Hitting 70 years of age is a big deal and when my father had his birthday on the 9th, he wanted to go to his favorite restaurant, The Manor. Located in West Orange, NJ, this old school restaurant is perfect for weddings inside their ‘manoresque’ brick building or out on their Italian styled grounds. The inside is even more classic with wrought iron rails and heavy floral drapes. Although an update could be worthwhile on some of the interiors, this is old world class and elegance at its best. The menu is a list of everyone’s all time favorites – lobster, duck, steak, roast chicken and fish. The all male wait staff worked with calm and grace, pulling off the silver covers on our plates. I ordered a glass of a champagne styled wine from Roederer Estate in California which was a tad bit sweet for a brut but was intense and had a long perlage with fine, tiny bubbles. For the appetizers, two of us had a lump crabmeat salad mixed with dijonaise (this I didn’t like and the creme kind of ruined the plate for me) served over portabello mushrooms. The other two plates were an oil roasted lobster and sauteed scallop plate with melted squash beurre blanc cooked to perfection although a bit sweet; and a special of lobster ravioli, which was fantastic. The next course was a Chateaubriand with a bearnaise sauce for my parents- and I have to admit this was probably the best meal of the dinner. Extremely tender, cooked just right to a medium rare and the sauce was rich and juicy. My sister had the hen, which was very juicy and paired with an excellent truffle oil potato puree and grilled radicchio. I also had a steak, the 36 day dry aged sirloin, but it was a bit tough. The vegetables and the mushroom barolo sauce were good, but the pumkin gnocchi were too sweet to be paired with the steak. Overall, I wasn’t impressed with my meal. I did, however, wash it down with a full-bodied red from Napa Valley by Stelzner Vineyard. A 2009 cabernet blend, it was rich, spicy and juicy, with a high alcohol concentration that balanced out my dinner. With hardly any room left, we decided that we had to try a desert and ordered the ‘Poire Belle-Helen,’ a chocolate cake with tea soaked pear and chocolate creams. No doubt about it, it was delectable, and for my fathers’ birthday they brought us another chocolate cake and a sample of bite-sized deserts made from nuts or chocolate, or cereals or fruit. I was offered a glass of desert wine, which was similar to a cherry or raspberry port or liquor, to try with our sweets. From France, it was called Banyuls Hor d’Age by Domaine Valcros. This wine, from Languedoc had an intense raisin smell, which was expected, mixed with raspberry and blueberry aromas. Aged in oak and high in alcohol, it was good, ,but it didn’t all mix together properly. Overall the dining experience was elegant and fulfilling. My family loved it and I am sure we will be going back for the next big birthday.
Italian Wine Tours and TastingsLet us take you to the beautiful Italian countryside, among rolling hills and endless vineyards, to taste some of the worlds best wine (read more....)