Nipped in to the new "252" in Bedminster for the first time for a little lunch, with no idea what to expect at all. I was happy to see that what was an ice cream parlor in its last incarnation (and probably a private home originally) had been nicely redone in what I would call a fresh, clean, nordic-spare sort of look for lack of better descriptors. Started with Tuscan white bean soup: perfectly al dente beans, nicely composed with some herbs, tomato, and a lively, fresh broth. Delicious, though I did find myself thinking a piece of good crusty bread to sop it up would be nice. With the sandwiches on the way, I just let that thought go.
For a main I had the maple BBQ braised pork sandwich with cool, crunchy coleslaw, served on a grill-toasted brioche with a side of nicely dressed fresh greens. Sweet, warm, sour, cool, smoky, and crisp all at once - great! Poached enough of a bite of JB's "252" grilled cheese (braised short ribs, aged cheddar, pickled onion, Levain Pullman) to realize my sandwich was not a one-off success. Haven't had "Les Sandwiches" done like this since KC's went the way of so many a fledgling restaurant. We had to get some shoe string fries too, moderately thin and crispy, and just the right ratio of crisp outside to soft inside for me, with a sprinkling of grated parmigiano and rosemary, nice touch! There are sweet potato fries dusted with cinnamon and brown sugar too - next time. All this was washed down with a perfectly proportioned for lunch half bottle of Vosne Romanee 1er Cru Les Beaux Monts 2005 from Domaine Daniel Rion. Good way to warm up on a raw winter day.
While a quick bite is surely too little with which to form any strong opinion, first impressions do count. This short visit gave me a pretty good feeling that Chef/Owner Melissa Hill, who came out from the semi-open kitchen to say hello, has an idea of what she wants to do here. Organic ingredients, nice touch in the kitchen, and reasonable prices all bode well. While a commitment to fresh and local precluded a look at the current dinner menu, last weeks menu was provided and it looked enticing. Only note was that the lunch menu was a little limited in the sense that it doesn't offer much more than soup, salads, sandwiches (as good as they were!) and a dish of P.E.I mussels billed as heartier fare. I'd like to see a few more options, but I get the feeling that they are still feeling out what works in terms of hours open, menu selections etc. and so it's too early to say. It's a small, hands on place, and if it delivers will probably be a tough place to get a table - let's hope! Looks like they are also offering take out (we'll be ordering lunch!) and maybe some catering too. Meanwhile I am looking forward to testing my hunch with another visit (anyone up for dinner?) as soon as possible.
252 Somerville Road
Bedminster, NJ 07921