Joseph San Phillip, who is one of the owners, took over operations in 2005. He wanted to update the look while maintaining the historic and neighborhood feel of the place.
It seems he's succeeded.
Adding to the appeal are the new French doors, which open the restaurant up to the thrum of Washington Street. Also adding are the delicious new dishes, which are excellently prepared by Executive Chef Douglas M. Gough, who is also one of the partners of the business. He has been serving his innovative creations at The Brass Rail since 2003.
The Rail, which has one of the largest bars in Hoboken, is a friendly and comfortable place to enjoy a drink and sumptuous food. Elegant yet never stuffy, the custom-designed lights cast a warm orange glow throughout the room, and draw attention to the high ceilings, warm cherry wood, and elegant carved staircase that leads to the upstairs dining room.
The staff is great and more than willing to let customers linger over each dish, yet they are careful to see that a glass isn't empty. It is a good place to gather with friends or to impress a date.
The Rail recently unveiled its new menu for fall, which changes every season. Chef Gough, who decides on the items, says that this season's menu is a little more complicated than past menus. But while there are new items, he was sure to keep favorites like the French Onion soup, among others. We started with the broccoli rabe & provolone cheese stuffed shrimp. This is a dish not to be missed. Chef Gough shows his skill with the perfect mix of cheese, spices, and sage brown butter sauce. The ricotta stuffed ravioli melts in the mouth.
Next we sampled the tuna tartare, which has real flair with added cucumber and hearts of palm. It is topped with jalapeno oil and a lemon poppy funnel cake. This mix of flavors hits the palate with the right notes of spice and citrus.
The excellent pan seared foie gras is tender and finished with the slightly sweet pear and baby boy choy.
Other appetizers include: French onion soup, crispy calamari, beef short ribs, spinach salad, red oak salad, and more. The appetizers are priced from $6 to $14. Additionally, there is a selection from the raw bar, including: shrimp cocktail, fresh clams, chilled seafood platter, and more.
For dinner, we sampled the pomegranate & molasses glazed duck breast, which we were told is a favorite of customers. One bite and you'll see why. The slightly sweet glaze compliments the hearty flavor of the moist duck. This dish comes with delicious whipped parsnips and grilled baby brussel sprouts.
Next we had the roasted monkfish, which is a fragrant and appealing dish for those who like spices. Seasoned with a delicate green curry and served with wild ginger couscous, the fish is a feast.
Reporter staff writer Sean Allocca described the monkfish as having just enough spice to balance the couscous. Just in time for fall is the black pepper venison served with carrot root beer puree. The seared meat is pure perfection in Chef Gough's capable hands. It was tender, flavorful, and delicious.
Other dishes include: grilled steamed salmon, roasted chicken, day boat scallops, peanut butter dusted seared tuna, filet mignon, Alaskan king crab, and more. They are priced from $19 to $32.
Whatever you do, save room for dessert. We sampled the spiced carrot cake, which was served with refreshing pineapple & coconut salad. A perfect compliment is a cup of the bold espresso or cappuccino. Other desserts include: crème brulee, fresh strawberries, sorbet, warm chocolate cake, and more. They also have an extensive list of dessert and port wines and a cheese platter.
The Brass Rail is open seven days a week. The restaurant hours for lunch are: Monday through Friday from 11:30 to 3 p.m. They are open for dinner Monday through Thursday from 5:30 to 10 p.m., on Friday and Saturday until 11 p.m. and on Sunday until 9 p.m.
Brunch is served on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 to 3 p.m. Food from the bar menu is also available. Reservations are recommended and all major credit cards are accepted.
The Brass Rail is located at 135 Washington St. in Hoboken. For more information, please call (201) 659-7074 or visit: www.thebrassrailrestaurant.com.