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Mar 27, 2010 09:46 AM

Claremont Tavern - Wow what a bad start

Wow another dud in Bernardsville...I dont even know where to start...I guess it all starts at provisioning....where do they get this food from...I know this is intended as a family place but the quality of the food product is just dreadful....

The menu is long and varied with interesting choices from chili and burgers, sandwiches, pizzas and hanger steak and chicken...after 5 visits now we cant think of anything memorable

The lowlights were certainly the Kobe burger which was somehow pasty and had an odd flavor of wood, the beans in the chilli somehow hard...what is going on here is way past opening jitters. Sandwiches were served with burned toast, once at lunch twice at dinner.

The appetizers were by far the best food served, the duck tacos were the one item everyone liked.

The decor is done with nice touches but the bar area ended up really drab,it is so bare and sparce it looks undone, the addition of brown kitchen paper on the tables for a covering make it even worse...and just to grab your attention the old time tavern look is jarred by a psychodelic music box just plopped onto the wall....very strange and as our guests said last night...simply ugly.

The dining area is an incredibly poorly designed room that has people sitting right on top of each other, the wall space on the front creates odd table configurations...

While the B'ville area needs a good family restaurant choice, we end up with another good idea gone bad...too bad, but no doubt a new spot will arise here soon after this crashes and burns in a few months

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  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. Went back on Wed night, just as bad, write it off -

      our guest's food was served cold, unreal response from the manager, "just give me a sec and I will work it out"...

      He never came back, and really this dining room has like 10 tables!

      Server apologized when leaving the check, trying to save the tip, we left a good one but it is the last one, they will need the money to help find a new job

      Guess a sec is a real long time at the old CT

      1. re: carlylecat

        Carlylecat, thanks for "taking one for the team".

        This is really disappointing news. The Claremont Tavern is in the space previously occupied by Le Petit Château, a highly respected restaurant in Bernardsville that enjoyed a long run. AND, as far as I know, ownership has not changed or at the very least Scott Cutaneo is still a co-owner. AND, Cutaneo was also the chef at Le Petit Château so the question is, who's cookin' at the new place? If it's Cutaneo, what on earth has gone wrong? I know Cutaneo is also the owner/chef at Equus so clearly he can't be in two places at once. I hope this apparent mess gets sorted out before the new restaurant chrashes and burns.

        Btw, I would be very suspect of some of the comments about newly opened restaurants in Bernardsville and nearby (not just this one). For whatever reasons, many posts are by people who have never posted before. Odd, but perhaps not too surprising.

        1. re: ambrose

          Been there three times....three was not a charm. Not a hostess or bartender in sight, we waited over 5 min. and we walked all around and spoke loudly with the hopes that the servers who were all upstairs chatting might come down and hear us. Now it was approx. 2:30 pm but, they were open so why no staff anywhere in sight? Many moments later, Scott, the owner himself pulled up on his Vespa. He shook our hands, said hello and walked past us. Think perhaps he could have sat us? What other reason would we be standing there for, in front of his hostess station, facing the bar? Great Scott, perhaps that was too much for the owner to sit customers but, my business helps pay his bills, no?. At this point, we decided to continue to wait to humor ourselves. A line cook came out of the kitchen and noticed us so he sat us.......He yelled back to the kitchen that he'd sat a two top. Funny, the last time we went there the waitress yelled back that they had a two top also....In both instances, it was as though we were a bother.

          So we finally get a waitress. We asked for water and a copy of the wines/beers. She couldn't find a copy of the wine selections and had NO idea which beer the offered. She told me the beer selections were on the back of the menu. They are not.....I had to show her that they were not. Shouldn't she know? That took many, many minutes just to receive a list. At this point, we are in the restaurant over 15 min., have no water and finally have a wine list in our hands. The young waitress disappears again then finally takes a beverage order and still, in all this time, we haven't received the water that we'd asked for a long time ago...why is it so difficult to get service staff to provide service. Why in Great Scotts name should I be tipping them? Finally, a bartender shows up and asks us if the waitress ever got us our drinks. We state we "think" so and he even asks "Are you sure?" So far we are off to a really bad start.....

          She does finally return with our glasses of wine; still no water so we ask again. She asks us if were ready to order and we are so she tells us that she needs to go find a pen and will be back...guess what, it took her quite a while to go get that pen. Now, she's back and we finally get to order; nachos and a spinach salad, a burger and fried chicken. She has to ask us if we want everything all at once; I guess it's a good thing she asks because, I really wouldn't have appreciated having everything sent at once.

          The food starts to come out. The nachos that we'd ordered are now described as we are receiving them that they are sweet, not spicey. I'd have liked to have known this BEFORE placing the order. I'm told that they're made with sweet potatoes to make them sweet; I don't really like sweet potatoes. It wasn't specified on the menu which is fine, I realize that the menu can't list every single ingredient but, that was the job of the server to describe before placing the order. The spinach salad was hardly dressed. No idea of vinaigrette at all. Just leathery spinach with a little bit of red onion. It was described on the menu with goat cheese, bacon and red onion. The goat cheese was a tiny drop and there was just no bacon at all. Still by the way, no water. The waitress comes to clear the plates from apps and we ask her again for water. Her reply "Oh, did you want water?" Seriously, it's free, it's water. I'm dining at a table, shouldn't water be a part of the meal. Do I have to beg for it?

          Now onto the entrees. A Kobe burger for $14 before toppings should be just juicy and delicous. I'd ordered Med Rare. This was a dry, flavorless Med Well. Earlier when she took my order I'd asked what type of cheese they had; she said "any cheese I want, they have everything, which cheese did I want?" She was as unsure as she was of the beers. I'd ordered cheddar, I got no cheese at all. The fried Griggstown Chicken was overfried and dried out as well, the mashed potatoes that were served with the chicken were pasty and hardly seasoned. Our water finally arrived. We were in the middle of entrees....

          Finally we got the $80 check and quickly paid and left. A very painful experience. We noted to each other as we got up from the table that we couldn't believe that there was virtually no staff or managment in the restaurant the whole time we were there. Funny as we walked into the parking lot to get back to our car the front and kitchen staff and manager were out back smoking and fooling kidding that Great Scott has to post letters in the newspaper apologizing for the wrinkles...

          A poorly managed restaurant with food that really can't justify an $80 price tag for lunch. Even the owner took no interest in the fact that there were guests at the door, why should the rest of the employees?

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. There is an item on the menu, I think it's called wasabi tuna pizza, followed by a note that says "trust us". Don't. It was like eating a chimmichura covered in bland old raw tuna. I also asked for a whiskey with two ice cubes. This confused the bartender, so she called for help from the manager, who proceeded to measure out a light shot of Gentleman Jack as if he were in chemistry class. I know times are tough, but who the hell measures out a shot of whiskey? Pour the follks a nice drink, and they will come back even if you serve them tuna pizza with honey wasabi.

        1. I understand that the Chef/owner Scott Cutaneo was bought out by his partners and they have hired a new Chef for the Calremont as well as Equus. Has anyone tried the Claremont recently?

          2 Replies
          1. re: Shellback

            Sign outide of Equus


            All three were needed

            1. re: Shellback

              Yes, about three months ago it was reported on Rosie Saferstein's blog that "Great Scott" Cutaneo was no longer involved with Equus and the Claremont Tavern.

              "Scott Cutaneo is no longer executive chef/owner of Equus and Claremont Tavern in Bernardsville. A new executive chef has not been named, according to General Manager Matthew Veltri.

              The following e-mail was received from Chef Cutaneo...

              “The original partners to the restaurant bought me out so it worked out nicely. I am really so excited and looking at so many different options. I really want to focus my energy on Great Scott Creations as that will allow me more latitude and the ability to be incredibly creative. Happy holidays to you and much peace. Kind regards, Scott” "

              If you go to the Equus Tavern website you can read about their new chef. I don't know if he is also involved with the Claremont.

            2. I hear that the Grain House Inn has gotten their act together and has some interesting creative dishes... Any feedback? Supposed to be a good "family choice" as well.