Street smarts

Since opening its doors in 1992, Etsy Street has been a go-to place for fine dining. And while it was always on the short list for return visits, if you haven’t been in a while, it’s time to go back.
Etsy
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Since opening its doors in 1992, Etsy Street has been a go-to place for fine dining. And while it was always on the short list for return visits, if you haven’t been in a while, it’s time to go back. The restaurant’s recent reinvention—clubby, library-inspired interior with real (good!) books on the shelves; lounge-like lighting; an eclectic American menu reimagined by long-time chef Adam Weiss; a wine list expanded from all-American to international—has resulted in a flavor-and-mood makeover to be savored.

You’ll notice the menu has been elegantly edited to feature influences from Asian to Southwestern, Italian to Greek. And Weiss does a stellar job of staying loyal to a dish’s origins while adding his own accent.

 

He swaps chunks of tender fi let mignon for pork or vegetables in his wonton appetizer, envelops them in the paper-thin wrappers, then steams them in a delicate dashi broth made complex with the addition of wild mushrooms. The outcome is a heady blend of East meets West, with the filet holding fast to its robust flavor.

A soft-shell crab becomes a component in a breadless BLT: Panko-crusted, it’s layered between greens, tomato and crisp slices of applewood-smoked bacon. The trick is to get the layers in your mouth all at once, rather than allowing them to deconstruct on the plate. Master this—making sure you get a dab of the tomato remoulade on your fork—and you’ll love how the crisp and the crunch of it stack up.

As it happens, crisp turns out to be the winning texture in Weiss’s lobster Caesar salad too. Credit goes to the Balthazar croutons, which upstage the seafood. That’s not to say the salad isn’t good—it is. But at $22, it should be the lobster you remember.

 

If you want some greens, better to try a side of braised collard greens. They came with the Cajun jumbo grilled shrimp ’n grits, and they shone in all their sweet-pungent deliciousness. The dish itself is a little of this, a little of that—all of which is good. Four meaty shrimp stand guard around a polenta cake with the collards as its crown and corn and scallions as its throne. Chipotle gives everything a slight but satisfying smokiness.

Beautifully grilled branzino (it’s boned, so no worries) perches upon super-smooth baba ghanoush and tender whole-wheat couscous, both of which make earthy Mediterranean counterpoints to the rich-tasting Mediterranean fish.

Desserts are also first-rate. For fans of coconut, the “cocotufo” is a must-try. Your waiter pours chocolate sauce over a big scoop of coconut ice cream; within seconds it hardens into a shell, creating an original twist on Italian tartufo. Grilled brown-sugar pound cake turns out to resemble two thin slices of French toast without the eggy coating. It doesn’t quite have the dense, buttery fl avor or texture of classic pound cake, and grilling leaves it on the dry side, but with the cinnamon ice cream and blueberry sauce it makes a lovely end note to a wonderful meal.

Esty Street
86 Spring Valley Road,
Park Ridge, 201-307-1515;
www.estystreet.com

Hours:
Lunch: Monday through Friday, 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m.
Dinner: Monday through Thursday, 5:30–10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30–11 p.m.; Sunday, 5–9 p.m.
Sunday brunch: noon–4 p.m.

What you should know:
• Entrées average $31
• Full bar
• “Nourishing Traditions,” specially prepared healthful dishes featuring seasonal ingredients, served daily
• Reservations recommended
• Handicapped accessible
• Major credit cards accepted

Categories: Bergen Health & Life, Home & Style Features, Homepage Features, Restaurants Features