144 Route 4 West
Paramus, NJ 07652
Web Site: http://www.chakrarestaurant.com
Sometimes figuring out restaurants can be something of a challenge. Usually I can wrap my brain around a restaurant concept, and I “Get It.” For the last seven years, ever since the restaurant opened I didn’t “Get” Chakra.
I mean, going by name alone, I actually believed that the place was an high-end Indian fusion restaurant. Not the sort of place I would normally be caught eating in, so whenever we would drive by it on Route 4, we would bypass it. Not once in the last seven years did we even think of eating there.
If I wanted Indian food, I’d go to one of the many fine places in Edison, or some other REAL Indian place in Bergen County. “Chakra” is a Sanskrit word originating out of ancient Hindu texts, and pertains to wheel-like vortexes of energy permeating the physical body.
However, I was recently set straight by my friend Karen Schloss Diaz who told me that Chakra was NOT an Indian Fusion restaurant. As a matter of fact, they had just gotten new chef and partner over the summer, Thomas Ciszak, who hails from critically-acclaimed Copeland Restaurant in Morristown. In fact, several dishes at Chakra have been brought over from Copeland.
Chef Ciszak, who was born in Dusseldorf, Germany, has a cuisine style that could be described Asian and European influenced. So while I would definitely say that there is some “fusion” in the mix, you’re definitely not going to be getting dressed-up Lamb Vindaloo or Aloo Gobi.
Ok, enough with the wacky explanations and backstory. On with the food.
Chakra may not cause your energy vortices to spin, but you’ll walk out extremely contented, and maybe even finding yourself say… WOW, MAN! Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
Chakra’s main dining room. No doubt about it, you know this is serious fine dining when you walk in.
The spacious, warm and inviting restaurant has private banquettes for a more intimate experience.
Main Dining Room
Main Dining Room
Bread service, with an assortment of rolls and foccacia.
Chakra has a full beverage program which includes a list of specialty cocktails.
This was billed as a “Tuna Tartar” with coconut, tapioca, chili and kaffir lime. Sort of a Thai spin on Sashimi. Everyone really liked this one, and Rachel suggested it be served with a spoon to suck up all the nice sauce.
An assortment of house-cured salumi/charcuterie, including different types of prosciutto and bresaola.
Here’s the salumi curing in one of the wine lockers.
Jumbo lump horseradish crust crabcake with baby pea shoots and mustard vinaigrette sauce. One of the best crabcakes that I’ve ever had — very little binder with lots of crabmeat. This one did not disappoint.
Karen ordered some sushi. I was skeptical, but I actually thought it was pretty good considering that it isn’t really the focus of the restaurant.
Here’s an eel roll.
Caesar Salad, with Parmesan Fricos. Nicely done.
Grilled Portuguese Baby Octopus with White Bean Puree and Arugula Pesto. These octopods were fork tender and tentacle-icous.
Potato Crusted Shrimp with Chili-Cinnamon Glazed Chilean Sea Bass. This is a carry over favorite from Ciszak’s other restaurant, Copeland. And please it did.
Okay, maybe I am starting to understand and feel the warmth of some of this body energy stuff. Or it could be all the cocktails I’ve drank.
I wanted to see what Chef Ciszak could do with vegetables, so we ordered a vegetarian entrée, an Eggplant Tart with tofu and a tomato bell pepper coulis. This was actually one of my favorite dishes of the evening as it was truly a “complete” vegetarian dish. The eggplant had all its seeds removed so it had no bitterness at all, and went great with the sweet and acidic coulis.
We also ordered one of the pasta entrées, the rigatoni ragu with braised short ribs. This one really hit the spot and we fought over the last pieces of this one. All the pastas are made in-house, fresh.
We weren’t going to get out of the place without having some of chef’s German cuisine. I thought the Weinershnitzel was excellent. Pounded thin and crispy, but still juicy.
Fresh Baked Doughnuts with Chickory Iced Coffee. The doughnuts were more Churro-like than Beignet-like, but they still pleased everyone.
Warm Valhrona Chocolate Brioche Bread Pudding. Ok, now I’ll say it. WOW MAAAAAAAAAAN!
Chef Thomas Ciszak
So do I “get” CHAKRA now? Yes, I do. In Paramus, refined fine dining you shall seek, young Padawan. Just don’t walk in expecting to order the Chicken Tikka Masala. You won’t get any.