Fine Dining Comes to Gloucester County at the Riverwinds
First opened in 2009, Riverwinds has come into its stride beautifully and is now a great choice for special events and romantic meals for two.
The Riverwinds Restaurant, part of the Riverwinds Community Center Complex in West Deptford, New Jersey, brings a level of elegant fine dining to Gloucester County that the area has been lacking for years. First opened in 2009, this spacious restaurant is a great choice for parties and special events, as well as a romantic evening meal for two. With quality food and pleasing views of Philadelphia’s waterfront, Riverwinds is definitely worth a visit when in this part of southern New Jersey.
My first visit to Riverwinds was last December for an office luncheon, not long after the restaurant had opened. The Riverwinds staff at the time was clearly still finding their pace, and some food sampled was hit or miss. Still, enough of the experience showed promise such that we once again help our annual holiday party there this year. The experience was much improved on this second visit, from both a service and cuisine perspective.
Our group was promptly seated upon arrival in Riverwinds’ spacious main dining room, which features hand-blown glass chandeliers, quartz walls, and large windows looking out over the South Philadelphia waterfront and the Delaware River. Riverwinds has several other rooms utilized for private functions and gatherings, including “The Boat Bar” and “The Garden Room,” and all facilities are attractively decorated without feeling overly pretentious. Indeed, the restaurant would make a beautiful location for a wedding reception. Their wine list features a delightful and extensive array of New World and Old World selections, with thoughtful choices available by both the glass and the bottle for all budgets. Mixed drinks, too, are well-prepared and a great way to begin a meal at Riverwinds.
Riverwinds cuisine is primarily New American in style, with an emphasis on steak and seafood and some Asian and Italian influences. For dinner, extensive raw bar selections are offered along with appetizers including Veal Cannelloni ($12), Steamed Clams ($9), Seafood Strudel ($11) and Baked Walnut & Honey-Crusted Goat Cheese ($9). Whole fish filleted table-side are offered at market price and in a variety of presentations, as well as lobster and a variety of classic steaks (priced $22-29). Special dinner entrees include Australian Rack of Lamb ($28), Spicy Thai Scallops ($25) and Pesto-Encrusted Salmon ($22). Special house selections such as Shrimp Scampi, Chicken Marsala, and Veal Parmesan are offered Sunday through Thursday, and early on Friday and Saturday. These all feature entree, salad and ice cream for $19.99, a great deal for such an upscale restaurant.
At lunchtime, Riverwinds offers a more casual menu with numerous sandwich selections, salads and a shorter selection of appetizers and entrees. To share for the table, we began with the Crispy Calamari ($8) and the Crab Imperial Stuffed Cremini Mushrooms ($9). Appetizers are well-sized for sharing between two without being so large that one has no room left for the main meal. The calamari were perfectly fried and tender, complemented with hot cherry peppers and a tasty marinara sauce for dipping. The stuffed mushrooms are excellent – four to a plate, with a spicy roasted pepper aioli and creamy crab sauce to make them truly memorable. For those who enjoy ($6), River Winds version is a winner, served in a generous-sized crock and bubbling over with melted Gruyere and Provolone cheese.
All sandwiches are served with steak fries, which on this visit were perfectly prepared: crispy on the outside, and tender on the inside. The Crab Cake Sandwich ($13) features a large crab cake with very little filler and lots of lump crab meat, served on a brioche bun with lettuce, tomato and onion. A choice of tartar or cocktail sauce is offered, and River Winds’ cocktail sauce is some of the best I’ve tasted in a restaurant – generous with the horseradish and clearly prepared fresh in-house. Several burgers are offered including the delicious 3 Sails Burger ($9), featuring 10 ounces of black angus beef topped with bacon, mushroom and swiss cheese on a brioche bun. The hamburgers at River Winds compare favorably to some of the top burgers available in Philadelphia at much higher prices.
Lunch entrees include the outstanding Parmesan-Crusted Chicken ($11), which was a standout on our first visit and just as good a year later. Featuring a pan-seared chicken breast topped with Parmesan Panko over linguini and broccoli rabe, it’s a lovely Italian-inspired dish full of flavor and incredibly satisfying. The Flat Iron Steak ($12) is an excellent choice for meat lovers, with a grilled steak smothered in peppers and onions in a port demi-glaze sauce, cooked perfectly to requested temperature. Also good is the Spicy Thai Scallops served with snap peas and jasmine rice ($14), for someone looking for lighter seafood fare.
As filling as the rest of your meal at Riverwinds may be, it is well worth saving some room for dessert. Their offerings range from the light to the extremely decadent, with a heavy emphasis on chocolate delights and rich cakes worth sharing over a cup of coffee or after-dinner drink.
In summary, Riverwinds Restaurant has established itself over the past year as one of Gloucester County’s best destinations for fine dining and special events. Their prices are not at all unreasonable for the quality of food and level of service, as well as the elegant atmosphere of the restaurant. Few restaurants in the area can rival Philadelphia’s upscale dining scene as River Winds does, especially when their excellent wine and spirits selection is taken in to consideration. Indeed, Riverwinds might even be worth a trip out of Philly to experience some of Southern New Jersey’s best steak and seafood selections.
This review was first published at the Yahoo! Contributors Network on December 15, 2010.
1075 Riverwinds Drive
West Deptford, New Jersey
Open daily from 11:00am, with Happy Hour drink and appetizer specials from 3:00pm – 7:00pm.