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Help me Decide? Drews, Belford Bistro or Salt Creek Grill?

I currently reside in Belford. My wife's Birthday is coming up. I realize at Drews, I get a great meal, at a decent price but the ambiance is not to her liking. She is not a real big fan of seafood or the spice of Drews. We haven't tried Salt Creek or Belford Bistro but based on reviews here, might give them a whirl. Does anyone have any suggestions? Maybe there is someplace I'm overlooking? We use to really like "Anna's". However we don't eat out often anymore and really don't want to feel like I thru my $$$ out the door.

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  1. Hello Milk - It sounds from your own admission, that Drew's is out. Since I've never been to the others, I can't recommend either. However, since you seek other suggestions, I am going to recommend Nicholas in Middletown for the special occasion. While I recognize that it is a bit more money then those you have listed, it should definitely provide the ambiance your wife is probably seeking and IMHO you will not feel that your money is being wasted. Good Luck and I hope your wife enjoys her birthday meal.

    1. I never did get to Drews or Belford Bistro (will one day). My husband and I always end up at the Salt Creek for a special day. I normally order the fish. My husband has had the chicken and pasta, my son and daughter-in-law like the ribs. For dessert, the chocolate soufle or the chocolate baby cake. I was there in February for my anniversay and will be going back in a month or two.

      1. From your input I would go with Salt Creek.Upscale,un-pretentious casual American.I prefer a deuce by the bar overlooking the river at sundown - very relaxing midweek.The food is just o.k , but it's hard to beat the ambience, service and setting at this price point.The fact that they butterfly thier steak (without asking ) always makes me upset,but we all have our own sticks up our own as' ! Mature crowd with nothing to prove and a restaurant that knows just what it is.

        1 Reply
        1. re: xny556cip

          Milk,
          Salt Creek Grille, hands down. I don't think it is even a competion - food and service - let alone ambiance, complete with water views. Try the pork chop dinner, tuna appetizer. And have a drink at the outside fire pit.

        2. Hey, Milk,

          I agree with my pal, bgut, that you've pretty much answered your own question about Drew's.

          With regard to bgut's suggestion of Nicholas, it is one of the best restaurants in the entire state, and even though I've not been to either Belford Bistro or Salt Creek Grill, I have no doubt that the food you will experience at Nicholas is many levels above what is served at those two spots. If you and, more importantly, your wife like haute New American cuisine, and the price is not too steep for you, Nicholas is the perfect place to celebrate a special occasion.

          http://www.restaurantnicholas.com

          You might also want to consider Table, which has an eclectic menu. Chef Martin's food is, in my view, less "haute" in style than Nicholas's but nevertheless, delicious. The ambiance is more casual than at Nicholas, yet still very lovely for a celebratory dinner.

          http://www.tablenj.com

          Here's wishing your wife a very Happy Birthday and Bon Appetit!

          1. I've been to the Belford Bistro, and enjoyed it very much. I had the pork belly app - Butcher's Bacon on the menu, and the crabcakes. Check it out I'm sure you'll enjoy it.

            6 Replies
            1. re: DrewBB

              RE SCG -- we walked in, and out. LOUD, NOISY and too BIG for our tastes. maybe as xny556cip says during mid-week is more relaxing. havent been to the other too, nicholas is pretentious (dont everyone get crazy now that i said something negative about it) but i'd suggest checking the food offerings at all b4 going. as RGR says, N has an "eclectic" menu... $$$$$

              1. re: nyebaby37

                Hey, nyebaby37,

                Just to be accurate, I said that Table has an "eclectic" menu. Nicholas's menu is Contemporary American.

                Presuming your "pretentious" remark refers to the formal dining room, I would be curious as to why you think that is the case there. Also, have you ever eaten in the bar room? Dress is extremely casual, i.e., jeans, sweaters, etc., and the bartenders are very friendly, so it's about as unpretentious as you can get.

                1. re: RGR

                  RGR - Regarding Nicholas, we have never been. It is still way out of our budget, but can you please explain more about the bar menu? Do you need reservations for the bar menu...and I notice that they serve "small plates" of things on the bar menu. How big a dish is a small plate...can one person make a meal out of a small plate say with an appie? Is sharing frowned upon there and are you sure it's okay to walk in with my jeans without getting "a look" from the matre d (sp)? I ask you because you seem to know everything :) thanks again!

                  1. re: shesallthat

                    Hey shesalthat,

                    Honestly, I don't know *everything* though it's sweet of you to think so. :-)

                    No reservations are needed for the bar room at Nicholas. Just show up at your convenience. No need to stop at the res desk. Head directly through the double doors into the bar room, which is located to the right of the entrance. Take seats at the bar (there are a few tables if you prefer), and the friendly bartenders will take care of you. No maitre d's involved.

                    Small plate portions are smaller than what you would get in the dining room, but they are not teensy. The last time we were there, Mr. R. and I each had three dishes (app, main, dessert) + one shared dish (agnolotti). Obviously, sharing is definitely not frowned upon. For that meal, our food total came to $96. My husband had one glass of wine ($12) and tea ($10).

                    They don't automatically give you bread and butter, but the bartenders are very happy to oblige if you ask -- and we always do because the bread and butter are delicious. No extra charge. I should also add that there are two items on the bar menu that are full size: the chicken, which is terrific; and the ribe-eye, which we've never had.

                    With regard to dress, jeans are entirely acceptable, and *nobody* will give you even a glance.

                    1. re: RGR

                      Tks again, RGR!

                      1. re: RGR

                        "My husband had one glass of wine ($12) and tea ($10)."

                        I'm presuming at that price the Tea came with an oxygen bottle and a CPR kit ?

              2. I love Drew's, but since it's your wife's birthday, perhaps you might choose a place with an ambiance to her liking.

                If Nicholas is in your budget, I would go for it. You can be sure the food and service will be wonderful. The decor is simple and very sophisticated.

                Also consider Lorena's in Maplewood -- only a 40 minute drive. The small dining room is elegant, very romantic and french. On our one visit we adored the food. The service was excellent. It's BYOB.

                I haven't' been to Salt Creek in a couple years. I thought the food was nothing special, and several others have reported the same opinion. But if you reserve a riverside window table at sunset, you will have a wonderful romantic atmosphere.

                I like the food at Belford Bistro. I've been twice and plan to go back. The room is more spacious than Drew's, and has a bit more sophisticated elegance. Belford Bistro food is simple, clean, and well-crafted. Very appealing. As a comparison, Drew's food has more unique character, consistently very well-crafted. IMO, Drew's food is more fun. But the chefs at Belford are new, and will develop with time. Belford Bistro is BYOB.

                1. I really don't like Salt Creek Grill at all. It's a pretty place and the bar is very nice for drinks, but for the price the food is really, really lousy. A "scene" restaurant. Crap bread, a salad that must have been three days old and over-cooked fish in a sweet-ish, ill-conceived sauce, boy, I didn't like my meal there.

                  Oddly enough, their brunch buffet is very nice, if brunch is your thing. It's not mine. For some reason the bread at brunch was good; not sure why it would be so poor at dinner, given that.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Deb Van D

                    I used to really love SCG, but was disappointed last time there which was a year ago. My favorite app which was shrimp wrapped with bacon served with some dipping sauce was no longer on the menu. My salmon was just so so...

                    1. re: Barbarella

                      The Salt Creek is one of my favorites for the money. We went, again, last night. They are very accomodating and the service was excellent. I haven't been to Nicholas yet due to the prices and also, I don't like the items I see on the on-line menu. I like "plain" food. I think that I may try the bar menu sometimes. But for right now, the SCG is my place for a special day.

                  2. If you were considering Keyport, how about Trinity? I haven't been yet, but I believe there's a thread around here somewhere with positive reviews.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: jsfein

                      If you decide to give Trinity in Keyport a try $96.00 (RGR mentioned this price point as an example for dining at Nicholas' bar service) covers a beautiful table, plenty of delicious menu selections and complete waitstaff service. It is not BYOB; they have a terrific wine list (including the house wine). Parking is free and the chef will offer a personal birthday experience, if you mention the occasion ahead of time (at reservation).

                      http://foodiedani.wordpress.com/2008/...

                      Good luck & enjoy!

                      1. re: HillJ

                        HillJ - Thanks for that link. Its a great review of Trinity. I've gotta try it.

                        1. re: bgut1

                          If word continues to get out I won't be able to get "my table" anymore (haha!) Do try the house wine and the halibut is wonderful.