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Char Steakhouse-Raritan

My DH, MIL and myself recently went to Char Steakhouse in Raritan. It's touted as a "New York Style Steak House." The entire menu is ala carte.

Appetizers range between $6 to $10. I had the soup of the day, Loster Bisque. Bland. Very watery, greasy and hardly any lobster. DH ordered a Caesar salad. Typical cut romaine and shaved parmesan slices. MIL ordered 3 littleneck clams from the raw bar. Nice presentation in an oversized martini glass with dry ice for the smoky effect. She enjoyed it.

We all ordered steaks, which range between $32-$39. Each side is $5.99 but touted as "enough for two" including one baked potato.

Food was adequately prepared; nothing spectacular. MIL and I ordered filet mignon; DH had the "prime" NY Steak. Sides we ordered were mashed potatos and creamed spinach, grilled asparagus (I ordered them without butter or oil, but they came out swimming in oil) and a baked potato.

Service was fairly horrendous. Our server was extremely slow (and the restaurant was not that busy) and fairly inattentaive. We had the worst thing I think we have ever experienced from a waiter -- he was standing by the buspersons station PICKING HIS NOSE! It was utterly disgusting. You would have thought that when he glanced over and saw me watching him he would have stopped -- but he continued. This was not a light scratch, but full throttle thumb up inside routing around, t hen wiping the remains on his pants. Needless to say, we lost our appetites and could hardly wait to get our check (which we had to wait approximately 20 minutes to receive) so we could get out of there.

I am still up in the air as to whether or not I want to spend the time writing a letter to the owner about this experience since we will never return.

Do yourself a favor and skp this place. I've had better meals and service at our local Outback or Charlie Browns!

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    1. Sounds delightful.
      Will have to cross this off my list of placed to try.

      1. Oh boy, that was pretty disgusting.

        My husband ate there recently with some colleagues/friends of his. He said that over all he had a good time - that he liked the decor, it was nice to be out with the guys, and that he enjoyed his meal, But he definitely thought that the food was nothing special, over-priced and that he didn't see himself wanting to go back, except maybe for a drink and a nibble at the bar.

        And now, I don't even know that I see THAT happening.

        1. I do hope you decided to write a letter to the owner or manager of Char about your experience. This server's behavior was completely unacceptable and should be reported to the appropriate person(s).

          Regarding the restaurant itself, I have been there twice and will go back. I have found the steaks to be excellent - the quality is top notch and on both occasions the steaks came out exactly as requested. The last time I was there it was with a group of six. Five of us had steaks and everyone was very pleased with their choice. I can't comment too much about the sides because we have had only the mashed potatoes and creamed spinach. The spinach is particularly good and I heartily recommend it.

          My one disappointment, on my last visit, was the lemon cheese cake. It was very good but also very small and certainly not worth $8. Everyone else seemed to enjoy their desserts, all of which were larger than mine!

          I have no complaints about the service. My last visit was on a Friday and the service was very good. Our server was very attentive and was always present when appetizers or entrees were brought to the table (by others). He was friendly but not overbearing. As I recall, he had at least four parties he was attending to, all of them six or more patrons.

          Flourgirl, I have to disagree with you about the prices. The steak prices are certainly not out of line and if anything, the other entrees are slightly less expensive than at similar upscale restaurants. The salads we have had were both less than $7 and could easily have been shared. Prices for wine by the glass are very fair and the dessert prices are too (except for that cheesecake!).

          1 Reply
          1. re: ambrose

            Ambrose - I'm truly glad you enjoyed yourself there and thought that the prices were fair - but so far you are really the only person I've heard say so. My brother, his wife and some friends dined at Char a couple of nights ago and had the exact same reaction my husband did - and they didn't know he'd been there. My brother said he was not at all impressed, that the food (including the steaks) was absolutely over-priced for the quality and that the cooking was very uneven. He said he would not be going back.

          2. Also, an additional comment regarding service at Char.
            Last night (Friday), a group from work had reservations at Char. We started with drinks at the bar since our table wasn't ready, even though the place was relatively empty (5:30pm). Forty five minutes later we were finally seated.

            The waiter was knowledgeable but excessively overbearing. He heavily recommended his favorites (which just happened to be the most expensive on the menu) and dismissed choices we were considering. He also advised ordering appetizers since the steaks would take a while to cook. However, the steaks arrived quickly and the pushing of appetizers seemed like a ploy.

            When the steaks arrived with a roasted garlic bulb accompaniment, he proceeded to stick a fork into one on a fellow diner's plate and demonstrate how to remove the garlic from the bulb. He also persistently interrupted our conversation with his chatter about other diners and their experiences.

            Although the steaks were good and prepared properly, the service was too over the top for us. Although knowledgeable, the server lacked the professional, reserved skills one expects in a high end restaurant.

            The ambiance seemed confused (lounge/bar/high end steakhouse). The TVs over the bar were visible from our table in a back room.

            This restaurant seems a bit too sure of itself. Not one person asked how our dining experience was. Wish we would have read other diners' experiences before we ate there instead of just the Star Ledger review .

            3 Replies
            1. re: njyankeefan

              i also had less-than-great service from this restaurant. the one (and only) time i went, the server was short with us and also recommended the most expensive things on the menu. while the food was ok, i would be reluctant to go back after hearing that the 'Char attitude' is not limited to one server.

              1. re: njyankeefan

                Did he at least ask permission first before the "demonstration"? Had it been my plate it would have been immediately returned.

                Given the treatment, I would have left a tip of a few pennies, and spoken with the manager on the way out. Just to make sure the message was received loud and clear.

                1. re: cantkick

                  No, the waiter didn't ask permission before the demonstration. Also, the manager was MIA and did not make himself/herself known which I thought unusual. Usually management or the chef circulates the room in goodwill.

              2. So now the tough question, for Father's Day this year, for steak, KC Prime Lawrenceville NJ or Steakhouse85 New Brunswick?
                Both places have received excellent reviews on Chowhound.

                2 Replies
                1. re: shabbystorm

                  FWIW, not having been to either place, and reading reviews on both......my vote would be for the Tomahawk Chop at Steakhouse 85.....but I'm a Delmonico/ Rib Eye guy myself.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    Thanks, Steakhouse 85 sounds like a place they will love!
                    Won't go on Father's Day of course, but over the weekend.
                    Bonus, co owned by Terranova from the old East Brunswick Fish market, so many years he did right for my family, yet another vote of confidence that dinner there will make the guys more than happy.