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Chef Tre Ghoshal: More than molecular

Chef Tre Ghoshal: More than molecular


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Tre Ghoshal might have immersion circulators, dehydrators and anti-griddles in the kitchen at his restaurant Adara in Montclair, N.J., but he’s not all about the bells and whistles of molecular gastronomy. The 30-year-old chef and entrepreneur also is well grounded in culinary fundamentals: He’s one of the country’s 65 certified master chefs, a designation given by the American Culinary Federation after passing what is by all accounts a grueling eight-day test of culinary skill and knowledge.

The son of immigrants from the Indian state of West Bengal, Ghoshal named his restaurant, which he opened last October, for a Sanskrit word for “love.”

“It’s an expression of me, really,” Ghoshal says of the restaurant. “Every single dish has a story behind it.”

Ghoshal’s own story didn’t start with a love for food. Although he’d been working in kitchens since he was a teenager, he developed a genuine appreciation of food while he was studying history and political science at Humboldt State University in the northern California town of Arcata, a two-hour drive from Napa Valley. While studying there he worked at the Rib Room at the Eureka Inn in the nearby town of Eureka under Mark Campbell, a protégé of legendary chef Thomas Keller.

“That really kind of set off the direction of my food,” Ghoshal said.

He went on to culinary school at the Art Institute of New York and then ended up working at Nouveau Sushi in Montclair, N.J., where he got in-depth experience with Japanese cuisine. He also has been chef at Rotunda at Neiman Marcus in Paramus, N.J., and at The Savoy Grill in Newark, N.J.

Those experiences plus the Indian food he grew up on inspire the food at Adara, and so do the avant-garde chefs from whom he draws inspiration.

Ghoshal discussed his food and his plans for the future with Nation’s Restaurant News.

Your publicists have described your food as “molecular cuisine.” How do you describe it?

The focus is on balance and flavor profile with a comfort level to it. It’s earthy and has a natural feel.

This restaurant’s a vision I’ve been developing after the past 16 years in the business.

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But you’re only 30 years old.

I started as a dishwasher and went through the whole gamut.

But you went to culinary school anyway?

I thought I needed the red tape to advance my career. In my particular path the degree proved to be insignificant, but I’d recommend it for 98 percent of people who want to be chefs.

Why?

Everybody wants everything so quickly these days, and I think you need to grow some hair on your chest, so to speak. There’s some respect to be given to theoretical development as a chef.


A Culinary Circus, Fresh From the Lab

A MEAL at the month-old restaurant Adara is a three-ring circus — or five rings, or seven, or even 12, depending on how many courses you order.

Thrill to the amazing mozzarella balloon! Watch in disbelief as hickory smoke rises from your guacamole! Taste the “deep sea wind” foam!

And circus may not be the only analogy that occurs to you. The dishes at Adara, with their dazzling palette of yellows and purples, loops and swirls and starbursts, may remind you of canvases in a Matisse exhibition.

Or, more to the point, the periodic table of the elements. Tre Ghoshal, Adara’s 30-year-old chef and owner, has brought to Montclair the scientific techniques and chem-lab equipment of molecular gastronomy, the exacting avant-garde discipline made famous by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

Image

Adara’s kitchen is filled with aerators, dehydrators, smoke guns, immersion circulators and a fiendish-sounding instrument called the Anti-Griddle, which flash-freezes food instead of cooking it. That sea-wind foam is aerated clam juice the restaurant’s mozzarella balloon, an invention of the pioneering Chicago chef Grant Achatz, is made by blasting carbon dioxide into a ball of cheese curd.

Mr. Ghoshal (pronounced GOSH-ul) cites both chefs as inspirations, along with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower Manhattan, and he makes no secret of his ambition to join them as a culinary household name. “I know I’m young,” he said in a recent interview, “but I’ve spent the better part of my life in the kitchen. I want Michelin stars. I’m ready for it.”

Indeed, he wanted to open Adara in New York but could not raise the financing. A New Jerseyan who had his first high-end cooking job in Northern California, he has been executive chef at several restaurants in his home state, including Nouveau Sushi here in Montclair — “a food-savvy town,” he said, that he hopes will have enough adventurous diners to make his new restaurant a hit.

The early returns have been mixed. On a recent Thursday evening when we dropped in to sample Adara’s fare — not to undertake an all-out review — only about a dozen of Adara’s 52 seats were filled. “Montclair is very tough on weekdays,” Mr. Ghoshal said.

Adara (a Sanskrit term for regard and by extension, love) occupies the elegant and comfortable if austere space that was Passionné. Mr. Ghoshal and his crew gave it a full-body makeover, with earth-tone wainscoted walls, burnished-wood floors and, in a corner, a small bar for solo diners or couples.

The restaurant has no liquor license, so the drinks are bring-your-own wine and a neon-lighted lineup of mocktails like the Zengria: green tea, lemongrass fizz, the herb kava kava, and yuzu cotton candy.

Our table did not try the mocktails. There was plenty going on — if not too much — on our plates.

We ordered the seven-course “tour,” at $105 each course offers a choice of two dishes, so two diners were able to sample all 14. It proved to be a head-spinning array of wildly inventive concoctions, never less than entertaining but often less than the sum of their parts.

The mozzarella balloon, for instance, was part of a dish called Campania. It featured slices of flawless, sweet heirloom tomato and a drizzling of basil in balsamic vinegar — a timeless combination that benefited neither from the balloon, which had the approximate texture of a rubber glove, nor from a ball of olive oil gelato that lacked any taste of its named ingredient.

Dishes like these are also a great deal of food, when all is said and done: the gelatos and cotton candies and cheeses and creamy bisques that adorn many of Adara’s dishes pack a lot of calories. “Oh, my God,” a fellow diner said after polishing off a punishingly rich cake of Maytag blue cheese layered with crumbled walnuts. “We’re only through two courses!”

And that can make it hard to keep one’s focus and appetite sharp for a third course like duo of duck (duck breast and shredded duck in maki rolls), a fourth like white truffle envelope (truffle pasta enclosing foie gras, with a rousing kumquat mostarda on the side) and a fifth like pork belly with five flavors, including a warm mustard “ice cream” stabilized with the thickener methylcellulose.

Our sixth and best course offered a tough choice between two very tender dishes: black cod in porridgelike kanji broth with, among other things, wonderfully sharp-tasting crisped Brussels sprouts or lamb épicé, marinated in harissa and honey and cooked sous vide, with Mediterranean accompaniments like minted goat yogurt, baba ghanouj and only one unnecessary flourish, a tooth-achingly sweet pyramid of preserved-lemon cotton candy (mercy!).

For dessert, an unexpected and refreshing choice is the cucumber-shiso sorbet, though it comes with shards of glasslike yuzu-ginger candy that stick disagreeably to the teeth before melting.

Molecular gastronomy is not a new idea. It broke onto the scene a decade ago, and it has been slow to catch on in part because it is so labor-intensive — all those gels and layers and emulsions add up to a lot of staff preparation, and high menu prices — and in part because even sophisticated diners tend to prefer the familiar to the avant-garde. Venue, a cutting-edge restaurant in Hoboken that opened in a much more favorable economy in 2005, lasted just a year.

But like any high-wire act, when it succeeds it can be unforgettable that is the experience Mr. Ghoshal is hoping to provide in Montclair. As Mr. Achatz, the Chicago chef, put it in a telephone interview: “The point is to build a sense of ‘gee whiz,’ of wonder. We want people to say, ‘How did they do that?’ ”


A Culinary Circus, Fresh From the Lab

A MEAL at the month-old restaurant Adara is a three-ring circus — or five rings, or seven, or even 12, depending on how many courses you order.

Thrill to the amazing mozzarella balloon! Watch in disbelief as hickory smoke rises from your guacamole! Taste the “deep sea wind” foam!

And circus may not be the only analogy that occurs to you. The dishes at Adara, with their dazzling palette of yellows and purples, loops and swirls and starbursts, may remind you of canvases in a Matisse exhibition.

Or, more to the point, the periodic table of the elements. Tre Ghoshal, Adara’s 30-year-old chef and owner, has brought to Montclair the scientific techniques and chem-lab equipment of molecular gastronomy, the exacting avant-garde discipline made famous by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

Image

Adara’s kitchen is filled with aerators, dehydrators, smoke guns, immersion circulators and a fiendish-sounding instrument called the Anti-Griddle, which flash-freezes food instead of cooking it. That sea-wind foam is aerated clam juice the restaurant’s mozzarella balloon, an invention of the pioneering Chicago chef Grant Achatz, is made by blasting carbon dioxide into a ball of cheese curd.

Mr. Ghoshal (pronounced GOSH-ul) cites both chefs as inspirations, along with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower Manhattan, and he makes no secret of his ambition to join them as a culinary household name. “I know I’m young,” he said in a recent interview, “but I’ve spent the better part of my life in the kitchen. I want Michelin stars. I’m ready for it.”

Indeed, he wanted to open Adara in New York but could not raise the financing. A New Jerseyan who had his first high-end cooking job in Northern California, he has been executive chef at several restaurants in his home state, including Nouveau Sushi here in Montclair — “a food-savvy town,” he said, that he hopes will have enough adventurous diners to make his new restaurant a hit.

The early returns have been mixed. On a recent Thursday evening when we dropped in to sample Adara’s fare — not to undertake an all-out review — only about a dozen of Adara’s 52 seats were filled. “Montclair is very tough on weekdays,” Mr. Ghoshal said.

Adara (a Sanskrit term for regard and by extension, love) occupies the elegant and comfortable if austere space that was Passionné. Mr. Ghoshal and his crew gave it a full-body makeover, with earth-tone wainscoted walls, burnished-wood floors and, in a corner, a small bar for solo diners or couples.

The restaurant has no liquor license, so the drinks are bring-your-own wine and a neon-lighted lineup of mocktails like the Zengria: green tea, lemongrass fizz, the herb kava kava, and yuzu cotton candy.

Our table did not try the mocktails. There was plenty going on — if not too much — on our plates.

We ordered the seven-course “tour,” at $105 each course offers a choice of two dishes, so two diners were able to sample all 14. It proved to be a head-spinning array of wildly inventive concoctions, never less than entertaining but often less than the sum of their parts.

The mozzarella balloon, for instance, was part of a dish called Campania. It featured slices of flawless, sweet heirloom tomato and a drizzling of basil in balsamic vinegar — a timeless combination that benefited neither from the balloon, which had the approximate texture of a rubber glove, nor from a ball of olive oil gelato that lacked any taste of its named ingredient.

Dishes like these are also a great deal of food, when all is said and done: the gelatos and cotton candies and cheeses and creamy bisques that adorn many of Adara’s dishes pack a lot of calories. “Oh, my God,” a fellow diner said after polishing off a punishingly rich cake of Maytag blue cheese layered with crumbled walnuts. “We’re only through two courses!”

And that can make it hard to keep one’s focus and appetite sharp for a third course like duo of duck (duck breast and shredded duck in maki rolls), a fourth like white truffle envelope (truffle pasta enclosing foie gras, with a rousing kumquat mostarda on the side) and a fifth like pork belly with five flavors, including a warm mustard “ice cream” stabilized with the thickener methylcellulose.

Our sixth and best course offered a tough choice between two very tender dishes: black cod in porridgelike kanji broth with, among other things, wonderfully sharp-tasting crisped Brussels sprouts or lamb épicé, marinated in harissa and honey and cooked sous vide, with Mediterranean accompaniments like minted goat yogurt, baba ghanouj and only one unnecessary flourish, a tooth-achingly sweet pyramid of preserved-lemon cotton candy (mercy!).

For dessert, an unexpected and refreshing choice is the cucumber-shiso sorbet, though it comes with shards of glasslike yuzu-ginger candy that stick disagreeably to the teeth before melting.

Molecular gastronomy is not a new idea. It broke onto the scene a decade ago, and it has been slow to catch on in part because it is so labor-intensive — all those gels and layers and emulsions add up to a lot of staff preparation, and high menu prices — and in part because even sophisticated diners tend to prefer the familiar to the avant-garde. Venue, a cutting-edge restaurant in Hoboken that opened in a much more favorable economy in 2005, lasted just a year.

But like any high-wire act, when it succeeds it can be unforgettable that is the experience Mr. Ghoshal is hoping to provide in Montclair. As Mr. Achatz, the Chicago chef, put it in a telephone interview: “The point is to build a sense of ‘gee whiz,’ of wonder. We want people to say, ‘How did they do that?’ ”


A Culinary Circus, Fresh From the Lab

A MEAL at the month-old restaurant Adara is a three-ring circus — or five rings, or seven, or even 12, depending on how many courses you order.

Thrill to the amazing mozzarella balloon! Watch in disbelief as hickory smoke rises from your guacamole! Taste the “deep sea wind” foam!

And circus may not be the only analogy that occurs to you. The dishes at Adara, with their dazzling palette of yellows and purples, loops and swirls and starbursts, may remind you of canvases in a Matisse exhibition.

Or, more to the point, the periodic table of the elements. Tre Ghoshal, Adara’s 30-year-old chef and owner, has brought to Montclair the scientific techniques and chem-lab equipment of molecular gastronomy, the exacting avant-garde discipline made famous by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

Image

Adara’s kitchen is filled with aerators, dehydrators, smoke guns, immersion circulators and a fiendish-sounding instrument called the Anti-Griddle, which flash-freezes food instead of cooking it. That sea-wind foam is aerated clam juice the restaurant’s mozzarella balloon, an invention of the pioneering Chicago chef Grant Achatz, is made by blasting carbon dioxide into a ball of cheese curd.

Mr. Ghoshal (pronounced GOSH-ul) cites both chefs as inspirations, along with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower Manhattan, and he makes no secret of his ambition to join them as a culinary household name. “I know I’m young,” he said in a recent interview, “but I’ve spent the better part of my life in the kitchen. I want Michelin stars. I’m ready for it.”

Indeed, he wanted to open Adara in New York but could not raise the financing. A New Jerseyan who had his first high-end cooking job in Northern California, he has been executive chef at several restaurants in his home state, including Nouveau Sushi here in Montclair — “a food-savvy town,” he said, that he hopes will have enough adventurous diners to make his new restaurant a hit.

The early returns have been mixed. On a recent Thursday evening when we dropped in to sample Adara’s fare — not to undertake an all-out review — only about a dozen of Adara’s 52 seats were filled. “Montclair is very tough on weekdays,” Mr. Ghoshal said.

Adara (a Sanskrit term for regard and by extension, love) occupies the elegant and comfortable if austere space that was Passionné. Mr. Ghoshal and his crew gave it a full-body makeover, with earth-tone wainscoted walls, burnished-wood floors and, in a corner, a small bar for solo diners or couples.

The restaurant has no liquor license, so the drinks are bring-your-own wine and a neon-lighted lineup of mocktails like the Zengria: green tea, lemongrass fizz, the herb kava kava, and yuzu cotton candy.

Our table did not try the mocktails. There was plenty going on — if not too much — on our plates.

We ordered the seven-course “tour,” at $105 each course offers a choice of two dishes, so two diners were able to sample all 14. It proved to be a head-spinning array of wildly inventive concoctions, never less than entertaining but often less than the sum of their parts.

The mozzarella balloon, for instance, was part of a dish called Campania. It featured slices of flawless, sweet heirloom tomato and a drizzling of basil in balsamic vinegar — a timeless combination that benefited neither from the balloon, which had the approximate texture of a rubber glove, nor from a ball of olive oil gelato that lacked any taste of its named ingredient.

Dishes like these are also a great deal of food, when all is said and done: the gelatos and cotton candies and cheeses and creamy bisques that adorn many of Adara’s dishes pack a lot of calories. “Oh, my God,” a fellow diner said after polishing off a punishingly rich cake of Maytag blue cheese layered with crumbled walnuts. “We’re only through two courses!”

And that can make it hard to keep one’s focus and appetite sharp for a third course like duo of duck (duck breast and shredded duck in maki rolls), a fourth like white truffle envelope (truffle pasta enclosing foie gras, with a rousing kumquat mostarda on the side) and a fifth like pork belly with five flavors, including a warm mustard “ice cream” stabilized with the thickener methylcellulose.

Our sixth and best course offered a tough choice between two very tender dishes: black cod in porridgelike kanji broth with, among other things, wonderfully sharp-tasting crisped Brussels sprouts or lamb épicé, marinated in harissa and honey and cooked sous vide, with Mediterranean accompaniments like minted goat yogurt, baba ghanouj and only one unnecessary flourish, a tooth-achingly sweet pyramid of preserved-lemon cotton candy (mercy!).

For dessert, an unexpected and refreshing choice is the cucumber-shiso sorbet, though it comes with shards of glasslike yuzu-ginger candy that stick disagreeably to the teeth before melting.

Molecular gastronomy is not a new idea. It broke onto the scene a decade ago, and it has been slow to catch on in part because it is so labor-intensive — all those gels and layers and emulsions add up to a lot of staff preparation, and high menu prices — and in part because even sophisticated diners tend to prefer the familiar to the avant-garde. Venue, a cutting-edge restaurant in Hoboken that opened in a much more favorable economy in 2005, lasted just a year.

But like any high-wire act, when it succeeds it can be unforgettable that is the experience Mr. Ghoshal is hoping to provide in Montclair. As Mr. Achatz, the Chicago chef, put it in a telephone interview: “The point is to build a sense of ‘gee whiz,’ of wonder. We want people to say, ‘How did they do that?’ ”


A Culinary Circus, Fresh From the Lab

A MEAL at the month-old restaurant Adara is a three-ring circus — or five rings, or seven, or even 12, depending on how many courses you order.

Thrill to the amazing mozzarella balloon! Watch in disbelief as hickory smoke rises from your guacamole! Taste the “deep sea wind” foam!

And circus may not be the only analogy that occurs to you. The dishes at Adara, with their dazzling palette of yellows and purples, loops and swirls and starbursts, may remind you of canvases in a Matisse exhibition.

Or, more to the point, the periodic table of the elements. Tre Ghoshal, Adara’s 30-year-old chef and owner, has brought to Montclair the scientific techniques and chem-lab equipment of molecular gastronomy, the exacting avant-garde discipline made famous by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

Image

Adara’s kitchen is filled with aerators, dehydrators, smoke guns, immersion circulators and a fiendish-sounding instrument called the Anti-Griddle, which flash-freezes food instead of cooking it. That sea-wind foam is aerated clam juice the restaurant’s mozzarella balloon, an invention of the pioneering Chicago chef Grant Achatz, is made by blasting carbon dioxide into a ball of cheese curd.

Mr. Ghoshal (pronounced GOSH-ul) cites both chefs as inspirations, along with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower Manhattan, and he makes no secret of his ambition to join them as a culinary household name. “I know I’m young,” he said in a recent interview, “but I’ve spent the better part of my life in the kitchen. I want Michelin stars. I’m ready for it.”

Indeed, he wanted to open Adara in New York but could not raise the financing. A New Jerseyan who had his first high-end cooking job in Northern California, he has been executive chef at several restaurants in his home state, including Nouveau Sushi here in Montclair — “a food-savvy town,” he said, that he hopes will have enough adventurous diners to make his new restaurant a hit.

The early returns have been mixed. On a recent Thursday evening when we dropped in to sample Adara’s fare — not to undertake an all-out review — only about a dozen of Adara’s 52 seats were filled. “Montclair is very tough on weekdays,” Mr. Ghoshal said.

Adara (a Sanskrit term for regard and by extension, love) occupies the elegant and comfortable if austere space that was Passionné. Mr. Ghoshal and his crew gave it a full-body makeover, with earth-tone wainscoted walls, burnished-wood floors and, in a corner, a small bar for solo diners or couples.

The restaurant has no liquor license, so the drinks are bring-your-own wine and a neon-lighted lineup of mocktails like the Zengria: green tea, lemongrass fizz, the herb kava kava, and yuzu cotton candy.

Our table did not try the mocktails. There was plenty going on — if not too much — on our plates.

We ordered the seven-course “tour,” at $105 each course offers a choice of two dishes, so two diners were able to sample all 14. It proved to be a head-spinning array of wildly inventive concoctions, never less than entertaining but often less than the sum of their parts.

The mozzarella balloon, for instance, was part of a dish called Campania. It featured slices of flawless, sweet heirloom tomato and a drizzling of basil in balsamic vinegar — a timeless combination that benefited neither from the balloon, which had the approximate texture of a rubber glove, nor from a ball of olive oil gelato that lacked any taste of its named ingredient.

Dishes like these are also a great deal of food, when all is said and done: the gelatos and cotton candies and cheeses and creamy bisques that adorn many of Adara’s dishes pack a lot of calories. “Oh, my God,” a fellow diner said after polishing off a punishingly rich cake of Maytag blue cheese layered with crumbled walnuts. “We’re only through two courses!”

And that can make it hard to keep one’s focus and appetite sharp for a third course like duo of duck (duck breast and shredded duck in maki rolls), a fourth like white truffle envelope (truffle pasta enclosing foie gras, with a rousing kumquat mostarda on the side) and a fifth like pork belly with five flavors, including a warm mustard “ice cream” stabilized with the thickener methylcellulose.

Our sixth and best course offered a tough choice between two very tender dishes: black cod in porridgelike kanji broth with, among other things, wonderfully sharp-tasting crisped Brussels sprouts or lamb épicé, marinated in harissa and honey and cooked sous vide, with Mediterranean accompaniments like minted goat yogurt, baba ghanouj and only one unnecessary flourish, a tooth-achingly sweet pyramid of preserved-lemon cotton candy (mercy!).

For dessert, an unexpected and refreshing choice is the cucumber-shiso sorbet, though it comes with shards of glasslike yuzu-ginger candy that stick disagreeably to the teeth before melting.

Molecular gastronomy is not a new idea. It broke onto the scene a decade ago, and it has been slow to catch on in part because it is so labor-intensive — all those gels and layers and emulsions add up to a lot of staff preparation, and high menu prices — and in part because even sophisticated diners tend to prefer the familiar to the avant-garde. Venue, a cutting-edge restaurant in Hoboken that opened in a much more favorable economy in 2005, lasted just a year.

But like any high-wire act, when it succeeds it can be unforgettable that is the experience Mr. Ghoshal is hoping to provide in Montclair. As Mr. Achatz, the Chicago chef, put it in a telephone interview: “The point is to build a sense of ‘gee whiz,’ of wonder. We want people to say, ‘How did they do that?’ ”


A Culinary Circus, Fresh From the Lab

A MEAL at the month-old restaurant Adara is a three-ring circus — or five rings, or seven, or even 12, depending on how many courses you order.

Thrill to the amazing mozzarella balloon! Watch in disbelief as hickory smoke rises from your guacamole! Taste the “deep sea wind” foam!

And circus may not be the only analogy that occurs to you. The dishes at Adara, with their dazzling palette of yellows and purples, loops and swirls and starbursts, may remind you of canvases in a Matisse exhibition.

Or, more to the point, the periodic table of the elements. Tre Ghoshal, Adara’s 30-year-old chef and owner, has brought to Montclair the scientific techniques and chem-lab equipment of molecular gastronomy, the exacting avant-garde discipline made famous by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

Image

Adara’s kitchen is filled with aerators, dehydrators, smoke guns, immersion circulators and a fiendish-sounding instrument called the Anti-Griddle, which flash-freezes food instead of cooking it. That sea-wind foam is aerated clam juice the restaurant’s mozzarella balloon, an invention of the pioneering Chicago chef Grant Achatz, is made by blasting carbon dioxide into a ball of cheese curd.

Mr. Ghoshal (pronounced GOSH-ul) cites both chefs as inspirations, along with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower Manhattan, and he makes no secret of his ambition to join them as a culinary household name. “I know I’m young,” he said in a recent interview, “but I’ve spent the better part of my life in the kitchen. I want Michelin stars. I’m ready for it.”

Indeed, he wanted to open Adara in New York but could not raise the financing. A New Jerseyan who had his first high-end cooking job in Northern California, he has been executive chef at several restaurants in his home state, including Nouveau Sushi here in Montclair — “a food-savvy town,” he said, that he hopes will have enough adventurous diners to make his new restaurant a hit.

The early returns have been mixed. On a recent Thursday evening when we dropped in to sample Adara’s fare — not to undertake an all-out review — only about a dozen of Adara’s 52 seats were filled. “Montclair is very tough on weekdays,” Mr. Ghoshal said.

Adara (a Sanskrit term for regard and by extension, love) occupies the elegant and comfortable if austere space that was Passionné. Mr. Ghoshal and his crew gave it a full-body makeover, with earth-tone wainscoted walls, burnished-wood floors and, in a corner, a small bar for solo diners or couples.

The restaurant has no liquor license, so the drinks are bring-your-own wine and a neon-lighted lineup of mocktails like the Zengria: green tea, lemongrass fizz, the herb kava kava, and yuzu cotton candy.

Our table did not try the mocktails. There was plenty going on — if not too much — on our plates.

We ordered the seven-course “tour,” at $105 each course offers a choice of two dishes, so two diners were able to sample all 14. It proved to be a head-spinning array of wildly inventive concoctions, never less than entertaining but often less than the sum of their parts.

The mozzarella balloon, for instance, was part of a dish called Campania. It featured slices of flawless, sweet heirloom tomato and a drizzling of basil in balsamic vinegar — a timeless combination that benefited neither from the balloon, which had the approximate texture of a rubber glove, nor from a ball of olive oil gelato that lacked any taste of its named ingredient.

Dishes like these are also a great deal of food, when all is said and done: the gelatos and cotton candies and cheeses and creamy bisques that adorn many of Adara’s dishes pack a lot of calories. “Oh, my God,” a fellow diner said after polishing off a punishingly rich cake of Maytag blue cheese layered with crumbled walnuts. “We’re only through two courses!”

And that can make it hard to keep one’s focus and appetite sharp for a third course like duo of duck (duck breast and shredded duck in maki rolls), a fourth like white truffle envelope (truffle pasta enclosing foie gras, with a rousing kumquat mostarda on the side) and a fifth like pork belly with five flavors, including a warm mustard “ice cream” stabilized with the thickener methylcellulose.

Our sixth and best course offered a tough choice between two very tender dishes: black cod in porridgelike kanji broth with, among other things, wonderfully sharp-tasting crisped Brussels sprouts or lamb épicé, marinated in harissa and honey and cooked sous vide, with Mediterranean accompaniments like minted goat yogurt, baba ghanouj and only one unnecessary flourish, a tooth-achingly sweet pyramid of preserved-lemon cotton candy (mercy!).

For dessert, an unexpected and refreshing choice is the cucumber-shiso sorbet, though it comes with shards of glasslike yuzu-ginger candy that stick disagreeably to the teeth before melting.

Molecular gastronomy is not a new idea. It broke onto the scene a decade ago, and it has been slow to catch on in part because it is so labor-intensive — all those gels and layers and emulsions add up to a lot of staff preparation, and high menu prices — and in part because even sophisticated diners tend to prefer the familiar to the avant-garde. Venue, a cutting-edge restaurant in Hoboken that opened in a much more favorable economy in 2005, lasted just a year.

But like any high-wire act, when it succeeds it can be unforgettable that is the experience Mr. Ghoshal is hoping to provide in Montclair. As Mr. Achatz, the Chicago chef, put it in a telephone interview: “The point is to build a sense of ‘gee whiz,’ of wonder. We want people to say, ‘How did they do that?’ ”


A Culinary Circus, Fresh From the Lab

A MEAL at the month-old restaurant Adara is a three-ring circus — or five rings, or seven, or even 12, depending on how many courses you order.

Thrill to the amazing mozzarella balloon! Watch in disbelief as hickory smoke rises from your guacamole! Taste the “deep sea wind” foam!

And circus may not be the only analogy that occurs to you. The dishes at Adara, with their dazzling palette of yellows and purples, loops and swirls and starbursts, may remind you of canvases in a Matisse exhibition.

Or, more to the point, the periodic table of the elements. Tre Ghoshal, Adara’s 30-year-old chef and owner, has brought to Montclair the scientific techniques and chem-lab equipment of molecular gastronomy, the exacting avant-garde discipline made famous by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

Image

Adara’s kitchen is filled with aerators, dehydrators, smoke guns, immersion circulators and a fiendish-sounding instrument called the Anti-Griddle, which flash-freezes food instead of cooking it. That sea-wind foam is aerated clam juice the restaurant’s mozzarella balloon, an invention of the pioneering Chicago chef Grant Achatz, is made by blasting carbon dioxide into a ball of cheese curd.

Mr. Ghoshal (pronounced GOSH-ul) cites both chefs as inspirations, along with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower Manhattan, and he makes no secret of his ambition to join them as a culinary household name. “I know I’m young,” he said in a recent interview, “but I’ve spent the better part of my life in the kitchen. I want Michelin stars. I’m ready for it.”

Indeed, he wanted to open Adara in New York but could not raise the financing. A New Jerseyan who had his first high-end cooking job in Northern California, he has been executive chef at several restaurants in his home state, including Nouveau Sushi here in Montclair — “a food-savvy town,” he said, that he hopes will have enough adventurous diners to make his new restaurant a hit.

The early returns have been mixed. On a recent Thursday evening when we dropped in to sample Adara’s fare — not to undertake an all-out review — only about a dozen of Adara’s 52 seats were filled. “Montclair is very tough on weekdays,” Mr. Ghoshal said.

Adara (a Sanskrit term for regard and by extension, love) occupies the elegant and comfortable if austere space that was Passionné. Mr. Ghoshal and his crew gave it a full-body makeover, with earth-tone wainscoted walls, burnished-wood floors and, in a corner, a small bar for solo diners or couples.

The restaurant has no liquor license, so the drinks are bring-your-own wine and a neon-lighted lineup of mocktails like the Zengria: green tea, lemongrass fizz, the herb kava kava, and yuzu cotton candy.

Our table did not try the mocktails. There was plenty going on — if not too much — on our plates.

We ordered the seven-course “tour,” at $105 each course offers a choice of two dishes, so two diners were able to sample all 14. It proved to be a head-spinning array of wildly inventive concoctions, never less than entertaining but often less than the sum of their parts.

The mozzarella balloon, for instance, was part of a dish called Campania. It featured slices of flawless, sweet heirloom tomato and a drizzling of basil in balsamic vinegar — a timeless combination that benefited neither from the balloon, which had the approximate texture of a rubber glove, nor from a ball of olive oil gelato that lacked any taste of its named ingredient.

Dishes like these are also a great deal of food, when all is said and done: the gelatos and cotton candies and cheeses and creamy bisques that adorn many of Adara’s dishes pack a lot of calories. “Oh, my God,” a fellow diner said after polishing off a punishingly rich cake of Maytag blue cheese layered with crumbled walnuts. “We’re only through two courses!”

And that can make it hard to keep one’s focus and appetite sharp for a third course like duo of duck (duck breast and shredded duck in maki rolls), a fourth like white truffle envelope (truffle pasta enclosing foie gras, with a rousing kumquat mostarda on the side) and a fifth like pork belly with five flavors, including a warm mustard “ice cream” stabilized with the thickener methylcellulose.

Our sixth and best course offered a tough choice between two very tender dishes: black cod in porridgelike kanji broth with, among other things, wonderfully sharp-tasting crisped Brussels sprouts or lamb épicé, marinated in harissa and honey and cooked sous vide, with Mediterranean accompaniments like minted goat yogurt, baba ghanouj and only one unnecessary flourish, a tooth-achingly sweet pyramid of preserved-lemon cotton candy (mercy!).

For dessert, an unexpected and refreshing choice is the cucumber-shiso sorbet, though it comes with shards of glasslike yuzu-ginger candy that stick disagreeably to the teeth before melting.

Molecular gastronomy is not a new idea. It broke onto the scene a decade ago, and it has been slow to catch on in part because it is so labor-intensive — all those gels and layers and emulsions add up to a lot of staff preparation, and high menu prices — and in part because even sophisticated diners tend to prefer the familiar to the avant-garde. Venue, a cutting-edge restaurant in Hoboken that opened in a much more favorable economy in 2005, lasted just a year.

But like any high-wire act, when it succeeds it can be unforgettable that is the experience Mr. Ghoshal is hoping to provide in Montclair. As Mr. Achatz, the Chicago chef, put it in a telephone interview: “The point is to build a sense of ‘gee whiz,’ of wonder. We want people to say, ‘How did they do that?’ ”


A Culinary Circus, Fresh From the Lab

A MEAL at the month-old restaurant Adara is a three-ring circus — or five rings, or seven, or even 12, depending on how many courses you order.

Thrill to the amazing mozzarella balloon! Watch in disbelief as hickory smoke rises from your guacamole! Taste the “deep sea wind” foam!

And circus may not be the only analogy that occurs to you. The dishes at Adara, with their dazzling palette of yellows and purples, loops and swirls and starbursts, may remind you of canvases in a Matisse exhibition.

Or, more to the point, the periodic table of the elements. Tre Ghoshal, Adara’s 30-year-old chef and owner, has brought to Montclair the scientific techniques and chem-lab equipment of molecular gastronomy, the exacting avant-garde discipline made famous by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

Image

Adara’s kitchen is filled with aerators, dehydrators, smoke guns, immersion circulators and a fiendish-sounding instrument called the Anti-Griddle, which flash-freezes food instead of cooking it. That sea-wind foam is aerated clam juice the restaurant’s mozzarella balloon, an invention of the pioneering Chicago chef Grant Achatz, is made by blasting carbon dioxide into a ball of cheese curd.

Mr. Ghoshal (pronounced GOSH-ul) cites both chefs as inspirations, along with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower Manhattan, and he makes no secret of his ambition to join them as a culinary household name. “I know I’m young,” he said in a recent interview, “but I’ve spent the better part of my life in the kitchen. I want Michelin stars. I’m ready for it.”

Indeed, he wanted to open Adara in New York but could not raise the financing. A New Jerseyan who had his first high-end cooking job in Northern California, he has been executive chef at several restaurants in his home state, including Nouveau Sushi here in Montclair — “a food-savvy town,” he said, that he hopes will have enough adventurous diners to make his new restaurant a hit.

The early returns have been mixed. On a recent Thursday evening when we dropped in to sample Adara’s fare — not to undertake an all-out review — only about a dozen of Adara’s 52 seats were filled. “Montclair is very tough on weekdays,” Mr. Ghoshal said.

Adara (a Sanskrit term for regard and by extension, love) occupies the elegant and comfortable if austere space that was Passionné. Mr. Ghoshal and his crew gave it a full-body makeover, with earth-tone wainscoted walls, burnished-wood floors and, in a corner, a small bar for solo diners or couples.

The restaurant has no liquor license, so the drinks are bring-your-own wine and a neon-lighted lineup of mocktails like the Zengria: green tea, lemongrass fizz, the herb kava kava, and yuzu cotton candy.

Our table did not try the mocktails. There was plenty going on — if not too much — on our plates.

We ordered the seven-course “tour,” at $105 each course offers a choice of two dishes, so two diners were able to sample all 14. It proved to be a head-spinning array of wildly inventive concoctions, never less than entertaining but often less than the sum of their parts.

The mozzarella balloon, for instance, was part of a dish called Campania. It featured slices of flawless, sweet heirloom tomato and a drizzling of basil in balsamic vinegar — a timeless combination that benefited neither from the balloon, which had the approximate texture of a rubber glove, nor from a ball of olive oil gelato that lacked any taste of its named ingredient.

Dishes like these are also a great deal of food, when all is said and done: the gelatos and cotton candies and cheeses and creamy bisques that adorn many of Adara’s dishes pack a lot of calories. “Oh, my God,” a fellow diner said after polishing off a punishingly rich cake of Maytag blue cheese layered with crumbled walnuts. “We’re only through two courses!”

And that can make it hard to keep one’s focus and appetite sharp for a third course like duo of duck (duck breast and shredded duck in maki rolls), a fourth like white truffle envelope (truffle pasta enclosing foie gras, with a rousing kumquat mostarda on the side) and a fifth like pork belly with five flavors, including a warm mustard “ice cream” stabilized with the thickener methylcellulose.

Our sixth and best course offered a tough choice between two very tender dishes: black cod in porridgelike kanji broth with, among other things, wonderfully sharp-tasting crisped Brussels sprouts or lamb épicé, marinated in harissa and honey and cooked sous vide, with Mediterranean accompaniments like minted goat yogurt, baba ghanouj and only one unnecessary flourish, a tooth-achingly sweet pyramid of preserved-lemon cotton candy (mercy!).

For dessert, an unexpected and refreshing choice is the cucumber-shiso sorbet, though it comes with shards of glasslike yuzu-ginger candy that stick disagreeably to the teeth before melting.

Molecular gastronomy is not a new idea. It broke onto the scene a decade ago, and it has been slow to catch on in part because it is so labor-intensive — all those gels and layers and emulsions add up to a lot of staff preparation, and high menu prices — and in part because even sophisticated diners tend to prefer the familiar to the avant-garde. Venue, a cutting-edge restaurant in Hoboken that opened in a much more favorable economy in 2005, lasted just a year.

But like any high-wire act, when it succeeds it can be unforgettable that is the experience Mr. Ghoshal is hoping to provide in Montclair. As Mr. Achatz, the Chicago chef, put it in a telephone interview: “The point is to build a sense of ‘gee whiz,’ of wonder. We want people to say, ‘How did they do that?’ ”


A Culinary Circus, Fresh From the Lab

A MEAL at the month-old restaurant Adara is a three-ring circus — or five rings, or seven, or even 12, depending on how many courses you order.

Thrill to the amazing mozzarella balloon! Watch in disbelief as hickory smoke rises from your guacamole! Taste the “deep sea wind” foam!

And circus may not be the only analogy that occurs to you. The dishes at Adara, with their dazzling palette of yellows and purples, loops and swirls and starbursts, may remind you of canvases in a Matisse exhibition.

Or, more to the point, the periodic table of the elements. Tre Ghoshal, Adara’s 30-year-old chef and owner, has brought to Montclair the scientific techniques and chem-lab equipment of molecular gastronomy, the exacting avant-garde discipline made famous by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

Image

Adara’s kitchen is filled with aerators, dehydrators, smoke guns, immersion circulators and a fiendish-sounding instrument called the Anti-Griddle, which flash-freezes food instead of cooking it. That sea-wind foam is aerated clam juice the restaurant’s mozzarella balloon, an invention of the pioneering Chicago chef Grant Achatz, is made by blasting carbon dioxide into a ball of cheese curd.

Mr. Ghoshal (pronounced GOSH-ul) cites both chefs as inspirations, along with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower Manhattan, and he makes no secret of his ambition to join them as a culinary household name. “I know I’m young,” he said in a recent interview, “but I’ve spent the better part of my life in the kitchen. I want Michelin stars. I’m ready for it.”

Indeed, he wanted to open Adara in New York but could not raise the financing. A New Jerseyan who had his first high-end cooking job in Northern California, he has been executive chef at several restaurants in his home state, including Nouveau Sushi here in Montclair — “a food-savvy town,” he said, that he hopes will have enough adventurous diners to make his new restaurant a hit.

The early returns have been mixed. On a recent Thursday evening when we dropped in to sample Adara’s fare — not to undertake an all-out review — only about a dozen of Adara’s 52 seats were filled. “Montclair is very tough on weekdays,” Mr. Ghoshal said.

Adara (a Sanskrit term for regard and by extension, love) occupies the elegant and comfortable if austere space that was Passionné. Mr. Ghoshal and his crew gave it a full-body makeover, with earth-tone wainscoted walls, burnished-wood floors and, in a corner, a small bar for solo diners or couples.

The restaurant has no liquor license, so the drinks are bring-your-own wine and a neon-lighted lineup of mocktails like the Zengria: green tea, lemongrass fizz, the herb kava kava, and yuzu cotton candy.

Our table did not try the mocktails. There was plenty going on — if not too much — on our plates.

We ordered the seven-course “tour,” at $105 each course offers a choice of two dishes, so two diners were able to sample all 14. It proved to be a head-spinning array of wildly inventive concoctions, never less than entertaining but often less than the sum of their parts.

The mozzarella balloon, for instance, was part of a dish called Campania. It featured slices of flawless, sweet heirloom tomato and a drizzling of basil in balsamic vinegar — a timeless combination that benefited neither from the balloon, which had the approximate texture of a rubber glove, nor from a ball of olive oil gelato that lacked any taste of its named ingredient.

Dishes like these are also a great deal of food, when all is said and done: the gelatos and cotton candies and cheeses and creamy bisques that adorn many of Adara’s dishes pack a lot of calories. “Oh, my God,” a fellow diner said after polishing off a punishingly rich cake of Maytag blue cheese layered with crumbled walnuts. “We’re only through two courses!”

And that can make it hard to keep one’s focus and appetite sharp for a third course like duo of duck (duck breast and shredded duck in maki rolls), a fourth like white truffle envelope (truffle pasta enclosing foie gras, with a rousing kumquat mostarda on the side) and a fifth like pork belly with five flavors, including a warm mustard “ice cream” stabilized with the thickener methylcellulose.

Our sixth and best course offered a tough choice between two very tender dishes: black cod in porridgelike kanji broth with, among other things, wonderfully sharp-tasting crisped Brussels sprouts or lamb épicé, marinated in harissa and honey and cooked sous vide, with Mediterranean accompaniments like minted goat yogurt, baba ghanouj and only one unnecessary flourish, a tooth-achingly sweet pyramid of preserved-lemon cotton candy (mercy!).

For dessert, an unexpected and refreshing choice is the cucumber-shiso sorbet, though it comes with shards of glasslike yuzu-ginger candy that stick disagreeably to the teeth before melting.

Molecular gastronomy is not a new idea. It broke onto the scene a decade ago, and it has been slow to catch on in part because it is so labor-intensive — all those gels and layers and emulsions add up to a lot of staff preparation, and high menu prices — and in part because even sophisticated diners tend to prefer the familiar to the avant-garde. Venue, a cutting-edge restaurant in Hoboken that opened in a much more favorable economy in 2005, lasted just a year.

But like any high-wire act, when it succeeds it can be unforgettable that is the experience Mr. Ghoshal is hoping to provide in Montclair. As Mr. Achatz, the Chicago chef, put it in a telephone interview: “The point is to build a sense of ‘gee whiz,’ of wonder. We want people to say, ‘How did they do that?’ ”


A Culinary Circus, Fresh From the Lab

A MEAL at the month-old restaurant Adara is a three-ring circus — or five rings, or seven, or even 12, depending on how many courses you order.

Thrill to the amazing mozzarella balloon! Watch in disbelief as hickory smoke rises from your guacamole! Taste the “deep sea wind” foam!

And circus may not be the only analogy that occurs to you. The dishes at Adara, with their dazzling palette of yellows and purples, loops and swirls and starbursts, may remind you of canvases in a Matisse exhibition.

Or, more to the point, the periodic table of the elements. Tre Ghoshal, Adara’s 30-year-old chef and owner, has brought to Montclair the scientific techniques and chem-lab equipment of molecular gastronomy, the exacting avant-garde discipline made famous by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

Image

Adara’s kitchen is filled with aerators, dehydrators, smoke guns, immersion circulators and a fiendish-sounding instrument called the Anti-Griddle, which flash-freezes food instead of cooking it. That sea-wind foam is aerated clam juice the restaurant’s mozzarella balloon, an invention of the pioneering Chicago chef Grant Achatz, is made by blasting carbon dioxide into a ball of cheese curd.

Mr. Ghoshal (pronounced GOSH-ul) cites both chefs as inspirations, along with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower Manhattan, and he makes no secret of his ambition to join them as a culinary household name. “I know I’m young,” he said in a recent interview, “but I’ve spent the better part of my life in the kitchen. I want Michelin stars. I’m ready for it.”

Indeed, he wanted to open Adara in New York but could not raise the financing. A New Jerseyan who had his first high-end cooking job in Northern California, he has been executive chef at several restaurants in his home state, including Nouveau Sushi here in Montclair — “a food-savvy town,” he said, that he hopes will have enough adventurous diners to make his new restaurant a hit.

The early returns have been mixed. On a recent Thursday evening when we dropped in to sample Adara’s fare — not to undertake an all-out review — only about a dozen of Adara’s 52 seats were filled. “Montclair is very tough on weekdays,” Mr. Ghoshal said.

Adara (a Sanskrit term for regard and by extension, love) occupies the elegant and comfortable if austere space that was Passionné. Mr. Ghoshal and his crew gave it a full-body makeover, with earth-tone wainscoted walls, burnished-wood floors and, in a corner, a small bar for solo diners or couples.

The restaurant has no liquor license, so the drinks are bring-your-own wine and a neon-lighted lineup of mocktails like the Zengria: green tea, lemongrass fizz, the herb kava kava, and yuzu cotton candy.

Our table did not try the mocktails. There was plenty going on — if not too much — on our plates.

We ordered the seven-course “tour,” at $105 each course offers a choice of two dishes, so two diners were able to sample all 14. It proved to be a head-spinning array of wildly inventive concoctions, never less than entertaining but often less than the sum of their parts.

The mozzarella balloon, for instance, was part of a dish called Campania. It featured slices of flawless, sweet heirloom tomato and a drizzling of basil in balsamic vinegar — a timeless combination that benefited neither from the balloon, which had the approximate texture of a rubber glove, nor from a ball of olive oil gelato that lacked any taste of its named ingredient.

Dishes like these are also a great deal of food, when all is said and done: the gelatos and cotton candies and cheeses and creamy bisques that adorn many of Adara’s dishes pack a lot of calories. “Oh, my God,” a fellow diner said after polishing off a punishingly rich cake of Maytag blue cheese layered with crumbled walnuts. “We’re only through two courses!”

And that can make it hard to keep one’s focus and appetite sharp for a third course like duo of duck (duck breast and shredded duck in maki rolls), a fourth like white truffle envelope (truffle pasta enclosing foie gras, with a rousing kumquat mostarda on the side) and a fifth like pork belly with five flavors, including a warm mustard “ice cream” stabilized with the thickener methylcellulose.

Our sixth and best course offered a tough choice between two very tender dishes: black cod in porridgelike kanji broth with, among other things, wonderfully sharp-tasting crisped Brussels sprouts or lamb épicé, marinated in harissa and honey and cooked sous vide, with Mediterranean accompaniments like minted goat yogurt, baba ghanouj and only one unnecessary flourish, a tooth-achingly sweet pyramid of preserved-lemon cotton candy (mercy!).

For dessert, an unexpected and refreshing choice is the cucumber-shiso sorbet, though it comes with shards of glasslike yuzu-ginger candy that stick disagreeably to the teeth before melting.

Molecular gastronomy is not a new idea. It broke onto the scene a decade ago, and it has been slow to catch on in part because it is so labor-intensive — all those gels and layers and emulsions add up to a lot of staff preparation, and high menu prices — and in part because even sophisticated diners tend to prefer the familiar to the avant-garde. Venue, a cutting-edge restaurant in Hoboken that opened in a much more favorable economy in 2005, lasted just a year.

But like any high-wire act, when it succeeds it can be unforgettable that is the experience Mr. Ghoshal is hoping to provide in Montclair. As Mr. Achatz, the Chicago chef, put it in a telephone interview: “The point is to build a sense of ‘gee whiz,’ of wonder. We want people to say, ‘How did they do that?’ ”


A Culinary Circus, Fresh From the Lab

A MEAL at the month-old restaurant Adara is a three-ring circus — or five rings, or seven, or even 12, depending on how many courses you order.

Thrill to the amazing mozzarella balloon! Watch in disbelief as hickory smoke rises from your guacamole! Taste the “deep sea wind” foam!

And circus may not be the only analogy that occurs to you. The dishes at Adara, with their dazzling palette of yellows and purples, loops and swirls and starbursts, may remind you of canvases in a Matisse exhibition.

Or, more to the point, the periodic table of the elements. Tre Ghoshal, Adara’s 30-year-old chef and owner, has brought to Montclair the scientific techniques and chem-lab equipment of molecular gastronomy, the exacting avant-garde discipline made famous by the Spanish chef Ferran Adrià.

Image

Adara’s kitchen is filled with aerators, dehydrators, smoke guns, immersion circulators and a fiendish-sounding instrument called the Anti-Griddle, which flash-freezes food instead of cooking it. That sea-wind foam is aerated clam juice the restaurant’s mozzarella balloon, an invention of the pioneering Chicago chef Grant Achatz, is made by blasting carbon dioxide into a ball of cheese curd.

Mr. Ghoshal (pronounced GOSH-ul) cites both chefs as inspirations, along with Wylie Dufresne of WD-50 in Lower Manhattan, and he makes no secret of his ambition to join them as a culinary household name. “I know I’m young,” he said in a recent interview, “but I’ve spent the better part of my life in the kitchen. I want Michelin stars. I’m ready for it.”

Indeed, he wanted to open Adara in New York but could not raise the financing. A New Jerseyan who had his first high-end cooking job in Northern California, he has been executive chef at several restaurants in his home state, including Nouveau Sushi here in Montclair — “a food-savvy town,” he said, that he hopes will have enough adventurous diners to make his new restaurant a hit.

The early returns have been mixed. On a recent Thursday evening when we dropped in to sample Adara’s fare — not to undertake an all-out review — only about a dozen of Adara’s 52 seats were filled. “Montclair is very tough on weekdays,” Mr. Ghoshal said.

Adara (a Sanskrit term for regard and by extension, love) occupies the elegant and comfortable if austere space that was Passionné. Mr. Ghoshal and his crew gave it a full-body makeover, with earth-tone wainscoted walls, burnished-wood floors and, in a corner, a small bar for solo diners or couples.

The restaurant has no liquor license, so the drinks are bring-your-own wine and a neon-lighted lineup of mocktails like the Zengria: green tea, lemongrass fizz, the herb kava kava, and yuzu cotton candy.

Our table did not try the mocktails. There was plenty going on — if not too much — on our plates.

We ordered the seven-course “tour,” at $105 each course offers a choice of two dishes, so two diners were able to sample all 14. It proved to be a head-spinning array of wildly inventive concoctions, never less than entertaining but often less than the sum of their parts.

The mozzarella balloon, for instance, was part of a dish called Campania. It featured slices of flawless, sweet heirloom tomato and a drizzling of basil in balsamic vinegar — a timeless combination that benefited neither from the balloon, which had the approximate texture of a rubber glove, nor from a ball of olive oil gelato that lacked any taste of its named ingredient.

Dishes like these are also a great deal of food, when all is said and done: the gelatos and cotton candies and cheeses and creamy bisques that adorn many of Adara’s dishes pack a lot of calories. “Oh, my God,” a fellow diner said after polishing off a punishingly rich cake of Maytag blue cheese layered with crumbled walnuts. “We’re only through two courses!”

And that can make it hard to keep one’s focus and appetite sharp for a third course like duo of duck (duck breast and shredded duck in maki rolls), a fourth like white truffle envelope (truffle pasta enclosing foie gras, with a rousing kumquat mostarda on the side) and a fifth like pork belly with five flavors, including a warm mustard “ice cream” stabilized with the thickener methylcellulose.

Our sixth and best course offered a tough choice between two very tender dishes: black cod in porridgelike kanji broth with, among other things, wonderfully sharp-tasting crisped Brussels sprouts or lamb épicé, marinated in harissa and honey and cooked sous vide, with Mediterranean accompaniments like minted goat yogurt, baba ghanouj and only one unnecessary flourish, a tooth-achingly sweet pyramid of preserved-lemon cotton candy (mercy!).

For dessert, an unexpected and refreshing choice is the cucumber-shiso sorbet, though it comes with shards of glasslike yuzu-ginger candy that stick disagreeably to the teeth before melting.

Molecular gastronomy is not a new idea. It broke onto the scene a decade ago, and it has been slow to catch on in part because it is so labor-intensive — all those gels and layers and emulsions add up to a lot of staff preparation, and high menu prices — and in part because even sophisticated diners tend to prefer the familiar to the avant-garde. Venue, a cutting-edge restaurant in Hoboken that opened in a much more favorable economy in 2005, lasted just a year.

But like any high-wire act, when it succeeds it can be unforgettable that is the experience Mr. Ghoshal is hoping to provide in Montclair. As Mr. Achatz, the Chicago chef, put it in a telephone interview: “The point is to build a sense of ‘gee whiz,’ of wonder. We want people to say, ‘How did they do that?’ ”


Watch the video: The Molecular Mango (October 2022).