Park & Orchard Finds Footing Under New Chef

In July 2015, Park & Orchard was sold to David Madison and Andrew Guarino, who completely renovated the restaurant by creating a new New York-style interior with black walls, booths, a bar that is about two-thirds the length of the restaurant and an open kitchen. What has remained, along with the name, is the same policy of using seasonal, local and organic ingredients with many options for vegetarians. Executive chef is Christopher Albrecht, who created a new menu and has an impressive bio. He has worked with Tom Colicchio, at the Gramercy Tavern and Craft Restaurant, both in New York City; Craftsteak in Las Vegas and New York City; and from 2008 to 2014 with the Terra Momo Restaurant Group, at Eno Terra in Kingston.

Everything on the menu read beautifully, but for the most part we found that the chef had a heavy hand with spices, which created unbalanced dishes. Note to chef: taste what is coming out of your kitchen, as what we had for the most part was not representative of your talents.

Hot focaccia served in a cast-iron skillet was crunchy and pleasantly different from the usual bread you get in New Jersey restaurants. A beautiful, bright-red peach and heirloom tomato gazpacho was a treat to our eyes but  unfortunately, all we could taste was vinegar. We do have high praise, however, for the creamy goat cheese fritters and would have loved more of the accompanying sweet carrot and honey puree, as it added so much more flavor and interest to this dish. Ricotta topped a half order of casaricci pasta with a five-mushroom Bolognese sauce. While the pasta was perfectly cooked, the sauce contained cinnamon which overwhelmed the dish. It went uneaten. Grilled wild-sockeye salmon with lemon and olive oil came with a choice of sides. We opted for kale and mustard greens and assorted mushrooms; the quality of the ingredients were fine and the salmon was cooked medium rare as requested.

Four desserts were offered: blueberry, peach and rhubarb cobbler topped with vanilla gelato; chocolate soufflé; three-cheese cheesecake and a brownie sundae served in a mason jar. We opted for the cobbler, but again the flavors were not balanced as ginger overpowered the fruit filling and the dumplings topping the cobbler were undercooked.

Vegetarian and vegan dishes are identified on the menu so kudos to the kitchen for not giving non-meat eaters second-rate status. Choices such as sweet kale salad; three grilled cheeses; linguini al pesto, five-mushroom Bolognese; and wheat-free lasagna are available.

Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday. An express lunch is offered Tuesday through Friday from noon to 4 PM, which includes a salad or soup & sandwich; or half pasta entrée; and coffee or iced tea.

Park & Orchard
240 Hackensack Street
East Rutherford

Park & Orchard gazpacho 1
Peach and heirloom tomato gazpacho
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
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