FOOD New American
AMBIENCE Gentrified farmhouse
SERVICE Friendly, sometimes a bit precious
DRINKS Creative cocktails; 8 Jersey beers on tap; 19
wines by glass
PRICES Appetizers, $8-$16; entrées, $22-$52; desserts, $6-$10
OPEN Dinner, Tuesday-Sunday; lunch, Friday-Sunday X
F130 Hopewell Rocky Hill Road, 609-333-9200;
By Josh Friedland
Jon and Robin McConaughy opened Brick Farm Tavern in 2015 to be the final link in what Jon has called
“a closed-loop food system that was fully
sustainable.” The aim: to serve, if not
exclusively then to the fullest extent possible, the organic produce they grow and
the animals they pasture and humanely
slaughter on their 800-acre farm.
The Tavern began as a fine-dining
destination and won rave reviews (
including from NJM). For a while, seafood was
dropped from the menu because, as Jon
told NJM at the time, he couldn’t vouch
for its provenance. (The restaurant
gets its 100 percent grass-fed beef from
Thistle Creek Farm in Pennsylvania.)
Last August, the McConaughys
brought in a new managing partner, Richard Moskovitz, and executive chef, Max
Hosey, who most recently ran the kitchen
at the now shuttered Mainland Inn in
Harleysville, Pennsylvania. Together, they
have loosened the menu. McConaughy
calls it “whole-animal cookery inspired
by country French.” The move from
fine dining “makes the restaurant more
approachable and sustainable,” he says,
adding that prices have declined about
30 percent, portions are larger, and, as a
result, people are ordering more items.
He says more of the animal is being
served—not just fine dining’s prestige
cuts. An 8-ounce chicken breast has been
replaced by a 16-ounce roasted half-chicken. Lesser cuts of meat show up in
hearty dishes like boeuf bourguignon,
schnitzel, bolognese sauce, shepherd’s pie
and lamb meatballs.
I visited twice this spring and found
the tavern bustling and relaxed, though
there were vestiges of haute service that
seemed precious. In many cases, sauces
that were part of dish descriptions were
ostentatiously poured tableside.
Since our last review, Brick Farm has
leased space on the property to Sourland
Distillery and Troon Brewing , whose
products are served in the restaurant. I
enjoyed a glass of Troon’s Anthropopho-bia, a cloudy and super-juicy sour beer
made with guava and passion fruit.
In a starter of chickpea fritters, I
expected finger food, but got a pleasing
arrangement of three deep-fried blocks of
puréed beans and spring garlic. Adorned
with grilled broccoli, onion jam and a
gribiche sauce, the fritters were creamy
and quite tasty. A spring-garlic velouté
was posh as well—dispensed at the table
into a bowl lined with black garlic, panc-etta and a few clams. Unfortunately, the
soup itself was lukewarm and monotonal.
On the other hand, I loved almost everything about the pork schnitzel. Usually,
schnitzel is a piece of loin pounded thin,
but this was a thick cut of shoulder from
Double Brook Farm’s Berkshire pigs. Tender, juicy and almost gamey, the schnitzel
had a luscious layer of creamy fat beneath
its crisp breadcrumb coating. The fried
egg on top was superfluous.
One of the big changes is the readmission of seafood, coinciding with the
restaurant signing up last year with Point
Pleasant’s Local 130, a company whose
boats supply many Jersey restaurants
with sparkling daily catch. It’s a welcome
addition. One of the best things I tasted
was a pan-roasted fillet of Jersey fluke,
the delicate flesh in a bright, herb-in-flected lemon sauce with fiddlehead ferns,
cauliflower and chewy ryeberries.
I had high hopes for the grass-fed
steak, but it was dry. The accompanying
fingerling potatoes were dressed with a
chimichurri sauce, but I couldn’t taste
it because the server instantly poured
bordelaise sauce over everything.
Desserts were excellent, especially the
creamy chai rice pudding served in a jar.
Parsnip cake sounded like a horrid idea,
but I was surprised to find I enjoyed the
play on carrot cake. A layer of chocolate
helped, as did the vanilla and cinnamon notes of a Mexican horchata sauce
(poured, you guessed it, tableside).
Kids: Bad Mix?
By Tara Nurin
it’s not illegal for adults to bring
young children to taprooms, but it
doesn’t always work out well. Matt
Czigler, of Czig Meister Brewing in
Hackettstown, last year set a policy of
adults only after 8 pm. “During some
of our busiest hours,” he explains, “we
had tables of kids playing board games.
We had parents that treated the tasting
room like a Chuck E. Cheese, where they
just let their kids run free.”
Czig Meister is one of six Jersey brew-
eries or brewpubs I know of that have set
limits on adults bringing young children.
Another is Ghost Hawk Brewing in
Clifton. Vice president Steve Bauer does
provide games and Capri Suns for kids,
but banishes them after 7 pm. “Get a
babysitter and go on a date,” he says.
Twin Elephant Brewing in Chatham
limits kiddies to Thursday and Fridays,
4–6 pm, and weekends, noon– 4 pm,
provided they are (says the website)
“accompanied, well behaved, clear of the
handicapped entrance and monitored
responsibly.” Krogh’s, a brewpub in
Sparta, allows kids until 10 pm. Eight and
Sand in Woodbury admits children, but
bars them from sitting at the bar. Source
Brewing, about to open in Colt’s Neck,
plans to limit mezzanine and rooftop
access to adults.
Do parents blithely accept these limits?
Go ahead, take a guess. In other states,
some breweries have reined in kids, only
to face social media blowback and even
threats of lawsuits. That may help explain
the response to a survey sent on my behalf
by the informational group New Jersey
Craft Beer. Of 25 responding breweries, 24
essentially said, “No problem!”
“We have games, a chalkboard wall
and always make room for strollers,”
wrote Chelsey DeMarino-Ziolkowski
of the Bradley Brew Proj-
ect in Bradley Beach.
“We very actively