Bloomfield Avenue is the great connector of Essex County and is home to many great restaurants, some of which are staples and others that are new to the scene. Perhaps one of the oldest and most established is Cloverleaf Tavern, which just celebrated its 90th anniversary. The family-run business has been passed down for three generations and is still thriving as one of the most beloved neighborhood eateries in the area. Read on to learn more about Cloverleaf Tavern and what this local spot brings to Essex County.
George Dorchak Jr. founded Cloverleaf Tavern in 1933 at 23 years old when he borrowed money from his uncle to purchase the first liquor license in Caldwell after the end of Prohibition. He bought a building with a vegetable stand and a bakery with a shamrock on its logo, which is how the Tavern’s logo was born.
Cloverleaf Tavern catered exclusively to men for the first forty years, which changed when Richard Dorchak joined the business in 1972. Richard’s vision was to turn the Cloverleaf Tavern into a family-friendly spot, and in doing so, he opened the first dining room. Richard served as the bartender, cook, and server for many years to complete his vision.
In 1989, the restaurant expanded to accommodate the growth it experienced through the 80s, adding a sky-lit atrium and an outdoor patio to fit more guests into the space. Two more dining rooms followed in the coming years, making the Cloverleaf Tavern into what it is today. In 1993, George’s grandson, Ryan Dorchak, joined as the third generation to assist in running the business.
Beer + Bites
There’s a reason that Cloverleaf Tavern won the title of best craft beer bar in the Northeast — and third best in the US — by USA Today. For starters, the Tavern is home to over 100 craft beers, which rotate on a daily basis to offer constant variety.
Cloverleaf’s rewards program is also centered around its beer list and challenges patrons to try as many varieties as possible. First is the MBA program, which stands for “Master of Beer Appreciation” and features 45 beers. Once someone completes the list, they can move on to the Ph.D. program, another robust list of beers that rotates seasonally. Along the way, participants collect rewards and earn treats and prizes for their conquests. Cloverleaf Tavern hosts monthly events catering to those participating in its rewards program.
The burgers are the star of the food menu, ground and pressed in-house. In addition to classic beef, the restaurant also serves bison, Beyond, shroom, black bean, and turkey. The rest of the menu includes a variety of salads, sandwiches, entrees, and small bites. The menu includes classic bar food like wings and nachos, or diners can enjoy more creative appetizers with crab dip and taquitos, or ask for the special appetizer of the day. Diners can also enjoy fresh oysters, a rarity for pub fare. Entrees include filet mignon lettuce wraps, fish tacos, crab cakes, BBQ ribs, and more. The restaurant recently started serving Sunday brunch from 11AM to 2PM, serving specialties like crispy deviled eggs, maple pecan waffles, and short rib eggs benedict.
When stepping into Cloverleaf Tavern today, it’s clear that Richard Dorchak achieved his vision of creating a family-oriented spot. The dining rooms are filled with families any night of the week, often spilling into the outdoor patio in the warmer months. There’s also a picnic table area that’s dog-friendly, and wait staff will provide four-legged friends with a big bowl of water.
Cloverleaf Tavern brings locals together through its various events and parties for holidays like St. Patrick’s Day (and halfway to St. Patrick’s Day) and Halloween, as well as for special events like trivia nights and Ciderfest. The restaurant also welcomes kids in during the summer for balloon animal fun.
Cloverleaf Tavern is open Monday through Thursday from 11AM to 11PM; Friday and Saturday from 11AM to 12AM; and Sunday from 11AM to 9PM.