Lobsters, chickens and clams! Oh, my!
Born in the late 1800s in forges, foundries and rail-yards, Newark, New Jersey's Ironbound district is now lined with Portuguese and Brazilian salons, fish markets, pastry shops, churrascarias and sporting goods stores brimming with football gear.
On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we wandered, pointed, peered and purchased olive oil and dried salt cod for later experimentation.
Hungry and tired, we landed at Sagres Bar & Grill (44 Prospect St.), wooed by the promise of beer and sidewalk seating. Unfortunately, beer and sidewalk seating is about all the place has to offer. With a draught beer list mournfully lacking in charm, I settled on the Sam Adams.
We ordered a seafood soup, the clams in cilantro and garlic and the bacalao in peppers, potatoes and onions. The clams and soup were good, if salty. Sadly, the potatoes and onions turned out to be more interesting than the bacalao.
The kitchen's impulse to fling fresh herbs (parsley and cilantro) was a good move, but across the board, the cooks seemed to rely on a one-two punch of chicken stock and salt in place of more carefully nurtured flavor.
The comp breadbasket turned out to be the winner here, full of hearty, chewy slices that enjoyed a good dunk in the seasoned clam juices.
After further reflection and research, I think perhaps Forno's of Spain, Spanish Sangria or Fernandes might have been better choices. Any fellow travelers have good luck in the district? Leave a comment!