Restaurant L, April 25, 2007

Restaurant L
Allendale, NJ

When Restaurant L opened up in Allendale, I had very mixed emotions. I was bummed, because I had dreamt of having a restaurant there myself one day (the former restaurant, The Turnpike Tavern was dilapidated and unoccupied for about a year) and was thrilled that a new, much needed restaurant was coming to Allendale. Our fair town, the one I grew up in and the one I recently purchased my first house in, was in desperate need for good restaurants.

MASA, a new Japanese restaurant is the best thing to happen to Allendale in a long time. It serves incredible fish and other dishes but the waitservice is horrendous. But the hostess' smile makes any service issues disappear, no doubt. There's another sushi place in town called Flirt, an overly smooth and cheeky enterprise that has a more popular and busier location in Tarrytown, NY and one in Miami. The food is okay, but I like to follow the wealthy Japanese businessmen when eating my sushi - and they line up at MASA in droves. Better than most neighborhood places in Manhattan.

The Allendale Bar & Grill is a good standby for a burger (but not those awful fries), a club sandwich, turkey reuben and chicken fingers, and maybe the budget-friendly pasta dinner they serve once a week, but as far as really good food is concerned, it doesn't offer it. No offense. I love the owners, I love the people that saddle up to the bar, and I love the staff there...some are good friends of mine, but we need to be real here.

Sadly, it is better than Savini. Possibly one of the worst restaurants I've ever been for both food and service. Service is an atrocity. Dumb waiters, the rudest hostess you've ever come across and inept cooks. I've been three times. Once for Valentine's Day, once for a night out to try it again (were we wrong about how bad it was?) and lastly because we were given a gift certificate. The last visit was just that. The food we ordered (a corn chowder and a shrimp dish) was inedible and very likely unhealthy. The smell of the shrimp was toxic and the waiter never even flinched nor asked why none of it was eaten. Disgraceful.

And this is also why I'm disappointed with the arrival of Restaurant L. Bad restaurants still manage to do well or at least last long in Allendale. Savini has been around for at least seven years now and I can't believe that people are that desperate for a restaurant.

That being said, my dinner at Restaurant L wasn't that great but it was still leagues better than Savini.

When the parking space closest to the door has a sign that reads "Reserved for [owner's name]", you've already got yourself a problem. The owner doesn't care about you - the customer. If he did, he'd park his car in the back and let diners have first dibs.

Anyway, the food, which is most important, was just okay...with some hits and misses. The calamari they serve is fantastic. They do a good job with it - nice and spicy. The octopus diavalo wasn't so good. The octopus was overcooked and likely not a great piece to start with and the pasta was pedestrian at best. The truffle fries, basically french fries with white truffle oil and parmesan on top were good. Could have used better, fresh fries instead of the frozen variety to make them better. The short rib raviolis were nearly flavorless and the caesar salad was a joke. It was simply a grilled, uncut heart of romaine with ramekins of add ons on the side. You've got to be kidding me. The fish dish that I had, which was so mediocre that I can't even recall what it was, provided little to make me believe this restaurant is worth revisiting. I might go back to sit at the refurbished bar and have some appetizers, but if you are seeking a nice dinner out, spend a little more on parking and tolls and get to the city at those prices. Or better yet, visit MASA or Varka in Ramsey or Axia Taverna in Tenafly or Aldo's and The Brick House in Wyckoff.


Blogger Tam said...

waiters at MASA are awesome!

12:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If Savini is Aleendale is so bad, how come you can never get a reservation? I highly disagree with you on this one.

10:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First, the person was suppose to be writing about Restaurant L and then let's out with a ton of things wrong with Savini's. Weren't they writing about Restaurnat L?

The salads are the best anywhere.The pasta and chicken dishes are excellent. This is not the first restaurant that the owners of Savini have had.They know how to run a restaurant. This does not come from bad food and bad service. Savini's is a gold mine.

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also totally disagree. Restaurant L is a great restaurant. The service is the best. The atmosphere and quality of the food is so much better than Savini's. It's not easy to get a reservation at L either which speaks volumes.

9:10 PM  
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