Tag Archives: restaurants

Best Restaurants in NJ Pilgrimages – Mockingbird Cafe

12 Oct

Mockingbird Cafe Photo Credit - Jen Olsen, Basking Ridge Patch

Every year New Jersey Monthly list the Best Restaurants in NJ.  This year I decided to buy it and take one of my favorite foodies along for the journey of hitting as many as we can until the next one comes out.  If you’re a regular reader, you know we have hit two restaurants on the list and understand why they are there.

Last week, Maria and I hit Mockingbird Cafe in downtown Basking Ridge.  I must admit, this was my second visit (sorry Maria)!  A few neighbors decided to have a girls’ breakfast and of course there was no doubt in my mind were to go.  The place definitely lived up to the Critics’ pick as one of the best places for Brunch.  It was delicious and inexpensive!  We all had different things to eat and everyone loved their meal.  I ordered “Clean Up on Aisle 3″ Rumble which they describe as” A bit like a messy omelette, or eggs scrambled with a lot of goodness”.  It was eggs with everything and the kitchen sink – sausage, ham, bacon, cheddar, swiss,tomatoes, onions, roasted peppers and herbs!   The eggs were perfectly cooked which I can say with 100% confidence is not my specialty.  Hey, we can’t be great at everything!  The Rumble and green tea wasn’t over $12.  Now that’s a bargain.

Now onto lunch at Mockingbird Cafe.  I was very curious if lunch could stand up to the excellence of breakfast.  My vote is in and it’s a resounding yes!  Maria had the Griggstown turkey burger and I had the Bar Harbor which is lobster blt salad with basil mayo on brioche toast.  Both meals came with hand cut fries and a small container of coleslaw.  The lobster was good and not too much mayo and nicely seasoned.  The food was good and a meal wouldn’t be complete if we didn’t have dessert.  We shared the brownie al a mode and I must say it was the BEST brownie I’ve ever eaten.  We could not stop talking about this brownie while eating it.  It was so good that a few were taken as take out but we’re pleading the 5th!

Mockingbird Cafe Inside Credit Jen Olsen Basking Ridge Patch

I can’t wait to go back and check out the dinner menu.  The Cafe is small but charming and homey but not pretentious or overly fussy.  Whether you are wearing your Birkinstocks or carrying a Birkin, you will feel at home.  The restaurant seats about 30 people at a time so be prepared to wait if you hit it on the weekend. Oh, and they don’t have a website so you’ll just have to trust me on this one.  Urbanspoon does have their menu online so check it out (http://www.urbanspoon.com/u/menu/1540873).  I should have taken pictures of my meal but clearly I was focused on one thing…eating!

Pastry Out!

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Burgers & Dessert

30 Aug

I love eating dessert and always looking for fellow foodies to join me on the food quest.  So on my recent adventure, my buddy Lissa (yes, that’s Lissa with two s’s because she’s that cool) joined me for another great dinner at The Pluckemin Inn. Located in Bedminster, NJ it is looks like a charming unassuming home on the outside but inside, there are a few culinary geniuses at work. When you’re walking towards the entrance, you will see they have a lovely garden that looks like it’s own little island near the building.

There is nothing I love more than eating something that keeps me thinking about it long after it’s gone and days after I’ve left the restaurant.  If you feel like I do, then check out “The Plucky” as us locals call it. Well Lissa and I ordered the exact same thing for dinner.  Great minds think alike if I must say so myself.  We started our meal with the corn and cucumber gazpacho with summer crostini. All I can say is OMG.  The texture and presentation were perfect.  For our entree we decided on burgers.  Yep, we ate burgers in a fine dining restaurant and they were tasty.  Everyone can’t make a great burger. Just envision your “special” relative, more likely a granddad, dad, uncle, brother, cousin, etc. who ambushes the grill for all family functions only to deliver a burger that looks and taste like a hockey puck. The sirloin burgers are served with homemade pickles and no hockey pucks either.

Onto my favorite part of the meal…dessert.  The milk chocolate mousse was divine.  Tons of element and textures.  The dessert moved between smooth, crunchy and cold with each bite.  On the plate was not only the mousse but inside a macadamia nut dacquoise alongside coffee opaline & milk gelato.  I must admit this is the second time I ordered this dessert.  It was superb the first time and superb the second time as well.  I had to take a picture and share with everyone. I also took a picture of the entire dessert menu but here is the link so you can check it out yourself!  http://www.pluckemininn.com/menus/dessert.pdf

Valrhona 'Caramelia' Milk Chocolate Mousse

So cheers to the mousse!  And yes, we finished everything on the plate!

Pastry Out!

The Last Course

28 Jul

Today I received a copy of Pastry Chef extraordinaire Claudia Fleming’s cookbook, The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern.  Let me clarify – it’s was loaned to me for review.  Well I had two surprises reviewing this book today.  First, the Executive Chef for Tabor Road Tavern and Grato was listed in the acknowledgements.  He was the Sous Chef at Gramercy Tavern when Chef Claudia was the Pastry Chef.  John is nice, awesome and very talented.  I first met him while interning at Tabor while in culinary school.  Who knew!  I’ll give you my recommendations for Tabor and Grato  in a future post.  Now back to Claudia’s book.

The book has tons of desserts that focus on seasonal ingredients as well as a nice mix of sweet and savory.  Tomorrow I will be making or should I say attempting to make her Tarragon-Macerated Strawberry Shortcakes with Tarragon Cream.  As the book suggested, I will be eating it with strawberry sorbet.  Look out for another post about my adventures in making this sweet-savory dessert.

The second surprise about this book is that it is out of print.  Yes, you heard me, it is out of print!  So how much does a book that retailed for $40 USD cost now if you want one?  On Amazon for a mere $160 you can get a copy in “very good condition” or spend $300 for a “like new” signed copy.  Oh, but it gets better.  One seller has their signed copy for a mere $875.  Really?  Really!  Whoever buys that one, I have an island for sale in Arizona.

Pastry out!

To Thai or Not to Thai

27 Jul

Every Tuesday, I go to movies and  have meal with one of my BFs Brenda.  Today, it was all about a great meal.  I made a day trip to Maryland (yes friends and family I snuck in and out today for 3 hours).  To hit a movie and dinner was a bit much since I’m not sure that after the lights went out I would be able to keep my eyes open.  As usual we text back and forth throughout the day to determine where will we break bread and catch up.  Should we go to a place we haven’t been to in a while, hit a chain, or try somewhere new?  The decisions was narrowed down to pizza or thai.  Well it wasn’t a hard decision since my favorite Thai restaurant was on the table.  I love eating at Orgins in Basking Ridge, NJ.  I even have a favorite server, Chon.  Even when I don’t seat in her section, she comes over to say hello and make sure all is well.  Love her!

Here are my recommendations on what to order if you go to Origins.  For appetizers, try the shrimp and crab spring rolls.  They are nicely fried with a honey colored crispy outside.  If you don’t like or eat crustaceans try the golden curry puff.  It’s a soft pie like dough shaped like a mini Jamaican bean pie.  Inside a finely minced chicken seasoned with curry greets your taste buds with an awesome explosion of flavor.  For an entree, there are several great noodle dishes.  Besides the obvious pad thai, I love, love, love pad see ew topped with chicken.  There’s something about the flat noodles with broccoli that makes me happy!  If you get the chance to hit the Somerville location they offer a curry chicken pot pie topped with Malaysian puff pastry as a special from time to time.  For people who prefer to be a little safer, the grilled to perfection options are for you.  Grilled shrimp, steak or squid, fish or chicken with sticky rice and grilled vegetables.  I prefer the grilled shrimp – they are a great size and this meal is very satisfying.

The finale to the evening is the desserts. I have tried every dessert on the menu except one – (Poached pear -I’ll get to it one day but at least I added a pic for you!).  My favorite is the chocolate cake souffle with coffee ice cream.  The cake is baked in a tart shell so it looks like a little flower topped with whipped cream on plate decorated with a plaid stripe design all done in chocolate and  a few berries strategically placed. Others I recommend are: sticky rice with mango and the pear frangipane tart.  The portions are petite but enough to satisfy your inner sugar addiction.

Two other cool things about Origin, you can dress casual and it is byob!

 

Note: Pictures are from Origins photo gallery.  www.originsthai.com

Pastry out!