Opened in September of 2014 by Chef Eric LeVine, Paragon Tap & Table has become a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike. While eternally busy, he sat down briefly to answers some questions for our premiere issue.
Q: What brought you to Clark for your opening of Paragon Tap & Table?
A: The space was available for some time and was brought to our attention. After looking at the local and surrounding communities, we felt it was a perfect fit for our gastropub concept. Having the success of our first place, Morris Tap and Grill in Randolph, NJ, we felt the time had come to expand our brand, and this location was perfect, right of the Parkway and surround by so many thriving communities.
Q: What is your most popular dish at Paragon with customers?
A: That’s a hard one. We have received awards and top honors in New Jersey for a few years now for our wings and burgers, but we do so much more than that. We change the menu seasonally, which gives us the opportunity to work with local farms such as Donaldson Farms and Fossil Farms here in the state. During the fall, our roasted acorn squash is probably our most popular. We serve that with roasted brussels sprouts, cranberries, agave-roasted almonds and corn sauce. During the summer, one of our most popular appetizers is our poke tuna. It’s Ahi tuna tossed in a ginger scallion glaze and served with wasabi slaw and sriracha dusted avocado served on grilled tortilla.
Q: What are your favorite dishes at Paragon and why?
A: All the dishes are like my children and I love each of them for a different reason. There is nothing on the menu that I don’t enjoy. I think the Korean taco has been on my radar lately, but our roasted chicken, as simple as it is, is my go-to for lunch. It’s brined for 48 hours and has so much flavor to it. Then there’s the deviled eggs… I can go on and on about the food, it’s just so much fun to have such a wide and varied menu, it’s truly hard to pick one or the other. Our scallops are locally sourced and served with a fresh corn risotto, I can eat that every day of my life! We started a slider and mac night a couple of months ago and this gives us the opportunity to play with some fun comfort food ideas. If you follow me on Instagram @chefericl, you can stay on top of the new things we create.
Q: What ingredients are your favorite to work with?
A: As a cook, I love working with everything. Every season is different. There is no one cuisine or style I like better than another. However, I do enjoy having the flexibility that my customers give me in constantly creating new things for them. We create our desserts in house, even making our own gelatos and sorbets, so it’s a constant machine in motion.
Q: Has your time on Food Network and all of your other TV work kept you busy?
A: Yes for sure. Having been on Food Network’s Chopped, Beat Bobby Flay, Travel Channel’s Food Paradise as well as Kelly Live, CBS Sunday Morning, NBC, FOX (…and the list goes on), has given us more exposure, more opportunities to do some amazing things, but, most importantly, it has given us the opportunity to show our customers a great experience.
Q: What did you learn from your Chopped experience?
A: The biggest take away for me was that no matter how hard life can be, no matter how high the odds are stacked-up against you, we push hard, we hustle and we never, ever give up. The episode is called “Prove it on the plate.” Watch it. You’ll see what I mean.
Q: What dishes are on the menu this Fall? On tap?
A: We have some pretty amazing new dishes. I’m playing with a few new concepts including a few new ramen ideas. We will feature some of our signature raviolis including our mushroom ravioli, butternut squash ravioli and a new broccoli rabe sausage ravioli. In addition to the new bowls, we are also featuring some exciting new seafood dishes including chili thyme baked cod with garlic clams, lentils, roasted broccoli, charred leeks and lemon, as well as a crispy striped bass with roasted fennel, tomato, artichoke and brown rice sauce. We have a new burger that I am super excited about, it’s called the MONSTER burger. It’s a double stacked house triple blend burger topped with cheddar cheese, house bacon, chorizo, fried onions, jalapeno slaw and fried egg. It’s an epic burger for our customers to enjoy. On the vegan side of our menu, we are featuring our signature roasted acorn squash. In addition, we are serving our version of aloo gobi with naan bread and a few more vegan dishes, which I am excited about.
Q: What is your latest cookbook? Where can someone get it?
A: My most recent cookbook is called Small Bites, Big Flavor. It’s available on Amazon and bn.com. My new cookbook Burgers, Bowls and Jars will be out real soon. Watch for it this season!
Q: Besides Paragon, what’s one of your favorite places to dine in the Westfield Area?
A: That’s a good question. I would like to dine out locally more often, but I usually don’t have the time since every day of the week I am either in Randolph or Clark. I had a great meal at Publick House in Mountainside. The food was great, as was the service. In Cranford, I had a fantastic meal at A Toute Heure, a great local farm to table experience.