The Rosie Report: Meal in Nutley

Opened in 2012, this Nutley restaurant offers an eclectic menu of steaks, chops and more.

MEAL, which is a perfect acronym of “Meet Eat and Lounge,” was buzzing with diners early on a weekday night. Chef/owner Mark Burachinsky, a graduate of the CIA, offers very good food, generous portions (we had enough leftovers for dinner the next night) and for the most part attentive service. We last dined at this Nutley restaurant in September 2012 shortly after it opened. Meal is still noteworthy and worth a visit.

A spicy sriracha mayonnaise that accompanied blistered shishito peppers served in a cast iron baking pan was a light and healthy starter that could have served three to four people. Some other appetizers that caught our eye included short rib tacos, tuna tartare and mac n’ cheese with Black Forest ham.

Blistered shishito peppers. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

We love quality meat (USDA Certified Black Angus meat is used here, some of which is prime) and my eyes lit up and stomach growled when I saw that Colorado lamb chops, a not often seen item, was on the menu. Most restaurants serve Australian or New Zealand lamb which is less expensive. The meat, while exceptional, was a tad too salty, even though I had asked for it to be prepared without salt and butter. Haricot vert was a side. Lowell honed in on the pork chop topped with brown sugar apple butter paired with cheesy grits and Brussels sprouts. It passed his pork chop test, as it was thick, tender, juicy and enhanced by the sweet, rich sauce.

A few other items listed on the eclectic menu included shrimp and grits; steakhouse burger; linguini and clams; half roasted chicken; and a steakhouse sandwich. The 16-ounce cowboy and 40-ounce tomahawk rib eye steaks were also tempting options.

A cast iron frying pan also served as the receptacle for an apple cranberry crisp topped with Tahitian vanilla ice cream. It was a refreshing finish to our meat heavy dinner. Other luring desserts were an “adult” banana split, crème brulee and s’mores. Our waitress told us the that the s’mores created with a brownie, graham cracker gelato and burnt marshmallow was so good that if it wasn’t the best brownie we ever had she would pay for the dessert! Banana pudding, pumpkin chiffon or chocolate peanut butter mousse were whimsically offered in jars.

Pork chop topped with brown sugar apple butter. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Lamb chops. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein
Apple cranberry crisp. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

There were a few misses: two mediocre warm rolls with butter were boring; a bottle of water which was placed on the table was not poured into the glasses; and a pet peeve of ours was that wine by the glass was served from a mini carafe. We object to this as we have no way of knowing if we received the wine that we ordered. It would be preferable to have the bottle presented to us and then poured into a glass.

Except for a red and blue painting in the dining room that reminded us of Van Gogh’s starry night, the décor was dull with tablecloths, dishtowel napkins and unadorned walls. The bathroom was actually snazzier with a black and white tile floor, white subway tiles walls and black and white pictures and accessories.

Diners can get more bang for their buck by taking advantage of the following daily specials:

A $39 three-course prix fixe dinner is offered from 4:30-6 pm daily.

Happy hour (Tuesday through Sunday from 4-6:30 pm) includes $4 select wines by the glass, $5 mixed drinks, $3 bottled beers, $1 raw bar, and $5 small plates.

At brunch, bottomless bloody bulls and prosecco mimosas are $18.

On Wednesday, opt for unlimited mussels and on Thursday, a half price steakhouse burger.

Meal is open Tuesday Friday from noon for lunch and dinner; Saturday from 4-10 pm; and Sunday from 11 am to 3 pm and 4-8 pm.

Meal, 433 Kingsland Street, Nutley; 973-542-8522

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