If you find yourself jonesing for comfort food now that the nights have turned chilly, then Bloomfield’s new Wooden Spoon Southern Kitchen and Saloon has got your fix. Here, you’ll find a large menu of Southern specialties plus authentic Southern BBQ, prepared by executive chef and owner Donald Erickson, whose dream has been to bring a touch of the South to New Jersey.
Open since late summer in the space formerly Senoritas, Wooden Spoon has a comfortable natural-wood accented dining room and bar, with a large dining room and a 10-screen sports bar tucked away upstairs.
We recently stopped and tried the chef’s signature dishes — Southern fried chicken and creole shrimp and grits.
The shrimp and grits plate is beautiful to look at: a big bowl brimming with andouille slices, large shrimp, vegetables in a richly seasoned wine, mild chile, herb sauce, layered with flavor. Underneath it all, a silky, creamy cushion of grits that envelops every bite. This dish is perfectly prepared with loads of nuanced flavors and contrasting textures. Not surprisingly, this is one of the most popular dishes on the menu.
Next, the holy grail of comfort food appeared – Wooden Spoon’s fried chicken dinner. Presented in a tin tray, there are three large pieces of country fried chicken with mac & cheese, buttery biscuit, and collard greens. The chicken is incredibly moist, covered in a light, crispy crust. The chef’s signature recipe is an hours-long process that includes brine and buttermilk. This is not your typical thick puffy battered chicken – it’s almost lean enough to make your meal a guilt-free pleasure. Collard greens are a savory complement, flavored with onion and bacon bits. Creamy mac and cheese is an extra indulgence.
Chef Donald is proud of his smokers, rotating chock full with slabs of ribs – and pork legs destined for pulled pork, hugely popular as well, served Memphis style.
For those of you who love Nashville’s spicy hot fried chicken, you can find it here, along with the classics like chicken and dumplings, chicken and waffles, blackened catfish, and a badass Bloody Mary. Get hungry reading the full menu.
With two bars, there are food and drink specials daily, like Tuesday $5 martinis and Wednesday $5 fried chicken biscuit and cole slaw; on thirsty Thursdays, it’s happy hour all day long, and in the upstairs sports bar which is open Friday and Saturday, it’s happy hour all the time – AND during all NFL and College games. Bringing in the Nashville vibe, there are live bands playing every Friday and Saturday nights as well.
The Wooden Spoon offers up a lot of country comfort with soul, six days a week for lunch and dinner. Brunch is served on the weekends.
The Wooden Spoon Southern Kitchen and Saloon, 285 Glenwood Avenue, Bloomfield 973-743-0099. Closed Monday.