By Stefanie Gans and Rina Rapuano
Clifton | Modern American | $$$
This longtime favorite in the heart of quaint downtown Clifton recently closed for about a month, reopening in early autumn sporting a redesigned dining room, a new bistro-style menu and even a new name, since it dropped “on Main” from its moniker. But instead of a complete overhaul, owners Victoria and Stefan Trummer managed to keep everything that worked while revamping just enough to make it feel updated and fresh.
The tropics-inspired ceiling fans still command the eye, but modern artwork, a new light fixture made with what looks like driftwood, a fun and funky mural on the stairwell wall and pops of pink and teal velvet bring the three-level restaurant into a new era. The menu, too, deftly blends old and new, thanks to chef John Cropf, who thankfully stuck around to play with the new rotisserie in his kitchen. Selections from the spit include prime rib and a whole (or half) roasted chicken, the latter served with ultra-sweet corn, smoked mushrooms and a rich black truffle sauce. Gnocchi also leans heavily on fall with the addition of local squash, sage, pears and parmesan.
Thoughtful salads can still be relied upon, such as a bowl of creamy, stringy stracciatella cheese receiving bitter from chicory, fresh crunch from apples and tartness from a balanced vinaigrette. The dark horse was a dish of spit-roasted carrots scented with vadouvan (the French version of masala spice) over a puddle of herbed yogurt and a vibrant kale sauce. Who knew a carrot could steal the show?
Desserts from the talented Meagan Tighe are still playful yet elevated, with new sweets looking awfully similar to those she’s served in the past (think crumbles, pretty blobs, gels and flower petals), but with updated flavor profiles. Her nod to owner Stefan’s Austrian heritage, the layers of chocolate cake and apricot jam known as sachertorte, is a revelation to those who have only sampled versions sold to tourists.
So, is Trummer’s new? Yes and no. But it’s still just right. // 7134 Main St., Clifton