Montclair, N.J. – International flavors, a welcoming vibe, and community connection are at the heart of Lulu’s Artisanal Cafe at 406 Bloomfield Avenue in Montclair. The new take-out spot focuses on savory food, sweet treats, hot and cold drinks, and locally-sourced products. Known for her popular variety of fresh, small-batch lemonades, Lucienne Coppedge has now expanded to a storefront to also offer food, hot and cold drinks, and desserts. Local Chef Daniel McCormick works magic in the kitchen with a menu of dishes in small bites and generous meals including both meat-based and plant-based dishes.
Whether you’re looking for comfort food or fuel for a busy day, you’ll find something in the Lulu’s Artisanal Cafe menu. The Bombastic Pasta or Rice comes with your choice of proteins and sauces. We tried the fantastic Blazin’ Jerk Dry and the milder Italian Stallion red sauce, both with chicken. The jerk dry rub was “Off the charts amazing!” according to our taste tester. The heat was vibrant and delicious without wiping out any flavor. It’s a must for anyone who loves spicy dishes. Both the brightly flavored Zesty Lemon and the Asian Ginger sauces go well with any of the proteins, whether it’s chickpeas, shrimp, chicken, or beef. The Bombastic Pasta or Rice dishes are generous portions for lunch or dinner.
For smaller bites, the Cod Fish Fritters are crispy, shareable, and go well with the chipotle sauce offered on the side. Veggie nachos, sliders, and even a Belgian waffle can be supplemented with chicken, beef, or shrimp. The choices for vegetarians and vegans include Lulu’s Potato Balls, a Texas Style Bean Stew, chickpeas and collard greens, and a wonderful mushroom/lentil burger to boot. The New Jack Salad is huge, and with add-ons like egg, avocado, tofu, or other varied proteins, it makes a tempting and satisfying meal. Specials like Chicken and Waffles, Rasta Pasta, and limited edition lemonade and desserts are often announced at the Lulu’s Artisanal Cafe or Chef McCormick’s Instagram accounts, so follow along!
The sweet treats at Lulu’s Artisanal Cafe carries items including chocolate, cheesecake, cobblers, cake pops, and cupcakes, all locally sourced. Of special note are the rich vegan brownies, the tangy lemon bars, and the sweet potato pie that is both decadent and light. Many items are vegan or gluten-free to suit dietary needs.
No write-up of the cafe is complete without a mention of Lulu’s Artisanal Lemonade, which is featured prominently at the store. While the classic lemonade is always a favorite, customers also enjoy the drink infused with ginger, elderberry, pineapple and other fruits. There is even a mint/basil lemonade, which is refreshing for winter days or enjoying the Kentucky Derby, with or without bourbon or gin. The flavors are blended beautifully so they don’t overwhelm the lemonade. The lemonades, as well as the ciders, are all hand-made and hand-squeezed, and it shows in the taste. We highly recommend the elderberry/ginger lemonade.
What prompted this experienced entrepreneur to open a storefront in the middle of a pandemic?
“People asked for it,” Ms. Coppedge explains matter-of-factly. After taking part in festivals and farmer’s markets, she wanted to have somewhere permanent for her lemonade and more. Focusing on grab-and-go and take-out made sense, especially for these times.
“I want to highlight international flavors from my own Guyanese background as well as that of my circle of friends.” For Coppedge “Food is for community, for gathering.” She is also collecting recipes from friends, and is especially excited about some Indian dishes in development. The cafe’s Chef Daniel McCormick’s signature Gumbo and Jerk dishes, and his Rasta Pasta special ensure an eclectic and delicious selection.
Something for everyone is the goal, and it’s clear with the varied dishes for both meat and plant-based meals. Coppedge explains, “I saw an interest in plant-based and gluten-free foods, so I wanted to offer those as well.”
Her longtime work with Black-owned, women-owned, and micro-businesses for events like the Artisans Gallery Pop-Up inspired her to offer products from many different NJ creators like DM BBQ sauces, Dolce Federica chocolates, Clean Temple Body Essentials, A’Jar Sweet Cream Factory, Elderberry Creations, and more.
Lulu’s Artisanal Cafe, 406 Bloomfield Avenue, Montclair. www.lulusartisanalcafe.com