Andre's Restaurant and Wine Boutique
188 Spring Street
Newton, Sussex County, New Jersey
The Artful Diner
August 8, 2005
Nearly seven years ago, André and Tracey deWaal, proprietors of Andre's
Restaurant, hit the ground running, capturing the immediate attention of
the Garden State's knowledgeable foodies and every professional hired belly
within commuting distance. My own initial review appeared five years ago this
September; and I'm happy to report that, after several recent visits, this
charming establishment has matured with mellifluous grace and is today more
beguiling than ever.
There have been, of course, a number of significant changes in the interim:
namely, an expansion and the acquiring of a liquor license. Fortunately, these
alterations have been completely in keeping with the restaurant's homey, comfortable
character and décor. As you enter, you now discover a lovely, diminutive
copper-top bar and wine boutique where you may enjoy a special libation, sample
one of the select wines available by the glass, or purchase several bottles to
tuck away in your cellar. A second dining area, replete with a rustic exposed
brick wall, has also been added and is utilized on busy evenings or for private
parties and gatherings.
On the other hand, certain aspects have remained constant. Tracey deWaal's
welcome is as warm and as captivating as ever, and her graciousness is clearly
mirrored in the enthusiastic professionalism displayed by members of her staff.
And Mr. deWaal's innovative American cuisine continues to present diners with
gratifyingly delicious vistas of colors, tastes, and textures. Indeed, the
initial assessment of the chef's creative cookery noted in my first review has
changed not at all: "The freshness of his local organic ingredients is
beyond reproach; his preparation and execution are, for the most part,
One of the telltale signs here is the state of the complimentary house
salad. In many establishments, an unholy amalgam of tired iceberg lettuce,
chunks of Styrofoam tomato, and gloppy bottled dressing. Andre's
offering, on the other hand, consists of obviously freshly tossed assorted
lettuces enhanced with a light by zippy Dijon mustard vinaigrette and
sprinkling of equally pristine julienne carrots. And the portion size -- as
with all other items sent forth from the kitchen -- is just right: ample but
not painfully prodigious.
Another good omen is the size of the menu, listing, as of this writing, just
two soups, four appetizers, and seven entrées supplemented by a select number
of daily specials. In other words, Mr. deWaal has chosen discretion as the
better part of valor, quality rather than quantity, allowing the excellence of
the few to triumph over the mediocrity of the many.
The shrimp and seafood cake ($8.50) makes a superlative starter. Lightly
breaded, the crisp exterior yields to a marvelously moist and flavorful core. A
bed of mango salsa provides a cool touch of the exotic, which, in turn, is
nicely offset by the gentle heat emanating from dabs of chipotle vinaigrette.
The rare beef sirloin ($9.00) is also exemplary. A semi-circle of fanned slices
is spatially counterbalanced by an epicenter of roasted diced beets and
sprinkling of candied walnuts. The culinary catalyst is a luscious sauce
endowed with earthy chunks of blue cheese.
The phyllo pastry-caressed warm goat cheese and pesto set on a pillow of
wilted spinach ($8.00) is yet another delightful prelude... as are the special
presentation of grilled bourbon-glazed shrimp crowned with a delectable fennel
salad ($10.00) and the silken textured Perona Farms smoked salmon ($9.00), in
whatever cleverly conceived combinations it may appear.
Chef deWaal's entrées exhibit an alluring elegant rusticity; creative yet
comforting, they artfully engage the diner's eye and palate without offending
either his/her sense of proportion or of propriety. The wild king salmon
($28.50), for example, is beautifully grilled and swims to table on a seabed of
basmati rice awash with crunchy haricots verts and julienne carrots and
is consummated with a totally engaging tarragon beurre blanc.
The New York strip steak ($36.00) is another winner. Strappingly robust, it
is pan roasted to a right-on-the-money medium rare and teamed with a luscious
wedge of rösti potato that is crisp on the outside and yet boasts a
marvelously rich and creamy interior. The coup de grâce, however, is
delivered by a decidedly zesty horseradish-mustard sauce that, despite its
heady countenance, succeeds in complementing rather than confounding the
natural flavor of the beef.
The chef also does an excellent job with fowl... and the pan-roasted duck
breast ($27.00) is particularly noteworthy. The presentation headlines
succulent medium rare slices reclining on a fabulously flavorful pillow of duck
fried rice, while an ingratiating apricot-tinged sweet and sour sauce provides
an appropriate finishing touch. The incredibly moist organic free-range chicken
($22.50) is also highly recommendable. The accompanying golden brown risotto
cake tastes a bit bland on its own but receives a new lease on life from an
invigorating onion and lemon sauce.
Andre's sports a first-rate wine list... but Mr. deWaal's menu also
suggests reasonably priced wines by the glass that match up quite well with
appetizers and entrées (and desserts): Waterbrook Chardonnay ($7.50) with the shrimp
and seafood cake; Tatoo Merlot ($7.00) with rare beef sirloin; Erath Pinot Noir
($9.00) with king salmon ; Baron Philippe de Rothschild Cabernet Sauvignon
($7.00) with New York strip steak; etc., etc. A very nice touch, ideal for
couples who may be of differing opinions with regard to red or white, and
undoubtedly much appreciated by those who may not feel like splurging on a
Desserts ($7.00) continue in style: Fresh strawberries swimming in vanilla
pastry cream arrive in a miniature Mason jar topped with a scrumptious cookie
crust and sided by a ramekin of strawberry cream sauce; and a homespun plum and
apricot cobbler is paired with rich blueberry syrup. Being a confirmed
chocoholic, however, my absolute favorite is the velvety chocolate truffle tart
companioned by a decadent dollop of malted ice cream. Delightfully
hedonistic... especially when sipping a glass of Quinto do Infantado Ruby Port
Also not to be overlooked is the selection of fine cheeses ($9.50). Recently
sampled were a tangy goat's-milk Gouda from Holland, Vacherin from France, a
buttery Spanish San Simón, and Valdeon, a bold blue cheese also hailing from
Spain. These were arranged around an oval plate and interspersed with toasted
bread slices and dabs of whole grain mustard. Bonnie Doon Muscat ($8.00) proved
a perfect complement.
Mr. deWaal's menu changes every two weeks. But whatever comestibles he may
decide to cook up on a given evening, your discriminating palate will surely
not be disappointed. Andre's Restaurant and Wine Boutique is cozy,
comfortable, so very romantic... and it remains one of the Garden State'
premier dining destinations.
Cuisine: Innovative American
with Eclectic Touches
Hours: Lunch: Weds - Fri, 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; Dinner: Weds &
Thurs, 5:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.; Fri & Sat, 5:00 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Credit Cards: All major
Smoking: Smoking is not permitted in the restaurant.
Parking: Street parking; nearby metered municipal lots
Alcohol: License; Wine Boutique
Handicapped Accessible: Difficult
Web Site: http:// www.andresrestaurant.com
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Diner is an independent, freelance food writer. His latest review and an archive of past reviews for restaurants around the country and the world can be found on this site on the REVIEWS page.
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