At only 620 square feet, Le Salbuen Cafe Market is a tiny restaurant. But it packs a big punch of European-inspired cuisine.
Opened in mid-May, the restaurant run by John David Salierno and Christina Buenano Salierno of Bloomfield was full of patrons at lunchtime on Thursday. And it's easy to see why.
First and foremost, the menu boasts a vast range of delicious—and unusual—options.
Most popular seems to be the Walnut Street Salad priced at $13. The item, recommended by the waitress, was described on the menu as follows: Organic baby spinach, carmelized walnuts, fresh corn, figs, avocado, red onions, and egg, drizzled with roasted walnut balsamic dressing and served on top of a walnut goat cheese crust.
Is your mouth watering yet? According to frequent customers, it's perfection.
There also is a nice selection of sides including organic quinoa with eggplant and dried cranberries for $6.
If that weren't enough, there also is a long list of specials written on a large mirror up on the wall that aren't on the lengthy menu.
This Montclair Patch editor ordered vegetable empanadas and a side of French fries with fine herbs. Her friend ordered black beans and brown rice topped with egg and chorizo. Also tempting was a handmade kielbasa with sauerkraut and mustard as well as a Portuguese French toast topped with egg, fig, and chorizo.
The dishes were complex, exuding a variety of flavors. And, most importantly, they were not representative of the the typical lunchtime fare offered at so many local restaurants—which is what made them so appealing.
Even the list of drinks under "juice bar" was delightfully eclectic.
Yes, there's fresh orange juice for $4. But there's also vanilla chai protein with a shot of real tea for $9 and a celery, carrot, and apple mix for $6. In addition to Coke and Sprite, there's ginger beer and Fiji water.
And who couldn't help but relish the menu for Little Ones?
There's animal pancakes for $5, brioche grilled cheese for $6, and organic egg with toast for $4, not to mention peanut butter and jelly.
Besides the food, the restaurant's atmosphere is wonderfully authentic, making it feel as though you are sitting in a French cafe somewhere in Brittany.
As Melody Kettle of Hot From The Kettle wrote recently, "peaking behind the counter it's surprising to see the size, or lack of size, of the refrigerator and freezer ... that's because the emphasis is on fresh, organic, and local if it's possible. Instead of restaurant supply stainless steel serving trays, guests will notice that the braised duck is being served from Le Creuset, and the penne is being served from Emile Henry—just like grandma’s kitchen."
Stop by and see for yourselves. You won't be disappointed.
With indoor seating for about 20 and a few outdoor tables, Le Salbuen is open for breakfast and lunch, with the lunch menu extending into early dinner, until 7 p.m., Tuesdays through Fridays.
The restaurant also is open later, with an expanded dinner menu, on Saturdays.
97 Walnut St. in Montclair
There's ample parking on the street or in the lot by the train station.
For more information go here.