Adieu to The Orange Squirrel Restaurant

Chef Palmieri

Selfishly, I’m sad to write about The Orange Squirrel, a top-rated New Jersey food destination owned by Chef Francesco Palmieri and his wife, Elaine, closing at the end of this month. Knowing the Essex County food scene and what a toll it takes on restaurant staff to try to keep fickle diners happy, I understand the decision Chef Palmieri and other top NJ restaurants owners have made in closing their restaurants.

The Orange squirrel opened in November 2008 to rave reviews. It’s THE restaurant that paved the way in Bloomfield for other dining spots. 

After more than eight successful years in Bloomfield, NJ, Chef Francesco is preparing to embark on a new career opportunity. Chef Francesco said, “I’d like to thank all of our loyal Squirrel fans and look forward to seeing you again soon as I enter this next endeavor.”

Onwards and upwards Chef Palmieri – can’t wait to support your next endeavor!

Veronique

The Orange Squirrel – Things Just Got Even Better

The Orange Squirrel – Things Just Got Even Better

Chef Palmieri

Chef Palmieri – Photo Credit: The Orange Squirrel

When I first heard the rumors about The Orange Squirrel getting a new menu (and website, and hours, and Sunday Sauce Dinner….), I was a bit weary. After all, I already love everything on the menu – how could Chef Francesco Palmieri kick that up a notch? Well, he did just that by keeping some fan favorites and adding new and fun dishes to the lineup!

Starting November 11, the 8-year anniversary of The Orange Squirrel, the new menu will entail Squirrel Snacks ranging from $3 to $12 and The Hungry Squirrel plates priced from $10 to $25. The new menu is in keeping with Chef Francesco Palmieri’s philosophy since opening in 2008 – serving simple, but not simplistic global comfort food using approachable, wholesome ingredients.

Some favorites staying on the menu are the PEI Mussels, the Veal Meatballs and the award-worthy Chicken Pot Pie….yes, the Squirrel Nuts too! Some new additions I’m looking forward to trying are the Chicken Fried Ribeye, the Swedish Fish Meatballs and the Fried Bufala Mozzarella.

A few months back, I was one of the ‘beta testers’ for Palmieri’s Sunday Sauce Dinner. The meal was simply delicious and I’m thrilled to see him take the concept on each Sunday. Starting November 13, Sunday Supper will feature focaccia and salad, then Sunday Sauce served with artisanal pasta and ending with tiramisu.  

NEW Hours as of Monday, November 7:

Monday-Tuesday: Closed

Wednesday-Thursday: Dinner 5-10pm/Bar till 12am

Friday-Saturday: Dinner 5-10:30pm/Bar till 1am

NEW: Sunday: 1-6 pm Squirrel Sunday Sauce Dinner menu only (cash only)

NEW: Happy till Ate: 5-8pm Wed-Sat / Squirrel Snacks $1 off and All Cocktails/Beer $2 off (bar only)

410 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield, NJ. 973-337-6421

See you at TOS soon!

Veronique

The Orange Squirrel Express Lunch – Value and Deliciousness

The Orange Squirrel Express Lunch – Value and Deliciousness

A couple weeks ago, I posted about Francesco Palmieri, Chef/Owner of the popular The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield, offering a new weekday, $13, Three-Course Express Lunch.

While I know Chef Palmieri’s food is outstanding from numerous visits, I just had to go see if $13 could really get me three delicious courses. Boy was I impressed!

Lunch includes a choice of soup, a salad and a choice of specialty sandwich (all are served with fries or giardiniera pickled vegetables). 

My guest and I were treated to a perfectly-fried zucchini blossom picked from Chef Palmieri’s garden. No, this isn’t part of the standard lunch menu, but the chef has an abundant blossoms crop and treated us to this magical little bite. #KingOfTheBlossoms.

My guest ordered the Vegan BLT, a chilled smoked tomato “soup” that is poured tableside into a bowl garnished with crispy kale and fakon crumble. Since I’m…me, I had no idea that fakon is fake-bacon (sorry, vegetarian bacon) but, while I hate to admit it, it tasted just like bacon and complemented the soup beautifully.

I opted for the soup of the day which was mussel bisque. This comforting soup had tons of pleasantly briny mussel flavors, a rich, velvety texture and perfectly-cooked, plump mussels. It was a winner.

Next came a Cabernet vinaigrette-dressed salad featuring ultra fresh bibb lettuce from Chef Palmieri’s garden. The simple salad was gilded with fried shallots and paper-thin radish slices.

For our sandwiches, we opted for the BBQ Pulled Duck Confit and the Pan Fried Perch Fish. The generous portion of decadent duck confit was dressed in a tangy barbeque sauce and served on toasted French bread – outstanding. While the perch was fried, it was done so with a stealth hand with the bare minimum of coating on the fresh fish. The sandwich is served with lettuce, tomato, onion and a tangy, house-made tartar sauce that I need the recipe for. Both sandwiches were served with well-made, properly-salted fries.

Each month, Chef Palmieri’s wife concocts what is known as the Dirts – three mousse-like desserts served in single serve glasses. As an additional indulgence, we sprung for the July trio – strawberry, chocolate and vanilla. All three were delicious but my favorite was the strawberry version with its shortcake flavors – a must order item.

The Express Lunch is available from Monday through Friday between 12:15PM – 2:45PM for dine-in or pick-up. 

410 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield, NJ 07003 / phone: 973-337-6421/ www.opentable.com

Cheers,

Veronique

Express Lunch at The Orange Squirrel

Express Lunch at The Orange Squirrel

TOS Express Lunch Photo Credit overhead view- The Orange Squirrel

Francesco Palmieri, Chef/Owner of the popular The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield, is now offering a new weekday lunch menu.

The $13, Three-Course Express Lunch is available from Monday through Friday between 12:15PM – 2:45PM for dine-in or pick-up. 

A great value at just $13, lunch includes a choice of soup, a salad and a choice of specialty sandwich (all are served with fries or giardiniera pickled vegetables). 

410 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield, NJ 07003 / phone: 973-337-6421/ www.opentable.com

Cheers,

Veronique

The Orange Squirrel Launches 4-Course Prix Fixe Menu

The Orange Squirrel Launches 4-Course Prix Fixe Menu

The Orange Squirrel LogoThe Orange Squirrel is launching a new, four-course prix fixe menu Monday through Thursday from 4:30 – 7:30pm. The cost of the new menu is $29 (not inclusive of tax/gratuity).

Course I

Mushroom Tempura – baby artichoke aioli / truffle oil

or

Chitarra Marinara Meatballs

Course II

Mesclun Green Salad – vinaigrette / croutons / sliced radish

Course III

Skate Wing – braised beet greens / meuniere sauce

or

Chicken Pot Pie – vegetables / leg and thigh confit / puff pastry

Course IV

Banana Bread Pudding – rum caramel / vanilla ice cream

or

Chocolate Soufflé – ganache

The Orange Squirrel / 410 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield, NJ  07003 / 973-337-6421.

Cheers,

Veronique

Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts

Sugar and Spice Candied Nuts

Empty JarOn New Year’s Eve, we met some friends for a celebratory meal at one of my favorite New Jersey eateries – The Orange Squirrel, and to my joy, my friend Diane had brought me a jar of homemade candied pecans. I’m not much of a cinnamon fan, so I don’t typically like these types of spiced and candied nuts, but Diane’s version is simply perfect.

Yes, the picture I’m including is of the empty jar – these babies were gone THAT fast. 

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup dark-brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • Generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 egg white, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp. water
  • 1 pound walnut or pecan halves or whole peeled hazelnuts

Directions: 

  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
  2. Mix sugars, salt, cayenne, and cinnamon, making sure there are no lumps; set aside.
  3. Beat egg white and water until frothy but not stiff.
  4. Add walnuts, and stir to coat evenly. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, and toss until evenly coated.
  5. Spread sugared nuts in a single layer on a cookie sheet fitted with parchment paper. Bake for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. Remove from oven, and separate nuts as they cool.
  7. When completely cool, place the nuts into a bowl, breaking up any that stick together.

Adapted from Elizabeth Karmel of Hill Country

Cheers,

Veronique

SOLD OUT Vincent Price Cookbook Dinner at James Beard House

SOLD OUT Vincent Price Cookbook Dinner at James Beard House

Francesco Palmieri

Francesco Palmieri

Chef Francesco Palmieri of The Orange Squirrel in Bloomfield, NJ will hosts his yearly Vincent Price Cookbook dinner at James Beard House on 10/30 at 7PM. The event sold out in just a couple days!

Once again, Chef Palmieri will cook dishes based on the Vincent & Mary Price’s 1965 cookbook, A Treasury of Great Recipes.

After learning of Chef Palmieri’s prior dinners in her father’s honor, Victoria Price, will be joining this year’s dinner for the first time to discuss her famous father’s passion for food and film.  

 

Chef Palmieri will recreate six legendary dishes that will be paired with the NEW Vincent Price Signature Collection wines which will make their New York City debut at the dinner. 

Some menu items will include (see full menu here):

Small Bites

Duck Liver Mousse / Apple / Crispy Shallots (Lüchow’s, NYC, p. 244)

Steak Tartare / Brioche / Quail Egg (Lüchow’s, NYC, p. 245)

Pasta Course

Spinach Lasagna / Béchamel / Crispy Tomato (The Royal Danieli, Italy, p. 106) 

Fish Course

Stuffed Trout / Truffled Shrimp Filled Mushroom Cap / Lemon Supreme (Fernand Point, Pyramide, Paris, France, p. 32)

Meat Course

Fillets of Lamb / Onion Sauce / Crispy Baby Artichoke (Tour d’Argent, Paris, France, p.69) 

Dessert I

Pot de Crème Chocolat / Brandy Snaps (Vincent & Mary Price, specialty of the house, p. 407)

Vincent Price Wines

Vincent Price Wines

The wines are being released in conjunction with the celebration of the 50th anniversary edition of the cookbook in 2015.  In addition, a specially brewed beer in the style Vincent Price enjoyed will be served at dinner created by Brewer Adam Young of Brooklyn Brewery.

Cost for the dinner is $130 for James Beard Foundation members and $170 for the general public. For additional details about the event: http://www.jamesbeard.org/events/vincent-price-legendary-gourmet

Cheers,

Veronique

The Orange Squirrel

The Orange Squirrel

Gnocchi

Gnocchi

Last week, I met some friends at The Orange Squirrel for drinks and a dose of Chef Francesco Palmieri’s comforting and delicious food.
While I’ve been to this popular Bloomfield, NJ restaurant many times, Chef Palmieri and his team always find a way to wow me with a combination of new creations and signature favorites I’ve come to crave.

Ribeye

Ribeye

New on this visit was the bag of acorn-shaped corn “muffin” treats with knives smeared with good-quality butter. I understand Chef Palmieri had some reservations about offering any type of bread to his guests, but the warm treats were just that, a tasty treat. We also ordered the infamous Squirrel Nuts, cheesy potato puffs, to munch on and they are still as addictive as the first time we sampled them.

There are a number of tempting starters at The Orange Squirrel and on this visit, our group shared the Gnocchi and the Veal Meatballs. The gnocchi in a flavorful broth is both elegant and comforting and I’ll be hard-pressed not to order this dish on every visit. As exhibited during his winning appearance on food network’s Cutthroat Kitchen, Chef Palmieri knows his way around a pot of meatballs. The veal version we enjoyed was moist, flavorful and served in some of the best red sauce around.

Cassoulet

Cassoulet

Not sure how one could pass up a chance to order the decadent Dry Aged Ribeye Steak so we didn’t try. As always, the meat was cooked to perfection and served on a hot platter with a roasted head of garlic, in a buttery, rosemary-infused bath. No need to visit a steakhouse to sink your teeth into a stellar steak, just visit The Orange Squirrel. Two other entrées we enjoyed were specials that evening: the Cassoulet and the Pork Osso Buco. The cassoulet was deeply-flavored with duck and sausage paired with white beans under a breadcrumb crust that was to die for. The pork Osso Buco was a nice change from the typical veal rendition and served in a shareable serving.

Can’t forget the sides at The Orange Squirrel as they are decadent. On this visit we enjoyed earthy mushroom risotto.

Dessert here calls for the Dirt, three servings of various monthly themed concoctions typically featuring some type of crumb and mousse/custard. The red velvet version was my favorite while my guest raved about the chocolate malted.

Dirt

Dirt

The beer and wine selection is limited but interesting with craft beer on tap and bottles and several wines by the glass. There are also inventive cocktails available for those seeking an adult beverage before eating one of the best meals in the area.

The award-winning team at The Orange Squirrel serves up one of the best meal in the area. If you’ve not visited recently or haven’t had the pleasure of eating at this popular Bloomfield restaurant, go, soon.

Cheers,

Veronique

My Top 10 New Jersey Dishes of 2013

My Top 10 New Jersey Dishes of 2013

Seafood Risotto - HAVEN

Seafood Risotto – HAVEN

While I’ve had many, many memorable meals in 2013 (God knows I over-share), I’ve tried to narrow down the 10 best dishes I enjoyed during the past year. Here’s the list in restaurant name alphabetical order.

Duck, Knoephla and Eggs – A Toute Heure

The Knoephla dish showcases a generous portion of rich pulled duck confit, Knoephla, a German dumpling much like Spaetzle and a New Jersey farm-fresh egg.

Sweetbreads and Crispy Bone Marrow - Escape

Sweetbreads and Crispy Bone Marrow – Escape

Sweetbreads with Crispy Bone Marrow – Escape Montclair

Sweetbreads, Pea Purée, Crispy Marrow, Chanterelles and Grape Juice. Simply an amazing dish. The sweetbreads were tender and perfectly cooked and Chef Gregg was truly gilding the lily with the addition of crispy bone marrow. The best bone marrow I’ve had.

Moules Meunière – Fricassée

The portion of mussels is gigantic and offers a very flavorful white wine, garlic and cherry tomato saucy broth bursting with thyme, basil and mint flavors.

Fluke Crudo - The Ryland Inn

Fluke Crudo – The Ryland Inn

Seafood Risotto – HAVEN Riverfront Restaurant & Bar

Seafood Risotto with Riso Venere, Lobster, Sea Scallops, Shrimps, Sea Beans, Sweet Corn and Mascarpone. The black rice contrasted beautifully with the rich broth and perfectly-cooked seafood.

Combination Kabab Platter – Kabab Paradise

The flavorful dish is comprised of a chicken breast kabab, a beef kufta kabab and a lamb tikka kabab. The meats are moist and perfectly charcoal-grilled. The white accompanying sauce is addicting.

Rabbit - Restaurant Latour

Rabbit – Restaurant Latour

Pork Belly Ramen – Mitsuwa

The ramen bowl features pork belly and hen-of-the-wood mushrooms. The ramen noodles are cooked perfectly, just a bit chewy, and the pork-laced broth is out-of-this-world.

Loin of Young Rabbit – Restaurant Latour at Crystal Springs

Loin of Young Rabbit Roulade with Belly Confit and Sweet White Onion Jus. Tender loin, rich belly and tart jus.

Crescent Duck Breast – The Orange Squirrel

The duck was rare as ordered with a masterly-rendered, crisp skin and paired with earthy carrot quinoa.

Duck - The Orange Squirrel

Duck – The Orange Squirrel

Fluke Crudo – The Ryland Inn

Fluke Crudo, Summer Melons, Heirloom Tomatoes, Garden Herbs. Just the perfect summer starter with fresh, clean flavors.

House-Made Ricotta Gnudi – VB3 Restaurant

The wonderful Gnudi are pillowy-soft and served with a light, basil-infused tomato sauce.

Let me know if you’ve tried any of these dishes and leave a comment when you do in the new year!

Cheers,

Veronique

The Orange Squirrel Prickly Pear Margarita 11

The Orange Squirrel Prickly Pear Margarita 11

Prickly Pear MargaritaToday is National Margarita Day which means it’s one of the very best days of the year (plus it’s a Friday – doubly great).

The Orange Squirrel, which has a great mixology program (AKA they pour a mean cocktail) offers this spring-minded version of the classic.

  • 2 oz. Prickly Pear Puree
  • 1 ¼ oz. premium Silver Tequila
  • ½ oz. Triple Sec or Cointreau
  • ½ oz. of lime juice hand squeezed (strain pulp)

Mix all ingredients, pour over ice, shake, strain and serve over ice. Salted or unsalted rim as desired.  Garnish with lime wedge.

For those of you who still haven’t made it to The Orange Squirrel, what’s the matter with you!? Here’s a reminder of my last visit.

THE ORANGE SQUIRREL 

412 Bloomfield Avenue, Bloomfield, NJ (973) 337-6421.