Grange in Westwood has been open about two months, and executive chef Christine Nunn — whom some Bergen restaurant fans may recognize from the restaurant Picnic, in Fair Lawn and from her new book, The Preppy Cookbook — has created a fun, farm-to-table menu with a lot of promise. We didn’t have any expectations, and so were very pleasantly surprised at the creative menu.
Fritto Misto with summer squash, farmers cheese-stuffed squash blossom and green tomato with Green Goddess dressing. Crispy batter, good dressing.
All the dishes are modern; just what you want to eat right now. But there were some hits and some misses. We love a salad with egg and bacon — but some of the flavors in this salad fell a bit flat. We expected it to be so good we’d have to pinch ourselves, but it needed more oomph, especially from the tomatoes (somehow!).
Heirloom tomato, bacon, Boston lettuce, hard-cooked egg and bacon vinaigrette.
And even though the (very professional and affable) waiter said each of these pickles — green beans, watermelon rind and one other I can’t recall — were seasoned individually, we thought they were a bit one-note.
This salad, though? Out of this world. Blue on blue, it’s called, with blue cheese and blueberries mised with cucumbers and tender Boston lettuce. Little bits of tarragon made a surprise appearance, and the whole dish was just marvelous. I want to copy this! Best appetizer of the night.
We chose the restaurant because we wanted to meet Lettie and Roger about halfway between the farm and their place in Montclair. It’s a cute little place with some reclaimed barn wood, exposed brick and a casual, open feel.
Lettie brought a couple of bottles of wine — BYO! The best! — including this chablis she may be including in an upcoming column about using the world “minerality” or “minerally” to describe wine. UPDATE: Here’s the column.
Lettie ordered the best entree of the night, the spatchcocked chicken. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, with a terrific char.
Greg’s steak was well cooked, but ho-hum. Also with spinach:
May tag blue and horseradish-encrusted filet mignon, mashed tater, creamed spinach and red wine “bordie” sauce.
Roger and I both got scallops, which were tender and sweet and served over gazpacho and perfectly cooked beans, some of them, I believe, fava. Nice for a hot summer’s night.
Scallops, grits, shelling and wax beans, herb salad, gazpacho.
Another lovely wine from Lettie:
Lettie and Roger:
Another peek at Grange:
We decided not to order dessert, because it wasn’t very appealing on such a hot night. Apple cobbler (apple?) and bread pudding (bread pudding!?) were among the choices.
The restaurant is just finding its groove, so I expect things will only get better. It has a lot going for it: smart menu, balanced flavors, BYO, some terrific creative combinations.
The 411 on Grange: A farm-to-table BYO in Westwood, N.J. by the chef Christine Nunn, formerly of Picnic in Fair Lawn. On the right track with terrific, modern combinations like the Blue on Blue salad, which has tender Boston lettuce, cucumbers and blueberries with blue cheese, and the spatchcocked chicken with smashed potatoes. Give it time and in the meantime, bring your own wine and watch the restaurant grow. 31 Westwood Ave., Westwood, N.J. 201-497-3788, grangewestwood.com.