Restaurant Review: The Peddler

This popular Cresskill hangout dishes out good vibes and even better food.

Many mourned (customers were literally in tears) the old Hungry Peddler when the longtime Cresskill bar and hangout closed earlier this year. It was a place where locals visited to find comfort and solace as much as they went for the food and drink. Friends met there to watch the big game, and families gathered for special occasions.

But like a long lost friend, the establishment returned, reopening as The Peddler in a new location down the street. And it brings with it the same menu and neighborly vibe that loyal patrons loved about the former place.

On a recent visit, my dining companion and I opted for a cozy booth on the left and quieter side of the building, a tough decision given that the spacious bar area off to the right was full of the energy that we normally crave. (The Peddler’s several big screen TVs and lengthy list of brews probably had something to do with that fun environment.)

We shared our starters— lightly battered fried calamari and grilled portobello mushrooms filled with gorgonzola. To our delight, the calamari was only lightly battered, allowing the taste of the squid to shine. The mushrooms arrived on a bed of arugula, tomato and cucumber and served with a balsamic dressing, which helped neutralize the prominent flavor of the cheese.

Having never dined at the former Hungry Peddler, my friend was surprised at the range of entrée options. She ordered the sautéed lemon chicken breasts with artichokes and a side of capellini. The dish typically comes with rice, but no one made a fuss when she asked for the pasta substitution. The flour coating around the chicken was unexpected, but alas it gave the plate added flavor and a comforting “chicken francese-type” feel. The portion size, she noted, was overly generous.

Being a meat lover, I was attracted to the sizzling rib eye. Similar to how fajitas are delivered to a table in a Tex-Mex restaurant, The Peddler brings this dish out on a sizzling and smoking platter—it made heads turn and mouths water. The kitchen slightly misfired on the steak’s temperature (I asked for medium rare, but the meat was medium), but it was still juicy and bursting with flavor. The accompanying sautéed onions and green beans made this course even more satisfying.

Though we were stuffed after our starters and entrees, we couldn’t help but glance at the dessert menu. The majority of the 20 options were varieties of cakes and pies— from a bourbon pecan pie to limoncello cake. We had to order, swollen bellies and all. Our choices, a slice of toasted almond cake and a piece of salted caramel cake, would satisfy any sweet tooth and were the perfect end to the meal.

And there will be a “next time.” Like one does with any old friend, you keep going back to them because of how comfortable they make you feel. That’s why The Peddler has so many customers who keep going back for more.

As we wrapped our visit, my companion finished the last drops of her beverage—a Blue Moon beer—and scanned the rest of the extensive drink menu. She noted that she would’ve been happy with any of the beers but would pair her next meal at The Peddler with one of its wines.

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