The writer was invited to visit Stage Left Steak and the meal was complimentary.
Most college friendships lead to summer reunions, Best Man/Maid of Honor speeches, and belated birthday messages. But a friendship that leads to a 30-year partnership in the restaurant industry? Highly unusual.
The Big 3-0
Mark Pascal and Francis Schott, who met decades ago as Rutgers students on the banks of the ol’ Raritan, have done just that. The masterminds behind Stage Left Steak, formerly Stage Left, celebrate their legendary restaurant’s thirtieth anniversary this year.
The duo recently marked this astonishing accomplishment with a walk-around wine tasting and five-course dinner for an intimate group.
Harmon Skurnik of Skurnik Wines hosted the wine tasting and offered up plenty of praise and admiration for both Pascal and Schott. He expressed gratitude as well, as he and his company enjoy an ongoing collaboration with the Stage Left beverage program. It was a tasting fit for all, with wines ranging from sweet Spanish sherries to light Californian pinot noirs to rich Italian Barolos.
Clearly designed for a celebration, dinner did not disappoint. Each course was perfectly paired with a specific wine that would accentuate not only the plate’s flavors but highlight the varietal as well. Deviled eggs with king crab and caviar were served with champagne. A salad of broccoli rabe and arugula accompanied a pour of an Austrian Grüner Veltliner.
The pasta course of polenta gnocchi with a wild boar ragu was paired with an Italian Barolo. The star of the meal, the beef Wellington, was paired with a South African Syrah. And the final course, a peanut butter molten chocolate cake, was plated alongside a glass of Calvados Reserve. I enjoyed the perfectly executed event from start to finish.
True Friendship and a Memorable Experience
While the meal itself was truly outstanding, I couldn’t help but notice the camaraderie coming through in Pascal and Shott’s speeches, anecdotes, and announcements. They laughed about past challenges, poked fun at each other, and took us all along for their stroll down memory lane. No one could miss the strength of their genuine bond and time-tested friendship.
And, without hesitation, I’ll say the same about visiting Stage Left Steak: you experience a strong, genuine, time-tested meal at an authentic establishment. Surviving and thriving for 30 years is cause for celebration, so put this spot on your calendar.
Stage Left Steak
5 Livingston Avenue
New Brunswick, NJ 08901
All photos courtesy of Emilio Alameda.