At Madeleines Petit Paris in Northvale
Record, Friday, January 26, 2001
DAVID BONOM Restaurant Reviewer
Chez Madeleine in Bergenfield had grown tired and inconsistent. The
food and service didn't have the shine it once had when chef-owners
Gaspar Caloz and wife Madeleine decided to sell the Bergenfield location
eight months ago, and consolidate their restaurant and catering operation
in Northvale. Along with the name change to Madeleine's Petit Paris,
the change of venue has been the breath of fresh air. The magic has
returned, and the restaurant comes close to four-star glory. Although
the Calozes have traded in the rustic country inn look for a more brightly
lit, open-airy feel, the warmth comes from Gaspar Caloz's inspired cuisine
and hostess Madeleine Caloz's charm.
way to begin a meal is with the signature crepe Madeleine ($7.50), with
two light-as-air potato crepes gently enveloping perfectly cooked salmon
atop a pool of warm creme fraiche. The topper was a heaping spoonful
of slightly briny caviar. Each flavor built on the next; the delicate
potato flavor was enhanced by the rich salmon,
which in turn was brought together with the caviar. Dare I say it -
I swooned with each bite.
paid my boasting no mind as she reveled in her generous portion of Hudson
Valley foie gras de canard ($15.50), which was seared to a delicate
butter-like consistency. The magic combination started with sherry vinegar
and tart whole cranberries to cut the richness of the foie gras; sweet
caramelized onions pulled it all together. Far from overshadowed were
the warm Prince Edward Island mussels ($6.50) - a steal for the price
piled high in a shiny white bowl atop a fresh sea-like broth of white
wine and garlic. The kicker was the drizzle of "chefs sauce," a wonderful
concoction of cream, shallots, and red and green bell peppers that just
touched enough of each mussel. The dish was rightly served with a finger
bowl of warm lemon water adorned with a single orchid that lent a deserved
element to the success and
charm of the restaurant was Madeleine Caloz. Bright-eyed, with an elegance
and warmth that was genuine, she greeted each diner personally. This
enthusiasm carried over to the entire staff, who were also eager to
please. The staff was mindful of special requests and not afraid to
say when they were unsure of something and to excuse themselves at the
right time to find out. Water glasses were never more than half empty
and wineglasses were always topped off at an appropriate moment. New
napkins were issued after a shared bowl of the mussels. It was what
fine dining should be, an experience that takes you to another place,
away from the realities of life.
for me was watching chef Caloz and his wife sing "Happy Birthday" to
a customer. It was done with elegance.
complimentary middle course was the delicately dressed mesclun salad.
It was served in classic French style with wilted cucumbers and a touch
of bitter greens. The pepper-dusted venison ($27.50) entree was perfect
winter fare. Three hearty medallions were served with an exceptional
au poivre sauce, fresh chestnut puree, and sauteed apples over a bed
of pickled red cabbage.
special ($25.50) was a classic preparation and filling enough for two.
The traditional white bean stew was abundantly filled with chunks of
butter-like lamb, saucisson a large smoke-cured sausage and duck.
The whole then was topped with a crisp layer of buttered bread crumbs
excellent for a brilliantly cold night.
of duck ($24.50) was the only weak spot. Wonderful as it was, it just
didn't match the perfection of the other dishes. A medium-rare duck
breast waa fork-tender with a heady Grand Marnier sauce and sat atop
a whole duck leg confit that needed just a bit more crispness and a
touch of seasoning.
must not be missed, and they deserve a review of their own. The ethereal,
airy souffles ($12), large enough for three and served to two, were
topped with creme anglaise. The crème brulee ($6) was by far
without equal in New Jersey - it was the classic textbook example. My
favorite, however, was the simple apple tart. Paper-thin slices of Golden
Delicious apple were fanned over a delicate crust, baked to perfection,
then set amid a pool of caramel sauce. The topper is a scoop of French
vanilla ice cream with a rosette of whipped cream simplicity defined.
416 Tappan Road, Northvale - (201) 767-0063
Fare: French, continental.
Prices: Appetizers $4.50 to $15.50; entrees $20.50 to $29.95.
Credit cards: AE, DC, MC. V.
Reservations: Required on weekends.
Days closed: Monday.
Liquor, wine: Yes.
Facilities for the disabled: Yes.
Non-smoking area: Yes.
Atmosphere: French country.
Dress: Elegant, casual.
Rated by The Record: Jan. 26,2001
are rated on the quality of their food, atmosphere, service, and
value. Halves are given when a restaurant surpasses a level in
food, service, or ambience. Reviewers make at least two anonymous
visits to a restaurant, and The Record always pays the tab.
O Fair: * Good: ** Excellent: *** Outstanding: ****