Sunday, September 16, 2012

Red Parrot Bistro is no imitator

Pan Roasted Chicken at Red Parrot Bistro in Englewood.

"We use organic, antibiotic-free chicken and turkey. All our meats are grass-fed. We source our produce locally."

When is the last time you saw that pledge or anything close to it on the menu of a fine-dining restaurant in North Jersey?

Red Parrot Bistro on Englewood's Palisade Avenue is the closest thing you'll find to the Green Door Cafe, which served organic and naturally raised or grown food in Tenafly before it was closed by a fire in July 2010.

We had a fine dinner at Red Parrot on Saturday night in a dining room where only two or three other tables were occupied.

From our perch in the window, we saw a half-dozen couples or family groups wander by, stop to stare at the awning and look over the menu posted outside, and move on.

Red Parrot opened in July among a bunch of pricy restaurants on the east side of the tracks that divide Englewood, whose business district has a surprising number of vacant or shuttered storefronts.

In contrast, the cheaper, ethnic restaurants on West Palisade Avenue were bustling.

Flat bread, extra-virgin olive oil and a black za'atar thyme mixture.

When we walked in to keep our 6 p.m. reservation, we were greeted by Gary, the burly, good-natured chef-owner, who took my bottle of red wine and asked a waiter to seat us.

After we placed our order, the meal began with a bang.

Red Parrot has reinvented bread-and-butter service with a terrific trio: flat bread, extra-virgin olive oil and a pungent za'atar thyme mixture, some of the best I've ever had.

My mother-in-law started with a Mixed Greens Salad and Champagne Vinagrette ($8), and I ordered Caesar Salad ($10), which was large enough to share with my wife.

For entrees, we had Pan Roasted Chicken with mashed Yukon Gold Potatoes and Ratatouille ($23), Cilantro Shrimp Salad ($19) and grilled Ahi Tuna over Vegetable Lo Mein ($28).

Organic baby greens are used in the Mixed Greens Salad.

The large Caesar Salad was tasty, but could have used more dressing.
Rough-cut Ahi Tuna floats on sweet Vegetable Lo Mein broth.

A house-made Cilantro Lime Dressing accents the Cilantro Shrimp Salad.

We were pleased with our food, but I wanted more dressing in my Caesar Salad and a less soupy preparation of the Vegetable Lo Mein under my grilled Ahi Tuna.

Service from the two waiters was well-meaning, though the one who took our order didn't know the soup of the day (white bean and sausage) or ask me how I wanted my Ahi Tuna cooked (rare).

The menu offers good variety, including French Onion Soup, a grass-fed burger with truffled ground brisket, short rib and foie gras on a toasted brioche; and lamb shank.

But the choice of fish is limited to the endangered Chilean Sea Bass and bigeye or Ahi Tuna, both of which are high in mercury. 

I was hoping for a great piece of fish, such as hake, or even a whole grilled sea bass.

We were told one or two other seafood dishes weren't available Saturday night. Nor does the restaurant serve gluten-free or whole-wheat pasta.

The open kitchen at Red Parrot Bistro.

Three of us spent about $108, including tax and tip. 

Red Parrot Bistro, 51 E. Palisade Ave., Englewood; 201-568-2110. Open for lunch and dinner Mondays through Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

BYO. Metered street parking until 6 p.m., except Sundays, when the restaurant is open for private events.

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