Although the restaurant is less formal than in the past (jackets and ties are not absolutely required), it remains a splendid place for good food and service.
Physically, there have been no evident changes in the charming 1737 fieldstone building. Front windows look out on the Delaware River across River Road just south of the controversial river pump project.
The intimate main dining room has a Mediterranean tile floor, long-stem clustered lamps suspended over tables, Oriental carpets, artificial brick walls and brightly colored contemporary paintings that are reflected several times in strategically placed mirrors.
Tables with white tablecloths and overlays are set with white cotton napkins and oil-fed candles with dark red globe; recorded jazz provides dinner music and the atmosphere is warm and friendly.
The Mountainside has two menus - a printed menu offering mundane selections, and daily blackboard choices that reflect culinary imagination and accomplishment; I'd vote for the latter.
Salmon terrine ($2.50), for instance, was two slices of airy mousse sparked with sour cream and dill, prettily presented on romaine leaves and garnished with tomato butterflies and parsley. From the printed menu, clams casino ($5.50) were a half-dozen cherrystones beneath a darkly flavored heap of green and bell pepper, sweet onions, breadcrumbs and lots of chopped parsley, served piping hot on a bed of rock salt.
Lobster bisque ($3.50) thick with chunks of lobster and crunchy pieces of carrot, celery and tomato also was heavily herbed. In contrast, cream of broccoli soup ($2.50), filled with chopped broccoli and fresh mushrooms, was refreshingly light in texture and flavor. Warmed rolls and pumpernickel bread came with a ramekin of frozen butter.
Crisp romaine leaves with a tomato wedge, grated red cabbage, sweet onions, fresh mushrooms and a strip of red bell pepper was coated with a tasty vinaigrette-blue cheese dressing.
Both main dishes from the blackboard were splendid. Filet of sole en papillote ($12.50) was good fish steamed in parchment with white wine, butter, sprinkles of dill and matchsticks of carrots, scallions, summer squash and zucchini. With a hint of sweetness and garnished with kale and a lemon wedge, the dish was fit for a king.
Brisket of beef ($9.50) was an unusually generous portion of fork-tender meat bathed in a piquant horseradish sauce. Vegetables included excellent sweet-and-sour red cabbage, mashed carrots, creamed spinach and firm pieces of diced potato in a gossamer cheese sauce.
Great American chocolate cake ($4), aptly named, offered triple layers of pillow-soft cake with silken mocha cream icing; a tangy lemon tart with oven- browned meringue topping ($3) was notable for its thick, shortbread-like crust.
Service was pleasant and efficient. Many of the original Mountainside patrons have returned, so reservations are a must.
River Road, Point Pleasant, 297-5354
Open: Dinner only, 5-10 p.m. Wed.-Fri., until 11 p.m. Sat., 4-9 p.m. Sun.
Closed Mon. and Tues.
Price range: Appetizers average $3.50, entrees $14
Credit cards: Major cards
Nonsmoking section: No
Facilities for handicapped: Yes
Atmosphere: Country romantic