For me, Red Bank is a town that’s always been associated with nice restaurants and good food. I was 10 years old when I first discovered The Bistro at Red Bank, circa 2004.The first meal I remember having there was for my mother’s 50th birthday. I ordered the penne alla vodka and I recall liking how the sauce was slightly pink and creamy.
I didn’t grow up in the Red Bank area. I’m from a small New Jersey suburb where the fanciest meal you can get is from a Longhorn Steakhouse (no disrespect, I dig their corn fritters). But to be transported to a town like Red Bank with its quaint streets and hip atmosphere, with all of its little shops – it has been, and still is, my favorite town in New Jersey.
That being said, the menu at Bistro blew my mind. At the time, I didn’t know this stuff existed outside of the Food Network channel:
Their sushi bar with steamed edamame (before anyone knew what edamame were). Their seasonal squash ravioli with toasted hazelnuts. Their Chilean sea bass crusted with wasabi and pine nuts. Their chocolate lava cake with its oozy chocolate center. Their teriyaki chicken with buttery mashed potatoes and charred asparagus – a simple dish I often (and still do) crave. It has since been remodeled. The same chicken accompanies scallion mashed potatoes and pineapple jalapeño relish.
Don’t get me started on that one.
But I’m always rooting for this place. It was my first introduction to “fine dining” or whatever that means as I have yet to dine in a Michelin-starred establishment. And yeah, before all you food writers have an aneurysm explaining the major differences between a bistro and a place like Alinea, just know that as a 10-year-old, cloth napkins and crazy tuna rolls were seemed so beyond sophisticated to me. I felt like one of those kids from Laguna Beach.
Now, I didn’t go to culinary school. I don’t call myself a foodie. And I’m no chef or NY Times critic.
My sole purpose with this blog is to document my journey as an eater. Food is tied to memory. And with each bite, each recipe, and each visit to a new restaurant, I learn more – about myself, about food, about people. It’s my favorite medium of study.
But I’m no different than the person sitting next me to in a restaurant or reading this post. I eat. We all eat. I’m just adding words.