Every year we meet our niece and her husband for dinner at some mutually agreeable place between their home in Connecticut and my Mom's house in New Jersey. For three consecutive years, we met in the Tarrytown-Irvington, NY area. This year, niece and husband were attending a family function in Maryland, so it was convenient for them to join us in Montclair, NJ.
We always spend a lot of enjoyable time in researching different restaurants. This year we agreed on Costanera.
We had a reservation for 1:00 p.m. but we all arrived early, the restaurant was nearly empty just after 12 noon. Costanera is a BYO wine restaurant, and we were well supplied. We brought one bottle of California Cab Sauv, Carnivor vineyards; a bottle of Galician Albariño
, and a bottle of Portuguese Albarinho.
Our waiter was a fun sort of guy, good at advising us as to the options. One of our favorite parts of a restaurant meal is choosing and eating appetizers. We started with these crisp peanut, corn nuts and banana chip nibbles along with a zippy, creamy jalapeño based dipping sauce. (This was the spiciest thing in our meal.)
Our niece started with some delicate, tiny but pricey clams on the half shell.
Her husband got these fried Yuquita sticks, accompanied by a cold Huancaina cheese sauce. (sorry, but it looked like liquid nacho cheese sauce to me. The yuca
part was pretty good.)
Sra. Cuevas made a good choice in ordering this magnificent Chupe de Camarones
, a colorful shrimp soup enriched with a lightly poached egg and cubes of queso fresco. This could have made a light meal by itself.
She also ordered Tacu Tacu
a fried mash of rice and canary beans. I tried to dissuade her from ordering it, but she did, and it was pretty tasty, but overpriced at $6, IMO.
I had been dreaming of a starter of assorted cold raw shellfish, but the kitchen was out of oysters. Just as well, as I might have been let down by the mini clam component. So I fell back to my second choice, ceviche mixto
. The Peruvian style of ceviche includes choclo
or giant corn kernels (something like, but different than maíz pozolero
), and a hunk of sweet potato. The dish was notably less acidic and hardly picante compared to Mexican seviche, despite the presence of ají amarillo
in the marinade. It was light and fresh and enjoyable.
On to los platos fuertes
: the women decided to share a filleted broiled branzino
, or Mediterranean sea bass. It was simple, pure and honest. It was accompanied by a finely chopped relish of red onion in a citric juice.
Our nephew selected Seco Norteño,
or braised shank of lamb. The
serving was a suitable meal for Alley Oop, and came with roasted potatoes and canary beans.
I almost forgot to include what I ate: Pescado a Lo Macho
, which despite its name, was a delicate fillet of white fish (dare I use the word, "Tilapia"?), garnished with assorted seafood, in a light aji amarillo
Despite our near satiation, we succumbed to the lure of the dessert menu. To our disappointment, the kitchen was out of lucuma
ice cream. Niece instead had Pastel de Tres Leches
(which we inevitably have at every Mexican birthday party), nephew had Crema Volteada
, a dense flan
, and I had a warm Combinado Clásico,
a homestyle dessert of arroz con leche
and a fruity, purple gel, all served in the same dish.
|Pastel de Tres Leches|
|Crema Volteada (Flan)|
Three of us shared a large French press pot of pretty good coffee, one of the better deals on the otherwise rather pricey beverage menu.
We all had an excellent time. There were only a few duds, the clunkiest of which were tostones
, large, chewy, almost flavorless disks of fried platano macho
. These should be avoided.
Ambience: Woodmen of the World
Cost: Some nice lunch specials are offered everyday, at reasonable prices. Lunch Menu here
But to explore the greater depths and farther reaches of the cuisine, we ordered from the more costly dinner menu
So, for our meal for four, you may view the check here
Contacts and Location
Tel: (973) 337-8289
511 Bloomfield Ave.
Montclair NJ 07042
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