People say a lot of bad things about New Jersey. The “dirty Jerz,” they call it. Or the “armpit of the universe.” I personally experienced all this Jersey-hatin’ firsthand when I went to college; when I introduced myself, saying I was from New Jersey, the most common reaction would be: “Ewwwww, you’re from Jersey?”
Now granted, they were joking around a bit. But the Garden State does seem to have a reputation for being smelly and grimy. And a lot of people I know also seem to find this place pretty boring.
And alright, we might not be able to compare to the magical city of New York, but I genuinely feel like my corner of New Jersey called Bergen County has a lot to offer!
Don’t laugh; the air is clean, the greenery is beautiful, and the towns are quaint. Not only that, but there are a lot of good eats to be found in this area. I’ve been realizing this more and more as I go on little adventures with my grandparents, showing them the WONDERS of Bergen county. Yes, there are wonders.
Let’s start off with the town of Ridgewood. My mom, my grandparents, Calynn and I went here the other day for a semi-fancy lunch out at the Village Green Restaurant, a place I’d found on (as usual) Yelp.
The main reason I chose to go here is because they’ve got a bangin’ lunch deal – a $19 prix fixe, with an appetizer, an entrée, and a dessert per person.
My mom and I also wanted them to have a taste of some fancy Western food, which we thought would be a nice change from the homey Korean food we’d been eating all the time.
And since there were 5 of us, we got to try almost everything on the menu; that’s a good tip for eating out: more people = more types of food!
But before we got started on our actual courses, the waiter came around with a basket for the bread service.
We had our choice of multigrain, rosemary, or cranberry-walnut breads.
None of us chose the cranberry-walnut, instead opting for the more savory choices. I got the multigrain, and although the it was tough and unwarmed, I appreciated that the Village Green gave its diners a choice from various breads. I just wish the bread quality was a bit better.
As an amuse bouche, the chef sent out ceramic spoons filled with goat cheese, roasted peppers, and microgreens. Although a tad salty, these tangy bites were a nice way to open up our meal. My mom didn’t care much for the goat cheese (she doesn’t like anything gamey), but everyone else liked it.
Alrite, now prepare yourself for the barrage of beautifully prepared, delicious, new American food…
My grandpa got the Shrimp and Avocado Salad with Verjus Blanc and Dijon Vinaigrette. Whoa. Fancy. He doesn’t like avocadoes too much, so he passed them on to me and my sister, but he seemed fine with the rest of the plate.
Calynn’s appetizer was the Baby Watercress and Blood Oranges Salad with Toasted Pinenuts, Krystal Pure Cave Cheddar and Citrus Vinaigrette. I was a little miffed because as you can see in the picture, THOSE AREN’T BLOOD ORANGES. They’re just regular clementines! The menu LIED. But other than that mishap, the salad was pretty decent. It was salty and sweet, with a mild spice from the watercress.
My mom got the soup of the day, which was a very summer-appropriate gazpacho. It was tart and sweet, probably made with pureed tomatoes, bell peppers, onions and spices. It was my mom’s first time trying a cold soup, and I think she liked it!
My grandma started with the Mild Crunch Tempura Aspargus with Dijon Mustard Emulsion Vinaigrette. Although I didn’t try this, the asparagus looked really well-fried (the battering is so light!). My family ate this plate clean, so I’m assuming this was a good-tasting appetizer.
And as for me… Well, there was one appetizer that was just calling my name: the Walnut Crusted Creamy Brie Cheese over Nectarines Warm Marmalade and Candied Nuts.
I mean, come on, it’s BRIE CHEESE.
Look at that ooey-gooeyness. DOES THAT NOT LOOK DELICIOUS? Why yes, yes it was. Crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside… This log of slightly melted brie cheese was so good. It was a little rich, but I didn’t let that stop me! I did think that the apricots underneath were a little too sweet, overpowering the wonderful taste of the brie when eaten together. So I left a few on the plate.
So, you know how each and every single one of these delicious look scrumptious? Well, this resulted in a crazy, criss-crossing of utensils across the table as we each offered everyone else bites from our plates, sampling the other appetizers. Yes, it got awkward at times. Yes, it might not have been good restaurant etiquette. And yes, I think the other people were giving us strange looks. BUT THAT’S JUST HOW WE ROLL. (Just kidding, if possible, you guys should try to avoid making a scene when at a nice restaurant like this…)
ANYWAYS. On to the entrees!
My sister got the Prince Edward Island Mussels Hot Pot with White Wine and Braised Black Garlic. Alright, now this dish might looks nice, but I think that this was the least favorite plate of the meal. The mussels gave off a really pungent, unappetizing odor, and although Calynn ate all of them, the mussel meat really didn’t amount to much. Luckily, the rest of my family shared their delicious entrees with her, just like we did with the appetizers.
My mom’s entrée was the Open Ravioloi with Wild Mushroom Ragout. An open ravioli? What’s an open ravioli? Well, it’s pretty much just a sheet of fresh pasta with stuff on top of it. I dare say that the pasta itself almost bordered on being raw, the mushrooms were DELICIOUS. They were buttery and rich, with an amazing umami, mushroom flavor.
My grandpa, being the hunter that he is (yes, he used to go hunting when he was younger!), got the Smoked Muscovy Duck Quesadilla with Wild Mushrooms and Onion Marmalade. I didn’t eat this, but Calynn liked it and said it kind of tasted like ham… I guess from the smokiness.
For my grandma, we ordered the Sliced Skirt Steak on Brioche Bun with Brie, Mushroms and Fries.
Look at those innards…. I get a bite of this either, but my sister (who LOVES skirt steak) ate an entire half. And honestly, just look at that cheese and that meat – how could that NOT be good?
My entrée was the Broiled Salmon, Broccolini, Oven Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Red Thai Coulis. WOW. SO delicious. The salmon was perfectly cooked – super tender, but not raw. And the orange sauce on the bottom was sweet and spicy, going really well with the salmon and the potatoes. And I love the bitterness of broccoli rabe, so this was perfect for me!
Whew. That’s it for the savory courses.
READY FOR DESSERT????
Calynn satiated her sweet tooth with a Blueberry Bread Pudding with Mascarpone, Berries, and Caramel.
My sister really, REALLY like this dessert – especially the crispy edges of the bread that were baked against the pan edge. And that says a lot about this dessert, especially coming from a person who doesn’t like cooked fruit.
My grandma and and grandpa both went for the classic Vanilla Ice Cream with Berries and Chocolate Syrup. I tried a small bite of this and it was good; not mind-blowing, but still a classic done well.
My mom’s “dessert” was an Assortment of Cheeses with Cranberry Walnut Toast and Quince. My mom’s been wanting to become something a cheese connoisseur lately, so she ordered this, but most of the cheeses were too strong for her taste. I tried every one of them and really enjoyed them all; some of the WERE very pungent, but in a good way. My mom doesn’t like the really strong or gamey cheeses, so I could see why she wouldn’t finish this plate.
And finally, my dessert was the Panna Cotta with Berries and Vanilla Ice Cream. Panna cotta is almost a pudding-ish dessert; it’s cream that has gelatin dissolved in it, so it’s soft but still holds it shape when you scoop it out. This one was really rich and delicious, with little bits of vanilla bean scattered throughout the ramekin.
Wowza. What a meal, huh? And for food this elegant at only $19 a person, the Village Green probably offers one of the best lunch deals in Bergen County. Although the restaurant wasn’t as awe-striking as a really fancy place you might go to in the city, this was well worth the price. I’d say this is a really good place to go to with family for a clean, elegant meal.
The Village Green
36 Prospect St
Ridgewood, NJ 07450