The Red Hen – Swedesboro, NJ
Once you travel outside the cities of Philadelphia, Collingswood, and Haddonfield, which I call the Triangle of Tasty, the list of notable dining destinations seems to dwindle quite considerably. I decided to take a trip to the historic town of Swedesboro, New Jersey for some fun at the beautiful Swedesboro Lake Park also known as Lake Narraticon Park and a bit of shopping along the main street. After an afternoon of fun, the need to eat hit. I saw The Red Hen (TRH) and remember hearing of a new spot called Travo 13 when Terence Feury was cooking there, but TRH looked much more appealing with my two year old son in tow and advertised as a family friendly establishment, so I decided to give them a try. Family friendly TRH is indeed. Besides the bar area, eighty percent of the diners present had a family in tow, games and toys for purchase as soon as you step inside and kids eat free Monday thru Thursday. The décor is modern, hip and fun with the right mix of music playing. Service was friendly and efficient. The menu is a bit eclectic and they have a very nice craft beer selection. I would start things out with French Onion Soup.
The French Onion Soup was your standard variety and better than average, with a nice amount of cheese and bread throughout the bowl, but the onions could have been caramelized a little more. Next up would be calamari.
TRH would serve one of the better calamari dishes I have had in a long time. The calamari was so fresh, moist and cooked perfectly. Every bite was heavenly and was seasoned with Parmesan, pickled hot pepper, and lemon aioli. This dish alone paired with the Shock Top Banana Spiced Wheat beer I was drinking, I could leave TRH happy, but I pushed through for an entrée of grilled shrimp.
The dish consisted of shrimp marinated in a light teriyaki, lime and chili sauce accompanied with fresh summer vegetables. The dish had a great concept and flavor profile, but was executed terribly. The taste of sauce and rub on the shrimp was fabulous, but sadly the shrimp were so overcooked I could have used them as bouncy balls. The veggies were overcooked as well. The broccoli had no snap, while the squash and peppers were mush. Also, besides the top layer of broccoli, squash and peppers the rest of the pile was onions, onions, and more onions not cooked well. I can see where they were going with this dish and respected the combination except for the amount of onions, but was very disappointed after eating the perfectly prepared calamari.
TRH had a bump in the road with my main entrée, but I was so pleased with every other aspect of service, ambiance, menu, drinks, and meal, I will happily return. Hopefully next time they will just be a little more careful to pay attention to what they are serving for each course. Two out of three ain’t bad, but the with the shrimp dish it made them go from OMG to SMH IDK.
Three out of Five Stars