Give Me Liberty, But Please Not the Salmon

Photo by Tracy Wong

Today marks the final day of Hudson Restaurant Week. For those unfamiliar with the week (and a half), it is a bi-annual event taking place in Hoboken, Jersey City, Weehawken, and a few other locations in Hudson County where restaurants show off their food with a prix-fixe menu. For those who are just as clueless as I was, a “prix-fixe menu” means a menu with fixed courses and prices that you choose from, all totaling the same price at the end. The point of these menus is to offer customers a chance to try a restaurant’s food for a fraction of the cost. How fortunate for us poor college students who want a taste of that fancy, boujee adult life. Although on a smaller scale, shorter, and starting a little earlier, Hudson Restaurant Week mirrors its predecessor, New York Restaurant Week. 

This week, I actually decided to venture into Jersey City, near Liberty State Park, to try a restaurant that I would never have even considered going to on a normal day: Liberty House Restaurant. Liberty House Restaurant can be found near the water, in a spot with a gorgeous view of the city. It wasn’t Castle Point but it was definitely a great spot to sit, eat some fancy food, and think, “how lucky am I to be here?”

In terms of price, the prix-fixe meal included two courses: a choice of appetizer or dessert and a main dish. The price: $20 not including tax and tip. This is actually one of the most expensive lunch meals on the list, so I had high expectations.

I eventually decided to order the seared Atlantic salmon and calamari appetizer. I also got to taste the pappardelle with pork bologna – a fancy name for pasta – and the dessert, an apple crustada with vanilla ice cream. Looking around, it was very apparent that I stuck out, like a college student clearly only there for restaurant week. Many of the diners around were older and dressed very well. Even the set up of the table described the vibe of the restaurant. When there are multiple course forks, you know it’s fancy. There was also a great view of the skyline and even the waiters were dressed very nicely.

We started first with some bread with a selection of three different, I guess they were dips? One tasted like a paste made of olives, tangy and lumpy but soft. The other was a simple yet fragrant olive oil, and my personal favorite was the spicy hummus. Then came the calamari. I really enjoyed the presentation and they were very crispy. It was chewy and went very well with the mayonnaise-based sauce that also came with it.

Next came the main courses. I was surprised at the presentation. The salmon piece lay on top of the bamboo rice blend and an acorn squash coulis slice that resembled the shape of a flower.  There were roasted Kohlrabi around the plate, I ate it but am still not sure I know what it actually is, and a sweet baby pepper sat on top of the salmon. It was quite a sight. But the taste was even more unexpected. The salmon was pretty standard, fully-cooked with a nice semi-crunchy sear on the outside. The bamboo blend was not very flavorful, but it had a nice grainy texture. The mystery vegetables and squash were unexpectedly sweet. I guess it is because I am not a huge squash fan, but it was definitely a unique approach to a salmon dish. It gave it a fall flavor and reminded me of pumpkin pie or smelling a fall-scented Yankee Candle. As for the pasta, I only sampled a bit of it, but it did not really taste like anything special. The dish consisted of mushrooms, crushed tomatoes, grand padana cheese, spinach, bell peppers, brandy, and cream. I tasted some above average noodles, a tomato based sauce and some pork meat sprinkled in. Perhaps my taste buds are not evolved enough to appreciate the dishes, but I was not the biggest fan.

Finally came the dessert. Thank god we ordered dessert. The only option for dessert was the granny smith apple crustada vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce. It was pretty small and looked a bit strange, but when I took my first fork-full of the crustada with some ice cream, the lunch was saved. The layered puff pastry kept inside it a trove of warm apples, sweetened in an equally warm sauce. When combined with the chill sensation from the ice cream, the two melted together in my mouth in a sweet, thick, creamy pair.

In short, I think Liberty House Restaurant started on a good note and ended on a good one too. The middle, which I think is the most important part, was questionable. Perhaps I should have given the Artichoke, Prosciutto, & Wild Arugula Flatbread a try instead, but in my head, that would have been a lot of bread. I’m disappointed that both the salmon and pasta let me down, but I did think that the calamari, dessert, and service were spot on! I think the waiter came to refill my water and check on the table more than five times. So would I come again? Maybe. If there was a very special occasion or reason. They also let me go to the second floor, which is where the room for parties and weddings is located, and it was beautiful! But I definitely wouldn’t order that salmon dish again.

 

Pro Tip: Read the full description of the dish (I freaking love salmon but I also borderline hate squash)

 

Cost-

This is based on the restaurant week price – normally it would be too much. Even thinking about it now, I could have gotten two Vivi’s rice bowls with the money spent on this meal!

4/5

 

Location-

Low rating because 1. It’s not in Hoboken 2. It was still quite a walk after getting off the lightrail. It would have been a ⅖ if it hadn’t been for the cool path I took that I had to walk through a boat parking lot to get to the restaurant

Convenience rating: 2.5/5

 

Service/Service Speed-

Great service. I also went in without a reservation (I guess that’s a thing in fancy restaurants such as this one. I wouldn’t know :’) ) but was still seated!

Service Rating: 4.5/5

 

Overall Rating: 3.5/5

~This was not the best place I tried for Hudson Restaurant Week, but it also cost the most and was the farthest. The service was great, and the food was honestly not terrible as well, but I guess I overhyped myself for the food. I did think it was a fun adventure and definitely a different scene from Hoboken too! I would definitely want to venture more into the food spots in Jersey City in the future.