In Branchville, a Meal That Falls Short of Potential

A recent visit to Mountain House Tavern & Grill left a lot to be desired.

Brussel sprouts at Mountain House in Branchville. Photo by Suzanne Zimmer Lowery

The décor in the Mountain House dining room and bar is rustically pleasant enough, with bare-board shiplap walls, fashionable industrial light fixtures and hardwood floors, but the rest of our dining experience left a lot to be desired.

The website boasts that they are situated on “beautiful Kittatiny Lake,” where in the warm season you can relax by the water with a cocktail. This is a bit deceptive, as the building faces the road and appears to have no waterfront views and only a little corner of the parking lot that is actually on the lake. Of course, being February, this wasn’t a big concern.

A platter of blackened Brussels sprouts and bacon, topped with a nicely browned Parmesan and walnut crust, was the highlight of the meal. Our Mountain Salad of greens, tossed with blue cheese, avocado, roasted corn, crumbled bacon and citrus vinaigrette, offered a nice balance of flavors, but the greens were completely overdressed and soggy.

16-ounce Delmonico ribeye steak. Photo by Suzanne Zimmer Lowery
Apple pie. Photo by Suzanne Zimmer Lowery

The 16-ounce Delmonico ribeye steak was prepared as ordered and the short rib braised in red wine and coffee was tender and juicy, but both dishes were topped with a thick spread of the same dark brown, salty, gloppy sauce. It reminded us of restaurants that used to put plastic versions of their dishes on display in the window and tasted like cafeteria gravy that had been left on the burner too long. The side dish of rich, cheesy grits and garlicky fresh vegetables salvaged the short rib, but cold mashed potatoes made a wreckage of the steak plate.

Being that the kitchen closes at the early hour of 9pm on a Saturday night, we were the last people in the dining room, but they did accommodate us with dessert. When we saw that there were freshly baked pies from the nearby Hainesville General Store, we opted for a piece of apple pie a la mode. Again, disappointment set in with the first bite of soggy crust, that had us wondering exactly when the pie had been baked, and the randomly hot, as in microwaved, temperature.

Unfortunately, the bottom line is that sub-par food and generally inattentive service make a visit to Mountain House not worth the trip.

Mountain House Tavern & Grill, 19 US 206, Branchville, 973-250-3300, . Open Monday, Wednesday and Thursday 11:30am until 8pm. Kitchen stays open until 9pm on Friday and Saturday. Closed Tuesday.

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