|Beautifully grilled New Jersey Monkfish with Littleneck Clam Red Sauce, above, was the centerpiece of my 3-course lunch at The Frog and The Peach in New Brunswick.|
|My friend started her lunch with an Heirloom Tomato Salad topped with House-Smoked Berkshire Bacon. The salad included Organic Bibb, Spiced Pignoli and Aged Cheddar Emulsion.|
By Victor E. Sasson
The 3-course, $19 lunch was the lure when I asked a friend to meet me on Tuesday at a well-known restaurant in New Brunswick, The Frog and The Peach.
The 30-year-old restaurant turned out to be the perfect place for two former reporters to break bread:
The building once housed printing presses for The Home News, a daily newspaper.
|Black Truffle Ricotta Gnocchi with Cremini, Buffalo Mozzarella and Basil Pesto.|
For someone who doesn't eat meat or poultry, I should have paid more attention to the menu than to my friend, whom I hadn't seen in a year.
The 3-course menu offers a choice of two appetizers, two entrees and two desserts for $19, plus tax and gratuity, through the end of August. Dinner is $42.
The Third Course at lunch on Tuesday included a Cow/Goat Blue Cheese from Spain, perfect for someone like me who doesn't eat dessert.
The delicious lunch is a great deal, and high-quality ingredients are prepared in imaginative ways.
Salad with meat
I wanted a salad to start, but saw that the Heirloom Tomato Salad was topped with bacon.
I selected the other appetizer, Black Truffle Ricotta Gnocchi, which were nicely toasted and served with a summery Basil Pesto.
The two entrees were Griggstown Chicken and New Jersey Monkfish, an ugly fish with a tail that has the texture of lobster when cooked.
My choice seemed clear, but I didn't read the description of the fish completely:
Gigante Beans, Fennel, Pancetta, Tuscan Kale, Littleneck Clam Red Sauce.
If I had read it, I could have asked the kitchen to prepare the fish without the cured pork belly.
As it was, I wondered aloud why chewy bits I couldn't identify were so salty, thinking they were clams.
|Pan Roasted Griggstown Chicken with Smoked Pecans, Sweet Potato, Pickled Bell Peppers and Bourbon Pan Sauce.|
The Frog and The Peach is one of New Jersey Monthly's "Top 25 Restaurants in 2013."
Adding to its appeal are many local ingredients, including naturally raised poultry and wild-caught fish from New Jersey.
But I encountered a couple of other problems:
It doesn't seem possible in New Jersey, where just about everyone drives, that The Frog and The Peach offers only a half-dozen parking spaces in a small lot.
I overlooked the pancetta, but couldn't miss the fly that landed on the rim of my dish after I finished the entree.
Flies -- among the dirtiest insects around -- have no place in a serious restaurant. Having said that, I've also been repelled by flies I saw in Nobu and Tribeca Grill in Manhattan.
And in view of the chef's heavy reliance on meat, it would be nice if the staff alerted customers who want to avoid animal fats and told them the dish can be prepared without it.
My Third Course of Valdeon Cheese came with Endive Marmalade and Pistachios, but not wrapped in the Oak Leaves listed on the menu.
My friend raved about her dessert: Coconut Semifreddo with Caramel and Chocolate Croquettes.
She was delighted the chocolate contained hot pepper.
|The restaurant is in a quiet corner of New Brunswick, but has only a small parking lot.|
The Frog and The Peach, 29 Dennis St., New Brunswick; 1-732-846-3216.
Web site: Look out for pancetta