To set the ideal elegant experience, there are comfortable and stylish leather chairs with low lighting, contrasted by the floor-to-ceiling windows that let in the night lights. The bar and restaurant are separated by a long, illuminated waterfall. The wait staff was bustling to keep up but was doing a good job of it, and had smiles on their faces whenever they came by the table. My waitress knew the menu incredibly well.
Chef Sam Mickail, previously of Highlawn Pavilion in West Orange, has created a terrific menu based mainly on seafood. The menu offers 16 kinds of seafood, grilled, broiled or blackened with homemade olive oil marinade. The variety includes organic salmon, diver sea scallops, cockle clams and super jumbo lump crabmeat. Mickail knows how to develop a satisfying menu, and takes care of his customers. He visited many tables during my visit.
"We offer excellent entrees in a comfortable setting," Mickail said.
The bar does not disappoint either. The cocktails offered include Frank's Lemonade ($8) with Absolut Citron, crushed ice and fresh squeezed lemonade; the New Jersey Manhattan ($8) with Maker's Mark Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, Bitters and a Maraschino cherry; and the Hudson Sludge ($9) with Frozen Bailey's, Kahlua, Chambord, and whipped cream.
I had two glasses of red wine with my meal. The Pinot Noir from Pepperwood Grove, Ca, ($7/$26) was soothing and easy on the taste buds. The Merlot, from Ripe in Australia ($8/$28), was dark, bold and loaded with flavor.
The bread served before dinner was above par. In particular, there was this olive cheese bread that was absolutely delicious. Frank's also offered complimentary olives that were equally good.
Starters and dinner
The menu has many starters, including soups, salads, Ceviche and a shellfish sampler ($14). I had the Blue Point oysters ($10) which came in two varieties and were served with a Hibiscus Mignonette. The oysters were fresh, and the mignonette won my confidence. I also tried mushroom bisque, which was one of several specials. It was hearty and smooth. Other starters include Bucket O' Mussels ($9) with Chardonnay and sweet garlic sauce, and Jumbo Lump Crabmeat "Martini" ($12).
For dinner I went with the Wild Pacific Prawns scampi with warm avocado, bell peppers and Thai chili sauce ($22). The prawns were meaty. The sauce was spicy but not overdone, and a perfect match to the prawns. I also tried filet mignon with mushrooms and a truffle sauce - a another special. The meat was cooked to liking, and the truffle sauce was bold, but easy on the palette.
They also offer Swordfish Steak "Au Poivre" ($21) with cognac cream sauce, and Blackened Organic Salmon ($19) with saffron infused salsify, a flower, and pistachio pesto sauce. Frank's also offers three sizes of prime sirloin charbroiled.
I also tried the lobster mashed potatoes ($7) for a side. It is simple and delicious. Sides also include Frank's Fries ($4), sweet potato chips ($4) and sautéed spinach with garlic and pine nuts ($5).
The waitress recited the desserts offered that evening, and I settled on the green tea crème brulee. This restaurant is creative in its takes on traditional favorites. The caramelized top was to perfection, and the green tea crème was sweet with the definite taste of green tea. I also tried fresh berries and fruit with whipped cream. The berries were fresh and the melons and pineapples were juicy.
Frank's Waterside is on River Road in North Bergen. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.; and Friday and Saturday from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. In early spring it will open for lunch. For information call (201) 861-0700.