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South City Grill on Rt 17 in NJ - dinner report

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South City Grill on Rt 17 in NJ - dinner report

elvislives | Apr 29, 2003 05:54 PM

Finally checked out South City Grill (I'd asked about this place and for other RT 17 ideas a while back under the name "CB"...)

Here's what we found:

When we first pulled up and got a closer look we were a bit worried. Place needs to be painted, very dirty/old Astroturf looking carpet leading inside. But once inside place is in better condition and not run-down like the entrance. atmosphere inside is sleek modern and clean. host staff is friendly and helpful. Out waiter was EXCELLENT, lots of suggestions, detailed answers to questions about the different seafood they offer and preparations.

Good selection of wine and beer, reasonable prices ($5 for pints of good beer)

Appetizers:
Peruvian stone crab claws with dipping sauces were very good. Our waiter noted they were not as high grade as Florida stone crabs - but a nice change, and he was right! light flavor, great texture and 7 very meaty medium claws (with outer shells fully cleaned off) for $12 was a steal! Served on a cool metal box/tray packed with ice. But, the sauce that came with them was awful, like a bad orange syrup. so I asked for butter and lemon to try instead - and their melted butter was horrid! it tasted a little rancid and very oily (not at all like fresh drawn butter) we mystified that a place that specializes in seafood and lobster (high end at that!) could have such nasty tasting melted butter. thank god we didn't order lobster! (we almost both went for it)

Coconut shrimp were fantastic! - I get these often, cuz I like em, and I'd say these were the best I've in a long time! very fresh, large shrimp and great light batter with fresh shredded coconut. 6 big shrimp, so succulent and tasty! but again, a horrible sauce was served to dip in. menu said it was a horseradish orange sauce but just tasted like artificial orange flavored syrup, yuk

Bucket of roasted PEI mussels with wine and shallots - also GREAT - very nice mussels not too large, on smaller side, and tender. Good winey, flavorful broth. and the portion was HUGE.

All appetizer portions were very BIG, a nice surprise! (this was way too much food/appetizers for 2 people - but we couldn't eliminate :-)

Entrées:
The special whole red snapper - was filleted on both sides which were lightly fried and then stacked back on the whole fried body of the fish, with a pile of greens and black beans in the center - very nicely presented and very tasty (the sauce served over it was too sweet and a little tasteless - but fish was fantastic)

Wood grilled Ahi "Mignon" was EXCELLENT - perfectly done (med-rare for me) - great piece of fish, nice and simple, with grilled veggies and choice of side (house cut fries were good) - perfect preparation of this fish.

We skipped deserts (too much food) also skipped coffee (at the recommendation of our waiter!... and how much does that ROCK, that our waiter tipped us that the coffee wasn't great and cut himself out of the coffee add-on tip padding. we loved him for that and gave him an extra 10 bucks just for sparring us that bad gulp, and waste of time)

Presentation was beautiful/very well done throughout our meal! came to about $110 for 2 people with tip (we did not have desert and only 2 drinks, but 3 appetizers :-)

Over all... very fresh and nicely prepared seafood, but very poor sauces. Kind of an enigma because all the seafood was so fresh and well prepared - but every sauce was VERY BAD/low quality and for us whether a restaurant "gets" sauces or not is the true test of where they are of true gourmet level or even "chowhoundish". Stick with the items that have simplest saucing and preparation and you'll be very happy with the fresh taste of the seafood. we'll definately be stopping back for more of their great fresh seafood (and wide range of choices and preparations)

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