My girlfriend Gail and I recently ditched our regular evening lives and went to dinner at “Market,” a Montclair, NJ restaurant; it was a first visit for both of us. Since it’s BYOB, we brought a tasty pinot grigio in a screw-cap bottle (Kris, about $12 around here); it’s so convenient you can take it to a concert in the park, fireworks on the beach, anywhere without carrying a corkscrew too!
Gail and I ordered five different items from the menu. I know. I know. It sounds like a lot of food, but we don’t go out together all that often and we like a variety of foods on the table. And it’s not like my daughter won’t eat the leftovers when they arrive home (She’s been known to wait up to see what we’ve “left her.”). We ordered a number of appetizers, an entrée and a “plate.” Market encourages diners to choose “plates” from its hand-written menu; it’s a way to try a number of different dishes, albeit in smaller portions; the ingredients are local, organically grown and fresh.
To begin, our young and well-informed Market waitress slid a lovely old fashioned wooden cutting board of flatbread crackers and pesto onto the table so we had a bit to snack on while we examined the menu offerings and chatted up a storm. We liked the crunchy flatbreads and savory pesto and we appreciated that our waitress gave us time to relax into the restaurant’s atmosphere.
Gail started with one of the night’s specials and a fav of hers: crab cake. Gail is an expert on crab cake. Ask her. She’s typically very modest, but when it comes to her palate and crab cake, she admits it’s an area of great expertise. Gail said the crab cake was very, very good, one of the best she’s tasted. She practically hummed she was so pleased with it! I don’t care for crab, but I can say the plate was beautifully presented with the crab stacked with the cubed mango and avocado. No leftovers on that plate.
I started with the chipolte cheddar mac & cheese. I didn’t taste the chipolte in it, nor did the shot of carrot-lime soup rev it up enough for me; I mean it was tasty, but not as yummy as what I have eaten at Southern Belle, another Montclair eatery. Leftovers on that plate.
By now the rest of the dishes had arrived tableside. I dove into the American Waygu Beef Sliders. Once my tongue tasted the horseradish-caviar crème fraiche smeared on the tiny bun I knew it was a winner. Gail agreed. The sweet potato fries served on the side were crunchy and flavorful; I think they are better than the sweet potato fries offered at Toast, another Montclair restaurant. That is high praise from me. Leftovers on that plate, but only because we ordered enough food for 3 people.
The harcot verts were a choice from that night’s tasting menu. Can you say lemon-dill béarnaise sauce? How about frizzled prosciutto? And almonds too! They were cooked just right. The accompaniments were perfect and the whole dish was beautifully presented. I practically grabbed the beans out of Gail’s mouth. No leftovers on that plate!
At that point I eyed the Wild Mushroom Risotto. It too was beautifully presented: The kale bundled on top was crunchy and fun to eat. I smeared a bit of the pesto onto the risotto and it added a nice zip to my mouth. Gail, a frequenter of Osteria Giotto in Montclair, said she preferred Giotto’s; I liked Market’s combo of the tiny arugula salad, pesto and risotto.
We had a great meal in an old-fashioned atmosphere with high-quality, well-presented dishes. Would we return? You bet!
P.S. My apologies for the lack of sharpness of the photos; I had my little camera and I didn’t do a great job photographing the food that night.