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Special Occasion Restaurant For Sunday Night

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My best high school friend and I just turned 60. He's visiting from St. Croix (poor lad) and we'd like to go out on Sunday evening for a special meal along with my wife. We're all foodies to some extent and fine dining is probably what we all have in mind, although it could be anything great! In Montclair & willing to travel up to an hour. Just to give you an idea, I was thinking about Restaurant Nicholas, which is open & David Drake , which is not. Thanks for any help as I know Sundays are problematic.

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  1. What about Stage Left in New Brunswick... While I have been to Nicholas, I found the whole experience to be really snooty and quite overrated to say the least. Aside from the fact that he plagerized the entire menu from Jean Georges in NYC, I was intimidated to ask for salt and the wine prices are beyond gouging, all this and the lovely view of Route 35??? I just don't get it. David Burke bought the Fromagerie in Rumson, that was quite good, and not nearly as pretentious!

    Pluckemin Inn maybe, I am consistently hearing excellent remarks about that restaurant.

    If you are in Montclair, why not pop into the city... Opentable.com has a search option where you select the date and time, and they then post what restaurants to choose from are available?

    3 Replies
    1. re: fletchphil

      While I can certainly agree that the city is a good option ...

      As for the Monmouth County options, I completely disagree with the above. I find the new Fromagerie to be "gouging" and miss the old cuisine and most of all the old attitude. I've eaten in some of the finest all over the world and can truly say that Nicholas can hang with the best. There is no outside view at all to be sure, but I was at Le Cirque last week and Le Bernardin a month ago and neither one had a view out a window either.

      As another option, should you not want to cross the water, you might consider Scallini Fedelli (sp?) in Chatham. I know it's not that popular on the boards here, but I have had some wonderful meals there and it is a charming old building as well.

      1. re: seal

        To second the Chatam notion, another great restaurant is Restaurant Serenade. But as a chef who has personally seen David Drake work the stove, I have to say restaurant David Drake. The man is a culinary Genius. I have never dined at Nicholas, however, those people who I know who have worked there lead me to believe that like David Drake's restaurants, Nicholas offers a level of excellence that is virtually
        un-matchable here in NJ.

        In terms of the pluckemin inn you might want to look into their menu for Sunday's as I know they offer a different "Sunday Supper" menu Sunday Night last I checked.

        Or.....just go over the top and check out the new Alain Ducasse NY post (read the review in this past weeks NY Times dining section).

      2. re: fletchphil

        I second Stage Left. It's one of my favorite NJ restaurants. Pluckemin Inn is pretty old school. They don't put salt and pepper on the table either. I went there for my birthday in July and while I enjoyed myself, I like Stage Left better. Also, what about Bernards Inn in Bernardsville. Very nice place.

      3. David Drake's is open for dinner on Sunday. While we've have excellent meals there, I think Nicholas is better. Another first-rate option is Lorena's, in Maplewood. Superb cuisine and very charming atmospherics. Unlike DD and Nicholas, it's a BYO.

        http://www.restaurantlorena.com

        3 Replies
        1. re: RGR

          While I agree that Stage Left is an excellent restaurant, I disagree with assertion that Nicholas is snooty or overrated, IMHO, Nicholas is the best restaurant in the State. It along with Lorena's and David Drake are the three best restaurants in NJ.

          1. re: bgut1

            I agree with the David Drake comment... I have heard from a chef that staged there for a month that even with one hand, he can cook circles around his entire staff. Our experience at Nicholas was before the bar, and maybe we will give it another go. Where is Lorena's? And as you are fond of similar restaurants (saw your bio mentioning LP at the Watergate), what are your other faves? New York or Jersey... We actually met Joel Robuchon on Monday when at L'Atelier at the 4 seasons. Aside from the WOW of meeting the man himself, the 11 course tasting was divine.

            1. re: fletchphil

              I agree about David Drake. I met him a few weeks back at Daryl and have to say I am truly impressed with his cooking abilities. As I mentioned before, my faves in NJ are Nicholas, Lorena, David Drake as well as Daryl. You should definetly give Nicholas another try. Lorena is located in Maplewood, NJ. I owe it to RGR for recommeding the place. It is a true gem. As far as NY, my most recent fav is Eleven Madison Park also thanks to RGR. It was one of the best meals I've ever experienced. With regard to L'Atelier, I had just read at Grub Street that Joel R. is cooking and I'm happy to hear you had a chance to experience the Master. My experience at L'Atelier in Las Vegas was horrible and I doubt I will ever return. Instead during my trip to that part of the country I was blown away by my dinner at Binkley's in Cave Creek, AZ outside of Phoenix. BTW, Thanks for reading my Bio. I do miss Jean Louis Palladin. He was the best Chef I've ever had the chance of experiencing, A true culinary genius. Good Luck.