nuts, green peppercorns and huckleberry marmalade.
My second meal, in the chic, cozy bar,
included an heirloom beet and carrot
salad in a Gorgonzola dolce dressing that
lacked the sharpness the sweet vegetables needed. But the bar is also where
I ate that divine Scottish organic salmon
en croute, as well as delicious sautéed
ricotta gnocchi tossed with exotic mushrooms in a butter-and-Parmesan froth.
Meanwhile, new pastry chef Cyn-
thia Lascelles, a veteran of New York’s
Gramercy Tavern, aced a moist date cake
in toffee caramel and also a feather-light
cranberry clafoutis scented with carda-
mom, allspice and orange. Mixologist
Josean Rosado creates elaborate cock-
tails. I enjoyed the Eva Peron, a blend of
sweet vermouth and bitter Fernet-Branca
brightened with lime juice, ginger beer,
ginger liqueur and a ginger shrub.
Altogether, the Peacock Inn has
not only survived the loss of a special
chef, it has found a gifted new one and,
against the odds, already gotten better.—ADAM ERACE
giving and Christmas. That proved
popular and continues to this day.
In 1978, Jerry modernized, by
opening the shop in summer, Thursdays through Saturdays only.
Jerry’s daughter, Meg, the 11th
generation, first tied on an apron
in high school.
“I learned a good work ethic,”
she says, “because my dad was
very particular about how things
During their senior year in high
school, Meg was joined at the
shop by her boyfriend, Harry Shel-
don. After they graduated in 1991,
Meg went to college and became
an elementary school teacher. In
1992, Harry went from part-time
to full-time at the pork shop. They
married in 1995.
Meg taught first grade for eight
years, then stayed home to raise
(Continued from page 83)
FOOD: New American
AMBIENCE: Fine country inn
SERVICE: Friendly and attentive
WINE LIST: Wine Spectator Award winning; many craft beers
PRICES: Appetizers, $12-$16; entrées,
$25-$42; desserts, $6-$10
HOURS: Dinner: Sunday and Monday,
5 to 9 PM; Tuesday through Saturday, 5
to 10 PM. Lunch: Daily, 11: 30 AM to 5 PM.
Brunch: Sunday, 11 AM to 3 PM
AX, D, MC, V X
1 East Franklin Turnpike, Ho-Ho-Kus
In recent decades, the very person- able Ho-Ho-Kus Inn—built as a private home in 1796, a tavern since
1890—had seemed stuck in a time warp,
serving up tired roasts and stiff service
in increasingly tattered surroundings.
Perhaps no owners have put more
heart and money into getting the inn right
than Ho-Ho-Kus residents Laurie and
Gordon Hamm, who have run the business since 2009. The Hamms—who own
stakes in several Manhattan eateries—
invested seven months and $1.5 million in a
renovation. “We wanted to get rid of the
stodginess, but still honor the history and
architectural integrity,” Laurie told me.
The 172-seat inn—with its library bar,
nostalgic local artwork and five cozy,
jewel-toned dining rooms—does feel un-
stuffy yet elegant. A new no-reservations
tavern room and an umbrella-shaded
bluestone patio broaden the appeal. Staff,
in pressed white shirts and black ties, are
smiling and polished.
Getting the food right, however, hasn’t
been a slam dunk. Since opening, the
Hamms have gone through three chefs.
With their fourth, Paramus resident
Hank Barrett, 51, hired last September,
the couple hopes to hit the sweet spot.
“Hank’s got a diverse background and
he’s very talented,” said Laurie, “but he
is also flexible and willing to listen. And
that’s really important to us now.”
Trained at the Philadelphia Restau-
rant School, Barrett is certainly versatile.
In New York, he aced lamb shanks at
Alison on Dominick; figured out farm-to-
table at Union Square Café; and got his
Asian on at Ruby Foo’s. Most recently, he
took on tapas at Sangria in Mahwah. “My
longest stint was at Docks in New York,
and that’s where I really learned fish,” he
told me, noting he was also at one point a
fish buyer for 80 restaurants.
Barrett actually fares best on land,
especially with the hearty tavern dishes the
Hamms hanker for. Crumbled wild-boar
sausage in roasted piquillo peppers made
a zesty and satisfying starter. A crunchy,
feta-flecked red-quinoa and baby black-kale
salad was so delicate and bright, it won over
the most inveterate kale haters among us.
A hanger steak, its crust crisp and flavorful from an espresso-infused barbecue
sauce, scored bonus points with its sassy
side of smoked red onion and comforting
cheddar-jalapeño polenta cake. So did a
tasty pan-roasted strip steak nestled next
to a creamy-crisp square of potato gratin,
nuttily enriched with manchego cheese.
Short ribs were fork tender, their fattiness
(Continued on page 88)