By STEVEN DESALVO
For Montclair Local
In Montclair Eats, food writer Steven DeSalvo compares dishes at Montclair
restaurants.DeSalvo has a degree in hospitality business management from the University of Delaware and has worked extensively in restaurants and hotels. Are you hungry? If you have a restaurant you’d like to see covered, and want to make a suggestion for Montclair Eats, write to us at email@example.com.
Picture this: You have just finished your delicious Thanksgiving dinner. The afternoon grogginess sets in and you reach for the paper for some light reading. You see THIS article, telling you what you’re going to eat today, if the idea of eating turkey as leftovers does not appeal to you.
For this month’s edition of Montclair Eats, I went around town tasting foods that you and your family will want to eat the day after Thanksgiving. I wanted to feature an interesting variety of styles and cuisines. My main criteria were that this food needed to be comforting, and it needed to be quintessentially “fall food.” (To be fair, I don’t have a standard definition for this.) The dishes that I decided to feature were the Montreal Smoked Meat Sandwich from Tostchu Montclair. This is a smoky, savory, grilled sandwich filled with smoked beef, American cheese, and mustard. Next I sampled the Bobo de Camarao from Samba which is a fantastically flavorful puree of yuca with poached shrimp, coconut milk, tomatoes, onions, and some cilantro. Finally for dessert I walked across the street to Sweet Kitchen for a slice of their decadent, delicious pumpkin cheesecake. For this one, the title is descriptive enough!
- The Montreal Smoked Meat sandwich from Tostchu Montclair is absolutely fantastic! It is one of the better sandwiches I have had this year. Montreal-style smoked meat is a cured and smoked, spiced piece of brisket, a very well-known deli meat. The meat is sliced thick and is seasoned and cooked perfectly. After that, it is covered by a slice of American cheese and yellow mustard. Then it is fitted between two slices of flatbread and toasted on a sandwich press. Served on a skewer with pickles, this sandwich is easily a meal for two. The spices that are used to season the meat give it such an intense and layered flavor. The acidity from the mustard also balances the flavor of the beef to make sure that it isn’t overpowering. There is almost a warmth to this sandwich; it is the ultimate comfort food. I would also strongly suggest that you try the currywurst with potato salad.
- The Bobo de Camarao from Samba is a departure from the previous selection, in terms of styles and flavors. Samba has an extensive menu, but I chose this entrée for the day after deliberately. This shrimp preparation manages to be elegant and light while being hearty and a true “fall food.” It is a fascinating paradox. The combination of the pureed yuca and yuca chunks, shrimp, and tomatoes and onions is marvelous. The number of different textures and flavors on this plate is off the charts! The shrimp are cooked perfectly and so delicately flavored by the puree of yuca. The larger pieces of yuca have that indescribable texture of the root, and its subtle sweetness. It also comes with a side of perfectly cooked and seasoned rice and beans. Definitely be sure to get a side of plantains, as well. They are exceptional.
- The pumpkin cheesecake at Sweet Kitchen is the perfect way to round out the day, in case you still have room for dessert. This cheesecake is light and fluffy. It doesn’t feel heavy, which I like in a cheesecake, specifically, and dessert generally. It also has the perfect amount of pumpkin flavor. Some pumpkin products seem to overuse the ingredient. This one does not! I thoroughly enjoy the graham cracker crust as well. The flavors are balanced to make sure that this dessert doesn’t come across as cloying. Take it from me, someone who isn’t the biggest fan of pumpkin flavor, this cheesecake is great. They also have a number of other pastry options, including a carrot cake that I still regret not trying.
All of these options have distinct elements of “fall food,” whether via seasonal ingredients, or because of the warm and comforting feeling these foods provide. If you can even bear to think about food the day after Thanksgiving, you should definitely consider trying one of these delicious options.
In this column: