I took my wife, our two kids, her Mom, and my Mom and Dad to Joe and Maggies Broadway Bistro for mothers day. We had a 4:30 reservation and were the first table there for the evening service. Our very friendly waiter had figured out that we are into wine and brought over the manager who was happy to chat with us about the wine list. Ive not had service this good since we were in Paris last month. The waiter was present but not pushy. He checked with us a few times before we ordered I told him well be just one more minute he said Ill be here all night and told us to enjoy and take our time. This dont rush feeling from Joe and Maggies staff made our meal a pleasure even though they didnt get all of the food exactly right. We were given a small dish of marinated olives and some really good white bread rolls. Because of the holiday J&Ms tasting menu deal was off (I think their tasting menu is a really good deal; soup or salad, appetizer, entrée and desert for $42 and you get to choose from the regular menu). The dishes on the menu are ambitious and draw from French, Italian and other sources. Equally impressive is their wine list with a whole page of half bottles and some standout wines. They also pour a couple of dozen wines by the glass.
I ordered Escargots Forrestiere for appetizer. The snails came out in a bed of lightly cooked baby spinach with garlic, mushrooms and bacon in a wine broth topped by a piece of puff pastry. The flavor of the dish was good with all fresh ingredients (though I think the snails were from a can) but it tasted like they forgot to season it. I thought the bacon could have been more pronounced. Nice dish but it fell just short of the mark. Here is an example of a dish that is well designed but not executed to its potential. My dad ordered an antipasto that looked very nice with big hunks of cheese and a plate full of cured meats. My Mom had a salad of watercress, goat cheese, red onion and watermelon dressed in a light vinaigrette that tasted good and had pleasing and surprising blend of flavors. The kids split a bowl of cream of wild mushroom soup that was unremarkable except for the absence of salt (they ate it all up). For me the best app was a tart of lamb and goat cheese tart that my wife ordered. It tasted like an upscale Scottish meat pie with hunks of lamb baked around a filling of creamy goats milk cheese. We drank a 2003 Giacosa, Nebbiolo DAlba with the apps and moved on to a 2003 Groom wines Shiraz for the main dishes.
In a short while the dinners came out. I had milk fed veal medallions in a caramelized onion and cabernet sauvignon sauce served with white bean cassolet. Out of maybe five or so good sized veal pieces I think two were over done. The sauce was way too sweet and the delicate balance of the wine reduction and the sweet caramel of the onions did not work. On the other hand the cassolet was superb but I am a sucker for legumes. Two of the three moms dined on crab cakes. The crab cakes were outstanding and the Creole mustard really sealed the deal of this being the best dinner. They were not bready or heavy and the flavor was just right however the asparagus and mashed potatoes on the side were tasteless overcooked and not worth the effort. I didnt taste my dads potato crusted tilapia. He said it was good but I cant say for sure. The worst dish of the night was had by my wife. She had a stuffed filet that by her own admission was the wrong thing to order but still it shouldnt have to be that bad. Her dish reminded me of eating stuffed fish at a wedding, tasteless and overcooked.
I am not a desert person but I did try a taste of crème brulee witch was really good. Creamy and sweet with a touch of vanilla. The kids had split a bowl of a cherry granita that was a bit sour for them but I thought it was tasty.
If they nailed the dishes I would give J&Ms very high praise. As it is I am looking forward to another meal there. We had a very positive experience in spite of the spotty quality of the dishes. I believe their service was top notch and if the boys in the back can up their game to the level of service in the front I would put this restaurant in my top five of Monmouth County (maybe top three).