Good pubs, Good Beer, Good People

Monday, December 21, 2015

Lots to Like at The Office in Summit

The PubScout's involvement with The Office Beer Bar goes back nearly two decades. That's when my story, "From Bouncer to Boardroom" (formerly "Working Late at The Office") came out. A former bouncer named John Augustine brought The Office chain into the world of craft beer, insisting that everyone who served it knew what they were serving and why. Now owned by 40 North Restaurants, the emphasis on craft beer and a quality dining experience has remained.

When I covered the rebranding of the Morristown Office in2014, I was duly impressed with the ambiance of the place, the quality of the food and, of course, the variety of the beer.

The recently revamped Summit facility is clearly another success story for the brand. Decidedly different in interior design than its unique, multi-level sister pub in Morristown, the décor of Summit Office is at once welcoming, visually compelling and, like its sister, very conducive to a great pub experience.

Airy and intimate, it reminded The PubScout of a high-end English Country Manor House. The bar is larger than the one in Morristown, too, and differently arranged—complete with a neat, compact, snug-like corner section. Specially treated windows allow patrons to see out on the busy street, but prevent curious passersby from looking in—and drooling.

Like a number of successful Central Jersey pubs--Kilkenny House (Garwood), Hailey’s Harp & Pub (Metuchen), JJ Bittings (Woodbridge), The Rail House (Rahway), The Office is near the local train station—in fact, directly across the street. That alone can mean plenty in terms of capturing clientele, especially for those who have left their own work offices to seek libation and victual in an Office of a different nature.

In fact, affable Divisional VP Steve Baliva, whom I met previously in Morristown, allowed that the train stop location allowed the old Office to do a pretty sound business, and there was substantive discussion about the wisdom of closing down for six months to revamp. But given what The PubScout’s visit revealed today, it shouldn’t take long to make up for lost time.

There was a third croquette, but I wasn't quick enough
to capture it on the plate
The food was nothing short of superb, but that’s to be expected considering who’s in the kitchen. ALJ graduate and Corporate Chef Kevin Felice, who was on hand for the Morristown Opening, was the culinary captain for the Summit event. Go here to read about Kevin's importance to the company. Even more intriguing, there will be dishes available at the Summit facility that will not appear in Morristown—and vice-versa. 

Though the actual establishments may vary in title—from The Office Beer Bar and Grill, to The Office Tavern and Grill, they are all part of the 40 North family. For that matter, so is another PubScout favorite pub called The Black Horse Tavern and Pub in Mendham. There are Offices in Montclair, Ridgewood, Bridgewater and Westfield, in addition to Morristown and Summit.

But I digress. Our food was excellent. The missus—aka The Crab Croquettes Queen—allowed that hers were phenomenal, and the portion size required her to transport some home. Same with her very fresh salad, which was served in what seemed like a small wading pool. No wonder The Office doggie bags are as big as shopping bags.

None was needed by yours truly, however, whose American Classic Hamburger came out perfectly done to order, and in a manageable, bite-able size. Its ingredients were also very fresh. My plate was cleaned.

From among the forty beers on tap, the missus opted for an Allagash White, and I got to tap the first Forgotten Boardwalk Funnel Cake on Nitro ever served in the new place. District Beer Manager Kendra is a loyal devotee of Jersey beers and has at least five on tap at all times. Today, in addition to the Funnel Cake, there was Kane Head High, Carton Boat, and Magnify had two in the form of Search Saison and Vine Shine. Even some outstanding can offerings like Dale’s Pale Ale and Six Point Resin were available. 

The missus had no room for dessert, but mine came in the form of a Troeg’s Mad Elf. If I have to explain that, you lose whatever beer cred you think you have.
The place has a 150-person capacity in the winter, but once summer comes, an additional thirty-five spots will be utilized for alfresco dining. The only possible negative, which seems to be a common problem in cities and towns with great beer bars, might be the paucity of parking nearby. If you’re not lucky enough to snag one of the few directly in front of the place or nearby around the corners, you might have to hoof it a bit, which I did, new hip and all.

But don’t let that deter you.
A good pub is worth a little extra effort to get to, and with a friendly staff, excellent ambiance, delicious food and forty quality beers on tap The Office in Summit certainly qualifies as that.

And, if you wanted to, you could always take the train.

The PubScout

No comments: