Montclair, NJ – Sam’s Table, a private supper club based in Montclair, is on a mission to share a unique and personal culinary vision. It’s a pop-up, so the exact location may change from one event to the next, which is part of the fun! Montclair native Chef Sam Stymest and Union City native, Pastry Chef Kasandra Beltran, came up with the concept during the early part of the pandemic, when work had slowed but ideas were still percolating.
A recent pop-up dinner took place nestled in a secluded garden tucked away down a quiet side street. Diners were warmly greeted and guided to an outdoor table, comfortably seated apart from others. Even with the space, the evening had the feeling of being at an intimate catered dinner at a friend’s house.
Guests were served an ambitious 8 course tasting menu with a nod to Father’s Day and Juneteenth – bright, seasonal and vegetable-forward, with a meat moment and a bewitching dessert finale. Bread and butter service featured two compound butters, one made simply with fresh strawberries and the other made of brown butter, honey, lemon, thyme and black pepper, both perfect slathered on fresh brioche and crusty country bread. Next, tender raw scallops thinly sliced and tossed with fresh buttermilk and dill oil, with crunch added by diced cucumber and shards of rye cracker. A palate cleanser of green apple sorbet in a chardonnay soup with pineapple foam followed. Then, the vegetable stars were served. First up, Pea “Chawanmushi”, inspired by the Japanese egg custard dish and full of tasty new flavor combinations. After that came a charred summer squash, sauced with burned citrus ponzu and a white onion puree.
The meat course featured a cut of dry-aged rib eye with schmaltz aioli, fondant potato, broccolini and onion gastrique. Delicious! And believe it or not, we weren’t stuffed at this point. Not by a long shot. The chefs seemed to instinctively know that they had to make sure we had room for dessert. And oh my, what a dessert: a brownie with chocolate cream, blackberry sauce, blackberry foam and blackberry sorbet. Silence descended over the group as we all dove in. As a parting gift, everyone was sent home with a delectable mini red velvet cake.
These people know what they’re doing – Chef Sam Stymest and Pastry Chef Kasandra Beltran met while they were students at Hudson County Community College’s renown Culinary Arts program. Externships and post-graduate work led to time spend working at New York City food temples such as Daniel, Jean George, Craft, as well as restaurants on Cape Cod and even work as a chef in China! They stayed in touch during their training and travels until the time was right to come together again to launch their new venture. Montclair has a new culinary treat in store for those in the know.
Sam’s Table: To get advance notice of the next pop-up, send an email to SamStymestsTable@gmail.com or follow them on Instagram at @samstable2020.
Mary Connolly is also known as “Marie Fromage”. Follow her in Instagram @MarieFromage