Essex Junction Craft Bar & Kitchen brings a destination gastropub experience to the heart of downtown Bloomfield. A few weeks ago, I was invited to try this now buzzworthy place.
I was wowed by the look and feel of the place. I’d say modern meets industrial but with a cozy feel. Immediately upon entering the high-ceilinged space, there’s a sizable bar area that seats 70. (This will undoubtedly appeal to commuters arriving at the nearby Bloomfield train station.) In the summer, there will also be outdoor seating off the bar area. The dining room is spacious and houses a giant movie screen (that’s used throughout the day) and where various sporting events can be viewed.
There’s a solid beer, cocktails and artisanal wines and spirits program with featured local craft beer and spirits such as Magnify, Kane, Carton, Rinn Duin & Jersey Spirits Distilling Co. There are 15 taps of craft beer available and one tap for cold brew Yogic Chai coffee. The cocktails are fun and named after New Jersey celebrities, including Kevin Smith, Stephen Colbert and Queen Latifah.
As part of its mission to support the community, Essex Junction donates 50% of the proceeds from the NJ-named drinks to the Bloomfield Educational Foundation when guests tag the restaurant and the social media name of the drink when sharing a photo of the drink on social media—talk about drinking responsibly!
During our visit, we sampled the Mooby’s Milk Punch (Four Roses Bourbon, Jersey Spirits Boardwalk Rum, half and half, maple syrup, vanilla syrup, cinnamon stick and nutmeg), the Chelsea Handler (Finlandia vodka, muddled cucumber and raspberry, lime juice, lavender bitters and cucumber garnish), and the Daneyko’s Cup (Aperol, Four Roses Bourbon, lemon juice, maple syrup, and ginger beer, all garnished with mint and orange). All were good, but my favorite was the Chelsea Handler. Guests can also get their fill of craft beer at home with growler fills to go.
Essex Junction currently serves lunch, brunch and dinner, with plans to offer breakfast in the future. The menu evolves with the seasons and some of the “elevated comfort food” dishes we sampled are listed below.
Small Plates: Crab cake ($15) was sizeable with the proper ratio of crab-to-fillers (very little fillers, lots of crab) and served with a tangy chipotle aioli and a pineapple chutney; shrimp and grits ($13) was a generous serving of homemade grits with giant shrimps drizzled with chili oil; gnocchi ($12) was served with hearty braised short rib in a bordelaise sauce; duck meatballs ($12) were tender and included a shareable portion of mac and cheese drizzled with demi glaze. A group of friends could easily make a meal out of these starters for an after-work get together.
Large Plates: The salmon ($21) was nicely-cooked with crispy skin and served over mashed purple Peruvian potatoes with haricot verts; the prime burger ($21) is made with shaved ribeye and served with crispy mushrooms and topped with a sunny-side-up duck egg. I’m somewhat of a burger fanatic and this version lacked the beefy flavors I expected from the ribeye; diver scallops ($28) were properly seared to a dark golden brown color and paired with the aforementioned crispy mushrooms, Romanesco and a tasty carrot purée.
Dessert: Anthony’s Cheesecake. Need I say more? If so, light-as-a-feather, satisfying, perfect.
Essex Junction now serves Sunday brunch from 10:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. The à la carte menu offers a variety of classic brunch dishes with some fun takes on eggs benedict, fried chicken and waffles, vegetarian options and pastry baskets filled with amazing baked goods from Montclair Bread Co.
Essex Junction has exciting events planned that can be viewed on its calendar of events as well as a cool happy hour offering $2 off select cocktails, beer and wine by the glass daily from 4:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday: 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (bar open until 2 a.m.)
Saturday: 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (bar open until 2 a.m.)
Sunday: 10:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (bar open until 2 a.m.)
Essex Junction Craft Bar & Kitchen
90 Washington Street
Editor’s note: Prices and hours reflect the time of our writer’s visit and are subject to change at any time.