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David Burke Fromagerie

Booked here for this weekend, heard lots of great things about the place. Anyone been since Burke took over? Got a "very good" from the NYTimes, although the pricing is way above NJ average. Is it worth the price? Thanks for any input.

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  1. menton1 - Mixed reviews on this board. Try the search feature. I understand that the menu is similar to DB and Donatella in NYC which I've been and loved. Good luck and please report back.

    1. The short answer is No, it is not worth the money.

      For the long answer you will have to search this board for
      my and other's earlier posts about it.

      4 Replies
      1. re: seal

        So if one had to choose a nice night out between Nicolas and Fromagerie, which one would you choose?

        1. re: menton1

          Not even close!! Nicholas, of course!

          1. re: menton1

            Spend the little bit extra and go to Nicholas. My wife and I were at the Fromagerie on Saturday night. I used to enjoy the old Fromagerie but I realize that in time things get tired and must change. Still it was a constant around here and it felt comfortable and cozy. I love David Burke's food and was eager to try the reincarnation of the Fromagerie. The first thing I was a little disappointed in was the decor. We were seated in the bar area, which used to be quite a cozy spot to be in, but now everything is a bit "harder" and quite loud. We were shown a table for 2 in the bar and immediately I asked for it to be changed. Honestly it felt like I was sitting in a bistro rather than a fine dining establishment. To their credit, the staff changed our table without question. I ordered the classic DB menu choices (Angry lobster cocktail and braised short ribs) which were excellent accompanied by a La Spinosa Barberesco. This is where it kind of went south for us. My wife had the market salad (very ordinary) followed by the seared scallops and prawns in English pea sauce. The scallops and especially the sauce were very good, but the shrimp were mealy. Totally inedible. We mentioned this to 2 waiters and got an offer of a replacement dish but honestly my wife was not going to order another dish and sit while I ate and then eat alone so we declined. The cheese course was quite good and good value as well considering the iffy reviews I have read about this offering. A selection of 5 cheese accompanied by walnut raisin toast rounds, champagne grapes, quince jelly and candied walnuts made for excellent picking. We finished with the cheesecake lollipops which I have always thought were the perfect shared dessert.
            David Burke came out of the kitchen to several tables including ours and my wife who couldn't care less if he was the Pope himself, when asked how we enjoyed the food replied "my shrimp were bad". Obviously this was not relayed to the kitchen as he was quite taken aback and offered expected apology and complimentary drinks. When the bill came however, I found the charge for $32 for the scallop/shrimp dish still there. Removing this from my bill should not have even been in question.
            Anyway I guess that kind of capped off a very mixed evening. The service and whole vibe of the place is very "busy". Lots of people running around without the
            commensurate service that should accompany such activity, coupled with pretty good but not excellent food left me a little disappointed. Yeah disappointed knowing that for probably $75 more in total I could have gone to Nicholas and had an evening that I would expect when I am dropping nearly $400 on dinner for 2 (incl. 1 1/2 bot wine and tip)

            1. re: taboni


              I just mentioned this on another thread, but since it fits your situation, I'll repeat it here. When either my husband or I have to send back a dish for whatever reason, we always send both back. That avoids the one-is-eating-while-the-other-is-watching syndrone. In your particular case, since you were having short ribs, they could easily have been kept warm while your wife's new dish was prepared. Frankly, this kind of thing should not happen at a top-notch restaurant, but especially if it does happen there, we don't care if it means they have to re-cook *both* dishes from scratch.

              I agree that they should not have charged you for your wife's dish. Not a very smart customer relations move on their part. While many restaurants think an apology and complimentary drinks cover these kinds of situations, it never does anything for me because I don't drink.

        2. Great choice! I love it there. It's a special occasion place so it's worth the price. Nice atmosphere, pleasant service and delicious food.
          We were a party of 12 at the end of June. My guests were thrilled with all of their choices. We had the best time!

          1. I ate there last weekend, and while things were good, it seemed to be lacking a little "something". Many of Burke's creations (Angry Lobster Cocktail, Cheescake Lollipops, etc.)seemed better when last sampled at David Burke and Donatella. I'll admit that memory is an imperfect thing, so I won't hold that against them. The room is comfortable, and an improvement over the tired Fromagerie of old, but it was far from dazzling and too brightly lit by half.
            Overall, a decent, but somewhat expensive night. For my money, I'd say that Nicholas is by far the better restaurant.

            1 Reply
            1. re: BernieMSY

              Thanks Bernie - The fact that I've already tried David Burke and Donatella keeps me from trying the Fromagerie. The menus seem to similar for me to want to shell out that type of money. Thanks again for the advice.

            2. My wife and I went to The Fromagerie last night (Saturday). Minus a few small server "errors in judgement" we found it to be a great evening. We had an 8 PM reservation and although we arrived a bit late, we were promptly led to our table in the very full and bustling main downstairs dining room. There was absolutely no sign of a recession at this eatery. My wife and I enjoy dining at The Fromagerie and DB and Donatella because of the "up" vibe in the rooms ...(one that is absent at Nicholas). Making a long story shot, our dinner consisted of a peanut butter and foie gras amuse, two special appitizers, two mains, 2 glasses of wine each, dessert and coffee. At no time were we rushed or made to feel our table of two was less important to the server than the table for six next to us with two bottles of wine. My only problem with the meal was that although I was finished with my amuse, my wife (one who savors her food more than I) wasn't and the server removed both plates without noticing that she wasn't finished. My wife decided not to say anything, being that she felt she would be full anyway by meals end. Secondly, I ordered the duck, which was GREAT but I didn't read that it came with the chefs special rice. Before we were served our mains, I ordered an order of the rice for the table and my server neglected to tell me that I was already going to have it with the duck. A small error in judgement that I can live with being that we finished all of it! We found the quality of the food to be exactly on par with his New York City restauant and will not only return again, but look forward to doing so soon. Finally, our tab including tax and tip was below $200 which I feel was acceptable for the wonderful prepared and bountious food, a beautiful and spacious restaurant and two and a half hours of relaxed dining. I highly recommend The Fromagrie for a special occasion or just a great fun upscale eating experience.

              1. Fromagerie is good, but every time I'm there I seem to walk out wondering "Why didn't I just go to Nicholas instead?"

                6 Replies
                1. re: joonjoon

                  I dined at Fromagerie last evening. Perhaps I was there on an off night. However, I was very underwhelmed with my meal. Had a nice Malbec ( Im an importer of South American wines ) prices are 400 % and more on most wines a bit hight especially in todays economy and the wine service is kinda lacking as well, however..the wine was the best part of the evening. All food seemed old and inventory was not fresh. We were comped for my entree ( send it back ) and passed on a replacement as well. I had a dessert and a cheses course.. the cheese was very cold and flavorless, the name is Fromagerie?? However, I just wish we dined somewhere else. Avoid at all opportunity in my opinion..The hostess ( perhaps owner will read this and make some changes soon ) Sorry to be so harsh. But its the truth.. Is Red Bank such an easy "mark" or do real foodies live and eat there..

                  David Burke Fromagerie
                  26 Ridge Road, Rumson, NJ 07760

                  1. re: Foodandwine

                    Had you read the boards here first, you may have decided to skip this joint. There are much better meals to be had in our area - some even for much less money. And, at the high end, Nicholas is as good as any place in the city.

                    1. re: seal

                      Hi Seal,

                      Actually I live in Los Angeles, a friend that I had dined with brought me to Fromagerie. I did not read the boards. However, I plan to be in the area ever 6 weeks or so in the future so I would like to hear more about the area and yes, I will prusue the boards myself in the future. I had tried this for the Toms River area and it was not as active of a board like the one we have here in Los Angeles.. Thanks again for yor reply

                      1. re: Foodandwine

                        F&W, do not fall into the trap some NYC-centric food snobs do. LA has many excellent restaurants. Most of NJ's do not compare to them. But most of LA's do not, either. NJ has many very fine restaurants, and as anywhere, many duds. The Monmouth County area has enough good ones that you'll have no problem enjoying your stay. Toms River, being less populated, has fewer, but still many you'll enjoy.

                        There are plenty of ethnic restaurants. You'll likely find them different from what you're used to, esp. Asian and Mexican. But that doesn't mean they're poor. Just a different experience, since the ethnicity is probably different. And I'd bet the Eastern European and Italian ones are better here since there is a relatively large population of those groups in this part of the country.

                        Enjoy your stay!

                        1. re: Foodandwine


                          I am really sorry your introduction to Monmouth County cuisine was at this dud. Even very close to the same area there is much better chow to be had. In fact I am about to head up the road from Fromagerie to Le Fandy to dine tonight. They have what may be my favorite Halibut preparation by a US chef.

                          Should you find yourself in need of a suggestion, I know I, as well as other regulars here will be happy to offer some good choices.

                  2. Went to Fromagerie last night for my wife's birthday. One word describes it -OVERRATED. Service was good very attentive. As far as the food, not worth the money. I can't believe David Burke had the nerve to serve cheap oily french fries with a forty dollar piece of meat. French fries you would get a snack bar at a little league game. My wife ordered pasta with broccoli rabe and shrimp. The broccoli rabe was straight from the freezer. Very disappointed!!!! David Burke should be embarrased to serve that quality of food. Rams Head stiil my favorite!!!

                    18 Replies
                    1. re: jimbo99

                      jimbo99 this is dissapointing to hear .......it was one of the restaurants on my list to try ...now I have to wonder?

                      1. re: Tapas52

                        Considering that most of what I've read about D.B.'s Fromagerie on this board by Hounds whose opinions I trust have been anything but positive, I never had any intention of going there. However, a few months ago, we were invited to go out to dinner by someone who was going to host us. That person chose Fromagerie, and it would have been very awkward for me to suggest we go elsewhere.

                        I never got around to posting a review, so I'll do it now.

                        The refurbishment is very well done -- we sat in the main dining room -- and our server couldn't have been nicer or more capable. It was a Wednesday evening. Three other tables were occupied, and there was a party of 12 in the adjacent smaller dining area.

                        First thing to arrive were big cheese popovers served in individual copper pots. Hot out of the oven and very tasty!

                        Mr. R. and our host each started with the Hot and Angry Lobster Cocktail. The menu noted: "Voted #1 lobster dish, in 'NY Magazine' 2004." Neither of them thought it was anything special.

                        My first course was the foie gras on toast with blueberry compote. The foie gras was burnt, so I sent it back. While the replacement was better (only slightly burnt at one edge), oil "sauce" that had been on the first plate was missing. The blueberry compote was excellent and made a fine accompaniment.

                        My main course was the Roasted “Soy Honey” Duck with Laphung and Shrimp Fried Rice, Burnt Orange and Jasmine Sauce. The meat was cooked to proper doneness (medium rare), was tender and had good flavor. The fried rice was mixed with vegetables and was quite tasty. The sweet citrus of the orange slices (they were cold) was a nice counterpoint to the Asian flavorings in the rice. Though not rave-worthy, it was more than satisfactory.

                        Mr. R.'s main was Milk Fed New York State Veal Locarno with Hubert's Spinach Gnocchi, Gruyère, Prosciutto di Parma and Bechamel. The worst thing about this dish was the very unappealing plating. The veal was slathered with a gloppy mess of cheese which had been run under the broiler to be browned; a pool of thin tomato sauce surrounded the meat; and on the side, there was a messy clump of vegetables. I tasted a piece of the veal, and it was o.k. Mr. R.'s take on the dish as a whole was that it was o.k., but nothing special. Considering how it looked -- like something one would get at any one of the many mediocre Italian restaurant dotting the local landscape -- no surprise there!

                        Our host's main was Mustard Crusted Yellow Fin Tuna with Honshimeji Mushrooms, Stir Fry Vegetables, Tiny Bok Choy and Red Curry. I tasted a piece of the tuna, which was cooked medium rare. The crust was *very* crunchy though it didn't have much mustard flavor. I didn't taste the sauce. Our host said it wasn't overly spicy. Overall,
                        he found the dish to his liking.

                        For dessert, we shared D.B.'s signature Cheesecake Pops and a plate of sorberts and ice creams. Though the flavors were good, the sorbets were too crystallized and feel apart, and the ice creams were too melty. Additionally, they were served on flat plates instead of more correctly in bowls. The pops were delicious!

                        Overall, my take on the food? I'd say it was a bit better than so-so. Nothing horrible, but none of the dishes we had was of a truly high caliber. The only other time I've eaten David Burke's food was years ago when he was the executive chef at Park Avenue Cafe, in NYC. That meal was excellent. In the case of Fromagerie, it appears to me that Burke is just phoning it in.

                        1. re: RGR

                          All I can say is Nicolas, Nicolas, Nicolas.

                          1. re: trinitychef

                            Has anyone been to DB on burger night Tuesdays?


                            with live music too?

                            1. re: gailelyson

                              while Burke may be "phoning it in" to some degree, I think many here have missed the point (at least the point IMO)... I don't think Burke set out to compete with, match or follow Restaurant Nicholas. Therefore, I think the expectations of many are off base (and in some cases, too high). I think Burke's Fromagerie and Restaurant Nicholas are two different restaurants in so many ways that when those of us who go to Fromagerie expecting a Nicholas experience are let down by what they get. So, I think Burke's place is getting a raw deal because of Nicholas' local presence and its role as Overlord of All Restaurants. I experienced some potholes on my visit to Fromagerie (above), but things were smoothed out by management and we had a great time as well as a great meal.

                              Maybe I have lower standards or lack the refinement/class it takes to truly appreciate Nicholas, but I enjoy both (with a lean toward Burke's for the more down-to-earth air).

                              1. re: aklein

                                I did not go to Fromagerie expecting a clone of Nicholas. As I mentioned, we have eaten Burke's cuisine back when he was the executive chef at Park Avenue Cafe. While Burke's style of New American cuisine is different from Nicholas Harary's, the meal we had at PAC was excellent. That level of excellence is definitely *not* what we got when we ate at Burke's Fromagerie.

                                He chose to maintain the concept of Fromagerie as a "fine dining" establishement with prices to match; however, the food he is serving falls quite short, imo, of what one expects in that level of restaurant. He is certainly capable of far better but does not seem to be putting in any real effort to see that it does.

                                1. re: RGR

                                  Have to agree here. I had eaten at River Cafe when Burke was there, as well as at Park Ave. Fromagerie just doesn't pack the same "Wow" factor. The same can be said for Bobby Flay when you compare his actually cooking at Mesa Grill in the early 90s compared to his current operations. The food is good at Nicholas (though they have slipped a bit over the last 2 years) but they just take themselves way too seriously.

                                  1. re: equal_Mark

                                    Nicholas is a rather pompous guy, but I could care less about his personality. And I've actually found his staff to be quite friendly.

                                    One of the major things that distinguishes him from the empire-builders like Burke and Flay, is that Nicholas (who readily admits to being very demanding) is focused solely on this one eponymous restaurant. Thus, he and Melissa can be very hands-on, intent on keeping all facets of the operation at a very high level. .

                                    1. re: RGR

                                      such is life... we'll agree to disagree... was just defending Burke based on my own experience on that particular night... never made it to River Cafe or Park Ave... never felt comfortable or wowed at Nicholas regardless of how well-executed the food or impressive the wine list or luxe the atmosphere... it's just me, I'm sure... party on!

                                      1. re: aklein

                                        Of course, it's true that our comments are based on our individual experiences. If you felt the one you had at Fromagerie was excellent, so be it. The irony, as I see it, is that Burke exhibited excellence when he was working for someone else as executive chef at River Cafe and PAC. Now that he owns Fromagerie.... :-( As for your opinion of Nicholas, as I always say, "Chacun à son goût."

                                        1. re: RGR

                                          fair enough.... I think if we had the time and the bandwidth, we'd agree much more than we do not, though I think we've been on opposite sides regarding Nicholas before... ah well...

                                          1. re: aklein

                                            To me it all comes down to the food. There's really nothing at Fromagerie that makes me say 'i gotta have this again.' Oh well.

                                            1. re: joonjoon

                                              Except maybe the Gougere and Cheesecake Pops?!?

                                              1. re: shabbystorm

                                                To be quite honest, I found the cheescake pop tree with bubblegum whipped cream to be the least enjoyable of the items sampled at DB & Donatella a number of years back. Once the novelty of the item wears off, there really isn't much to it. Instead, I remember enjoying the popovers, the lobster soup and a special of scrambled eggs with truffles brought in a halved ostrich egg. Although my meal was enjoyable, I've had no interest trying the Fromagerie as the menu looks identical to one at DB & B as well as the non enthusiastic reports from this board.

                                                1. re: bgut1


                                                  I presume you know that Burke and Donatella split. He's now sole owner and changed the name to David Burke's Townhouse.

                                                  1. re: RGR

                                                    r - I knew that they split however I didn't know of the new name. Thanks for the info.

                                                    1. re: bgut1

                                                      as stated in my previous post.. I guess you have very few options in this neck of the woods. I presume they will be out of business in less than 12 months. I said it first. glad there is a time stamp on these threads..

                                                      1. re: Foodandwine

                                                        When Burke bought Fromagerie, the stories in the newspapers noted that it had been his dream to one day own it. So, I'm guessing he's making enough money from his NYC restaurants to keep Fromagerie going as a "loss leader." That presumes, of course, that it is losing money, which is probably not the case. From what I've heard, it's very busy on weekends, which is when most restaurants in NJ make their money. Any patronage during the week becomes gravy. Plus, there is the income from private functions.

                                                        As far as other options go, Fromagerie's only competiton is Nicholas. In my view, no contest. Hands down, Nicholas wins!