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Early Saturday dinner - Morristown area

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My husband and I are going to be in the Morristown area tomorrow and I want to treat him to an early dinner, around 5:30 PM, for his birthday. We love French food and I had made a reservation at A Toute Heure. However they just updated their menu and took away the things I was looking forward to (bone marrow, short ribs) and traded them for mostly fried foods. Sorry, but you can't fool me by using the words "crispy," "fritters," etc. Call me picky but it is disappointing when a restaurant that purports to use the freshest ingredients feels the need to disguise them by breading and frying them.

Anyway, I am now in need of last minute recommendations (obviously can't do Lorena's!) for a romantic restaurant where the food shines. Willing to travel about 30 minutes outside of the area. We live south of the area so would rather travel south. Places I'm thinking about without having been to any of these: Blu, Fascino, Chez Catherine.

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  1. Restaurant Serenade in Chatham might fill the bill. Resto in Madison is a BYO, but tends to fill up early.

    1. I haven't been to Chez Catherine for a couple of years but it would probably meet your requirements. I do like Resto in Madison but I think Chez Catherine wins on ambience.

      1. sorry sleuthy, you missed the boat on this one...and perhaps I should say thank you as my husband and I scored a last minute reservation to ATH last night...perhaps yours!

        Your right that there are a number of fried items on their new menu...actually was talking about some of them with the owner and she wasn't hiding anything, they seem to just be having fun with whatever they have to work with. We aren't big fried people but did sample the nefarious fritters you mention...amazing, have VT smoked cheddar in them that was super smoky. But we headed more into their new baked oysters which were more my husband's thing but he really liked them. I had the catch for dinner...tilefish, very fresh, good choice. Next time I might recommend giving them a chance or giving them a call.

        My husband and I also ate at Lorena's this week....had the "crispy" friend brussel sprouts with our soup, so guess you should cross that one off your list too.

        1. Well, I had it narrowed down to Resto and Rob's Bistro (thanks for the recs!). We ended up going with Rob's Bistro because we were in a lively mood and it was bright in there, and we loved it. We had the restaurant to ourselves until dessert since it was so early. The cheese and charcuterie, escargot, and my salmon were all delicious, and the service was accommodating and discrete at the same time.

          Foodmama, I'm glad you enjoyed your food at ATH. I do look forward to going there when they change their menu again. I received an e-mail about their Valentine's menu and I had to laugh:

          - plate 1 -
          crispy bluepoint oysters with a
          smoked bacon & horseradish aioli
          - plate 2 -
          east coast bay scallop crudo with
          shaved black truffle, fennel, red
          onion & golden beets in a citrus
          vinaigrette
          - plate 3 -
          crispy “scampi” shrimp in a panko
          crust, with a pan-sauteed chickpea
          cake, fresh herb salad and garlicparsley
          scampi sauce
          - palate cleanser -
          passionfruit sorbet
          - plate 4 -
          brined, roast, crispy skinned quail
          with herb gnocchi, porcini confit,
          arugula, and a mascarpone crema
          - plate 5 -
          black & white chocolate ganache
          tart with a vanilla whipped cream

          -----
          Rob's Bistro
          75 Main Street, Madison, NJ 07940