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Culinary Brilliance on Display at 87 Sussex: Jersey City’s New Dining Gem

Barbara Angelakis
Barbara Angelakis is travel & culture editor at LuxuryWeb Magazine.
Published: April 8, 2024
Featuring delicious and innovative culinary creations of exceptional quality, 87 Sussex in Jersey City is a must-try. (Image: Manos Angelakis/LuxuryWeb Magazine)

Published with permission from LuxuryWeb Magazine

Though new restaurants open frequently in Northern New Jersey, few manage to stand out from the usual crowd of eateries serving familiar, uninspired dishes.

However, some — like 87 Sussex in Jersey City — offer culinary creations of exceptional quality that could rival Michelin-starred establishments across the globe for their inventiveness and ingredient excellence. 87 Sussex is a modern, vibrant gem, and here’s why.

(Image: Manos Angelakis/LuxuryWeb Magazine)

Upon entering, you’re greeted by a fully stocked bar under a soft, gold-painted ceiling to your right. To the left is the attractive street-level dining area, where cozy blue leather chairs with caramel backs complement the stunning blue and caramel marble wall that guides you upstairs.

Here, a second-level dining area offers a sweeping view of the ground floor from an architectural balcony.

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Tables are adorned with white cloths and petite bouquets of blossoms, echoing the three photographs of women wearing floral headdresses on the back wall. Service is delivered on blue-rimmed white plates and gold-colored flatware, creating a harmonious aesthetic that extends even to the well-appointed bathrooms.

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Chef Brian Walter oversees this elegant venue. With a friendly demeanor and a passion for quality cuisine, Chef Brian was classically trained in France and honed his skills at New York’s French Culinary Institute.

His apprenticeships with master chefs Mario Batali, Luc Pasquier, and Daniel Or, along with time at the legendary Sirio Maccioni’s Le Cirque, have refined his culinary artistry. He is also an honorary member of the James Beard Foundation.

Tantalizing appetizers

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The eclectic appetizer menu includes playfully titled dishes that belie the sophisticated ingredients and artistry involved. For example, the Hoppin Poppers — crispy frog leg drumsticks with a Korean BBQ glaze— are elegantly presented atop spicy daikon pickle spears. They are succulent and appealing, cleverly masking the typical aversion to the unusual ingredient with superior flavor.

This is precisely Chef Brian’s mission: to make exotic ingredients inviting and delightful.

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Escargot Wontons are another creative twist. Instead of traditional shells, the escargot is nestled in crispy wontons, topped with black garlic marmalade, and sprinkled with an herb crumble. The dish retains the classic flavor and texture of escargot without the fuss of extracting them from their shells.

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The Oyster & Pearls dish is a visual and gustatory delight, featuring three oysters on a bed of salt, adorned with tapioca mignonette pearls and topped with Royal Ostrea Caviar. The beautiful presentation elevates the dining experience, showcasing Chef Brian’s talents as both an artist and a master chef.

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The Black Tie Scallops showcase the sophistication only a French-trained chef can bring. Layered with diver scallops, sliced black truffle, poached spinach, and encased in puff pastry, this dish is served with warm veal jus and is as stunning to behold as it is to taste.

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The Foie Gras Torchon is beyond words. We always order foie gras when available, and Chef Brian’s version—served with Sauternes gelée and fresh cherries in a spiced Port molasses sauce—is truly exceptional. Every element of the dish, down to the micro-greens garnish, enhances the experience. Foie Gras enthusiasts should not miss this masterpiece.

Scrumptious entrees

Before we delve into the entrées, a word about the wait staff: efficient, friendly, and well-versed in the menu. Each dish is presented with a detailed description of its ingredients and preparation. The staff, elegantly uniformed in blue checkered shirts with caramel elbow patches and vests, offers service that is attentive yet unobtrusive, in true European fashion.

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The entrée selection ranges from innovative to traditional French and American dishes. Barbara’s favorite, the Lobster & Mediterranean Sea Bass Cannelloni, features rolled dandelion pasta pancakes filled with branzino and fennel mousseline, crowned with butter-poached lobster and a seared diver scallop, garnished with baby Brussels sprouts—a dish as beautiful as it is flavorful.

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The Braised Short Ribs are served on a bed of white sweet potato mousseline, surrounded by Chinese long beans. This hearty dish is perfect for a cold winter’s night, prepared in a classic French style.

Awe-inspiring desserts

For dessert, the Passion Fruit Trifle is a communal joy. It starts with a lemon poppy cake base, layered with passion fruit curd, and topped with a generous amount of fresh whipped cream and winter berries. It’s light, yet decadently flavorful, without being overly sweet. The house-made sorbet with fresh berries and the Chocolate Turtle Cake are also highly recommended by our attentive waiter, Alex.

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The restaurant had a soft opening on Valentine’s Day and Chef Brian continues to refine his menu. Despite a few minor issues like the excessive noise level and the need to recalibrate the espresso machine, the full restaurant on our visit attests to its growing popularity by word of mouth alone.

The official opening is set for May 24, but a visit early in the week might let you experience this extraordinary restaurant before the formal debut and the introduction of the spring menu.

87 Sussex
87 Sussex Street
Paulus Hook, Jersey City, NJ

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