What comes to mind when you think of a supper club? Or better yet, what comes to mind when you think of a modern supper club? If you’re scratching your head, believe me, you are not alone. I also struggled to find meaning when being invited to MoonShine – “A Modern Supper Club” recently. After both eating there and researching the topic, I am here to help: Supper club (n.)- a dining destination where patrons can enjoy themselves for the entire evening from pre-dinner cocktails to after-dinner cordials. MoonShine, a modern supper club, prides itself with offering costumers not only a place to dine, but also a place to relax and socialize. Supper Clubs became popular in the 1930’s and 40’s. Some got their start as prohibition road houses. (I think we now know where the name “MoonShine” fits into the picture.)
Opened in November 2011, MoonShine has taken up residence in a downtown area that is somewhat a hybrid of city-life and suburbia. Owners Victor Delapa and Joseph San Philip took over 2 years to create a bi-level space that conceptualized their vision. Joseph, a double-certified sommelier and Director of Operations since 2005 at Hoboken’s The Brass Rail and Victor, also affiliated with The Brass Rail and a mortgage specialist whose values lie in customer service, wanted a place that offered more than just a meal. Their “Modern Supper Club” concept includes modernized classics, live music, a swanky lounge, an extensive cocktail, wine, and beer list, and a comfortable unpretentious atmosphere.
The press dinner was held in one of the venue’s more dinner-ready rooms. Adjacent to where we ate, there was the striking yet comfy-looking lounge area. Big, yellow leather padded seats form circular arrangements both next to the bar and next to the over-sized open windows. Lighting was dim, although fixtures were eye-catching enough to brighten the experience. The ceilings are high in the dining area as well as the bar area, all of which creates a natural flow for the restaurant. Hence, going from the lounge to the dinner table feels like the oh-so right thing to do.
And just as seamless as the walk from bar to table is, the works of Executive Chef Francis X. Falivene and Culinary Director Douglas Gough are so as well. Falivene, previously Chef de Cuisine at Artisanal Bistro in NYC, and Gough, the Executive Chef at The Brass Rail since 2003, have put together a menu that is both trendy and traditional. On the latter side, we sampled the Mussels ($12) in a garlic, wine, and tomato broth which were fresh, light and filled to the brim with the bread-ready broth. Oysters Rockefeller ($14) were also executed on the simple side, thankfully so the seafood was just as exciting as the spinach and Parmesan topping. More trendy if you will, was the Duck Egg & Hash ($13) and Truffled Gnocchi & Meatballs ($14). Although both tasty in their unique way, I found the Duck dish to be truly outstanding. The poached egg, when cut through, made for a creamy, almost velvety coating for the succulent duck meat shredded beneath. Even the presentation was of note: cast iron pan straight from the kitchen, which is something I recall my grandmother doing, not something I associate with a restaurant. Fittingly, this type of dish bridges the restaurant to a more early 1900’s, supper club like, feel. Cool.
Dinners all around were done very well. I ordered the Seared Ahi Tuna ($26) while my husband had the Duck a l’Orange ($27). The Tuna was portioned nicely and what I thought to be almost better than the fish, was the braised beans, chorizo sausage and tomatoes in a Romesco Sauce that made for a bed below. The hearty sausage bits accentuated the butter soft beans while the meat was simple enough to let other flavors take precedence. It was truly a balanced meal and one that I would indeed order again. The duck was a touch overdone, but the citrus-infused sauce was one to remember. Wagyu steak was a special of the evening and from a sampling, it was beautifully tender. Another sampling that I feel obliged to mention was the Swordfish. I was happy to have tried it, as in the past I have found this fish to be too meaty and tough for my liking. MoonShine’s variation was nothing like I remember and has me looking forward to enjoying it again.
Dessert menus soon arrived and I chose to go with the Key Lime Tart ($7) while my husband went for something more subtle, butter pecan gelato ($6). The Tart was appropriately so, tangy and well, tart! The crust could have been softer yet I genuinely enjoyed the lime filling and especially the accompanying blueberry- ginger drizzle. Fortunately, I was able to sample a piece of the Profiterols ($7) with Vanilla Gelato and Chocolate Sauce. In a nutshell, they were amazing. To further clarify that, the pastry atop and beneath the gelato was good enough to please while with the smooth gelato sandwiched in between, a star dessert had arrived.
So, I believe it goes without saying that Moonshine, although a newcomer to the area, will flourish and excel. From a quick drink and bite to a four-course meal with pairings, MoonShine easily delivers. With summer on the horizon and pedestrians on the move in Millburn, I would encourage you to pick a date, call ahead and get there early to enjoy the bar and your meal.
55 Main Street, Millburn, NJ
Open for lunch (M-F), dinner, and weekend brunch.
Visit them at http://moonshinesupperclub.com/ to find out additional information including hosting corporate/private events and banquets.
Gina Glazier is a born and raised Jersey Girl. She recently earned her Master’s degree in Reading & Literacy and currently teaches 5th grade. Gina lives with her husband Matt who is her number one fan and shares in her passion for the culinary arts, minus the cooking part! Her “culinary life” became a reality a few years back when she was chosen to be a guest of The Star Ledger’s Munchmobile. This ignited Gina’s desire to be around food and all its counterparts all the time, meaning restaurants, cookbooks, TV shows, cooking, etc. Gina says her “biggest and most monumental experience” was being a part of The Star Ledger’s Pizza Patrol two years ago where she traveled the entire state, eating at 3, 4, sometimes 5 pizzerias a night for just about 6 months! You can check out her Hungry Teacher adventures, on her blog www.ahungryteacher.blogspot.com.