Ken and Lisa Miller were a young couple with a growing family 32 years ago when they purchased the rundown former train station with a view of the Delaware River that would become their first and only restaurant.
Today the Bridge Café in Frenchtown, N.J., is an established local favorite, serving breakfast and lunch daily with a large following for meals as well as Lisa Miller’s freshly baked cakes, pies, pastries and cookies.
Starting May 17, the restaurant also will be home to The Platform Cookhouse, a pop-up restaurant operated by their son Graham, Thursday through Saturday from 6 to 9 p.m. Customers are seated in the dining area that originally served as the platform for the train station.
All three Millers are Culinary Institute of America graduates, trained to make just about any kind of dish. That has resulted in an upscale but casual menu that changes seasonally and offers a variety of specials from week to week.
One of the first dishes they created 32 years ago remains on the menu today. The spinach cake salad is a vegetarian option, that, if taken off the menu, would make their customers very unhappy, the Millers said.
The spinach cakes – a combination of spinach, brown rice, lentils and feta cheese – also make an appearance at breakfast, when they are served over a pair of over-easy eggs and arugula. Breakfast sandwiches, croque madame, omelets and French toast made with custard-dipped brioche also are on the morning menu.
Homemade soups, a variety of salads, a vegan wrap made with cabbage and broccoli, curried chicken salad, beef and vegetarian burgers and a popular crab cake sandwich also are on the lunch menu.
Still being made after all these years are Lisa Miller’s coconut layer cakes, carrot cakes, scones, cinnamon buns, doughnuts and brownies. Her cheese Danish is a favorite among the pastry-and-coffee crowd at breakfast.
When the Platform opens on May 17, the menu will be reminiscent of “happy hour” food with mostly small- to medium-sized plates, burgers, sandwiches, and an occasional larger plate for sharing. Among the dishes to start the season will be smoked salmon tostada made with salmon smoked in-house, deviled eggs with chicken chicharron, duck tostada, lamb kofta and chicken skewers.
Some of the food served at the café is locally sourced; as the weather warms, farmers will start showing up in their trucks with their homegrown produce to be used in soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts.
While the Bridge Café is popular year round, this is the time of year when customers come in hopes of finding seating on the platform and patio and under umbrellas that overlook the Delaware River.
After nearly 32 years, the Millers say they still enjoy coming to work each day.
“We still find it exciting,” said Ken Miller. “We get to watch the river go by and work with great food.”
BRIDGE CAFÉ & THE PLATFORM COOKHOUSE
8 Bridge St.,
908- 996-6040, bridgecafe.net
Breakfast $8-$12, lunch $4.50-$18.
Café customer favorites:
Spinach cake salad, burgers, oyster po’ boy, crab cake sandwiches, coconut cake, carrot cake, scones, cinnamon buns, cheese Danish.
Breakfast 8-11 a.m. daily; lunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Mon.-Fri., 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat.-Sun.
6-9 p.m. Thu.-Sat. starting May 17.