Another rainy Saturday night and another very good dining experience. I had made reservations for 6 at Anthony’s in Haddon Heights, NJ at 8:00 P.M. Late that afternoon, Jerry and Sue C. returned from their trip to Ireland, and what with Ireland not being the culinary capital of Europe, they were in the mood for a great meal so they decided to join us. Anthony’s was kind enough to add two more seats and after a short wait in the lobby, where our group paged through the latest copy of Hitzel’s Restaurant Magazine, we were guided to their upstairs dining room where we had an entire room to ourselves. Wines were opened and poured and Jerry showed pictures from his trip on his Ipod Touch while we scanned the menu and caught up on the latest news. Our server brought baskets of warm bread, butter, a dish of oil, and two plates of roasted veggies which we enjoyed while considering our selections. My wine for the evening was a Malbec from Patagonia, an area in the far south of Argentina, where the temperatures are far cooler. There is an interesting story behind this wine. I had received an e-mail from Moore Brothers in Pennsauken about ten days ago. They were singing the praises of this particular wine Patagonia Malbec Barrel Selection Fabre Montmayou 2007.
Their write-up on the wine made it tempting enough for me to decide to take a ride up to their store and grab a couple of bottles. Coincidently, the very next day I was at Monster Beverage in Glassboro and their it was, the very same wine for just 50 cents more than the price at Moore Brothers. It even had the familiar “Fleet Street Shipped at 56 degrees” which I thought was sort of a Moore Brothers trademark. Anyway, I was, and continue to be, puzzled as to how this wine which I thought was exclusive to Moore Bros. ended up on the shelves of Monster Beverage. The wine, however, was worthy of all the praise. At $13.00 this is an excellent QPR delivering tons of flavor. I am making a note to try and get back to Monster for a couple more bottles before it is gone so, if you are reading this, pay no attention and please, stay away from Monster Beverage for the next few days. Thank You.
Meanwhile, back at Anthony’s, in between spoonfuls of a delicious crab bisque, I am outlining plans for a trip next year to Napa Valley. Everyone seems interested and I am looking forward to it like a muslim would to a pilgrimage to Mecca. Now the entrees are arriving and I have taken my friend, Tom T.’s advice and ordered the selection which bears his name, the Crab Tomasso. It turned out to be an excellent recommendation as the dish was first class. It featured jumbo lump crabmeat sauteed with basil and garlic, fresh tomatoes and tossed capellinni in a blush sauce. The portion was large enough that I thought I might be taking some home but I kept going and before long my dish was clean. I guess I could have taken the purple orchid home but I wasn’t sure what kind of wine went with orchids so I left it on the plate.
Some of the other selections that my dining partners chose were: from left to right, Jerry’s veal chop served over risotto which he referred to as a cheesesteak risotto. He offered me a taste and it really was good. Joe B. and my wife, Kathy both had one of the seafood specials of the evening, the baked grouper. I heard no complaints from either one of them. Sue C. had the lamb, pine nut-crusted in a thyme and port reduction sauce with Yukon mash potatoes. The final entree was Barbara T.’s Wild Mushroom Ravioli. She said the sauce was wonderful and despite the fact that I am an avid mushroom avoider, I sampled hers and have to confess that it was very good. As with the other there was nothing but the flower left on her plate and as we continued the conversation we ordered a couple of desserts to pass around. There was a round chocolate cake that was delicious and others shared a warm apple cinammon concoction with blackberry sorbet. Just before the check was presented, our waiter surprised us with a home-made concoction he refered to as Chococello, a very unique imitation of the lemoncello that so many local Italian restaurants serve as a perfect ending to the meal. This chococello was a big hit and although we all would have liked to have more, it isn’t available in any stores that we know of as it is simply a drink made and bottled by the owner.
Anthony’s bills itself as “creative Italian cuisine” and our dinner certainly lived up to its billing. I’m certain there will be future visits scheduled for this restaurant. All of us were pleased with the entire dining experience.