The Reserve, 71 Union Ave. in East Rutherford has fine, delicious food in a streamlined environment. The beautiful half-circle mahogany bar just past the entranceway is one of the few decorative touches in the otherwise minimalist design of the rooms that are painted in monochromatic cream and taupe. The beautiful, high-gloss cherrywood floor provides a nice contrast with the shades of white.
The carved wooden tables and chairs in the main dining room are unadorned except for the white candles and water goblets, which give the place a simple elegance.
When we sat down, a waiter immediately came to our table to fill our water glasses and brought a basket of hot sour doughbread served with butter. Even with both of the party rooms booked, there were always staff members visible, including one of the owners on the night we were there.
To start with we tried the spicy rock shrimp appetizer. The delicate shrimp were cooked in a garlic wine sauce, lightly breaded and sautéed with green and red cherry peppers. The hot peppers paired with the shrimp blended well and had a nice kick.
Other appetizers included: antipasto, crab cakes, baked brie, shrimp cocktail, calamari, mussels, spinach and artichoke dip, and more. Appetizers are reasonably priced from $7.95 to $14.95.
Then we split the grilled salmon salad.
The salad had mixed greens, hearts of palm, grape tomatoes, and fresh mozzarella with a large filet of salmon resting on top. Everything was lightly coated with one of their specialty dressings, basil shallot vinaigrette. We loved the salad, which was served family style in a large bowl to split. The amount of dressing was perfect and the broiled salmon was tender and delicious. It was great as an appetizer or would be a fine meal for those with a smaller appetite.
We didn’t know our entrees came with the house salad, which was brought after the salmon. This signature dish included iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, thinly sliced red onion, and chopped salami and provolone, which was lightly coated with their house vinaigrette. The Reserve has great salads that are made with fresh, crisp vegetables and prepared to order.
Other salads include: Caesar ($6.95), steak salad ($12.95), and goat cheese and pear salad ($8.95).
For dinner we ordered the Filet Mignon and the Florida Red Tilapia Filet. The Filet Mignon can be ordered in an 8 or 12 oz. size, and there is a choice of toppings and sauces.
I chose the roasted mushrooms and the whiskey peppercorn sauce. The meat was perfectly grilled and had excellent flavor from the rich sauce that was loaded with whole peppercorns, which made extra salt or pepper completely unnecessary. The juicy, lean meat literally melted in my mouth.
The roasted button mushrooms are marinated in olive oil and seasoning. The steak was served with a large scoop of real mashed potatoes and the mixed vegetables of the day, which were broccoli, carrots, and zucchini. My companion and I thought the vegetables were some of the best we’ve ever had. They were tender and had a smoky flavoring to them, much like they would when cooked on the grill.
According to George Gagis, chef and part owner, the vegetables are sautéed in garlic and olive oil, which gives them flavor. Then they are finished in the oven. The tilapia filet was broiled with lemon, paprika, and seasoning. The tender white meat of the fish had a mild flavor. This dish was served with the mixed vegetables and roasted Red Bliss potatoes.
The Reserve specializes in private parties. With three private rooms, they can accommodate groups from 20 to 150 people. They have many packages to choose from including: three dinner packages; a business breakfast; and a luncheon meeting. In addition, buffet style service is available.
The restaurant is open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 to 3 p.m. Dinner hours are: Monday through Thursday from 4:30 to 10 p.m., Friday from 4:30 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 5 to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 2 to 9 p.m.
Reservations are not required but recommended.
We were full after all of the delicious food, but decided we had to try a dessert after our waiter Travis came by with the display. We tried the chocolate melange, which is a double chocolate cake that is served with strawberries, chopped walnuts, whipped cream, and chocolate sauce.
It was fantastic! We were told by the chef that it is flavored with Godiva liquor. Other desserts include: a mango parfait, apple crisp, bananas foster, orange crème brulee, and fruit palate. All desserts are $6.
They also have a selection of specialty drinks, like the frozen tiramisu, which makes a great dessert beverage. All the dining rooms are non-smoking, but you may smoke at the bar.
The Reserve is located at 71 Union Ave., East Rutherford. For more information, please call (201) 460-0199 or visit: www.reserverest.com.