Four of ventured out to Lebanon NJ to visit Artisan Kitchen, a restaurant that has been open for only a few weeks.
The restaurant is located in Lebanon Plaza off of Route 22, sort of in the middle of nowhere.
The restaurant is very attractive, sleek, modern and spotless. We really wanted to love this place but the night was uneven at best.
The meal started nicely as two different rolls, whole wheat and somalina, were given out along with a tray containing small bottle of olive oil and ramekins of white bean spread and creamery butter sprinkled with sea salt. Rolls were very good and thoroughly enjoyed.
Next was the amuse which was salmon tartare with a lemongrass emulsion. A good attempt but the lemongrass was so strong to be bitter.
We wanted to select different appetizers to each get a taste. We had:
Blue Crab Bisque/fresh herb ravioli/lemon-fennel marmalade
Portuguese Octopus/green olive/white anchovy/pinenut
Confit of Leeks/maitake mushrooms/white polenta
Lamb Crepette with Pasta
The Bisque had virtually no crab and was surprisingly bland. The Octopus was tasty but consisted of two tiny pieces, not enough for one no less to share. The Lamb Crepette was a tiny piece of lamb with a even smaller amount of pasta. Flavor was good, not great.
The leeks were the highlight of the appetizers, nice combination of flavors and textures and attractively presented.
We are not big eaters or look for large portions but the starters, especially the Octopus and Lamb were miniscule.
For entrees we had:
Barnegat Skate/artichoke/fingerlings/grapefruit grenobloise
Suckling Pig/farro piccolo/cherries/spiced endive
Niman Ranch Lamb/fava beans/artichoke/trumpet mushroom
Chatham Cod/butter lettuce/english peas/bacon vinaigrette
The Suckling Pig was tasty but dry, the Skate was good as was the lamb. The best entree was the cod which, moist and accented nicely by the vinaigrette.
The entrees were enough for everyone to get a taste but were on the small side.
Value is not the highlight of this restaurant with appetizers in the mid teens and most entrees over 30 dollars.
For dessert we had the trio of desserts which consisted of:
Almond Shortcake with Meyer Lemon filling
Flourless Chocolate cake
The Almond Shortcake was by far the best of the three.
Service started off fine but went downhill as the evening progressed. Silverware was not replaced and we had to look around for some refills of water.
A couple of nice wines with dinner were the 2004 Mazzi Valpolicella and a 2004 Audelssa Summit Meritage.
Dinner for four which was 4 apps, 4 entrees, trio of desserts and 1 coffee without tax and tip was $194.00.
Artisan Kitchen is a very ambitious restaurant trying to set some very high standards. I wish them all the best, especially being open for just a few weeks.
For anyone wanting to visit, their website is