Always game to try new restaurants, especially those with an avid fan base, friend and fellow foodie Rosanne turned us on to d’floret, a minuscule treasure in downtown Lambertville, NJ. It had been a while since the four of us connected over dinner, so we were more than ready to try a new adventure.
It was a chilly November Saturday night when we were going to rendezvous at d’floret for our 8:15 reservation. A group of folks huddled outside as we neared the front door and when I asked if they were waiting to be seated, they replied that they were just leaving and that we would NOT be disappointed with the food. Now that’s encouraging.
Knowing the place was touted as small, we weren’t prepared for the nonexistent waiting area—yet about 8 of us were crammed into a tight, tiny space right in front of the draped entranceway—and more people kept flowing in! Apparently they have only two seatings, so everyone for the 8:15 was trying to stay out of the way until tables opened up, which thankfully didn’t take that long.
Gary and Rosanne get comfy as we sip our wine.
We were shown to a four-top in a cozy corner (although the entire 28-seat restaurant is pretty much a cozy corner) by the large front window. The ceiling is dominated by a ginormous draped disc light fixture casting a warm glow replicating a modern, elegantly lit stage. (We all thought they could use some acoustic panels on the ceiling to help absorb the noise level.)
D’floret features an open kitchen and adjoining dining room that exhibit the chef’s dual passions: Chef Foy’s paintings and his culinary mastery. The wall by the bathroom is accented by a floor-to-ceiling black walnut Nakashima panel; lighting is by Ayala Serfaty, the Israeli artist; and modern Classic chairs designed by Arnie Jacobsen, for a sleek finish.
Lynn and Russ sunk down into the cushy banquet seat with fluffy pillows—about a half-foot lower than the chairs Gary and Rosanne were sitting in..
If you’re in a hurry, this place may not be for you as the pace is very leisurely in it’s approach, and everything is lovingly cooked to order. Our waitress, Tara, was in charge of the entire booked room, while a busboy attended to opening wine and clearing dishes. After listening to the night’s specials, we were disappointed to learn that a few items were no longer available, to point, the Rack of Lamb for Russ, and the Grilled Jumbo Shrimp with Tuscan beans and fennel for Lynn and Rosanne.
But let’s talk starters first. Three of us chose the Sautéed Tian of Crab with thyme plated with a large schmear of aioli. Believe me when I tell you, it was top-notch. Lumps of crab formed a large, moist patty crafted with a few choice herbs that all but melted in your mouth.
Gary, the odd man out, opted for the Warm Goat Cheese Tart with tomato confit dressed with chive oil and balsamic vinaigrette. It came layered with a breadcrumb crust topping that, let’s just say there was nary a crumb left on the plate! Gary was true-to-from in his entrée selection of the Classic Veal Bolognese with a parmigiano-reggiano. It was brimming with meat sauce over homemade pasta.
One of the night’s specials was a Grilled Red Snapper, which was Lynn’s second choice and prompted Rosanne to also order it as she had never had snapper before. Nestled underneath the fish was a bed of freshly made ratatouille. This was one time that I didn’t need a doggie bag to bring home leftovers, because I practically licked the plate clean.
Russ went a bit rogue with his choice of Gateau Langoustine comprised of shrimp, peas and mushrooms delicately perfumed with tarragon and vanilla on an open-faced biscuit with a light gravy.
The guys still had room for homemade dessert and both chose the Crème Brûlée, a rich custard base topped with a contrasting layer of hard caramel. After which it was time to say goodbye, at nearly 10:30 at night! Time flies when you’re enjoying good company with great food, while sipping fine wine…
On our way out, I asked Estelle if they plan on enlarging or relocating to a bigger facility, but she gave me an adamant “NO, we like it here just fine.” So if you plan on making a reservation at d’floret, no need to arrive early or you’ll be tightly crammed into the only open spot directly in the path of the door and the kitchen.
About the Chef
Chef Foy culinary training began at the Tarragon Tree with his brother John, followed by a series of estages over the years in great American restaurants, such as the “21” Club, “La Cote Basque”, under Jean Jacques Rachou, and with Jean Blanchet of “Le Francais” in Wheeling, Illinois. Foy estages include Michelin Three Star Chef Michel Guerard of “Les Prés d’Eugénie”, “les Freres Troisgros” of Roanne, and “L’Espérance” Marc Meneau restaurant in St Pere, Veseley, France.
Foy is the legendary chef who interpreted and transformed a “petit boite” in Chatham NJ and in the process placed New Jersey on the national culinary map. Foy is also the source of the culinary lineage for a majority of the Garden State’s top chefs, having establishing a series of restaurants on both sides of the Hudson to great acclaim. Three generations of Great New Jersey Chefs, and a host of restaurants directly related to Chef Foy’s inspired vision.
Husband and wife team, Dennis Foy and Estella Quinones are committed restaurateurs, who counterbalance each other’s exacting artistic standards. Estella’s passion for design and Dennis’s interest in painting clearly reflects this sensibility.