Ah, country club dining: great food and breathtaking panoramas, privy to only those of membership status or to those who can snag a seat as a guest. Problem with those two criteria is that for one, most of us can’t shell out the dough to become a member and for two, most of us aren’t neighbors or friends with anyone with those membership perks. With those two hurdles before us, we sadly can’t be wined and dined to the umpteenth degree while sitting back enjoying yards upon yards of greens and beautifully manicured fairways. Simply said- If we are playing public, we don’t get to eat nicely. We play, grab a dog on the turn, a quick beer after we tally our score cards and scadattle home for whatever is cooking there. There is no admirable dining or trendy spots to meet up with friends after playing a round or even more, just no luscious locales where you can bring friends while enjoying some unique tee-box views.
NJ: good news- this problem is now solved. Red Knot, the new restaurant located at the newly redesigned Galloping Hill Public Golf Course is set to bring you top notch cuisine with magnificent surroundings and views. Under direction of Executive Chef Ralph Romano, the restaurant is beginning to excel. While eating there recently for a media/press dinner, I was able to see firsthand how this Chef and his team are changing the idea of golf course eateries.
The first item we were given was a signature drink created by the food and beverage director Richard Spaulding, the Garden Lemonade. Made with basil infused vodka, the drink went down with no problems by my husband. Before we all settled on our appetizer and entrée selections, we were presented with an amuse-bouche.
Watermelon Summer Gazpacho topped with a grilled tiger shrimp was pretty much summer-in- a- cup. Fresh, light and cool, it hit all the notes you need on a hot afternoon.
Appetizers were soon abounding as were smiles and silence. In food terms, that is a great sign. The Artichoke Ricotta Dip was one of my favorites during this beginning course. It was great from beginning scoop until the last schmear on my toasted baguette. The Tamarind Crusted Scallops were delicious as well. The sear on the crust perfectly contained all the lovely juices within.
Salads came next and they were almost as pretty as the views. The Ked Knot Salad, with pomegranate-glazed duck breast and a butternut squash ginger vinaigrette, was quite the show stopper. It’s rare you see duck on a salad and it’s probably even more rare that you’d even want that combination. Well, after this version, you will be smitten on some duck salad. The meat was portioned perfectly, letting the radicchio and endive play an active role. The mix of a sweet glaze and bitter greens was well thought-out and thoroughly enjoyed. The other salad I kept on going back for was the Calamari. The dressing, a lemon oregano vinaigrette, was airy and vibrant. It was exactly what the tender rings needed to take the stage and shine. One more notable in the “green” category was the Galloping Hill Salad with its decadent buttermilk ranch vinaigrette. That dressing was so good it made me surprisingly forget about both the grit-crusted tomatoes and goat cheese crumbles enveloped inside.
Dinners were presented next and as much as I’d love to say the Glazed Duck, Oven Roasted Branzino and Crispy Chicken had jaws dropped, I have to give top honors here to the burgers. The Red Knot Burger is topped with aged Gouda, smoked tomatoes, sautéed mushrooms and onions and it was lethal. The meat was cooked to, as requested, medium rare and was plated just so. The velvety texture of the beef was like a cashmere pillow upon where the expensive cheese laid. It was like better met better and greatness was born. Next I tried the Cheddar Burger, this sent me overboard. Again, the meat was downright dangerous. This burger was requested rare and, as one who prefers a bit more brown on my beef, I honestly had no complaints and would have demolished that patty if given the chance. Respectively, both burgers sported a buttery brioche bun.
Now don’t get me wrong here, the other dinners definitely pleased the taste buds, it was just that the burgers were beyond. My dinner selection that night was the Branzino and it was quite good. The meat flaked apart as if on cue when I began to eat. I loved the accompaniment of artichokes in this dish as they added brininess to the sweet tomato garlic broth. The Skirt Steak came adjacent to a chimichurri sauce that brightened the dish both visually and tastefully.
Just when I thought nothing could get better than those burgers, dessert arrived. Their in-house pastry chef, Cassandra Carlstrom, simply dazzled us with her sugary concoctions. The Peanut Butter and Jelly donuts with peanut butter butter cream was everything you ever wished that your PB&J would taste like. The cake itself was almost weightless while the jelly wasn’t too sweet or too tart. It came perched right next to a Peanut Butter Brittle Cup filled with ice cream spooned with peanut butter whipped cream. For those of you who fall for the sweet and salty thing, I warn you not to offer any sharing spoons here. If you are the sharing kind though, the chocolate tart with caramel, sea salt and pistachios will definitely fit the bill as it is extremely rich and is better enjoyed with only a few bites. Last but certainly not least, both the Vanilla Bean Cheesecake and the Key Lime Pie are good choices to go with. Two of a kind, they both are on the lighter side and each have a crispy and buttery crust that will have you finding room for just one more bite.
So although you won’t get your shoes shined or have an attendant get your car while you eat here, you can rest assured that you are going to be well-taken care of. And if you can’t find the time to have your entire family or group of friends come up and meet you for dinner, it’s my promise that if you just hang around for a burger, you’ll be in tip-top shape, regardless of what that scorecard says!
Red Knot at Galloping Hill is located at 3 Golf Drive, Kenilworth, NJ 07033. More information can be found at http://www.gallopinghillgolfcourse.com/Red-Knot-Menu
Gina Glazier is a born and raised Jersey Girl. She recently earned her Master’s degree in Reading & Literacy and is currently a teacher. Gina lives with her husband, Matt, who is her number one fan and shares in her passion for the culinary arts, minus the cooking part! Her “culinary life” became a reality a few years back when she was chosen to be a guest of The Star Ledger’s Munchmobile. This ignited Gina’s desire to be around food and all its counterparts all the time, meaning restaurants, cookbooks, TV shows, cooking, etc. Gina says her “biggest and most monumental experience” was being a part of The Star Ledger’s Pizza Patrol two years ago where she traveled the entire state, eating at 3, 4, sometimes 5 pizzerias a night for just about 6 months! You can check out her Hungry Teacher adventures, on her blog www.ahungryteacher.blogspot.com.