Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Can you top this $14 three-course dinner?

Eggplants-9902Image by graibeard via Flickr

I expected a line, but there was none. The menu said "no substitutions," but a server didn't hesitate when I asked for a piece of fruit instead of the day's dessert.

Davia Restaurant in Fair Lawn has been serving a three-course dinner with a small salad for $13.95 since it opened in 2009. Now, the early bird dinner is $14, though it is still listed at the old price on Davia's Web site.

The special menu offers a choice of 12 appetizers and 17 entrees, a house salad, a dessert du jour and coffee or tea, and you're asked to pay in cash. Service is excellent.

Appetizers included a cocktail of four large shrimp or mussels marinara, but I ordered eggplant rollatini. 

My entree late this afternoon was wild-caught lemon sole francese with vegetables, and I asked the waitress to hold the pasta, rice or potato I was offered and to ask the kitchen to prepare it without butter.

I'm cutting down on bread, too -- a good thing, because the sliced section of a round loaf  wasn't anything special.

The salad was one of the smallest I've seen in a restaurant, but it had romaine, a cherry tomato, a cucumber slice, carrot and red cabbage in a house vinaigrette.

My appetizer had thinly sliced, breaded and fried eggplant wrapped around ricotta cheese, with melted cheese on top, all of it a puddle of light tomato sauce. It was pleasantly gooey, but I couldn't taste the vegetable.

My entree had two pieces of moist fish fillet swimming in a sauce that could have used more lemon, and there were cooked fresh green beans and sliced carrot on the side.

I got a free refill of the cup of strong coffee that came with the meal, but the melon wasn't ripe. Never mind; it was far better for me than a piece of cake or whatever else Davia was serving for dessert.

The check showed the restaurant rounds up the 7% tax to $1, from 98 cents. I left a $3 tip on the cost of the meal ($14) -- more than 20% -- spending a total of $18.

I started my meal at 4:30 and by the time I left 45 minutes later, the place was half full.

The servers at this neighborhood restaurant knew many of the customers and asked if they wanted their usual drinks. 

Davia serves the early bird menu every day: Mondays to Fridays, from 4:30 to 6 p.m.; Saturdays, 4:30 to 5:30 p.m; and Sundays, 1 to 4 p.m. Reservations are taken for five or more.

Davia Restaurant, 6-09 Fair Lawn Ave., Fair Lawn; 
201-797-6767. Small parking lot in the rear.

Web site:

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