L is for Laughable

OK, it wasn’t that bad.

But when the wife and I entered Restaurant L (in nearby Allendale, NJ), I had to chuckle at the “piano man” jamming on his full-sized Casio keyboard in the corner of the bar. I wasn’t expecting that.

For some reason, we had it stuck in our head that Restaurant L was an upscale, classy dinner joint. It has its own strip-mall-free structure, nice cars in the parking lot and uses words like “rich” and “elegant” on its website.

What we found, however, was good, if unspectacular food, a kind of blah ambiance and the aforementioned keyboard crooner. But let’s start at the beginning: the Ahi Tuna Tartare. It was served in an almost sushi-like fashion, rolled up in a thin slice of cucumber. I appreciated the creative approach, though there was nothing interesting enough in the taste to write home about.

We continued with the seafood theme for our entrees. I very much enjoyed my Grilled Swordfish Steak (with a tropical fruit and avocado salsa over sauteed spinach with fried plantains) and was happy to finish every succulent bite. Again, it was nothing revolutionary, but I thought it was well prepared and flavorful.

My wife has less luck with her Mahi-Mahi special. Although I can’t quite remember the preparation (and it isn’t listed on the site’s menu), I know she was underwhelmed by the fish itself. The blandness of the fish was echoed by fairly bland grilled vegetables and unmemorable mashed potatoes. Her one-word review: “eh.”

I think it’s safe to say that we probably won’t be back to Restaurant L on our own. It strikes me as a better place to take the parents. After all, the most memorable part of the meal was the bar keyboardist’s version of Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are.”

And maybe that’s the best way to enjoy this place: just the way it is.

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