Broad Street in Bloomfield has become a veritable haunt for foodies. With Momoya, Brookside Thai and Pandan, Bohemia and Stamna all in close proximity, Mes Reves, with a slick aura all its own (and a building all its own), has sprung to life as a shiny new star on the block.
The restaurant was a delight to walk into. Its airiness and the combination of fabulous light fixtures, glass panels, pale yellow upholstery and warm, oak-stained floors came together harmoniously (and unostentatiously). I’d only just arrived and I had every intention of lingering.
Mes Reves (French for my dreams) opened its doors on Feb. 7, and appeared to be off to an encouraging start, enjoying a full house on Valentine’s Day, and a reasonably brisk dining room on subsequent evenings, one of which included familiar faces such as those of Bloomfield’s Mayor Ray McCarthy and several members of the town council.
More obscure faces recently included my husband’s and mine. The typically French menu, leaning heavily meatward, comprised five appetizers (priced between $10 and $16), three salads ($8 to $12) and eight entrees ($20-$28), with options for the carnivor, omnivor and pescetarian.
We started off with the mushroom tart and the seared fois gras. The former burst with the savory-spicy flavor and scent of wild mushrooms, doused in a mushroom demi sauce, all atop a flaky rectangle of puff pastry. We were wowed. My husband was less impressed by my fois gras, which he considered a little rare and rich, but I enjoyed every fatty milligram of it. It was melt-in-the-mouth silky, served with the thinnest, sauteed leek strips (impossible to eat gracefully) in a sauterne sauce, on a bed of tiny, cubed butternut squash.
As we awaited our mains, the chef (I assumed it was him) appeared in the dining room to mingle briefly with each of his patrons, and then returned to the kitchen to work his magic with our entrees.
The rack of lamb arrived as it was intended, medium rare, in a shallot sauce with bordelaise. It was infused with roasted flavor, and accompanied by couscous, and ratatouille in which you could see the component vegetables and taste the subtle smoky-char flavor off the grill pan. Delightful.
Pan-seared duck breast was served with grilled endive, carrots, wild rice and a port-based sauce. This was so tender and tasty it was practically inhaled in two breaths by my husband.
With the food all gone, and still soaking in the excitement of Mes Reves‘ newness (and the realization that we’d found another great local place to dine), we had no choice but to prolong our stay by ordering dessert. Alas, only two items were on the menu that night (well, they’d only been open such a little while) – a bread pudding and creme caramel. We picked the latter and weren’t disappointed. A sweet finale to a smashing meal.
I later spoke to Quang Tran, owner and chef de cuisine of Mes Reves.
“This was my dream, there were little nightmares along the way during this journey, but it’s finally come true,” said Quang, a charming and modest 42-year-old who looks half his age.
“I wanted to bring a little piece of Manhattan here, a Soho Village-type restaurant with provincial French, simple dishes; I don’t want to intimidate my patrons.”
Born in Vietnam in Saigon, Quang moved to the U.S. as a young child. He was trained at the International Culinary Center in NYC (the combined French and Italian culinary school).
“It’s a passion,” said Quang, who lives with his wife (co-owner of Mes Reves) and two kids in Nutley. “I take pride in the product that I’m making and hope that what I create from the kitchen will be satisfactory.”
“I’ve jumped into it (the restaurant business) and gotten my feet wet. I can only hope for the best.”
Congratulations, Quang. We’re rooting for you.
Mon-Thurs 5-9pm; Fri-Sat 5-10pm, Closed Sunday
(No special attention was sought during this review and no introduction was made on the day of the review. The chef-owner was interviewed and photographed a day later. Apologies for underlit photos, surreptitiously taken sans flash.)