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Mar 7, 2013 08:02 AM

Rob's Bistro, Madison

Starting a separate thread for Rob's b/c the few posts I've seen on here are about Madison restaurants or searches for good bistros. I've now had the pleasure of eating a few dinners and a lunch here, and it's crystal clear to me why the chef has such a devoted following.

This week I attended a wine dinner at Rob's, and I'm still wishing I could have convinced a few more friends to join me, because it was SO delicious and really gave the chef an opportunity to show that he not only knows how to cook, but that he truly understands food and wine pairings.

For starters, a quick explanation of how/why a BYOB is holding a wine dinner. A new law that went in to effect last year now allows BYOs in NJ to partner with out-of-state wine distributors to offer their wines in addition to allowing a restaurant to remain BYO. (Only in NJ, I say...!) Rob's has teamed up with Domenico Winery (CA) to offer (mostly half-bottles, iirc) their wines, so this dinner was a chance for us to try those wines along with the chef's excellent food. Four courses, wine, gratuity, and tax were $65, which is insanely reasonable, and the menu read beautifully, so I had to go!

The menu and wines:

1. Vanilla Bean Salmon Gravalax, Mâche & French Bagel paired with 2009 California Chardonnay

2. Crisp Pork Rillette, Frisée Lardon Salad paired with 2007 Amador Barbera

3. Braised Short Ribs, Sweet Potato Purée & Roasted Asparagus paired with 2007 Napa Valley "Meritage" Merlot

4. Dark Chocolate Mousse*, Fresh Strawberries & Crème Chantilly paired with 2005 "Black Silk" Ruby Red Dessert Wine

*Note: I generally don't 'care' about chocolate the way many people do; I'm the one ordering something lemony or a cheese plate or better still, drinking my dessert. Rob makes THE. BEST. Dark choc mousse I've ever had.

There wasn't a miss anywhere, but without a doubt, my favorite course overall was the pork rillette. It was fantastic, and the balance of the vinaigrette on the frisée and the acid in the wine was just perfect. I'd eat and drink that combo again and again, thankyouverymuch. :-) And the Barbera was my favorite of all of the wines we tasted, but there wasn't a miss in the glass anywhere.

It was a terrific evening all around; the winemaker (Domenick) was happy to share the story of how he discovered his passion for the business, and how he has grown from a make-your-own-wine club (Bacchus, based down the shore) to a full-blown California winery with a mail-order club and a tasting room in Tom's River. That Jersey boy has certainly kept his roots on the east coast!

If you enjoy a seriously well-done bistro menu, you've got to give Rob's a try. www.robsbistro.com

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  1. Sounds great! I haven't been since Resto closed - I guess I am afraid it will be crowded and I won't get in. It used to be so nice to just go to Rob's on a whim and have a nice meal. Will have to give it a try.

    1. They are having another one tomorrow 5/21

      1. Sad news posted by Rob Uhaus:

        After five fantastic years of cooking and serving you through birthdays, anniversaries, special occasions, not so special occasions, good weather and some pretty big storms, I'm sorry to say that we are closing on Friday, July 25th.

        It has been my pleasure over the years to get to know you and your families.

        It is my hope that my staff and I have provided for you many great memories of the times you've spent with us and the meals we were lucky enough to cook for you.

        Best wishes to everyone.

        7 Replies
        1. re: Curlz

          Very sad news indeed. First, Resto in 2012, now the Bistro.

          1. re: Curlz

            Yes, very sad indeed. I just read the e-mail. I had a feeling this might be coming. The last few times I was there it was pretty dead. Granted, the food was inconsistent at times, but it was often also very good. Where to get French food now without driving for miles?

              1. re: Curlz

                Disappointing. We ate there with friends in June. The waiter seemed disinterested and I took over as sommelier to pour our wine. Our chicken was dry and we are always so jealous as to how they get the chicken crisp on the outside and moist on the inside in French bistros, but we still would have gone back and we did have enjoyable meals there. Unfortunately, it looks like the Olive Garden is the preferred price point of the embattled consumer.

              2. ANOTHER small portion, big prices restaurant out of business......won't they EVER learn ??,...the public wants VALUE for their hard earned $$$ !!....Altho' you can't compare Rob's with Harolds Deli in Raritan, Harolds is always packed....why ?...hugh portions, huge prices !!...always a doggy bag...two meals for the price of ONE !!.....customers want VALUE !!!...customers won't walk up to the owner/chef and complain about value, they just don't return !!

                2 Replies
                1. re: LEOFONT

                  There are different ways to quantify "value".

                  1. re: bropaul

                    VALUE is the individual customers interpretation, objectively............the owner of a restaurant has a right to a good profit on his/hers investment,.
                    but the customer has a right to a "profit" also, and that "profit" is value and satisfaction....many, too many customers don't see that their entitled to a "profit" also, and remember, if your not satisfied, the owner has made a PROFIT on your meal, and YOU HAVEN'T !!! .......quantified !

                2. Terrific news, imo:
                  Opening in the Summer of 2015 by Chef Robert Ubhaus in downtown Madison NJ, Redux: The Restaurant will feature Modern American small plates, while using local ingredients as often as the seasons allow. At Redux, there will be two dining options for our guests. The first will be the main dining room and the second will be a Chef's counter in the kitchen overlooking Chef Rob & his culinary team. At the Chef's Counter, Chef Rob & his team will serve you, while preparing your food and the other diner's food, during your whole dining experience. The main dining room will offer a more traditional dining experience for our guests.

                  There will also be a Market with prepared foods. More info: www.reduxnj.com