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Market Restaurant Morristown, NJ

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  • pking Apr 9, 2010 08:00 AM
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Well Morris County has once again let another formerly decent restaurant site go to waste.
The former "Pierre's Restaurant" on Mt. Kemble Ave had a good run and was tired and in need of new energy and a new chef and along came Market Restaurant. A much anticipated
resurrection of a restaurant just opened in early April 2010.
The new owners spent some time and dollars freshening up a formerly tired space and have opened up interior spaces to create more openess , the bar area has a little loungy feel to it with two sofas and several cushiony stools.
Ok. I admit the restaurant scene in Morris County is either feast or famine but come on guys, this place is a gold mine waiting to happen how about a fresh approach, simple, good
food? We decide to sit at a table next to the bar and one of the bartenders Beth , became our server as well.( talk about multitasking) she was pleasant and she let us know she was not that conversant on items in the menu. The mixed drinks come in the narrowest of tumblers I have ever experienced and I asked to look at the wine menu. The wine prices were double retail and the vintage years were odd on several reds and overall the list lacked any balance. Even the wine by the glass was weak and judging by the mixed drink volume I bet the pour was poor as well.
We tried the Duck Springrolls to start, they came out burnt on the bottom. My wife had the lettuce wedge with bacon, tough to screw up. I asked if the Salmon was wild or farmed and server did not know. I assumed farmed and I was right. My wife stuck to the basic burger which she said was decent with hand cut fries, my 9 yr old had chicken breast skewers with fries and she also tried the fish n chips. She said the chicken was good and the fish was
not cooked evenly. The salmon dish came bathed in butter served over grilled asparagus and some sort of roasted potato, the potato was not good, the salmon was ok but too much butter. Overall, we were not impressed with the food or drink,. I mentioned to Beth the drink sizes were small and she comped me a free drink. I believe that this place needs alot of fine tuning especially the food. I would not rush back here. A great location with average food. What a waste!

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  1. Pking, there is already a thread on this new restaurant:

    http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6884...

    Btw, I see this is your first post on Chowhound. I hope you will continue to post about your favorite restaurants in this part of central NJ.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ambrose

      I would be happy to. Its just so frustrating finding bad restaurants with nothing noteworthy to report. I'm inclined to believe consistent restaurant fare is a tough find in NJ?

    2. Welcome to Chowhound, pking! And thanks for this excellent detailed report.

      We loved Pierre's when they were in the center of Morristown in that corner space. Worth the hour's drive it took us to get there, which we did several times. When they moved to the stand alone location, we had dinner there. Frankly, the food had lost something and didn't seem quite so delicious. That is often the case when a restaurant expands to much larger quarters. I know Pierre's remained popular, but for us, it was no longer worth the ride.

      You are so right that this is a great location. Worth a trip for superb cuisine. Too bad that Market Table is such a disappointment.

      7 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        They been open what, about five minutes? Give them a chance to get their sea legs.

        1. re: johnlockedema

          Is this restaurant giving diners a sizable discount while they "get their sea legs"?

          1. re: RGR

            I'm sure they're not. That's why I usually wait to try a new restaurant for a few months, rather than visit right after the opening, and slag the place to a well visited local web board.

            1. re: johnlockedema

              Like you, I usually avoid new restaurants. However, once a place is open to the public and charging full price, those who do choose to go there have every right to offer both pro and con criticism on food boards. Nowadays, restaurant owners are aware of this (if not, they've been sleeping under a rock), so it behooves them to get their ducks (proverbial and real) in as good a row as possible before opening.

              1. re: RGR

                I don't disagree, but in reading books by serious restaurant owners even the best can struggle in some way when the doors first open, let alone a place on suburban route 202.

                1. re: johnlockedema

                  That's true. Pick up a copy of Danny Meyer's "Setting the Table" and read about what a mess things were when he opened Union Square Cafe more than 20 years ago. And as accomplished and experienced a restauraeur as he's become, when his latest restaurant Maialino opened in November, there were posts describing problems with service. Of course, it being a Meyer establishment, there was no doubt they would be ironed out. However, more importantly, the reports about the food were almost uniformly extremely positive. I think most people who come right after a restaurant opens will overlook temporary glitches in service and return if the food is excellent. But not if the food is mediocre, which in pking's opinion, is the case with Market Restaurant.

                  1. re: RGR

                    That''s one of the books I was thinking about. I'm not sure taking a 9 year olds opinion of 'unevenly cooked' fish is a valid critique though!

      2. That wine list is anything but double retail,

        Example
        Cain Concept for $80 ($55 at Gary's)
        Caymus Cab for $110 (64.95 at Gary's)

        The drink pours vary by server, I have had great pours and really silly pours, just talk with them they corrected it in a heartbeat for us

        1. Went to Market....it was a sloppy gooey mess. Some of the staff has a bit of an attitude, the pours came up a little short, and when told of this the bartender scoffed and asked "where else ya gonna get a 10 ounce martini?" I dunno, if you put 10 ounces in a 12 ounce glass it just don't look right. Anyway...the braised pork belly seemed to be pork shoulder to me and the spiced polenta it was served in tasted like pumpkin pie. I hate sauce on steak but they put it on there. The interior is nice, the bar area very cool for the area, and a few clusters of women drinking cosmos will keep the boys coming back...er, men. Average age mid 40s.

          1. With so many superior restaurants in the area, this new version of Pierre’s is doomed to fail. We had the worst restaurant experience ever and we have been dining for years in restaurants all over the world. I am a professionally trained chef and my husband has a background in butchering from a former family business, so we know quite a bit about food.

            Let me start with the few positives. First the décor is pretty nice. I liked the fact that they opened up the walls of the back room. This makes you feel less like you are sitting in “Siberia” but rather in a fairly exclusive part of the restaurant. The one thing missing in the décor is artwork on the bare walls. Our cocktails were fine and had none of the issues mentioned in prior posts. The wine prices are also pretty reasonable. Also, the waitstaff were quite pleasant and accommodating. Not the most knowledgeable about food, but they more or less got the job done. Oh, and the bread is fabulous. A few nice rolls in a dish towel-wrapped loaf pan (that was a bit weird) – the kind of bread you would find in a fine dining restaurant, served individually by the junior waitstaff.

            After the cocktails were served, our appetizers arrived immediately. This gave us no time to relax and enjoy our cocktails. My husband’s Caesar salad was fine – you could taste the anchovies and the lettuce was not saturated in dressing. I ordered the vegetable terrine. Unfortunately, it was ice cold – this is a dish that needs to be served at room temperature so that the flavors meld properly. The man who brought the terrine told me it was cold because there were peppers and “muzarel cheese” in it. I sent it back to the kitchen for a little warming which should have taken no more than a minute or two. After about 10 minutes, we inquired and were told it had to be served ice cold because that it how they do it – would I like something else? No, just bring it here and I’ll let it sit for a bit and get it to room temperature myself. How hard is that??!!! I have to say that after it warmed up a bit, it was absolutely delicious. There were layers of breaded fried eggplant, some leaves of fresh basil, roasted red peppers, slices of zucchini, goat cheese and no “muzarel.”

            Because we mentioned that the appetizers were served too quickly, our waitperson decided to hold back on putting in the order for our entrees. Now we are waiting a ridiculous amount of time for the next course. When we inquired, she said that she kept “checking” but it’s not ready. Finally we are served. My husband’s steak and frites were fine. Cooked to a medium rare as he requested. Nothing special, but it was a good safe dish to order. Not to nitpick, but it was served with an au poivre sauce and one of the servers came by and asked my husband if he wanted any cracked pepper on his dish.

            I wanted to be more adventurous and ordered the pork belly. It was a damp, rainy night, so the whole idea of the polenta and swiss chard sounded great. I don’t want to beat a dead horse (or pig) but this was definitely not pork belly. It was shredded pork shoulder or something similar. And it was the most bizarre preparation you would ever see. Kind of rolled up into a ball – and if it was really pork belly, which it was not, all of the fat had been removed. I just had to ask the waitperson to take my dish back. Now it gets really interesting. She said that the “chef” would like us to come to the kitchen. So we go and standing there is an owner named “Paul” dressed in street clothes. He does not bother to introduce himself, but shows us some meat wrapped in plastic and says this is not pork shoulder, it’s pork belly. There is so much “attitude” going on here, I can’t believe it. If it was my restaurant, I would have said “hello, my name is __ and I’m one of the owners. I understand that you weren’t happy with your dish.” I mentioned that I wasn’t the first person who had this issue, and asked him if he had read any of the comments about the restaurant on the internet. So that really set him off, and he said he has no intention of reading anything about his restaurant and that the internet is the “ruination of society.” He said that if he listened to what customers said, he’d be out of business (funny, I thought the opposite was how it worked.) He said that pork belly that they serve is like their red velvet cake – some people like it and some people don’t. When I mentioned that their red velvet cake was “pink” and not “red” and that might have something to do with it, I got a look that could kill. So we left the kitchen, took a quick look at their uninspired dessert menu (including the alleged “red” velvet cake), paid the bill and left.

            3 Replies
            1. re: linda123

              Linda, it sounds like you had a bad experience, which is a shame--but I have to ask this (without having been there yet)... You started by calling Market "this new version of Pierre’s" and from what I've heard from people who were weekly regulars at Pierres, it's nothing like the former tenant. So I'm wondering if you're comparing it to the former restaurant or if you're simply talking about Market.

              Fwiw, I have NO connection to either place/owners/people working there. And the former Pierre's regular (a TOTAL snob) said "This place could be in any strip mall" so I'll form my own opinion when I get a chance.

              1. re: Curlz

                I liked Pierre's very much but I am not comparing the new restaurant to it in any way. There really is no comparison. They are two completely different styles of restaurant. My review is based solely on the experience we had at the new restaurant. I hope your experience is better when you have the opportunity to try it. We'd be interested in hearing your opinion.

              2. re: linda123

                Good...I'm not crazy. Blech on the pork belly and the staff.

              3. We have been to dinner six times and drinks one afternoon - we live 1.1 miles away and when we are at this home and not at the shore the rotation is now here, the Bernards Inn or Due Terre for us.

                The first dinner was the second night they were open and I think they did a spectacular job. While the typical new restaurant craze was on, a few gentlemen, owners/managers kept walking around handing out little tastes of different menu items and apologizing if the service was slow or slipped in some way. Even after telling them we were fine they still gave us a business card that said it entitled us to two free appetizers.

                It certainly changed the tone of what could have been a very tough night and the crowd stayed upbeat and friendly while the servers ran around like chickens with their heads cut off.

                Food was solid, not great but nothing has been bad, wedge salad and beet salad best so far, roasted chicken not up to Due Terre or even the previous chef''s chicken at this location but very good. The hanger steak was HUGE and done perfectly rare as ordered.

                The wine list is reasonably priced, twice wholesale so a $53 retail bottle of Cain Concept is at $80, wines by the glass only one per grape but fairly good choices.

                One comment the drink pours and wine pours seem very sad. At drinks one afternoon a martini barely half filled the glassware. As I said in an earlier post when we commented on it they replaced it - and one bartender does seem to know how to fill a glass but the tiny little rocks glasses just don't seem right no matter how much they pour into them.

                And anyone who remembers the old Pierre's will welcome the new decor. They opened up the five small dining rooms by cutting large holes in the walls so you can see through each of them to the outside. The colors and wood are dark with pea green paint, very masculine but considering the chintz they replaced certainly understandable. Where is the artwork on the walls though, hopefully it is coming soon.

                The private dining room is very interesting with a big round table in an interesting looking room. Will be doing our annual wine dinner there in a few weeks with a few friends and we are anxious to see how it goes.

                There is also a separate bar menu that is reasonably priced with the foods you would expect.

                Overall no surprises, a solid base hit though that will serve us well. Our most recent meal we sat out on the porch and we had a wonderful night, no noise, real peaceful, had a beet salad and the scallops, both were solid choices prepared well. There is nothing exciting here but a local spot that has decent food at decent prices.

                The newness will wear off quickly and the regulars will be hard pressed to support such a large restaurant but the management seems engaged and experienced enough to have a chance to make it through.

                We did take away here last night and everything was as expected, environmentally friendly containers, hot food separated from cold, etc.

                -----
                Due Terre
                107 Morristown Rd Ste C, Bernardsville, NJ 07924

                1 Reply
                1. re: carlylecat

                  We went last night and had three excellent meals, the duck with cherry sauce, the burger with gruyere, and the meat loaf in puff pastry. The truffle mac cheese rocked. Fine service, though the main room was a bit too loud. Mom liked it better than she liked Pierre's. I'd recommend it heartily.

                2. The menu at the Market has recently changed. I went 2 weeks and I really enjoyed the Asian Glazed Pork Belly, it's served with cole slaw and an apple chutney, really good. But the star here is the chicken -- the Half Roasted Griggstown Chicken and my personal favorite the Cast Iron Chicken with herbed spatzle and plenty of jus (really fantastic). I've had their chicken multiple times and it has always been moist and delicious. As for some of the other food I've eaten there it's been good but nothing I would return for. Go for the chicken.