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Sep 22, 2008 04:34 AM

CulinAriane in Montclair

Anyone looking for a great place to have dinner in the Montclair area would be hard pressed to beat this place. Gracoius host, incredible chef, attentive service, and proper wine glasses (it's a BYO - BONUS!).

Diiner on Friday night was fantastic.

Apps - GF had a great salad of organic baby greens, caramelized figs, oregon blue, and aged balsamic. I had cornmeal encrusted oysters with a "dipping sauce" of horseradish. The oysters were so nicely cooked, stayed nice and light. Her main was a pasta of red chile ribbons, mushrooms, English peas, sweet pepper threads, and Parmigiano Reggiano. She is a vegetarian and this is their only veg friendly dish but she said she would have it again in a heartbeat. My main was a lamb dish. I'm a lamb junkie and this was a great fix. Beautifully cooked, incredibly tender, and exceptional taste. The preperation was pretty straight forward but the minted yogurt and mild curry was the perfect accompaniment.

No room for dessert and what a shame because it looked like the people around were certainly enjoying what they had.

can't wait to go back.

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    1. re: bropaul

      Just a little off the beaten path, not far from Bloomfield Ave. It's on the corner of Walnut and Pine. Its exact address is 33 Walnut and it's not in the area of all the other restaurants.

        1. re: RGR

          I have never been so frustrated making a reservation at a restaurant. On 2 occassions I've attempted to make a Saturday reservation for 4 people. I was advised that Saturdays book up fast and that they accept reservations no earlier than 3 weeks prior to the date requested. On the last occassion I called 3 weeks to the day when the restaurant has opened only to be advised they were booked solid for that night. I was then advised that reservations are accepted off of their voice mail and I was obviously too late. While I'm happy for this restaurant that it is so busy, it's not Per Se or Babbo and I don't intend to jump through more hoops to get a reservation. Good Luck.

          1. re: bgut1

            well, saying it's "not" something without trying it and comparing, is kind of silly. You should try some of David Changs reservation systems haha.

            From the looks of the pictures, it looks like I can almost fit more people in my kitchen, so that coupled with the Top Chef marks, I'm sure will make it pretty hard to get a seat.

            1. re: RPMcMurphy

              RP - Even without eating at CulinAriane, I can be quite sure it's not Per Se, Babbo or Momofuku Ko. And no, I don't think making such a statement is "silly". Small or not, I believe I am permitted to express my opinion that dining there is not worth the struggle to get a reservation. While I'm sorry that you disagree I respect that your opinion is different than mine and therefore avoid trying to characterize same.

              1. re: bgut1

                It's like me saying Nicholas is much better than Per Se, having never eaten at Per Se, no?

                "Per Se certainly isn't as good as Nicholas, so why bother heading into the city and fighting for a reservation."

                Granted, it's how much credit you give to some critics, but we all know how that goes.

                1. re: RPMcMurphy

                  I don't belive bgut is trying to say one is better than the other. Its more that culinariane isn't even in the same league as the others.

                  Also I found Chang's res system to be quite convienent, no waitng on phones just log in and check availibility.

                  1. re: AC Captain

                    I thin the reservation system at culinariane, if that's all we are comparing (because, really, we can't compare anything else yet can we?) is reasonable, and certainly more reasonable than many other restaurants, it's a very small place, 3 weeks in advance, you call, you either get a resy or ya don't. granted they should have specified that you can leave a message, but i wouldn't put the reservation system at fault, just its current popularity. Just not sure how the reservation system can be better for a place that popular (other than the misunderstanding of being able to leave a message)?

                    And, I'd be reluctant to say that it isn't in the same league, without trying the food myself. Not sure how one could determine that without tasting the food. Sure we can guess, and speculate, and read Bruni reviews.


                    I think we can put it in the same league as many restaurants if that's the case, NY times gave it a "very good" - which I think many say is equivalent to 3-star (I think, someone correct me if it's only 2). (yeah I know per se is 4) I know "extraordinary" is the equivalent of 4 star.