Marcel Bakery & Kitchen, now open in the space that was The Cozy End, brings convenient deliciousness to Upper Montclair for breakfast, lunch and more, with an Israeli-Mediterranean twist.
The space, bright, open and welcoming (transformed by Jessica Benari Designs), gives you the option to choose from bakery items, “grab and go” freshly made salads and prepared dishes, to made to order sandwiches, pizzas and more for take away or to enjoy inside, at an attractive long communal table. The food itself is simply amazing.
Chef/owner Meny Vaknin of the popular MishMish Cafe, who named his second eatery after his grandfather, showcases a tempting selection baked goods at Marcel, surprising and delighting with flaky pastries filled with chocolate and halvah. You’ll struggle to choose from almond stuffed danish, brownies, croissants, fruit scones, or one of four different flavors of silky babka. Not a bad problem to have. And all pair deliciously with excellent Jim’s Organic coffee.
On the savory side, Vaknin has more winners. Israeli style bourekas are golden pastry pillows of light flaky dough filled with your choice of three cheeses, spinach and feta, or slow cooked beef with caramelized onions. Individual size flatbread come out of the oven with a light, blistered crust topped with mushroom and ricotta or a “shakshuka” topping (herbed tomatoes, feta, Israeli spices and egg). This is the Vaknin version of a Middle eastern pizza – the perfect, satisfying, comfort food.
The menu is extensive with breakfast served all day and sandwiches starting at 10:30 a.m. Start your morning off with a choice of eight egg dishes, as well as grain bowls, banana buttermilk pancakes, waffles, and “tartines” – thick country bread – toasted and topped with smoked salmon or local mushrooms with honey/lemon ricotta and poached eggs. Or enjoy them for lunch or a late afternoon snack.
Marcel’s inventive and varied gourmet sandwiches and salads reflect Vaknin’s culinary mastery of blending spice, seasonings, and textures. There’s Morrocan chicken stew, curried chicken, lamb meatballs, and merguez in pita. The humble grilled cheese sandwich is elevated with options of grilled haloumi, kasseri or kashkaval, and fresh burrata. Salads are composed using healthy ingredients such as marinated chickpeas, tri color quinoa, roasted beets, goat cheese, fruit, and nuts.
For the unadventurous, you’ll find your turkey and brie, tuna, quiche and salad, juices, coffees and chais. There are lovely smoothies like “Peace in the Mideast” (banana/walnut/honey/almond milk) which I would try for the name alone.
Like to cook? Marcel’s has a mini grocery of pasta, sauces, spices, and sweets available for purchase – all imported from Israel. Marcel’s has a lot going on – truly a welcome addition to the Montclair dining scene. Come see for yourself and expect to leave with more than you came in for.
Marcel Bakery & Kitchen, 631 1/2 Valley Road, Upper Montclair, 973 842-4086, open 6:30 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Saturday & Sunday.