For what seemed like years, The Office Bar and Grill (now known as The Office Tavern and Grill), was closed for a restaurant revamp. It was a regular stop on the Morristown bar scene, not particularly known for its food, but it was always big on getting people in for drinks. I personally was not a regular to the restaurant but; I was excited to hear that the remodel would not just be an aesthetic one but also a re-haul to their entire menu approach.
When the restaurant re-opened a few months back I had high hopes to get there right away. Personal engagements got in the way and within a few weeks it was pushed to the back of my mind. It wasn’t until I read a startling review that I even remembered I had not been there yet. This review was written by an esteemed cocktail blogger and author who went in to sample their lengthy libations list. Food was also involved but, it was not the main focus. The write-up was so intensely negative that it solidified a damaging view with me of the newly opened establishment. I began to share what I had read with others when asked if I had heard anything on restaurant’s performance since opening. My response to the bad press is a great example of how influential someone’s review can be. It often puts blinders up for our expectations.
During an afternoon stroll a few weeks ago I was convinced to have a late lunch at The Office. I thought if nothing else I would get to have my own perspective. I went in with very low expectations with the hope that I was not about to have as bad of an experience as I read about.
The restaurant itself had transformed. The bar area had, what I referred to as, a “Gotham City” look. A mix of metal and wood adornments, flat screen TVs, and liquor displays filled the sky-high wall. The seating area was decorated with modern office themed paintings and word graffiti booths. There was also an open air kitchen that bar guests and bathroom breakers could get a glimpse of the cooking action. As dishes were rushed past us I noticed the trendy presentation. The restaurant has played into the popular rustic chic serveware such has cutting boards, mason jars, and “vintage” metal plates.
The menu pays homage to the New Age American food fare that is so popular. Long gone are the plain jane club sandwiches and burgers of the world. Anything with truffles, kale, pork belly, and quinoa have now taken the spotlight. The Office’s menu monopolizes on these growing food trends.
We started our lunch with a bloody mary. I went for the classic which was humbly paired with celery, olives and a lime while my boyfriend chose the Ultimate Bloody which was topped with a truffled deviled egg and bacon. The drink was not revolutionary, and maybe even came from a mix but, it was certainly far from being a bad bloody mary. Morristown has seen way worse (I could name a few for you…)
We were provided with a salty, caramelized onion topped pita type bread to munch on while we waited for our first course, the Jammin’ Sliders. These mini burgers were crowned with aged cheddar and wedged between 2 slices of jalapeño cornbread. Raspberry pepper jam was painted on to the serving board for our dipping pleasure. The sliders were greasy and hard to eat as finger food so my fork and knife had to lend a helping hand. Barring the slightly over greased bread, I thought these were delicious. The preserves were a great touch for both presentation and flavor.
For the main course we both went with the Sedona Salad but substituted the citrus chicken for the chimmichurri steak. The salad was loaded with corn, black beans, tortilla strips, and dressed with a peanut cilantro vinaigrette. It was a So-Cal and Thai fusion, but it worked. The steak was surprisingly cooked very well. The marinade shined through and it was not overly tough, as many skirt steaks tend to be.
Rather than indulge in dessert we went for the “Keepin it Jersey’ beer flight to share. It highlights four local brews ranging from session beers to IPAs. There are two other beer flights and 40 beers on tap that diners can experience during their tavern visit. The Riverhorse Summer Blonde from Ewing, NJ and the Carton IPA from Atlantic Highlands were my preferred beers from the flight.
I certainly learned a good lesson to make my own judgments about a place. I think food writers are great resources for learning about restaurants. And if every write-up you read is negative, well then they (we) may be on to something. But; don’t be afraid to make your own decisions about what you like and dislike. While The Office Tavern and Grill may not be novel in terms of its culinary style it brings new life to what had become a stale concept (at their old eatery). I will take the restaurant for what it is, an upbeat watering hole with casual yet appealing dishes. It’s the perfect spot for Happy Hour, girls nights, and brunch.
But, don’t just take my word. Get out there and try for yourself.
…all for the love of the dish