I didn’t set out today to do an article strictly on cocktails. After all, a man must eat something if he is day drinking. Day drinking- a lost cousin to day dreaming and the bastard son of the afternoon siesta or nap is not for everyone. But should you desire a well crafted cocktail, made with only the best freshly squeezed juices and craft spirits, then make your way over to the Yellow Plum. True they bought me my lunch and true they knew I was there representing the Devil… But with this said what I found on my trip was unexpected and therefore gorgeous.
The meatballs, pictured here are things of rare beauty. They are hand made, one at a time. There is Chorizo in there, lurking in the background. A subtle burn at the finish, tempered ever softly by the a marinara worthy of a bath. The very thought of taking a bath in marinara sauce is beyond my comprehension in polite company, but this marinara is something truly extraordinary.
I felt so honored to taste it. This sauce became a part of me. Part of my memory. Maybe the simple combination of flavors did it. I’m not sure. Simple, passionate food doesn’t take wizardry.
This food takes love. It’s obvious that there are smiles in the kitchen. You can taste them in every bite. The cocktails are equally passionate.
I tried two drinks. The first, a play on words, is the Brookdale Cocktail. Woven from a salubrious mixture of Plantation Five Year Old Reserve rum, ginger liqueur, muddled cranberries and lemon juice. This drink has nearly perfect balance. I see nearly because as a whisperer of cocktails, I like to unlock inner secrets in drinks. You do this with bitters. I might have used the Aztec Bitters from Fee Brothers, or perhaps the Mexican Mole Bitters from Bitter End. It needed something bitter against all that sweet. But I had no complaints with the strength of the drink. It was right in line with my expectations and it exceeded them handily with how beautifully this cocktail went with the food… Then there was the mac and cheese. ohhhhhhh…. Swoooon…
This was not mac and cheese of my childhood, this was sophistication and charm in every bite. I can’t tell you what poutin tastes like up in Montreal when it’s 40 degrees below zero, but this dish is so unctuous and bold….
I couldn’t finish all of it even if I wanted to. There was a slowly cooked shredded short rib meat. Oh, there I go… opening the to/go box and digging in. With my fingers! DAMMIT, this is good stuff!
The second drink was a spin on an icy road with bald tires and rear wheel drive. It was called the Fig Fashion. This drink is so darned simple. Three ingredients. Muddled Fig. Knob Creek Bourbon. Finally bitters. This drink is so darned dangerous. If the bar uses hand cut ice it would be the charmer on the menu. It’s that good. No, I don’t recommend driving on ice with bald tires. Too much can go wrong.
Leave the car at home and have a couple of the Fig Fashions. Ask them to make the drinks as doubles.
Chef Lukic has the chops that I look for in a cook. He has that calm under fire persona that comes from some dangerous experiences in the Marine Corps. He has spent much time behind the scenes in restaurants from childhood on.
He cooks as he speaks, quietly and with great authority. It’s his place. He doesn’t look for accolades nor the Montclair “scene,” nor flash in the pan- television stardom. What this cook does is follow his dreams. This restaurant is his invention. His passion and his lab. He’s not doing this food for flashy publications. He’s cooking from his heart because this is his metier, his passion!!!
I do want to dine there at dinner. The lighting will be lower, the room filled with laughing- sated, happy diners.
This is not trendy food although they certainly do modern cooking. Each taste is grounded in classical cooking technique. The French Culinary Institute was chef’s education, but I’m positive he was a chef even before he walked into the front door.
Come by the Yellow Plum. Enjoy a cocktail. Their wine list if cocktails are not your speed is carefully chosen by flavor. The list is a nice overview of styles that are priced well and are intriguing to both the neophyte and the expert.
This is not a snob place. It’s good food, carefully made with love.
Isn’t that why we dine?
1099 Broad Street,
Yellow Plum will be participating in Bloomfield Restaurant Week 2014. Restaurant Week is August 3 to August 9 2014. Participating Restaurants will offer special prix Fixe menus for both lunch and dinner giving everyone the chance to experience the diversity of Bloomfield’s culinary scene. For full details visit the Bloomfield Restaurant Week website. Also be sure to like Bloomfield Restaurant Week on Facebook. Devil Gourmet is proud to be a Platinum sponsor of Bloomfield Restaurant Week.
Warren Bobrow is Devil Gourmet’s own Cocktail Whisperer. When he isn’t postulating about the good, bad and the ugly of cocktail bars in NJ for Devil Gourmet, he is the Food and Drink Editor of the Wild River Review located in Princeton, New Jersey. Like a good bartender who hears everything but shares little, Warren is not one to boast of his accomplishments. But that’s not going to stop us.
He writes for the “Fabulous Beekman 1802 Boys” as their cocktail writer. (Klaus, The Soused Gnome). He was one of 12 journalists world-wide, and the only one from the USA to participate in the Fête de la Gastronomie 2012 in Burgundy. Warren co-judged the Iron Mixology competition at the Charleston Wine and Food Festival (2012), was # 30 in Saveur Magazine’s 100 in 2010, for his writing about the humble Tuna Melt. Warren has published over four hundred articles on everything from cocktail mixology to restaurant reviews to travel articles. His first book, Apothecary Cocktails is now in its second printing and another book is in the works!
The best thing about Warren? He does mixology for groups and private lessons- ask! You may find him on the web at CocktailWhisperer.com