Artisan Kitchen Lebanon NJ
Four of ventured out to Lebanon NJ to visit Artisan Kitchen, a restaurant that has been open for only a few weeks.
The restaurant is located in Lebanon Plaza off of Route 22, sort of in the middle of nowhere.
The restaurant is very attractive, sleek, modern and spotless. We really wanted to love this place but the night was uneven at best.
The meal started nicely as two different rolls, whole wheat and somalina, were given out along with a tray containing small bottle of olive oil and ramekins of white bean spread and creamery butter sprinkled with sea salt. Rolls were very good and thoroughly enjoyed.
Next was the amuse which was salmon tartare with a lemongrass emulsion. A good attempt but the lemongrass was so strong to be bitter.
We wanted to select different appetizers to each get a taste. We had:
Blue Crab Bisque/fresh herb ravioli/lemon-fennel marmalade
Portuguese Octopus/green olive/white anchovy/pinenut
Confit of Leeks/maitake mushrooms/white polenta
Lamb Crepette with Pasta
The Bisque had virtually no crab and was surprisingly bland. The Octopus was tasty but consisted of two tiny pieces, not enough for one no less to share. The Lamb Crepette was a tiny piece of lamb with a even smaller amount of pasta. Flavor was good, not great.
The leeks were the highlight of the appetizers, nice combination of flavors and textures and attractively presented.
We are not big eaters or look for large portions but the starters, especially the Octopus and Lamb were miniscule.
For entrees we had:
Barnegat Skate/artichoke/fingerlings/grapefruit grenobloise
Suckling Pig/farro piccolo/cherries/spiced endive
Niman Ranch Lamb/fava beans/artichoke/trumpet mushroom
Chatham Cod/butter lettuce/english peas/bacon vinaigrette
The Suckling Pig was tasty but dry, the Skate was good as was the lamb. The best entree was the cod which, moist and accented nicely by the vinaigrette.
The entrees were enough for everyone to get a taste but were on the small side.
Value is not the highlight of this restaurant with appetizers in the mid teens and most entrees over 30 dollars.
For dessert we had the trio of desserts which consisted of:
Almond Shortcake with Meyer Lemon filling
Flourless Chocolate cake
The Almond Shortcake was by far the best of the three.
Service started off fine but went downhill as the evening progressed. Silverware was not replaced and we had to look around for some refills of water.
A couple of nice wines with dinner were the 2004 Mazzi Valpolicella and a 2004 Audelssa Summit Meritage.
Dinner for four which was 4 apps, 4 entrees, trio of desserts and 1 coffee without tax and tip was $194.00.
Artisan Kitchen is a very ambitious restaurant trying to set some very high standards. I wish them all the best, especially being open for just a few weeks.
For anyone wanting to visit, their website is
Artisan Kitchen has closed. If I remember correctly, it was open for less than nine months.
Don't know what happened but AK certainly had a number of things working against it - awkward location in an old strip mall, very high prices (though these came down within a few months) and the misfortune to open just as the economy was beginning to go south.
I think their choice of location turned out to be a regrettable decision. And the economic conditions currently prevailing certainly didn't help. But I am sticking to my story regarding my experiences there. I never went for dinner, only lunch, so the prices were much more reasonable and we never had anything but great service and delicious food. I'm still sorry that they closed.
My mom, my little guy and I went to lunch at AK today. The dining room is very nicely done, with a lot of space between the tables. The service was warm but professional. And the food was very good. My mom and I split the fried oyster salad and a french dip sandwich with a side of onion rings. My son opted for the french dip as well. :) I had the chocolate semifreddo for dessert (mmmm), my mom had the cheesecake and my son had ice cream. Everyone pronounced themselves happy and we will definitely be going back. I think I'm going to have to try dinner there sometime, even with the prices as steep as they are.
I still haven' made it to Artisan Kitchen but I see the Star-Ledger just gave this place a very good review. It's interesting to compare the review with tom246's comments above.
My plan is to go to Artisan Kitchen for lunch. I'm still not ready to go to a strip-mall restaurant where only one dinner entree is less than $30! There are too many good places in Hunterdon County where the prices are significantly lower.