Kitchen 519 – Glendora, NJ
Sometimes the places you find off the beaten path turn out to be some of the best places to go to. This can be a difficult business model if you are a restaurant. Feet usually equally fannies in seats, so if you are not close to foot traffic or a busy downtown, word of mouth is what you may live or die by. Social media has made getting the word out a little easier, and that is how Kitchen 519 (K5) came onto my radar. If you do not know where they are located, they really just pop out at you from the middle of nowhere.
Stepping into K5 they have a lot going on in modest sized digs. From various paintings hanging around the place available for purchase, to an antique stove and apron setup, mason jar lighting, to random pieces of artwork surrounding the dining area and after peaking at the menu the only thing that comes to mind to describe K5 is eclectic to the max. One of the highlights were I thoroughly enjoyed the can of trivial pursuit on each table to play while waiting for the food. I would start things off with an order of Hoisin Calamari and a lemon-lime craft soda.
I normally do not list what I order to drink in most of my reviews, but K5 made such an impression I had to note it. The waiter came to deliver my beverage and while handing over the straw dropped it on the floor. He apologized and stated he would be right back with another one. Five minutes passed and upon walking it over, he dropped the next one on the floor as well. Again apologies abound and he again stated another straw would be delivered. He was not seen again until the appetizer was delivered and forgot the straw stating he would bring it out. This was a reoccurring theme as he forgot to bring it upon his visits with my main course and dessert as well, causing a new straw to never be delivered at all.
Now it is time to talk about the Hoisin Calamari. It consisted of calamari, hoisin sauce, pepers, onions, fresh basil, and house pickled jalapenos. I did enjoy this flavorful as it was out of the ordinary, combination worked surprisingly well, and is not something regularly seen. The menu stated the calamari was fresh. If it was fresh it was must have been overcooked or cooked much earlier in the day as the calamari was pretty dry giving it more of a frozen calamari texture and not moist or tender like you would get with nicely cooked fresh calamari. With a little more care, this dish could go from good to grand. My main course would be the Strawberry Citrus Salmon.
The main dish was grilled salmon with a strawberry glaze and citrus brown rice. Interesting concept, but completely misfired. The salmon was too well done causing it to be very dry as well as very salty, and the citrus brown rice was a little too much on the sour side causing a slight pucker like when eating a lemon. Not something I would recommend or try again. Some people would call it quits after such a dish, but I decided to order dessert. I would get bananas foster and a vanilla bean crème brulee.
Just when I thought all hope was lost with K5 they came into the final round swinging for the stars. The banana foster was sautéed bananas, butter rum sauce, vanilla bean ice cream, all on a cinnamon sugar tortilla shell. I was a little hesitant at first to accept the tortilla shell, but everything single aspect of the dish worked like a charm. The bananas were cooked perfectly, while all the gooey goodness floating around the dish, and the contrast of the tortilla shell to scoop everything up was just brilliant. I only wish there was one more spoonful of ice cream. As if that was not enough the crème brulee came out and bewildered me with a dollop of homemade whipped cream topping. Again something I had never seen. Well another stroke of genius for K5 as it was heavenly. The crème brulee was amazing, with a perfectly caramelized top, the vanilla bean filling was fabulous, and the whipped cream was simply phenomenal.
K5 was a mix of major ups and downs. If I had only come for dessert I would think they were one of the greatest places of all time, and thankfully was their saving grace the day I visited. The service was slightly below average and the dishes were conceptually intriguing causing them not live up to their potential. The décor is mishmash, but gives you a welcome feeling nonetheless. K5 is new. If they can iron out more of an identity not only in the ambiance, but also the menu I think they can be successful. With the menu they offer, you can tell the chef is very creative, willing to push culinary boundaries, and experimental. I applaud him for that, but just ask for a little better execution. Last but certainly not least, they may be better suited to just put pile of straws on each table.