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The Pluckemin Inn....not so good

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Ate in the pub side, aka "The Plucky", and am sad that I did. We ordered the octopus carpaccio...they say that an octopus can cry, and I would too if I knew I were going to be served up resembling linoleum covered in olive oil. The tuna tartar seemed like it had been put through a blender and could be smelled two seats down. The steak frites had to be returned as it could not be cut with the knife provided. The replacement order of Griggstown chicken came out undercooked...but by then we'd had enough. The menu looks as though it's feeling the effects of reduced margins, and it's starting to show. Done with that joint.

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  1. I agree.....had a similar experience just last week, ....tasteless soup, tasteless steak, but the salad was outstanding......and it makes me laugh when I read the restaurant reviewers give the highest accolades just because the ambiance is appealing, and the "reputation" the business alledgedly has.....that, and the high prices that accompany the deceitfully small portions in oversized plates, which to me, is deceitful to the customer........

    1. Interesting as I have nothing but amazing experiences there with killer food, and quite possibly one of the best wine lists in New Jersey. I wonder if they had some kind of change in the kitchen there... -mJ

      1. Hmmm. I had heard rumors to that effect.

        8 Replies
        1. re: bropaul

          Checking the website, Juan Cuevas is still listed as e.c., and I.ve not heard any rumors that he'd left. (Nothing on Rosie Saferstein's Chef's on the Move listings.) But it does seem strange that there's food that bad with him helming the kitchen.

          http://www.pluckemininn.com/overview....

          1. re: RGR

            It happens....depending on the new restaurant the chef is hired.......he has to abide by the dictates of the owner, and by that, the food sometimes suffers.....for the prices the Pluckemin charge's, and the miniscule portions they present,......they have to be on top of their game quality wise.

            1. re: LEOFONT

              Chef Juan Cuevas is not longer with the Pluckemin Inn.

              1. re: nyfl

                What's your source?

                http://thewizadofroz.wordpress.com

                1. re: RGR

                  I had heard rumors about it and a waiter confirm it on my last dinner there.

            2. re: RGR

              Today on Rosie's Chef's on the Move list he was listed; he left right after New Years Eve.

              http://njmonthly.com/blogs/tablehopwi...

              1. re: mcglo

                Saw that.

                Someone posted on another food forum that Cuevas will be opening a restaurant in Puerto Rico.

                http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                1. re: RGR

                  Went to that above address and did not see anything

          2. from an email today:

            Pluckemin Inn announced today that Andrew Lattanzio is the new Executive Chef. He served as Sous Chef there for the last several years. CIA grad. Previously EC at Tewksbury Inn and Artisan Kitchen in Lebanon. Also Chef de Partie under Geoffrey Zakarian at Town in NYC.

            Andrew's menu at Pluckemin Inn will feature the same fresh and seasonal ingredients, lovely presentations with a simple and rustic approach...

            1. Here's a little bit more about Andrew Lattanzio, the new executive chef at the Pluckemin Inn.

              http://blog.nj.com/artful_diner/2012/...

              This article states that Lattanzio was once executive chef at the Tewksbury Inn. I sure don't remember that but I guess it's possible. The current ec at the Tewks has been in that position for about eight years.

              Lattanzio was indeed involved with Artisan Kitchen, a restaurant that really deserved to succeed but was done in from day one by its poor location in a strip mall on Route 22 in Lebanon.

              The one thing that does bother me is that Lattanzio has apparently been in charge of the Pluckemin Inn's kitchen since very early January, the period when a couple of the above posters had less than satisfactory experiences.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ambrose

                He's probably still getting his feet when and familiarized with the kitchen/menu. I'll give it a few months and go check it out. -mJ

                1. re: njfoodies

                  mJ, I think he's had plenty of time to get familiar with the kitchen and menu. According to the article above, and as noted by Foody4life, Lattanzio has been sous chef at the Pluckemin Inn for several years.

                  Nevertheless, I have had some good dinners (and a not so good lunch!) at the Pluckemin Inn so I too will check it out in a month or so.

                2. re: ambrose

                  Agree with ambrose... he's been sous chef at Pluckemin Inn for "several years" so seems to me his elevation to EC should have ensured a smooth transition. Instead, reports above and from recent yelpers are concerning.

                  We love the Pluckemin Inn's wine list. They have one of the best wine selections in NJ, but are less likely to dine there with iffy cuisine.

                3. My wife and I were so thrilled to hear that chef Lattanzio was annonced as Pulckemin's new chef. We had an outstanding dinner. Everything from the presentation, to the food, and service was exceptional! We have had the pleasure of dinning at Artisan Kitchen and know what a superb chef he is. He has amazing talent and we look forward to returning soon.

                  -----
                  The Pluckemin Inn
                  359 US Highway 202, Bedminster, NJ 07921

                  1. So on our way to Nyack to meet a friend tonight for dinner at Velo, our friend calls to unfortunately cancel. Lucky for us, we were approaching the Pluckemin exit on 287 so we decided to stop in for an early dinner in the Plucky Tavern.

                    Here's the scoop - the Pluckemin Inn is as good as ever.

                    J and I grabbed seats at the bar next to the huge fireplace. Perfect. J ordered a glass of Katherine Hall Cab ($18) and I had a pint of Guinness ($6). We were given both the tavern and the dining room menus to order from and they are as printed on the website.

                    J ordered the bibb salad ($8) and the crispy fish sandwich ($14) off the tavern menu and I order the grilled octopus ($14) and Colorado lamb ($34) off the dining menu.

                    J's bibb salad was larger than most side salads and the included avocado, bacon and just enough blue cheese were well balanced. Her crispy fish sandwich was a large thick tilefish fillet lightly fried to a golden brown and served on a dark roll. Included were a large portion of seasoned fries, a small ramekin of fried pickle slices and LTO for the sandwich. All very good.

                    My grilled octopus was outstanding. The smokiness of the grill added a lot of flavor to the very tender octopus. It was as good as our favorites that we've enjoyed at Crispo in NYC and Blue Point Grill in Princeton. Portion size at the Plucky was comparable to the others as well.

                    The Colorado lamb was another winner. The dish was composed of two chops cooked to a perfect medium rare and a couple very tender portions from the leg. Cannelini beans were cooked to just past al dente and were well seasoned. While the lamb is the second most expensive dish on the menu, the portion and price were similar to a lamb entree recently enjoyed at Hamilton Grill in Lambertville.

                    Service by the personable bartenders and the rest of the staff was welcoming and efficient. Our take away is the Pluckemin Inn appears to be in good hands with Chef Lattanzio and we look forward to future visits.

                    8 Replies
                    1. re: Foody4life

                      Thanks for the report, F4l. Considering how good your meal was, and the fact that Chef Lattanzio was Juan Cuevas's sous, it's hard to know what to make of the reports upthread of poor quality food. You were there on a Saturday when Chef Lattanzio is bound to be in the kitchen. So, my thought is those other reports might be signals that the food suffers badly when he is not.

                      http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                      1. re: RGR

                        RGR, you make a very good point. We were thinking of trying the Pluckemin Inn for lunch but I'm really having second thoughts now. Our one and only lunch at the Inn was very disappointing and at the time we chalked it up to the possibility that then executive chef, David Felton, was not in the kitchen. The dinners we had there were always excellent but they were on a Friday night with friends and we knew (we asked) if Felton (one time) or Cuevas (twice) was cookin'.

                        When there's just two of us we try to avoid dinners on Friday and Saturday. Foody4life mentions that service was good but it should also be noted that they ate in the tavern. I guess the only thing to do is bite the bullet and try the dining room on the weekend (or go to elements or The Peacock Inn!)

                        1. re: ambrose

                          The only time we've been to the Pluckemin was when Cuevas was helming the kitchen. It was a Monday, and he was not in. Most of the dishes we had were excellent though my main course was a step below, which was more due to how I liked it rather than its preparation. Mr. R.'s dessert was pretty awful, but that was the fault of the pastry chef.

                          Like you, Mr. R. and I prefer to dine out in NJ mid-week and Sundays unless we're meeting with people who are only available on a Friday or Saturday. At this point, if I were thinking of going back to the Pluckemin no matter what the day, I would ask if Chef Lattanzio will be in the kitchen. If not, we will pass.

                          Speaking of David Felton, when we did the "Bring Me Food" chef's table at 90 Acres last May, I came away rather disappointed. We had never eaten Felton's food before, and based on what I'd heard about how talented he is and how good the food was when he was at the Pluckemin, my expectations were high. There was nothing radically wrong with the food at the BMF. It was good but never approached rave-worthy status.

                          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                        2. re: RGR

                          RGR and ambrose - I can't dispute what the OP and others reported and their experience seems to have occurred when the chef transition was occurring. I will note that the OP's disappointing octopus carpaccio and steak frites are not presently on any menu.

                          Also, it appears that the current menus have recently been updated and installed. We were there very early on Saturday (when they opened at 5) and several staff members were observed studying the menus. Diners next to us who we assume were regulars were commenting on the menu changes/additions.

                          We dined previously with Chef Felton in the kitchen on numerous occasions and always enjoyed. Never an OMG evening, but always left with thoughts of returning. We skipped the Chef Cuevas period so we have no comparison to more recent offerings.

                          My post above was more of counterpoint to LEOFONT's two posts above regarding "high prices and deceitfully small portions being deceitful to the customer". We ordered off both menus and found neither to be the case. The Pluckemin Inn is fairly priced considering their likely overhead and the quality of the food and drink served.

                          1. re: Foody4life

                            Quality of food, yes, portions are subjective, in my 50+ years of dining in restaurants, I've seen small portions considered "large" by some, and large portions, considered small by others....as far as overhead, that, is the owners concern, should not be the customers
                            the customer, like the owner, is entitled to a "profit" also, and the customers "profit" is VALUE and SATISFACTION !....if the customer gets neither, they "lost" money while the owner has made a profit on that meal........agreed ?

                            1. re: LEOFONT

                              I don't know that I agree that overhead shouldn't be the customers "concern."

                              Almost everyone knows a few holes in the wall that serve delicious food at very moderate prices due to "low overhead." So the customer basically trades ambiance for lower prices. But sometimes people choose to dine in "fancier" surrounds, where the ambiance is a big part of the experience - and the cost of the meal. Nothing is free.

                              1. re: flourgirl

                                Flourgirl.......I'm not saying someone is wrong if they enjoy fine trappings, but my main concern is the food,.....I can't eat ambiance....but if that is what some people prefer, nothing wrong with that.

                                1. re: LEOFONT

                                  "Flourgirl.......I'm not saying someone is wrong if they enjoy fine trappings, "

                                  And I never said you did. I responded to your claim that overhead shouldn't be the customer's concern, and it's not a valid statement, IMO, for the reasons I cited above. If you choose to eat in fancy digs, than you have to expect higher prices than the place serving food out of a hole in the wall. And there'sa nothing "deceitful" about it.