We discovered Alden Park one Saturday afternoon while undergoing retail therapy at Colony Place in Plymouth. The place was empty, the food was delicious, and the affable bartender, Brian, suggested we come back for an organic food and wine dinner scheduled for a future Thursday. So smitten were we by our snack of corn chowder, sirachi chicken wings, and the Park salad (like a Greek) that we signed up for the dinner on the spot.
We recruited some friends we hadn’t seen in a while and were seated in a booth in the restaurant’s main dining area, minimally separated from the large and bustling bar. Engaging conversation caused us to overlook the evening’s two very minor flaws: pacing was a little slow at the beginning, and the wine guy’s brave efforts to outshout the bar crowd were unsuccessful.
But the food and its presentation were remarkable.
The first course consisted of three large grilled scallops, each set atop a little dollop of corn puree, then red cabbage braised with bacon, then a barely warmed asparagus tip, and each scallop was dressed with a drop of herb oil. Arranged on a white rectangular plate, it set the tone for the dinner. It was served with a crisp King Estate pinot gris, which even the white wine averse Big Dog thought was the best of the meal’s four pours.
This was followed by a salad presentation so unique that The Big Dog took a photo with his cell phone and sent it to a friend who just hours earlier observed that taking photos of restaurant meals is “lame.” A whole romaine heart was stood on its root end on an X of paper-thin cucumber, with its top trimmed with a tousle of pear and carrot strands, and drizzled with balsamic and fig vinaigrette. This came with a Santa Julia malbec, which we normally love but seemed kind of wan.
Next up: a half roasted chicken — moist and flavorful with a crisp skin. Underneath we found chewy chunks of fingerling potatoes tossed with cherry tomatoes, onions, capers, and spinach. It was a generous serving, and the four of us began to falter. We washed it down with a Lange pinot noir — again, not stellar, but could that have been because the food was so spectacular?
We took a deep breath and tucked into a slice of pumpkin cheesecake, more cake than cheese, served with chantilly cream and a ribbon of cranberry puree. This was paired with a Cecchi moscato whose cloying sweetness made us all think of waffles.
The dinner was $58 apiece. For chowhounds like us, it was an excellent value, although we would never order that volume of food and drink under normal circumstances. Lop off the price of dessert and dessert wine, and one appetizer, and all of a sudden it’s a moderately priced meal out.
Alden Park is in a strip — oops! — lifestyle mall, and Gina admits that first Saturday visit was really just a clever ruse to get close to the Coldwater Creek and J Jill stores. But the sleek design inside Alden Park, and a cozy looking heated patio we’ll have to try next time, will make you forget where you are. It’s probably a great place to stop for a beverage if you’re already dressed up for something else, but it’s the inventive, tasty, and well presented food that really shines.
160 Colony Place, Plymouth