Lil' Masters Grille
Owner and cook Matt Mitchell opened his doors to the community this past summer, creating a haven of gourmet burgers and shakes for hungry locals.
In the mood for a classic American burger with a side of coleslaw, pickles and fries? Want to wash that down with a strawberry shake or root beer float? A little place tucked away on River Road lays the perfect location to satisfy these cravings.
Lil' Masters Grille opened its doors six months ago, ready to serve the community with Matt Mitchell's gourmet take on the classic burger. From the good old hamburger for the classic folks, to the veggie burger for the vegetable lovers, to the lamb and tuna burger for the more adventurous, Lil' Masters has an option for a multitude of taste buds.
While driving on River Road, there are many dining options to choose from. Tucked away in the shopping center with the Doc Shoppe and The Cellar (convenient since the restaurant is BYOB,) this discreet place takes diners to a time where wholesome meets hungry. Lil' Masters resembles an old fashioned 1950's diner with a modern edge. With tables and chairs that model the every day kitchen tables of an archetypal family, and modern décor and colors, this ambiance combines the best of both worlds. Customers can seat themselves at a variety of tables to the left of the restaurant that is small and cozy. A chalkboard lists the milkshakes behind a bar that looks as if it was taken out of an old fifties diner.
Owner and Chef Matt Mitchell studied at the culinary school Johnson and Wales with hopes of one day owning his own restaurant. Eventually his father, Ted Mitchell, told him about the space for sale in Fair Haven, and Mitchell eagerly accepted the challenge. "We had to redo most of the space, and it needed a lot of work. So far I am happy with the way things are going here," Mitchell said.
The restaurant opened this past summer, and drew in many locals in search of a new place to dine. "The customers are slowly growing," Mitchell said, "we hope to eventually chain this restaurant out."
Although Mitchell learned how to cook at culinary school, much of his influence came from outside influences like the Food Network where he would take recipes and make them his own.
Mitchell was born and raised in New Jersey, where he grew up in Hightstown, and recently moved to the area. This is Mitchell's first time owning a restaurant; however Mitchell has had years of experience cooking for local establishments such Molly Pitcher Inn and McLoones to name a few.
Some recommendations: to start, try the mozzarella tower made up of fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and onion rings are layered and drizzled with balsamic vinegar, creating a unique blend of flavors. With a variety of choices for the entre, the signature burger comes with fresh cheese and bacon, served with a side of coleslaw, french-fries and a pickle.
The veggie burger uses a variety of fresh vegetables, which are visible and colorful as one digs in. As many restaurants use a frozen patty claimed to be a veggie burger, they are more often than not indistinguishable from a piece of cardboard. It is refreshing to encounter a burger that one can identify and pick out each vegetable.
Aside from the specialty burgers, Lil' Masters has a unique assortment of food such as salmon, salads, wraps and steaks. The grille is also open for breakfast on Saturday and Sunday mornings where Belgian waffles and omelets can be enjoyed. Mitchell obtains his food from local producers in the Fair Haven area, such as Holiday Meats and Cutler Produce in Long Branch.
While there are many diverse culinary paths one can take, Mitchell's interest for this American cuisine comes from his father's passion for burgers. "My father is a big burger fan. He eats a burger everyday of his life," Mitchell said. His father, Ted, rebutted claiming he eats two a day.
However many burgers Ted ultimately consumes a day, Mitchell has created something that all locals will surely enjoy. A welcoming family vibe is felt at Lil' Masters, the restaurant where everyone knows your name. Grab your favorite bottle of wine or beer and your most treasured company and head over to Lil' Masters Grille where Matt will extinguish your hungry cravings, and his friends and family will treat you as one of their own.