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ABOVE Restaurant and Bar-South Orange


ejebud
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I just ate at ABOVE in South Orange above the Eden Gourmet Market. Chef Paul Lustbader does it again!! The restaurant is a large multi-room space tastefully decorated with a bar and a patio area that seats 125 people! The servers were a little green but attentive. They've only been open 17 days. The food is pure Lustbader who's thoughtful plate presentation and respectful use of ingredients made for a wonderful meal. We had Rice balls filled with Cabernet Braised Beef Short Rib rolled in a Bacon Bread crumb and fried served with a killer HorseRadish cream, Excellent all crab-crab cake, Rack of Lamb- 2 double rib chops cooked rare by request with Hericot Vert and Pureed Sunchokes, and a Lobster tasting--Cream-less Corn and Lobster soup and a lobster roll. We had 2 sides--Spring Pea Gratin and crispy onions.The sides were a bit overpriced for what you got ($6-$8) but they were very good. The Chef sent out the Mgr to say hello to me and then the chef came out to see me after he sent us a cheese plate with 4 great cheeses and some house made Lavash crackers and Guava Jelly. We also ordered Grapefruit Sorbet. This was a great meal and gets the Budman's seal of approval. Try it and bring your friends.

www.aboverestaurantbar.com

President

Les Marmitons-NJ

Johnson and Wales

Class of '85

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Funny...I'VE been wanting to get there since posting this. :wink:

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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  • 2 months later...

Yes, GO, by all means!

If you come by train, it's just steps from the South Orange NJ Transit train station, and if you're driving, park free in the garage behind EG (Eden Gourmet to those of you not from the area), just off Vose Avenue...

BTW, don't miss the oppty to SHOP at EG, either before or after your meal at ABOVE.

-s.

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Soda, I'm curious to know what you had and enjoyed. I went about 6 weeks ago and tried a more-than-decent sampling of apps and was a bit disappointed. The rice balls were STELLAR, but my friend wasn't knocked out by the lobster mac 'n cheese (I can't eat it but I trust his taste buds) and we had to send one of the (three) shrimp back because it was still raw. Other items (now I'm remembering a salad w/hazelnuts, figs, and SPECKS of bleu cheese) were fine, but a bit overpriced for the serving size. Even the Tuscan fries, which we loved at T Fresco were meh. There were a couple of others + a fruit cobbler-like dessert (fine) but I can't remember what they were.

I'll also add that the service didn't help; young and inexperienced would be my description. The gal we had was trying reaaaally hard, but more than that, she wasn't reading us or our body language at all; there were numerous (really--too many) times when she interrupted us unnecessarily when we were having an involved conversation, and even after telling her we weren't in a rush, she didn't seem to get the message.

Btw, the space itself, while a little too over-decorated for my taste, is lovely. And the roof deck will be terrific in nice weather! Which reminds me--the night we went was a particularly warm early Oct day and when we saw the patio, we asked to sit outside--but were told that it was closed already for the day (this was just before 6pm) because it might rain (which of course, it didn't). What a shame, as there were tables and chairs out there and we certainly would have lingered over more wine/drinks.

I loved the chef's cooking at Trattoria Fresco so I was really excited to try Above but overall, we weren't knocked out. I don't even know if he was in the kitchen--not that that should matter. The menu reads deliciously, but the 5-6 items we had just didn't WOW us the way we had hoped. I'll definitely give it another try but feel like they need some time to settle in.

And I agree about Eden Gourmet--it's a lovely store! As someone else said, "It's what Whole Foods used to be when it first started..."

"I'm not eating it...my tongue is just looking at it!" --My then-3.5 year-old niece, who was NOT eating a piece of gum

"Wow--this is a fancy restaurant! They keep bringing us more water and we didn't even ask for it!" --My 5.75 year-old niece, about Bread Bar

"He's jumped the flounder, as you might say."

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Curls, I agree with some of your assessment... It's certainly not the best restaurant in the area (Lorena's, Luke's Kitchen, and Verjus -- all in Maplewood -- rate higher with me), but I live in South Orange, and the EG people have put a LOT of money into the place, so, from my own admittedly boosterish perspective, I want to see it do well...

The service isn't yet as consistently professional as I'd hope for, but I do very much enjoy some of Chef Lustbader's dishes, a few of which he featured at Centanni (also in Maplewood) before signing on with "ABOVE".

While I'd hardly put it on my Top Ten NJ Eateries List yet, there's enormous potential there. I encourage you to give it another try, perhaps before attending a performnce at SOPAC.

-s.

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