When we entered the MoonShine Modern Supper Club, 55 Main Street, Millburn, we were charmed by the stunning antique distressed oak bar, smoked mirrors, and wallpaper depicting colorful animals. From the bar area we walked into the dramatic bi-level space, where the first floor has an open kitchen, brown tufted banquettes and chairs, and a communal table. Upstairs there are red tartan-backed banquettes with buttery yellow leather seats, low-slung modern wood chairs, and white tablecloths. Doors close off a private dining room that seats seventeen and also has a private terrace.
Start with a seasonal specialty cocktail or an update on a classic such as the OMG (fresh grilled peaches, lime-peel clarified butter, clover honey, potato vodka, white wine) or the Bee’s Knees (Hendrick’s gin, fresh lemon, honey). Or try one of 30 bottled beers or 20 drafts, one of 50 wines by the glass in 3- or 6-ounce pours, or one of 50 bottles from the reserve list. We had a 2010 Perrin Nature Cotes du Rhone priced at $34 for the bottle, $9 for a 6-ounce pour, and $5 for a 3-ounce pour.
Executive chef Francis Falivene, who was the opening chef at Ora in Morristown and City Bistro in Hoboken, offers a contemporary American menu where diners can opt for a light meal of items from the raw bar, charcuterie and cheeses, or pizza, or a substantial meal with entrees and sides. Co-owners Victor Delapa and Joseph San Philip, the latter a double-certified sommelier, are affiliated with the Brass Rail in Hoboken, where culinary director Douglas Gough has been the executive chef since 2003.
All of the appetizers from a recent dinner could be recommended, but our favorite was the impressive cauliflower puree soup with curry-spiced creme fraiche and cracked pistachios. Eggs played not only a supporting role but also added depth to two dishes. The frisee salad with blue cheese and bacon lardons was topped with a poached egg, and the duck-leg hash was accessorized with a poached duck egg topped with hollandaise sauce. Sweet rather than white potatoes also added interest to the hash, a must-try dish. A tangy frisee salad with chickpeas, piquillo pepper, and paprika oil served as a base for spiced shrimp. Finally, the truffled gnocchi and meatballs with pancetta and mushrooms was bolstered by a sherry cream sauce, for a crowd-pleasing dish. We had a side of wild mushroom risotto with roasted butternut squash and a truffle butter sauce served in a small black skillet, which can be ordered as an entree. Our advice is to do just that and share this fabulous dish. Another entree that we will certainly order on a return visit is the seared ahi tuna accompanied by braised borlotti beans, chorizo sausage, tomatoes, and a romesco sauce, which had layers of complementary flavors and liveliness. And next time we’ll try the prime 28-day dry-aged steak from DeBragga and Spitler, a top-quality meat purveyor. The duck a l’orange with celery root puree was tender, as was the braised short rib of beef, which came with addictive Cheddar grits. Whole branzino was fresh tasting and juicy, and we couldn’t stop munching on the French fries that filled the plate. We did manage to try a few desserts and loved the key lime tart and caramelized apple crumb tart with creamy hazelnut gelato, from Piece of Cake located in Rahway.
MoonShine is open for lunch Monday through Friday, for dinner daily from 5 PM, and for brunch on weekends. Complimentary parking is at 75 Main Street (enter on Taylor Street) Monday to Friday from 6:30 PM and on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays. For reservations, call 973-218-6042.