Easy on the taste buds, harder on the wallet
Kitchen 233 – Westmont, NJ
233 Haddon Ave
Meal: Dinner / 8pm / Weeknight
Price: $105.60 (For Two – Includes Tip – Excludes Coupons)
Autumn and I like the Haddonfield area, and were looking for a new restaurant to try on the much-traveled Haddon Ave corridor. Passing up a couple interesting diners along the way, we spotted Kitchen 233 and decided to give it a try. The parking on a Thursday night was very tight, and we’d assume that weekend parking would be relatively non-existent. We didn’t have a reservation, and although we expected a wait we were seated right away. We liked the layout of the building and the exterior.
The inside has moderately dim-lighting with a nice atmosphere. You can sit in the bar area, the dedicated dining area, or outside. Although we were originally seated in the dining area (at a small ‘for two’ table that was awkwardly between two larger groups eating), we petitioned to move to the bar area and enjoyed a large circular booth that we both loved. The bar was nice – sophisticated – but not exactly very busy. Perhaps the drink prices had something to do with that? Our waitress was terrific from start to finish, and throughout the night, our waters were topped off and our extra dishes removed.
Like many area restaurants (we learned), Kitchen 233 was participating in the ‘farm to fork’ promotion where local restaurants would feature dishes made with Jersey fresh products. They offered a 4-course meal for $35 per person, each course of which contained choices consisting of some kind of NJ-fresh item. We like the idea of eating ‘close to home’, so we opted for the promotion. To start things off, we ordered some mixed drinks that set us back $9 each. We thought the alcohol was good, but for someone like me it’s very, very difficult to justify that kind of price tag for a martini glass-full of anything. I wouldn’t order them again. Beer was a reasonable $3.50 for a domestic bottle, and I later ordered a Coors Light to ‘average down’ my total alcohol costs somewhat.
For our first course, I tried the NJ corn chowder and Autumn selected the tomato and mozerrella skewers. Both were very good, but both were small. Mine was especially small; maybe a half cup of chowder. Autumn had 4 small skewers speared into a half NJ tomato. Thankfully, the basket of warm bread was more than adequate to quell my portion gripes. There were 6 rolls of different varieties and we both agreed it was great. Course two was the salad selection; Autumn tried the classic ceasar and I went for something different, a NJ beet salad. Autumn’s ceasar was very good, with maybe a bit too much dressing. The beet salad consisted of a much smaller group of arugula and (2) beets, one the normal purplish color and another a golden beet. I was not moved either way because I’ve never had beets before, but I would have liked to try a few more of them and maybe get some of Autumn’s extra dressing put on mine instead.
The entrees were the third course. I went with the surf and turf (shrimp, scallops, and filet mignon) and Autumn stayed close to her comfort zone with the crabmeat-topped chicken breasts. Both were served with rather incredible mashed potatoes, and more important, a nice portion of them. I had joked with Autumn that I expected to get two shrimp, two scallops, and a 4-ounce filet. I had no idea I was being generous. With a single mid-sized shrimp and scallop joining what probably was indeed a 4-ounce filet, I was a little bummed. The NJ green beans were a good accompaniment with the mashed potatoes, but there were maybe a dozen of them at most. The problem with one of anything is that it’s hard to nurse it – especially with a shrimp. It was good, though by no means fantastic. The same with the scallop; it wasn’t far and away better than scallops I’ve had elsewhere. Thankfully, the filet was delicious and worth every bite; for me, it salvaged some scoring points.
Autumn’s chicken dish was much bigger than my surf and turf. She had two mid-size filets topped with a fair amount of lump crabmeat in a very tasty light sauce. Like me, she really loved the mash potatoes and was surprised by how much more meat she got than I did (don’t feel bad for me, I ended up eating some of hers!). The crabmeat was a nice flavor on top of the chicken, and it was tender and juicy. We agreed it was clearly an above-average chicken dish that in other places might have been under or overcooked.
Finally, the desert selections primarily featured bluberries or peaches, which we both like. I went for the blueberry crisp, and Autumn tried the ‘devil sundae’, an ice cream creation with blueberries and peaches in a pepper vinaigrette sauce (yes, you read that right). My crisp was about as big as the soup; three or four spoonfuls and I was done. It was delicious, mind you, but I suppose was more of a flavor to end the meal rather than a entree in my book. It was served with a half-scoop of vanilla ice cream which was melting even before I tried some. Autumn’s dish was, as usual, three times the size of mine. It looked like she got 2 full scoops of ice cream smattered with blueberries and peaches. We both liked it until we started getting towards the bottom and really tasted the sauce – which was like putting salad dressing in a bowl of ice cream. Autumn didn’t finish, and I didn’t go for the leftovers, which should tell you something.
Overall, we liked the atmosphere, service, menu selection (the regular non-promotional menu looked great), and appreciated them participating in the farm to fork promotion to support NJ agriculture. The portion sizes were a bit out of balance, and I’m not sure what kind of economy Kitchen 233 thinks we’re living in that paying $9 for mixed drinks is acceptable. Still, it was a very pleasant night, buoyed by a friendly server and very good food. I would say as a final note that Kitchen 233 is decidedly kid-unfriendly; there is wallpaper in the bar area (might be in the main dining area, too, but I’m not sure) of various scenes of drunken debauchery. It’s tasteful, but definitely not something you want your kids to be asking about.
– Good, clean atmosphere
– Outdoor/patio seating
– Very friendly service
– Creative entrees
– Fairly expensive
– Parking very cramped
– Some portions very small
Guru’s Score: 3.8
Autumn’s Score: 4.1
Combined Score: 3.95 Chews
Subjective rating: Great for special occasions
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