“glass holiday reception” by melomary22 via pixabay
Fast forward to the early 1990s and swing music is back, bringing with it a wistful longing for the days of the secret password at the heavy door that leads you to a grand, glittering room filled with stylish ladies in pastel evening wear and men in white tuxedos. Over the next 20 years – yes, it has been 20 years since the early 1990s – a number of speakeasy style bars and restaurants have popped up all over the country, principally in hip urban areas like lower Manhattan.
In 2011, Millburn got its own version of the supper club with Moonshine – the Modern Supper Club. Moonshine is equally focused on both the “supper” and “club” parts of the equation, evident when you compare the dining experience in each half of the restaurant. At times, they seem like two completely separate places.
The bar makes you want to cozy up in a corner with your special someone or gather at a table to gossip with girlfriends. Nightclub style lighting and upbeat music that keeps the atmosphere sparkling among the elegant dark wood bar and tables. The cocktail menu features the classics with a modern twist, like the ginger sidecar, made with Crater Lakes ginger-infused vodka, triple-sec and fresh lemon. In the summer, I love their modern margarita of pineapple infused Milagro tequila, Nuestra Soledad mezcal, Ancho Reyes chile liquor, fresh lime, and agave nectar. They house mixologists conjure up unique creations such as the Per Sage — Belle de Brillet pear infused cognac, sage liquor, and a splash of champagne.
Moonshine uses a wine preservation system that allows you to try a glass from a bottle of wine that might otherwise be outside your price range. It also boasts an extensive selection of wines by the glass that change frequently to keep things interesting. The wine cellar is global, with a healthy mix of standards as well as lesser-known vineyards from around the world. A bar menu is available with snacks, small plates, and sandwiches. My personal favorites are the Moonshine plateux of cheese and charceuterie, the house-made ricotta with olive oil and crusty bread, the thai duck wings, and the truffle fries. The raw bar is also a good choice, especially with a glass of refreshing prosecco. The full dinner menu is also available if you ask.
My only complaint with the bar is the service can be slow – if you sit at the bar, this is a non-issue, but they often don’t feel adequately staffed for table service, especially if it includes food. If you’re not in a rush, this is not a deal-breaker – enjoy the time with your friends and relax.
“oysters” by westyn via pixabay
The food-focused vibe in the full restaurant stands in contrast. The service in the main restaurant is a notable improvement from the bar; attentive when you need it and not too intrusive when you don’t. The menu varies with the seasons, always centering on classic American fare with a modern twist. My favorite weeknight casual dinner is the country salad of frisee, duck cracklings, freshly grated pecorino romano, and crumbled pistachios. The secret ingredient that makes every dish a little extra amazing? A sunny side up Hudson Valley duck egg. You can really impress your foodie friends when you explain what truffled auch vinaigrette is – truffle oil, mushrooms, duck fat, apple cider vinegar, and duck egg yolk.
“funny quail egg breakfast” by jakub at foodiesfeed
The entrees are consistently excellent across the board. We’ve both enjoyed a number of the salmon dishes, often a special feature. The flexible red meat options make it simple to eat well and healthy at the same time. The standout, however, is the risotto. I love the gorgonzola, almost always the base for the seasonal varieties that add whatever is fresh and local to the mix. Spring peas and other bright green vegetables always offer a nice contrast to the rich and tangy cheese. The short ribs satisfy in the cooler months, and lucky us, they are usually served atop the risotto.
photo by jakub at foodiesfeed
Moonshine also serves brunch, complete with proper adult brunch beverages, for a very reasonable prix fixe price. I resisted the temptation to order my favorite salad for brunch as well. My reward was Moonshine’s take on the everything bagel with smoked salmon and a crisp, lemony caesar salad. I’m looking forward to trying the duck and waffles on my next visit. In nice weather, the front opens to the sidewalk, for open-air dining tempered with a little sun control.
“wholegrain bread on a market” by jakub at foodiesfeed
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