Today’s review is of West End Station on 700 1st Street in Hoboken, NJ. As a resident of western Hoboken, I was eager to check this place out. It is located on the first floor within the Sky Club condominium complex and is another one of Anthony Pino’s restaurants (Anthony David’s and Bin 14 being the other two – which have yet to be officially reviewed, yet each “unofficial” visit has so far yielded very positive experiences).
West End gets out of the gate quite nicely, giving off a nice first impression. On one side there is a bar with roughly 4 flat screen tv’s (which conveniently allows me to watch the Yanks own the Twins) while the other side is more of a restaurant. It all blends pretty nicely, with a new tin ceiling, unfinished concrete floors and an awesome private party room that is shaped like a barrel. Elana is a little puzzled by the multiple personality thing going on, but I seem to think it works.
We kick things off with a drink. West End appears to have a nice drink menu, listing a wide range of custom mixed drinks. On Thursdays, these drinks are 5 bucks each; which ain’t so bad. Still, however, baseball is on….so, give me a beer. Elana opts for a glass of wine which, to be honest, could have been more generously filled for 11 bones.
Since it is Pizza month and all (both for JohnandElana and Nationally), we decide to try their Marghertia Pizza which is listed under the “Brick Oven” heading. PIZZA TIRADE WARNING. At $9 this sucker is a little small. And, yes, I understand many pizzerias make pizza to be served for one… but it is still small. In addition, the “brick oven” must not have been that hot, because the pizza is pretty crispy all the way through. That comment may not make any sense, so let me quickly clarify: better brick oven pizza is typically charred and chewy… (Grimaldi’s, Luzzo’s, Keste, Lucali, etc). That doesn’t mean good pizza cannot be crispy, it can. But crispy pizzas are usually not the product of a good brick oven, whose heat is typically too intense to create an evenly cooked pie. The West End crust is also a touch bland, but the sauce and mozzarella are decent, making the pie satisfactory in the long run.
For our main courses, I order the homemade gnocchi in the duck ragout sauce while Elana orders the barbecue pork chop with pumpkin bread pudding. Both meals, as you can see, are handsome in appearance. The dishes are well presented, even if they are in fact benefiting from Elana’s brand spanking new camera, which she cradles/oogles at throughout the evening. As for my gnocchi, it is indeed homemade and of very good consistency; not too tough. The shredded duck is a nice touch to the whole thing. One minor problem – where is the taste? It was lacking quite a bit unfortunately. Elana samples my meal and wholeheartedly agrees. Taste is nowhere to be found – not in the gnocchi, not in the sauce, not in the duck.
Elana’s dish is a bit better. The Chop is meaty, perhaps a touch tough, and of sizable portion. The BBQ sauce is smokey and sweet – nice taste here. Also, the pumpkin bread pudding is quality – great taste, perfectly moist and substantial. It is easily the highlight of the experience – which is simultaneously a good and bad thing.
For dessert, we ordered doughnut holes with chocolate chili sauce – solid. The doughnuts lacked a little taste, but the chocolate chili sauce was very good. It was sweet, bitter and, true to its name, spicy. My sister and I ate all of the doughnuts, and even shoved our forks into the sauce to clean up the last drops of it. A success here.
The bathrooms were quite luxurious. A nice wide open space with cool tile work and the vanity included a spacious farmhouse sink with dual faucets.
Service is also good. Our waiter was attentive, prompt and of good positive energy.
Was I impressed? In presentation, decor and scene – yes. In the taste of our food? Not really. The place has potential, but is not of the same caliber of Anthony David’s or Bin 14.
Overall Movie Equivalent – Miami Vice