Archive for July, 2007

You Won’t Get Burned at Toast

July 30, 2007

Toast
700 Bloomfield Ave.
Montclair, NJ, 07042
973-509-8099
www.toastmontclair.com

Montclair’s western slope is undergoing a bit of renaissance these days. On one small block across the street from the arts museum you can find Turkish lamb, Indian Tandoori, and Moroccan couscous in the form of Lalazar, Taj palace and Marrakech respectivly. All of this a stone’s throw from Luna Stage, Wholefoods and the 07402 Starbucks.

The little area on the corner of St. Lukes Place and Bloomfield Ave. is becoming a destination spot for foodies.

Add to that the nouveau dinner spot Toast. Deciding not to compete with its more exotic brothers on the block, Toast serves breakfast, lunch and brunch on a menu that is long on variations of traditional American breakfast fare. The Crab Cakes Benedict, for example, is a tasty combination of seafood and egg that at first glance wouldn’t go together. We sampled and though fish and egg isn’t our speed it’s worth a try.

We also had the sausage and pepper omelet, which is more like a stuffed crape than a traditional omelet. Omelets, of which there are many to choose from, come with whole grain toast and tasty potatoes that justify the $5 bump in price over a similar meal at a dinner. The unsweetened ice tea is also a good call.

Toast has a crowded interior with a few high-backed booths on the side. It fills up quickly and was nearly full this past Friday around 1 p.m. We ate outside and found the service to be attentive if unspectacular.

With menu items like shrimp and bacon sandwiches, lobster rolls, stuffed French Toast and California Scramble, Toast doesn’t do much to hide it’s ambition to compete with Raymond’s over on Church St.

And though brunch will cost you a bit more than you’d pay at a local diner or even IHOP, our Friday brunch clocked in at a Montclair-reasonable $28, including an 18 percent tip.

We weren’t blown away by Toast but were intrigued enough to go back, which is what a new place ought to strive for. We’re particularly intrigued by the restaurant’s site, which promises seasonal menus and a store in coming months.

It’s worth a trip to the edge of town and judging by Toasts’ initial success it should be more of hit than recent tenets of the spot.

JC

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Veggie Tales

July 27, 2007

JerseyCool doesn’t really have a problem eating meat. Our theory is if cows ate people and they were hungry enough, well, we don’t think our bovine friends would have much of a second thought.

There are certainly some health benefits and kudos to those able to live meat free. We actually tried it for a year and it just wasn’t our boat. Anyway, today’s Star Ledger Munchmobile gives a little love to those who don’t get all giddy at the sight of a streak.

Munchers took a tour of the best tofu and non-grease including Greenmarket Cafe, Ho-Ho-Kus, Piquant Bread Bar and Grill, New Brunswick, Twisted Tree Cafe, Asbury Park and Re-Juice-a-Nation, Manasquan.

You can read the clip on NJ.com or check out the Munch Blog.

Fresh Eats

July 26, 2007

We came across an interesting item over at The Artful Diner today. M/O Cafe and Grill in Vorhees has extended it’s Farm t0 Fork special until July 29.

The effort highlights Jersey fresh produce for $30 meals. Interesting and well worth checking out we think.

JC

Springfield, Vermont, Edges out Springfield, NJ

July 23, 2007

Following up on an item we posted a few weeks ago, the town of Springfield, VT, hosted the premier of the Simpson’s movie. Springfield’s from across the country sent films promotional films to producers touting why their Springfield should hose the tournament. Ironically, Springfield, VT, wasn’t even invited to participate in the contest, which was won based on a poll in USAToday. However, a strong lobbying effort got them in and, apparently, an even stronger film won the town the contest.

No word on where Springfield, NJ, finished in the contest. The Simpson’s Movie opens this weekend in theaters other than Springfield.

Marrakech Comes up Roses on Second Visit

July 16, 2007

Marrakech
708 Bloomfield Avenue
Montclair, NJ 07042-2203

973-744-7733

Sometimes a restaurant suffers an off night. Sometimes the chef is off, the service is off and sometimes, especially if the restaurant is new, the food is a bit off. Chalk it up to growing pains and here at JerseyCool we try to cut our friends out in the restaurant biz a little slack.

So, we are really pleased to offer a revised review of Marrakech in Montclair. We dined at the Moroccan restaurant a few weeks ago with some friends and were fairly impressed with how far things have come, particularly the all important food.

We sampled a trio of appetizers the Briouats, Moroccan pastry rolls filled with chicken, vermicelli and mushrooms; Scallops; and the Cigar Marocain, a Moroccan pastry roll filled with ground beef and eggs.

You can’t go wrong with any of those, however we thought the scallops were perfectly prepared and actually outshined the more exotic Briouats and Cigar Marocain. Again, we don’t think you’ll be disappointed with any of the appetizers.

For a main course, your correspondent settled on the Bouillabaise after seriously flirting with the Pastilla aux Fruits de Mer, a filo dough pastry filled with seafood. We were not disappointed as the Boulliabaise of shrimp, mussels, cod and red snapper was perfectly prepared.

C ordered the Pastilla au Poulet, a similar filo dough concoction with shredded chicken and almonds and cinnamon. I wrestled away a sample and, indeed, this may be the restaurants signature dish. The meal you need to try at least once when you go there.

We also sampled the couscous and found that our precious criticism, a dry, bland couscous has been corrected. The couscous we had the other night was moist and succulent. A perfect compliment to the chicken dish our friend dinned on.

Finally, if you go to Marrakech try the tea. The Morroccan tea is prepared in a stainless steel kettle and poured theatrically into a cup. It’s also tasty and makes for a perfect ending to a meal whether or not you decide to sample any of the restaurant’s desserts.

We’re still not a great fan of the seating, which is too low, but in the sixth months or so since we first tried Marrakech we can firmly say this place is on the right track.

JC

Want more? Read out initial review of Marrakech.

These Movies Made Easy to Read By

July 6, 2007

Pan’s LabrynthWe caught up on some of the Netflix laying around JerseyCool central this past holiday weekend and have a couple of rental recomendations for you. Both films are foreighn language but are actually very good examples of subtitles.

I can understand some people don’t like them. We here at JerseyCool spend most of our days reading and writing, so when we head out to the theater paying attention to text that scrolls across the screen is the last thing we want to do. However, this doesn’t bother us quite so much at home and both Pan’s Labrynth and Apocalypto are fine films and the fact that you have to read along doesn’t make a licks worth of difference.

Let’s start with Pan’s Labrynth, Guillermo del Toro’s great piece of Spanish magical realism, that pops off of the screen. Now, repeat after me, “this is not a kid’s movie…this is not a kid’s movie.” Yes, some younger folk will be enchanted by the fairy tale story and the mythical creatures, but the story is set during the Spanish revolution and is probably too intense for children under 12. Most notably there is a violent execution scene and very strong allusions to torture.

However, for those older, Pan’s Labrynth is a great way to introduce them to what post-modern filmmaking is all about: blending genras and producing poignent, topical commentary based off of old conventions.

The film is a growing up tale about a young girl who has to choose between a fairy tale princess world and the hard, war-torn adult world she lives in. The choice would seem obvious but combine a vulnerable, pregnant mother, a caring lady of the house and an evil fascist stepfather and you have the makings for a great, modern fairy tale.

The ending is actually spot on and nearly perfect in letting viewers decide for themselves what happens without cheating them of the experience. Yes, David Chase this line is meant for you.Apocalypto

Apocalypto is Mel Gibson’s latest crack at foregn language filmmakeing and we thought, after a few fits and starts in the beginning, Mel pulls off a fairly grand action-adventure movie set in the waning days of the Mayan empire. The entire movie is spoken in Mayan, a long dead language, but quite honestly you’d get the point of the film even if there were no subtitles. In many ways it’s a silent film and some of Gibson’s visuals are stunning.

Yes, Gibson comes with a lot of baggage and yes this would be a very conservative-leaning depiction of the Maya (To learn more, check out Charles C. Mann’s brilliant 1491) .

Politics aside, Apocalypto is a pretty gripping story and certain scenes will haunt you long after the last subtitle rolls. Sure, Gibson throws one too many a cheap trick at the end but that’s his perogative. Personal feelings aside, Mel Gibson is at least trying to make films that matter.

JC

Lighten Up in West Orange

July 3, 2007

We caught a glimpse of the West Orange fireworks on Sunday night, which reminded us about the town’s funky light bulb display. If you haven’t caught site of them, the light bulbs are flashy, decorative and point out the town’s history as the home (well, one of the homes) of Thomas Edison.

The displays are also there to promote energy efficiency, a cause near and dear to this bloggers heart.

You can get  photos of the  bulbs by visiting NJ.com’s  web site.

If I don’t post again, enjoy the fourth faithful readers,

JC