Nyack's Reality Bites has a delicious new style

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Posted: Friday, February 1, 2008
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Reality Bites
100 Main St., Nyack

In the spring of 2006 I wrote you a fond description of a little place called Reality Bites in Nyack. When I heard that the restaurant had a new name, owner, menu and style, I called a man with a big appetite, and off to Nyack we went.

We arrived at 6pm. Only two of the tables in the little storefront under the big awning were occupied. We were greeted informally by a young woman who offered us any vacant seat in the house. I chose a table along the wall from which I could see all of the wide screen TVs, beside a niche decorated with wine bottles and vintage Christmas tins and toys, including a Pez candy dispenser that my partner found loaded (no, we didn’t eat any).

I took a good look around to note the other changes in décor. The framed movie posters have been replaced with art reproductions. The gently contrasting walls in deep burgundy, brown and mauve hint that something original’s going on here.

Most of the couches are gone, replaced by contemporary tables and chairs in black with white linen tablecloths. But don’t despair, couch lovers, there’s still a little sofa in the front window and two comfy contemporary black couches at the back.

The three widescreens were tuned (with closed captions) to sports, an entertainment talk show and a cable news network. I loved the classic rock music; they played everything from The Beatles to Steppenwolf.

While many new items have been added to the menu, the signature tapas known as Reality Bites are still offered in 12 varieties. I chose an appetizer from the nightly specials: butternut squash soup. My companion ordered the Reality Salad as a start. Both items arrived at the table looking beautiful.

I can say without reserve that my soup was the very best butternut squash soup I’ve ever tasted, thick and perfectly accented by a dollop of lemony sour cream, and served generously. The Reality Salad of mixed greens, chopped walnuts, crisp apple, dried cranberries & bleu cheese crumbles with honey Vidalia dressing certainly deserved its listing among the entrees, and my guest critic said it was “everything a salad should be.”

Our waitress didn’t bat an eye when we asked her to replace our iced water with room temperature H2O (healthy hint for you food lovers: cold water hinders digestion).

She was unobtrusive but didn’t let our empty plates sit too long. I was delighted when the TVs were switched to a concert video of Elton John: songs just about anyone over 30 knows, which for me bring back memories of happy times with my father.

For the main course, I selected the Birdsong Portobello, penne accented by roasted red peppers, basil & toasted pine nuts, crowned with sliced Portobello mushrooms.

My famished friend ordered two entrees: from the specials he selected Pumpkin Ravioli and from the regular menu, salmon over mesclun with mandarin oranges, wonton noodles and a lemon vinaigrette dressing. He was happy to have the choice of wild caught fish, since he prefers to avoid the dyes, antibiotics and pesticides farmed fish are usually exposed to.

The table was too small to accommodate more than two entrees, so he chose to have the Pumpkin Ravioli first. It arrived in a savory brown sauce with butter, sage and parmesan cheese along with a scoop of butternut squash and asparagus in another exquisite presentation.

My entrée was also appealing to the eye. I found the mushroom slices were tender and delicious, with a strong garlic butter that harmonized the pine nuts and red pepper. The only thing I could have asked for was: more! My partner shared the Pumpkin Ravioli – heavenly! The perfect texture and light creamy pumpkin filling harmonized superbly with the sauce. My companion described it as “amazingly unique” and I had to agree.

Though he found the salmon slightly dry, the accompanying greens were extremely fresh and the dressing flavorful. This entrée also arrived as a colorful vision of generous proportions.

That night the dessert offerings were all from Carousel Cakes; we chose cheesecake and carrot cake. They were yummy, but I am excited to let you know that since then, house made desserts have been added to the menu: crème brulee and chocolate-dipped strawberries!

By the time we were ready to leave, the restaurant was full and buzzing. Earlier I’d noticed a petite woman adjusting the decorations and slipping in and out of the kitchen, who was now attending to a table full of friends. I guessed she was the owner and intercepted her as she left the festive bunch.

She was gracious and gave me her full attention before she knew anything about why I was there. So go to Reality Bites Café to enjoy the food and bring friends; you’ll be able to relax and enjoy good service in a friendly, comfortable environment.

Categories: Restaurants

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