Restaurant News

This week Rosie tells us about Rob’s Bistro in Madison, Lemongrass in Morris Plains, Montclair Restaurant Week, and much more news about NJ restaurants.

ROB’S BISTRO, MADISON
Robert Ubhaus has opened Rob’s Bistro at 75 Main Street, Madison, serving moderately priced French bistro cuisine. It’s located next door to Ubhaus’s other restaurant, Resto, so if you can’t get a reservation at one place you can always try the other one and not be disappointed. With 45 seats, Rob’s Bistro is almost twice the size of Resto. Both establishments are BYO.

We dined here the second night the restaurant was open, and our dinner was seamless. Starting with French bread and sweet butter, we perused the comfort foods on the menu and started with a creamy cauliflower soup and a frisée salad with poached egg, lardons, and Dijon vinaigrette. Some other starters are onion soup; escargots with garlic-parsley butter; and salad Niçoise with seared ahi tuna and haricots verts. Interesting plats du jour are offered, and choucroute garni lovers should dine here on a Wednesday, when a pork, bacon, and sauerkraut version of the dish is offered. If you’re not here on a Wednesday, a cassoulet is on the regular menu. We opted for coq au vin (a cut-up half chicken on the bone), a dish we hadn’t had in a very long time. Chef Ubhaus marinates the chicken overnight in red wine, thyme, rosemary, garlic, peppercorns, bay leaves, onions, and lardons. The next day he simmers the chicken with the marinating liquid, brown chicken stock, vegetables, and white button mushrooms. When the meat is cooked through, he strains the sauce and thickens it with a roux. Served over buttered noodles, it was well balanced and delicious, a most soothing dish on a cold winter night. The immensely flavorful and tender braised lamb shank and pomme purée was another hearty dish that deserved applause. Dessert was an apple tarte tatin topped with house-made vanilla bean ice cream. We predict this restaurant will become very popular and are anxious to return to try the other tempting menu options. Rob’s Bistro is open for lunch Tuesdays through Saturdays from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM and for dinner Tuesdays through Sundays. For reservations call 973-377-0067.

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LEMONGRASS, MORRIS PLAINS
Lemongrass, a Viet-Thai restaurant located at 1729 Route 10 East, Morris Plains, is a casual storefront location that opened in December. We’ve been there twice already, as we’ve been so delighted with the pristine and very fresh-tasting food. Some starters we sampled were shrimp rolls (one order is large enough for two to share) filled with steamed tiger shrimp, mint leaves, lettuce, and vermicelli and served with a sweet and spicy peanut sauce; salted fried calamari with diced peppers and onions; and unusual crispy wontons filled with cream cheese. Warm cream cheese wrapped in a deep-fried crêpe also was offered for dessert. Pho is available in a medium or large bowl, but we opted for a Vietnamese sweet-and-sour soup with fish, which is also available with chicken or shrimp. The soup had subtle flavors from pineapple, mushrooms, bean sprouts, and tomatoes—another appealing starter. Entrées were a creamy red curry with crunchy broccoli, carrots, celery, corn, bamboo shoots, and tofu, served in a soup bowl. Green and yellow curry dishes are also available and can be ordered with vegetables and tofu, chicken, beef, shrimp, or seafood. The spice level was perfect for us, as our eyes weren’t watering. You can always ask for chili sauce or request to have the dish “Thai hot” if heat is what you’re looking for. The cashew stir-fry contained broccoli, celery, carrots, mushrooms, baby corn, cashews, and (our choice) chicken in a spicy bean sauce. Each vegetable was crisp and retained its own distinct flavor. A stir-fry of eggplant and tofu in a spicy bean sauce had all of us fighting for the last piece. We can recommend the stir-fried pad siew, thick rice noodles combined with tender beef, egg, bean sprouts, and carrots in a spicy soy sauce and topped with peanuts, as well as the first-class pad Thai, which was as good as any variation of this dish that we have eaten. Fruit shakes, milk bubble tea, and Vietnamese coffee with condensed milk are available, but we prefer wine, and this is a BYO, which makes the inexpensive meal (the most expensive dish was $13) that much easier on the pocketbook. For reservations call 973-998-6303.

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FORMER NJ FOOD EDITOR PUBLISHES GRAPEFRUIT COOKBOOK

Patricia Mack, former food editor at The Record in Hackensack, has published a new cookbook, Famous Florida! Delicious Grapefruit Recipes. The book contains recipes for grapefruit in beverages, appetizers, main courses, desserts, and breakfast dishes as well as recipes from some of Florida’s famous chefs, including Grapefruit and Grouper Ceviche from Allen Susser of Chef Allen’s in Aventura, Blue Crab Cakes with Citrus Beurre Blanc from Tim Creehan of Beach Walk in Destin, and a cocktail recipe for a pink lady with pink grapefruit juice from Tony Acinapura of Prime 707 Steakhouse and Bar in Lake Worth. Most of the recipes were developed by Mack using fruit from the prolific tree that grows in the yard of her Florida vacation home. Some of these dishes are candied grapefruit peel; corn fritters with grapefruit sauce; and Indian River grapefruit meringue cake. The 111-page softcover book is priced at $8.95 and can be ordered online at www.famousflorida.com or by calling 888-FLA-BOOK. Mack, a resident of East Brunswick, is also the author of the books The 15-Minute Chef, Tomatoes, and Corn.

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BRUNCH AT DAVID BURKE FROMAGERIE, RUMSON

A lavish Sunday brunch buffet is now being offered at David Burke Fromagerie, 26 Ridge Road, Rumson, featuring breakfast favorites re-created in Burke’s signature style, including a Ferris wheel that holds doughnuts as part of a make-your-own doughnut station with jams, jellies, cinnamon, powdered sugar, and much more to stuff or accompany the treats. Diners can opt for seasonal scones, cheese popovers, mini crab cakes, sliders, French fries, lobster dumplings, waffles, pancakes, eggs Benedict, and omelets. Still hungry? There will be home-style potatoes, bacon and sausage, prime rib, and roast duck carving stations, a seafood and salad bar, and a selection of desserts, including pastries, tarts, parfaits, smoothies, and some seasonal surprises. 10:30 AM to 2 PM; $32, children $15, plus cocktails, signature beverages, tax, and gratuities. For reservations call 732-842-8088.

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WASSAILING THE APPLE TREES
On January 31, celebrate the Wassailing the Apple Trees event at Terhune Orchards, 330 Cold Soil Road, Princeton. This is an ancient British tradition where celebrants gather around a bonfire to chant a traditional verse that invokes the positive spirits in the orchards and make noise to keep the trees safe from evil spirits until the next year’s apples appear. Cider-soaked bread will be tied to an apple tree for the spirits. Activities during the day will include the Handsome Molly dance troupe, which will perform traditional and rural molly dances of nineteenth-century England. Complimentary doughnuts and hot cider will be served. Bring your own noisemakers. 1 to 4 PM. For more information and directions call 609-924-2310.

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MONTCLAIR RESTAURANT WEEK
Montclair Restaurant Week will be celebrated from January 25 through February 7 with participating restaurants offering multi-course prix-fixe meals for $31 or less. A dollar from each meal will be donated to local food charities (Salvation Army Food Program, Human Needs Food Pantry, and Toni’s Kitchen) through the Montclair Rotary Foundation. You can win a night out on the town by registering at the site below. Winners will be announced at the January 24 kick-off party at Halcyon Restaurant, 112–114 Walnut Street, Montclair (973-744-4450). The restaurant will serve hors d’oeuvres along with tastings of Jameson Irish Whiskey, fine wines, and Egan’s microbrews. Along with live jazz there will be a 
dessert cupcake bar by Love My Cake plus gift bags for all, exclusive auction items, and a chance to meet Montclair’s famous chefs. The cost is $31, with 10 percent of the proceeds donated by Halcyon to the Montclair Rotary Foundation for the benefit of the three Restaurant Week charities. More information and a list of participating restaurants can be found at www.gotomontclairnj.com.

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DINING DEALS

Restaurant Serenade, 6 Roosevelt Avenue, Chatham, has introduced a Page Three menu with a three-course lunch for $27 Mondays through Fridays and a three-course dinner for $39 Sundays through Thursdays. Each course will have two choices. For reservations call 973-701-0303.

Drew’s Bayshore Bistro
, 58 Broad Street, Keyport, has a four-course twilight dinner menu Tuesdays through Thursdays from 5 to 6:30 PM for $25 plus tax and gratuity. For reservations call 732-739-9219; BYO.

Luna Rossa Biagio Lamberti, 3210 Route 42, Turnersville, is offering a three-course menu for $14.95 Tuesdays through Fridays from 2 to 6 PM. For reservations call 856-728-4505.

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Please send press releases and restaurant news, including information on staff changes, wine tastings, and cooking classes, to [email protected].

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