Common Lot, Millburn
Why go: Don’t go if you’re looking for the usual fare — pasta, burger or even bread. Australian-born chef and owner Ehren Ryan isn’t going for the same-old, same-old. His rustic no-airs-about-it, grown-up restaurant has portobello-mushroom colored walls, wooden floors and an open kitchen and an intriguing menu with loads of possibilities for adventurous food lovers. Get his guacamole, studded with spring peas and topped with a sweet pepper relish, especially if you love cilantro (Ehren is not afraid to use herbs boldly). Try his crispy char-grilled cauliflower, served “al dente,” in a lovely lemon-y tahini dressing. Enjoy his perfectly grilled octopus with fried capers, dark purple onions and spring onion relish in a shallow bath of shellfish oil. It has been on the menu, a waiter reported, since the restaurant opened in March 2016. (The next year, Common Lot won the Garden State Culinary Arts award for Best New Restaurant.) As for entrées, you have a few single-serving dishes to choose from such as leg of lamb with fava beans and plancha-seared halibut or mains for two including 12-hour braised lamb shoulder.
What may surprise you: This is one restaurant where you must make room for dessert. On the night I visited, I couldn’t decide which dessert was better: the silky-smooth goat-cheese cheesecake sporting edible flowers accompanied by heady lavender ice cream or the black sesame meringue stuffed with mousse-like creamy semifreddo atop dehydrated strawberries, pickled green strawberries and fresh strawberries. They were both divine.
How much: Appetizers from $8 to $17; entrees from $26 to $36 with entrees for two starting at $82. Desserts are $10.
The details: 27 Main St., Millburn; 973-467-0494, commonlot.com.