Another Montclair-Worthy Restaurant

Laurel & Sage now occupies the space that once housed CulinAriane.

A new Montclair-worthy restaurant has opened in the space the highly regarded CulinAriane vacated last year, when Ariane and Michael Duarte closed the eatery to open Ariane Kitchen & Bar in Verona.

GOOD-BY CULINARIANE…HELLO LAUREL & SAGE

Laurel & Sage, named for chef/owner Shawn Paul Dalziel’s daughters, offers a modern-American, globally inspired, seasonal menu. Chef Dalziel, originally from Malibu, CA attended the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, and was previously executive chef at 12 West Restaurant & Bar at the Upper Montclair train station.

The dining room is decorated with local artwork, wood tables and floors, three eye-catching chandeliers and a pressed-tin ceiling. Soft colors create a calming affect but be forewarned, it can get noisy when full.

The first thing one usually eats at a restaurant is the bread. If attention is paid to the bread, most likely the rest of the meal will be impressive. This could not have been truer at Laurel & Sage. We were presented with a basket containing a variety of options: croissants, warm popovers, warm gruyere-filled popovers and a multigrain cranberry bread along with honey-topped butter; delicious. This was followed by an amuse of faintly spicy, carrot-ginger vegan soup with cilantro oil; this gave us the first indication of how deftly the chef balances flavors.

Two salads were ordered, which four people easily shared. A variety of colors and textures were in the beautifully plated black kale and sprout salad with pancetta, pepitas, Medjool dates, ricotta salata and grapefruit, dressed with a refreshing pomegranate vinaigrette. Local roasted baby beets and field greens with goat cheese, spiced pecans, candied bacon and banyuls vinaigrette was just as impressive although the candied bacon was such a treat that we would have liked more of it.

A perfectly cooked tender duck breast was served with spinach, seared fois gras, a luscious Madeira-bone sauce and a bowl of root vegetable fries. Equally notable was the crispy airline chicken breast stuffed with chicken sage sausage and served with faro pilaf and mustard natural jus sauce. Although everyone at our table agreed that the use of the word “airline” to describe this dish implied a negative tasting entrée, we all thought that the dish was dynamite. Perhaps change the description to French breast? Asian influences were noted in the dark silky smooth kombue consommé which surrounded a ginger-soy lacquered Chilean sea bass. Accompanying lobster dumplings were flavorless but we did enjoy the baby bok choy. Brown butter yuzu vinaigrette added interest to the salmon, cauliflower puree and Oregon foraged mushrooms. We were disappointed in the ho-hum chef’s dessert which was a take on apple strudel but looked like a fried burrito.

Laurel & Sage is open Wednesday & Thursday from 5:30 to 10 PM, Friday & Saturday 5:30 to 11 PM and Sunday 5 to 10 PM. Brunch is served on Sunday from 10:30 AM to 3 PM.

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Black kale and sprout salad.

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Duck breast with seared fois gras and l Madeira-bone sauce.

Photos courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

Laurel & Sage
33 Walnut Street
Montclair
973-783-1133
BYO

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  1. ChicoEscuela

    This writer needs lessons in what good food is!