Elegant dining and nouveau-Latin cuisine in Union City Park Avenue Bar & Grill offers dining, entertainment
by Diana Schwaeble Managing Editor
Feb 20, 2008 | 778 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Park Avenue Bar and Grill located in Union City gives diners plenty of options, with three floors to choose from and weekend entertainment.

This stylish restaurant and bar, which owner Karl Halligan opened last May, blends old-world charm with creative food and cocktail combinations.

The establishment is open seven days a week, for lunch, dinner, brunch and cocktails.

The atmosphere

Walking in, one can't help but notice the stunning floor-to-ceiling bar, which spans a wall. The design pairs the old with the new. There are dark wood shelves behind the bar and a chic industrial-looking Silestone bar top, a quartz blend that looks like marble, but has a depth of color and durability.

Mirrors behind the bar reflect light throughout the downstairs cocktail area, making one feel as though they've stepped into a hip lounge that one would expect to find in Manhattan.

Adding to that feel is the extensive cocktail list that includes luscious blends of fresh fruit and specialty liquor.

There's the "Sinatra" which blends Stoli O, peach schnapps, fresh pineapple juice, and a champagne topper.

Then there's the always popular sangria, which comes in red, white, or sparkling varieties.

Another specialty drink is the bar's Mojito, which comes in nine tempting varieties, including the classic, peach, pear, and nut and berries.

Yet, the downstairs bar area is only one option available for guests.

The second floor dining room offers a more intimate experience for diners looking to relax after work.

Those looking for a destination evening can enjoy dinner and then escape to the third floor lounge, which becomes a hot nightspot on the weekends with DJ music.

And in the spring, they will open their rooftop and courtyard areas, letting guest enjoy the spectacular Manhattan views and fresh air.

Tempting starters

On a recent Friday night, my companion and I dined in style in the upstairs dining room, which is arrayed with stunning chandeliers and a beautiful working fireplace.

There is an array of food for hungry guests to choose from, including salads and ceviche for the more health-conscious, and other tasty Latin inspired dishes like the homemade guacamole and the empanadas.

Everything is homemade on the premises with care by Chef Jacino Saenz, who boasts over 12 years experience in the business. Saenz collaborates with owner Halligan on the menus, which change every season.

According to Saenz, for the spring the menu will include lighter fare for the calorie-conscious, and some of the summer dishes will include seasonal fresh fruit.

We started with the Park Avenue empanadas, which include three different varieties that are perfect to share.

The empanadas arrived sliced into triangles with a selection of beef, chicken, and mushroom. The meat and vegetables were stuffed into a light pastry shell, and each came with a different dipping sauce. The smooth chipolte mayo sauce is flavored with peppers, capers, and lemon juice and went well with all the varieties. The lighter, tangier cilantro vinaigrette had texture from the avocado, which we tried on the chicken empanada. Those with a sweet tooth will no doubt love the sweet guava paste.

Yet our favorite was the delicious mushroom and gorgonzola cheese empanada that is a signature item.

Other appetizers include: chowder of the day, warm goat cheese salad, a pot of mussels or clams, turkey spring rolls, and more.

The appetizers are reasonably priced from $8 to $14.

Entrees

Next, we decided to try the grilled skirt steak and the grilled salmon.

The grilled skirt steak came with delicious fried tostones (green plantains) which my companion said were "great with a just hint of garlic."

The meat, which was marinated in the chef's blend of spices (black pepper, bay leaf, garlic, and cilantro), was then grilled to perfection. Also lovely was the side watercress salad that came with a homemade dressing.

The Atlantic salmon was a beautiful filet that was tender and slightly pink. Every mouthwatering bite was delicious. It came with a heaping portion of shrimp mashed potatoes.

According to Chef Saenz, the shrimp are lightly grilled and then diced before they are mixed into the homemade potatoes, which gives each bite a unique flavor and texture uncommon in regular mashed spuds.

Topping off the salmon were fresh grilled asparagus. The dish was garnished with a delicate beet glaze.

Other entrees include: pan seared mahi mahi; sea bass; chicken breast stuffed with prociutto, mozzarella, and basil; Cajun penne pasta with sliced chicken, and mushrooms served in a cream sauce; braised pork; Filet Mignon and others.

The entrees are priced from $22 to $30.

Side dishes are available as well, including: rice & beans, steamed vegetables, French fries, sautéed spinach and more.

Dessert

Even though we were stuffed, we still managed a few bites of their fabulous desserts - and we weren't sorry!

We sampled the banana bread pudding, the chocolate chip, and their newest dessert - the carrot cake.

The pudding was an infusion of banana with the warm, banana bread and a scoop of banana ice cream. It was topped with a crispy, light plantain cookie.

Chocolate lovers won't be able to resist the rich decadence that is the "35th Street Chocolate Chip." The oversized cookie is bursting with melted chocolate and topped with sweet vanilla ice cream.

Although we enjoyed both the pudding and the cookie, we loved the carrot cake! Forget what you know about regular boxed cakes - this homemade carrot cake is a perfect miniature cake with icing all around that is light and sweet. There are delicate hints of spice without overpowering the palate and the cake itself is incredibly moist.

To finish it off, we enjoyed their rich brewed coffee.

Other desserts include: apple crumb cake, chocolate lava cake, Kahlua mocha coffee flan, and sorbet.

And...

In addition to the regular fare, guests can also book a private party in the restaurant that includes specialty menus. And at the end of the month, off-site catering will be available.

The third floor lounge area is open every Thursday to Saturday during the winter and will have extended hours in the spring and summer.

Every Thursday is "Salsa at Sunset," which includes free dance lessons at 9 p.m. and dancing all night long. The Rooftop and courtyard dining areas will be open in the spring.

The restaurant is open every day. They serve lunch Monday to Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Sunday brunch from 11:30 to 3 p.m. Dinner is served from 5 to 11 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, and on Friday and Saturday the kitchen is open until midnight.

All major credit cards are accepted and reservations are recommended for large parties.

Valet parking is available during dinner Thursday to Saturday.

The Park Avenue Bar & Grill is located at 3417 Park Ave. in Union City. For more information, call (201) 617-7275 or visit: www.parkavenuebarandgrill.com.

Comments on this story can be sent to: current@hudsonreporter.com.
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