Spoiled Rotten. That’s the words that best describe me after my recent excursion to Ninety Acres at Natirar. Before I carry myself back and away with the dining experience, I’ll let you know how I ended there. Natirar is a sprawling 500 acre property and estate in Peapack, NJ that houses a cooking school, farm, meetings and event space, and a fine dining restaurant, Ninety Acres.
The property is the embodiment of countryside elegance. The restaurant is reserved for luxurious nights out with an expensive menu, extensive wine list, and elaborate farm to table fare. Previous to my most recent visit I had visited the restaurant one other time for a special birthday dinner date with my now husband. However; our friends know us all too well and more than one of our wedding guests thought to give us a gift card to this estate to use to enjoy the finer foods in life. We’ve managed to make it six whole months without finding the time to make a reservation. But, we had an empty weekend and we finally ceased the opportunity.
Going to Ninety Acres during the winter adds a magical element to the experience. After a mile or two of winding driveway you arrive to the estate which is brilliantly lit for the holidays. The valet escorts you from your car and someone holds the door as you enter the warm and welcoming restaurant.
During the winter the interior aesthetics of the restaurant are a hybrid of a ski chalet and a Napa tasting room. The intimate bar is surrounded by exposed brick and glass exposed wine racks. I sipped on a house made seasonal cocktail with cranberry infused vodka, rosemary, and cava. It was refreshing and tart. One was hardly enough!
After our pre-dinner drinks we head to the hostess stand where the fireplace roars from behind. We are accompanied to the softly lit dining room to our table. We are handed leather-bound menus and the dinner experience begins.
The menu is a nod to seasonal ingredients, New-American preparations, and a touch of comfort. After we settle on a whole slew of items (we have some hefty gift certificates after all) we place our order with one of our three (yes, three) wait staff. A basket of warm crusty bread and our selected bottle of Bordeaux come out first. The sommelier comes to show us the bottle, opens and decants to let the wine open a bit.
Our first course arrives soon after. Mine is much bigger than I imagined. I ordered a creamy polenta with duck confit, truffle, and mushrooms. It could surprisingly have been shared by at least three people for a starter or have served as my entire main course. The dish was fine dining comfort food perfection. The crispy fat cracklings on top were a divine touch. I want to eat this dish every week. There was no way I wasting a morsel so I had a waiter package some up to go.
My husband ordered two starters including a fois gras which he deemed, as good as the ones he enjoyed in France. The other was poached oysters in a warm chowder type broth with caviar. It was a small but complex dish.
Our main entrees arrived with our stomachs already almost to the brim. However; we weren’t about to give up too easily. I decided on the crab crusted halibut with a hot and sour broth. The halibut seemed to be poached and while it was tasty, it wasn’t the standout of the night. The crab crust was crunchy and had a little kick. I found myself making sure every bit of it was consumed with what little room I had left.
My husband ordered the waygu top sirloin that was paired with turnips and sunchokes. The beef was cooked to absolute perfection and melted in your mouth. Because our eyes are well beyond the size of our stomachs we also ordered a side of mac and cheese. It had a great balance of creamy and sharp and it was finished with the essential breadcrumb topping.
We sat with happy bellies and thoughts of endearment for the chef when the waitstaff returned with dessert menus. It was like we wanted nothing and everything at the same time. Somehow, we were convinced to get the house made pumpkin fritters. The warm pillows of dough arrived on a bed of cream cheese frosting (which I avoided), caramel sauce, and granola. They were rolled in sugar and had crisp exteriors with warm gooey centers. They were pure dessert delight.
Ninety Acres lived up to every expectation that you hope for when you arrive to the lavish estate. The service was marvelously professional and pleasant. The food and wine was extravagant. And lastly, the atmosphere was posh yet charming.
To learn more about the estate, the grounds, the cooking school and restaurant head directly to Natirar’s site: http://www.natirar.com/
… all for the love of the dish