Eat-What-You-Want, Pay-What-You-Want is Back

Blu, the much-honored Montclair BYO, adopts gracious menu policy from now until August 31.

Chef Zod Arifai and his daughter, Brianda, in front of her school. Photo: Chris Crisman, 2009.

Buoyed by the large turnout for his June 17 experiment with an Eat What You Want, Pay What You Want price policy, Zod Arifai, chef/owner of Blu and Next Door in Montclair, has decided to reinstate the policy at both restaurants until they close August 31.

“It was very successful last time, and I’m hoping to turn more people on to my kind of food,” Arifai says. “Blu has always been about showing that really excellent food does not have to be intimidating or expensive. And Next Door has always been about bang for the buck with no loss of quality.”

Blu, which opened in 2005, has been a fixture on NJM’s annual list of Top 25 restaurants in the state. Arifai, a former rock and roll bass player and self-taught cook, has an almost musical knack for combining flavors and textures in ways that are harmonious, balanced and surprising yet pleasing.

Next Door, which is literally next door to Blu and shares the same kitchen, is home to the exceptional hamburger (with melted cheddar and caramelized onions) that won NJM’s Great Burger Showdown in 2011. It also is home to Arifai’s irresistible spaghetti carbonara with crispy duck and his napa cabbage salad with crispy noodles in spicy peanut dressing, among other gratifying dishes.

NJM readers several times honored Blu with the Best Seafood Award for the North region. Indeed, Arifai’s gentle touch with seafood is one of his most defining qualities.

With Blu and Next Door closing on August 31—Arifai hopes to open a restaurant in Manhattan next year—this is Jerseyans’ last opportunity to sample his signature creations on a pay-what-you-want basis.

The menu will change weekly. Don’t miss this week’s specials:

–Seafood dumplings in coconut chili broth

–Duck breast with braised red cabbage, parsnips and fig/red wine emulsion

–Meatloaf with creamy polenta and chipotle glaze

–Duck confit with potato purée, Gorgonzola and sweet-and-sour sauce

–Risotto with wild mushrooms and truffle broth

–Chocolate and peanut butter crisp with caramel ice cream

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