The Pass - New Charcuterie/Restaurant in Rosemont, NJ
Can't wait to go to this place. It's in what used to be the Cafe at Rosemont, which was one of our favorite spots for Sunday brunch. The Cafe closed some time ago because of "issues" regarding unpaid taxes.
The Pass is apparently a charcuterie that is also a French countryside restaurant in the evening. The owner/chef is Matt Ridgway (of PorcSalt in Philly). The restaurant opened for dinner on May 1 and Sunday brunch is going to be offered "soon". The charcuterie is open every day except Monday
If anyone has been here, I'd love to hear a report.
We paid our first visit to The Pass this past weekend. It certainly shows promise as being a valuable addition to the Hunterdon-Bucks dining scene, a scene that has shown great strength with the addition of several new venues in the past year.
Located in Rosemont at the site of the (legendary) Cafe at Rosemont, The Pass retains much of the appearance of the Cafe, including the bookshelves lining the walls, the vintage lighting fixtures and the basic design of the cafe (enter through front or rear, kitchen and rest room in their same, familiar, locations, tables in basically the same distribution in the dining room as those of the Cafe.
The Pass features a three-course prix-fixe menu, priced at $38.50. The menu appears to be one that will change with the market. Since its May 1 opening, the menu features choices of one seafood starter or four meat starters. Similarly, the main courses include choices of one fish or two meats.
The service is attentive and friendly. At any given time, there are three servers on the floor. In addition, one sous-chef was seen delivering plates to several tables. So, a server is never more than a nod of a head or a wave away. The servers take a team approach: any one of the three will attend to your needs or deliver plates.
The meal started with a real treat, a feature I bet will become a signature for the Pass: a bowl of puffed rice-shrimp chips with an herb mixture sprinkled on top. These are delicious and a pleasing start to the meal.
We both started with the marinated mackerel served with scallion pancakes. This was the highlight of our meal, as the mackerel filets were tender and tasty. The scallion pancakes were not your neighborhood Chinese restaurant variety, but a rice-flour (The Pass makes an extra effort to please gluten-sensitive guests, as well as others with food preference issues) based crepe.
We continued with the Atlantic fluke in a brown butter sauce served alongside a seaweed salad. This was, in our opinion, the only weak link in our meal. Fluke is a very mild fish, demanding a distinctive treatment. Our fluke were just a bit bland for our tastes.
Along with the mains, we received two small dishes "compliments of the kitchen": a warm Romaine salad and a delightful bowl of Castle Valley Mills (Doylestown, PA) polenta. Would like to see the polenta worked into becoming a main course, perhaps topped with shrimp (I'm thinking of a New Orleans-style shrimp and grits).
For dessert, I chose the whiskey tart with honey ice cream. I recently had whiskey bread at a popular Brooklyn restaurant and became a fan. The tart similarly appealed to me. My wife had the rice pudding, which was well-executed.
Tables are close enough together to allow the predictable interaction among guests. Our neighboring diners were enthusiastic about the sweetbreads and the carbonara.
An acquaintance who dined at The Pass the same night as we did told me she was able to request a vegan meal for one of her dining companions.
Several neighboring tables were occupied by wine-savvy diners. A Chateuanueuf-du-Pape and a Chablis Premier Cru accompanied one table's meal, while a Cru Burgundy accompanied another's. (Our meal was paired with a Washington State Viognier and a Sonoma Pinot). It looks as if The Pass is attracting a wine-loving crowd (like so many other Hunterdon and Bucks restaurants, it is BYO).
We were generally pleased with our meal at The Pass and recommend it highly. As the menu changes, we look forward to Chef Matt Ridgway's take on other fish and seafood, but we hope the mackerel becomes a regular part of the menu.
Certainly worth a visit. I'm always reluctant to pass judgement on restaurants that are newly-opened, but The Pass did not suffer from any of the post-opening jitters some restaurants experience. Although the fluke didn't excite us, the remainder of the meal did and I'm still having memories of those shrimp chips, the mackerel and the polenta.
Hope your spring and summer will also permit you visits to D'floret in Lambertville and, if you're willing to drive a bit farther afield, Maize, in Perkasie (Bucks Co.).
Famdoc, thank you for the excellent, and thorough, review. We will definitely be going to The Pass soon though I must say I am disappointed by the limited menu.
We are also anxiously awaiting news about Sunday brunch. We used to go to the Cafe at least twice a month and still miss it. I was never impressed by dinners there but the brunch was outstanding.
Second visit to The Pass was every bit as enjoyable as our first.
Shrimp chips, salad and grits remain a part of the meal.
Menu changes weekly. The soft-shell was done in a chili-lime salt and served with red onions and cilantro, a sort of deconstructed banh mi. Silken tofu with pickled vegetables was a hit, mussel flan a little less so. Service attentive. Price about right.
Am I the only hound going to The Pass? Just had our fourth visit there and Matt and his kitchen crew are really hitting their stride. The menu changes weekly, so I can describe what I had this week, but if you go next week, you'll have a completely different menu.
The puffed shrimp chips with zattar spices are still part of the welcome at The Pass. I started with the white prawn/onion mousse stuffed zucchini blossom and had the lobster as my main course. The lobster was done perfectly..not a minute too long or too short. Finished with a blueberry pudding. Best meal there yet.
The Bucks/Hunterdon area now has at least a dozen fine restaurants. The Pass is at or near the top of that line-up.