Kei Kebab has opened it's doors at 401 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair. Serving tadtional Persian cuisine, Kei Kebab claims to offer "the real meaning of kebab." Let's hope so, I love meat on a stick.
According to the website:
The word kei means "king" or "royalty", and here you will enjoy cuisine fit for a true king.
[The chef,] Ashkan Khalaj is from Karaj, in the Alborz province of Iran. His love of delicious food, respect for the skills of professional cooking, and appreciation for the quality of ingredients were learned in his childhood under the instruction of his grandmother. As a young boy, he watched her bake bread in her "tanooristan". She was well respected in the town and known for her mastery of Persian cooking. His mother carried this passion for Persian cooking, and taught it to him from a young age. In Iran, he cooked and sold kabobs for eight years with his own unique recipes outside his orchard.
Stay tuned to Hot From The Kettle for a full review of Kei Kebab.
The brain child of Husband and wife team Steve Lehrhoff and Jennifer O’Sullivan, Olive That! is an emporium of Mediterranean Olive Oils and Balsamic Vinegar, infused vinegars and oils, and exotic sea salt. It’s a place to rediscover, and get reacquainted with, the simplest of culinary pleasures: some good bread, some good olive oil, and great conversation.
The idea of an olive oil boutique is not that unique. The Filling Station in Manhattan is fairly well known among Montclair residents. There’s also The Saratoga Olive Oil Company in Burlington, Vermont, plus the boutiques in San Francisco and the DC metro area.
Known to many in Essex County from his family owned and operated "Matarazzo Farms" in West Caldwell, Jim Matarazz has been a fixture at the Montclair Farmers' Market for several years. It's tomato season in NJ and Jim will be sharing his bounty with those in need on Saturday. From 8am to 2 pm they willl give a free quart of Jersey Tomatoes to anyone who is down and out. Each Saturday morning the Matarazzos, and several other farmers, bring the locally grown fruits of their labors to the Walnut Street station parking lot. As a foodie I'm all over the farmer's market, as a transplanted Californian I am thrilled to find produce that is not from the San Joaquin Valley and as a resident of NJ I love the idea that the Garden State is more than a slogan but a way of life. I go to the farmers' market on Saturday mornings for the food but also to protect a way of life and use of land that is slipping away. This Saturday I am going to support a farmer who is doing something wonderful for the least among us. If you're in Montclair stop by Matarazzo's on Saturday. If you're having trouble making ends meet know that Jim will be sharing his bounty. If things are working out for you, stop by anyway and just enjoy being in the presence of a true mensch.
They still got it! After years of accolades and a bustling celebrity chef lifestyle, CulinAriane has retained that je ne sais quois that made the Montclair restaurant one of the finest in New Jersey!
Since 2006, Michael and Ariane Duarte have been operating CulinAriane as a husband and wife team. Although they appear to exist in different hemispheres - Ariane in the kitchen and Michael in the front of the house, the operation of CulinAriane is a shared passion.
Of course, during the course of our tasting Mr. Hot and I sampled much more than just Fried Chicken and Short Ribs. We began with a refreshing Watermelon Salad ($7) with mixed greens and shaved ricotta salata.
We then segwayed into the shrimp portion of tasting with Peel & Eat Shrimp ($9), followed by a peppery Shrimp and Grits ($16) with andoille sausage, tomatoes and peppers.
Shrimp and Gr
Crispy calamari ($9) followed, accompanied by a tangy roasted red pepper chipotle mayo. Then, the southern favorite, and all-time kid-pleaser, Mac n' cheese ($9), made an appearance, with mellow, cheesy, almost nutty undertones.
Next we sampled the Jambalaya which was a little lacking in heat and general flavor punch. I have no doubt, however, this is a small kink that will be shortly worked out.
Two items stood out on the menu as needing absolutely no working out - in fact, they were pretty *&^%$#@ perfect. You guessed it: fried chicken ($16) and braised beef short ribs ($21).
To achieve his perfect poultry, Chef Pierre marinates his chicken overnight in buttermilk, and fries it to perfection. The chicken is absolutely juicy on the inside, and cripsity-crunchity on the outside. Chef Pierre adds a bit of sweetness by lightly drizzling the chicken with peppered honey. Sweet Louise! It is good!
Short RibsAnother unbelievable menu item is the fork tender braised short ribs with pearl onions. So rich and savory, rife with carmelization, it's almost as nice to smell as it is to eat.
Regulars of Cafe Amici will be pleased to see that the price point is very reasonable, and that a variety of flatbreads have remained on the menu with a Creole Flatbread addition.
Albert's modern Southern cuisine is a welcomed change of fare for Church Street, and Montclair as a whole.
Lance KnowlingBBQ Beef Brisket and Skillet Potatoes
Often times, a restaurant will adopt the personality of it's chef. Indigo Kitchen, Lance Knowling's new Montclair outpost, exudes the cool charm and refinement Lance is known for.
From the jazz music in the background, to the exposed brick wall, to local scenes painted by Lance's mother, Indigo Kitchen is comfortably cool. Suitable for a stellar lunch, or for a hip and sexy evening out, Indigo seems to have everything going for it.
A long time Montclair resident and business owner told me, “Walnut St. is the Greenwich Village of Montclair.” Perhaps a prideful overstatement? Maybe not.
Located neither uptown, downtown nor in the center, the suburban street rises from the crescent, and crests at Valley Road. Decidedly unpretentious, Walnut St. is now at the epicenter of a chic suburban revival. A microcosm of our township, rich in artistry and artisanship, Walnut Street arguably sums up what is so special about Montclair.
Unique eateries serving global fare, boutique bakeries, antique shops, consignment shops, and more line the street. Beyond the brick and mortar, lies a lively, unique, and beautiful cast of characters. Every Saturday morning “mama” is at work in the open kitchen at Cucina 98 making ravioli, and every Saturday morning the Montclair Farmer’s Market appears, with cowboy hat-wearing, cigar-smoking, North Caldwell farmer, Jim Matarazzo chatting it up with organic minded locals.
The recent, youthful additions to Walnut Street, Le Salbuen and Red Eye Café, have rekindled a nearly tangible energy of coolness on the suburban street. And, the Montclair Bread Company recently got an updated look and a new owner, Rachel Crampsey.
Beyond the newly imported suburban hipness, there lies camaraderie between the business owners. The elder “streets men,” Sharon & Chris Egan, owners of Halcyon and Egan & Sons, as well as Lisa and Elio Suriano, owners of one of Montclair’s hidden gem, Corso 98, understand that business is good for business. They make efforts to share their knowledge and insight of the restaurant industry, because, as Sharon Egan told me, “I want them to make it here.”
This past Saturday, after walking the Montclair’s Farmer’s Market, Mr. Hot and I stopped into Le Salbuen for some coffee. Of course, I also ordered a Cuban beef empanada and a side of chorizo to go with it. Why not? After our “coffee,” we strolled into Chameleon, the antique shop located right next to Le Salbuen. We perused, we chatted, and we promised to be back. Then, we went across the street, said good morning to Mama and Lisa at Cucina 98. Next week, we’ll repeat this ritual with some variation: a visit to the Farmers Market, and coffee at Red Eye Café. Not to be “montclaircentric,” but what other suburb is so cool?
Interior of Comfort Food Kitchen under constructionFor the past several months Watchung Plaza has been playing a lively game of Musical Storefronts. With Dot Reeder relocating, Berry Sweet due to open, and Piazza Della Sole moving uptown, Watchung Plaza and adjoining Fairlfield Street have been awash with papered windows.
So what will be occupying the former Piazza Della Sole space? Comfort Food Kitchen!
In a former life, Suzanne Michaud, chef and owner of Comfort Food Kitchen, was an investment banker. Having always been comfortable in the kitchen, and passionate about cooking, inspiration struck Suzanne to undertake a career change. And in 1999 Suzanne attended and graduated the French Culinary Institute. For the past two years, Suzanne has been teaching people to cook at their homes, as well as giving cooking demonstrations at the Montclair Farmer's Market and was a vendor at the Chester Farmer's Markets.
Comfort Food Kitchen will have the rustic feel of a French bakery, serving healthy, market driven a la carte fare, for eat in or take out. There will be a communal lunch table with open shelving offering organic and fair trade teas. Suzanne will also be baking her famous old fashioned heirloom cookies, including the Florentine Biscotti, which have been in her family since 1939.
Suzanne is putting her business savvy to work with a twist on traditional dinner take out. The dinner menu, will change frequently based on market availability, and be available via online subscription. Once the menu is posted, orders are then placed, paid for on-line, and picked up at the desired time.
According to Suzanne, "the philosphy behind Comfort Food Kitchen is that food, at it's best, should be prepared and shared with others."
Catering is also available and cooking lessons will be available in the store. Suzanne expects to be open by the end of June.
Photo Credit: John LeeBleary eyed residents of the Walnut Street area woke this morning to discover the grand opening of the Red Eye Café. Located diagonally across from Le Salbuen, Red Eye is named after the classic coffee beverage.
A Red Eye is named for the Red Eye flights from the West Coast. Late night (9 or 10pm) flights out of Los Angeles and San Francisco land in New York at about 5am. Because of the time difference it feels like 2am resulting in red bleary eyes of the travelers. When coffee wasn’t enough to recharge for a day in the Big Apple, travelers took to having a shot of espresso added to their morning coffee. The name was transferred to the beverage and has remained a classic ever since.
Like its namesake drink, the Red Eye Café is steeped in history yet uniquely its own place. Owner Anthony Brinton, who spent more than a decade behind the bar at Montclair's iconic coffee shop, Cafe Eclectic, brings with his familiarity of Montclair’s unique customers plus the chance to add his own spin on the classics making this Walnut Street destination both new and familiar at the same time.
Billed primarily as a classic coffee shop, featuring classic lattes, cappuccinos, and Americano, Red Eye also has a substantial café breakfast and lunch menu. Standouts include “Green Eggs and Ham” – a scramble with ham, cheese, and kale. Don’t miss the potato hash with Red Eye Gravy. Here the Red Eye consists of Au Jus gravy with hot sauce and espresso that is so good I literally licked the plate. (when food is that good I have no shame but to enjoy it!) It’s breakfast comfort food!
The lunch menu takes classic sandwiches and presents them in new ways. Ham and Cheese become Ham and Gouda with artichoke, garlic mustard, and fresh spinach, Turkey is presented as Turkey and Pear with brie, avocado, arugula and herb mayo. A must is the Blue Velvet : house roasted beef with pickled blueberries and shallots, cream cheese and arugula on ciabatta. The salad menu features local produce from early June through October.
Montclair isn’t a party town (cough cough, yeah right) but late risers don’t have to settle for lunch menus when they sleep in on the weekends. Red Eye offers the “Feel Better Brunch” weekends from 9am – 4pm. Weekdays the café opens at 7am, weekends at 9am. The café is open every day until 11pm.
Featuring two price options, $11.95 or $14.95, for an all-inclusive lunch, offering a choice of entree, and soup (Aguadito de Pollo or Crema de Frijole Negros) or salad, and choice of a traditional Peruvian side, and beverage - - Costanera's lunch menu is indeed a bargain to be had.
I recently enjoyed a lunch with new HFTK music writer, Meg Beattie Patrick.
The mystery of Valley Road has been solved – a chef from Tuscany is moving into the a place where Five Guys used to serve burgers. Tuscany formally opened its doors on May 22, 2012 to bring homemade Italian faire to Upper Montclair.
Proprietors of Le Salbuen Cafe Market, Christina and JohnA few weeks ago Hot From The Kettle took a little peak behind the brown paper at Le Salbuen and shared the owners’ dreams, plans and ambitions for their Café Market on Walnut Street. This past week we attended their soft opening and found ourselves caught in a culinary paradox of time and place that left a sense of complete fulfillment but yet yearning for more.
As a major fromageophile, I get very excited when I learn of a new place to score great cheese.
Amanti Vino, located at 30 Church St., is well known as Montclair's source for unique wines, and craft beers. Now, the local shop has something extraordinary for you to nosh on while you sip - cheese!
Keeping with the Amanti tradition of smaller, artisanal producers, proprietor, Sharon Sevrens, has brought in twelve cheeses from some of "the most rustic wine growing regions in the world," that are sure to pair beautifully with your bottle of choice.
Around 11:30 am the signs begin to appear on the sidewalks: Lunch Special! Up and down Bloomfield Avenue, along Valley Road, on Church Street, and throughout Watchung Plaza the chalked blackboards reveal the reasonably priced lunch offerings at our local restaurants! (Read: Good eats on the cheap.)
Take it from me: take advantage. Lunch specials are the equivalent of gastronomic gold – a midday score. So get out and dine at lunchtime - there are just too many bargains to pass up.
Chef Patrick Pierre-Jerome doing his thing! Church Street has long been called "the gem" of Montclair; blossoms, boutiques, benches, and great breakfast! But one thing seemed to be missing. Restaurant enthusiasts have often lamented - albeit secretly -the absence of a world class chef on this picturesque, pedestrian friendly street. Gastronomes can now rejoice over the arrival of acclaimed chef, Patrick Pierre-Jerome.
Chef Pierre is heading up the kitchen at Albert’s Montclair, the re-imagined site of Cafe Amici. Unlike Cafe Amici, Albert’s Montclair offers a menu as diverse and inspired as Montclair itself.