When you enter the restored 1847 colonial farmhouse that has been transformed into the Gladstone Tavern, you immediately feel at home. Just beyond the front door—where Sir Pennysworth, a 120-year-old horse statue greets guests on the porch—is a roaring fire, setting a cozy tone for a romantic date night or a very special family dinner.
Purchased in 2005 by chef/proprietor Tom Carlin, the Gladstone Tavern has been delighting foodies ever since, serving locally sourced, seasonal dishes prepared in its scratch kitchen, where almost everything is created in-house, down to its ice cream. It is also one of the few area restaurants with its own pastry chef.
The restaurant prides itself on being a family-friendly neighborhood hub that provides casual farm-to-table fine dining. The menu reflects the seasons, and the chefs use ingredients from local farms whenever possible. “People are increasingly fascinated about where their food is coming from,” Carlin says. “We’re lucky to be in an area with a lot of local farms. Since trucks do not drive our meat to us, we have a low carbon footprint.”
Favorite sources include River Bend Farm in Far Hills for grass-fed beef (Gladstone Tavern grinds its own hamburgers) and Melick’s Town Farm. “I go to Melick’s once or twice a week and pick up what they have, depending on the time of year. It highlights the seasonality of our menu,” Carlin says. “For example, from June to October, we will get the most amazing tomatoes, and in the fall, we get incredible fresh cider.”
On the winter menu, expect slow-cooked and braised items, such as a braised pork shank. “It's cooked for hours and just falls off the bone,” Carlin says.
Carlin honed his expertise working in New York with notable chefs such as Alfred Portale, known as a pioneer in the New American cuisine movement; Thomas Patrick Colicchio, co-founder of the Gramercy Tavern; Jonathan Waxman, a pioneer of California cuisine; and Barry Wine, the restauranteur behind The Quilted Giraffe. When Carlin started his family, he transitioned to New Jersey and has not looked back.
Planning a date night? Visit on a Friday when Carlin hosts area musicians who typically play acoustic classic rock in the bar or outside on the terrace during warmer months—a welcome way to usher in the weekend.
Book a table at gladstonetavern.com.
1.5 oz Tanteo Habanero Tequila
.75 oz passion fruit juice
.75 oz Grand Marnier
.5 oz agave
1 egg white
Dry shake all ingredients for 10 seconds.
Add ice to shaker and shake vigorously for 10 more seconds.
Strain all ingredients into a coupe glass.
Garnish with heart-shaped strawberries.