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Mar 7, 2010 04:32 AM

Blue Bottle Cafe, Hopewell NJ

New menu (number 16) in place at Blue Bottle and it is a stunner. Where do I start. Going to The Blue Bottle is like going to three different restaurants depending which room your in. Last night was the Trellis room which is a converted greenhouse. Our server Elaine was super all evening as is all the staff.

The appetizers and salads here are fantastic but the last two times here I did not get their famous homemade gnocchi. I was determined to change that :)
First came the bread course with the delicious raisin fennel, ciabotta and whole wheat. A very nice selection that becomes an accent to the meal not just another piece of bread. Comes with fresh butter.
For starters DW had the salad which consisted of arugula and Belgian endive with Serrano ham, blood oranges, marcona almonds and roasted shallot sherry vinaigrette. Fresh, fruity and earthy all at once, a unique tasting salad. I had those homemade potato gnocchi with pork and beef bolognese, shredded piave cheese, first press olive oil and basil. Simply the lightest tastiest gnocchi I have had and the bolognese was delicious. This is normally an entree but can be had as an app.

The goodness continued with the entrees. I had a beautiful rare hunk of yellowfin tuna with white bean puree, escarole, roasted red onions, gaeta olives and tomato fennel broth. The flavors of the dish matched very well with the delicate flavor of the tuna.
DW had a great preparation of scallops. The dish consisted of large pan seared day boat scallops with ragout of black eyed peas, leeks, yellow turnips, pancetta, cremini and maitake mushrooms, red wine reduction. Innovative, bold preparation of scallops that was sensational.

The best tasting desserts are usually not overly complicated. The torta de tres leches was cinnamon sponge cake soaked with three milks, cinnamon anglaise and whipped cream. Can a dessert be light and indulgent at the same time. This is!. Just a great dessert. A cappuccino and pot of tea finished the evening.
A 2005 Rochioli Estate Pinot was up to the high caliber of the food.

The Blue Bottle Cafe is a restaurant everyone wants in their neighborhood. An upscale restaurant whose menu changes several times (4) a year.
Owner Rory Phillipson runs a very efficient front of the restaurant and creates all the wonderful desserts. Husband Aaron is the magician in the kitchen.
In the "2010 Must Try" thread BB was mentioned by several people. Get there, you won't be disappointed.

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  1. Awesome notes as always tom246! The sounds of the scallops has me salivating! Sounds like a great evening! Good on ya for the Rochioli! These are awesome wines! Wanna trade cellars? ;-) Cheers! -mJ

    2 Replies
    1. re: njfoodies

      Njfoodie, the scallop preparation at the BB is always special. The menu 16 version hits it out of the park. So savory and yet not overpowering the flavor of the scallops.
      I wish I had more Rochioli but down to just a few. Need to get together soon.

      1. re: tom246

        The scallops do indeed sound gorgeous! How can you not like anything with pancetta! I had a version of their crab cakes one of our first visits there that also had pancetta in the sauce and it was phenomenol! Way to go! I am so hungry now! If only Dunkin Donuts had a scallop and pancetta croissant I would be making a run! ;-)

        Say the word, and we'll get together sometime somewhere! Always a pleasure getting together with you and DW! Cheers! -mJ

    2. tom - Sounds like a fantastic meal and I'm happy you enjoyed it. The DW and I need to make it back to BB very soon.

      1 Reply
      1. re: bgut1

        Hi bgut1, thanks. BB is tucked a bit away in Hopewell but the food and service is worth the trip.

      2. Gas from Monmouth County to Blue Bottle Cafe..... $5.00
        Traffic and aggravation in Princeton Boro getting to Blue Bottle..... Lots.

        Two Blue Bottle salads, two bowls of heavenly gnocchi, one tres leches dessert
        all washed down with a Carlisle syrah..... Priceless!!

        Our sympathies go out to Rory and Aaron who were working the restaurant with a heavy heart last night.

        1. Menu 17 has been in place for several weeks and three of us had a delicious and relaxing meal last night.
          We said goodbye to a colleague of 25 years who is moving back to England and BB fit the occasion perfectly.

          We all sampled the Asparagus Soup with Black Truffle Crème Fraiche. Wow, this is subtle yet impactful with the truffle at the ideal level to compliment the soup.
          Apps were varied and distinctive. Our friend had the Brie and Caramelized Mango Tart with Puff Pastry, Green Papaya and Miso Rice Wine Vinaigrette.
          DW had Lentil Salad with Baby Red Romaine, Roasted Golden Beets, Mustard Vinaigrette and Crumbled Goat Cheese.
          I had Yuzu Poached Laughing Bird Shrimp ‘Cocktail’ with Pineapple, Napa Cabbage, and Carrot, Ginger and Orange Coulis.
          We could not pick a favorite, three way tie for first :)

          We stuck with fish and seafood for the entrees. Five Spice Dusted Day Boat Sea Scallops with Sautéed Rice Noodles, Edamame Flan, Baby Carrots, Lemongrass Coconut Nage. This was declared awesome by our guest and showed the chefs talent with scallops as this prep. was the total opposite from the previous menu.
          DW had Macadamia Nut Crusted Mahi Mahi with Forbidden Black Rice, Ginger and Mirin Glazed Baby Bok Choy and Sauce Americaine. Moist and flavorful and a substantial portion that we all enjoyed.
          I had Pan Seared Crabcakes with Black Bean, Mango, Chayote Squash and Yellow Pepper Salad, Ancho Aioli and Microgreens. Lots of flavor, light with a touch of heat. Complex and yummy.

          Shared two desserts, could not pass up that Tres Leches cake and we also had fresh fruit Pavlova with a mixture of berries, firm meringue, with scoops of grapefruit and raspberry sorbet. Two very different desserts but both equally satisfying. A 2005 Kosta Browne Pinot and a couple of brews washed it all down.
          Host, owner (and pastry chef) Rory Phillipson is engaging and make you feel like your in her home (I guess you are :) and special notice goes to the very talented servers who tend to your every need without ever being overbearing.
          Menu 17 in place until the last week in June. Enjoy if you go.

          2 Replies
          1. re: tom246

            That lentil salad is really awesome - felt kinda like a meal in and of itself when I had it. And if I go back, I'm definitely getting that tres leches cake - i tried just one bite of my friend's, and it was pretty amazing!

            Glad you liked the crab cakes - I was considering that last time, but went with the pork chop. Next time!

            1. re: Heatherb

              Funny, I was all set for the pork chop and changed my mind last minute. Next time its the chop for me.
              My wife loved the lentil salad and also mentioned the it was delicious and hearty, such a shame that she had to share it :)

          2. We wanted to get back here before menu 17 goes away after Saturday June 26. Add to that Heatherb saying the pork chop was great , that was added incentive ;)
            From start to finish the evening was perfect. Some of the highlights were: The assortment of breads here with creamy butter is always a welcome start.

            The laughing shrimp cocktail was delicious as I described previously. I had the
            frisee lettuce salad with fingerling potatoes, sauteed mushrooms, roasted shallots, French beans and creamy truffle vinaigrette. Like being in rural France where you often see such a salad. Delicious flavors, textures and even temperature difference of the ingredients.

            For entrees that double cut Berkshire pork chop done perfect medium, glazed with honey coriander and fennel, sitting atop roasted purple fingerlings, Maiitake mushrooms and sauteed leeks was every bit as tasty as it sounds. Its a very large chop so go hungry! Very happy I got to try it.

            We could not pass up the dessert of peanut butter mousse with chocolate ganache on top, sprinkled with nut brittle and with a strip of chocolate covered bacon. Taking a bit of that chocolate covered bacon with a fork full of mousse was awesome. The savory of the bacon and peanut butter play off each other really well.
            Service, as always, is flawless and very friendly. We celebrated the occasion with a 1998 Beaucastel CdP.
            Owners Rory and Aaron are going on a well deserved vacation starting June 28. Menu 17 in place till then or wait for the summer menu (number 18) in early July.

            4 Replies
            1. re: tom246

              We're headed there tonite for our 18th wedding anniversary! Can't wait!

              1. re: flourgirl

                Happy anniversary flourgirl! Hope you had a great evening at BB

                1. re: tom246

                  Thanks tom! And yes, we had a wonderful time. Everything was delicious, and the service was as just as great as usual. Great choice for our anniversary celebration. :)

              2. re: tom246

                Glad you liked the pork chop! I had the crab cakes when I went back with my father, and they were wonderful! I had to get that lentil salad again though - and it was just as good the second time.
                The dessert menu had changed a little, and I went with the fudge cake. That was perhaps the one mediocre note of the night - It was very good, but I'm used to spectacular when I go to the Blue Bottle. Anywhere else, and I would have been totally delighted, but I was expecting more of a creative twist. However, if that's my one complaint after four visits in the past two years or so, I think I can live with it.

                Blue Bottle Cafe
                101 E Broad St, Hopewell, NJ 08525