Based on that sketchy groundhog’s prediction, we have about two more weeks of the wet, windy, and sporadically snowy-ish weather before we shed our wools and thermal for fleeces and khakis.
But before we disrobe, there is one more winter event we need to celebrate: Hopewell Restaurant Week, which started this past Monday, March 5, is well underway. So, before you kick your never ending quest to be beach ready into high gear, pull up a chair at a table in one of the many eateries Hopewell has to offer and give your hand/eye/mouth coordination a refresher course.
Eleven area restaurants are participating and most are featuring something special for lunch and dinner with something for every palate so The Taste Chase showed some local love and checked it out. From Italian favorites, to Americana and bistro staples, every menu boasts the use of local ingredients from area farms. In addition to a dinner price fix menu, several places offer both à la carte and price fixed lunch menu designed to satiate your appetite and make that 2pm nap a reality.
Today, I grabbed some take-out from The Blue Bottle Cafe, located at 101 East Broad Street in Hopewell Borough. It’s been a while since I’ve been “Blue” and, in all honesty, I was on a bit of a mission to hunt down a particular item on their menu so I thought Hopewell Restaurant Week was a great opportunity to indulge. The Impossible Burger is getting quite the buzz online (www.impossiblefoods.com) as a serious vegetable based rival to your classic two all beef patties, special sauce…well, you know what I mean. Classics are hard to defeat unless they are so utterly antiquated that death is a mercy. I have a hard time thinking of a good solid burger being overthrown by vegetables, nuts, or lentils so I had my “bring it on” face working.
Deidre greeted me while Diane handed me their Restaurant Week menu. A pan seared seafood burger and housemade quiche were quickly considered but it was this “burger” that I came for. I placed my order and watched as plates of tasty salads and soups passed me by, some accompanied with come-hither aromas filling my nose. I peered towards the sunroom, a glass enclosed dining area dotted with patrons eager for lunch.
Four friends, Jane, Sarah, Cynthia, and Cathy occupied a cozy nook warmed by the sun as each eyed the plate of the others. The arugula salad with salmon sat in front of Cathy while Sarah had the same but with chicken. Both later said that their salads were fantastic and they genuinely seemed more than satisfied. Their tablemates, Jane and Cynthia seemed equally pleased with their selection of the seafood cakes.
At a nearby table, three other friends were indulging in dessert that I quickly identified as a plate of profiteroles drenched in what could be nothing less than a sinfully, hip expanding chocolate sauce. Stuffed with salted caramel ice cream, caramel sauce and the aforementioned sauce, one patron was making quick work of them but allowed me to take a picture before they were no more.
I turned around to see that my take out bundle was ready. I thanked the hostess, Deidre and wait-staff Diane and Lee for their kind company while I waited and I was off to see if all the hype was just that, hype.
When I got home, the burger was still quite warm so I was hopeful I didn’t ruin the experience for myself. Sitting down with the obligatory carbonated drink at my side, I applied the acceptable amount of ketchup on the bun, after a thorough inspection of the burger itself, which overtly looked like your classic burger patty.
I took a curious but skeptical bite. Right off the bat, you are hit with that beefy charred taste, a combination of salt with smoke and the texture was not unlike what you would get from a good burger in a specialty burger shop.
“That’s the Umami flavor,” informed Rory Philipson in a phone call later. Philipson, a pastry chef, who along with her husband Aaron a CIA grad as well, own The Blue Bottle. “This is probably the most unique thing on our menu. I have had vegans tell me they love it because, while they do love the taste of meat, they don’t want the animals harmed.”
The Impossible Burger, a textured wheat and soy based product, was dressed, California style with tomato, red onion and a slice of American cheese served on a buttery roll with fries and a side salad. By the way, you can’t get the Impossible Burger just anywhere. There are handful of local places that serve it and the next closest place is Philadelphia.
The verdict? I think it is a really, really good burger. It is well worth trying, as you will probably like it enough to finish it and to order it again. Whether it will sway a hard-core meat eater or T-Rex over to the green side, I don’t know but it sure hits all the key points: It’s juicy and has a charred beef aroma. It looks like a burger with a texture very, very similar to what we are familiar with. I really did enjoy it and — best of all — there was not a lentil or a black bean or some Little Shop of Horrors plant lurking inside ready to pounce.
I say go out and support local restaurants this week like The Blue Bottle. Come out and give The Impossible Burger a try or you can indulge in some other Blue Bottle specialties such as the potato gnocchi, Griggstown Pheasant, or the exotic pan roasted ostrich.
So, please take advantage of Hopewell Restaurant Week by leaving the Lean Cuisine meals alone and forsaking the Swanson Dinners. Take your hungry man, woman, and children and head into Hopewell any day this week and support your neighbors and friends who live and work in our township. Applebee’s isn’t going anywhere and if we don’t patronize those closest to us, our lack of support may cause some of the charm that we love so much to disappear.
As Will Mooney of The Brothers Moon calls restaurant week, “The most delicious week in Hopewell”.
Come and eat. They saved a seat just for you.
Here is a list of participating restaurants:
- Entrata – $21.00 pp 3-course price fix dinner.
- Peasant Grill – $20.18 price fix family entrees.
- Thana Thai Kitchen – $22pp dinner entrees.
- The Boro Bean – Check out their restaurant specials on twitter and Facebook.
- The Blue Bottle Cafe – $45pp 3-course price fix dinner entree. $20.18 for price fix lunch.
- Antimo’s Italian Kitchen – $35pp 3 course dinner. $20.18 3-course lunch.
- The Hopewell Bistro & Inn – Special Restaurant menu and pricing lunch and dinner.
- Brick Farm Tavern – $45.00pp 3-course dinner.
- The Brothers Moon – $43.00pp 3-course price fix dinner. $20.18 price fix lunch.
- Brick Farm Market – A la carte lunch menu.
- Nomad Pizza – The best Neapolitan Pizza this side of Naples.
See each restaurant’s menu and special being served this week at: http://www.eatinhopewell.com/. Come and eat. Bring family and friends. Yum it up.