Silver Oak Bistro in Ridgewood

Saturday night was our second visit to the Silver Oak Bistro in Ridgewood. We ate outside both times, unable to resist the call of a comfortable summer night meal under the stars, even in the decidedly unromantic lighting of the Exxon station sign across the street. It’s never good to have a reminder of how much your ride home will cost!

I took a quick peek inside and found it to be charming, yet small. However, there’s nothing small about Executive Chef Gary Needham’s cuisine. Silver Oak dishes up inventive Southern fare beginning with homemade potato chips with a choice of two perfectly-paired dips: a smoky and sweet barbecue sauce with a hint of heat and a cool sour cream parsley lemon dip. These types of chips are so often too greasy, but these were perfect and addictive. Our basket was emptied in seconds. Unfortunately, we came to regret our haste in devouring the chips when we waited forty minutes for our appetizers to arrive.

Our waitress couldn’t have been lovelier and apologized repeatedly for the back-up in the kitchen. Once our apps arrived, any annoyance we were experiencing was soon replaced by delight as we tucked into an extraordinary pasta dish called Rags and Fungus, a homemade large ribbon pasta swimming in a rich white truffle cream broth with a generous selection of sauteed wild mushrooms. Our other appetizer was hushpuppies with a jalapeno center. They were served on a bed of collard greens which stole the show. The greens were studded with bacon chunks and butternut squash pieces, everything pickled in a caramelized vinegar sauce. I never thought it would be possible to like collard greens, but I now crave them and my mouth is watering as I write.

We didn’t have to wait as long for our main courses and I was soon digging into more inventive Southern fare. My pulled pork was tender yet the chunks were larger than you often see, allowing me to really appreciate its milky flavor combined with more of that delicious barbecue. The pork was served with more of those incredible collard greens and one of the Silver Oak signature dishes: the omelette-style macaroni and cheese. The cheesy noodles were wrapped in a thick casing of crusty melted cheese. I couldn’t have more than a few bites of this cholesterol-courting concoction, but they were memorable. My husband ordered the steak which was a disappointment. The steak itself was fine, but the barley risotto it rested on was unpleasantly crunchy and the creamed spinach was overly salty. He consoled himself by helping me eat my generous portion and we still had plenty to take home.

We were much too full for dessert, although we were sorely tempted to see what Chef Gary would do to jazz up lemon meringue pie. I will go back to Silver Oak, very soon, and I won’t stray from the Southern cooking he’s known for. There were tons of seafood options on the menu that are calling my name.

Silver Oak Bistro
26 Wilsey Square
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
Appetizers: $8 to $12, Main Courses: $19 to $25.
Open Tuesday – Friday 5PM to 10PM, Saturday 4PM to 10PM, Sunday 4PM to 9PM.
Dress: casual elegant.Credit Cards: Visa, Mastercard, Discover.

Vanessa Druckman aka Chefdruck, is not a chef, as her online name suggests, just a huge food aficionado. She loves to cook and to eat out, and then to write about her experiences. Vanessa is a transplant from the big city and now resides in Northern NJ. She is half-French and spent a big part of her childhood in France, so as a result, there’s no fear of cream and butter for Chefdruck. Read more from Vanessa at: