By JIM WILLIS
Tucked away down a side street off of Shrewsbury Avenue in Tinton Falls, Mumford’s Culinary Center is not a lunch destination that you would be likely to accidentally stumble across. But it’s absolutely worth seeking out.
As usual, the parking lot at lunchtime Thursday was jammed. We parked on a side street and strolled past the restaurant’s backyard garden beds, bulging with greens and veggie seedlings.
Opening the door, we were greeted by the smell of homemade granola toasting in the oven and simmering stock on the stove. The restaurant has the feel of a house that’s been repurposed into a restaurant, with multiple small rooms packed with tables. Despite the bustling lunch crowd, we were able to get a table right away.
The standard lunch menu has a selection of salads, sandwiches and entrees, all priced in the $10 range. The lunch specials menu was priced a bit higher, with a cod over greens priced at $13.50 and a grilled sirloin at $14.25.
On the suggestion of Mumford’s kitchen alumni Casey Pesce (who went on to open a PieHole fav, d’jeet) we ordered the bruschetta chicken sandwich – a thin but substantial breaded chicken cutlet with homemade, fresh bruschetta and melted provolone on a very large croissant, $10.25.
After last week’s jarring bruschetta experience, we asked the waitress if the brushetta was freshly prepared. “This is Mumford’s,” said our waitress. “Nothing comes from a jar.”
The sandwich was spectacular, a great twist on the more pedestrian chicken parm sub. The real standout, though, was the side of lightly dressed, mixed greens that accompanied the sandwich. Culled from the gardens just outside the kitchen door, the blend of greens with a fresh herb-packed vinaigrette made PieHole realize that learning how to make a great vinaigrette is key to enjoying the greens from a spring garden.
Pesce also suggested we try peanut butter and jelly bars, but we were stuffed. Now we’ve got a reason to go back.
Note that Mumford’s doesn’t do dinner. The kitchen closes at 4 p.m. most days, and it’s closed on Sundays.