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GRAZE: “A restaurant named Zoe by any other name tastes just as sweet.”

mmgpsych | Feb 5, 201710:25 AM

It was a year and a half ago that we were smitten by the quality cuisine Chef Chamon (Junior) served up after he’d taken over Zoe. Here’s the link to the lengthy and deservedly laudatory review we’d written at that time: . We could simply say ‘ditto’ for Graze but what fun would that be? So let’s say this: In our opinion, and in no particular order, the three best restaurants in New Jersey are Lorena’s in Maplewood, The Grand Tavern in Neptune and Graze in Little Silver. While Graze cuisine under Junior’s watchful eye and creative hand remains stellar, the service and ambiance has stepped up to meet it.

We were first treated with warm, fresh bread accompanied by ‘Herbed Duck Butter’. But beware. One of our party was shocked that the bread dip didn’t taste at all like butter but more like liquid duck. This is one of Junior’s many creative quirks, and if you like duck, you’ll love it.

For appetizers, we had Shrimp Bisque, a Puff Pastry special and the Bone Marrow. So delicate were the bits of crustacean in the creamy Bisque that I thought the kitchen had mistakenly added very fine fresh Lobster to the soup (until our server persuaded me otherwise). I’d bet anything those Shrimp were not raised on some farm in China. The Puff Pastry, served warm, was filled with a sweet Guava paste, and though appropriate as a palate preparer, it could easily have masqueraded as a dessert. But the Bone Marrow! Presented on a wooden plank, the marrow, swimming in the center of these huge canoe-like bones and accompanied by a local jelly and toast points, was extraordinary. So primal and primitively satisfying was the Bone Marrow that upon finishing the dish, you might find yourself reconsidering the practice of cannibalism.

For the mains , we had the Pork Shank special, a whole, head-on Porgy fish and the Short Rib Fettuccine. The Porgy (an underrated delight rarely found on other menus) was paired with Steak Fries and a salad delicately dressed so as not to overwhelm the sweet, subtle flavor of the Porgy. The battering-ram sized Pork Shank was bathing in a rich shallot sauce, and was accompanied by mashed potatoes that tasted more like a wonderful potato-flavored butter than beaten-up-buttered-spuds. The consistency of the Fettuccini supporting the short ribs was bravely and perfectly al dente. That said, this dish could do double duty as a complex treat for the refined palate, and comfort food for the gastronome lusting for gastronomic ease.

Junior used to be a pastry chef so you shouldn’t be surprised that every dessert was a delight. (We had four of them!) Don’t miss the Bourbon/Vanilla Ice Cream Milk Shake. A final thoughtful touch to end the meal was the sand-filled hourglass that sat beside the French Press Coffee; it suggested we wait patiently until the brew reached maturity. We did, and weren't disappointed.

Do reread our review of Zoe for more of this restaurant’s magic.
We will be back to graze at Graze in Little Silver very soon, and you ought do the same.

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