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Is Jersey over priced?

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I'm a native to Jersey (Morris County) but really haven't lived here in almost 20 years. Most recently I lived in Portland, OR and was pleased with not only the quality of food but the prices. I moved to Red Bank a few weeks ago and wow am I in culture shock. I've scoured chowhound, gathered recs and then looked at menus online. It seems that most spots that folks rave over fall into the 16+ dollars (and that's the low end) ....most seem to hover in the low 20s for an entree.

So my question is this: where are the places that are not exclusively ethnic, that serve good food from quality ingredients and I'll be generous: under 15 an entree? Where are the places that have fresh, yummy tofu or egg scrambles in the morning and great dinners with farm fresh chicken, vegetarian entrees, maybe a great mac and cheese with an awesome greens salad on the side? And yet are affordable enough for a librarian to go there once or twice a week? I love diners...but that's not what i'm looking for...unless they have a reputation for having high quality ingredients. My last meal in Portland was an incredible organic salad and a four cheese mac and cheese on a patio, with live blue grass in the background...i know I can't have that...but i'll take as close as i can get. Oh...I ate at the thai place in Red Bank, Siam Garden and was so disappointed...I could have accepted the high prices if the food was excellent...but it was just kind of weirdly bland and corn starchy.

ann

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  1. ann,
    Try Djeet? for breakfast or lunch.Its on 35 south just over the Red Bank/ Navesink bridge near the restaurant called Nicholas.They only have a few tables,but bang for buck they provide the highest quality food i've yet to find in the area.

    1. Welcome back to NJ! You can eat well here.

      Red Bank tends to be higher-priced than other towns. Also, you are here during tourist season. Shore area dining will be more crowded with bargains in short supply. Hold on
      until after Labor Day. Things will calm down.

      I haven't been to Portland, but I think I know what kind of healthy, freshie, vegetarian places you are looking for. Unfortunately they are hard to find around here. Here are some suggestions:

      Eurasian Eatery in Red Bank. Many vegetarian and vegan items. The food is unusual, even idiosyncratic. Everything is fresh and made with pride. The descriptions on the menu don't always match what you get. This is a place you have to get to know. It's been there a long time and has a loyal following.

      Jessie's Cafe in Long Branch. Jesse is a community activist, a long time purveyor of organic cooking. She hosts a farmers market in her parking lot on Thurs afternoons. This is a place where you can hang out and read. Lately I have really been enjoying Jesse's soups -- made with local veggies. She makes a nice fresh tossed salad.

      All Mixed Up in Ocean Township. Very casual. Not organic. Salads, sandwiches, burritos. Ingredients are very fresh and good quality.

      I am a salad snob. I insist on immaculate greens and fresh, carefully-chosen veggies. Here are the places that serve a clean, sophisticated, imaginative, special salad:
      - Drew's Bayshore Bistro, Keyport (great restaurant all around)
      - Belford Bistro, Belford.
      - Bay Avenue Trattoria, Highlands (I went only once, but the salad was a stand-out)

      For mac and cheese, go to the Flaky Tart in Atlantic Highlands. It's a friendly bakery with counter seating. Outstanding pastries. Nice place to hang out in a charming little town by the Bay.

      Please come back to this board and let us know what you find.

      - Val

      -----
      Eurasian Eatery
      110 Monmouth St, Red Bank, NJ 07701

      Drew's Bayshore Bistro
      58 Broad St, Keyport, NJ 07735

      All Mixed Up
      809 W Park Ave, Ocean, NJ 07712

      Jessie's Cafe
      139 Brighton Ave, Long Branch, NJ 07740

      Belford Bistro
      870 Main Street, Belford, NJ 07718

      Flaky Tart
      145 1st Ave, Atlantic Highlands, NJ

      Bay Ave Trattoria
      122 Bay Ave, Highlands, NJ 07732

      1 Reply
      1. re: val ann c

        I agree with Val Ann. Red Bank in this area is higher priced than the rest of the towns. My two favorite places to go are Drew's and Trinity in Keyport. Now, the entree prices are higher than $15, however both have specials you can take advantage of.

        Drew's has a twilight dining package, mon-thurs, 5-6"30 (don't quote me on exact details though) where it's $25 per person for four courses.

        Trinity has gift certificates on restaurant dot com where it's a $25 one for $10. If you sign up for emails, they often have 60% off sales. I've bought a $25 one for $4.

        And The Flakey Tart's mac and cheese is heavenly....

      2. having lived here for 3 years now, i can understand what you are looking for... i lived in san diego for 10 years and what you are talking about was much easier to find on the west coast.
        while i am sure there are places in new jersey for these things, they are harder to find. i have found a few ethinc places like you said, but outside of that, slim pickens!
        i believe part of the problem is cost here in new jersey compared to portland. and , unfortunately, acceptance is also part of it. while on the west coast, people seemed to embrace the local, seasonal, natural, organic, etc.... i believe it is taking longer here but is gaining favor.
        too much francese and parmigiana to be had here.......
        IMHO of course.....
        themaverickchef.wordpress.com

        1. You might also try Sister Sue's in Asbury Park - http://www.sistersuesroti.com/

          1. I will second the nod to Trinity. Although our meals there have been a bit expensive, that has primarily been due to our succumbing to indulgence. The ingredients used are of excellent quality so its a wonderful place to do so.

            Additionally, I would suggest Market in the Middle in Asbury Park. Again, the focus there is on fresh, high quality ingredients and interesting preparations. Its not a cheap place to eat, per se, but the quality of the food will provide value.