Indigo Kitchen – Montclair Favorite Returns, Renewed

BY  |  Thursday, Jun 07, 2012 3:00pm  |  COMMENTS (23)

Depending on how long you’ve lived in Montclair, Indigo Kitchen is a new restaurant or an old favorite. The beloved blue-hued dining spot, then named Indigo Smoke, occupied a space on Bloomfield Ave. in Montclair for years, then moved a couple doors away to a new space, then went casual as
Indigo Smoke Q. Ultimately, owner Lance Knowling left Montclair diners “blue” in 2010 when he closed up in Montclair to relocate in Maplewood. Earlier this year, when Southern Belle closed (in the former Table 8 space), Knowling, who had parted company with his Maplewood partners, seized an opportunity to return.

Indigo Q Sampler

Indigo Kitchen has been open about three weeks and fans of the previous restaurant will feel deja vu. Indigo’s new space, painted a rich blue and paired with exposed brick and bluesy art on the walls, evokes the vibe of the old Indigo, just slightly more upscale.

Indigo Kitchen’s dinner menu offers many of the memorable dishes Knowling was famous for, including Kansas City Q — baby back ribs, chicken, sliced beef brisket and house-made lamb sausage — and company fried chicken, $14 (think crispy, buttermilk marinated pieces of tender dark and white meat, served with herbed mashed potatoes, grilled asparagus and gravy) There’s also the three cheese mac, $6, (cheddar, jack and asiago) that our kid testers happily scarfed down. (When my kids were little, Indigo take-out was in our regular rotation and the family-friendly menu makes it a great choice for adults and kids). Classic sides like Knowling’s killer sweet potatoes and smokey collard greens are joined by new menu items –jumbo shrimp and grits, ($11) pot-roasted short ribs ($19) and wood-grilled salmon and skirt steak ($17 & $22).

Beet salad

Valrhona Chocolate Devil's Food

For dessert, a new valrhona chocolate devil’s food cake teamed with a side of vanilla ice cream drenched in chocolate sauce was the table favorite.

After settling our check (done seamlessly on an iPad, where we tapped and signed by finger), we learned from our server that Sunday brunch is back, too (11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) with egg dishes, chicken and waffles, red velvet pancakes, or ribs and burgers (with Indigo’s addictive, perfectly salty-crisp steak fries,) if you prefer.

Indigo Kitchen, 615 Bloomfield Ave., Montclair, 973-707-2950. Lunch, Monday-Saturday, 11:30-2:30; Dinner, Monday-Thursday, 5:30-10/Friday-Saturday, 5:30-11; Sunday Brunch, 11-3, Sunday Supper, 5-9. Closed Tuesdays.

Photos: (the incomparable) Holly Korus


  1. POSTED BY Annette Batson  |  June 07, 2012 @ 3:59 pm

    That food photo of the sampler…mmmmm. Want it now.

  2. POSTED BY Kristin  |  June 07, 2012 @ 4:05 pm

    Can’t wait to try this place! I’ve been seeing their photos on Twitter, and they look delicious.

  3. POSTED BY wayne robbins  |  June 07, 2012 @ 4:55 pm

    I had lunch there last week…really liked it, my fay was the corn and crab soup…Lance and I have plans for a video very soon – so you could actually see how he creates such culinary delights.

  4. POSTED BY dane  |  June 08, 2012 @ 3:38 am

    Not that it really matters, but, for what it’s worth, Lance is a great guy as well as a talented chef. I’m glad to hear he’s back in Montclair.

  5. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 08, 2012 @ 9:18 am

    I posted this in the food section. I was disappointed to say the least. So while Lance may be a great guy, from my visit, this place needs some work on both sides of the “house.”

    Went on Mother’s Day. Not very good. The service is TERRIBLE!!! Slow. Slow. Slow. But I was reminded that it was slow when it was Indigo Smoke. So I guess I should say, service was like the old days.

    I got the sampler. The brisket was very good. But the sauce was bland and boring. It also had a chicken breast. A DRY chicken breast.

    The fried chicken was DRY too. I got Shrimp and grits, and they were just okay. NOTHING like the amazing shrimp and grits at Raymonds. Nothing.

    I won’t go back and if anyone asks, I’d tell them to find another place.

    The key lime pie dessert was terrific though. Or maybe we just knew the meal was coming to an end. (I won’t comment on the dumb iPad pay method. A waste of time.)

  6. POSTED BY Annette Batson  |  June 08, 2012 @ 9:21 am

    wow, prof, I can’t believe out of all the things you tried, only the brisket made you happy.

  7. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 08, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

    Yep. Not just me, my mom, and mrs. prof were not thrilled. little prof enjoyed his mac ‘n cheese though most kids do.

    But there is no forgiving putting a chicken breast- a chicken breast- on a sampler. Likewise, dry fried chicken? C’mon. KFC has better. And that sauce was terrible. I make my own so I’m biased, but I’ve had store bought that was better.

    The service was the most unfortunate part. Perhaps that weighed on us as we evaluated the food. Maybe, I won’t find out though because I won’t be back.

  8. POSTED BY Kristin  |  June 08, 2012 @ 6:10 pm

    I think ProfWilliams just wanted an excuse to write *breast* several times on a Friday. I don’t eat chicken, but will take the comments under advisement for my companions.

  9. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 08, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

    Kristin, since I have so much hand it’s coming out of my glove, I didn’t even think of breast in this context as anything other than food.

    You, it seems, are like a little 13-year-old boy– boobies!!

    (Though now, I will only think of the good kind when presented with the chicken kind.)

  10. POSTED BY gifro220  |  June 08, 2012 @ 10:40 pm

    profwilliams your grammar is horrible, I know one or two ex TAG students including myself who had better grammar in the second grade. Unfortunately people are now operating under the assumption that the N.Y.T. attracts readers to baristanet, as if that actually mattered in your self representation of immature and inarticulate citizenry.

  11. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 11, 2012 @ 12:19 pm

    @ gifro220 (Use “me” instead of “myself” when discussion my “horrible” grammar; a common mistake that, sadly even our President makes.)

    But did you like the food? Or were you also disappointed with the bad service, bland sauce, and dry chicken?

  12. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  June 11, 2012 @ 1:34 pm

    In defense of the service it is hard to judge a place in the first month. With that said our service was excellent and we were the table of chaos from the get-go. I sat with my two kids and Liz joined us, then she was off to pick up her daughter from lessons. We ordered here and there shoveled food onto plates. At some point my five year old found he could make Liz shoot sweet potatoes from her mouth when he annouced anything about his penis (thank-you for nothing Liz). Then my daughter lost a tooth and our lovely server helped find a bag and something for the blood. Now Mr. Liz arrives and we shovel everything left onto a plate for him as he marathon eats before racing to pick up their son.

    I have no idea how our server kept up with us. She was amazing!

    As for the fried chicken it was fantastic, not at all dry. As a rule I don’t care for fried chicken and this was some of the best I have had. I loved the greens too as they were pretty much the same as the way my mother-in-law made with smoked turkey wings.

    I’m sending my father-in-law soon and will get back will what he says.

  13. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 11, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    Wow Holly,

    Sounds like a different place entirely. Were they aware of yours and liz’s status at b-net? Because really, the service was exactly like this at Indigo Smoke- terrible. So while, I might give some slack since they were only open for a month or so, it seems like this was just “their way” of doing things.

    Glad your fried chicken was good. Perhaps this shows something else to avoid at an expensive place like this: inconsistency. But there is no excuse for a naked chicken breast to be included in any bbq “sampler.” Likewise, the bland sauce is inexcusable, as was the shrimp and grits.

    But the service was appalling. And our table wasn’t the only one who noticed. But again, I never experienced anything but inattentive service and an incredibly long wait for food at Smoke.

    … And I feel like I’m beating up on the place, but they charge a fair amount for their food. So it’s not like I’m complaining on a $30 check. At these prices, and with the other great Montclair restaurants, my expectations were a decent meal in a decent time with attentive service. Indigo Kitchen struck out on all three.

  14. POSTED BY montclaireats  |  June 12, 2012 @ 6:56 pm

    @Prof- I had a sampler this weekend that looked just like the one in the photo and was delish. They were busy and service was great! I too make my own sauce and to my dismay…I prefer Indigo’s LOL. One other note, you obviously hate these guys and I’ve been twice since they opened, just saying, I like it and I wouldnt want to sit next to you, soooo……glad you didnt like it? LOL!

  15. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 12, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

    “you obviously hate these guys”

    I WANT Montclair businesses to thrive!! How dare you turn a simple critique (MY opinion remember) of their food to HATE. This is such a dumb comment, that it makes me suspect that perhaps you accrue some benefit from such defense.

    I didn’t care for the restaurant. I gave my reasons. Is that really so controversial? Epernay isn’t as good as it was, though the frisee salad is always delicious. Likewise, Ah’Piz was overpriced and just okay. (Raymond’s however, is so damn consistent and their food is so good, they remain the gold standard.)

    I stand by my comment: The chicken was dry, the sauce bland the service incredibly slow. My kid liked the mac ‘n cheese. Still, I wish them well. I just won’t be back.

    Oh, and there is NO WAY you make your own sauce and prefer theirs. No way!! Unless, of course, you don’t know how to make sauce. In that case, there are bottled versions that are better.

  16. POSTED BY claremont  |  June 13, 2012 @ 6:42 am

    It is obvious that this place has a rough record of service. Some have had good experiences and others have not. Why condemn those that had a bad one? That is their opinion and is supported by more than one or two that have not had a good time at Indigos. I have been to their old place and also the new one and have had both experiences that folks write about. It has never been great but it wasn’t bad once and the other time made me not want to go back. The new place is up and down as far as quality goes.With all of the wonderful places we have in Montclair to eat, that type of quality does not bode well for the place. Of course that is my opinion. I really had hoped they would be wonderful as I love that type of food and their atmosphere is one I like however………………..

  17. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  June 13, 2012 @ 10:35 am

    I think the hope here is that Lance reads the comments, makes improvement where necessary and the restaurant thrives. I think we all want to see life on Bloomfield Ave.

    Prof I don’t think they knew who we were until the end of the meal. It was a Thursday night and no where near crowded like some place would be on Mother’s Day.

    I will never go back to Cuban Pete’s as I have had 3 horrible meals there. Forget bad service, they have been downright rude to me and my guests. We are lucky to have choices in this town and if we want to chick-chickie-boom spend our money elsewhere we can.

    Hey at least the Prof is out there dining at local places and not throwing his money at chains. Maybe I will have BBQ sauce recipe contest with a fabulous prize……hmmm…..

  18. POSTED BY jerseygurl  |  June 13, 2012 @ 11:41 am

    Great idea, Holly. Nothing like a BBQ sauce contest!

  19. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 13, 2012 @ 11:44 am

    C’mon now, don’t hate on chains. They employ plenty of local folks. And many have local owners.

    Also, considering how full I see Starbucks, I’m not alone. Though, I imagine, some folks would think,” Starbucks is different than a chain.”

    (Hate to say, it wasn’t that crowded when we were there on Mother’s day… and crowded doesn’t answer for dry and bland.)

  20. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  June 13, 2012 @ 11:45 am

    As for a contest, don’t make me break out my Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce, I usually save that for August. (I’d have to make it now, so it can sit for the requisite 4 weeks before use. Yes. Even bbq sauce has to age.)

  21. POSTED BY Holly Korus  |  June 13, 2012 @ 2:27 pm

    If I said I hated chain stores I would be a liar, liar pants probably from The Gap on fire. We need them in town because with corporate bucks they can pay the rent and they bring in shoppers. It is nice to have a mix.

    Break it out. You are part of an original crowd. This contest is happening.

  22. POSTED BY jinx  |  June 14, 2012 @ 8:49 pm

    Agree – sadly – that Epernay is not as good as it was. The new(ish) owner seems like such a nice guy, I always want to go back. And the lovely French server is charming and remembers us even if it’s been a year since we’ve been.

    But the food … not as good as it was under the previous owners. Surely there’s a great French bistro chef available. anyone? anyone?

    If we build Balthazar, they will come.

    And it’s true. I’m totally and completely tired of Raymonds. But it IS always good.

  23. POSTED BY Conan  |  June 15, 2012 @ 12:27 pm

    Prof, nothin’ for nothin’ here, just saying, but there are two things one should never, ever do on Mother’s Day, and one of them is go to just about any restaurant. It is truly an amateur day out there, and smart servers try to get out of working for hassled people and short tips. Smart cooks also precook andhold everything they can to avoid the eventual and inevitable fall into the weeds.

    The other thing? Don’t drive on the Garden State Parkway on Mother’s day. It is more dangerous than Syria After Dark. You can tell by the number of Buicks…

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