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Restaurant Lorenas Maplewood NJ

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Went there last night with another couple. Another amazing meal, the attention to detail is tremendous and the host, Lorena is a sweetheart.

We had for appetizers:

Roasted Beets, Frisée, Mâche, Pistachio,
Roquefort Fondant, Orange Glaze
Sweet Pea Soup, Herb Croûton, Lump Crabmeat,
Saffron Rouille
Warm Duck Confit, Endive, Apple, Upland Cress, Roquefort,
Port Wine, Walnut Dressing
Steamed Prince Edward Island Mussels, Coconut Milk,
Kaffir Lime, Thai Chili

All were fabulous, each with their own distinctive flavors. We shared everything. Had a couple of extra slices of bread to sop up the delicious broth from the mussels.

For dinner:

Gently Cooked Scottish Salmon, Melted Leeks,
Tomato Confit "Jam", Black Olive Powder
Australian Barramundi, Orange Glazed Beets,
Horseradish-Beet Emulsion
Skate Wing, Honey Glazed Carrots, Smoked Bacon,
Cauliflower Purée
Braised Beef Short Ribs, Brussel Sprouts, Confit Fingerling Potatoes,
Roquefort, Braising Jus

All excellent choices, can't describe how goof they were.

A special intermezzo of crab and pickled onion salad which was a special treat.

Desserts were

Warm Molten Chocolate Cake, Hazelnut Ice Cream
Strawberry tart garninshed with two different sauces
Homemade madelaines (sp) with homemade strawberry jam.
the desserts were all wonderful but the simplicity of the madelaines with jam were to die for. Could eat them all night.

Service was first class as always, chef Humberto Campos Jr. is a genius in the kitchen.

You really can't do better anywhere in NJ IMHO.

Tom

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  1. Can't argue with a word of it. Several months ago we brought a serious food critic from the DC area to Lorena's with us, and he declared that the duck they were serving at the time was the best he'd ever had. N.B. Though a friend, this guy is the Anton Ego of DC! :-)))

    I should add, though, that IMO the only place Lorena's falls ever so slightly short of 'great' is their desserts. Very good, but hardly world shaking, as is the rest of Humberto's cuisine. Never mind. You won't care!

    1. We've been to Lorena's twice in the past month. All I can to is heap more praise on top of what's been said here. As a firest course both times I had the risotto with wild mushrooms, which some might find to be too rich as a starter, but was too good to pass up. Unfortunately, the second time we were there they ran of of skate (a special) just before our orders were taken, but the hanger steak was so beautifully done it made me forget my disappointment. Wife got divers sea scallops both times, and each one was a jewel. Hazelnut ice cream is addictive.

      Without question one of the best.

      4 Replies
      1. re: albinoni

        The DW and I decided to celebrate a special occasion last night with a dinner at Lorena’s. This had been only the second time we had dined at this restaurant. The first had been a fantastic dinner sometime back with a number of members from this board. The food this evening continued to impress and it cemented my impression that it ranks among the top handful of restaurants in this state.

        As we were celebrating, we decided to splurge a bit and ordered as follows: First Course - Atlantic Salmon Tartare with Wasabi Tobiko, Crème Fraîche and Fried Wonton (for her) and Chilled Hama Hama Oysters with Crème Fraîche and Dill (me); Second Course - Parsnip Risotto with Pear and Apple Salad topped with Shaved Summer Truffle (to share) (the truffle shavings were a $15 supplement); Entrees - Rack of Lamb with Israeli Couscous (me) and Lobster with Truffle- Butter Emulsion and Celeriac Puree (for her) (this was an off the menu request that I had made in advance which was graciously prepared by Chef Campos); Dessert - Warm Molten Chocolate Cake, Hazelnut Ice Cream, Espresso Sauce (for her) and Peach Crepes with Crème Fraîche (for me).

        As noted above, every dish was excellent with both the tartare and the risotto being mind blowing. The tartare was visually stunning comprising of a molded round of finely chopped bright orange salmon layered with crème fraîche and topped with green wasabi flying fish roe. I’m not a fan of salmon (as I find the taste too oily and fishy) but loved this dish. It offered the perfect balance of salty, creamy and spicy. My oysters were also fantastic and reminded me of the marinated ones served at Nicholas (where Chef Campos used to cook). Next came the risotto and to be honest we were about to pass on this item as the menu description did not do the dish justice (as with other items on the menu). We were presented with this beautiful bowl of perfectly cooked risotto topped with julienned pear and apple, fried parsnips along with shaved summer truffle. This dish was pure heaven. At $28 for small bowl it’s not something that I would order often but was well worth the price of admission last evening.

        While at this point we were very satisfied with our meal, there were a few short comings preventing it from being perfect. First was the level of service. Although they are BYOB, I still feel it’s appropriate at a restaurant of that caliber for the server to pour the wine. Last evening, in all but one instance, I had to pour it myself. Second, the pacing of the meal was off. While I’m sure I might be exaggerating a bit, it seemed like it was 30 minutes between each course.

        Next came the entrees. My rack of lamb was cooked exactly to order and came ladled with a chevre lamb jus accented with what I believe was lemon.
        Although this dish did not impress like the prior two, it was perfectly prepared and I enjoyed it tremendously. My only criticism of this dish was the portion size. For $38 I was expecting a few more than the 3 small lamb chops provided. My wife also enjoyed the specially prepared lobster entrée. For those who have ever been to Lorena’s, this used to be Chef Campos signature dish which I believe may have been removed doe to market cost. It’s a shame that this dish is no longer on the menu as it was stellar. The soft sweet lobster meat combined with the truffle butter sauce and the creamy celery root puree made for the perfect bite. Although full at this point, we decide to cap our evening with dessert. The one uniform criticism of Lorena’s is the drop in off in the quality of the desserts. I must admit however that the molten chocolate cake my wife ordered was top notch and arguably better than the gold standard prepared at Nicholas. This version came with an excellent espresso sauce and excellent hazelnut ice cream in a cookie tuille. My dessert consisted of several classically prepared crepes folded on the plate and topped with cooked fresh peaches and a sugary sauce of some king with a dollop of crème fraiche on the side. Although my dessert was very good, it “didn’t ring my bell” as it was a bit too “basic”. All in all, it was a great evening and I continue to proclaim Restaurant Lorena as being one of the finest restaurants in this state. Good Luck.

        1. re: bgut1

          Lorena's and a special occasion is an excellent combination. Thanks for the excellent report.
          We have not been there for awhile but need to change that soon :))

          1. re: bgut1

            Thanks for your observations on one of my favorite NJ restaurants. One thing I disagree about is the server pouring the wine. I tend to eat with people who drink their wines at different rates; it is better to be able to pour one's own wine as needed IMO.

            1. re: jmoryl

              jmoryl - I normally agree and would rather pour my own wine however in a restaurant such as Lorena's it felt somewhat inappropriate hence my criticism.