Haitian cuisine seemed an appropriate selection in the midst of a sweltering NJ heat wave. So, with that in mind, Saveur Creole was set as our Ladies Night dining destination.
Located in a inconspicuous, little spot on Grove Street, Saveur Creole is a Montclair BYO that serves "une novelle cuisine Hatienne" in a Caribbean inspired atmosphere (envision a smaller, finer version of Cuban Pete's with more comfortable chairs).
We were seated promptly, and our white wines were opened and placed in ice buckets by the waiter. The first of our appetizers, the Saveur Creole sampler which featured marinades (vegetarian fritters), Haitian caviar (smoked fish and goat cheese on a tostone), and a choice of two empanadas arrived. The high point of the evening were the baccalao empanadas. The immensely flavorful fish was enveloped in hot, flaky, buttery pastry and proved so delicious, we ordered an additional order of only the baccalao empanadas. The Haitian caviar was spicy and the goat cheese added a nice tang, but the tostones were flavorless, and merely something to chew on.
I have long suspected, and Saveur Creole confirmed, that I simply won't have great conch until I return to the nameless conch shacks along the beach in Provodenciales. With the exception of the spiciness, the Conch Creole at Saveur Creole (seemingly overpriced at $30), was flavorless and a textural disappointment.
Among other entrees, the Trini Crab made an aromatic showing, but the Griot Mi Casa, shredded fried pork, was dry, flavorless, much too lean, and served with tostones, rather than the plantains that were indicated on the menu.
After finishing the meager and ordinary bread pudding dessert, we requested the check. Before bringing the check to the table, the waitress, who had been remarkably aloof and cold throughout the evening, returned and asked, "You have a Groupon, right?" Flushed with surprise, we replied that we did not have a Groupon, and that we intended to pay the bill completely with legal U.S. tender. "Oh, okay, sorry," and she set off to prepare the check.
When the check was presented, our appetizer sampler was wrongly priced at a whopping $30. We requested an adjustment and received it. In the end, one of my dining companions remained so fond of the empanadas that she has since been enjoying them via take-out.