Thursday, August 4, 2011

Best $18 lunch in North Jersey?

BranzinoImage by joannova via Flickr
A fresh branzino says, Here's looking at you.

After enjoying an $18 lunch at one of North Jersey's best seafood restaurants today, I recalled my two recent trips into Manhattan and the up-and-down experiences I had with a $24.07 lunch during the Restaurant Week promotion.

Two friends invited me to have a fixed-price, three-course lunch at Nisi Estiatorio  in Englewood, and I couldn't have been happier with the company and the food.

Nisi has $15 and $18 fixed-price lunch menus, and we chose from the latter. One choice on the $15 menu is a crispy cod sandwich, listed at $12 a la carte.

I started with Greek gazpacho, a delicious vegetable soup with floating squares of feta cheese and a cheese crisp across the top of the bowl.

My entree was grilled branzino fillets with capers and extra-virgin olive oil, and there were two on the large fish-shaped platter, presented skin-side up so I could see the grill marks. 

Essentially, I was served the whole fish, also called European sea bass, minus the head and tail. 

The flesh was moist and delicious, and I loved the side dish of wilted greens the Greeks call horta. I doused them with a fragrant Greek olive oil on the table.

A simple fruit salad made a great dessert, though my friends tried and loved the Greek rice pudding.

To think: no toll, no bus fare and no surprises. Here's a lunch of high-quality ingredients at an unbeatable price.

We also had a terrific, talkative waiter who was equally at home discussing the over-fishing of Chilean sea bass, the ocean farming of branzini and the poor treatment of left-handed people.

Nisi Estiatorio, 90 Grand Ave., Englewood; 201-567-4700.
Fresh fish on ice, valet parking, liquor license.

Web site: From meatballs to octopus

Target groceries

I couldn't find any organic, lactose-free milk at ShopRite in Hackensack on  Wedneday, so I stopped at Target in Hackensack on the way home from the gym this morning.

I saw sweet potatoes for 89 cents a pound, but the new grocery section has no scale. Many items are priced per piece, such as 24 cents for a banana.
Logo of Target, US-based retail chainImage via Wikipedia
The new grocery section needs a scale.

Market Pantry is the Target house brand, and a half-gallon of 2% non-organic, lactose-free milk was $3.19, compared to $3.59 for the same size of Lactaid milk. 

Organic, lactose-free milk is as high as $4.99 for a half-gallon at ShopRite. I didn't see any organic, lactose-free milk at Target.

The cashier said Target gives shoppers a 5-cent credit for bringing a reusable bag. Mine were in the car.

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