Epernay’s executive chef Jayson Grossberg trained under legendary French chef Jean-Louis Palladin before attending New York’s Culinary Institute of America. Grossberg has used his pabulum-preparing powers for good and not evil, recently redesigning Epernay’s menu to add flavorful new dishes, such as the summer gazpacho with crab meat and lime ($10.95). Fresh-caught mussels come in three broths, such as the “a la Linda” with saffron and tomato ($15.95 single serving, $19.95 shared platter). If you'd like to keep your meal as light at a globetrotting eccentric's hot-air balloon, try a juicy beet salad with summer melon, arugula, and feta cheese ($10.95). Reward your stomach for keeping quiet during last night’s visit to the opera with an entree such as caramelized sea scallops with sweet corn, bacon, and tomato ($26.95). Or delve into the crispy duck breast with wild mushrooms, pistachios, and asparagus soaking in a sundried blueberry jus ($26.95) to enjoy a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves.
Red Hen Bistro's made-from-scratch menu revolves around the fresh, seasonal meats, fish, and produce in French and Californian cuisine. Francophiles will feel conflicted in trying to select only one dish, be it the croque madame, an upscale ham-and-cheese sandwich topped with a sunny-side-up egg ($10.95), or the salad nicoise, a hearty helping of organic greens crowned with roasted potatoes and hard-boiled eggs ($8.95). California dreamers can sample West Coast–inspired temptations such as tamales with braised pork ($8.95) and fish tacos served in crisp tortillas ($9.95). Simplicity seekers can opt for the tomato soup and grilled cheese ($9.95) while enjoying the restaurant’s attention to detail—evident in both the food and front-of-house service. With rich-red walls, large windows boasting street views, and touches of French country charm, Red Hen Bistro exudes an air of casual intimacy, though lacy nightclothes are discouraged.
Crepes on Columbus fills its namesake dish—thin, made-to-order pancakes—with sweet and savory ingredients, imbuing each bite with Franco-Spanish flavors. The quaint café’s crepes adapt to any appetite, brimming with rich infusions such as nutella and strawberries or roasted chicken and ratatouille, and serve as emergency head coverings during freak downpours of jams and preserves. The friendly wait staff serves both breakfast and dinner all day, comingling omelets, juicy cuts of meat, and seafood on tabletops, sided with desserts and smoothies.
The chefs at The Montville Inn pamper palates with an eclectic menu of American fare. Customers can rev up taste buds with an appetizer of braised short-rib ravioli in a red-wine reduction before diving tongue-first into the seafood gumbo with diced cherry peppers served over basmati rice. Like the first European explorer to discover tomato sauce, diners can stake a claim to The Montville Inn's bar pie, a pizza topped with barbecue brisket, red onion, and mozzarella cheese. Teeth test their sharpness with the succulent 14-ounce new york strip steak, served with caramelized onions and smoked pepper bacon whipped potatoes, or the country-style pork chop with sweet italian sausage and roasted fennel. Duos can augment their meal with selections from the drink menu, which includes wines, eight beers on draught, and 11 bottled beers that long to join 99 friends on a wall. The Montville Inn, which sits atop the site of the pre–Revolutionary War Mandeville Inn, showcases a classic colonial exterior and a charming farmhouse-inspired ambiance. Overhead lighting casts a glow over the spacious dining room, which houses plank oak floors and a fireplace to warm diners chilled from harsh winters or spring breaks spent inside a walk-in freezer.
Riverside Manor’s cooks craft a menu of upscale Italian dishes, each served to diners in a renovated nineteenth-century silk mill. Just as a trip to the bookie precedes little-league baseball games, so too must first courses such as chicken wings ($7) or clams oreganata ($8 lunch, $10 dinner) clear the way for a festive entrée. Classic dishes such as rigatoni alla vodka ($10 lunch, $12 dinner) and fettuccini carbonara ($12 lunch, $14 dinner) share space with more exotic fare, including a 10-oz. raw filet mignon served on a 750-degree volcanic stone ($24). A lineup of brick-oven pizzas teaches guests that, unlike pi, pies end, and libations such as red ($5–$13) and white ($5–$12) wines, domestic ($4) and imported ($5) beers, and martinis ($7–$11) accompany the succulent eats.