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This week Rosie tells us about David Burke Fromagerie in Rumson, Sigiri in Edison, Toscania Trattoria in Little Falls, and much more news about NJ restaurants.
DAVID BURKE FROMAGERIE, RUMSON
The first thing you usually eat at a restaurant is the bread. If the bread is not good, or it’s stale, ice cold, or of a poor quality—there’s been no thought put into it—there is a very good chance that you may encounter a mediocre meal. However, when the bread basket has a wow factor and, in this case, contained cheddar brioche, mini French baguettes, spicy cornbread muffins, bread sticks, whole pickled carrots and radishes along with butter presented on a block of Himalayan salt, we thought that we had waited too long to return to David Burke Fromagerie in Rumson—and we were right. The meal was memorable.
Starters were a trio of tuna tartare tacos topped with whipped avocado and tobiko. Besides the freshness of the fish and silkiness of the avocado, we appreciated that the tacos were presented on a chilled rack which held each one individually in a slot making for easy eating. The onion soup, topped with cheese and two large fried-onion rings, a whimsical presentation, was chock full of onions and flavor. Short ribs fell off the bone with the touch of a fork. Paired with hand-made cavatelli with wild mushrooms and truffle cream, this was a full bodied, most satisfying dish for a winter night. Local day boat scallops were beautifully caramelized and accompanied with creamy grits, buttermilk biscuit and Brussels sprouts whose leaves were placed on the plate individually. This dish was pleasing to the eye and palate. Desserts, the last food you eat at a restaurant should be as impressive as the bread you begin with, and again we were enthralled. Caramelized banana tart with roasted pineapple, caramel and sweet-and-spicy macadamia nuts, as well as coconut layer cake topped with a mound of toasted coconut and a side of drunken mango salsa were both impeccable. From start to finish, bread to dessert and everything in between, this was a notable meal. Kudos to executive chef Phil Deffina and pastry chef Stuart Marx.
We dined here on a Tuesday and the place was packed. Many diners were taking advantage of Tuesday's Burger Night, which includes a salad, burger, trimmings, fries, glass of wine or beer for $25—a great deal as the burgers were gorgeous, thick specimens available in a few variations. A roasted-vegetable burger is also available.There is also live music in the bar area.
David Burke Fromagerie is open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday; Happy Hour Tuesday through Sunday, 5 to 7 PM, all night Friday. Lunch, Saturday 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM; Sunday brunch, 10 AM to 2 PM.
Local day boat scallops with grits, buttermilk biscuit and Brussels sprouts.
Coconut layer cake topped with toasted coconut and side of drunken mango salsa.
Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
David Burke Fromagerie
26 Ridge Road
We’re anxiously awaiting for the opening of Agricola in Princeton where executive chef Josh Thomsen is in the process of getting his kitchen installed. He sent the following picture to Table Hopping With Rosie:
A Truly Outdoor Kitchen
Chef Josh Thomsen is a New Jersey native and recipient of the Star Chefs Rising Star in the San Francisco Bay Area by Star Chefs in 2010. At Agricola, Thomsen will use products sourced locally or grown from owner Jim Nawn’s Great Road Farm in Skillman. Some opening menu items at the 160-seat restaurant include: goat cheese potato terrine with slow-roasted beets, wild arugula, balsamic syrup; this morning's poached farm egg, rose Finn potatoes, frisée, truffle vinaigrette; Hudson Valley roasted half chicken with white beans, braised escarole, sweet carrots and mustard-infused oil; and roasted nectarine teff cake with honey-orange ice cream. Agricola will be open for dinner Monday through Saturday. Plans for breakfast, brunch and lunch are still being determined.
11 Witherspoon St
Central Kitchen, a contemporary American restaurant serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, will be opening at 717 E Palisade Ave, Englewood Cliffs in March. John Walsh will be the executive chef and Joe Sansotta the operating partner.
TOSCANIA TRATTORIA, LITTLE FALLS
Toscania Trattoria, a neighborhood eatery in Little Falls has been our to-try list for some time because it was named as Best New Restaurant—North, in the NJ Monthly Readers' and Critics' Choice Restaurant Poll in 2011. Although there are fabric tablecloths and napkins, this is a small, casual restaurant with reasonable prices. Spicy olives and hot Italian bread are placed on the table, along with a menu with the specials printed with their prices. The usual Italian items are available such as: spaghetti carbonara, chicken Scarpariello or cacciatore, and veal Marsala or Sorrentino. More interesting options were on the specials menu, which changes daily and on our visit included white anchovies with fresh tomatoes and olive oil; fried fresh sardine filet; and spaghetti alla bottarga (cured fish roe) as well as many fish options with various sauces. We opted for the double pork chop Giambotta, grouper Livornese, whole bronzino and veal Marsala. All were fine; nothing exciting, but tasty. We would certainly return here. However, what really impressed us was the desserts, which were beautifully plated and tasty. The homemade pistachio cake came with vanilla cream swirled with strawberry and chocolate sauces and fresh strawberries, a palate pleasing dish. Homemade Bavarian cream with raspberries, blueberries and strawberries was colorful and light, a simple dish that dazzled.
Toscania Trattoria is open for lunch, Tuesday through Friday and dinner, Tuesday through Sunday.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
75 Main St
SIGIRI SRI LANKAN CUISINE, EDISON
We never had Sri Lankan food before, and when we walked into what we thought was a restaurant, there was only one table and it had advertisements on it. Not a problem. “Is this a take-out only?” I asked. In broken English the man behind the counter told us “No, we’ll bring you a table.” The table with the ads was cleared and we were seated and even brought wine glasses, as the restaurant is BYO. However, water was served in paper cups. Sigiri Sri Lankan Cuisine in Edison does a large takeout business, but when people come in to dine a table is taken from the back room and set. We were here for the food, not the ambiance, and what a delicious find this was.
Colonization by India, Portugual, Malaysia and other countries has influenced the cuisines of Sri Lankan food. It reminded us of South Indian food because of the use of rice, chilies, lentils and coconut, but better. Starters were Dhal Vade a round, spicy, crisp lentil cracker accompanied with a coconut curry that was so good, we were eating the curry by itself. The coconut is not sweet but has a salty/pickled taste. A vegetable roll and mutton roll were both deep-fried with moist fillings. Lamb string hopper kotthu reminded us of fried rice with slivered vegetables amidst amplified flavors. String hoppers are a small rice noodle and can be combined with chicken, beef or vegetables. Like all the dishes, we had this one was ordered medium-spicy, which was hot enough for us to tolerate, but not so hot as to make us feel we had firecrackers in our mouths. Chicken curry on the bone came in a dark sauce that is known as a black curry in traditional Sri Lankan cuisine. The chicken was fall-off-the bone tender, and the sauce so interesting that you want to eat it with a spoon. There were also stews listed on the menu, and we opted for one with vegetables that contained carrots, potatoes, onions and red-and-green peppers. Again, the balance of spiciness and textures were harmonious and memorable combinations. Dessert was a refreshing watalappam, a coconut-custard pudding with small bits of cashew nuts.
To our knowledge this is the only Sri Lankan restaurant in New Jersey, (there are some in Staten Island and New York City) so if you want to experience this most exciting cuisine head on over to Edison or to their branch in NYC. Sigiri is named after Sigiriya, a very old rock fortress, which is one of the eight World Heritage Sites of Sri Lanka and a popular tourist attraction.
Sigiri Sri Lankan Cuisine
52 Rt 27
THE POP SHOP, COLLINGSWOOD
Dr. Seuss Week will be celebrated at the Pop Shop, 729 Haddon Ave, Collingswood (856-869-0111) from February 25 through March 1, with special dishes such as Daisy-Head Mayzie Burgers, Grinch’s Roast Beast, Pink Yink Ink Drink, and, of course—Green Eggs and Ham! Some of the events planned are Horton Hears a Who Day with an appearance from the Cat in the Hat, story time lunches, and a pajama party dinner. For information log onto: www.thepopshopusa.com/
CHIMNEY ROCK WINE DINNER AT STRIP HOUSE IN LIVINGSTON
On March 5, Bill Zucosky will present the following five-course Chimney Rock wine dinner at the Strip House, Westminster Hotel, 550 West Mount Pleasant Ave, Livingston.
Strip House roasted-bacon salad with heirloom tomatoes and wild arugula
(Chimney Rock Fume Blanc)
Lump crab cake with potato salad, haricots verts, corn salsa, remoulade
(Chimney Rock Elevage Blanc)
Filet mignon with black-truffle creamed spinach and ripped potatoes
(Chimney Rock Stags Leap Cabernet)
Strip House 24 Layer Chocolate Cake
7 PM; $115 inclusive. Reservations: 973-548-0050.
NJ CHEFS AT BEARD HOUSE, NYC
On Monday, March 4, a Philippe Chin and Friends dinner will be held at the James Beard House, 167 West 12th St, New York. The following New Jersey chefs will be in attendance: Philippe Chin, Philippe Chin French-Asian Bistro and Deck Bar, Somers Point and Keith Mitchell, Nero’s Tuscan Steakhouse at Caesar’s, Atlantic City. Joining them will be Kiong Banh and Audrey Claire, Twenty Manning Grill, Philadelphia; Kristol Bryant, XIX Restaurant, Philadelphia; and pastry chef Rocco Lugrine, The International Culinary School at the Art Institute of Philadelphia. 7 PM; $170; members $130. Reservations 212-627-2308.
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