Last week, I attended an intimate event to preview Chef Eric LeVine’s spring menu at Morris Tap & Grill. This event provided Chef LeVine an opportunity to ‘test drive’ the new menu to a small group of fans, foodies and food writers who are familiar with his style of cooking.
The new spring dishes will be a complete departure from the current, more casual menu. Chef LeVine endeavors to work more closely with area purveyors to offer a locally-sourced dining experience that’s a bit more upscale than what was previously offered at his popular Morris County restaurant, while keeping some of his guests’ favorites.
A new concept for Morris Tap & Grill will be two new serving sizes: “selfish”, meant for one person or “shared”, meant to be shared among guests.
The dishes we sampled and provided written feedback on were:
- Wasabi popcorn / BBQ popcorn / truffle popcorn – our favorites were the truffle and BBQ version and we liked this simple treat while enjoying craft beer.
- Tempura asparagus, broccolini, carrot threads with soy scallion ginger sauce – we found that carrot threads, something we’d not had before, are pretty delicious yet were unsure what the proper manner was to pick them up if enjoying with others. We liked both the tempura asparagus and broccolini and thought the dipping sauce was a bit sweet (we know the final version will be perfect).
- Smoked shrimp and shaved fennel asparagus salad – we like that Chef LeVine’s smoking various menu items and thought the shrimps had a lovely smokey flavor. The salad could have used a good pinch of salt but both the fennel and asparagus had good texture and tasted freshly-picked.
- Smoked scallops with corn risotto, crispy celery root chips and chili oil – the corn risotto was likely our favorite component of all the dishes that evening: creamy with a ton of big corn flavor.
- Braised pork belly on tomatillo, tomato salad served with roasted chili – as a whole, this was our favorite dish of the night. Bright, tart dressing cut through the pork belly fattiness and the chili brought a nice level of heat to the dish: winner!
- Homemade Chorizo sausage and braised ox tail with corn pudding with Ancho aioli and poblano cream – nicely done in-house Chorizo that we think Chef LeVine should use in several dishes. The corn pudding was super and the aioli was enjoyably tangy. I love ox tail and it was flavorful yet chewy from the attached cartilage…I’m not certain this will be how the final product will be served.
There also new desserts being creatively prepared and our favorite was the decadent chocolate dessert with dolce de leche – to die for.
Chef LeVine admits that he’s still playing around with some of the components of the dishes and tweaks will be made based on the feedback received at the tasting. While some of the items we sampled may not make the final cut, the general group consensus showed Chef LeVine’s on the right track.
This spring menu can be paired with the more than 100 beers served at the restaurant and also with new wines and craft cocktails Chef LeVine’s team has created.
The new spring menu launches today so go pay these guys a visit and connect with Morris Tap & Grill on Facebook to stay abreast of all the events and classes planned for the remainder of the year.
500 Route 10 West, Randolph, New Jersey. 973.891.1776.