This week, I have decided to discuss the fine art of coupon dining. Some restaurants that are trying to drum up new business will partner up with sites like Groupon.com or LivingSocial.Com and offer deals that will assist the Blue Collar Foodie in us all to afford their somewhat expensive cuisine. I am a member of both of these sites and get regular updates of the daily deals sent to my e-mail account. This way I never have to think about signing on to check what they are offering. These sites not only deal with restaurants but all sorts of local businesses that save you money on a regular basis.
While perusing Facebook one day, I noticed that my sister had just claimed a fantastic deal on LivingSocial.com for $50.00 towards food and drink for The Village Grille in Waldwick, NJ for half price. Since The Village Grille had been recommended to me on several occasions, I jumped at the chance to score this deal. Within minutes my transaction was complete and navigating the site's online purchase component was effortless. I had to wait a day or two for the deal to expire on the website in order to receive my certificate which was sent via e-mail, but once the mail was delivered it was easy to print.
With my coupon in hand, Lilly and I made our way to The Village Grille with a sense of anticipatory shame that can only be felt when one is going to use a coupon at an establishment that is considered, above that sort of penny pinching. As we walked into the restaurant, we were pleasantly surprised, we had expected a pretentious stuffy atmosphere, for some reason, but instead got a hometown tavern vibe. The exquisite brick and highly detailed wood work gave off the sense that we were dining in a mid-century cottage house. The warm and mood-enhancing lighting that was provided by the Tiffany-style lights that elegantly hang above each table only added to the quaint feel of this eatery. The shame of coupon dining suddenly began to vanish and after our server approached the table and informed us discreetly that he would deal with the coupon after the meal, it was all but gone.
The menu that The Village Grille offers is not only eclectic but also extensive. They offer mostly American fare but dabble in the exotic as well, like Mediterranean Flat Bread, Asian-inspired salads and a variety of tempting mussel dishes. It took Lilly and I quite some time to decide what we would be dining on. While we were analyzing the menu, we munched on the fresh bread and butter that were laid out on our table and imbibed a much needed cocktail. The Village Grille also offered seasoned olive oil that we could dip the bread in and a small bowl of olives as a welcomed addition. Lilly and I eventually came to a consensus on an appetizer and chose our entrées as well. We ordered the Edamame appetizer that was described as, steamed soy beans in their pods tossed with garlic ginger teriyaki sauce & served with cold sesame noodles for $7.95. I am not usually an appetizer type of person, because I do not like to fill up before the meal, but Lilly literally said she had a dream about this dish after reading the description, and I was unable to deny her the satisfaction of living out this subliminal food affair. For my main course, I could not say no to the BBQ Ribs for $21.95, which was described as; tender & tasty fall off the bone ribs served with French fries & coleslaw. Lilly decided on the Pork Chops for $18.95, which the menu declared were tender chops grilled or blackened and served with mashed potatoes, mixed vegetable and a delicious homemade chunky apple cranberry sauce.
After ordering, we were able to enjoy the home-like ambiance of The Village Grille and awaited the delivery of Lilly’s dream while discussing our weekend plans. The Edamame appeared and smelled wonderfully salty. I have always had my Edamame with a slight sprinkle of Sea Salt, but I never thought of using Soy Sauce to add the hint of seasoning they need. The addition of the ginger was extremely appetizing and brought the entire dish together. Lilly was disappointed by the side of noodles that were served with this dish, but we decided that was due to the fact that they were not hot or cold, as advertised, but lukewarm. All in all, we enjoyed the dish, and I learned that adding soy sauce to my Edamame instead of salt is a superb idea.
After the Edamame plate was cleared, our salad’s arrived. Lilly and I are huge salad fans -- we never like to eat a meal without the addition of at least a small salad. Some of our biggest complaints of dining at high end restaurants is the lack of the salad course, or the expectation that we will pay $10.00 extra for a simple house salad. Although there was nothing really special about the salad The Village Grille offered, or so we thought, it was a nice addition to the meal. We both ordered the Balsamic dressing and assumed it would be the standard store bought, bulk dressing that most restaurants offer for their house salad, but this was no ordinary dressing. It had a very complex flavor that did not overpower the taste of the salad, which transformed this ordinary salad offering into an extraordinary intermediate course.
With the appetizer and salads defeated, the main event made its way to our table. Both of our plates had an aroma that started my mouth watering. The fact that we were coupon dining made me feel that our portions would somehow be affected, but this was not the case. Our plates were full to the brim with pork and all the fixings. As we dug into our food, I let out a chuckle, as I went to pick up my first rib, and the meat literally fell off the bone. I still don’t know how the Chefs were able to place my rack of ribs on my plate without the meat jumping off the bones as it did when I attempted to pick it up. Not only were the ribs super tender but they were Über tasty, due to the amazing barbecue sauce that was liberally slathered upon them. I was then fortunate enough to try Lilly’s pork chops, and I was very happy with them too. The chunky apple cranberry sauce complemented the tender grilled chops perfectly, and left me wanting more.
Overall , The Village Grille gets a decent report card from the Blue Collar Foodie. The prices are slightly high and unless we scored the Livingsocial.com deal we most likely would have had to reserve this restaurant for a special occasion. The staff had no problem with us using the coupon and there were no issues at all when it came down to paying the bill. Our total was supposed to be $77.00, including tax and tip, but thanks to social media and the internets we were able to take the Village Grille Tour for a mere $52.00.
Overall: 3.5 out of 5
Taste: 4 out of 5
Presentation: 4 out of 5
Value: 3 out of 5
71 Crescent Avenue
Waldwick, NJ 07463
Monday through Thursday
11:30am to 10:00pm
11:30am to 11:00pm
1:00pm to 11:00pm
1:00pm to 9:00pm