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Needed: an amazing recommendation around Randolph, NJ

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Sunday, I'm going out for lunch with my mother in law, who lives near Randolph, NJ.

It's my pick (a birthday dinner), and I'm always on the lookout for either

1) Rare, authentic ethnic cuisine or
2) Just really good vegetarian/vegan food

I'm a regular in NYC Chinatown, little Korea, Russian Brooklyn, etc ...and the last thing I want is a plain ole' restaurant. (When in NJ, we usually end up at Long Valley Brewpub, which is nice...but just not what I'm looking for now.) Anyone have any great ideas?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions!

--Janet (GG)

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  1. Janet, you might try posting this on the Mid-Atlantic board too. There are more NJ people there. When you say "near" Randolph, what do you mean? Closer to Morristown or closer to Chester?

    1 Reply
    1. re: bropaul

      I guess either would be good - we do have a car...she lives in Randolph specifically, and we're mobile...

    2. Cafe Metro in Denville (the 'downtown' Denville, near Rts. 53 and 80) might be a good choice; not fancy, but it's a nice spot with a focus on healthy food- and definitely vegetarian-friendly! Then again, it might not be enough to qualify for a birthday meal. Check it out at www.thecafemetro.com
      And of course, after a healthy meal, walk 1.5 blocks over to Denville Dairy on Main Street, and eat ice cream! :-)

      1. Forgot about Cafe Metro - good choice. Just to let you know, though, it's BYO. In Morristown there are two decent Thai restaurants: Origin on South St. and Andaman Sea near the train station. I've been impressed with Andaman Seas offerings. Very flavorful. I've never been for lunch and have heard that it's not as good as at dinner, but Pamir is an Afghani restaurant that I like too. There are a fair amount of vegetarian dishes on the menu. All above are BYO.

        1. I'm an ex-New Yorker and my new favorite place in this area is Saigon House. The food is absolutely fantastic and it's so fresh and clean. I dream about their Sesame Clams appetizer and all their other dishes are superb! I'm always in amazement that as you drive down Route 10 that all these chain restaurants are packed but there are so many hidden gems along the way.

          http://www.restaurantpassion-nj.com/l...

          I also recommend Andaman Sea and if you stick to their regular menu and even more specifically their seafood dishes you will not be disappointed!

          2 Replies
          1. re: Tasi

            Dear Tasi, BroP and Curlz,

            Thanks! As luck would have it, the dinner has been postponed, so I have more time to choose the location. So far, Andaman, Saigon and Pamir all sound good (though Pamir has gotten mixed reviews across the web.) Thanks for the input (and let me know if you think of any other locale to add to the list!)

            1. re: gaijingirl

              As it happens, I live in Randolph. Margot, a small place in town, does a lovely job with fusion cuisine. Bosphorus, on Route 53 in Denville,serves excellent Turkish cuisine, with large portions and very reasonable prices. American Grill, in Randolph, is reliably creative but not exactly ethnic. Hunan Noodle House, in Parsippany on Route 46, is a very Chinatown-style Hunan restaurant. Not much ambience, but many unusual and atypical authentic Chinese dishes.

          2. Some other ethnic options in the area:

            Veggie Heaven, Parsippany: An all-vegan Chinese restaurant, with a large variety of imitation meat dishes, including chicken, beef, shrimp, lamb, fish, etc. A casual dining environment with excellent service. A great place for vegetarian food, moderately priced.

            Chand Palace, Parsippany: An all-vegetarian Indian restaurant, with really excellent food. Try their dosas! Casual dining and prices are moderate.

            Reservoir Tavern, Boonton: Not strictly a vegetarian place, but simply the best pizza in north Jersey. Very casual place that's usually packed, so expect to wait a while at peak dining times since they don't take reservations. Has a good bar for a waiting area.

            1. Sadly, An American Grill has closed.
              If you're expanding the location, you MUST try Saffron in East Hanover. It's right on Rt. 10 E just after you go through the light where the Burger King is; the parking lot and entrance are in the back. I was there for lunch today, and was reminded that I need to go more often, as their buffet lunch is the best deal in NJ, imo--9.99pp! BYO, and if you go for dinner, you can order a la carte.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Curlz

                Oooo, Turkish sounds good - that's one ethnicity that I really haven't tried yet. Also: what cuisine does Saffron serve, since it gets such a high recommendation? :)

                1. re: gaijingirl

                  Sorry (headsmack)! Saffron is Indian...lovely setting, lovely service, wonderful food! www.saffronnj.com

                  1. re: Curlz

                    I dont care for Saffron very much. I do like Chand Palace (different thing). People in my office like a place called Cinnamon, on Rt 10 much closer to Randolph better than Saffron. Also, the folks who owned Moghul in Morristown (now closed) as well as places down in Iselin have opened two Indian restaurants, one Indian Chinese and one Punjabi, in Headquarters Plaza (on Speedwell Ave, right off the central square) in Morristown. these should also be good, and Indian Chinese might be an interest change for you and your mother.

                2. re: Curlz

                  American Grill closed? The website is still up, and I found no mention of it on the archived NJ Magazine openings/closings list. When? Are you sure?

                  1. re: rruben1

                    Maybe what I should have said is that if it's still open, it was sold. Got to be 6 months ago...? I just know that the original owner/chef is gone; thought the place was closed completely. Apologies if I'm wrong!

                3. Hi. This is probably too late but Saigon House in East Hanover, NJ is a really great Vietnamese resturant. I believe they serve authentic dishes and they have alot of dishes that I haven't seen in your typical Vietnamese restaurant, but I had them when I visited VN a while back. The atmosphere is casual fine dining and the decor is simple and elegant. The waitstaff is courteous and seems to know quite a bit about the food. I've been there a few time so the dinner crowd ranges from friends to couples to family. The food is one the best Vietnamese in north jersey and i've tried quite a few. Lunch is much more casual with a separate menu. They also have one of the great rendition of Pho and grilled meats with this dipping sauce. Hopes this help.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: lavie

                    Dear Lavie,

                    Thanks for the recommendation. The original event is actually over - but it just so happens that we'll be taking my mother in law out for her birthday this weekend - so I'm looking for a place again. (Of course, now I'm looking for a place that makes smashing Brandy Alexanders, which I'm sure that Saigon House doesn't..! :))) ) But SH and Saffron both sound good to me, so at least they're options....

                    1. re: gaijingirl

                      It's great to see another recommendation for SH! I honestly love that place. This area isn't going through the "mixology movement" that Manhattan is but the two places that come to mind that may make a decent Brandy Alexander is Copeland in the Westin in Morristown

                      http://www.copelandrestaurant.com/

                      or the Piano Bar which is a part of the Valentino Restaurant in Morristown.

                      http://www.ardore.com/listing.asp?r=v...

                      This place definately caters to a mature clientele and they do have really nice music on the weekends. For some unknown reason my husband had a Brandy Alexander at the Brandy Library and it was extremely good!

                  2. Based on the description that you have and what you would require, I would probably recommend most Origin in Morristown, it is French/Thai I believe, but I do know it is absolutely different and delicious.

                    Another option may be a Turkish take-out type restaurant in Parsippany, I do forget the name but Im sure you can do a search. As for Italian, I would rec the Garlic Rose in Madison.

                    Good luck.

                    13 Replies
                    1. re: yankeefan

                      Just wanted to follow up, and let everyone know that we went to Bosphorus today - a very nice meal, with wonderful service...just an all around pleasant experience. (Thought the Baklava was the best part...) Makes me curious about more Turkish places... (The Brandy Alexander will have to wait, I guess.)

                      1. re: gaijingirl

                        For interesting ethnic cuisine try Cinnamon on Rt.10 as well. Actuallt pretty close to real Indian cusine! Many veg entrees as well. Not sure if the American palette will love it though as the taste is authentic or at least the closest I have had around here! Also, you could always try Ora in morristown. Interesting menu although a little pricey. Cheaper than the Copeland though!

                        1. re: thecheffychef

                          I hate to be that guy, but I have to say that Ora in Morristown was absolutely horrific. food was subpar, service was terrible, prices were outrageous and the atmosphere was not good either.

                          I truly feel bad that I have nothing good to say about the place- have others had success there? Should I really give it another try- it has been over a year since I was last there. I had the tasting menu the first time.

                          1. re: yankeefan

                            I went to Ora (with my toddler son) thinking it was still South St Trattroria and felt bad leaving so we stayed and ate. They were literally opened a week or so my assessment wouldn't be fair. I know many people who dined there and for the most part they get mixed reviews and for those that don't like Ora....really don't like Ora! We have friends who have no problem spending money on dining and felt very ripped-off by their whole experience.

                            It's Crispo for me this weekend!

                            1. re: Tasi

                              I'm actually an Ora fan. I have had a underwhelming meal or two there, but I find it to be about the only place in Morristown that (a) has decent food, (b) is slightly creative, and (c) is for people between 25 and 50 without kids. Seriously, apart from Raul's Empanadas, it's the only place in Morristown I eat at regularly.

                              Copeland is similar, but a bit more expensive, and I'd rather not eat at a hotel.

                              1. re: brownhound

                                Where is Raul's Empanadas? I live in Morristown and I'm always looking for new places...

                                1. re: amyf

                                  Raul's is on Morris Street, just down the hill from the Green and the post office. In between Dunkin' Donuts and George and Martha's. Just don't park in the big lot across the street (where BK is)--they've been having people ticketed/towed.
                                  The empanadas are fabulous, and VERY inexpensive!

                              2. re: Tasi

                                Couldnt agree with you more. We went there initially thinking it was the trattoria still for a work lunch- same exact thing. So we thought we would give it a try and dont spend spending the money but everything just went absolutely horrible.

                                I miss the SS Trattoria most of all, cant believe that place left. It was truly terrific.

                                And to back you up as well, just was at Crispo and cant wait to get back there- be sure to get the mozarella frita.

                                1. re: yankeefan

                                  I never thought I would miss SS Trattroia and admittedly never went there until I had kids! I would like to try Ora again but when it comes down to picking a place to eat we usually head into the city. I work in Soho so I'm a little spoiled. For lunch I usually head over to Snack, Mooncake Foods, Alidoro, Grandaisy and other little joints so when it's time for dinner I want to head back!

                                  With that said, what are some of the places you like to eat around here. My list if what I enjoy in this area but can't be compared to Manhattan or some of the places in the outer boroughs.

                                  Saigon House - LOVE it there!
                                  Andaman Sea - really enjoy their soft shell crab dishes
                                  Sebastian's - not for their steak but for their liquor license and downstairs room. Sometimes it's just nice to have a cocktail around here!)
                                  Il Mondo Vecchio - heavy fall and winter food
                                  Tim Schafaer's Cusine - I like the game they have as specials
                                  Copeland - most Manhattany restuarant around and I don't love boring Cesar Salad but really like their version.

                                  Ah, at Crispo I think I'm going to try the Proscuitto with Figs, of course the spaghetti carbonara and maybe the pork shank. All depends how long of a run I have that morning!

                                  Last weekend went to Pylos and loved it. Wanted to go back this weekend but husband didn't want to go 2 weekends in a row. Next time though!

                                  1. re: Tasi

                                    Neglected to note that the favorite eats in the area are directed for everyone to join!

                                    1. re: Tasi

                                      You are talking right down my alley on this one- Ive been dying to get to Pylos but always end up at Kellari over and over for the octopus.

                                      Forget the running, get to Crispo and dont skip the marrow.

                                      1. re: Tasi

                                        Where is Pylos?

                                        1. re: bropaul

                                          LES. Here is the link!

                                          http://nymag.com/listings/restaurant/...

                          2. I have been finally to Origin Thai in Morristown right on the strip. I have to say, it was very good. For some reasons, my expectations were low but I would recommend.

                            Have to second Raul's below and yes, be careful parking in the BK/Health Food store lot.