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When I read in the paper that fish tacos were the most popular dish at the new Red Hen Bistro, I planned to have our one weekly dinner out there Saturday evening. The Wood-Ridge restaurant also offers fish and chips, a dish my son loves almost as much as the tacos.
Well, we were disappointed, and despite trying to eat a healthy meal, we ended up with a lot of fried food bordering on greasy. But Chef-Owner Carlos Valdez promised to make us soft fish tacos the next time, and comped us with a wonderful bread pudding and coffee.
Valdez says he is Mexican, yet his St. Helena fish tacos (3 for $9.95) were served in brittle, fried tortillas that fell apart as we tried to eat them. When we asked for a hot sauce, all the kitchen had to offer was a tepid chimichurri. He said the next time, we should specify that we want two soft corn tortillas for each taco, the way they are served in the Pueblan taco joints in Passaic city.
The fish and chips ($13.95) were another problem. One piece of haddock came in in too much fried batter and was accompanied by roasted, not fried, potatoes. Yet, the delicious roasted potatoes were a welcome break from all the greasy food.
I started with a refreshing Little Bistro Salad, organic greens, croutons and champagne vinaigrette ($5.95), and we shared an order of excellent truffled frites ($4.95) with truffle oil, herbs and shaved cheese.
We are not dessert eaters, but the complimentary bread pudding with Bing cherries -- served in a puddle of white chocolate -- was delicious and not too sweet.
The menu is filled with comfort food, such as wild mushroom risotto and Croque Madam, a grilled ham, cheese and fried-egg sandwich. A special was cassoulet, the white-bean stew, with crispy duck leg, but we're not eating meat. More detailed menu descriptions would avoid confusion, such as with the fish tacos.
The storefront has a comfortable interior, and you can bring your own beer or wine. But there is only one off-street parking space, and street parking is limited. We parked on a street off Moonachie Avenue. An off-note in the dining room was the constant sound of dishes being washed.
Red Hen Bistro, 525 Moonachie Ave., Wood-Ridge;
201-728-4501. Open Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.