611 N. Maple Avenue, Ho-Ho-Kus NJ 07423
Web Site: http://www.stevesnj.com
The first time I tried Steve Christianson’s cuisine was the night he closed his restaurant, the Citrus Grille, in Airmont, New York. It was simultaneously a delicious, yet depressing affair. But that cold February evening was also filled with hope, as we knew that soon, the CIA-trained chef would return, with a brand-new restaurant in nearby Ho-Ho-Kus, in a newly constructed space.
When it re-opened, Judi Christianson, Steve’s wife and front of the house majordomo wanted me to come over, have a nice meal, and provide them photographs for their new web site. Naturally, I agreed, since I was going to take photos anyway.
I’m a food blogger. It’s what I do.
Fifteen months later, I get an email from Judi. “We’re ready.”
I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect when I got there. Would it be a warm, intimate spot like the last restaurant? Or something different? Would the cuisine be a carry over from Citrus Grille, or a reboot?
St. Eve’s, which is simply a play on words on “Steve’s”, is in my estimation probably one of the most important destination restaurants to open in Bergen County in a very long time. It’s a beautiful, huge space, which utilizes a lot of reclaimed wood and has very much a tavern-style atmosphere and lots of natural light.
Aesthetically, it reminds me a lot of the tavern/casual dining part of Gramercy Tavern in New York City.
St. Eve’s Patio dining area.
The rear entrance of St. Eve’s, which has a large amount of parking available. Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below for more.
The view of the main dining room coming from the rear entrance.
Table setting close-up. All of the tables were custom-built for the restaurant from custom lumber selections.
The restaurant, along with the patio dining area, can seat approximately 125 people. The smaller, secondary dining room can be used for private events.
The large, communal table in the secondary dining room.
The patio area faces North Maple but is not considered to be the restaurant’s main entrance. Provided the weather remains nice and cool in the evening, this would be a great place to dine in the summertime.
The bar area faces the kitchen and allows single diners to get a good view of the action.
Bread and butter service
One of the things I think is a nice touch at St. Eve’s is they offer traditional seltzer water bottles in addition to bottled waters like Pellegrino. Many of these bottles and dispensers are ancient, going back 100 years. A local business in Monsey, New York provides the refills, just like in the olden days.
Shpritzing the seltzer
St. Eve’s is a BYO restaurant but it features signature juices and other home-made beverages. Rachel ordered this celery juice/jalepeno thing called “Green Love”.
If you want harder stuff, St. Eve’s is conveniently located next to a wine and liquor store.
Chilled Heirloom Tomato Gazpatcho with peeky-toe crab, avocado and cumin crisp. An ideal way to start off a hot summer meal.
Wood grilled Maine lobster “Silly Cay” west indie spiced, roasted pineapple slaw. Loved this dish but it was a bit fussy to take it apart, I told chef Steve that it might be a good idea to pull the claw meat out for the diner, so you might see it presented that way in the future.
Citrus grilled heirloom beet salad, cambazola, grilled endive and radicchio, shallot vinaigrette. A feast of color for the eyes with gorgeous presentation and a nice light starter.
This is a starter I caught at the pass, a seared sirloin carpaccio, dijon mustard, capers, herb sauce with crispy sunchokes.
Although I wouldn’t classify St. Eve’s as a particularly “Italian” restaurant they do have a pasta section on their menu. This was the “Homemade pasta of the day” with lobster, shrimp and scallops, yellowfoot mushrooms with cognac lobster bisque. We loved this, and it should be noted that this is a half-sized portion. All the pastas on the menu can be ordered in small or large portions.
Another seafood small plate, seared day boat scallops with pepper pipperade, quinoa pilaf and lemon confit. Definitely a summery dish.
Chef Christanson in St. Eve’s generously-sized kitchen plating up some hangar steak. The kitchen uses a wood-fired oven and grill which imparts a wonderful flavor to everything that is cooked on it.
Chef Christianson and his wood fired grill.
The business end of the wood fired grill.
A nice whole fish being pulled out of the salamander.
Wood grilled oysters appetizer, sitting at the pass.
Wood Grilled Filet Mignon, poached farm house egg, wild mushroom duxelle, truffle infused hollandaise. And that’s just an appetizer.
Finishing off some plates with some extra virgin olive oil
Tuna beginning its sear.
Finished Moroccan spiced tuna, with baby carrots, spring onions, aromatic broth and cilantro aioli.
Slicing up some hangar steak.
Wood-grilled Painted Hills Farm hanger steak “arrachera” with chimichurri salsa, yucca gratinee and creamed corn. Wow… Just… wow. This one’s a must-order in my opinion.
Every bistro style restaurant is obligated to have a burger on its menu. St. Eve’s is a chuck and shortrib, with caramelized onions and vermont cheddar, on a large eggy onion roll with baby arugula subbing in for lettuce.
I think it’s a very nice bistro burger, certainly if I was in the area for lunch and I wanted a big, juicy burger I’d absolutely order this one, but it’s not a “destination” burger if that makes any sense at all. I’m just not going to drive all the way from Tenafly to come to a place like St. Eve’s for a burger, that’s what I’m saying.
Very good fries, properly done. Rachel had to stop me from eating them. I’d order the fries on the side with one of the steaks, personally!
Chocolate souffle dessert with sour Amarena cherries and homemade pistachio gelato. Chocolate lovers should zero in on this one like a theobroma-seeking missile.
“Frozen” key lime pie. Rachel and I were divided on this one. I loved the fact that it was frozen and was sort of like a spumoni-type thing, which would be an ideal summertime dessert. Rachel wanted it to melt down a bit. I loved the tartness.
Old-fashioned Butterscotch Pudding, Vanilla Bean Soft Whip, Chocolate Biscotti. I thought it was a bit too sweet, but I loved the biscotti. Had I been in the mood for a serious coffee drink that Sunday night, I would have absolutely ordered one from St. Eve’s hardcore espresso machine and coffees supplied by Jim’s Organic, and I might have liked this dessert better, to have the bitter and strong espresso coffee contrast with the sweet dessert and the crispy biscotti.
Coconut Panna Cotta, with Tropical Fruit and Sesame Sable. Rachel was completely enamored by this dessert and barely let me have any. Nice, light dessert for summer, not too sweet. Definitely up my alley, especially if it’s July or August.
Root Beer Float with Homemade Ice Cream and Cookies. I should also add that the root beer itself is made with a home-made root beer syrup mixed with the seltzer. It’s not as sweet as you would expect a root beer float to be, and it’s got heavy sarsaparilla/spice flavors to it. The restaurant also makes it’s own Ginger Ale as well, in case you wanted to try a float with that.