Welcome to the Red Eye Cafe

BY  |  Friday, Jun 01, 2012 10:00am  |  COMMENTS (23)

You won’t find a knight in armor at the Red Eye Cafe, which opened last weekend on Walnut Street. Although we all loved Cafe Eclectic’s, um, eclectic decor, former chief barista Anthony Brinton has fashioned a much more visually striking environment in his new space. Gone are the mismatched sofas. Instead, there are salvaged chairs and tables made from old countertops, all sanded, stained and buffed by Brinton himself to a fine uniform shine. A wall of subway tiles provides a Raymonds-worthy entrance, and around the perimeter of the room are bookshelves stocked with Brinton’s own impressively-curated collection of reads, from Salman Rashdie to Jonathan Lethem. And there are electrical outlets everywhere so that laptop users don’t have to climb over each other to get a charge.  Both the books and the outlets are there to send a signal: pull up a chair and sit a while. “I want them to know it’s the same sort of vibe where you can relax and not get the bum’s rush or the hard sell,” Brinton says.

The soft-spoken barista has quite a loyal following, and the Red Eye was busy yesterday morning, the kind of place you’ll likely run into people you know. I didn’t sample the food but the iced coffee was perfect — a result, Brinton revealed, of an overnight cold brew process. Coffee is really Brinton’s thing and one of the Red Eye’s motifs is a Venn diagram showing how various brews overlap. The Red Eye, for which the cafe is named, is a cup of coffee with a shot of espresso — more intense than a dark roast brew — and Brinton’s favorite drink. Other specialties of the house include New Orleans Sludge Coffee and Dirty Chai.

As for food, our correspondent Kristin Wald, who had visited the Red Eye three times in as may days, recommended the hummus and hot sauce sandwich and says that her carnivorous husband enjoyed The Highlander, a Scotch Egg Banh Mi. The Red Eye’s menu is considerably more eclectic than the one at the old Cafe Eclectic, and includes choices like the Blue Velvet (roast beef, picked blueberries and shallots, cream cheese and arugula on ciabatta $8.95) and the Fat Elvis (banana, peanut butter, honey and bacon on toast, $6). “I love it when people try the weirder things,” Brinton says. Bigger plates, ranging in price from $7 to $10 and including pancakes, can be had during the Feel Better Brunch on weekends.

The Red Eye Cafe, which is considerably smaller than Cafe Eclectic, features a lovely outdoor space in a small shaded alley. Literary and music events are planned.

Red Eye Cafe

94 Walnut Street, Montclair

Open 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on weekends.

Free delivery to Montclair, Glen Ridge and Bloomfield until 6 p.m. on orders of $15 or more.

973.509.FOOD

23 Comments

  1. POSTED BY Jenn  |  June 01, 2012 @ 10:13 am

    I loved the hummus/hot sauce too. I knew that you and I had a spiritual connection, K-money.

    I love the new cafe. It more of a walk for me, but it’s worth it. And it’s nice to see Anthony after months of no Eclectic, as well as folks I’ve come to know from frequenting Eclectic in the past several years of me living here.

  2. POSTED BY adh425  |  June 01, 2012 @ 2:15 pm

    I had an excellent frittata sandwich and coffee, and Anthony offered to make my 3 year old a simple scrambled egg. A great addition to Walnut Street!!

  3. POSTED BY porchistas  |  June 01, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    that is the best thing to happen to montclair in a long time. reasonably priced, and the atmosphere, all designed and built by anthony, is really perfect – prices very reasonable by montclair standards and the food is incredible – congrats anthony. great work!!

  4. POSTED BY Kristin  |  June 01, 2012 @ 5:43 pm

    Jenn – it’s so tasty, right? I also tried the Red Eye Breakfast Sub (on a different day), and it was AWEsome. You can ask for the hash to be meat-free.

  5. POSTED BY Georgette Gilmore  |  June 01, 2012 @ 5:47 pm

    So when are we going KW and JJ?

  6. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  June 01, 2012 @ 6:06 pm

    Dang that little boy in yellow is cute!

    I love the interior. Love the tile and the mural work. Spot on.

  7. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  June 01, 2012 @ 6:25 pm

    Looks great. I love the lamp. And the cute boy in the yellow shirt.

  8. POSTED BY thislittlepiggy  |  June 01, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    Overnight Walnut St has become a food and coffee mecca. Look forward to trying out their coffee soon.

  9. POSTED BY thewonderstory  |  February 10, 2013 @ 1:37 pm

    In fifteen years of living in Montclair, I have never encountered such poor business etiquette. This was my fourth visit and the other three were merely to purchase a cup of coffee. All of my purchases were underwhelming and overpriced, so to save five dollars I always opted for Bluestone Coffee Co., Montclair Bread Company, Gina’s, Starbucks, Whole Foods, or just brewing my own cup at home. I am an enthusiast when it comes to supporting local businesses, but my first three visits left me feeling disappointed at best.

    My fourth visit entailed helping my boyfriend display his photographs in the cafe. Upon arrival, we had to wait for the current artwork to be removed by Jeremy Gamble, the “curator”/ manager(?). Just to strike up small talk I applauded their efforts with incorporating the furnishings from the former Cafe Eclectic and instead of displaying gratitude Jeremy Gamble gave an impromptu “Why Eclectic Failed” speech. At some point I interjected fond memories of Eclectic and the fact I worked there many years ago, but that didn’t deter him. He said, “We have it right. This is an adult cafe. The couches over there were all wrong and made it a kiddie cafe.” Of course I wanted to respond with discourteous remarks to match his of Eclectic, but I had to remind myself that I had to hang photographs and disregard this egotistical fool.

    Photos were hung in a matter of twenty minutes. I wasn’t sure why, but I felt chagrined for even mentioning Eclectic. I just expected some air of regret for the loss of a local favorite, but instead I had to here this misguided fool fold his arms to deliver a tirade regarding small business. I comforted myself with the thoughts that this establishment would be on my “Do Not” list.

    Three days passed and my boyfriend emailed me at work to inform me that Jeremy Gamble of Red Eye Cafe removed all of his photographs because he claimed his work broke the “all artwork must be of original design and solely the work of the artist” guideline of the contract. Of course I already loathed this man for insulting a former employer, but now his breech of contract with my boyfriend was more salt on the already formed wound. I could understand if the work removed was “stolen” from another photographer, but it wasn’t. I travelled thirteen hours to the photographed location and was given permission by the State of New York’s Public Health Commission to document the hospital with my boyfriend. Everyone is well aware that some landmarks, well-known or not, have been photographed by many people. It is really a matter of how the individual photographer crops, exposes, and processes the image that makes its an original piece of work. To hear the curator blatantly accuse my boyfriend of stealing another photographer’s work is blasphemy. The photo he referenced was shot from a different angle, shot with a medium format camera, and cropped completely different which alone debunks his heinous claim.

    I hope others in the community will recognize the practices of Red Eye Cafe as “bad business.” I would completely understand if the owner contacted me in an attempt to resolve the issue with the photographs in a more civil manner and apologize for Jeremy Gamble’s insulting remarks of Cafe Eclectic, but he has not attempted to do either. As a result, I will never support this business and I suggest others do the same.

  10. POSTED BY redrum  |  February 10, 2013 @ 1:53 pm

    Well, after hearing that, this place has lost my business. Any establishment that mistreats artists doesn’t get my money! Screw them.

  11. POSTED BY walleroo  |  February 10, 2013 @ 5:50 pm

    Yeah, I was a tad disappointed when the Red Eye opened that it wasn’t an exact replica of the Eclectic. But that doesn’t mean it’s a bad place, all the same.

    Reading that mildly nutty post is a bit like overhearing an old married couple argue at the next table.

  12. POSTED BY dogmom  |  February 10, 2013 @ 8:13 pm

    I want to reply to the recent post blasting the red eye cafe. While I can’t vouch for how artists are treated, every single time I have gone there I have been treated with courtesy, a nice hello, a smile and great service. I am not in any way affiliated with the red eye, just a very happy customer.

  13. POSTED BY rak  |  February 10, 2013 @ 8:15 pm

    I’ve always had a great experience at Red Eye.

  14. POSTED BY silverleaf  |  February 10, 2013 @ 9:50 pm

    thewonderstory – Must say that it took two careful and complete readings of your post to have any idea of what you are trying to say, as it is altogether lacking in continuity and narrative cohesiveness. That said, why should anyone here really care if you and your photographer boyfriends purchases were ”underwhelming and overpriced”? Or a seemingly absurd conversation about Eclectic’s couches? Or an IP argument based around the State of New York’s Public Health Commission’s approval to document, crop, expose, or process a photographic image?

    Sounds like you are asking readers here to take a position and therefore refrain from frequenting the place based on your personal axe to grind.

    Sorry, but I for one can’t comply with your request as the place serves me well. For one, it is open early for my morning commute and in close proximity to the train station, and also provides reasonable service and affordable prices. Lastly, I couldn’t give a good hoot about an IP issue that is too esoteric to comprehend and doesn’t concern exactly anyone other than me.

  15. POSTED BY walleroo  |  February 10, 2013 @ 10:01 pm

    it took two careful and complete readings of your post to have any idea of what you are trying to say

    You’re a better man than I, silverleaf.

  16. POSTED BY herbeverschmel  |  February 11, 2013 @ 7:56 am

    silverleaf nailed it… I’ll go out of my way to stop in and check it out now.

  17. POSTED BY Bill Courson  |  February 11, 2013 @ 8:42 am

    Mr. or Ms. thewonderstory:

    Stay away from crystal meth. It is truly “bad business”!

  18. POSTED BY johnleesandiego  |  February 11, 2013 @ 8:43 am

    every time someone mentions Crystal Meth I always think of Ty Pennington and Extreme Makeover Home Edition. I wonder why that is?

  19. POSTED BY silverleaf  |  February 11, 2013 @ 9:18 am

    To Anthony Brinton, owner of Red Eye Cafe: Keep up the good work; ‘Roo, Herb, Bill C. and I will be in see you soon.

  20. POSTED BY redrum  |  February 11, 2013 @ 9:45 am

    I never thought this place was anything special. The staff are rude and arrogant. It will probably be another one of Montclair’s flash-in-the-pan restaurants and end up in the “comings and goings” column by spring.

  21. POSTED BY Jimmytown  |  February 11, 2013 @ 9:56 am

    I went to Red Eye Cafe once while waiting for my GF to finish up at a farmers market. I was met with a rude man to asked what I wanted as soon as I walked in the door. I picked up a coffee list and he looked at me like I was wasting his time, and then proved it by walking away. After a chose my drink, we made eye contact, said he’d be right with me and then asked a couple who walked in what they wanted. After finishing their order, he walked away from me. I waited a few minutes and walked out. A few doors down is Le Salbuen. I was greeted by a patient girl who asked me a few questions about my likes and dislikes and recommended a Nutella Latte, which was great. I’d give Red Eye Cafe another try if Le Salbuen was packed and I was trying to catch a train, but other than that I don’t see a reason considering the options on Walnut st for good coffee.

  22. POSTED BY oliver  |  February 11, 2013 @ 10:41 am

    I have had only great experiences (breakfast, lunch) at Red Eye. Good food, friendly and ccmpetent service, cool atmosphere. Too bad others are bashing it. I will happily return there, and I want to check out Le Salbuen, too. Glad Walnut St. has so many good options.

    I find it interesting the way commenters’ attitudes come through in their posts; the service they receive may be affected by said attitude. Even if the customer is always right, you catch more flies with honey, remember? (Sorry to mix 2 cliches.)

  23. POSTED BY hrhppg  |  February 11, 2013 @ 10:55 am

    I loved the food at the Red Eye, but not the 45 minute wait or the way we were treated once we got in. It is a small space and they crammed us into a table in the middle of where servers had to walk. The food was great, coffee was great but it was physically uncomfortable. After waiting outside in November for 45 minutes someone could have at least pretended our business was welcome. It was also obvious that some of the tables were occupied by friends or regulars who were not eating and not budging. I hope they spend enough to make up for the posters above who, like me, won’t be back soon.

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I will really miss their store. It was always so easy and fun to find a fun gift there. Walking into their store made me feel like I was transported into a faraway happy place!

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