Maybe dreams really do come true -- at least for John & Nancy
McDevitt, who always entertained an intense desire to open a restaurant. And
when they crossed the threshold of the 150-year-old building with its original
brick interior and bi-level seating -- the former home of the long-running C.J.
Muffins and several other short-lived occupants -- it was love at first sight.
Like its predecessors, the High Street Grill is a convivial gathering
place for locals and out-of-towners alike, especially when the strains of blues
and jazz waft gently from the attractive piano bar. But there the similarity
ends. The establishment always had a spiffy feel about it; but now, under the
watchful eye of Nancy McDevitt, who presides over the front of the house, the
environs sparkle with style and panache. And John McDevitt's
seasonally-inspired eclectic cuisine is head-and-shoulders above anything to
come out of the kitchen in quite some time.
Two recent visits proved to be the best of both worlds. On our first
sojourn, we sampled a special prix fixe dinner ($60.00 per person, plus
tax & gratuity) in honor of the establishment's 2nd anniversary. Since a
choice of two menus was offered, my wife and I had a chance to mix and match
and indulge in a deliciously diverse sampling of the chef's gastronomic
Rather than "amusing the mouth," the amuse-bouche nearly
overwhelmed it. Consisting of a mini crab cake topped with micro greens and
sun-dried tomato bruschetta, the presentation, given the four course to follow,
was entirely too copious in my book -- though undeniably delicious.
The soup course was also more than ample. The gazpacho was rife with chunks
of smoked tomato, cucumber and corn, and gently nudged by just enough spice to
invigorate rather than incinerate. The shellfish bisque, on the other hand, was
infused with lobster, shrimp and crab, and exhibited a fabulously funky
shellfish flavor softened by a hint of truffle oil.
Portion-wise (and taste-wise) the next course was right on the money. The
seared foie gras was absolutely silken of countenance and garnished with
a perfectly grilled sliced peach half. The real razzle-dazzle, however, was
delivered by a superlative blueberry/port wine glaze. But even better were the skewers
of shrimp and scallop. The single crustacean was appropriately crunchy, the
bivalve succulent and meaty, and both were set on a seabed of pad Thai noodles
and finished with an incredibly enticing red Thai curry.
The main course offered diners a choice of sumptuous game or Alaskan seafood
mixed grills. The former headlined rack of venison, ostrich filet, and baby
quail arranged around an epicenter of luscious mashed potatoes and sautéed
spinach. The latter featured perfectly prepared salmon and halibut filets
reclining on a pillow of asparagus spears and white corn/tomato salsa. The
crowning touch (literally) was a huge, tender-as-butter king crab leg.
Desserts? A decadent molten chocolate cake and homey Jersey peach and
blueberry cobbler. Divergent denouements, to be sure, but both were
right on the mark.
I must confess, I generally find special occasion prix fixe menus
somewhat disappointing. High Street Grill's 2nd anniversary bash,
however, proved to be a delicious exception to the rule and an immensely
satisfying dining experience.
And à la carte fare is even more impressive. You may, for example,
take the exotic route with starters like "Firecracker Shrimp" with
black bean/avocado salsa and perky pineapple/chipotle glaze ($8.50), or the
"Mediterranean Sampler," an intriguing combo of hummus, baba ghanouj,
and muhammara (a Syrian red pepper and walnut dip) garnished with feta, mixed
olives, and flatbreads ($8.95).
On the other hand, even what would be considered more traditional appetizers
also have their significant rewards. The baby spinach salad ($5.25) is
perfectly proportioned and comes embellished with kalamata olives, chunks of
sheep's milk feta, a colorful and tasty collection of pickled red onions and arrives
dressed in a zippy Pommery vinaigrette that gently coats the leaves rather than
The grilled roasted vegetables ($8.50) also have a great deal to recommend
them. An artistic array of pencil point asparagus, fennel, and red pepper &
eggplant strips are accompanied by yin and yang ramekins of bleu cheese fondue
and smoked tomato coulis. The former, delightfully rich and creamy; the
latter, sparklingly acidic.
Among the entrées, the "Jersey Shore Crab Cakes" ($23.00) are pure
delight. Three golden brown cakes are set atop a pillow of sweet corn sauté and
grilled asparagus spears, then drizzled with a marvelous lemon/mustard aîoli.
A classic presentation.
And the same may be said for the Moroccan-spiced duck ($21.95). Tender
medium rare slices are arranged around the periphery of the plate; residing at
the centrum, a warm Israeli couscous salad -- awash with dried cherries,
cranberries, and apricots -- and an array of sautéed spinach. The pièce de
résistance, however, is a superlative port wine duck jus, which
succeeds in drawing the divergent constituents together into a seamless
Another can't miss selection is the shrimp and scallop skewers ($24.00),
which was noted above as part of the 2nd anniversary prix fixe. This is
a larger version, of course, and, given the superb quality, an absolute steal
at the price. Both the crustaceans and bivalves are prepared to perfection, the
Asian vegetable sauté and pad Thai noodles wonderfully complementary, and the
red Thai curry sauce a superlative finishing touch.
Desserts ($6.00), all homemade, continue Mr. McDevitt's excellent work. Try
the down-home delicious blueberry crisp or, perhaps, the superbly textured warm
apple raisin cinnamon cake partnered with a dollop of fresh cinnamon whipped
The wine list is compact, but selections match up well with the cuisine. By
the glass, try the light and straightforward Cavit Pinot Grigio ($6.00) or the
surprisingly supple Sunrise Pinot Noir ($7.00). For something a bit more substantial,
tie into the always reliable King Estate Pinot Gris ($27.00).
Kudos to John and Nancy McDevitt. The High Street Grill is a real
gem... and highly recommended.
Hours: Lunch: Mon - Sat, 11:30 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.; Dinner: Mon - Thurs,
5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.; Sat, 5:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.; Sun, 4:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.;
Tavern Menu: 11:30 a.m. - close
Credit Cards: MC, V, Discover
Parking: Street and municipal parking areas
Handicapped Accessible: Yes
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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