I am thrilled to introduce you to the newest addition of the Jersey Bites family, Robin Damstra. Robin will be taking over as Jersey Bites Regional Editor for Hunterdon and Mercer Counties. Regional what? you ask. Oh, we’ve got big things a cookin’ here at Jersey Bites. Within the next 6 months, we will be launching hyper-local Jersey Bites blogs in Hunterdon, Mercer, Monmouth and Hudson Counties. Each Regional Editor or Editorial Team will be covering all of the local food news and reviews for their area. We will continue to offer great recipe suggestions, giveaways and all the rest that makes Jersey Bites unique but now you will have your own backyard piece of Jersey Bites . The regional blogs will aggregate here on Jersey Bites central, so if you’re in the mood to discover what’s going on in different parts of the State, tune in to JerseyBites.com. If you want just your own local foodie news, check your neighborhood Jersey Bites blog. We’ll be rolling out more and more hyper-local JB blogs as the year progresses. It is going to be a very interesting year here on Jersey Bites and I hope you will send in your suggestions and best wishes as we blaze this new and exciting trail. For those of you in Hunterdon and Mercer Counties, you are in for a treat. Robin Damstra is a talented food photographer and writer. You can check out more of her gorgeous photos and recipes on her blog Caviar and Codfish.
The Rosemont Cafe
My fiance, Jim, and I owe a tiny part of our upcoming marriage to the Rosemont Cafe. Now I’ll admit that sounds a little cheesy, but we are getting married, and it was just Valentine’s day, so hear me out. A few years ago, when our relationship was a fledgling thing, with all the excitement and insecurities that come with a new relationship, we spent many nights camped out at our table in the back of the homey, dimly lit cafe, sharing a bottle (or two) of wine (it’s BYO), talking about poetry and life over caesar salads and grilled duck breasts, falling in love.
It’s the kind of place you can bring a date to without feeling fussed over, a small restaurant in an old house that was a general store in 1865, in rural Hunterdon county. Local art hangs on the walls; specials are hand-written on chalkboards; the salt and pepper shakers are all adorable little things bought at the weird used-goods shop down the road; and the waitstaff is friendly, dressed down, familiar, and attentive. It’s cozy and authentic—a small town restaurant in a really small town (Rosemont, New Jersey isn’t even big enough to warrant a Wikipedia page). The food, in good small-town fashion, is focused on comfort fare: black bread and butter, braises, grilled meats, hearty vegetarian dishes (like polenta with mushrooms and cream), maple pecan pie.
Every time I’m there—which over the years has been more times than I can count—I order the caesar salad. For a restaurant in the middle of the Western New Jersey countryside, it’s a wonderful thing. The dressing is better than on most caesars, you can taste the anchovies and garlic, the romaine lettuce is crisp and fresh (why do so many restaurants insist on mixed greens or iceberg in their caesar salads now?), and the white-bread croutons are big and crunchy. A simple, satisfying thing done very well.
For main courses at The Cafe, I’ve learned to order the grilled meats. Pasta is always on the menu, but it’s hit-or-miss; you may end up with a creamy plate of sausage and bow-tie pasta—redolent of cinnamon and nutmeg and black pepper—-or something in need of salt and butter. But the grilled meats, including a flank steak with horseradish cream, a duck breast with fruit salsa (my favorite), and a Sundays-only burger (Jim’s), always make for a good dinner. The chef chars the fat thoroughly without overcooking the meat—another simple, satisfying thing that’s unfortunately hard to find.
And the desserts are a must, even if you aren’t trying to woo a fiance. The Cafe makes splendid pies: sweet, buttery, and topped with thick, unsweetened whipped cream. (If they have the maple pecan, go for it. Trust me.) The chocolate pot de creme is another winner.
It’s also worth coming for brunch on Sunday, for both the fluffy omelets (with baked goods and homemade jam) and the drive itself. If you’re lucky enough to be traveling from the northeast on Rt. 604, you’ll drive across a covered bridge before climbing a steep hill to what Jim and I both consider the most perfect stretch of road this side of the Mississippi: crop fields, grazing cattle, restored colonial farms, and an expanse of verdure that should be shown to anyone snickering about New Jersey’s nickname. And if you’re coming from another direction (it’s all beautiful), a short walk can be just the thing after a plate of delicious bangers (a local favorite).
Cafe at Rosemont (more locally known as The Rosemont Cafe)
Corner of 519 & 604
Suggested items: Caesar Salad, Grilled Duck Breast with Sweet & Spicy Summer Fruit Pickle, Grilled Steak with Balsamic Onion & Pepper Marmalade, Hamburger (only on Sundays), Omelet (offered at brunch and lunch), Basket of homemade baked goods served with butter and jam (offered at brunch), “Global Dinner” (offered on Wednesday nights–menu features dishes from different cultures each week), Maple Pecan Pie, Chocolate Pot de Creme. They also have good coffee and tea.
Robin Damstra graduated Douglass College at Rutgers University, where she majored in English. She met her fiancé, Jim, in 2006 and began teaching herself to cook around the same time. In 2007 she started her food blog, Caviar and Codfish. She currently lives in Stockton, New Jersey.