Roots Steak House - Summit, NJ (or other birthday fare)
Roots is pretty decent. I'm not really a huge steak person, but my dad is and he likes it. I don't know what kind of food you are looking for but some other suggestions that i have are:
Huntley Taverne (Summit): Really good new American food. They have the best bread basket!
Trattoria Fresco (West Caldwell): Authentic Italian food, reasonably priced, BYOB. I've never had a bad meal here. Probably one of the best Italian restaurants in the area
Neros (Livingston): Might be too pricey for what you are looking for, but they make some great steaks and seafood.
Pierre's (Harding): French bistro type food. I actually really love this restaurant and I've never had a bad meal there.
Grill 73 (Bernardsville): Again, another new American restaurant. Great food, somewhat trendy atmosphere, but not too pretentious.
There are like a whole bunch of others that i've probably forgotten to mention, but these are the ones that came to me right away. I'm sure i'll think of more later!
ChowLad, the phrases "Roots Steak House" and "not too $$" are mutually exclusive!
Make no mistake, or should I say misteak :-)), this place is expensive. I understand, however, that it is very good. Here's a review from the NY Times for your perusal...
My vote would be for Pierre's (already mentioned), which is in Harding Township even though it has a Morristown address.
I highly recommend Lorena's, in Maplewood (Essex County). Chef Humberto Campos's French-inspired cuisine is superb! The small staff, headed by Lorena (Chef Campos's fiancee) and George, the dining room manager, provide cordial, polished service. The cozy space -- only 36 seats -- has thoroughly charming decor. It's a BYO, but they have proper glassware, and George handles wines with great expertise.
Sadly, I must recommend against Roots. Ashame too, because its 'sister' restaurants offer good food and decent service - Huntley Taverne and Traprock Brewery in Springfield. Try Fiorino's down the street, by the Summit Train Station - pretty good Tuscan cuisine.
Roots Steakhouse needs to address the consistently poor manners of wait staff and hostess, the constant push to 'flip' the next table, a wine list which is overly priced (even DaSilvano has better bargains) and mediocre food that the NYC steakhouses will not feel threatened by. If you want steak, take the train ride to NYC or Hoboken.