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RPMcMurphy

Ninety Acres in Peapack

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yeh, the website is really confusing on first glance. It really was a quick glance.. I basically got from the site that there is some sort of clubhouse, there are weddings, a few cows and they have some sort of cooking school.. Plus, the font is so small, my computer so old, and my eyes so bad, it didnt make for a informative experience.. Seems a little precious and confusing and annoying.. Hate the name, Natirar.. Reminds me of Natas or maybe Redrum... Nothing pleasant or comfortable about having to spell shit backwards.. Is there a reason they couldnt have called the place Raritan, or are they trying to unlock some demon..

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yeh, the website is really confusing on first glance. It really was a quick glance.. I basically got from the site that there is some sort of clubhouse, there are weddings, a few cows and they have some sort of cooking school.. Plus, the font is so small, my computer so old, and my eyes so bad, it didnt make for a informative experience.. Seems a little precious and confusing and annoying.. Hate the name, Natirar.. Reminds me of Natas or maybe Redrum... Nothing pleasant or comfortable about having to spell shit backwards.. Is there a reason they couldnt have called the place Raritan, or are they trying to unlock some demon..

 

I was never a fan either. When I first heard the name, I thought it was going to be an ode to Indian food. lol...

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... I would certainly not tell somebody to go to one as a suitable replacement for the other.

 

Nodding vehemently in agreement. I went in December. It was fine but I was really thrown off by the service. It felt more like highschool/college students working part time jobs as servers than people who do it as a career.

 

The grounds are probably really pretty though. I didn't see much since it was long dark when I went.

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... I would certainly not tell somebody to go to one as a suitable replacement for the other.

 

Nodding vehemently in agreement. I went in December. It was fine but I was really thrown off by the service. It felt more like highschool/college students working part time jobs as servers than people who do it as a career.

(snip)

 

That's interesting. I wonder if Richard Spalding is still associated with Ninety Acres? He previously ran the FOH at David Drake in Rahway, and I saw his hiring at Ninety Acres to be big plus for the house. At the same time, it marked a distinct descent for David Drake's.

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3 Stars in NJ Monthly, pretty good!

 

http://njmonthly.com/restaurantreviews/ninety-acres.html

 

I think this requires a warm weather visit...and also a late sunset.

 

And 16/20 is a very high rating from Gayot. Between the 2 reviews, place sounds lika a "don't miss"!!

 

http://www.gayot.com/restaurants/ninety-acres-peapack-gladstone-nj-07977_27nj100101.html

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3 Stars in NJ Monthly, pretty good!

 

http://njmonthly.com/restaurantreviews/ninety-acres.html

 

I think this requires a warm weather visit...and also a late sunset.

 

And 16/20 is a very high rating from Gayot. Between the 2 reviews, place sounds lika a "don't miss"!!

 

http://www.gayot.com/restaurants/ninety-acres-peapack-gladstone-nj-07977_27nj100101.html

 

I would agree. It is quite good, even if the service is a little inconsistent.

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We had dinner at Ninety Acres tonight, and continue to be impressed with the place. It is evolving, the menu continues to be aggressively seasonal, and the vibe is very pleasant

 

The youthful staff continues to improve. These people are very young, but they seem to be well trained and very attentive. And, there are so many of them. Six guys at the valet stand? Yes. Two waiters and a busser on group of six tables, and a sommelier for every 10-12 tables. Very well staffed.

 

By 8.30, the place was full. Bar, two main rooms, BMF room, full. There was an active reception in the Viking studio room, with appetizers being prepared and shared. Lots of wine, and well turned out people. Exceptionally impressive valet lot, with many examples of vintage and new high end motor cars.

 

I liked everything. Good flavors, combinations, and thoughtful plating. Frisee and arugula with garlic, walnuts, mushrooms, blueberries, wheat berries, and a sweet wine / juice. Simple, but very tasty. Halibut in a minestrone, lightly seasoned broth, pasta, chopped peppers and garlic, and, perhaps, za'atar. Sirloin broiled with spices and finished with a mushroom butter. Simple, but very tasty.

 

Three cheeses from nearby Valley Shepherd with toasts, apple spears, jellies, etc. I believe Aran's original location was just over the hill in Oldwick. Dee had an OK slice of pie. We drank an excellent 2001 Barbera d'Alba and a few bracing cocktails. Nicely presented mojito, and a fine Sand Wedge (vodka, juices, more vodka). In general, I found the wine list well priced and broadly distributed. I think we paid about $75 for the wine. Overall, I continue to find the prices quite reasonable for the quality delivered.

 

The bar menu has expanded, and migrated to the restaurant menu. Several pizza items, including a sour cherry and fruit pizza. Burgers, etc remain in the bar (only).

 

Brooke, our sommelier, mentioned they are expanding their regional wine tasting menu to at least monthly. In May, Dave Felton roasted several lambs for a tasting of ten Greek wines with a multi-course meal. An Argentine wine tasting with appropriate roasted meats is being planned for August.

 

While there may be some visual similarities to Blue Hill at Stone Barns, my sense is this is a very different place, with a much different feel. Even the approach is designed to place the guest at ease. We spotted a mom and two fawns drinking in the brook on the way up. The fawns were definitely 2011 vintage, about 40 pounds, completely spotted. Maybe the size of a small Golden Retriever.

 

You drive along the winding pathway, with each turn offering a fresh view, until you're near the top of the mountain. It's pretty impressive, but might be a bit challenging coming down after dark with a few drinks under your belt.

 

Menu

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Elisa Ung has an article in the Bergen Record about the difficulties of running a restaurant and running an organic farm. The demand for the restaurant's produce has far exceeded its ability to deliver produce. In a recent visit, few menu items were produced on the farm. While others came from nearby, others came from Iowa, etc. That's consistent with my experience in July, too. Good food, but not necessarily local.

 

The dream came true a few years ago, when Felton was named executive chef of the Ninety Acres Culinary Center on the Natirar estate in Somerset County, owned by British billionaire Richard Branson and poised to be one of New Jersey's highest-profile farm-to-table restaurants.

 

Before its December 2009 opening, Felton spoke excitedly about his newborn farm's eventually providing 80 percent of the menu ingredients in summertime.

 

Then the hard work began.

 

The farm's two cows, which had been sharing pasture space with sheep, began breaking out at night. "The reality is, yes, you can co-mingle cows and sheep, but what we wanted to do was make happy animals," Felton said. "And a cow won't break out … unless it's not happy."

 

Rookie mistakes were made, like planting five rows of yellow squash all at once — which then, of course, came up all at once. Organic farming has been a struggle — earworms ravaged much of the corn crop this year.

 

NInety acres

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Branson does not own Natirar. Bob Wojtowicz does.

 

Well, better let Naritar know. <G>

 

Branson and Wojtowicz are both featured prominently in the "our story" part of their website. I understand Branson's company actually purchased the land lease under the restaurant and spa from the county, and leased it to a company owned by Branson and Wojtowicz. Wojtowicz is the developer and on site in charge guy. The remainder of the land is owned by Somerset County.

 

When I asked our server about whether Sir Richard had been in lately, he told me his lordship had addressed a group of employees a few weeks earlier.

 

The 2009 press releases used the expression "Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin Group, and Bob Wojtowicki have opened..."

 

Our story

 

Sir Richard Branson has just opened phase one of the first U.S. outpost of his Virgin Limited Edition Collection of luxury retreats, a culinary center, resort, spa and private club called Natirar 45 minutes from New York City in the countryside of New Jersey.

 

Situated on a bucolic 500-acre estate that was once the summer home of King Hassan II of Morocco, and centered on a historic 40-room 1912 mansion, the key element of the property is the 90 acres surrounding the house itself.

 

The first phase of the project is the Ninety Acres at Natirar Culinary Center, housing a restaurant, bar / lounge, cooking school, wine school and working farm.

 

Go Luxury

 

Huff Post uses the same phrase

 

ETA: I can't imagine everyone is using the same wording purely by coincidence. I haven't seen the press / media kit for Ninety Acres / Naritar, but I wouldn't be surprised if it uses the same wording all the articles have been using.

 

Maybe Elisa Ung could PM with the press kit information she used to prepare her comments?

Edited by Rail Paul

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The loavore movement has jumped the shark. Chefs want to use the best ingredients they can within a price structure that allows them to stay in business.

 

The article Paul linked above has Elisa Ung acting put off that the scallops came from Cape May. Is a landlocked farm supposed to grow it's own scallops now? It's just a stupid way to approach the restaurant.

 

If I have 15 acres out back, I will dedicate that space to growing things that I want to grow that taste great and have a better than average chance of surviving in NJ. Herbs, lettuces, berries, tomatoes, squash, etc. The fact that he can't raise enough chickens to feed 1,500 people per week shouldn't take ung by surprise. Or that he doesn't have a herd of Wagyu cattle running around..

 

Part of this is Felton's doing for even suggesting that he could put a percentage on how much supply he could grow for the restaurant. That is a rookie mistake and he ain't a rookie. But Ung's article is just stupid on it's face...If you want to write a piece letting the reader know how hard it is to be a chef/farmer, okay, I get that. But the repeated focus on how they aren't living up the proposed ethos of the restaurant is amateurish...

 

Craig Shelton of The Ryland Inn fame is now at a property in Texas called Dos Brisas. They have 1,500 acres and the best organic farmer in the world...and stupidly rich ownership that is dedicated to "the cause." And guess what? They can't supply all of their own needs either. It ain't possible...

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"Craig Shelton of The Ryland Inn fame is now at a property in Texas called Dos Brisas. They have 1,500 acres and the best organic farmer in the world...and stupidly rich ownership that is dedicated to "the cause." And guess what? They can't supply all of their own needs either. It ain't possible... "

 

Craig Shelton left Dos Brisas in June 2011.

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