When I opened Vanillamore’s front door on Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair, New Jersey, the smell of roasted marshmallows and chicken smacked me in the face. It was a surprising combination, but it definitely caught my attention.
Whether you’re looking for a quick place to drink coffee and eat homemade pastries, or sit down and eat red wine braised short ribs, Vanillamore has something for everyone. The restaurant’s cook and owner, Risa Magid Boyer, hatched the idea of Vanillamore through her many years of restaurant experience, along with her passion for baking.
The waiter led my mom’s boyfriend, Frank Raineri, and I to a circular counter where we saw the display case of homemade bakery items and all the food inside the kitchen being prepared. Every detail in the restaurant seemed to be accounted for, from the brick walls and industrial lights to the purple accents throughout the restaurant.
I didn’t have the slightest idea of what I wanted to eat for lunch, which became a problem when I opened the menu. Vanillamore’s lunch menu offers small plates, toasts with specialty spreads, salads, grain bowls and other snacks. Ordering was probably one of the hardest decisions I had to make that day because everything sounded delicious.
I decided to order the slider trio which included a steak, chicken and pork slider all topped with different seasonings and sauces. After the main course I ordered the s’mores dessert tapa and chocolate banana bread.
The sliders arrived only after a short wait. The light from the window at the front of the restaurant beamed down on the sliders and I could see the steam coming off them.
I took my first bite into the skirt steak slider and my taste buds were met with the juicy steak, caramelized onions and arugula. Stuffed between a brioche bun, all the ingredients blended together perfectly. Each bite was better than the next.
The other sliders were just as good and every ingredient tasted fresh. I could have passed on the chicken slider with the curry mayo and substituted it for something else, but I’m always open to trying something new.
The sliders were filling, but I always save room for dessert. That’s the most important part of any meal.
The roasted marshmallows came paired with spicy hot chocolate along with the banana bread. The marshmallows also came with three different kinds of caramel sauces. Raineri grabbed the espresso caramel right away.
“I dipped the marshmallow and graham crackers in there and it tasted amazing. I probably drink coffee every morning,” Raineri said. “This is gonna change the way I do s’mores from now on.”
The marshmallows were the perfect level of crispiness so when I bit into it, I didn’t taste that burnt flavor you sometimes get when roasting marshmallows in a summer campfire. The other two caramel flavors were vanilla and rum, which were both sweet and delicious.
The spicy hot chocolate made me frustrated. I understand that the chefs want to pair the flavor with the marshmallow, but I couldn’t see the appeal of it. The spiciness just seemed to overpower the sweetness of the hot chocolate.
The chocolate banana bread came last and disappeared in less than a minute. Now I understand why Vanillamore is known for their bakery tapas. The bread was moist and perfectly balanced with chocolate chips and bananas. It was a great combination and I decided to take another loaf home for the rest of my family.
I only dove into a small percentage of what Vanillamore has to offer. Besides their extensive menu full of European inspired dishes and desserts, the restaurant also hosts special events. Some of the events scheduled in 2020 include a five-course tasting menu, milk and cookies happy hour and a fall cheese tasting.
Vanillamore is a relaxing and fun experience for Montclair State University students to check out. The dishes and bakery items are averagely priced for any restaurant you would visit in downtown Montclair. If you’re open to trying new foods, particularly on the sweet side, then this is the place for you.