Le Cordon Bleu and Culinary Institute of America-trained chef Rick Nifenecker and his wife, Laura, started selling high quality baked goods in Andover over 25 years ago, and it wasn’t long until their popularity encouraged them to open a retail space in Sparta that also includes full-service breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Situated in a charming old farmhouse along the town’s main street, the uneven wide plank pine floors, lace curtains and open-air porch are a throwback to a time when the area was more country than suburbia. Whether it is nibbling on a muffin and sipping tea from a china cup or enjoying an elegant three-course meal with your favorite BYO wine, the atmosphere lends itself nicely to slowing down and savoring.
Soups are a constantly-revolving array of selections, and we weren’t disappointed by the gently spiced, smooth and creamy mushroom that was available on the night we visited, but unfortunately the gazpacho tasted more like a cup of spicy cocktail sauce than cold soup.
There were two summery salads on the specials list and both were spot on. The blue cheese, with oranges, strawberries and pecans did need a little boost of salt, but the arugula salad with fresh figs and wedges of juicy grilled peaches had the sublime addition of a generous amount of softly oozing burrata cheese.
Although dinner items like Beef Bourguignon and Steak Diane seemed a bit heavy for a hot summer night, we did find other lighter selections. The champagne chicken with very tender slices of meat in an airy cream sauce dotted with tangy sun-dried tomatoes was a wonderful balance of flavors, but a delicate filet of sole crisply crusted with shredded potatoes and nestled in white wine lemon butter was the best dish of the evening.
Of course, being a renowned bakery selling everything from cookies to wedding cakes, we had to go for more than one dessert. The apple pie a la mode was rather bland, but a chocolate-drenched cheesecake bar was an over-the-top, bittersweet decadent finale. As if that weren’t enough, we couldn’t resist sampling a couple of the colorful little crispy macaron cookies, sandwiched with luscious cream that disappeared in one bite and put a nice exclamation point of the evening.
Café Pierrot, 19 Sparta Avenue, Sparta, 973-729-0988. Open for lunch and dinner, Monday-Thursday 7am — 9pm, Friday and Saturday 7 am — 9:30 pm.Click here to leave a comment