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May 2, 2007 10:25 AM

Your top 3 in New Jersey

A dinner anywhere for my husband and me is what we are being given as a return for a big favor. So now what? What would your three top choices be in New Jersey for a special dinner/ Please don't include Rats or David Drakes. Thanks for the help!

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  1. Nicholas
    Get the tasting menu with wine pairings. They also have a chef's table, which we have never tried.

    1. This is a VERY difficult question to answer and I will probably change my mind as soon as I sign off!

      Nicholas would be on my top three list. Off the top of my head, I also suggest Stage Left in New Brunswick and The Pluckemin Inn in Bedminister.

      The Pluckemin Inn took a lot of business from The Ryland Inn, which is temporarily closed. The latter is supposed to reopen "soon" but in what form is anyone's guess.

          Scarborough Fair, Sea Girt

          The Ebbitt Room, Cape May

          Frankie & Johnnies, Hoboken

          All three restaurants have different atmosphere's but dynamite food!

          1 Reply
          1. re: HillJ

            Nicholas. I have been twice and can't wait to go back again. Need to save up for a couple more months though.

          2. I agree with those who have placed Nicholas at the top of the list. Exquisite New American cuisine; an excellent wine list; cordial, professional service; and sophisticated contemporary decor.

            But a *very* close second for me would be Lorena's, in Maplewood. Chef Humberto Campos's French-inspired cuisine is superb. The small staff, headed by his fiancee, Lorena, and their dining manager, George, provide friendly and polished service. The small space -- only 35 seats -- has very charming decor. It is BYO, and George handles wine with great expertise.


            Third on my list would be Chez Catherine, in Westfield. Wonderful contemporary French cuisine served in a space with lovely ambiance. There's a fine wine list as well. Owner Didier Jouvenet is a charming host who oversees the dining room, making certain that everything runs smoothly.


            4 Replies
            1. re: RGR

              I agree with everyone else that Nicholas is the best. I have dined countless times over the past 5 years including a meal at the chef's table which was fantastic. My second choice would be David Drake however you said not to name it. A wild card for me would be the Gables in LBI. While I haven't been, it has received raves from many of my friends. All this being said, with such an offer why limit the playing field to NJ? How about NYC with such choices as Per Se, Masa, Jean Georges, or Eleven Madison Park?

              1. re: bgut1

                Highlawn Pavilion, West Orange
                Il Castello, Woodbridge
                Lobster House, Cape May

                1. re: bgut1

                  We dined twice at Gables about four years ago. It was wonderful, and very special. I would love to know if the same chef is still there and if it is still good.
                  I remember it was BYOB. We phoned the restaurant for wine recommendations.

                2. re: RGR

                  We're also very fond of Lorena's and would put that on our list along with Cafe Panache in Ramsey, where we have been going several times a year for quite a while and have never been disappointed. Both of these fine restaurants are BYOB; for dining at a restaurant with an outstanding wine list, I'd recommend the Washington Inn in Cape May, where we recently had a terrific dinner in all respects - food, ambience, and service.