Spring is still aslumber, but if anyone can wake it up it’s ever-sunny Rosie Saferstein, here with her Final Friday of the month roundup. See you Monday.—Andrea Clurfeld
Lowell and I had a “do you remember” evening when we dined recently at Thai Kitchen, a BYO in the charming town of Chester. More than 20 years ago, we used to drive out to Chester, which we thought of as “the country,” to shop for bargains at the Chester flea market and dine nearby at Larrison’s Turkey Farm.
Larrison’s has been closed many years. Where the flea market used to be is now the Streets Of Chester Shopping Center. Among the storefronts is Thai Kitchen, a small lovely restaurant.
It has a large aquarium that caught our eye. It contained a weird-looking fish. The top of its head flared out like a church dome or a turban. We were told it was a brain fish.
Taking our seats, we looked at the menu. Specials were written out with their prices. Fortunately, brain fish was not among them.
The waiter answered our questions, recommended some dishes and checked on us often during our meal.
We started with fried dumplings filled with pork and chives, served with a ginger soy dipping sauce; chicken larb, vibrant with lime juice; and two buns stuffed with cucumbers, scallions and dry roasted duck. The duck buns were the only disappointment
Next we dug into Jay Ma Khoa, an abundant portion of sautéed eggplant, carrots, onions, red bell peppers, tofu and basil leaves in a spicy chili sauce. We shared that along with a plate of medium rare tamarind duck breast fanned across the plate and flanked by crunchy onion rings.
Gang Karee, a creamy yellow coconut milk curry of chicken, potatoes, long green beans, broccoli, onions, and bell peppers, was mild. It can be ordered with beef, pork, shrimp or squid.
The opposite of mild was the intense Rendang lamb curry served in a deep bowl with a side of crisp roti. The sauce was tasty; the lamb was tough.
Looking at the dessert menu, we skipped over caramelized banana, chocolate mousse cake, Thai coconut custard and sweet sticky rice with mango, and chose the colorful mango mousse cake with orange sauce. It ended our dinner on a refreshing note.
Items that sounded interesting enough to try on another visit were fried calamari with garlic, red onions and peppers; wild boar in spicy curry paste sauce; lamb chops in Thai chili pepper sauce; and deep fried whole fish with chili sauce.
Before heading home, we walked around the shopping center and were particularly impressed with Dean’s Natural Food Market and with Plow and Hearth, a charming outdoor/garden store.
Thai Kitchen is open Monday through Saturday for lunch and dinner; Sunday for dinner. We were told reservations are a must on weekends.
320 Rt 206 South, 908-879-9800 thaikitchenchester.com
ROSIE’S SHOUT OUTS:
Cinnamon Indian Restaurant, Morris Plains
Gather your friends who love Indian food to join you at this popular restaurant. The more who come the more dishes you can taste. Try the combination breadbasket of hot chewy naan, soft kulcha stuffed with onion, and paratha. Favorite dishes included: samosas, vegetable pakora, tikka masala, tandorri chicken or shrimp, lamb korma, and gobi masala with florets of cauliflower cooked with onions, tomatoes and spices. Also creamy dal makhani with black lentils simmered overnight on a charcoal fire. A must-have dessert is gajar halwa, a warm cinnamon carrot pudding (not on the menu, so ask if it is available). Open daily. A lunch buffet is offered Monday through Sunday and a dinner buffet on Sunday. BYO 2920 Route 10 W, Powder Mill Plaza West, 973-734-0040 cinnamonindianrestaurant.com
Divina is divine and always busy. You will need a reservation even early on a weekday. Burratta with roasted peppers and tomatoes or string bean salad are healthy starters or opt for any of their scrumptious pastas such as pappardelle alla Luca with fresh tomatoes, portabello and shitake mushrooms. Few restaurants offer chicken on the bone, four choices are available, and our large portion of chicken cacciatore was easily shared. Other recommended dishes are veal with wild mushrooms, any of their fish dishes and cheesecake for dessert. BYO 461 Bloomfield Avenue, Caldwell 973-228-5228 divinaristorante.com
Samba Montclair, Montclair
At this Brazilian restaurant, start with fried pastries filled with yucca and cod or the easily shared fried yucca with Brazilian pork sausage and sautéed onions. On Friday and Saturday, chef/owner Ilson Gonsalves offers feijoada, a hearty and filling Brazilian national dish, made with pork sausage, pork ribs on the bone, bacon, dried beef and black beans. My go-to dish is a colorful acorn squash filled with large shrimp in a creamy sauce. Passion fruit mousse makes a fine finish. BYO 7 Park Street, 973-744-6764 montclairsamba.com
Photos: Lowell SafersteinClick here to leave a comment