Readers Write: Dinner With Baristanet at Montclair’s Fin

Dining out with readers is something we wanted to try and the newly-opened Fin in Montclair was gracious enough to invite us. When the power went out, we decided to invite readers who were affected, thanks to Fin owner Gerry Cerrigone who generously hosted our group. We had one no-show, but readers and partners Brian Dickerson and Javier Mora were able to join the barista chicks which included the also-power challenged Holly Korus (who snapped all the photos). We had a blast slurping oysters, sharing lobster sliders and talking food. We hope to plan another dine out with Baristanet readers soon (tell us where we should go…) Dickerson and Mora sent us their own “review” of their night at Fin:

Like maritime travel, seafood dining can be daunting. Lucky for us, we had the fortune of having some of Baristaville’s finest guides at the helm. The staff of Baristanet coordinating this amazing opportunity provided us with the perfect antidote to the sea of darkness we most unfortunately plunged into last week as a result of the power outage. [Dickerson and Mora got power back at 6 p.m. on November 4].

The physical characteristics the name Fin connotes sets the stage for what’s ahead. In the world of aquatic physiology, the fin is a unique structure defined by an even more unique texture. Texture is also a main theme at Fin, the restaurant. From the street the establishment stands out like an underwater gem – setting the stage for sensory fulfillment. Whether feeling rich woods creak beneath your feet traversing the dock-like entrance, admiring the delicate, rustic aesthetic of burlap netting that makes up the lighting fixtures or the pearly iridescence of tiles that line the main wall against the open kitchen, texture is a unforgettable tie that holds the experience together and sets Fin apart.

Luckily for diners, this focus extends to the palate.

Shangai-Style Lobster and Shrimp, a curry-based stew, is served perched atop a nest of matchstick-thin potatoes and “crispy spinach”, cooked so craftily I was left scratching my head wondering exactly how it was done.

The kitchen also executes flawless simplicity, as evidenced in the special of the evening, a whole-grilled Orata (a Mediterranean fish meaning golden in Italian). Fittingly, stumbling upon this special was about as exciting as encountering a treasure-laden Spanish galleon. Skillfully filleted tableside, our specimen accomplished the task of having a rich meatiness inside and maintaining an outward flesh that gives perfectly with every bite. This is a trick only brought about by using the highest-quality cooking techniques and materials, the vehicle for Fin’s success.

Needless to say, the raw bar selections were incredibly fresh and easy to palate, even for Javier (who is squeamish).

Sitting at the restaurant’s dining bar before dinner, we had the opportunity to watch desserts being painfully constructed, with the [dessert chef] dedicating nearly five minutes to getting the dish perfect. Our meal was capped off with an extraordinary trio of desserts. Again, texture comes into heavy play here. Ribbons of chocolate ganache, peanut butter mousse and creamy peanut butter supported a layered chocolate cake. A dome of bright passion fruit custard came atop a pillow of cake as light as air. Perfectly spiced pumpkin cheesecake was flanked by a potpourri of poached fall fruit that made this often-too-heavy dish a pleasure to cap off the evening.

In the kingdom of Montclair dining, competition is tight. Fin, if not taking the throne’s top spot, definitely makes its case as member of the royal family. Gerry Cerrigone and his staff strike the perfect balance of effortless service that returns the favor. Dining at Fin was evocative, easy and – most importantly – interesting.
— Brian Dickerson and Javier Mora

Fin Raw Bar and Kitchen, 183 Glenridge Ave., Montclair, 973-744-0068

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  1. The place looks gorgeous. I love the lamps. I’m not that into oysters, but I think it will have to go on our (long) list of places we must visit.

  2. No mention of prices? Hmmm…

    Ah well, when you’re likely a member of the 10, 15 or 20% (but thus still relatively well-heeled), prices are but a minor consideration anyway. (One reasonable estimate shows the median household income in Montclair at $92k, whereas the national median household income is somewhere in the $50,000 range.) See you there sometime for dinner, Comrades! And don’t forget to wear your furs.

  3. Is that all you’ve got, jerseygurl? (No need to answer, my reply was rhetorical, this is al you’ve got whatever the topic here.)

  4. I’m offering a free dinner at Tony’s Taco Truck to the first poster who can identify the “point” cathar was trying to make in his post.

    Is it that everyone who eats at Fin is rich?
    Is it that Fin’s owners are elitists who won’t list prices?
    Is it that the baristas are so loaded that they don’t care about prices and assume no one else does either? (Of course, by simply clicking on the link 12 words into this article, one could be directed to the original story which DID list prices).
    Or maybe it is just the usual exercise of humbug we have come to expect from our own Major Hoople.

    Mind you, cathar himself is not eligible for the free dinner — not only because he himself will have trouble identifying a point, but mainly because the only reason to dine with him would be to slip some fugu onto his plate while he’s in the loo.

  5. Gentlemen, in the span of an hour you take this perfectly fine post about B-net and its “partners,” a word and idea when used to describe business relations, that is almost as unseemly as calling employees, “Associates.” (Or were the those folks “partners” of the b-net readers?)

    Anyway, cro, I’ve shared a beer with cathar and found him to be charming. Likewise, I race to any post in the hope of reading what you might add. And yes, I usually find myself smiling and laughing. Another charming man.

    So perhaps, even though we’ve past November 13, cro and cathar can just get an apartment together and let the comedy ensue….

  6. One of the greatest shows ever, prof.
    Especially the lead-in (“requesting that he never return!”).

    Frankly though, I’d rather be Murray the Cop!

  7. Why thank you JG.

    Not only was the food fantastic but the company was as well. Brian and Javier are the most lovely couple. They were picked at random in comments weeks ago to go out with us.

    This may sound sappy but it was wonderful to find a new favorite restaurant and new friends in the night.

  8. I’m amazed that you didn’t pick “eb00”, the pregnant woman with the 71 year old father with a fractured hip and 93 year old grandmother who needs her assistance. I’m still teary eyed. (Maybe she was the no show?)

  9. @ croiagusanam: The answer is “Cathar is a hater.” I’ll meet you at Tony’s Taco Truck.

    Secondly: I wish I had known about this dinner!! I absolutely LOVE oysters and every single thing from the ocean/sea/lake – you name it.

    Cathar: If you can’t afford eating at this fine establishment, rob a bank. There are plenty of them in the (rich) town of Montclair! lol!

  10. cathar, your feeble attempt at suggesting Montclair moms are commies in furs is a spectacular flop, even for you. Last time I saw anyone wearing fur of any sort within the past year was when I drove through Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, where huge beaver fur hats are required Satmar headwear on Saturday afternoons. And they voted Republican in November.

  11. Gee whiz, poor Spiro T., you’re dredging up a post more than a year old? To what purpose?

    Toto, I think some posters are getting very antsy indeed when they actually waste the time to go back into the archives. Who even remembers such stuff? Baristanet by its very nature is disposable, after all. Well, maybe not for Spiro on a long holiday weekend…..

  12. oh cathar, you are such a big phony.

    “Baristanet by its very nature is disposable, after all.”

    —guess that explains why you spend so much time here aggravating and then defending yourself…

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