The Blue Collar Foodie Visits Tierney’s CopperHouse in Fairfield, NJ

One of my favorite aspects of being a food blogger, or Gastronomer, is the fact that I get to chat about food all the time.  Food is something that I can talk about for hours on end and never get tired of telling tales of the perfect steak I once had in Nebraska, the greatest hot dog I ever ate in Chicago, or the time I ate nothing but meat at a Brazilian Barbecue spot in Newark for three hours straight.  These conversations usually lead to an enjoyable night of drinking and reminiscing, but they sometimes result in a wonderful payoff for this aspiring epicurean author.  In the midst of participating in these hedonistic, often embellished, tit for tat dialogues, if I am lucky one of the contributors might bring up a new restaurant that is not on my foodie radar.  When this happens, I can’t help but get excited because I have been doing this for quite some time now and finding eateries that inspire me is about as easy as combing the desert, for a princess, with an afro pick.

SpaceballsTrooper

Combing The Desert

This wonderful happenstance occurred the other night while I was out at a bar with friends.  Due to the fact that much like beautiful women and rich men, foodies tend to hang out with other foodies, our conversation soon turned to edibles, and we were immersed in a round of culinary “fish stories.”  During this sybaritic discussion, a friend of mine began talking about a Dry Aged 48 Oz Porterhouse they had heard wonderful things about that is served at a restaurant in Fairfield, NJ by the name of Tierney’s CopperHouse located at 4 Little Falls Rd. After hearing my fellow foodie friend describe this colossal slab of meat with adjectives that I have only seen on bathroom stalls of bars of ill repute, there was absolutely no way I was not going to pay the CopperHouse a visit.

Tierney's Copper House

Tierney’s Copper House

Considering, the Googles is the Watson to my Sherlock, I consulted it immediately.  While my 3G did my research for me, I found that the reason that Tierney’s CopperHouse was not on my radar was not because my radar lost its bleeps, sweeps, and creeps, but rather because Tierney’s CopperHouse just opened in April.  With that in mind, the fact that their fare was already being strewn about in epicurean blitzkriegs, like gourmet grenades, said something about this fledgling eatery.

As we approached the building, the first thing I noticed was that this was not a small establishment.  The expansive modern exterior looked quite alluring, even in the misty rain that decided to fall on us as we got out of our vehicle.  As we entered the restaurant, we were greeted at the door and escorted through the bar area, complete with a warm inviting brick fire place, into the gorgeous dining room.  Once seated, we were given our menus and we ordered our first round of drinks.  I was very pleased to see that Tierney’s CopperHouse offers a large selection of craft beers featuring some Cricket Hill selections, which are born and raised right in Fairfield, NJ.  This fact alone is worth getting off your couch and making your way to the Copperhouse, considering that Cricket Hill creates some of the finest beers in New Jersey, if not the country, and I am always overjoyed about the chance to drink a fresh draught out of a frosty mug. One great thing about fine dining in New Jersey, and just from the looks of this place I had a feeling I would be dining quite fine, is that the prices of beverages always seem to be much more reasonable than those over the river, and I don’t mean at Grandma’s house.

Warm Inviting Fire Place

Warm Inviting Fire Place

With our drink orders in, it was time we got down to the nitty-gritty, the most daunting task of any meal, ordering the main course.  I attempted to sway my partners in crime to assist me in devouring the TC Family Bedrock Steak, which weighs in at a formidable 64 Oz of meaty goodness, only because it would have been the largest steak I have ever ordered in my foodie career.  Alas, I was only able to convince one of my fellow patrons to join me on a gluttonous meaty adventure and therefore, we decided upon the aforementioned Dry Aged Porterhouse for two, which was accompanied with two sides of our choice, the grilled asparagus and Spinach Mushroom Quinoa, and rang up at $79.00.  Our better halves, that apparently did not want to eat damn near half a cow, opted for dishes that were slightly less excessive but sounded equally as appetizing, electing to order the Free Range Chicken described as an Amish free range half chicken paired with potatoes and asparagus for $19.00 and the TC Chicken Pot Pie described as free range chicken, carrots, Yukon gold potato, peas, corn, pearl onions, with puff pastry for a modest $14.00.

Tierney's Copperhouse Menu

Fancy!

The anticipation of this Fred Flintstone sized steak, which was in my mind carved from the flank of a Brachiosaurus, was causing me to salivate like a Pavlovian test subject.  Each time the kitchen door swung open, I was distracted from our polite diner conversation, in hopes that the server that exited was carrying our savory feast.  Sooner rather than later, my hopes were realized and our table was adorned by a plate that was only matched by the beauty of my wonderful wife. (10 points for me!)  Not to say that the other food that was delivered to our table did not look eye-catching, but I mean, come on people, this was a 48 Oz. Steak I was staring at; it is like comparing other girls to Marilyn Monroe, it is just not fair, not fair at all.  I could barely contain myself through the picture taking phase and almost said the hell with it, and dug in, but I was a virtuous little food blogger, and waited until all the photos were snapped before digging into the pre-cut slices of pure happiness that graced my plate.

48 Oz. Porterhouse Steak

48 Oz. Porterhouse Steak

If the price that I mentioned above frightened you away from ordering this behemoth steak, I want you to know that this steak damn near forced me to reevaluate my frugal tendencies.  Every bite I took was packed with flavor and only made me want to have another delectable morsel.  For those that are not math majors, I alone, ate 24 Oz. of this meatastic meal, and I think I could have eaten 24oz more.  Combined with the side dishes this meal was well worth the price tag and was a feast fit for a king.

The perfect porterhouse bite

The perfect Porterhouse Bite

Even though, it was hard for me to stop partaking in this succulent beef barrage, I had to force myself away to try the other dishes that were ordered.  I was lucky enough to be dining with people that support my gastro gallivanting and they had no qualms about me eating a small portion of their meals to uphold the integrity of my writing.

TC Chicken Pot Pie

TC’s Chicken Pot Pie

I tasted the TC Chicken Pot Pie first and it was delightful.   In my opinion, Chicken Pot Pie is an extremely tough dish to make because it must be perfectly seasoned and have the proper texture in order to really be a respectable dish when surrounded by other high end meals.  Executive Chef Jeff J. Orel has found that balance between comfortable and innovative, which is quite difficult mind you, and served us an amazing Pot Pie.

Tierney's Free Range Chicken

Tierney’s Free Range Chicken

Next up was the Free Range Chicken that was served in its natural au jus.  This dish was not dry, yet still had a crispy flavorful skin.  I have a hard time accomplishing this task cooking one chicken for two people, so the fact that the Chef was able to pull this off while cooking 20 other meals and balancing a whole kitchen staff is a complement to his skill and professionalism.

TC's Cheesecake

TC’s Cheesecake

It may have been the alcohol talking or I could have been a bit meat drunk, but even though I had just eaten two days’ worth of calories in one sitting, I had a hankering for desert.  My tablemates agreed that a nice sweet ending to our dinner would be appreciated, and we decided to share two plates between the four of us.  The dessert we decided upon was a slice of cheesecake that literally melted in our mouths and a chocolate Ganache cake that was so decadent that sugar itself is jealous of it.

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Chocolate Ganache Cake

Tierney’s CopperHouse is a must visit eatery for any foodie in the area that is looking for a cold craft beer paired with a phenomenal meal in a faultless setting.  For those of you that were scared off by the prices of these meals, if you check the menu out on the CopperHouses’ website I assure you, you can find something that is in your price range that will be just as amazing.  There are some restaurants that I eat at that are forgettable, this is not one of those places, after one meal at Tierney’s, I could sense that they are passionate about food, and I will be returning again and again, although next time I plan on conquering the 64 Oz. Bedrock, whether my companions consent or not!

Tierney’s CopperHouse

Address:
4 Little Falls Road, Fairfield, NJ 07004

Hours:

Mon. – Fri. 12:00PM – 12:00AM
Sat. 4:00PM – 12:00AM
Sun. 4:00PM – 10:00PM

Tierney's Copperhouse on Urbanspoon

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The Best Pizzeria In Millville, NJ May Very Well Be The Best Pizzeria In The World!

New Jersey, in general seems to be everyone’s least favorite state, and to be honest our bulbous surly governor and the entire cast of the Jersey Shore does not help our cause. With this said, there are a few things that New Jersey is not only known for, but dare I say it actually loved for. First and foremost, we have Taylor Ham and you don’t, and if you are from this area you know all about this flavorful salty pork puck, that former Jersians crave so much, they have to make a yearly pilgrimage to a true New Jersey Diner just to get their fix. Secondly, New Jersey supplies its residents with bagels that are so damn tasty that no one seems to notice that this popular breakfast treat has about as much nutritional value as tree bark wrapped in bacon. Lastly, and at least in the context of this article most importantly, New Jersey is home to the BEST PIZZA IN THE WORLD! Calm down, New Yorkers, I can hear you cursing me out from across the G Dub, you are a close second, and seriously you are New York F-ing City, you beat us in every other category from Architecture to Zoos, so please let the red headed step child of the union that is New Jersey have this one.

Now that I have thrown the gauntlet down and expressed my love, no, obsession for New Jersey Pizza, and basically lost all of my readership from New York and Pennsylvania, I feel that I might as well further alienate myself, and piss off the New Jersey folks too, by proclaiming, in my opinion, which Pizzeria is slinging the best slice. Now, by making this statement I am breaking my own rule, which states one should never start a conversation which is bound to turn into a debate, and ultimately into a no holds barred battle royal, by bringing up politics, religion, or Pizzeria Prowess, but I have decided to throw caution to the wind and shout my declaration from the roof tops, or at least from the top of your internet browser. As I write this, I am anticipating a crap load of hate mail from every Tony, Don, and Horatio that trolls around the internet looking for blogs to flame, but remember first place is a lot like the Highlander, there can only be one, and this foodie, unlike our society today, does not hand out participation medals, so send your nasty grams somewhere else. Now without further ado, I, The Blue Collar Foodie, from atop my virtual soap box, proclaim, with the entire internets as my witness, that BIMS Pizza, located at 618 E. Main St. in Millville, NJ, is the indisputable champion of the Pizza World.

BIM's

BIM’s

As you enter BIM’s, which stands for Best In Millville, you will be greeted by Joe Pierce, owner, Chef, sole employee, and story teller extraordinaire who has been tossing pizzas around Cumberland County for over 35 years. This house, turned pizza shop, is literally a one man show, and Joe Pierce has been there from the beginning, taking orders, and making pizza. Surrounded by a seemingly endless army of conveyor belt frozen pizza shops that are taking over New Jersey towns much like the outlaws did in the Wild West, Joe, like a modern day Pizza Sherriff, remains persistent and dedicated to making fresh, consistently fantastic pizza for his loyal customers on a daily basis.

Joe Pierce

Joe Pierce, Owner, Operator, Chef, and Pizza Sheriff

BIM’s is not like your ordinary pizza shop; they don’t make chicken wings, meatballs, sandwiches, or salads, hell they don’t even sell slices. What they do sell, however, is a pizza pie in several sizes that is made fresh to order, using homemade dough and sauce which is made daily on the premises. Even though Pizza is all you can get at BIM’s that does not mean you can’t customize that pizza to experience a new BIM’s masterpiece each and every time you visit. They offer the following toppings that can be added to your pie for a nominal fee; Extra Cheese, Double Thick Crust, Pepperoni, Sweet Sausage, Mushrooms, Sweet Green Peppers, Anchovies, Onions, Bacon, Black Olives, Broccoli, Tomato, Garlic, and Hot Peppers.

Bim's Pizza

Customized BIM’s Pizza

The Pizza at BIM’s is so damn good that I travel two hours and thirty minutes just to eat a few slices, before heading back to North Jersey until the craving strikes again. BIM’s expertly prepared pizza has many levels of perfection that when combined create a pie that is out of this world. Like all pizzas the first level, and the canvas to this piece of artwork, is the crust. BIM’s pizza is constructed on fresh hand-made and hand-tossed dough that when cooked crisps to just the right amount of awesome. Piled on top of this righteous crust is a home-made sauce that balances between sweet and savory flawlessly, and then Joe invites not one type of cheese, but two to join the party. This combination of cheese and sauce eventually turns into a masterful blend of gooey yumminess once the oven has done its magic. The result is a pizza pie unlike any other, because all the recipes are a Pierce family secret and therefore cannot be duplicated, believe me I have tried.

Building The Perfect Pizza

Building The Perfect Pizza

If you plan on visiting BIM’s you will not only get to taste the single greatest Pizza to ever grace the inside of a Pizza Oven, you will also get to meet and perhaps even hear a story or two from Joe. Much like the small business owners of yesteryear, Joe, embraces the idea of customer service and actually enjoys what he does, including interacting with his customers. Whether the conversation is about Millville, The Phillies, The Eagles, fishing, or life in general, Joe has a way of simplifying things and imparting wisdom about virtually any topic, like a zen pizza making life Sherpa, all the while continuing to take phone orders, toss dough, make pizzas, and restock extras. Joe epitomize the ethos of what a small business owner used to be and in a world where this style of business ownership is dwindling to damn near extinction, it is great to see that some people refuse to allow it to disappear forever.

Building The Perfect Pizza

Joe Multitasking

Attempting to explain the wonderfulness of a BIM’s pizza is much like trying to describe the Mona Lisa to a blind person. A person without sight, might mistake this extraordinary painting for just another portrait of a female, just as one might look at a BIM’s pizza and merely think that it is just another mundane pie. If, however, through the miracle of science that very same blind person’s sight was somehow restored, they would easily see that it is the intricate detail that makes Mona a true work of genius. Luckily for you though, you don’t need scientific intervention to have the same realization about BIM’s pizza, you only have to taste it to see the light. I assure you that after that first bite, you will be hooked on BIM’s like The Blue Collar Foodie is addicted to Bacon.

The Perfect Pie

The Perfect Pie

There are a few things you should know before you go to BIM’s Pizzeria. As stated before this establishment is an epic one man show and the operating hours reflect that. BIM’s is open Wednesday to Sunday from 4 P.M. to approximately 10 P.M. Furthermore, BIM’s is a cash only restaurant, so leave your plastic at home. Lastly BIM’s does not have tables, so in order to eat your remarkable pizza pie you must pick it up and go elsewhere or get it delivered to your house.

BIM’s motto is,” We specialize in pizza because pizza is the only thing we make,” which can be found on their menu as well as a sign that hangs in the shop. This phrase scares some people off, because they want variety but I suggest that you embrace this unique singularity. BIM’s does not have 101 different items on the menu because Joe concentrates on his one true passion, Pizza, and anything else would only distract him from creating the best Pizza Pie on the planet!

Damn That Is Pretty

Damn That Is Pretty!

Bim's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

The Blue Collar Foodie’s New Meatball Obsession!

For some people the mere utterance of the word meatball can conjure amorous memories of Sundays gone by.  These reminiscences most likely depict Grandma, all 5’2” furious inches of her, hard at work in the kitchen, while the entire extended family waited in anticipation for the meal that created such an aroma throughout the house that lingered until damn near Wednesday.  Most likely if you grew up in a family like this, you send a malcontented glare in the direction of anyone that suggests the idea of ordering a meatball from at a restaurant knowing that it can never be close to these angelic savory balls of meat that are on a pedestal in your mind, and so if I proposed the notion of buying one from a kiosk in the mall, you would probably want to punch me in the face.  Well, get your fists ready friend, because I am willing to take a punch if it means that you will give Meatball Obsession, a brand new meatball centric foodie cart located in the Garden State Plaza Mall in Paramus New Jersey, a whirl.

Meatball Obsession Logo

The Logo

Meatball Obsession technically started in 2008 in New York City, but its true origins date back to when Dan Mancini’s, the founder of Meatball Obsession, assisted his Grandmother in a Brooklyn, New York kitchen while she prepared authentic recipes from Bari, Italy.   These cooking sessions ignited a passion for cooking within him that could not be extinguished.  So much so that even though he worked in the apparel industry for 25 years, he decided to abandon that profession in order to dive into the often unrelenting world of food service.   Lucky for us, over the years Dan kept his Grandmother’s recipes alive and well in his own kitchen, and therefore we now get to experience the greatest meatball that Dan has ever tasted.

I have to admit, as my wife, Kat, and I were on our way to Meatball Obsession I was slightly apprehensive.  I am The Blue Collar Foodie and all, but purchasing meatballs from a kiosk is as unsettling as buying American made electronics.  As we approached the cart, which is located near the Cinnabon (See Map Below), the fragrant smell of the simmering sauce guided me towards our destination and with each step my worrying seemed to dissipate.  Even though my olfactory senses were being bombarded by every other malodorous mall scent, I could still make out the marvelous aroma of Meatball Obsession’s Sunday Sauce, and that made me feel much better about the meal we were about to partake in.

The Treasure Map

The Treasure Map

When we arrived at the Meatball obsession Cart we were greeted by a welcoming staff that seemed genuinely excited to be a part of this newfangled foodie movement.  Furthermore, since it was the grand opening we were also received by the owners of Meatball Obsession and I got to speak to both of them for a little while about their new endeavor.  Just from speaking to them for a short period of time, it was obvious to tell that they are passionate about the food that they serve and the business that they run, which is an often overlooked integral part of a successful food establishment.

Meatball Obsession Kiosk

Meatball Obsession Kiosk

Meatball Obsession specializes in, wait for it, Meatballs, and therefore even though they serve a few other items, the menu mainly consists of their Meatballs and Meatball related accoutrement.   Additionally, Meatball Obsession is not your ordinary Italian Restaurant and therefore the ordering process is somewhat different than what you may be used to.  You don’t just order meatballs at this establishment, you create custom made meatball sundaes tailored to your specifications. This ordering process is broken down into three fun and easy steps that the extremely helpful staff will guide you through if you are a rookie, as I was:

Meatball Cup

Ordering is only half the fun!

Step One:  Indulge Your Obsession:   In other words choose which type of meatball(s) you would like to tantalize your taste buds with.  They offer Beef, Turkey, Chicken, or Pork Sausage which can be mixed and matched any way you would like.

Step Two:  Choose Your Culinary Vessel and how large     you want it to be:  The tasty meat morsels that Meatball Obsession serve can be served in a cup or in an “Original Pocket Sandwich.”  Both options are served with their special Sunday Sauce and the amount of meatballs that you ask for.

Step Three:  The toppings!  This is by far my favorite part of the ordering process, and in my opinion what makes the Meatball Obsession experience unforgettable.  Meatball Obsession offers a wide variety of toppings that you can pair with their already flavorful meatballs to create your very own Meat Sundae.

Kat and I stumbled and bumbled our way through this process, changing our minds not once but three times, until we were finally satisfied with our order.   I decided to get three different meatballs, 1 Beef, 1 Turkey, and 1 Pork Sausage in a cup topped with Ricotta, Parmesan, Romano, Mozzarella Pearls, and Basil Olive Oil for $11.00 and Kat decided on one turkey and one beef meatball topped with 24 month aged Parmigiano-Reggiano and gnocchi for $9.50.  While our concoctions were being assembled, we were informed that even though the idea behind Meatball Obsession’s containers, whether you chose the cup or the sandwich, were meant for people on the move, they are also going to provide seating for individuals that want to enjoy their meals sitting as opposed to walking.

Meatball Obsession Close Up

Cup of Yummy!

After receiving our cups full of yummy, Kat and I took our first forkful of Meatball Obsession together and it was magical.  If we were in a movie, as we chewed that first bite a melodic tune would have played over a slow moving montage of all the disappointing meatballs that I have eaten in my life, culminating in the triumphant rise of the music as I ate this very meatball.   A meatball, with so many layers of flavor, the perfect consistency, and that was swimming in a hearty marinara sauce that is literally so good that I would give up bacon for a year, just to get a peek at the recipe.   If this was not enough, the toppings paired flawlessly with the meatballs and sauce and brought the meal to whole other level.  After we were done devouring our meatballs, we then used the included side bread to sop up as much sauce as we could, and when our bread supply was depleted we just settled on spooning the sauce into our mouths until every last drop was gone.

Cup of Yummy 2:  The Rise of the Gnocchi.

Cup of Yummy 2: Rise of the Gnocchi.

Meatball Obsession also offers a variety of beverages to wash down your tasty creation with.  For the unadventurous, one can order Coca-Cola or Bottled Water.  If you are feeling somewhat frisky, you can go with a San Pellegrino Soda or even better a Manhattan Special Soda in a variety of flavors.  For the true Old World New York experience however I highly recommend a traditional egg cream, created with seltzer and U-Bet Chocolate Syrup.   They also offer a fresh made cannoli that is not filled until you order it, which are imported from Brooklyn, if you are in a decadent mood.

Egg Cream

Egg Cream!

I understand that YOUR Grandma, Nonna,  Bubbie, MomMom, or whatever the heck you call her makes the best meatballs on the planet, with YOUR Mother coming in a close second, but if you are interested in trying the third greatest meatball that you will ever taste, you should make your way over to Meatball Obsession.  I warn you though, once you taste these remarkable spheres of meaty goodness, you may have to lie to your Grandmother on a regular basis, when you say her meatballs are still the best.  You have been warned!

Adara Serves Edible Artwork

I am not ordinarily a man with hedonistic tendencies. If you follow my blog, you should already know that my epicurean manifesto would read like a diner menu, not a bourgeois carte du jour, but every once in a while one must overlook budgetary concerns in order to experience a gastronomic adventure that is simply like no other.   Adara, located at 77 Walnut Street, in Montclair, NJ, is one of these rare fiscally irresponsible exceptions, that takes you on a culinary journey that you won’t soon forget.

My wife, Kat, and I decided to visit Adara on a Thursday night, to celebrate my Birthday. Since Adara is not on the ordinary Montclair strip, I had to employ the assistance of Google Maps to locate this seemingly forgotten section of town. Once we arrived in the neighborhood, parking was stress-free and even better; it was free. (Make sure to read all the signs when parking in this area, some areas are free and some have restricted meters.)   As we entered the eatery, I immediately noticed the comforting contemporary design scheme complete with modern art, and inviting lighting. As we walked further into the restaurant’s quaint foyer my olfactory senses were bombarded by the various stimulating aromas that wafted through the restaurants, intimate yet not cramped dining room.

As we were seated, our extremely welcoming waitress/hostess/General Manager (according to the website), Naomi, doled out our menus, and retrieved a bucket of ice for our bottle of white wine, that we brought from our own private stock. That is right, thanks to New Jersey’s archaic and stringent liquor laws, even a high end establishment like Adara can’t finagle a liquor license from the cold hearted bureaucrats, and therefore instead of paying $60.00 for a $15.00 Californian White, feel free to bring whatever you feel will pair well with awesome.

Something that you should know about Adara before planning your evening is that they serve a version of what is known in the foodie community as Molecular Gastronomy. (For people that are not in the know, click on the link above to read all about this innovative and fun modern cooking style.) The reason why this is important to know before making your reservation is because one cannot simply enter Adara without first reviewing their menu choices. The options are as follows:

1: A three course prefix menu that is available for $65.00 per person, “which is intended as a brief insight into the culinary world of Adara” and allows the diner to choose from a variety of tantalizing dishes.   *This was the option we chose to partake in considering it was our first edible expedition with Chef Tre Ghoshal . (Who by the way was recently featured on Food Network’s Chopped!)

2: The chef’s tasting menu is a more comprehensive expedition into Adara’s rabbit hole and is artfully arranged by the chef to pander to all the senses. This gastronomic indulgence will set you back $115 per person and your entire party much agree on the menu one day prior to your reservation.

3: The grand tour menu is for major league food connoisseurs and offers a chef’s choice 15 course tasting, described as a true culinary adventure. This option costs $200 a person, which even for the wealthy can add up quickly.

4: A tasting of vegetables is offered for Vegetarians that still want to join the Chef’s Gastronomic Movement but don’t want to bend their meatless morals. This option costs 115.00 a person and sounds amazing; I might not even miss the meat, if I were to partake in this vegetable foodgasm.

5: An option entitled Omakase, a Japanese phrase that means “I’ll leave it to you,” is described as five small plates of the chef’s creation. This is the most inexpensive option at $40.00, but the word small leads me to believe that I would leave hungry.

6: Finally, a separate dessert and drink menu is available. If Adara’s prices seem too high, I highly recommend stopping by for an after dinner treat or a mocktail to enter Chef Tre’s world. I guarantee after your visit, you will head over to the nearest Coinstar machine and slaughter your piggy bank in order to afford a full course meal at Adara.

Now down to the most important part of any restaurant review and what separates Adara from any restaurant that I have visited during my career as a food enthusiast, the food. First and foremost, Naomi, was not only extremely professional but she was our own personal living Google, when it came down to the food that we were being served. She answered every question we threw at her during the course of our evening at Adara and did it with style and gracious poise. After speaking to Naomi we ordered our meals which commenced the single greatest foodie experience of my life.

a mixture of various Herbs, nuts, and spices that are used as a dipping concoction called Duqqa.

a mixture of various Herbs, nuts, and spices that are used as a dipping concoction called Duqqa.

Our first course was a complimentary bread course, which included an Egyptian side dish named duqqa.   Duqqa consists of a mixture of various herbs, nuts, and spices and is used as a dipping concoction for the bread that was provided. Another small bowl full of a magical garlic oil potion was also included on the serving dish. Naomi explained that Egyptians eat this appetizer in preparation for a large meal, and instructed us to dip the bread in the almost foam like liquid and then in the duqqa before eating. Kat and I followed Naomi’s instructions and both sighed in unison. The warm doughy bread was the perfect canvas for the duqqa, liquid combination to creatively decorate. If this course was any indication of where this meal was headed, we were both in for a treat.

Compressed watermelon, accompanied by Humboldt Fog goat cheese and red onion, topped with a sliver of pickled red onion glass

Compressed watermelon, accompanied by Humboldt Fog goat cheese and red onion, topped with a sliver of pickled red onion glass

Our second course was our first amuse-bouche of the evening.   “Amuse-bouches are different from appetizers in that they are not ordered from a menu by patrons, but, when served, are done so for free and according to the chef’s selection alone. “ (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia) This complimentary and tremendously appreciated amuse-bouche consisted of compressed watermelon, accompanied by Humboldt Fog goat cheese and red onion, topped with sliver of pickled red onion glass. Go ahead, you can reread that, I won’t judge, I asked Naomi to repeat it several times as well; I will wait for you here. Much like the first course, the second course was equal parts delicious and beautiful. The myriad of flavors that fused together to create this dish was astonishing.  My first thought when hearing the description of this dish was that the ingredients involved make about as much sense as Chris Brown being the spokesman for domestic violence awareness month but after tasting this artistically prepared delight, I was mistaken.

Asparagus served with  porcini mushrooms and a quail egg, topped with a hollandaise sauce, and a Balsamic reduction sheet.

Asparagus served with porcini mushrooms and a quail egg, topped with a hollandaise sauce, and a Balsamic reduction sheet.

Our third course was our second amuse-bouche of the evening and was comprised of asparagus accompanied by porcini mushrooms and a quail egg, topped with a hollandaise sauce, and some sort of Balsamic reduction sheet. This dish was another example of the painstaking attention to detail that Chef Tre Ghoshal puts into every one of his dishes. Not only did this dish taste fan (Insert a four letter word that begins with an F and rhymes with luck in its present participle form) tastic, the presentation was done with both precision and a level of artistic talent that that Donatello and Michelangelo would be jealous of, and no I am not talking about the Ninja Turtles.

Foie Gras with a Buffalo Chicken Composition

Foie Gras with a Buffalo Chicken Composition

Our fourth course was the appetizer course that Kat and I ordered. After some substantial deliberation I decided on the Foie Gras with a Buffalo Chicken Composition, while Kat ordered the Beef Short Rib combined with tamarind, tellicherry peppers, butternut squash, and coriander. Once again Chef Ghoshal did not disappoint.   The Foie Gras was served cold, which was unexpected, but actually very pleasing to the palate. The unorthodox addition of a buffalo chicken sauce to my dish was superb and executed flawlessly.

Beef Short Rib combined with tamarind, tellicherry peppers, butternut squash, and coriander

Beef Short Rib combined with tamarind, tellicherry peppers, butternut squash, and coriander

As for Kat’s dish, one can never go wrong with a short rib, especially when it is prepared by a Chef of this caliber. The beef was expertly cooked and seasoned just right as to not overpower the brilliant flavor of the meat.

Colorado Lamb  with Spring Peas, Sheep Milk’s Yogurt, Porcini Mushrooms, and a Pumpernickel Chip.

Colorado Lamb with Spring Peas, Sheep Milk’s Yogurt, Porcini Mushrooms, and a Pumpernickel Chip.

Our fifth course was our entrée, the Colorado Lamb for me and the Berkshire Pork Rib Chop for Kat. The chop was escorted to our table by Apple Wood-Smoked bacon, Kim Chee, Oats, and Liquid Cornbread, while my Lamb attended to party with Spring Peas, Sheep Milk’s Yogurt, Porcini Mushrooms, and a Pumpernickel Chip.

Berkshire Pork Rib Chop  served with Apple Wood-Smoked bacon, Kim Chee, Oats, and Liquid Cornbread

Berkshire Pork Rib Chop served with Apple Wood-Smoked bacon, Kim Chee, Oats, and Liquid Cornbread

When these dishes arrived I was taken aback by their exquisiteness. I hear you sighing, and I understand your apprehension. I am spouting off adjectives that are usually reserved for revered pieces of art, not food, but I assure you each and every descriptive phrase that I am attaching to these dishes are both warranted and justified.

Mango Papaya Sorbet with a sliver of Mango Glass garnished with strawberries and chocolate ganache

Mango Papaya Sorbet with a sliver of Mango Glass garnished with strawberries and chocolate ganache

Our sixth course was another amuse-bouche, but this time the dish was sweet, a pre-dessert if you will. This plate was involved a Mango Papaya Sorbet with a sliver of Mango Glass garnished with strawberries and chocolate ganache. This dish created a seamless transition from savory to sweet. After finishing this chilled concoction my palate was cleansed and I was prepared for our last course.

Fig Newton paired with maple, cardamom, and warm hemp milk

Fig Newton paired with maple, cardamom, and warm hemp milk

Our seventh and final course was the desserts that we ordered off the menu. Knowing we were going to share this dishes Kat and I decided on two different creations.   I ordered the Fig Newton paired with maple, cardamom, and warm hemp milk, whereas Kat decided upon the Havana Banana complemented with dark chocolate ganache, coconut, coffee, and salted caramel. Although the Ginger Cake portion of the Fig Newton was delicious, especially pair with the Hemp Milk, the Havana Banana stole the show. This dish was so extraordinary that if word got out about its shear decadence Julius Caesar himself would rise from his grave in order to try just a bite.   Yea, it was Zombie, Julius Caesar good.

Banana complemented with dark chocolate ganache, coconut, coffee, and salted caramel

Banana complemented with dark chocolate ganache, coconut, coffee, and salted caramel

Although Adara is quite expensive, I implore you to attempt to get past that point of contention. When the bill hit the table, I was not flabbergasted or cross, I was still smiling as I gave my credit card to Naomi and she walked away from the table. The service that was provided by Naomi and Edgar, her accomplice throughout the evening, was better than any New York City hoity-toity establishment that I have ever had the pleasure of eating at. Furthermore, the food that was prepared by Chef Tre Ghoshal was honestly and without a doubt equal to if not better than anything that I have eaten in my entire life. When all was said and done what we paid for was not only a dinner but a guided tour through the culinary Wild West known as Molecular Gastronomy. To paraphrase Mr. William Shatner, Adara facilitated us to boldly go where few foodies have gone before!

 

The Blue Collar Foodie Visits Morris Tap & Grill for a Beer Paired With a Side Of Awesome

If there is one specific type of eatery that exemplifies the Blue Collar Foodie movement that I have been trying to showcase throughout my blogging career it would have to be the Gastro Pub.  These establishments combine good old fashioned blue collar elements with a twist of foodie flair causing epicurean adventurers like myself to flock to them like Charlie Sheen to a dysfunctional twenty- something with daddy issues.  Since this movement is catching like wild fire, it is hard to keep up with all the Gastro Pubs that are popping up faster than a New York Mets fan gives up on the season, but one specific Pub caught my interest a while back and I vowed to pay them a visit.   I am referring to none other than Morris Tap & Grill, located at 500 Route 10 West in Randolph, NJ.

Morris Tap & Grill

Morris Tap & Grill

Morris Tap & Grill has been on my radar since they damn near slapped me sober with foodie brilliance at the Morris Town Beer Fest.  Since that day I knew I needed to make the trek down to Randolph to try the full MTG experience.   So, Kat and I made plans to meet with another Gastro Centric couple, Brian and Kristen, who are from those parts and head over to Morris Tap & Grill for a fun-filled evening of tempting vittles and libations.

When we arrived at the Morris Tap & Grill, I was surprised to hear the harmonious hums of a live band jamming out in the bar area.  Much to my delight the band was playing at the perfect level as to add to the ambience of the restaurant but still allow pleasant dinner conversation at a normal speaking tone.  If you are anything like my past self you may have just shot the computer screen a derision-laden glare in response to that comment, and most likely thought of me as an old fuddy duddy who does not like his music loud anymore.  I assure you, I still feel there is a time and place for loud music, but while I am trying to eat dinner is not one of them, so I was very happy that the Morris Tap & Grill were savvy enough to take that into consideration.

Upon reaching our table and meeting up with our fellow foodies, we were almost immediately welcomed by our server Katrina who offered us our Menu’s and whole hearted greeting, which was appreciated immensely.  I seem to be able to tell a greeting that is laced with contrived emotions, but Katrina honestly seemed like she enjoyed her job and was happy to help us, which instantly set the mood for our dining experience.

Beer Flight

Beer Flight

My first mission when I visit a Gastropub is the challenging task of picking my first beer of the evening.  If you have never been to a Gastropub, you may not have ever had this issue, but once you venture down the rabbit hole that is craft beers you will find that sometimes selecting a beer can be as hard as catching the white rabbit.  So, if you are an over analytical beer fanatic like me and you find yourself staring at an extensive and impressive beer list the likes of the Morris Tap & Grills,  this process could take several minutes and some arduous decision making, which may cause your wife and friends to stare at you with an ominous ire as their stomachs grumble.  Fortunately, Morris Tap & Grill has once again thought of this problematic situation before you even walked in the door, and are nice enough to offer what is known as a flight of beers as the solution.   For anyone that has never had a flight of beer, it is quite simply, four small beers instead of one big beer, which allows you to taste multiple beers instead of only choosing one.  With the knowledgeable assistance of Katrina, I was able to piece together my beer flight and our drink orders were on their way to the bar.

With our first undertaking considered to be success we moved onto our next imperative task of the evening, our meals.   I am not sure what is more comprehensive and grandiose, the Morris Tap & Grill’s beer menu or there dinner menu, but one thing is for certain, they both can make a Blue Collar Foodie salivate like a German Shepard at Pavlov’s B&B.  Since, I knew that I was attending Morris Tap & Grill and was already their friend on Facebook, I launched a pre-emptive attack on my ever-wavering entrée contemplation, and asked the MTG what they suggest I eat to fully experience their Chef’s culinary modus operandi.  Much to my surprise, Chef Eric Levine, himself wrote me back and suggested a few dishes that he felt a Blue Collar Foodie, such as me would enjoy.   Chef Eric recommended the following dishes; the Trio of bacon, the Pork Shank, any of the Burgers, particularly the Baconeater, the Southwest, or the BBQ, The Shrimp cannelloni, the Twisted Chicken Pot Pie, and finally the Avocado “Fillet.”  If you follow this blog at all you know damn well which dish I chose!  Chef Eric Sir you had me at Trio of Bacon.  My beautiful wife, Kat spun the gastronomy roulette wheel and it landed on the Short Ribs, which she is drawn to like a teenager to a sparkling vampire. Brian decided to stick to the Chef’s recommendations which was also highly indorsed by Katrina and went with Twisted Chicken Pot Pie where as his lovely lady also chose off the Chef Eric approved list and decided upon the BBQ burger.  We also ordered a Spinach Artichoke Dip for the table to prime our stomachs for the meals that were forthcoming.

Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach Artichoke Dip

With most of the decision making behind us, we were able to absorb the overall atmosphere of the Morris Tap & Grill.  I felt quite at home within the rustic yet elegant confines of this eatery and as we lost ourselves in conversation our appetizer arrived at the table.  The Spinach Artichoke dish that arrived on our table carried with it such a heavenly aroma that I was barely able to take a picture of it before everyone at our table was jockeying for position to dive into it.  As I dipped my first chip into this diptastic concoction, I could tell the texture was just right.  Firm enough to stay on the chip, but forgiving enough to not break this conveyance vessel.  This potion was not only the right consistency but the flavor was spot-on as well, let’s just say that once it landed on our table, it was not long for this world.  After polishing off the Spinach Dip, we ordered another round of drinks from Katrina, and shortly after their arrival the entrees made their appearance.

Trio of Bacon!

Trio of Bacon!

The Trio of Bacon consisted of Mustard & Bacon Wrapped Pork Loin, Bacon Baked Beans, and Grilled Pork Belly.  From the shear looks of this dish, I could tell right away that I had made the proper choice.  I first tried the hearty Baked Beans which had a thick palatable sauce which smothered the copious amounts of bacon that were swimming with the beans.  The beans packed quite a flavor punch, and I found myself eating bite after bite, before moving on to the Pork Loin, which was expertly cooked, causing the medallions to be not only delicious but tender as well.  Lastly I picked up a piece of the Grilled Pork Belly with my fork and brought it to my mouth slowly with anticipation.  You see, in the healthy world we live in now, eating Pork Belly is tantamount to calling the Queen of England a, well let’s just say a word that rhymes with punt and starts with a C, shall we.  Yet these tasty morsels of piggy goodness are what my stomach’s wet dreams are made of, and I cannot thank Morris Tap & Grill enough for affording me the opportunity of savoring every last bite of these perfectly cooked cholesterol loaded pork gems.

PORK BELLY

PORK BELLY

Kat was generous enough to allow me a small taste of her short ribs so I could experience, in her words, all their beefy magnificence.  After I tasted her dish, TWSS, I completely understood why she wanted me to try it.  First off, the ribs were cooked in such a way that the meat literally fell apart, as Kat gently poked them with her fork.  Furthermore, the meat was so tender and the sauce so tasty that I had to eat another piece of my pork belly to stop from distracting Kat, and stealing another piece off her plate.

Short Ribs

Short Ribs

I was also afforded the opportunity to try Brian’s Twisted Chicken Pot Pie and Kristen’s Burger.  The Twisted Chicken Pot Pie, consisted of all the standard ingredients of chicken pot pie, but instead of being in a pie crust, Chef Eric stuffs those ingredients inside the chicken itself.  I find normal chicken pot pie to be rather hum-drum so this inventive twist was a welcomed changed.  It also helped that it tasted better than any pot pie that has ever graced my well versed spoon.  As for the burger, it was perfectly cooked and chock full of flavor.

Twisted Chicken

Twisted Chicken

I am not one for dessert right after my meal.  I would much rather allow the flavors that I just assaulted my taste buds with to loiter a while, and I feel that dessert hinders this effect.  With that said, while perusing the MTG menu one particular item caught my eye, and I felt that I would be doing every one of you a disservice if I did not at least try it.  Morris Tap & Grill offers something that I have never heard of before, listed as beer cocktails on the menu.  I was so intrigued by this concept I simply had to order one of them.   I opted for the one that utilized Left Hand’s Nitro Chocolate Stout as its base, and rolled the proverbial dice. This drink consisted of the Stout, Espresso Vodka, Godiva Vodka, and Chambord, topped off with a Chocolate Drizzle. When this creation hit my lips I was forced to rethink everything I ever claimed to know about beer and liquor, so much so that I had to memorize a new rhyme.  Liquor before beer, you’re in the clear, Beer before liquor you will never be sicker, Liquor in beer and Holy shit that’s good!  Alright I am still working on the Rhyme, but you get my point, order one, you will thank me.

Chocolate Beer Concoction

Chocolate Beer Concoction

I, for one enjoy the almost ironic, albeit Alanis Morissette irony not actual irony, feeling of eating proper foodie fare in a pub like environment paired with a craft beer, instead of wine.  This duality is the exact reason that I love Gastro Pubs!  These wonderful establishments, Morris Tap &Grill included, embody the very essence of being a Blue Collar Foodie.  Sometimes I wish I was not a foodie, my life would be easier if I could stuff my craw with bland mush and tasteless chops, but then I visit places like Morris Tap & Grill and with one forkful, edible enlightenment this notion is whisked away and replaced with yet another blissful epicurean memory.

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