I admit I was a little sad when I heard that Bliss, the wine bar on Route 7, was closing its doors. Although I had only eaten there a couple of times and the food was hit or miss, the venue was very charming and even boasted a small outdoor patio. Last Spring, it was reopened under new ownership as Riverside Pub & Grille.
The place seems to have an identity crisis – is it a great place to take a date or to watch sports on one of their many flatscreen TV’s? Personally, I think the décor works just fine (other than the folding tables that have been added to accommodate additional seating). During my most recent visit, plenty of men were watching Ravens football while pretending to be engaged in conversation with their dining companion. The ladies appeared to be content sipping their wine and enjoying one of their many appetizers. And those ladies who were getting bored were busy chatting up the waitstaff. So all in all, a very nice atmosphere on a dismal rainy evening.
On this particular night, I was trying to stick to my diet and ordered the grilled salmon which was served with green beans. I informed the waitress that I am not a huge fan of green beans but would order the salmon anyway. Unbeknownst to me, she asked the chef if he had any other vegetables on hand. The next thing I know, here comes a beautiful piece of salmon perfectly grilled with a side of freshly sautéed squash and red peppers in place of the beans. Now THAT is service!
Although I warned him not to, my husband ordered the Po’ Boy and as usual, I was right. In their defense, my husband is from New Orleans which is Po’ Boy Country. It would be like me traveling to North Dakota and ordering a crab cake. The sandwich was pretty dry and tasteless even with the remoulade sauce. The sandwich came with a side of crisp, hot, perfectly seasoned French fries.
The Almond Shrimp is another dish which needs a little tweaking. It is half a dozen nice sized butterflied shrimp, deep fried in batter and then completely covered in almond slivers. It makes for a pretty presentation on the plate, but the almonds overwhelmed the shrimp. It was served with your choice of 2 sides, one of which was Macaroni & Cheese. It’s pretty hard to mess up Mac & Cheese but somehow they managed to get it wrong – very dry and lackluster. The side salad was a simple mix of greens, tomatoes and cucumber. Restaurants oftentimes have no conscience when it comes to serving tasteless tomatoes right smack dab in the middle of tomato season. These tomatoes, however, tasted like they came from a local produce stand.
No worries on these missteps because the menu is seemingly endless and the items were priced right. The appetizers alone take up a page and a half of their menu. The service was flawless, the bathrooms clean. The waitress was kind enough to mention that she only had one piece of the dessert du jour left (a creamy peanut butter cheesecake) so we snatched it up. Well worth blowing a diet over and I’m not even a big fan of cheesecake. I have no idea if it was housemade or store bought, but I do know that it was YUMMY!
And as far as the folding tables are concerned, I’m happy to see that the business at Riverside Pub & Grille is brisk enough to warrant additional seating, especially at a non-chain establishment.