A light but Unremarkable Dinner at Jeffrey’s

My wife was out for a business meeting tonight and I really didn’t feel like staying at home and having dinner by myself. I would rather be outside, enjoying the nice weather. So – as I often do – I went to Downtown Westfield looking for a place to get a light evening meal. My original target - “Xocolatz” - was unfortunately closed. I thought they were open for dinner all week, but they seemingly are not. There was a daily menu for Monday in the window but I guess that was only for lunch. It would certainly help if they actually had some store hours posted outside. OK, their Web Site has the answer. They serve dinner Thursday through Saturday.

Moving on, I realized that pretty much all outside tables in Restaurant Row (a.k.a. Elm Street) were occupied, except for Sweet Water Steakhouse. And although Sweet Waters is typically not a bad place for steaks, it was not my idea of a light dinner neither from the selection of dishes nor from a price perspective. So I ventured further East and fortunately Jeffrey’s had its tables outside and only one party was sitting there.

I have been to Jeffrey’s many times before, for a full-blown dinner, to hang out in the bar, for a light dinner to listen to the music of “Sweets Sounds Downtown”, etc. And the experience was sometimes outstanding and sometimes just so-so. Jeffrey’s has the potential to become a great restaurant and could be one of my favorite places in town if it only managed to execute consistently. It has an inviting bar area (and there are not that many in Westfield), an outstanding wine cellar, a dining room that is small but has a good atmosphere and a chef that knows his art and is creative, innovative and seemingly really cares about his customers.

When I arrived today they were not all that busy. In addition to the one party outside there were only two additional parties in the dining room inside. Service is friendly but not particularly effective and attentive. Sometimes it takes quite a while for things to happen (get a refill on my coke, get my bill processed). Outside they serve both the dinner menu plus the lighter fare items. I only get the lighter fare menu after I ask.

This lighter fare menu is similar to a lunch menu with salads, sandwiches/burgers and appetizers. I had burgers at Jeffrey’s several times before, and they are truly good and consistently so. Today, I’m in the mood for something else, so I go for the Grilled Chicken Croissant. I like the fact that you can substitute the fries that normally come with a sandwich for a side salad (at no additional cost). And the side salad is not (what you often get in a more average restaurants) the cheap greens with the most mainstream dressing, but rather a nice portion of high-quality green mix with a light but tasty Italian type dressing. The sandwich is only so-so. I expected something a bit more sophisticated. It feels more like a basic combination of ingredients on the same plate not like a composition that creates an experience that goes beyond the sum of its parts. The croissant is actually not bad as such, it is still fresh and fluffy. The brie is OK. I feel there should be a little more and one that has a more pronounced flavor profile, otherwise you hardly notice that it is brie and not any other cheese. The sauce was OK (something with honey mustard) but once again a more pointed flavor would help. Finally the chicken meat – which should be the highlight of a chicken sandwich – was pretty much unremarkable. It was a bit dry (I expected something juicier, nicely marinated) and it wasn’t grilled in a way that the grilling flavors made any contribution to the overall experience. What is the point of grilling meat if you don’t notice that fact when you taste it?

In summary, I’m not disappointed. For $10 I got a decent sandwich that can certainly compete with some of the chain sandwich places in Westfield. With a bit more focus the good sandwich could have been a great sandwich. And based on how Jeffrey’s presents itself that is not an unreasonable expectation.

Signing Off – The Westfield Blogger

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