Impressions of Cafe Monet in Millburn, NJ?
Was there tonight and sat outside on a beautiful cool summer evening. Saw the old posts and wanted to say that the service was exceptional; attentive, knowledgeable and helpful and the restaurant was packed inside and outside. A weekend evening is revealing. My pet peeve is having my water refilled and it was filled consistently. We share boulillbase (sp) (1 shrimp, 1 scallop, a few pieces of fish, exquisite taste , scallops (3 medium sized) w/mushroom risotto and short ribs w/mashed garlic potatoes, all very good. Small dishes even the large one. The husband needed an additional treat at the nearby Whole Foods. I want to go back and try a few more of the dishes.
I really wanted to like this place--the review sounded great, and RGR reported liking the chef at his previous location. But they desperately need to fix up their service.
Everything took an excrutiatingly long time--from seating us (despite a reservation); to taking orders, to bringing out bread (and then, we had to ask for butter--glad I did because it was delightful unsalted butter accented with lemon zest); to finally getting food on the table (which happened a full hour and half after we arrived). And even then, bringing out food was a scattered, laborious production, which happened in multiple stages. A lot of this would have been forgiven if there had been better communication from our server, but there was next to none.
That being said, the appetizers were stellar. The mushroom strudel was incredible--earthy and rich, with truffle flavor. Served in a warm plate, which made us think that the attention to detail in the kitchen was sadly at odds with the attention to service. The onion "tarte tatin" had a great crispy pastry shell, but I thought the sweetness of the carmelized onion and the balsamic was a bit overpowering, cut somewhat by the nice goat cheese on top.
Entrees were so-so. I got the rack of lamb special and found it dry and not particularly flavorful. My family got the steak frites, the lamb shank and the skate and they had similar reactions.
So...was our service nightmare an aberration? The place was full, and the appetizers, at least, hinted at good things happening in the kitchen. I want to be convinced to give this place another try, but without strong endorsements here, I definitely won't be back.