The Rosie Report: Papillon 25 in South Orange

The restaurant's menu leans toward Southern and Cajun-style favorites, and the bar offers an extensive martini list.

Roasted vegetables at Papillon 25. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

At about 6 PM on a weekday night, we made our way through the bar at Papillon 25 that was two deep with well dressed, chic professionals. Everyone seemed to know each other and were having a lively time. The restaurant, open since 2003, offers Southern, American, Caribbean, French and Italian food. Locals obviously know about this restaurant and now the Safersteins do too!

First impressions matter and the excellent, colorful roasted vegetable Napoleon entree (shared as an appetizer), was presented on a large warm plate, rather than layered as the name implied. The fresh-tasting vegetables (zucchini, carrots, onions, asparagus, red peppers, broccoli, sweet potato, string beans, collard greens and herb couscous with a balsamic syrup) were spot on. Since the menu leans toward Southern and Cajun-style dishes, we opted for jambalaya containing smoked turkey sausage, diced chicken, shrimp, sweet peppers and onions which was mixed into the rice rather than served over it. The Creole sauce was medium spicy and perfect for us. Shrimp and grits, another winner, had cheesy jalapeno grits providing a smooth accompaniment to the garlicky shrimp.

Shrimp and grits. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

All of the desserts were tempting especially the Papillon bread pudding made from a family recipe and served with warm wild berry sauce and dulce de leche. However, we choose our favorite of key lime pie with a graham cracker crust, whipped cream and strawberries which was lip smack’n good.

There are 57 martini and specialty cocktails offered, including a lemon-tini, peach mango-tini, watermelon-tini, Papillon Uptown (with Jim Beam Honey, lemonade and Yanick’s Special ice tea), as well as white or red sangria. Wines by the glass were in the $9-$10 range, and pours were generous.

There is a $5 surcharge for sharing a plate and a 20 percent gratuity added for groups of five or more. Open Monday through Wednesday, noon to midnight; Thursday and Friday, noon to 2 AM; Saturday, 3 PM to 2 AM; and Sunday, 2 PM to 12 AM. Happy Hour Monday through Friday 3 to 7 PM. Call or check the web site for evenings when there is live jazz.

Papillon 25, 25 Valley Street, South Orange, 973-761-5299

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