crab

Hearthside BYOB (Collingswood, NJ)

Road trip!  Well, is it really a road trip if you take a 2 and 1/2 hour drive just to eat at a restaurant and drive back?  I’d say yes.  I drove 5 hours to spend 1 1/2 hours inside of a restaurant just to dine at a restaurant that was referred to me by Leandro

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I told myself that if it’s a place that I want to visit and the world is aligning properly, than make sure I get to it.  Food makes me happy, other than Avery (my son), so I wanted to make sure that I had the chance to experience a restaurant that was considered top 50 restaurant by Bon Appetit.

I was able to get a reservation for 5 p.m. the day before because of a couple of cancellations due to the weather, but a little rain wasn’t going to stop me from making the drive to New Jersey.  Luck was on my side because when I got to the restaurant it was the most beautiful day.  I like to get to a restaurant early, because I like to choose my seat carefully for perfect lighting for photos.  Apparently, me and about 12 other people had the same idea because there was a line forming as soon as I got out the car.  The interior of this restaurant is spectacular.  Large windows, an open kitchen, and friendly staff all makes this place worth while.  Did I mention it’s a BYOB?  Yes, Bring Your Own Bottle.  Bring a few if you Uber’d or have a designated driver, because the amount of food you’ll eat will balance it all out.

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During my visit several dishes were ordered. Red Snapper Ceviche, Roasted Wedge Salad, Gulf Prawns, Tagliatelle, Squid Ink Pasta, and Scallops were the choices of the evening.  I’ll start this review off by giving you my thoughts on the Red Snapper Ceviche and the Roasted Wedge Salad.  The Red Snapper Ceviche included Oranges, Avocado, Potato Chips, and Cilantro.  I never would’ve thought to put Orange with raw fish but it absolutely works!  The Sweetness of the oranges to go along with the ocean flavor of the snapper was nothing short of spectacular.  The Avocado added the earthiness to the dish so that it wouldn’t be too sweet, and the potato chips added a nice crunch.  The dish was beautifully presented, had a nice fragrance, and an overall citrusy flavor.  This was my first time having Red Snapper Ceviche and it won’t be my last time thanks to Hearthside.  The next dish that was ordered was the Roasted Wedge Salad. I couldn’t pass this dish up because it’s something that’s not eaten everyday.  Wedge Lettuce that’s been grilled, tossed in aged balsalmic, blue cheese, and house bacon.  The smokiness of the bacon to go with the grilled flavor of the lettuce and the semi-tart flavor of the blue cheese worked brilliantly.  The Balsamic dressing wasn’t just any Balsamic dressing that you purchase down aisle 9 at your local grocery, it tasted as though it was mixed with a Honey Flavoring.

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The next few dishes that were ordered were the Tagliatelle and Squid Ink Pasta.  If a restaurant has Squid Ink Pasta on the menu, there’s a ten out of ten chance that I’m going to order it.  Something about Squid Ink Pasta makes me happy.  You know what really makes me happy about it?  When San Marzano (Italian tomatoes), Crab Meat, Aleppo Peppers, and Chives are added to it.  I’m typing out what I think about this dish, but I don’t remember chewing it.  And that’s unfortunate because I have no review to give to you.  But, on the brighter side, it was that good that I forgot that I had table manners that I couldn’t do something as simple as chew.  Sweet Crab Meat, Creamy Pasta, and Flavorful tomatoes were all worth me acting like a suction cup to this dish.  The next pasta dish was my least favorite.  It was a Tagliatelle that was mixed with Braised Rabbit, Swiss Chard, and House Pancetta.  That Tagliatelle was cooked properly, but I didn’t too much care for the what seemed to be a cheese topping on top.  I would’ve loved to get more of a smokey flavor out of the pancetta to go along with the gamey flavor of the rabbit, but it was over powered by the cheese.  The cheese made the pasta stick together, so you couldn’t get an even twirl on your fork, and I couldn’t describe the taste of the swiss chard because it was mixed in heavily with the rest of the pasta.  The dish was fine, but it just wasn’t for me, and that’s okay.  Not all dishes will be for you.

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The last dishes that were ordered were the Prawns and Scallops.  The Gulf Prawns were made with Garlic, and Chili Lime.  This was their sizzilin dish where the Prawns were grilled then transferred into a piping hot cast iron skillet to create a sizzle that’s presented table-side to you.  If you love Prawns as much as I do, then you’re in for a treat.  The simplicity of this dish along with the semi-spicy flavor of the chili lime was delicious.  Once you’re able to indulge in one Prawn you can’t help but to devour the others.  The absolute last dish of the night was the Scallops. It consisted of roasted corn, lemongrass, shiitake mushrooms, and tomatoes.  Besides the absolute perfect sear on these three larger than life scallops, were the perfect sauteed shiitake mushrooms.  Juicy, Lean, and Infused with the char flavor of the corn to go along with the Sea flavor of the Scallops was nothing short of spectacular.  I thought the Scallops were going to be Chewy because of how large they were, but they cut through like butter. This was a meal that you can eat by itself, and be satisfied your entire visit, but why would you want to order just one thing when the entire menu is interesting?

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Overall, Bon Appetit was correct.  This restaurant is one that should be recognized and worth a drive to.  The different flavors of each dish to go along with the creativity that Chef Dominic brings to the scene.  Kudos to the team!

OVERALL RATING : FIRST CLASS EXPERIENCE

 

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