Friday, March 5, 2010

Oliver - A Bistro Bordentown, NJ

It's Friday night, so what a great excuse to take a ride to Bordentown City, NJ to meet up with our good friends John and Liz for dinner. They are always a joy to get together with, and John is such a funny guy, but after all, that is his job! John is a "funny man," impersonator, actor, movie star, writer, celebrity performer, etc. Call him whatever you want to call him, and be sure to check out his work at So tonight, what better restaurant to fit the bill than Oliver-A Bistro. You've heard us rant and rave about Oliver, and it is one of our favorite restaurants to frequent in "The Little City With A Lot of Charm." It is a husband/wife owned and run establishment, and we truly love Matt and Danielle. They are great kids, who have a great vision! Danielle is the smiling face running the front of house, while Matt is the executive chef making sure that all of his creations come out of the kitchen to his liking. They are great kids with a great dream, and their success has been outstanding! We walked in around 7PM and were greeted by owner Danielle, who had our 4 top ready and waiting or us. The first thing I notice on the table was the new stems they got! This is a nice new addition to the restaurant, and very welcomed! Ask, and you shall receive, but these are great all purpose restaurant stems, and it is nice to see restaurants upgrading their stemware! Shortly after being seated we were greeted by multiple members of their team, from Kevin the bus boy, to Bruce and James their servers. You really couldn't ask for a better team, and they have all become great friends over the years. It is truly a joy to come in and have the chance to see all of them and to chat. Out came the vino tonight, and we started off with a (Non-Vintage) N.V. Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling Célèbre. Danielle brought over some Champagne glasses as James opened the bottle for us. This is a riesling based sparkling wine that we were turned on to from one of our friends Mark, and is always a treat. At $20 a bottle, it is a nice QPR, and a fun sipper. Feel free to read the notes below on this sparkling wine! In the meantime, I opened up the 2006 Stefania Cabernet Sauvignon Santa Cruz Mountains to give it a couple of hours to breathe before dinner. Moments later, John and Liz arrived, and we toasted and cheered, and then took our time looking over the menu. Bruce came over and read us the specials, ranging from 3 different soups, to 5 different entrees, in addition to their regular menu, and their $35 pre-fixe menu. . Tonight, John and Liz and I opted for the pre-fixe tasting menu, while Zelda opted for an appetizer and an entree. I started off with a caeser salad, and John and Liz opted for salads as well. As usual, these came out and were the perfect size for the tasting menu. As always, the flavors were perfect, and the salads were nice and crisp, using great fresh ingredients. . At this point, we opened up a 2008 Frank Family Vineyards Chardonnay Reserve that John and Liz had brought back from their recent trip to Napa. While this wine is a bit young, and needs time for the oak to integrate, this is going to be a going to be incredible in another year or so. Absolutely awesome elements, but again, it needs time for the oak to integrate, and some of that buttery popcorn to settle down as well. But don't get me wrong, this is not the "buttery oak stick" that so many do not like about California chardonnay. . For the appetizer round, Zelda and John opted for the Truffle Mushroom Bruchetta with an extended Boursin crouton, baby arugula, and a balsamic reduction. This has always been one of Zelda's favorite appetizers, and the flavors work together so well. The crouton has a great crunch on the outside, while the center is nice and soft, and really soaks up the flavors of the mushroom and the balsamic. This is then topped with some shaved cheese heaven, that really meshes with the other ingredients. This has been a winner since it was introduced, and continues to be an Oliver staple! Both Zelda and John seemed to be in mushroom heaven. . Liz and I both opted for the Peppercorn Seared Ahi Tuna with white truffle risotto, brown butter, cherry tomato & a balsamic gastrique. This is such a gorgeous dish with really nice elements. The tuna is seared to perfection, with a really nice pepper crust. The tuna itself is such a nice sushi grade, with a nice and tender texture, and awesome flavors. The pepper adds a nice element of spice, and pairs nicely with the brown butter and balsamic gastrique. The white truffle risotto is such a nice accompaniment, topped with a gorgeous cherry tomato, and a few bean shoots of short. I could eat the risotto alone as an entree and fall in love! What a great elegant dish! . At this point, we dove into the Stefania cabernet, and as many of you have already read, their wines are always winners! For what these wines cost, you just cannot beat them, so feel free to check them out at . Johnny D's entree tonight was the Seared Salmon with garlic confit, new potatoes, overnight tomato, baby green bean & kalamata ragout in a Saffron Broth. This looked like a nice portion for the tasting menu, and looked really nice. Unfortunately, I don't think I even asked what he thought of it at this point, but if I remember correctly, his bowl went back to the kitchen empty, so I am assuming that it could not have been that bad! Regardless, the presentation looked nice, and you really cannot go wrong with Chef Matt's salmon. . Tonight, Zelda opted for the Wasabi Dusted Shrimp with jicama & Chinese cabbage slaw, brown rice, and a citrus soy nage. I consider this to be one of Oliver's winter staples, and yet again, Chef Matt did his research creating this dish to make the flavors work in harmony together. From the tasty brown rice to the crunch of the slaw, the sweetness and spiciness really meld well together making this a treat. The giant shrimp are always cooked to perfection, and Zelda had more than enough to give everyone at the table a nice taste. I really like the flavors of the wasabi here, which doesn't overpower the other spices, and is seasoned perfectly. This looks like such a simple dish, but the flavors are far from simplistic! What a treat! . Liz and I both opted for the rack of lamb, and as I have said before, this is some of the best lamb you will find in New Jersey. These "lollipops" come to us from New Zealand, and are served on top of a bed of goat cheese smashed potatoes, with French green beans and a port wine reduction. As always, these were cooked absolutely perfectly to the temperature of medium rare, and the chops themselves are big and thick. They are not fatty in the least, and the sear on them is really nice, with a nice char on the outside, and a hot pink tender inside. The goat cheese smashed have a really nice texture, and the goat cheese has it's opportunity to shine here. The tang from the goat cheese is stellar, and the port wine reduction compliments both the lamb and the potatoes with some good pizazz. The Stefania cabernet was the absolute perfect pairing for this dish. By this point, we were all stuffed, but how could we possibly pass up dessert when we were having a great night, with great friends, and great conversation. Bus boy Kevin came over to take after dinner drink orders, and to tell us about the dessert specials. You want to talk about a nice young ma with great manners, this is him. This is the boy that every parent would love for their daughter to bring him. He is just a nice young man, and is very well mannered, and he knows the menu to a "t." John and Liz opted for some coffee and tea, while Zelda and I finished the last of our cabernet. . We opted to have the creme brule tonight, while John and Liz had the flourless chocolate decadence cake, and the chocolate pecan pie. The desserts that James makes speak for themselves, and as always they are a pleasure. All in all, what is there to say other than an awesome night with good friends, an incredible meal, and some of the best service around? It was one of those nights that we just didn't want to end, yet, at some point it had to, so we said our goodbyes, and stopped by The Cool Cricket in Fieldsboro on our way home for a nightcap, and to sing a few songs at karaoke. What can I say...I'm Filipino! I'll try to clean this up more when I get some time, as it is just thrown together with details, but it's a busy day, so I will have to get back to it! Also, please excure the pictures as they are from my Blackberry and do not do Matt's creations justice. I really need to get over my fear of looking like a dork, and start bringing the XLR with us for high quality pictures! Cheers! -F. Scott Oliver-A Bistro 218 Farnsworth Avenue Bordentown, NJ 08505 Phone: (609)298-7177

1 comment:

Deb said...

nice detailed review...i live in Bordentown, and Oliver is certainly our best restaurant...great little place in a great little town, come on by and see for yourself!