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Overrated in Monmouth County

Which restaurant would you say is the most overrated one in the county?

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  1. Even though the whole hype of this place has faded (Thank God)...I would say is Brioso in Marlboro on Route 9. I would cring when I would be in Shoprite or Target and overhear other people talking about this awful place!

    1. Based upon my one visit, I found I Cavallini to be overrated. From apps to entrees to desserts I was less than impressed. This was back when Chef Toni Froio was still in the kitchen. Although I haven't heard much "buzz" since Chef Toni departed, S.J. Gintzler did just award 3 stars in last week's Star Ledger.

      1. Avenue
        The Raven and the Peach
        David Burke's Fromagerie

        ooops, sorry, you just asked for one ;o)

        7 Replies
        1. re: seal

          ohhh How did I COMPLETELY forget about Avenue!!! Thanks, seal for reminding me of my dreadful experience there! ha ha

          1. re: Angelina

            Hey Angelina,

            What was the problem with the Avenue? Have been wanting to go there for some time , was waiting for the weather to get warmer.Maybe should not go?

              1. re: Barbarella

                Thanks, jsefin!

                Barbarella, the location is beautiful and the space is decorated beautiful. Unfortunately, it all ends there! Seriously over priced for mediocre to average food. I have yet to find someone who has something good to say about the food. You can see for yourself, but I will never go back!

                1. re: Angelina

                  Sorry Angelina - I seem to be the only one who doesn't bash this place. While I agree the restaurant is a bit full of itself (especially during the summer) and somewhat overpriced, I found the food to be quite solid.

                  1. re: bgut1

                    I'll let it slide since I know you have good tatse. Afterall, we almost met each other at Shipwreck! lol!! ha ha....

                    1. re: Angelina

                      Thanks Angelina. Your the best!

          2. Dish in R/Bank
            The brunch @ Molly Pitcher
            Manhattan Steakhouse
            and I'm so tired of hearing about Nicholas! sorry all.

            7 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              Wow HillJ. Three of my favs. How could you? :)

              1. re: bgut1

                I always thought Nicholas was overrated as well. Very good but not great on my one experience there (when it first opened). Wasn't impressed enough to go back. The Molly Pitcher and the Manhattan Steakhouse aren't the best in the world but they don't claim to be either! Manhatan is practically around the corner from me and we tend to go there quite a bit. Doesn't compare to Peter Lugers but you get a consistently good steak.

                1. re: FattyMcFatPants

                  Hey Fatty - we must be neighbors. For some reason I crave that house salad they serve family style in the large bowl. The owner Jaime is also a great guy. Not the best steak I've ever had (nor the cheapest) however it does well in a pinch. That being said, I haven't found a local steakhouse that does one better including Brennens, Danny's, and What's your Beef.

                  1. re: bgut1

                    I've tried all of those as well and I always end up back at Manhattan when I crave a steak. Or being in Oakhurst, maybe I'm just lazy! :)

                    as for Nicholas, it gets such raves that maybe I will go back. It certainly was good but it wasn't one of those really memorable meals that I've had (maybe I'll relate my Per Se experience here someday...now that was memorable!).

                    1. re: FattyMcFatPants

                      The only thing I remember about my meal from Nicholas was how hard the wait staff tried to be perfect. It got really annoying after a while.

                      1. re: njeggy1

                        SO TRUE. I couldn't place my uncomfortable feeling but that was definitely it. That silly behavior really robbed the food of "its" moment.

                        1. re: MDM

                          For those of you who aren't sure about a return visit to Nicholas - try the bar. I LOVE their bar, and quite frankly I don't know if I'll ever return to their dining room. Why deal with the reservation and the full service atmosphere (and full size bill) when you can pop in for a couple of delicious dishes and drinks at the bar? That way you don't have to shell out another 100 bucks to see if you like the place or not.

            2. If crowds can be considered over rating I would have to say Bahrs in Highlands. Also every Outback, Chili's, TGIF, and Carraba's. Actually any chain for that matter.

              4 Replies
              1. re: Herm

                Don't forget Red Lobster and Olive Garden! Why are those places always so packed with so much good food to be had in the area!

                What about Bouna Sera in Red Bank? Since I'm new here I'm not sure how you guys view it but my brother-in-law thinks its great. I think its mediocre.

                1. re: FattyMcFatPants

                  I agree with Fatty. I think Buona Sera is terribly overated. I would also like to throw Le Fandy into the mix.

                  1. re: bgut1

                    Couldn't agree more. Come to think of it, the county could use a restaurant makeover. 400 "channels" and nothings on!

                  2. re: FattyMcFatPants

                    Call me crazy...but I LOVE Olive Garden's salad and Chicken Marsala. :p

                    1. re: RGR

                      RGR, let me tell you a story about Doris and Ed's. A friend of mine pulled up to the restaurant on a Sunday after noon about two years ago, saw that the restaurat was not very crowded and went in with his family of three. The person inside asked if he had a reservation to which he replied no, but you do not seem to be very busy. The person insisted that seating was by reservation only. the guy wanted to try the place so much that he wound up going to his car, and using his cell phone to make a reservation. He went back inside and was seated this time. The nerve of that place!!

                      1. re: Barbarella

                        Barbarella, lol. That's a great story. They certainly are full of themselves! So, did your friend think it was worth cowtowing?

                        1. re: RGR

                          I do not remember. I had been there before that, or I would not have gone at all.

                      2. re: RGR

                        Doris & Eds.. The Today Menu very good. IMO the food overmatches the interior & most of the waitstaff.- which is not really a bad thing- I would rather have good food then be looking at a nice interior design and have a disappointing meal
                        I have eaten there twice and felt both times the food & wine list very good- but the interior and overall location does not match up

                        1. I have to add my two cents in on this. El Meson. Yes, they're good but with all the Mexicans in the community everyone should check out where the locals eat. There's this really good Mexican hole in the wall called Bahia de Acapulco 5 South St in Freehold. The proprietor speaks English and the waitress speaks limited English. We haven't yet starved over there. The menu is limited but it's nothing you've ever seen before. Tongue tacos, pork rind tacos, sauteed pork rinds, tripe soup. Exotic fruit drinks. Most entrees are around the $10 level. No need to dress for dinner. Give it a shot!

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: wench31

                            I’ve never eat at Doris & Ed’s but my father has, and experienced some mysterious vanishing of his reservation or some nonscence, although after he got in he said the food was good.

                            I don’t really eat seafood so I am biased on some of these choices, and some are chains I feel that are overrated, but I am still grading on ‘what the restaurant aspires to be’ so I think this is fair.

                            I’ve been dragged to these places out of family peacableness:

                            1. The Lobster Shanty
                            2. Bahrs Landing as it is now (I have some GREAT memories of the place as a kid, though)
                            3. Olive Garden (yes, everyone says it’s bland but to my palate the awfulness makes it UNBEARABLE)
                            4. Subway (Yes, I am a health nut—but just because I eat healthfully doesn’t mean that I’ll eat any kind of processed meat on a midwesterner’s idea of ‘bread’ just because it has a low calorie label on it. Mnnn…veggie delite…yellow mustard and iceberg…I THINK NOT!!!)
                            5. The Windmill. Fries did not meet my memories of eating there as a kid! Tasted like supermarket crinkle fries in a paper cup. I think it’s the cute paper cup that makes people like ‘em.
                            6. Max’s. Just not that special—again, I think it’s a nostalgia thing for most people.
                            7. Wendy’s. Again, healthy fast food? Just walking in the place smells dodgy to me.
                            8. Panera bagels. Why? Why not get a real bagel—it’s NJ for crying out loud, there are real bagel places here!

                          2. I give my vote to the Mexican Fish Taco stand that is now heralded as the best in Monmouth County. I am withholding the name so as to prevent injury and loss of appetite to those whom do not know what restaurant I am referring to.

                            Now please help me understand this. No view, next to a major highway, nothing else noteworthy around to look at or do, and we proclaim it is our best resturant in all of Monmouth County and depending on whom you read the whole state?

                            I hate to say it but I think PT Barnum was onto something and sadly he was right.

                            18 Replies
                            1. re: F77

                              where is this Mexican Fish Taco stand?

                              1. re: F77

                                The restaurant that used to be where Nicholas is now, used to be Mexican, I belive it also was a seafood place for a while. Also an Irish pub........

                                1. re: Herm

                                  That's not to say that I think it's overrated, I haven't tried it yet.

                                  1. re: Herm

                                    I remember the Mexican restaurant. I think it was called Dos Caminos or Dos something. That wasn't Mexican. I don't know what it was. It was awful. I wasn't surprised that they closed. I don't remember the Irish pub though.

                                    1. re: wench31

                                      Herm is correct on both counts...stood vacant for some time until Nicholas came along.

                                      1. re: wench31

                                        Los Amigos and we used to go there all the time when I was a kid.

                                      2. re: Herm

                                        "Also an Irish pub........"

                                        Boy, Herm. You go back.

                                      3. re: F77

                                        I find myself agreeing with PT Barnum alot!

                                        1. re: F77

                                          Obviously you're talking about Nicholas, but forgive me for asking, what does the view have to do with the food? And, besides, they've done a good job of "softening" the view with their window treatments.

                                          But, never mind the view. It doesn't sound as though you've ever been there. This is what I found: great tableside service and great food. My husband does think Nicholas himself is pretentious, but even he has always left there feeling he got a great meal. Some people complain that the portions aren't big enough. But even with the 2 course menu you always end up well satisfied (if not stuffed).

                                          So, the service is great, the food is inspired and the whole experience is simply that - an experience. Don't count on less than 2-3 hours.

                                          1. re: Nogatz

                                            I'm with you, Nogatz. I don't think I've ever before heard someone proclaim that Nicholas doesn't deserve the accolades it receives because it's located on a major highway and has no view. That has to be at the bottom of any list of what people care about -- if they care about it at all, which I don't! -- when it comes to fine dining.

                                            What diners do care very much about is what's going on *inside* the restaurant. At Nicholas, one finds the following: superb cuisine; a fine wine list; cordial, polished service; elegant contemporary decor; comfortable seating; and a conversation-friendly noise level. In short, all the *important* things that make for supremely pleasurable fine dining.

                                            Btw, the 2-course menu was eliminated when the bar room opened.

                                            1. re: RGR

                                              RGR, I have seen on Nicholas' website that they are now taking reservations on their Chef's table. Have you done that? if so, what was the experience like?

                                              1. re: wench31

                                                No, wench31, we haven't done the Chef's Table yet. However, we asked about it when they started offering it last year and were told it didn't involve a special menu. It's mainly the opportunity to interact with Nicholas and watch while he and the staff prepare your meal.

                                                I'm pretty sure there was a post on this board from someone who has done the Chef's Table. Perhaps that person will see this and respond from first-hand experience.

                                                  1. re: jsfein

                                                    I'm here!!!! Here is my review from egullet:
                                                    "Nicholas was probably the best meal of my life (and also the most expensive btw - my fault due to wine ordered). By way of background, my wife and I have been dining at Nicholas since it opened (maybe twice to three times a year). For my 40th Birthday, I had thought to go to Per Se and actually had a reservation for this past weekend. Due to a cancellation of another couple and the hesitation to spend big $ for a NY hotel for the night we decided to stay in NJ. I had read a few months back at NJO restaurant forums that Nicholas was constructing a chef's table and inquired during a recent visit. I was happy to find out that in fact the table would probably be available for this weekend and we would be the first to dine in the kitchen (later found out we were the 2nd couple to do so). I was also advised that the table is available every evening except Saturday (as Nicholas is on the floor that night) at 7 PM at a cost of $150 p.p. which includes a 6 course Grand Tasting Menu with a glass of Nicholas Cuvee Champagne. I emailed Nicholas my wife's likes and dislikes (I enjoy everything). We showed up promptly at 7 pm and were escorted to the bar to have a glass of champagne. Several minutes later we were escorted downstairs into the kitchen. We were quite embarrassed to find out that the entire wait and kitchen staff were lining the stairs welcoming us into the kitchen for our dinner (think receiving line). The kitchen was dark and once we were seated the lights turned on and the orders started flying. Very theatrical and quite impressive. The table sits in an alcove literally feet away from the action. The table seats a maximum of four. The circular booth seating is an orange fabric while the alcove wall is lined by black tile and the lighting is a Dale Chihuly glass sculpture. The kitchen is spotless and they operated like a well oiled machine. Very little talking except for Nicholas expediting. Nicholas presented us with two amuses: the watermelon sashimi and the fried cod cake. Next we were presented with custom menus autographed by Nicholas, Melissa and the entire kitchen staff. The entire meal took 3 and half hours and was exceptional. When I have more time I will go into more detail on the menu as some items were brand new."

                                                    1. re: bgut1

                                                      Speaking of Nicholas. I haven't been back in quite some time so me and the DH stopped by tonite for dinner at the bar. Met an interesting group of Tuesday regulars. Quite a few new items on the menu for me. Highlights included a very nice fried softshell crab over a basil emulsion (tasted like summer); a crab salad with an orange sorbet; crispy pork belly, and on and on. Seemed like we had one of every item on the menu. I also loved the smores dessert. Truly amazing. With the recent comments about it being overated I was starting to worry. No reason to fret folks, the emperor hasn't gotten new clothes just yet.

                                                      1. re: bgut1

                                                        Bgut, have you been to Per Se yet? If not, do yourself a favor and treat yourself for the next special occasion. It's simply on another level from Nicholas. I went in kind of fretting about the $ I was going to be spending (I was lucky enough to treat two of my family members), thinking no meal could be worth the price - but I have never felt a meal was worth every penny like the one at Per Se.

                                                        By the way, Per Se doesn't have a standard wine package addition to their meal, but I just asked the sommelier to give me her picks and gave her a budget. I don't know much about wine, but I do know the pairings were simply glorious.

                                                  2. re: RGR

                                                    The last time I was at Nicholas, I believe they told me that there are additional courses involved with the chef's table.

                                                    1. re: joonjoon

                                                      joonjoon - I haven't been to Per Se yet. While I do want to go, I'm not in any rush as I have been to the French Laundry and I'm sure the food isn't that different. My next fantasy meals are Masa and Guy Savoy (Paris - which I intend to try in November). As far as Nicholas is concerned, I pulled out the menu from that evening and see it was seven courses including two amuse bouches and a palate cleanser. Interestingly there were no mignardises (I couldn't haven't eaten them anyway). As others have correctly noted, the menu usual involves items already on the menu. With my meal, Nicholas presented me with a brand new item (Pan Roasted Chatham Cod with Smoked Potato Puree and Red Pepper Oil) as well as a revamped item (Butter Poached Lobster with Chorizo, Marscapone Agnolotti and Savoy Cabbage). It was an excellent experience and I highly recommend it. You truly can not appreciate what they do to prepare your meal until you have a chance to witness his kitchen operation.

                                          2. This may sound pretentious but I think every expensive restaurant is overrated. If I have to work 8 hours just to pay for one meal, it's not worth it regardless of how well it's prepared.

                                            3 Replies
                                            1. re: tom porc

                                              tom porc, what a breath of fresh air!

                                              1. re: tom porc

                                                Too funny!!!! Thanks for the laugh! Have a nice Memorial Day, Tom!

                                                1. re: tom porc

                                                  I thought the same thing until I went to Per Se. But I don't think you can think of high end restaurants as just "food", or even sustenance. That would be like saying getting a private concert from the Beatles is "just music." Or flying in a space shutting is "just air travel".

                                                  I agree that a lot of (actually, most) restaurants are overpriced - but there are exceptions to the rule, and that's why we're here, right? :D

                                                2. The Fromagerie in Rumson...we've eaten there on two occasions and both times were disappointed at the amount of food for the price. After spending top dollar on a meal, one shouldn't have to leave hungry. They do, however, make a lovely Cosmopolitan. :)

                                                    1. Definitely Doris & Ed's. Always highly rated in Zagats but we had an awful meal there with awful service and it wasoverpriced to boot.