixed Platter they were nothing spectacular.  The sauce was as advertised both spicy and full of garlicky goodness, and when dipped into the house white sauce they were respectable as far as boneless wings go.  Before a final decision on Juicy Platter’s wings can be made I will have to try their bone-in variation which might be better. My suggestion as of now, is to skip the wings and double down on the Meat for your platter, not only will save a few bucks but you will be just as full, and twice as happy.

After eating our share of the wings both Kat and I dove back into our main course and fell in love with Juicy Platters all over again.  The combination of the amazing taste explosion and the low-low prices that they charge has earned Juicy Platters a spot in our regular rotation of fast food choices.  Kat and I will definitely be returning to Juicy Platters again and again to try all of their offerings and we suggest that you do as well.

On a side note, for all of the Vegetarian foodies in the area, Juicy Platters offers several vegetarian options that I have heard are just as memorable as their meat coma-inducing counterparts.  In a world that treats vegetarians as it does lepers, this is a welcomed change for most of my friends that walk through life as herbivores.

Overall:               4 out of 5

Taste:                  4.5 out of 5

Presentation:     3 out of 5

Value:                  5 out of 5

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