The extraordinary Grounds For Sculpture (GFS) in the heart of central New Jersey offers tons to do for adults and children alike. With 270 contemporary sculptures on 35 stunning acres, galleries, concerts, festivals, lectures, amazing dining, shopping and more, there's something for everyone at Grounds For Sculpture.
The mastermind behind French Tart is Chef Laurent, whose innovation earned him a gold medal for Most Creative Restaurant Dessert at the Eger Foundation’s 2011 Taste of Staten Island and whose flaky croissant recently won the New York Daily News' Best of New York award. His culinary team also whips up authentic French specialties, including sweet and savory crepes, cheese fondue, and French-style sandwiches, dashed with originality. The eatery’s ever-shifting menu has included such offerings as pan-seared salmon inside puff pastries, zucchini-flower omelets, and chocolate ravioli. Iced teas are served with a blend of rose petals, lavender, jasmine, and dried berries. Along with breakfasts, brunches, and dinners served six days a week, Chef Laurent and his crew fill gift baskets year-round with baked goods, imported French foods, and slightly smaller gift baskets.
Featured by the New York Post as an authentic haven for French cuisine that stands apart from its competitors—a sea of pizzeria and takeout Chinese options—Le Bouchon woos diners with the complex bouquet of rich sauces and roasted meats that is chef Roman Nikhman's love letter to the French cooking tradition. Le Bouchon, which takes its name from the French word for wine cork, offers à la carte and banquet menus featuring sumptuous Gallic standards including foie gras drizzled with wild-berry port wine or a classic duck magret with a fig-port-wine reduction. Chef Nikhman's love for French cuisine began with its rich sauces, according to the Post, and the menu features mother sauces and reductions by the spoonful, all of which complement the broad palette of delectable proteins that include duck, lobster, escargot, and rich roasted portobello mushrooms. The knowledgeable staff can help diners choose a varietal from among the restaurant's colossal wine-barrel selection or the wine rack that takes up an entire wall, represented on a wine list 13 pages long.
Green Perrier bottles line the wood-paneled walls of the dining area, which is dotted with framed artwork depicting rainy afternoons and Moulin Rouge performers. Fragrant aromas emanate from the kitchen, where Chef Vincent Tropepe prepares Parisian bistro fare. A roster of celebrity clientele including Rudy Giuliani, Michael Bolton, and Hillary Clinton has enjoyed the refined techniques that Tropepe brings to his preparation of traditional French fare such as escargot Provençal, duck à l'orange, and crepe suzette. The menu also includes selections from Chef Tropepe's new cookbook, From Behind the Kitchen Doors, which details his career and favorite recipes. The rotating dessert selection includes a range of handmade pastries artfully adorned with meringue, fresh berries, and abstract chocolate renderings of local news anchors.
A red awning invites diners into Bistro Café 72, where a simple menu of French country fare sates Bay Ridge's neighborhood noshers. Inside the warm, candlelit atmosphere rests hearty, meat-centric dishes, which include magret de canard, a sliced duck breast in a cassis sauce ($18), and the steak frites standard, accompanied by butter "Maitre d'Hotel" fries ($18.50). Daily specials, like most schoolchildren's treatises on dodge-ball etiquette, are written elegantly on a chalkboard; each specialty dish comes preceded by an array of elegant appetizers, such as the homemade chef's country terrine ($7.50) or a raw-beef tartar with French cocktail sauce ($9). Whether from the menu or specials board, Bistro Café artfully arranges each meal on its plate, and all guests are encouraged to eat with a paintbrush.
Arcane may be in the middle of Alphabet City, but its menu reads like that of a creole café in the Caribbean: braised-conch risotto; mussels with shaved coconut; grilled beef with green papaya, chili, and lime. Its windowed doors swing open on warmer days, creating a breezy, open-air vibe that complements the island fare. Polished-wood banquettes line the exposed-brick walls, and behind a prominent wood bar, bartenders sling out rum-based cocktails such as the fruit juice-infused planters punch. The dessert menu and after-dinner drinks are another testament to Arcane’s love affair with libations, with the banana flambé set afire with rum and served alongside four types of digestifs.