The Rosie Report: TOWN Bar + Kitchen

Wine and cocktails are the draw at this chic Morristown restaurant, but service can be bumpy.

Braised short rib garganelli.
Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

There is something for everyone at TOWN Bar + Kitchen in Morristown, which features menu items including salads, soups, fish, raw bar, chicken, meats, pasta, and charcuterie and cheese plates. From the second floor, diners can watch trains arriving and departing from the station across the street, as well as a stunning view to the first floor where you can see bartenders mixing drinks. Another plus is the restaurant is open on a Monday—a rarity in the restaurant world.

The bi-level décor is dramatic with glass wine cases, decorative mosaic tiles on bar bases and walls, and a glassed in private room on the second floor. Metal and wooden tables are set with dishtowel cloths and the water glasses are etched with a “T.” Wood floors and brick walls add to the wow factor but be forewarned that this is not a restaurant where diners can have a quiet conversation. Weather permitting opt to sit at the outdoor patio which also has a fireplace.

Service was mixed; half very good and half unimpressive. Bread was never offered and when we requested it, after our appetizers, two small rolls and a pat of butter were brought to us without a butter knife. Since our knives were not replaced and dirty from our appetizers there was an “ick” factor when spreading the butter.

Grilled octopus. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

The generous Town chopped salad—with crisp romaine, feta, red onions, cucumbers, red and green olives, heirloom tomatoes and oregano—was dressed with a light vinaigrette. It could easily be shared by three people or ordered as an entrée. The grilled octopus was flawless and flanked with two colorful spicy sauces; salsa brava and a spicy ‘nduja aioli, along with roasted new potatoes and piquillo peppers.

Duck breast. Photo courtesy of Lowell Saferstein

Piping hot, opulent slow braised short rib garganelli, containing more meat than pasta, was matched with rainbow Swiss chard. It was scrumptious and on my “try to recreate at home list.” The substantial portion of medium seared duck breast served with a carrot-ginger purée, baby bok choy, baby carrots and pearl onions was a colorful and tasty dish. Unfortunately, it was served lukewarm and while the waiter did offer to remake the dish or let Lowell order something different, he kept the dish and left a clean plate. To our surprise the duck was taken off of the bill; a customer friendly decision on part of management which was not expected but appreciated.

Chocolate was an ingredient in four of the six dessert choices. We opted to share a brownie presented in a cast iron skillet that was topped with caramel mocha cappuccino and a side of candied pecans. Non-chocolate lovers can opt for one of the non-chocolate ice creams, zeppoles or banoffee pie, an English dessert made from bananas, cream and toffee with a buttery biscuit base.

The easy-to-manage wine list was presented on an iPad. We choose a Côtes du Rhône and merlot by the glass, which were poured from individual carafes. While the presentation is noteworthy, we always wonder if we received the wine we ordered. We are more impressed when the bottle is presented to us and we are given a taste of the wine before the serving is poured.

TOWN Bar + Kitchen is owned by 40 North Restaurants, whose other NJ properties include the Blackhorse Pub and the Blackhorse Tavern in Mendham; Piattino in Mendham and Summit; the Office Tavern Grill in Morristown, Ridgewood and Summit; George & Martha’s in Morristown; and the Office Beer Bar & Grill in Montclair.

Open for lunch Monday through Friday from 11:30 am; dinner daily from 4 pm; and brunch Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am to 4 pm.

TOWN Bar + Kitchen, 80 Elm St, Morristown, 973-889-8696

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