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Church Street Cafe


Susan
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The Church Street Cafe opened last week for lunch. I stopped in on Saturday and had a delicious lunch. We started with a spicy seared tuna over corn and tomatoes. Absolutely delicious. Then I had the chop chop chicken salad. Chopped up chicken with cashews, pineapples, chinese noodles and greens. Also delicious. My husband had a hamburger and french fries. The fries were cooked crispy like I like them and the burger had bacon and cheese and was also delicious. The head chef is Jamie who cooked with Ryan at Fascino. I believe they are going to start serving dinner this week. Looking forward to trying that.

Susan

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The prices were not bad. I believe the tuna was $14, chop chop chicken salad $8 and hamburger $7 or the chicken was $7 and the burger $8. It was on Saturday when it started pouring and I would say they were about 3/4 full.

Susan

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Had dinner at Church St. Cafe last night. Was quite surprised to see that the seared tuna that is on the lunch menu costs the same on the dinner menu ($14). I would have thought they would have hiked it up a couple of dollars just because. It was delicious. My husband had the seared scallops ($18) dollars. Again delicious. We both started with a salad. My husband had the Church St. Cafe salad ($7 - I think) with beets, crumbled blue cheese and either arugula or spinach. I had the portobello mushroom salad ($8) with spinach and onions. Both were very good and very large. Looking forward to returning.

Susan

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Why do people have grand openings months after they actually open?? As a restaurant consultant, i have to say, this makes NO sense to me. A week or two after they open (and get the kinks worked out) makes sense; maybe even three weeks. But six weeks or more?

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Well this new place seems to be thriving, right from the beginning; and well it should.

Church Street Café (at #12 on that block of boutiques and antique stores) is owned and run by 2 long-time denizens of the food industry, and the kitchen is under the direction of the former sous-chef of (the well regarded in this venerable forum!) Fascino, in the same town.

We've only been there for lunch (they've just added dinner, though, and soon will open for breakfast, too), but on several occasions mostly everything's really been very very good. The Church Street salad is quite tasty (with its fresh organic mesclun greens, roasted beets and crumbled bleu cheese) as is the Salade Niçoise (you know that classic combination!).

Then comes favorites Moules Frites, with a heady broth; the flavorful Cajun Shrimp sandwich, on ciabatta; "The Classic" sandwich, of house roasted turkey breast & cranberry relish on 12 grain bread; and a yummy baked eggplant with roasted peppers and caramelized onions on focaccia.

People seem to be loving the big Black Angus burgers and also filling-looking A- (for avocado) -BLTs, too, and the management has been adding larger and more substantial dishes (lots of nicely grilled and sauced fishes; the one we tried was a special -- moist grouper with guacamole on sliced potatoes. Sorry, I think I forgot another ingredient in there, but I would definitely order it again!), especially for the evening meals.

Well I suppose that that's enough for now. I guess that I am raving, here, but I am not affiliated with this restaurant; I just got back from a wonderful lunch! Oh, I do know that the next time I go there, I am surely going to have the "Chop, Chop Chicken Salad" again. It tasted as good as it looked, but don't let this simple list fool you -- chicken, lettuce, pineapple, cucumber, red pepper, glazed cashews & soy vinaigrette -- it was such a pleasing combination of sensual stimuli.

Bytheway, if you recognize the location, don't despair; it was totally renovated. Not fancy and not formal, but it's very handsome & clean, comfortable & friendly.

Cheers!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Last nite, my wife and I suddenly found ourselves with a nite free from the kids and decided to spend it at one of the wonderful Montclair restaurants. After being rebuffed at both Alans, on Valley Road in Upper Montclair ("No reservation? You must be kidding?"), and Epernay on Park (after trying for 15 minutes to grab the attention of someone to see if they could fit us in) it occured to me that Church Street Cafe might now be open for dinner.

What a wonderful turn of events! Dinner was superb!

The salads, the Church Street salad for my wife, and the Portabello Salad for myself for myself, were wonderful (and huge!)

For entrees, my wife chose the "Steak Frites" and I had the Grilled Salmon.

Only a few days before we returned from a week in the Hamptons where we ate at several highly rated Zagat restaurants. We both felt Church Street Cafe's food was at least as good as anything we had in the Hamptons.

My salmon was exquisite. Perfectly prepared and quite savory. My wife's steak was excellent, as were the accompaniments: "frites," tasty and seasoned "french fries," and green beans. We usually don't notice these because fries are usually greasy and tastless, and beans limp with too much butter, but at Church Street they are given the same attention as everything else, i.e. they are in their glory.

For desert I had the very good cherry chocolate chip gelato, and my wife had an excellent cherry tart.

Service was flawless, and the decor is relaxing. Unlike many of Montclair's other popular restaurants, the layout of Church Street is such that you can actually have a conversation with your partner and your elbows aren't touching the person at the next table.

Pricing was very, very reasonable.

This is a restaurant to rave about.

Cary

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  • 4 weeks later...

We just came home from a lovely dinner at the Church Street Cafe. After seeing a 6:45 movie across the street we got to the restaurant at 9 and were seated right away. There was a terrific band playing outside and the music was audible inside and was great.

I have a little mixed feelings about this restaurant. Not to say we won't go back because we loved our food but we were made to feel like outsiders. We were originally offered a small table in the back corner and seeing how there were two booths open we asked for one. The hostess ( I think owner) said sure she would clean one for us and immediately gave the couple that came in after us the one that was already set. They seemed to know each other.

Our waiter was terrific and apologized up front for being harried as he said all of his tables had been seated within minutes of each other.

We decided to share a delicious caesar salad that the menu said was served with marinated tomatoes and garlic croutons. There were no croutons but a small dish of them was brought to us as soon as we asked.

On the waiter's recommendation I ordered the spiced seared tuna that was on corn and tomatoes and I really enjoyed it. My husband ordered the steak frites that he devoured.

The hostess (owner) looked like she was making rounds at all of the tables and totally walked right by us. She did look at us and then walked awau. An out and out snub if I ever saw one. We didn't let it bother us and finished with coffee, no dessert.

We will go back because the food was so good and I hope the hostess (owner) takes a lesson in interpersonal communication.

Edited by coughy (log)
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i too was somewhat disappointed with a recent dinner here. for apps we had a wild mushroom risotto cake and a crab salad, both of which were pretty good (i esp. liked the salad). for entrees, we had moules-frites and scallops in a blood orange sauce served with hearts of palm. the moules had a flavorful broth but were on the small side, and the blood orange sauce just didn't work for me at all: its consistency was akin to a meat-based gravy whereas i'd been expecting something much lighter. the scallops themselves, however, were good if perhaps slightly overcooked.

baked desserts are displayed in a case. we shared an apple crumb bar that was lightly drizzled with raspberry sauce. it was served cold and was very dry. they do not serve cappuccino so i ordered regular coffee, which was nothing special.

service was good.

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  • 3 months later...
  • 5 weeks later...

I've had lunch there twice: Once this summer, when I found it overpriced but fairly good. Then again a few weeks ago, when the food was just adequate, with service to match.

A decent place for lunch, alhough nothing fancy, is Suzette across Church Street in the Clairidge Theatre building. They have very good sandwiches, soups, etc as well as their crepes. You order your food at the counter, and they bring it to your table. It's much more relaxing than Raymond's, which is a bit too much of a noisy "scene" for my taste. (Good food, though.)

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As much as I hate to admit it, this place has always disapointed me. I've had, by far, the worst burger in my life last summer (dry and well done small patty even though I ordered it medium rare) and on later visits, some very ordinary "diner-like" salads. I think Montclair really needs a place like this but they have to do MUCH better on the food. Service was between nonchalent and rude. I just walked by tonight (Friday) around 6:45 and the place was EMPTY but for one table. I truly hope they recover.

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