Good restaurants within about 45 minutes or so
I saw the Burger King thread- where everyone was wishing for other fast food places to take it's spot.
I haven't had fast food in many years.
I would love suggestions on more places that have well prepared food in a decent setting for an evening with my wife.
There are many places we go, that are decent, sometimes even good but can be hit & miss on the food, service or both. You know-the type of places that once we go back, and get another mediocre experience we ask ourselves- why did we come here again while we look at the bill.
Hard to find consistent good food & service, regardless of price.
When I was young and ate Taco Bell, Red Lobster, Pizza Hut or even something from 7-11, I didn't know anything better. It is both a blessing and a curse to learn otherwise.
Here are my favorite places within a reasonable drive from my house on a weekend.
Some of these are a little far for a weeknight.
James on Main - great every time, and close, but tiny and difficult to get seats in short notice.
Ocean in Easton- great every time- just a bit of a drive
Thai Kitchen Chester- great every time, bit of a drive.
Uncle Vinny's clam bar in Raritan- great for the time I was there, usually packed from what I hear, little bigger bit of a drive.
Sadly- that is a short list, although we have tried a lot of places.
We had a few good dinners at Tender Hill on Rt22, but then had a couple MEH experiences so it is off the recommended list.
Bells Mansion was average. The Ryland Inn was disappointing.
I always enjoyed IL Monello for Italian in Gladstone, but my wife won't eat there since she found a large bee (carpenter? bumble?) in her cheesecake. :( I always loved the fresh shaved cheese off the parm wheel on the cart.
Natirar (ninety acres) was not bad- but we had a waiter ask us at the end of a meal- How was the wine because I decided to give you something different than what you ordered. ???? Haven't been back after that.
I haven't been to the Pluckeman Inn, or the Tewksbury Inn, but both as well reviewed and the menus and decor look nice.
I enjoyed Lumi Z in Bedminster, she thought it was OK. Conversely she enjoyed the Bernardsville Inn, I thought it was ok.
Open to many types of food as long as it is high quality- hell I wish there was a good Korean BBQ place nearby. Went to one in NYC that was fantastic. And still haven't had sushi that compares to Morimoto in Philly. Blows my mind that most sushi places pay no attention to the quality prep of the rice- they will send out dry bland rice, instead of fresh moist flavorful (seasoned w/ salt & vinegar).
I have not yet tried The Farmhouse at the Grand colonial, The Spain Inn 2, Rosa Lucas, or Mountain View Chalet.
What I AM finding from looking around online is a bunch of places that look great to get together with my friends and ride our motorcycles to once the weather warms back up- American Spirits Roadhouse, PattenBurgh House, Top of the Hill Tavern.
In that vein, Salt in Byram is good for a couple beers and a bite- but I'm looking for more places for 'a nice dinner' to take the wife to.
Besides, for a burger and beer- I have yet to find a place to beat The Royal bar- attached to 25 Burgers on Rt 22- great burgers and dogs, down and dirty bar- not far from Sol mexican which is meh- would have potential if they could learn to spice their food with something other than just throwing jalapenos on everything.
Any other suggestions?
"I have not yet tried The Farmhouse at the Grand colonial, The Spain Inn 2, Rosa Lucas, or Mountain View Chalet."
Then you must! As I was reading the first part of your post, I planned on recommending all of them. Then you brought them up.
You also might want to try Elias in Columbia.
"had a waiter ask us at the end of a meal- How was the wine because I decided to give you something different than what you ordered"
thank you josh. I needed that laugh this afternoon. too funny :)
Bell's Mansion in Stanhope is really good. It's one of those historic buildings that kept its charm.
It's really nice inside but I'd definitely go in the Spring/Summer and sit on outdoor terrace overlooking the organic garden. There's also an outdoor bar!
For Italian food I like Benito's in Chester. It's a quaint BYOB place.
In Oak Ridge, there's another great Italian place, Portofino's on Berkshire Valley Road.
Love Elias and The Farmhouse as well.
Pru Thai in Clinton is good as well as Acasia Thai in Phillipsburg.
There's also a tiny place in Hampton, Hampton Junction, that serves fabulous food. They make their own pasta and every time we've gone it has been excellent. Just make sure you have a rezzie or else you will be given the side-eye when you walk in without one.
1. LaStrada...Randolph (italian)
2. Reservoir Tavern....Boonton (pizza)
3. Porter's Pub...Easton (eclectic bar)
4. Pearly Bakers.....Easton (bar)
5. Black Forest Inn...Stanhope (german)
6. Prime......Bethlehem (steak)
7. Char........Raritan (steak)
These are a few my family has enjoyed.
I was going to recommend the Milford Oyster House, but see that it's closed! Has anyone tried the new restaurant there? It's called The Milford House now.
Never eaten there myself, but Fannucci's in Netcong has been highly recommended. Home made Italian w/ Gelato bar.
To understand you correctly because many people have a different concept of "good", you want a high end splurge on the wife kind of place. We're not talking just really good food.
Glad Black Forest and La Strada were mentioned.
Surprised Mattar's hasn't been mentioned yet.
Personally Pandan is better than Thai Kitchen, even if Pandan is small.
Hunan Taste in Denville for Chinese.
Casa Bella is good Italian in Denville, but it's not La Strada.
Cinders Mine Hill - modern food served as tapas
The seafood buffet at The Manor in West Orange is sublime!
Looks like a bunch of those Lehigh Valley places are more like 1 hr instead of 45 min. If that's OK, there are other places I can recommend like Silk Road in Berkley Heights.
Andre's... they used to be in Newton, but they've relocated to Sparta on Seneca Lake.
Silk Road is actually in Warren (the town in Somerset County). It's down the road from where I work and I have heard good things from co-workers, although I haven't personally been there.
Some of my recommendations:
Uproot, also in Warren
Delicious Heights in Bedminster
Casa Maya in High Bridge (Mexican)
Sol Mexican Cantina in Branchburg
Delicious in Berkley is a place I've been, not the other one in Bedminster. I haven't always thought their food was consistent.
I always end up going the long way to get to Silk Road, so I can't say I really remember exact what town. But it's outstanding food, just love that place. The Thai place next door is also quite good, but I don't think it's worth going that far just for Thai food.
Want to try Uproot but have never gotten the chance, so can't comment.
Hoysala for south Indian in Franklin Tsp, and Mirchi in Edison are honorable mentions for over the 45 min but about an hour away places. Moghul is overrated although very nice inside.
I'm not familiar with these "The Farmhouse at the Grand colonial, The Spain Inn 2, Rosa Lucas, or Mountain View Chalet." Where are they located??
Really local, I say Mattar's is the only reliable choice.
James on Main is, at best, average. ( I know! But I've eaten there 3 times and had 2 bad & 1 OK. All my friends say it is good.)
Since you're looking for "intimate ambiance," as well as good food, have you tried the Red Wolf Inn, near Belvidere? It's a favorite of mine (though I haven't been there in a while), and every time I've taken a date there, they absolutely loved it. It's not too far, small, charming, good food, nice staff, and reasonably priced--more like going to a cozy AirBnB suite than a posh hotel. But it's a good place to order one meal and split it--the portions are HUGE.
As for casual places to ride to with friends? I think I'd recommend Hot Rod's BBQ, in Wharton. Definitely not as good as Dino, in Newark, but closer and with easier parking.
We celebrate special occasion at the The Farmhouse at the Grand colonial, The last time it was disappointing. Even had to send one dinner back. You couldn't even cut it. It was better back when it was just the Grand Colonial
If an hour drive is OK -- go to Haven in Edgewater. Very good food and service and the views are wonderful. Your wife will be impressed.
Someone mentioned Hunan Taste in Denville. If you go there, first go into Veggie Heaven which is next to it for your appetizer. Order a couple of their high-end sushi rolls. Amazing stuff. The "Fireball Roll" is one of our favorites. Very nice decor --- and make sure your wife visits the ladies room (!!!!!) ........ so beautiful and tranquil.
EVV - They are all located on 173 in Asbury. All very good. A good friend of mine is one of the chefs at Mountainview Chalet. We've never had a bad meal there. Worth the ride.
We like TOPO in Htown and Cafe Navona in Rockaway.
Sycamore Grill in Delaware Water Gap. Great food and atmosphere, also great service!
Churrascia ?sp in the old Pump House locations is great but expensive IMO!
Cafe Navonna... route 46 Rockaway
Luzzi's ... Greenpond road Rockaway
Quiet Man ... route 46 Dover
1st two are my favorites!!!! on the higher priced .. but awesome!!
Quiet Man is cozy and limited to my taste.. however a great meal
check website for menu...............hope you enjoy!!!
Sammys Cider mill or the Clinton house are very good!!! Bring your appetite and your wallet!!
Scoop, Thank you for bringing up the Quite Man in Dover. We eat there about once a month. The food is good, the service too. Order the special coffee service for 2 after dinner. Try to get a booth in the bar room.
The Market Tavern in Morristown. They also have a really great Sunday brunch. Reservations are highly recommended. It is a nice ride, too.
The Tewksbury Inn and Plukemin Inn are both very good. Worth the drive and the dough. But if you're willing to drive a little further, I highly recommend Bolete, just west of Bethlehem.
Humpty Jr's for a burger. The Inn at Millrace Pond for an excellent sit down dinner.
Montclair has MANY excellent restaurants....Church St. is chock full. Pig and Prince is great - Lackawanna plaza/Bloomfield Ave.
Bistro 46 is good, both food and service, just a bit dark in there. If you go in the daytime try to get seated near a window.
We like Belle's Mansion patio in the warm weather, the food is pretty good and the atmosphere sitting out there surrounded by all the greenery is wonderful.
Cafe Fiori or Verona in Randolph
Morris Tap - Randolph
Elias - Columbia
Thai Kitchen - Chester
Red Lantern (Long Valley)
"Personally Pandan is better than Thai Kitchen, even if Pandan is small"
Said by only one person in the world. hahaha
Thai Kitchen is the BEST - beats out Pandan. Just check out the Yelp reviews.
Pandan is hit or miss.
agreed Luca- I've been to Pandan at least 3 times with different friends - no more - For really good Thai - Thai Chef - or Aoyama in Wyckoff - also has beautiful sushi and other Japanese dishes - unusual and lovely atmosphere - abundant lunch boxes.........
Cinders is great! Always have a good meal there and would try bistro 46 in netcong they are supposed to be good too!
Want to try a great new place!? Humphreys Tavern in Glen Gardner is a few months old and its SO good. Great family owned place too!
Spain 2 was always a favorite place uptil last year. Called and asked if they had fresh fish offered that night. Answered yes..asked for reservations, got there 15 mins later, told they had no fresh fish that night. On to my Bday dinner, a Friend took me. 2 appitizers Both were very small. 2 entrees that lacked flavor and had to look for seafood in them. A shared cheesecake, bill was with tip $125.00 and we left actually hungry. Laughed about going to Diner for eggs. I did email them. Was told so sorry and please come back. Which we did..asked for owner when making reservations, he knew who we were...Never took a dime off bill and once more only a less than average meal at a high price. Will never go back sadly.
Long Valley Brew Pub... I love the old barn convert...
Red Woods in Chester
Char in Somerville is amazing!
The Inn at Hope NJ
Buck hill in Blairstown - really nice inside food is great...
Benito's in Chester is good and is BYOB. Closer to home, try Taste of Italy in Hackettstown. The food is a cut above the average Italian. Everything I have ordered there has been excellent and the prices are reasonable. It is also a BYOB.
I've enjoyed several excellent meals at the Clean Plate on Main St. in Clinton. On a nice evening, you can sit on the patio and enjoy the river view. Byob, or they do offer NJ vineyard bottles. Organic food choices include meat, but vegan friendly, gluten-free options. Closed Tuesdays. Open Mondays though.
Maja2, we just discovered Clean Plate Kitchen on Sunday and LOVED it! Wonderful clean food and nice atmosphere. Great vegetarian and vegan options as well as plenty for carnivores. Our new favorite place. :)
Just had dinner for the first time at Ellias' in Columbia and -- wow it was great!!
James on Main here in town has been excellent.
Elias in Columbia is amazing. The restaurant is beautiful and the food can't be beat. www.eliasrestauant.net
Focacceria in Basking Ridge has very good Italian. Some of the best I've come across in the area. Homemade pasta and good seafood. It's BYOB. Cafe Navona is very good. Get the Sunday Sauce.
Alice's on Lake Hopatcong has very good food. Great outdoor dining. Love Char as well.
90 Acres is the best restaurant in the area, IMO. The salted pretzel ice cream is one of the best desserts I've ever had. It was featured as such on The Foodnetwork.
Jockey Hollow Bar and Grill has very good food and is in the old Vail Mansion in Morristown, great setting. There are three restaurants there, we've only been to the Oyster bar. They have a pork chop that is one of the best I've ever had.
Maja2 - you may be right! LOL! We just went again last night with two of our family members and had another fantastic meal...we love how fresh and healthy the food is and most importantly how delicious it is. It's so cozy with the fireplace too! Can't wait for the warm weather when we can eat outside by the water.
Thanks for all the suggestions. I'm amazed at the responses this thread received.
You guys may not like this post though, but I like to give feedback.
Went to Elias last night. Neither myself or my wife thought much of it. We won't be going back.
We both agreed that they Muldooned the food.
If you've never been to Muldoon's in Ledgewood before- their food isn't horrible, but they try to be fancy and heavily overdo any sauces.
I used to be 'normal' but my wife slowly showed me differences in food, wine, etc..and I learned there is a difference in flavors, textures,- and yes, not always just meaning spend more $$- in fact on both food and wine there are waaay too much overpriced under-quality stuff that just doesn't deliver.. but business are trying to get their piece of the market & profit. On the flip side I have had places with very reasonably priced food done VERY well.
Fine food is nuances of textures as well as flavors. Same reason most food shows on TV do nothing for me, they throw the kitchen sink at a dish with no rhyme or reason.
Less can be more- simple done right can be very good.
Examples- as I said in my first post- how sushi rice is prepped, should be fresh, moist and flavorful (seasoned w/ salt & vinegar)..not dry and bland. It's not all about the fish. Pasta for example is best fresh, moderately sauced and IMO al dente.
So last night- both my wife and my dishes were completely buried in sauce. I had ravioli. Yes, they should have a sauce, but not completely buried in it. It would be nice to taste the pasta itself, which yes was overdone anyway. She had a fish dish which you had to dig to find the fish. No good- as fish has even more aspect of texture & flake component than ravioli.
The $16 shrimp cocktail consisted of 3 shrimp, which while large, well cleaned, and chilled nicely- were a little slimy as if they spent a couple days in the fridge. If anyone here likes shrimp as much as I do, you know what I mean. And for $16, they can do 4 shrimp and still turn a good profit regardless of size. We ordered an extra as we were splitting the app- I didn't bother to look to see what the mark up was for 1 more.
When we were ordering drinks, we had handed the drink menu to the waitress- my wife told her the name of the bottle she wanted and the waitress responded 'Number?'. We sat there for a few seconds because we didn't know what she meant. Looking back, I may have been to other restaurants that have #'s next to the wines- but I don't remember ever giving an order of anything other than a name. Led to an awkward moment of having to take back the menu, open it, my wife fumble for her glasses to read, and me taking the menu after frustration to look and give the number to the waitress. They have only a few options- it wouldn't kill them to know them or at least right down the name we requested on the order. Many high end places the wait staff can recite every ingredient in every dish, specials included- and here we had to jump through hoops to order a bottle of wine?
Which brings up a funny memory- many years ago when we were dating before married my wife (gf) and I went to the pump house because I had heard good recommendations.
We showed up on a dark heavily raining night, running for the door while getting soaked from the downpour.- and the inside of the place smelled like a gym locker room. As soon as we got in the door and looked/smelled we both grimaced. She muttered something, but I said I wasn't going back out in that rain and we were already here! So we sat down.
My wife asked the waitress what kind of wine they had and she replied- red and white. The look on my (gf's) face was priceless. She stuttered out red please. A few minutes later the waitress walks down the isle and without even coming to a complete stop- places a plastic wine glass and a single serve plastic wine bottle on the table.
I still hear about that night.... ;)
So yea- I'm sure I'll catch hell for my review- there was nothing seriously wrong, just not enough right to make it a favorite. Not for dropping $150.
Next up is Bolete in PA (thanks for the suggestion). It looks to hopefully be a good redemption.
I had a similar experience at Elias. I don't remember the specifics, but just remember being unimpressed (especially for the price tag).
Finally got to James on Main for brunch on Saturday. So good and so cute inside. Seems bigger and brighter than when it was the rodizio place.
James on main. But make a reservation.
Eric's Jamaican Cuisine in Boonton.
I like the curry goat best but their jerk chicken and brown stew chicken are excellent as well. comes with rice and peas and cabbage.
Walpak Inn is by far my favorite place. Food was fantastic and the waitresses wen above and beyond. The bread was to die for. We are definitely going to go back when the weather breaks.
We went this last Saturday to Bolete after waiting almost 2 months get get a reservation.
We were not disappointed. I don't have a single complaint other than being crammed in the 'waiting area', because of no room in the bar to even grab a drink while we waited- and for the guys- having to even get around the front door and through the bar to get to the bathroom was an adventure in 'excuse me' & sliding through. However- this gets a pass because the old building was never designed to be a restaurant- it was a house a couple hundred years ago.
Service- excellent, excellent, excellent. The waitress knew everything in great detail from the food ingredients, to how it was prepared, to the particulars of each wine.
She was attentive without being overbearing or showing up at the wrong time, patient with any questions we had, and presented very well in etiquette and body posture in delivery, and refilling of the wine. (example- left hand went behind her back every time on pouring as a reflex and without thought).
Disclaimer- I am a blue jeans and t-shirt kind of guy. Rode motorcycles my whole life, fix my own cars, served in the U.S. Army as a medic. So I don't want you guys to get the wrong idea about me being a snob. I'll happily eat Beyer's BBQ, or even grabs a Wendy's cheeseburger on an off ramp on a road trip. Glad to devour a pile of corn dogs when my wife isn't looking. :)
But if I am paying $150-$250 or more for a single meal- yea.. I don't want half-assed service, food quality, prep, etc... I work hard for my money so the restaurant as a whole should work hard to take it from me. :)
Wine selection- excellent -as was the few beers on the list although we didn't order them. The after dinner drink list was superb, and the deserts delish.
If I were to nikpick- the parking lot is unpaved and was pretty muddy.
Top compliments. Hard to beat. What's next?
Love to find an excellent restaurant in the area.
Where is the exactly is Bolete located?
I'm hungry just reading your review!
I have heard good things about the Bayou in Bethlehem, more relaxed then Bolete, a different type of restaurant.
Ate this weekend at Sycamore Grille in Delaware Water Gap, PA. First exit over the bridge. Quaint little town and the restaurant had a French Countryside Décor. The food was excellent, though on the pricey side. But it was well worth it. Lovely little place. Glad we discovered it.
Hunan Taste in Denville for Chinese
Bells Mansion in Stanhope for Beef Wellington (or I guess anything else on their menu)
Osteria Morini in Bernardsville is our new favorite. Great homemade pasta. They also have no corkage Thursdays. It's a Michael White restaurant.
There have been a ton of great suggestions on here. You can also go onto Yelp & look around as well & read reviews.
We finally got to Ellias last night for dinner and it was very good. We shared the ahi tuna appetizer. Hubby had the baby mixed greens salad and the pork chop which was stuffed with smoked gouda and bacon. I had the grilled endive and avocado salad and the broccoli rabe ravioli which had a vodka cream sauce. Everything was delicious and prepared very well. Service was pleasant, but we did have to wait a bit when needing another drink. Other than that, it was a very good dining experience.
I'm so glad you guys enjoyed it! It's one of my favorite places out here! Did you try the chocolates pots de creme? If not, try them next time - insanely relish! Cheers!
We love Ellias. (You know Ellias is Mattar's son, right?) If only it were a bit less of a hike, we'd go more often. Delicious and creative fare!
The River Palm is excellent, but a bit farther than 45 minutes. They have three locations, one in Edgewater, also Mahwah and Fairlawn. I've only been to the Edgewater location, but I assume all are the same. It's a bit pricey, but the food and service (at least in Edgewater) are excellent. It's primarily a steakhouse, but offer many other choices.
Rebecka - I did not know that until the waitress told us last night. It's only about a 25 minute ride for us, so not bad at all.
Actually he isn't related to Mattar - just used to work for him before opening his own restaurant.
trolley stop east bangor pa. , rock creek tavern harmony twsp. and why would you even think of paying $100-$150 for a SINGLE meal. lol . i dont care if Gordon Ramsay himself cooked it.
I generally don't talk about where I like to, or don't like to eat...but Rock Creek was one of the more disappointing restaurants I've been to in ages. Nothing that myself and my company ordered was any better than a very average home cook can prepare in their own kitchen. I was embarrassed for the manager as he was trying to explain away the issues with the food. Plus, there was an odd smell permeating through the air...and a space heater out in plain sight (this was back in February).
Josh, as for well above average restaurants within 45 minutes to an hour, there are so many of them, might be easier for you to just start knocking them down town by town (i.e.- New Brunswick, Montclair, Bernardsville, Maplewood, Morristown, etc..).
I've not been there, but it looks like the chef/owner at Juniper Hill in Clinton is really trying to do some great food.
Rock Creek Tavern? LMAO
They have good music and cold beer, but the food is quite lacking.
Rock Creek Tavern? LMAO
Weird...the Google reviews for Rock Creek are glowing while the Yelp reviews are absolutely horrendous!! LOL
If you are not opposed to a Sunday Brunch rather than dinner, you can't beat Perona Farms in Andover. It ends at 3 PM with the last seating at 1:30 PM. It is a beautiful place with everything you could want to eat; from breakfast foods to prime rib and shrimp with everything in between. And of course their famous salmon. It's a bit pricey, but as a once in a while treat, well worth it.
Chun Bo --- I heard it here, I saw it there, I went in and it was goooood.
Will go again.
Josh- Do you have a brother? Geez your wife has it great!!!!!!
"Sunday Brunch rather than dinner, .... last seating at 1:30 PM."
I'll have to remember that- if they are still in business when I am 75. ;)
Went to Il Monello last night in Peacock. Food was excellent - they give you complimentary apps to start - shaved romano cheese, sliced salami, & spicy zucchini.
We then shared a ceaser salad & both got pasta dishes. Their bolognese is amazing & I had squid ink linguini with seafood in a scampi sauce. Desserts are homemade & they give you a complimentary shot at the end - we tried the grappa. Service was on point & they ensured you had clean utensils & your water was always filled.
Check it out if you have not been there yet. It's a 35 minute drive from Panther Valley so it's a bit of a drive but an easy one as it's right off 206.
My Family took me to the Brazilian Steakhouse in Hackettstown called Churrascaria Paladar (former Pump House) on 46 W. Hackettstown. for my birthday.. I had never dined at a Brazilian restaurant but this was a wonderful experience. I would most definitely go back..
I have not tried Churrascaria yet - will have to try it sometime. Did you get Rodizio or did you order an entree Joyful?
The Rodizio is very good, but only for those with an appetite. The seafood dishes are not that good IMHO, but then again it is a Churrascaria...
@ Luca. We had a table of 6 and got the Rodizio. It was wonderful...even the sides I enjoyed all except the Plantains which I never cared for anyway. They had collard greens that were out of this world (better than Cracker Barrel). My son in law ordered a pitcher of Sangria and a good wine for the table and for dessert we all enjoyed the delicious dark chocolate cake (very moist) with shredding chocolate topping and ice cream..Of course, My big hunk of cake had a candle on it too and they all sang Happy Birthday. Pretty special!!
Glad to hear someone else tried Il Monello.
I've enjoyed it every time we have been there.
I could use some suggestions for new places to try- that hit good food, service, and atmosphere. Price is not a concern.
Went to the Washington House in Basking Ridge recently. Not bad.
What is the price at il moneyhello? Looked up there; no prices on web menu. Menu looks fantastic.
Josh, have you tried Osteria Morini in Bernardsville? I have not, but I've heard it's fantastic.
Also, the new restaurant in Flanders, White Birch is supposed to be fine dining and exceptional.
At Monello, rigatoni bolognese was $17.95 & the veal dishes were around $22.00. None of the entree's come with salad - food was excellent. My only complaint is that it is in an old house & it's VERY drafty. I was sitting by a window & it was cold.
Tracy & Josh- I have been to Osteria Morini twice & it was excellent Italian food!
I just heard about White Birch but haven't tried it yet.
If you are referring to the Italian restaurant in the strip mall across from the shopping center in Bernardsville- yes I went there a few years ago around Christmas. It was very good.
My wife and I were discussing the White Birch last week. We will have to go there soon. Hoping to let them get the kinks worked out first.
How about :
The Inn At Millrace Pond, Hope, NJ
Mohawk House, Sparta, NJ
Willie's Tavern, Bedminster, NJ
These may have already been mentioned in previous replies. I know that Easton, PA is a bit of a trek - but they really seem to have some great new restaurants and of course you can also take in a show at the beautiful State Theater.
Foxgap, Willie's Tavern has been gone for about 8 years? My best friend's bridal shower was there in 2010. It's been Delicious Heights for years now.
Tracy - It's been closed since 2011. I only know that because that's when Riley & Jake's opened. The owner of Riley and Jake's used to run Willie's. After it closed he bought the old Sunset Inn and turned it into Riley & Jake's.
Mohawk Mountain House is very nice but pricey. They make great cocktails.
Inn at Millrace Pond - eh - did not care for the service or food. I don't see what the fuss is all about. Any recent reviews on that place?
I'm actually looking for someplace nice for hubby and I to go for our 10th wedding anniversary later this month. Our anniversary is on a Sunday and James on Main and White Birch are not open for dinner on Sundays. I really don't want to drive to Bernardsville or Bethlehem.
On a different year, we would just go on Saturday, but we will be in Jamaica that week returning the night before our anniversary. I know, sucks to have our problems Mon. LOL
I've heard good things about Oak Steakhouse in Easton. Has anyone gone? The big problem for me with steakhouses, since I don't eat beef, is the non-steak choices usually are total garbage.
I've eaten twice recently at Chesapeake Tavern in Long Valley - excellent food - excellent service - attractive ...................
I've been to Oak 3-4 times. Not bad. Cool roof deck area that retracts in nice weather.
Have you been to Ocean in Easton? Very good.
I don't remember how far away Bollette was.
+1 for Ocean. Just down the block is Sette Luna, also excellent with plenty of meatless options, Calico.
Calico, how about Spain Inn 2? They have good steaks and also terrific seafood. At least they did... I haven't been there in about 4 years.
Another idea is Juniper Hill on Beaver Ave in Annandale. I've heard good things about that, but haven't been myself.
"Calico, how about Spain Inn 2? They have good steaks and also terrific seafood."
I've been there a couple times, but I don't like shellfish and that place is way too pricey to just get a piece of chicken in garlic sauce. LOL
3wb - Ocean looks like it might fit the bill. I will let the other half look at the menu. BTW, I'm not a vegetarian. I eat fish, chicken, turkey, pheasant etc. It's really just mammals I don't eat. So no pork, beef, lamb, rabbit, venison etc.
Thank you Luca, I'm sure we will have a great time!
You may want to try Garlic in East Stroudsburg. ( http://garlicrestaurantbar.com/) It is a steakhouse, BUT, their other offerings are outstanding as well. Def. do not need to just do steak.
It's considerably more than 45 minutes away, but Jack Bakers Lobster Shanty in Point Pleasant is great. The food is excellent and it's less than 2 hours away. Sunday is supposed to be a nice day for a ride.
Jack Baker's Lobster Shanty is definitely not worth the ride. We go there sometimes because my in-laws live nearby. I would not call the food "excellent" by any stretch.
Sorry about that GC. Regardless of what town it is in, you HAVE to get the sweet crab appetizer!
MB, I guess everyone has different standards and opinions when it comes to dining out. My family and I go there whenever we are in Point Pleasant and have attended several catered events there as well. We have never been disappointed.
Been to Juniper hill twice- didn't care for it the first time, but gave it another chance a few months later. Nope.
Just another place trying too hard to be hip, farm to table, foo-foo...but the food just wasn't worth it.
If you are down that way, and want something in that vein- hop on 22 and go to Tender Hill.
But I'll also tell you out of the 3 James on Main is the best of that style.
Too bad we don't even try to go there anymore because no matter how many times we tried to call they are always booked. We gave up trying. If they are full, they won't miss our business so we are always on the hunt for new places.
"MB, I guess everyone has different standards and opinions when it comes to dining out"
Totally agreed, that's why I offered my opinion. I'd hate for someone to schlep all the way down there expecting something excellent.
"If they are full, they won't miss our business so we are always on the hunt for new places."
If they are really this busy and turning away potential customers on a regular basis, they should be on the hunt for a new place as well... one with more seating.
ianimal - Sometimes when places expand in size something gets lost.
Josh - Can't you reserve well ahead of time? I made a reservation last week for December15th at a restaurant in Philly.
I'm not talking about taking over a Buffalo Wild Wings-sized building. But a somewhat larger space that would allow a handful or so more tables would probably be very good for their bottom line, I would think... but then again, what the hell do i know about the restaurant business? LOL...
Remember the Churrascaria was in the same spot as James on Main and they moved to the old Pump House building. They were always busy there and am not sure if they took reservations as we always went around 5:30 to eat. They also maybe tied into a lease and may not want to leave the Main Street area. Who knows, he may be happy with the business he currently has and may not want to expand. I guess time will tell.
I love Philly- jealous!
Was supposed to go there for my anniversary, and then I crashed my motorcycle- on my anniversary. :(
What restaurant are you headed to? Safe to say- not Butcher & Singer.
I've always enjoyed Morimoto.
We are going to Talula's Garden. The cheese menu alone is insane.
It's a Steven Starr restaurant, as is Morimoto which we also love. We also love Buddakan, Jones, Dandelion, El Vez and the Continental.
Here are all the Starr restaurants. He has expanded out of Philly now.
Non Steven Starr places we love are Davio's, Positano Coast, Friday Saturday Sunday, Bud and Marilyn's, La Famiglia, Capofitto and so many I can't even think of right now. Reading Terminal Market is another huge favorite of ours. If they don't sell it, you don't need it. Valley Shepherd Creamery in Long Valley has a stall there now.
Jim's on South Street is the consensus among all I have gone with for the best cheesesteak. Obviously, I don't have an opinion on that, so I have to take their word for it. ;-)
We think Philly is such a better alternative than NYC. Easier to get in and out, cheaper hotels (we always stay over) and just less crazy. You can actually cross streets without getting run over and having to listen to the constant blaring of horns.
There are great overnight specials at www.visitphilly.com. Overnight rates include parking and a bunch of other perks.
OMG, this post is getting into the StrangerDanger category. ;-)
*Disclaimer, I do not work for the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. LOL
Happy 10th! If the Philly area is in play, Chef Volas in Atlantic City is not to be missed. Outstanding food and unusual setting in an old house.
Closer to home, yet not Bernardsville, Natirar is great for special occassions. Been three times and each meal was perfect.
Wow the cheese courses in the link you posted looks amazing!!!! Never done dinner in Philly - will have to check it out!!
I’d happily have a weekend getaway in Philly. A nice loft would be nice.
And this is coming from a non city guy that would be perfectly happy to never step foot in nyc ever again.
Josh - Hubby cannot stand NYC. The only time we ever go is to go to a Yankees game and we haven't been to Yankee Stadium since the new one opened in 2009. Philly would probably be the only city I could ever live in. I would love to own one of those brownstones in Old City.
Chefpilsy - The Philly trip is for my 50th bday next month. We need to stick closer to home for the anniversary dinner. Thanks for your well wishes and suggestions though, will look into them for another time.
I've been looking into some choices in Easton and I am amazed at how many places are closed on Sundays. I'm used to restaurants being closed Mondays/and or Tuesdays.
Tried the Fishamajig at Friendly's the other day. Tasty!
Went to White Birch last night.
My wife and I ordered the following-
Hamachi/ asian pear/ kimchi/ rice cracker
Smoked pork belly chorizo/ peruvian potato/ saffron/ sweet pepper
Onion tart/ parsnip/frisee/ Gruyere cheese/ pine nuts
Venison Wellington for Two/ brussels sprouts/ heirloom fingerling potato/ demi
All of it was very good. No food complaints- which is pretty hard to achieve. :)
I was tempted by the pumpkin pie for desert- but boy was I stuffed.
The service was spot on- friendly, attentive without being overbearing.
If I am really looking for a detail to critique? Have then take a trip to Tender Hill on Rt 22 and copy their brussel sprouts.
If you read the reviews- ( https://www.opentable.com/r/white-birch-flanders ) you will see several mentions of the lighting.
Well- it is horrible!! The mentions of sterile, retail, doctors office, in their reviews are spot on. I honestly don't know if I could make it worse if I tried. Very uncomfortable, bordering on irritating.
The color temperature is completely opposite of what people want when enjoying a night out at dinner. Everything is cold white blue.
Go to Lowes, buy a bunch of warm toned bulbs and spend an hour on a ladder swapping them.
While you are there- buy some fabric panels for the walls or ceiling to tone down the noise. Holding a conversation was tough. That is a recommendation for just about any restaurant though.
Bottom line? Fix the lighting ambience and James on Main has some competition.
A welcome addition to the area.
We went to White Birch last week. The lighting...yes, it's not good. Too bright and sterile. Hopefully they change the bulbs. Also thought they should have gotten rid of that awkward wall in the front and open it up more.
Food was very good. Service was very slow, attentive, but slow with the entrees. We didn't hold it against them. New places take time to hit their stride. Will definitely go again.
If Talula's Garden is anywhere near as good as Talula's Table, will definitely have to give it a try. Talula's Table is awesome. Warning: very pricey. Worth it, IMO. We've been twice, years ago now. Need a reservation well in advance.
An oldie but always goodie is the Mountain View Chalet in Pattenburg, NJ.
If you take 57 to Anderson Town then cut through Asbury-Anderson Road to Route 173, you can make it 45 minutes from Hackettstown.
We had dinner tonight at Oak Steakhouse in Easton. It was every bit as good as we had heard. The place is really gorgeous inside with a great ambiance. The service was exceptional.
We shared the tuna tartare appetizer. I had a Caesar salad with anchovies and the 1/2 chicken which came with mashed potatoes and asparagus. Husband had the 10 oz. filet and the fully loaded baked potato for a side. Everything was delicious and the steak was cooked a perfect medium. The potato was huge! All of that plus two Stellas and two Yuenglings came to $115 before tip. We thought that was very reasonable for the amount and quality of the food. Definitely worth the ride. But be sure to make a reservation, the place was packed.
Went back to White Birch with the in-laws over the holiday.
The food and service were even better this time.
The lighting still sucks.
"I had a Caesar salad..."
Eating romaine? My.. aren't WE living dangerously (-;
The salad section at the supermarket looks like the bread aisle before a snow storm these days. Nothing but Baby Spinach or Arugula to be found...
"Eating romaine? My.. aren't WE living dangerously (-;"
LOL it was actually made with iceberg because of the recalls. Believe it or not, it wasn't too bad.
Remember a few years ago when there was that whole cantaloupe salmonella thing? I just kept on eating it for breakfast. I remember my co-workers screaming impending doom at me.
I ate a Chicken Ceaser salad last night with Romaine in Panther Pub. They confirmed that the romaine they very recently is OK. They will make you a salad with other greens if you want.
I just wanted to follow up on Talula's Garden. We had dinner there Saturday night and it was unbelievably delicious. We were extremely impressed and highly recommend it if you are down in Philly.
We shared the Perfect Plate cheese collection. This was presented on a piece of slate and included food items next to each cheese as compliments. Blueberries, raspberries, sunflower seeds etc. It also came with a basket of flatbread and other pieces bread to enjoy.
I had the leek and potato soup and the bourbon glazed chicken. Really delicious! The chicken was cooked to perfection and was easily the best quality chicken I have had in a long time. My husband had the smoked trout Caesar salad and the salmon. He cleaned his plate.
Only two cons:
It's quite dark in there. It's nice for ambiance, but if you are older it's a strain with reading glasses and basically only the candle on the table to read the menu.
The service was very good. The food came out in just the right time intervals, however our server was a little bit show replenishing our drinks.
Calico, you need a smart phone for the flashlight! At our work holiday dinner the other night I noticed two of the partners scanning the menu with their phone lights.
I’ve had to resort to that at a local place. It’s annoying - the lack of light, and my aging eyes! :)
Still rocking the flip phone. ;-)
We booked that Visit Philly overnight package that came with a bunch of perks. One of them was a $10 Lyft credit. Couldn't use it with the flip phones. LOL
I recently visited Friendly's again and tried the new turkey dinner that they have. I really enjoyed the corn that it came with. Pretty great meal.
Jah Spice in Netcong serves some excellent Jamaican food. I had Curry Goat with rice and peas and it comes with plantains and cabbage. I asked for extra spice and got it!!
Glad to have some Jamaican nearby and even beter that it is delicios. SueR had the beef patties and mac'n'cheese, she said both were very good.
Very friendly people I wish them success.
next visit the jerk chicken..........or the oxtail........BOTH!!!
Anyone been to Bells Mansion lately? Their website is changed and the menu is too, with no prices listed.
Yes - enjoyed a nice ahi tuna dish with greens. The bread was out of this world as it always is & the service was good. We went early on a Saturday night & barely got in so if you go during a Friday or Saturday night be sure to make reservations!
Anyone else been to Barka in Mountain Lakes? I went for lunch a couple months ago and thought it was great.
MB, I’ve been to Barka’s Happy Hour....it’s a great value. The food was excellent and the bar was beautiful. Thanks for reminding me, I’ve got to go back again soon.
I stopped by Friendly's for the traditional turkey dinner entree the other night. It was very tasty.
"There's also a tiny place in Hampton, Hampton Junction, that serves fabulous food. They make their own pasta and every time we've gone it has been excellent."
We finally got to this place last night and we loved it. Small town charm for sure. The building is a red barn. It has about 10-12 tables. We made a reservation and were seated promptly. All the tables were filled and there was only one waitress, but the service was still good.
The food was homemade and delicious. We shared an order of calamari. I got the chicken parm that came with a side of homemade linguini, husband got the salmon over spinach and beans. Both entrees came with a salad. Everything was delicious and we enjoyed our time there very much. Even had a delightful conversation with the owner at the end of our meal. The entrees were not cheap, but it's BYOB so that keeps the bill down. We will be having our leftovers for lunch today. Highly recommend it!
James on Main and Walpack Inn, different but both very good. With JOM, the BYOB keeps the bill down just like posted above.
Check the pictures of Hampton Junction before you go there. For the price of the food I would expect a nicer ambiance. Might not matter to you, just a heads up FYI.
Have you eaten there, happiest? It’s the best restaurant in the area imo. Don’t judge a book by its cover.
I have lived and traveled all over the world. I have an issue with happiest girl's contention that ambiance has something to do with food quality. I have had great food in a place that looked a shack in disrepair. I have also had a bad meal in the most elegant ambiance you could as for. Ambiance of the place is no way to judge the quality of the food in my experience especially if you have never eaten there.
Ambiance is a part of the dining experience.
"I have an issue with happiest girl's contention that ambiance has something to do with food quality". ---- MK
I have an issue with people that can't read.
I never said a word about the food.
I spoke about the ambiance, and I also said the ambiance might not matter to you.
It was a FYI.
Calico's review about the delicious food and the cost being "not cheap" would probably put an image in one's mind of a fine dining establishment. Imagine taking a date there and being unpleasantly surprised.
3wb said "Don't judge a book by it's cover"
I would reply: "A picture is worth a thousand words."
I'm glad to be made aware of Hampton Junction!. Never heard of it. Will try!
Red Wolf inn has incredible food. Not a fancy place. If you miss out because the building is not fancy, too bad for you! The lack of ambience is what gives it ambience!
Very true maja.
As long as the restaurant is clean, no leaks dripping on my head, safe looking roof and of course good quality and quantity of food I’m a happy customer.
I thought the atmosphere was charming, though it certainly was not fancy. As my post said, "small town charm.....red barn."
Happiest Girl, you said for the prices they charge it should have more ambiance implying that unless the place looks up to your specifications the food is not worth the price without ever eating there. Did I get that wrong?
Point well taken, Calico.
Just wanted to make clear this place is a deli / diner type place in atmosphere.
Some of the best food I have ever eaten is after a hard day at work on the tailgate of a pickup truck.
Is it ambient light or ambiant light?
Ambience. Accepted alternative spellings be damned (-;
To answer your question.. *yes* .. you got it wrong. Just like you got it wrong when you said that it was my contention that "ambiance has something to do with food quality". ........ when I never mentioned the food at all.
I'm surprised that you think "I would expect" is the same as "it should have".
If I were your teacher I would give you an F for reading comprehension.
Try to interchange the two above quotes in a sentence, maybe then you will get it.
As a side, have you ever been to Terranova in Panther Valley. I've dined there many times, because the food is very good. I don't go for the ambiance.
I’ve always used ambiance
Lol please none of you go there. Hard enough getting a reservation there, don’t need anyone else trying it. Been going there for years, food is fabulous, enough to take home for lunch the next day. Farm to table places aren’t cheap. The ambiance there is not any better or worse than James on Main which is we all know is fabulous. I think it’s great value, byob, home made fresh baked bread, a salad accompanying the meal, forgetaboutit!
"Lol please none of you go there. Hard enough getting a reservation there, don’t need anyone else trying it."
River Grille, OAK and Ocean and all excellent restaurants in Easton - owned by the same group of people. I have dined with them many times and am never disappointed.
I never in 30 years had a bad meal at Mattars. The people and staff are so friendly.
Had dinner this past Friday evening at Toscana. Reservations for four at 8. Place was packed. Seated at 8:10. Service was excellent. Food was fantastic. Everyone loved the place. We will be back.
ijay, I have substituted sides at Mattars. They definitely do substitute. Did you ask for a substitute and were denied?
I'd love me some TOPO right now
It could have been the server unaware that substitutes were allowed. Actually, when I think back to this past New Year's Eve a person in our group asked for a substitute of a side in the meal she ordered. It was made.
Definitely no substitutes at Clean Plate in Clinton. That place is a big no from me because of that.
Any new or not previously mentioned places to add here? Hubby's bday is in three weeks and we might want to try somewhere different.
Recently went to Daddy's Place in Easton. Food was really good, fresh-made pita bread on table, huge refrigerator wall of all kinds of interesting beer.
Oink and Moo has a Hampton mailing address but is physically located at the old Perryville Inn at Exit 12 off of I-78 in Union Township. Haven't been to their B&M but have eaten off their food truck 3 or 4 times... fantastic BBQ.
how about mediteranean style food? maybe more towards Easton area?
Table 42 in Dover (the old original Laughing Lion). There are actually two sides to this restaurant, one a restaurant/bar, the other a more casual pizzeria type place. I've been here several times and really enjoyed it
Ellias Restaurant in Columbia, NJ is closing at the end of this month. Get there soon to enjoy a meal from there. His food is amazing - too bad it's closing :(
Luca - Do you know why they are closing? Is it lack of business or something else? I just went of their FB page and saw that they posted this pic over the summer. Sad that a place with such good reviews will be closing.
I don't. All I know is that he has been open for 16 years & wants to spend more time with family. Owning a restaurant & being the chef must be incredibly difficult. I wish them luck in their next endeavor. It was not announced on the business's FB page but the owner posted it on his page.
Are there any recent reviews or thoughts on Garlic Steakhouse in Stroudsburg? I am thinking of going there for our anniversary this year. It seems to be the only fine dining place around that is open on Mondays for dinner.
Regarding Ellias, we went there for my husband's birthday last month and it was the worst experience ever. He had originally chosen a place in Easton, but wanted to change when I told him Ellias was closing. We have always had great service and food there. Not this time. Too much to go into, but we were there for 2 hours and left without an entree. The only decent part of the experience was the appetizer and salad we ordered. The server apologized throughout the 2 hours for the various things that went wrong. She actually had the nerve to say at the end, "I don't know if you heard, but we are closing at the end of the month." As if that is an excuse for a disaster of a dinner. I said to her, "You should have closed up last week then. No reason to stay open until the end of the month if you are just going to mail it in." I was really annoyed. It's the worst when a dinner for a special occasion goes south.
You can't go wrong with Blue Grillhouse in Bethlehem. (and they're open on Mondays (-; )
Is James on Main no longer BYO?
I just saw on their webpage they sell wine by the bottle now?
Ha! I just saw that, too. Must be really recent, because it's only been a few weeks since we were there last, and we took our own.
EDITED TO ADD:
Their Facebook page announced it on Oct. 24. And it says the restaurant is also still BYO.
Elias's service definitely was lacking the last few weeks as the servers must have fled when they heard it was closing. They should have tried to get some kind of temporary staff in there but maybe that's a difficult feat. Sorry to hear that you didn't get the entree's - must have been very frustrating. We went there early on a Friday for dinner & as we were leaving around 7-ish, we saw that the place was busy & definitely did not have enough people to help out.
Garlic's food is good but pretty expensive for the area. Last time we went for dinner a few years ago, a drunk man was allowed to wander through the restaurant even though I complained. I somewhat got the feeling that he worked there or something - I don't know but he was allowed to roam the restaurant & talk to people. After that strange encounter, I never went back!
We went to Bell's a few weeks ago, and it was just okay. The bar area was fun. The appetizers were just okay. Out of the four of us, two meals were good, two were not.
Reg, I was never all that impressed with Bell's either. But, they're the only place around that has Beef Wellington on their regular menu. It's my wife's favorite so I get dragged up there a couple times a year.
Bells currently is not as good as it was a few years ago. Still good though, but the Calamari was substandard.
I'm still waiting on a good greek place to open up around here, I'd kill for a good Gyro!
Definitely a lack of good Middle Eastern restaurants in Western NJ. Mezza House was good and a shame it is long gone.
What would you recommend at James On Main? Looking at the menu it seems hard to decide except to start with French Onion soup...
My husband had the hog chop last night & raved about it. The seafood specials are great & creative served with local produce. The schnitzel is another popular dish. I tend to stick with seafood or steak. Desserts are all homemade.
King Tut in Lebanon and Sinbad in Flemington are both very good Middle Eastern restaurants Western NJ. Head across the river for a dozen more.
Cedars in Stroudsburg is excellent Lebanese, but it's only got 3 tables to eat in. Mostly for take out.
I'm not sure if Two Rivers Brewing in Easton has been mentioned here. Don't feel like scrolling though the whole thread. LOL
We had dinner there tonight for the sixth or seventh time. Very good beer and food. Excellent chicken quesadilla and the homemade salsa is top notch. Hubby had the bison burger with bacon, smoked gouda, onion rings and a variety of sauces on it. He said it was the best burger he had in years. Worth the ride.
+1 for Two Rivers Brewing in Easton...excellent spot for brunch as well.
And then you can head for a sweet treat at Bank Street creamery in Easton :)
Thanks, looks like some places to try. Heard good things about King Tut for a while, just didn't like their rice-centric dishes seen online. Sinbad seems interesting. Cedars looks exactly what I am looking for albeit being a bit far. We like Daddy's Place in Easton, not the biggest fan of their homemade pita (seems more like Calzone dough).
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