Gladstone Tavern (Gladstone NJ)
The new Gladstone Tavern may be the talk of the town, a long-awaited replacement for the defunct Chatfields. The building has been nicely renovated with an open contemporary style, extra-long tables with plenty of space so you don't have to share dinner with the next table.
I shared dinner with a companion the other evening, and the restaurant was quite crowded. They offer a nice outdoor patio, as well as several different seating areas inside and a nice lively bar scene. However, when its crowded, its very noisy. The couple seated near us was even remarking about how loud it was, and they were quite loud themselves.
When we arrived, there seemed to be quite a few servers standing around and hovering, but as the evening wore on it seemed they thinned out and picked up the pace. The service initially was very good, and I remarked to my companion that they trained the staff very well. The person that brought our bread subtly cleared away the straw wrappers and paper napkin rings that we had on the table. However, I may have spoken too soon. We had barely finished our appetizers, when I noticed a runner bring out our entrees and pause when she saw we still had our apps on the table. She seemed a bit perplexed, but covered well by continuing past our table and getting a co-worker to go clear our table. Several of the staff seemed to wander aimlessly and look confused. Our waitress was courteous, but towards the end of our meal she seemd to flag a bit. When it came time for dessert, she failed to mention the homemade ice cream flavors of the day. There was also a special dessert (listed on the daily specials) which was not listed on the dessert menu, and our waitress gave it a nonchalant description that barely sold it.
Some minor service issues, but to be fair, they did open only a few months ago. The food was solid and well prepared.
For appetizers we had an order of the "crabcake tots", 4 or 5 small crabcakes, presented in a cocktail glass, with a trio of sauce dotted on the plate, including a mustard sauce, a spicier red sauce, and a green herb sauce. Very pretty presentation. I had an order of steamed clams, wonderful fresh and hot in a succulent broth with garlic and herbs, perfectly soaked up by the bread. The bread in the bread basket was somewhat bland, but nice and crusty.
I ordered the braised short ribs off the menu, which were a huge portion of tender ribs classically prepared. They were served with a "horseradish" mashed potatoes, which had huge pieces of hard unmashed potato, and lacked any horseradish flavor or zing. The entrees were served with a generic mishmash of steamed broccoli, cauliflower and carrots. The ribs were tender enough - could probably have used a bit more braising, but the potatos really detracted from the dish.
My companion ordered the special "roast" entree of the evening, roast turkey with cranberry-apple compote. It was very good, flavorful, moist roasted turkey breast, although they put the fruit compote across the top rather than on the side, and served with plain mashed potatos (which my companion did not find lumpy) and the same vegetable medley. Nice surprise entree for a summer day, makes you eager for Thanksgiving.
For dessert, we split the aforementioned special dessert, which on the menu was described as a "Bing Cherry Tart, (Homemade) Vanilla Ice Cream, and Cherry-Port-Wine Sauce". Sounded excellent. When we asked the waitress she offhandedly said "oh, its a cherry tart" - not very exciting. The tart shell was crisp and flaky, however, the tart suffered from a LACK of fruit. In fact, I counted EXACTLY 16 HALF-cherries, which means a total of 8 cherries in a 4 or 5 inch tart. It had very little flavor, the port-wine-cherry sauce was a mere drizzle on the plate, and overall left us wanting more. Coffee was very fragrant and scalding hot.
Seems like there are a few small "bugs" to iron out here, but still a nice meal. They have a diverse menu that will appeal to most palates, and some nice special entrees each evening. I'll definitely go back and give this one another try soon.
Okay, so we should have known from the website stating "bring your kids..." but we had NO idea this place would be a "Chuck E. Cheese" for the Porshe Cayenne crowd. As we sat and waited for our appetizers we watched toddler after toddler (I mean the still-suckling kind...) pour through the door until the acoustically vibrant dining room was FILLED with screaming children. I was attempting to enjoy the amazing Crab Cake Tots when a parent, in a futile attempt to placate the child, started to entertain the infant with a squeaky dog toy...so much for ambiance. By the time our excellent main course meals arrived, we had enough of the juvenile cacophony and decided not to stay for dessert..or return to this establishment. It took another 15 minutes after our entree plates were cleared to get the attention of our server so we could have the check. As stated in the first posting-the food here is excellent!!! The server we had was not very knowledgeable about the menu and really did not seem interested in providing us with the service that one would expect considering the higher price points of the entrees. Be forewarned...if you cannot tolerate loud, entitled children as well as their ineffective parents-skip this place and go to the Opah Grille down the road.
We went here tonight and had a fantastic meal. We got there at 5:30pm after a matinee in nyc. We were originally sat towards the back of the restaurant, but when I saw the fire, I asked to be sat by it, as the theater we went to was freezing and our bones were aching for warmth. I ordered a Mahi Mahi special with a raspberry margarita sauce. Fiancee ordered the made to ordered pan seared half chicken and a salad to start. The server let us know that it would take 20 minutes for the chicken to cook, prompting me to order a salad as well. The salad was fresh and big. The mahi mahi was delicious. Fiancee said chicken was good, and did wrap the leftovers to bring home. I ordered the molten hot chocolate cake with white chocolate ice cream and strawberries. It was delicious. Fiancee ordered the chestnut waffle - which was a waffle ice cream sandwich. He said it wasn't good - it was delicious. He never let's me taste his food though - so I'll order it next time.
As messehmoll states, there are a lot of children there, but I really didn't mind it. I'm not above it. The parents were not ineffective. The children were quite well behaved. I hate misbehaved children, and I would be the first to complain about them.
We're going back for Valentine's Day weekend. It is so hard to find a good restaurant in the Chester area.
We've been to the Gladstone Tavern twice, and are, for the most part, in agreement with the above: The portions are huge. The food is quite good. The noise level and the abundance of children are intolerable. (NOTE for RGR: Don't go! You'll be charged with murder!:-)
However, there is a tried and true way to deal with the rancorous herd of spoiled, ill-mannered brats who routinely overrun the joint and ruin your evening by blasting their portable DVD players or snatching whatever they fancy from your table and dashing back under theirs. When a family of six was about to be seated at a table adjacent to a dapper looking young man and his date, after giving us a wink, the fellow tapped the mother of the brood on the shoulder, and said, "I'm so very sorry, ma'am, but the conditions of my parole don't allow me to be this close to young children. Do you think you could ask for a different table?" The mother hen gathered up her chickadees and all but left rubber as she fled the room.
Genius, I say! :-)))
2 more visits and 2 more fantastic experiences. Saturday after Valentines Day brought me a beet salad with goat cheese. Fresh and delicious. Perfectly cooked venison with an apple chutney and a twice baked potato. A pear tart. The week after, we went on a whim and I had the little slider burgers. The carmelized onions and the obviously high grade beef second to none. Children? Yes. Badly behaved? No. I can't wait to go back.
We've been back twice as well, and during one of the two visits, I could swear we'd stumbled into a high end Chucky Cheese populated by low end crazy kids, some of whom were doing everything short of skateboarding around our table while their parents sat passively by with bemused grins. Too, for the noise phobic (which we and you apparently are not) the din may be intolerable.
But as for the food, though very, very good, in our opinion descriptions like 'Fantastic', 'Perfectly' and 'Second To None' are understandable hyperbole, a function of your earlier understated truism: "It is so hard to find a good restaurant in the Chester area." Hell, Chester? How about all of Morris and Somerset county? By comparison with the competition, the Gladstone Tavern definitely merits raves. But only by comparison. Compared to the local Opah Grill or Willies Tavern, Gladstone deserves Michelin stars!
So we write this not to bury the Gladstone Tavern but to praise it in perspective: if the sophisticated diner goes there expecting anything like perfection, he or she will be disappointed. But if you dine there expecting one of the best meals in the area, satisfaction is all but assured. Given that we've been back to Gladstone twice as well, it's obvious we agree that one ought not pass the place up because of the local delinquents/CEO's-in-training. But by all means, do bring ear plugs and a paint-ball gun for self defense :-)))