Speck and peas: pizza
Fairway's steak: with tomatoes, Asparagus: with fried egg

Next Door: Montclair, NJ


tommy:eats reader and friend 'Curlz' has been telling me about the burger at Next Door for a few years. I finally got around to getting over to Next Door, which is Zod Arifai's more casual restaurant next to his appropriately- and much-ballyhooed Blu

The menu had a few options that jumped out at me, including an appetizer of octopus. Not much unlike pork belly, I find it very difficult to not order octopus when I see it. This day was no exception.

Blu Next Door Octopus2
A few (too few? eh, for 12 bucks it was a reasonable size), pieces of octopus were atop crunchy fennel and a bit of citrus, garnished with microgreens and crispy olives. The octopus was tender, and a bit crunchy. Great texture. Almost as if it was flash fried before plating. There was nothing to not like about this dish, other than this stupidly close photo with a way too shallow depth of field. <food photography rant> This is exactly the type of food photography that grates on my nerves. I can only take solace in the fact that this particular horrible photo's shallow depth of field came from optics of a lens, rather than a blur tool in Photoshop.</food photography rant> 

On to that burger.

The burger is advertised as 10 ounces. I've handled quite a few balls of meat in my day, and I'm pretty sure this burger didn't start out as 10 ounces. It seemed more like 8 or even 7 ounces.  Eight ounces is a perfectly fine size for a burger, but since I was expecting something big and fat, expectations fell short.

Size aside, the burger was nicely cooked, with a top-notch crust, seasoned well with salt, and had big, beefy flavor. The cheddar wasn't completely melted, which some people might consider an egregious flaw, but in this case it worked fine, for me. The caramelized onions were good enough to eat on their own, and  they were not the blob of mush that you sometimes find, or I all the time make. 

The bun was soft and airy and an appropriate size for the burger. Great bun, in fact. A side of horseradishy slaw was a nice counterpoint to the rich, deep flavors of the burger.

While the burger was executed very well, and the ingredients were obviously exceptional, it's not necessarily the style of burger that I most enjoy. I tend to like some bright flavors (pickles) and textural contrast in the form of crunch (from raw onions and pickles) on my burger.

Would I order it again? Yup.  Will I hope it's a bit bigger?  Definitely.  Will I take a better picture next time? I should hope so.

Next Door : 556 Bloomfield Ave : Montclair, NJ : 973.744.3600