I recently revisited one of the most highly regarded restaurants in New Jersey and enjoyed an absolutely incredible meal. Chez Catherine in Downtown Westfield is a classic in every sense of the word, and I’m already fantasizing about my next phenomenal meal there.
For more than 30 years, owners Didier Jouvenet and his wife, Edith, have wowed every critic from the New York Times to the Star Ledger and everyone in between. Prior to opening Chez Catherine, Didier worked at the venerable La Grenouille and the Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan. Edith is responsible for the timeless decor of Chez Catherine, right down to the stunning flower arrangements in the restaurant that were plucked from their very own garden.
When I dined at Chez Catherine for a recent lunch, I was delighted to discover that they offer a prix fixe lunch menu. Authentic, impeccably prepared French cuisine can make a considerable dent in one’s wallet, but Chez Catherine’s prix fixe lunch and dinner menus offer the same delicious food (and several courses of it!) for a very reasonable price. A two-course lunch is just $25, and three courses is $35.
I was immediately charmed by Maitre d’ Stéphane Bocket, who has been with Chez Catherine for 11 years, and who will soon be taking over the helm as owner of the restaurant. Stéphane’s thick French accent did not prove hindersome, and he had both me and my lunch date cracking up with laughter at his wry sense of humor.
I asked Stéphane why Chez Catherine continues to be one of the most lauded restaurants in New Jersey–or anywhere!–year after year. Stephane said, “We have always kept the same high standards here. We make sure the customer is happy, and there is a nice balance between delicious food and personalized service.”
You can see from my photos that the food is plated as beautifully as it tastes. And the portions are anything but small, (some restaurants skimp on the portions of prix fixe menus–not Chez Catherine!). We enjoyed salad appetizers, crispy duck and perfectly cooked steak, fluffy profiteroles with warm chocolate sauce, and one of the most interesting desserts I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating: “Ile Flottante de ‘Catherine'” (a whisper-light, marshmallow-like meringue topped with vanilla sauce, caramel, toasted hazelnuts, and almonds … truly to-die-for.
We gorged ourselves on the scrumptious food, and at the meal’s end, Stéphane jokingly warned us never to say “Je suis finis” at the end of a French meal. “It does not mean ‘I am finished,” he said. “It translates to ‘I am dead.'” Duly noted, Stéphane!
Chez Catherine is located at 431 North Avenue West, next to the Westfield Inn. FREE PARKING is located behind the Inn. Reservations are recommended: 908-654-4011.
Tuesday – Friday
Noon to 2:30 PM .
Tuesday – Thursday
5 PM to 9 PM
Friday and Saturday
5 PM to 9:30 PM
Closed on Sunday and Monday (except major holidays)