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Your top 3 in New Jersey

sgschef May 2, 2007 10:25 AM

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. val ann c RE: sgschef May 2, 2007 11:48 AM

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

    1. ambrose RE: sgschef May 2, 2007 12:51 PM

      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.

      1. fershore RE: sgschef May 2, 2007 03:04 PM


        1. h
          HillJ RE: sgschef May 2, 2007 03:27 PM

          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
            taboni RE: HillJ May 2, 2007 04:34 PM

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

          2. r
            RGR RE: sgschef May 2, 2007 04:52 PM

            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
              bgut1 RE: RGR May 2, 2007 07:18 PM

              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
                nyebaby37 RE: bgut1 May 3, 2007 05:24 AM

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

                1. re: bgut1
                  val ann c RE: bgut1 May 3, 2007 05:37 AM

                  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
                  Striver RE: RGR May 3, 2007 05:37 AM

                  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.

                3. j
                  joonjoon RE: sgschef May 3, 2007 07:41 AM

                  Can't go wrong with Nicholas.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: joonjoon
                    angelo04 RE: joonjoon May 3, 2007 09:05 PM

                    Is Nicholas in Middletown or Red Bank?

                    1. re: angelo04
                      RGR RE: angelo04 May 3, 2007 09:30 PM

                      It's p.o. address is Red Bank. However, it's located on 35 South, in Middletown, just north of the bridge over the Navesink, on the other side of which is Red Bank.


                      1. re: RGR
                        seal RE: RGR May 5, 2007 03:46 PM

                        Just went to Nicholas last night. Mini review at:


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