An exclusive tasting is never the most accurate way of providing opinion on food, so take from this article on new menu what you will.
As always, the best way to find out is to try for yourself.
That said, not every item can be custom-built for such a tasting. Whether it's the housemade hot sauce for the wings, the fresh spinach and artichokes in the dip (and its accompanying potato chips), the cheddar and ale sauce being served instead of butter as a starter, or the breads supplied by longtime Hudson County baker Hudson Bread, it's clear Villa Enterprises, G&M's parent company, is stepping up their game.
"It's cooking with intention," said Kathleen Janssen, the full service marketing manager for Villa Enterprises, based on Washington Street in Morristown. "Everything coming out of the kitchen has intention."
The new menu is part of Villa's "Seasonal-Local-Fresh" concept, which debuted on May 22 at George & Martha's, and in November at , also owned by Villa Enterprises.
The menu, when available, pulls items that are just as the tag says: seasonal, local or fresh. This includes names that may be familiar to New Jersey foodies, like Zone 7 in Lawrence Township and Dan Graiff Farms in Newfield, as well names folks around these parts will be very familiar with, like Mara's Country Desserts in Denville.
While there has been a refresh of both the lunch and dinner menus at George & Martha's, a number of items from the previous menu remain. But, they weren't left haphazardly. In some cases, old items got a spruce for the new menu, like the newly-named "Martha's Turkey Dinner."
Janssen acknowledged a two-fold benefit to the new approach. It's not just pure benevolence, it's also good business.
"When it's local, it's good for both of us," she said. "After the economy collapsed, we asked ourselves, 'what are we doing?' We were disconnected from the people doing what we need."
Whether that's the farmer growing greens, or the restaurant baking desserts, the idea of "Seasonal-Local-Fresh" was not just about being a better steward to the planet, but that was a part of it. "You can also just be a closer part of the community," Jannsen said.
It's an approach she, and Villa Enterprises Executive Chef Stephen DeMarco get behind. "It shouldn't be able to travel as far as it travels and still be edible," he said. "The closer, the better."
On the business side of things, DeMarco added that the new menus have been designed looking toward "a more approachable price point." The Mt. Vernon Burger–a ribeye blend with swiss, lettuce, tomato, an onion ring, remoulade and bacon on a toasted Challah bun, served with housemade wedge fries–costs $11.
An updated bar menu, featuring several of the dining room options as well as pub standards like sliders and "homemade jalapeno poppers" are presently in the works as well, DeMarco said.
"We're reassessing everything," he said. That means, as this new menu will change at least twice a year, things may be tweaked season-to-season as the market, and essentially, the customer, demands it.
"We know what we're getting, and we're proud of it," Janssen said.
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