Last Thursday night as I was on the way home from work my mum popped the question: "Want to eat out tonight?" She does that a lot. And of course, why wouldn't I? Besides that it messes with my failed attempt to lose weight, something my mum doesn't have to worry about because she is effortlnessly able to retain her child-like size despite sometimes eating me under the table? Maybe she burns more because she sleeps more than I do. Could that be it? Or maybe when you reach your mid-50s your metabolism increases...wait, that doesn't sound right.
I directed us to Silver Oak Bistro, one of the restaurants in Ridgewood that we had yet to try (after eating there for many years, we may have been to more than half of the restaurants in Ridgewood). It's American food, but, you know...nice looking. Not that American food isn't usually nice looking. But I've never seen barbecued pork and mac-n-cheese on such a nice plate. I'll show you that later. It's a unique restaurant among the Ridgewood restaurant community.
They start you off with a complimentary basket of homemade bbq potato chips accompanied by bbq sauce and a hot green sauce (which they call Pigasus BBQ & Green Goddess sauce respectively). My mum refrained from eating much of it...but I ate all of it. I mean, I ate everything she didn't eat. That's a lot of potato chips. And was very dumb on my part because that probably didn't leave much space for the rest of my meal. But how often do you get to eat fresh potato chips? You must eat them all. ALL.
My mum started with the Bourbon BBQ Rib Empanada, her second choice after she found out that they had run out of ceviche. She didn't know what an empanada was; she just wanted rib meat. This empanada, stuffed with moist, shredded, sweet bbq rib meat, wasn't like any other I have ever had; the crust was super crisp and delicate and tasted like a corn chip. I'm going to assume that it wasn't traditional, not that it matters much. I didn't taste much of the "Pumpkin Seed Green Chili Lime Sauce" since it was on my mum's plate and I had just taken a piece of the empanada for myself, but I did taste a strong olive oil flavor...which I really liked.
I didn't know entrees came with salads, but I'm glad they did because that would be the healthiest part of the meal. The salad was lightly dressed in some kind of fruity vinaigrette.
And then for my gut-busting plate: Delta pulled hickory smoked pork shoulder with (their famous) macaroni and cheese and the daily greens, which I'm guessing were collard greens with chopped bacon. I looked at my plate, half covered in a seemingly growing mass of warm macaroni and cheese underneath a thin cheese layer, half covered in a pile of pork chunks sitting in porky juices releasing their porky fumes in my direction, and wondered how much of it I could eat.
About a third. I think that had to do with eating all those potato chips and, ye know, having eaten lunch not knowing of the meat feast that I was going to eat that night. The first bits of the pork I ate were kind of dry, but the stuff nestled deeper within the meat pile were more moist. Dipping everything in the little vial of bbq sauce helped. The gooey macaroni and cheese was great, I think proving to my mum that macaroni and cheese exists in a state much more delicious than the fluorescent splodge that comes out of a blue box made by Kraft (she really didn't know you could just make a much better version of it from scratch!). I also really liked the slight sweet greens and the...extra pork bits hidden inside. I was pretty saddened by my inability to eat any more of it, but I had definitely reached my limit. My belly felt like it was at 150% capacity—my brain was going fuzzy, I was starting to see the light, etc. (Of course, I took the leftovers home, all of which my mum ate while I was at work.)
My mum ordered the "Quack" (Quack), a dish of duck prepared two ways: duck confit leg and grilled seared duck breast, accompanied by barley mushroom risotto with orange sauce. I already know I'm not a big fan of duck breast after also having eaten it in Paris, but my mum loved it. It was certainly juicy and tender and whatever else makes meat good (FAT!!!), but my heart belongs to duck confit. You know that if you've been reading this blog for a while. However, Silver Oak Bistro's version wasn't anything like the Parisian duck legs I had eaten, which kind of disappointed me. Then again, it's not a French restaurant. Maybe it's an unfair comparison and I shouldn't hold it against them that the duck leg meat didn't simply floff off the bone like I think it should've.
I would've loved to try one of their homemade desserts, but I was way too full. No dessert = SAD ROBYN. Dessert is do-able if you share an entree with someone, but that might be frowned upon, I'm not sure. I hope not, as I just want to not feel like tasty death and still have room to enjoy dessert.
If at any point you wonder what's going on in the kitchen, you can just look at the flatscreen TV panel above the kitchen door. IT'S LIIIIIIVE! And I suppose they know they're being watched, so it's not like you'd see any debauchery anyway. ;)
You might want to make reservations if you have more than two people; the restaurant is pretty small. We walked in in the middle of a semi-downpour and after we were seated most of the other empty tables had filled up.
When "Burgers" and "Shakes" are both incorporated into the name of a restaurant, you know I have to go there. ...Eventually. I first passed Island Burgers and Shakes months ago; it took me until now to actually make my way to the Hell's Kitchen area and stuff myself with burgerness since I limited myself to a restaurant near my friend Megan's internship.
The small restaurant is clean, colorful, and full of GIANT BULBOUS LANTERNS that could each hold a baby. Or two.
I started with a black and white milkshake made of vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup semi-swirled throughout, but mostly collected at the pit of the tall glass. It was goooooooood. Spoon-ably thick with ice cream plops, creamy, sweet and nicely flavored. I believe it's a very good milkshake.
After looking at their huge menu long enough for it to burn into my brain, I settled oh the Crescent City burger with a blackened patty accompanied by with Bayou mayo (aka spicy) and sweet sauteed onions in between thick toasted slices of sourdough bread.
You may notice from the photo that the battle is something like a slightly flattened baseball. It's thick, two inches or so, fit for a giant, not so fit for a normal human mouth. I attempted to top the burger with the other slice of bread and the lettuce and pickles, resulting in a messy splodge of non-beef based things falling out of the designated hamburger zone. Lettuce pieces were lost, bits of onion were abandoned, pickles threatened to slide off the patty...oh, it was madness. MADNESS. Sirens! Crying babies! Burning piles of broken wood!
And then the madness came to a temporary halt when I sliced the burger in half. Medium rare? Ohhh yeah. Of course I know what deathly ills I could bring upon myself by eating undercooked meat. And you know what? CARS ARE DEATHPODS, yet I still drive them. Because I have to. And...if I'm going to eat a burger, I like it to ooze with medium rare juiciness. Maybe some of us want to die, mmk?
Anyway. I thought this burger was in the upper region of "awesome." Really. The blackened-ness made the outside all crispy with CARBONIZED MEAT CRUNCHNESS, the mayo made my mouth burn a little (...which is a plus for some reason), the thick bread held up to the massive ball of meat like a crib holding a baby (a large, moist, meaty baby), and...I just really liked it. It would've been even awesomer if it didn't get various meat/mayo/pickle goo all over my hands (nothing that a quick trip to their clean bathroom won't remedy) in my long battle with figuring out how to fit the burger into my mouth, but hey, no pain, no gain. Or no large amounts of burger residue on your hands, no tastiness. I dunno.
Megan's had the same "how the hell do I eat this?" problem with her peanut sauce-topped Bangkok Burger, but like me managed to eat all of it. Or most of it. We loves our bloated burgers. We love our subsequently bloated stomachs less, but...you gotta make sacrifices. Yes.
I would put Island Burgers and Shakes on my list of favorite burger-ies. They don't make fries (not enough room for a fryer, or something along those lines; you can get potato chips or a baked potato instead), but you wouldn't have any stomach space for them anyway. I heard good things about their grilled chicken sandwich. Next time, perhaps...
And now for something totally random
I spotted this can of coffee at Mitsuwa last weekend hidden among the other weird drinks that I find funny enough to photograph but not actually try. However, I am curious to know what this RAINBOW MOUNTAIN is and if the flavor is so amazing that after drinking it I will either be blinded by a gigantic shimmering rainbow or have my field of vision be invaded by little floating coffee beans glowing in some divine caffeinated light. I want to know. Japan, do not hoard all this liquid-based rainbow glowing technology for yourself!
Silver Oak Bistro
26 Wilsey Square
Ridgewood, NJ 07450 (My mum and I managed to park RIGHT in front of the restaurant on the curb, but more likely you'd have to park in the train parking lot across the street)