Bootlegger's River Tavern Mediterranean "Bistro Night"

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From left, Dr. Jeff Hoffmann and his wife, Carolyn, gaze into the flames admiringly as their food is prepared at Bootlegger's River Tavern monthly "Bistro Night." A Mediterranean-theme meal will be offered on Tuesday, Jan. 28. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Bootlegger's River Tavern in Millville is set to open its doors for a special Bistro Night on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at 6 p.m. The casual tavern restaurant will offer a reservation-only five-course gourmet meal for diners interested in a more sophisticated dining experience.

Owners Nick and Jenn Glenis are excited to welcome newcomers to the bistro event. Jennifer told The Press, "We have a great group of people who have come to almost every Bistro Night we have had. Everyone seems to have enjoyed the fine dining experience immensely." On a Facebook review, Dr. Jeff Hoffmann commented, “Carolyn and I have been all around the U.S., and this was one of the best meals we’ve ever had!”

Chef Nick comes to the restaurant business as a second-generation chef. He has worked in the restaurant industry for 42 years starting at age 12 in the family business. "I am a self-taught chef. I started in the dish room in our family's restaurant. If I didn't want to go to school my dad would tell me I could come to the restaurant and clean the grease trap. School didn't seem so bad after that," he said with a smile. 

Nick has worked under the direction of master chefs in the industry throughout his career. "I worked under chef Philippe Forcioli at Cafe Patou in Rockford and gained a lot of knowledge," he said.

The former Essen Haus chef enjoys a variety of cooking styles, listing Mediterranean as one of his favorites. Jenn explained, "The idea for the bistro night came from Nick who wanted a chance to 'stretch' in the kitchen and get away from the everyday menu." 

Nick shared, "There is an amazing amount of prep work  that goes on in the kitchen for each special event."  

She added, "We decided to do a five-course theme meal served on a night when we are closed to the public for a more intimate feel. We are Bootleggers, so we don't get too overly fancy. We do transform the atmosphere a bit by lighting votive candles in blue mason jars and provide Sinatra-like dinner music to add to the ambiance. There are limited spots available, so it is a quieter environment."

Past Bistro Night menus have included such delicacies as lobster bisque, lamb osso bucco, fig prosciutto and goat cheese salad, baked Brie and prosciutto rolls and peaches panna cotta to name only a few. 

"The Jan. 28 bistro menu will be an island theme menu since we are in the heart of winter. The cost of the meal is $50 per person and includes a digestif cocktail before dessert," she said. 

Chef Nick's five-course Mediterranean meal will include: 

•Stuffed plantain cups – fried plantain cups filled with carnitas, avocado, corn and pineapple salsa

•Coconut shrimp – crispy fried coconut shrimp served with a spicy apricot dipping sauce

•Caribbean fruit skewers – skewers of tropical fruit basted with a brown sugar rum glaze and grilled until tender 

•Jamaican jerk chicken – a half chicken rubbed with traditional jerk seasoning served with coconut confetti rice and roti flatbread

•Tropical turnover and banana fritters – guava and cream chesse wrapped in puff pastry served alongside tender banana doughnuts for dessert. 

Jennifer shared, "If you are unable to partake in the January meal the next one is scheduled for March 3, and will most likely be a seafood theme since it will be during lent." 

Bootlegger's River Tavern hours are:

Monday - closed 

Tuesday - closed (with the exception of Bistro Night)

Wednesday - 11 a.m. - 9 p.m.

Thursday - 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. 

Friday - 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. 

Saturday 11 a.m. - 11 p.m. 

Sunday 11 a.m. - 9 p.m. 

For additional information or to make a reservation, call (563) 252-7775 or find them on Facebook. 

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