The Stage House in Scotch Plains proudly bills itself as a historic destination for the dining elite. With its wide-plank floors, bead-board wainscoting, and artwork of the American Revolution, part of its appeal is its Washington-slept-here feel.
Now comes the Tavern at the Stage House. Perhaps its slogan should be “Washington partied here.”
The tavern, which opened in August, is a renovated 200-year-old barn. In the middle of the dining room is a 700-pound hand-forged wrought-iron chandelier. The bar is U-shaped—conducive, one imagines, to engaging in debates about the Continental Congress or the Giants; a huge flat-screen TV ensures you won’t miss your game. The beer is microbrewed, a Flirtini graces the drink menu, and advance reservations aren’t accepted. Food here is simple, rustic, with lots of flavor—braised lamb shank, smoked beef brisket, barbecued burgers.
Has Chef Eric Hambrecht—who also turns out sophisticated French fare at the Stage House—suddenly become a populist? “Fine dining focuses on 5 percent of the population,” he says. “We want to focus on the other 95 percent.” It’s clear he’s excited about the new side of the operation, where patrons “don’t have to sit with arms crossed, worried about using the right fork,” he says.Click here to leave a comment