HOME > Chowhound > New Jersey >


need a special restaurant--money is no object

  • n

Planning a special meal for my husband and I. We're looking for something as good (if not better than) Nicholas, which we've been to many times and enjoyed very much. Any cuisine, preferably upscale. We'd prefer not to drive more than 45 minutes from our home in Springfield (right on the border of Union and Essex Counties). Any ideas? Many thanks in advance!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. It might be pushing the 45 minutes a bit....

    Nisi in Englewood, NJ.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Bosmer

      Englewood is actually only about 35 minutes away, so definitely within our radius. Thanks for this suggestion--I'm going to check out the menu right now...

      1. re: noya

        just looked--my husband loves fish so this could really fit the bill!

        1. re: noya

          Great seafood? Eric Ripert's Le Bernardin in Manhattan. Best fish, hands down, although Bgut is right when reccomending 11Mad as well, Chef Humm is outrageous!

    2. Living where you do, you have likely been but if not, try Lorena's in Maplewood.

      1 Reply
      1. re: tom246

        We have been to Lorena's and enjoyed it very much. Thanks!

      2. Natirar in Peapack or Sublime in Gladstone. Natirar is more of a "formal" fine dining place, you know kinda stuffy but if you're into that its a great place for you to go. Great setting on a huge piece of property. Sublime is more casual and trendy but in my opinion the food is actually better. Plus it's a bit more lively and much more friendly and welcoming.

        4 Replies
        1. re: gooter

          I'll second tom's recommendation of Lorena's. The restaurant is at a minimum the equal of Nicholas and I can recommend it without hesitation. If money is in fact no object, I also recommend that you try Eleven Madion Park in NYC. You can fit it into your 45 minute requirement provided you hit no traffic. IMHO, it is the best restaurant in Manhattan if not the US. Good Luck and enjoy your special meal.

          1. re: bgut1

            Bingo, we have a winner. As Bgut has mentioned, you are less than 45 minutes into the city and you won't find a better choice than EMP.

            1. re: tom246

              Been there, done that! But thanks

          2. re: gooter

            both of these are excellent suggestions--thank you so much!

            1. re: Rosie Saferstein

              Second to elements in Princeton. If money is no object definetly sit at the chef's table in the kitchen. If you check out the sous chef's blog on their website you will get an idea of some the cutting edge things they're doing with food. Really very impressive and the head chef always brings in special items to be served at the chef's tasting. Santa Barbara Spot prawns, shima aji, kindai, real wagyu from kobe and mangalitsa pig are a few examples of courses that have served.

              Good luck and have fun wherever you go, it sounds like you're in for a great night.

              1. re: Rosie Saferstein

                Thanks--unfortunately, Princeton is out of the radius :-(

                1. re: noya

                  how about the Stony Hill Inn in Hackensack?

                  Stony Hill Inn
                  231 Polifly Rd, Hackensack, NJ 07601

                  1. re: yogi70

                    another great suggestion. thank you!

              2. Noya, based on a couple of your responses it appears that you would prefer to go to a restaurant you've never been to before. Is that correct?

                Like lambshead, I suggest you check out Uproot in Warren:


                Also consider the Bernards Inn in Bernardsville:

                The Bernards Inn
                27 Mine Brook Road, Bernardsville, NJ 07924

                1 Reply
                1. re: ambrose

                  Both of these places fit the bill exactly. So many great choices! Thank you

                2. Probably just on your 45 minute ride, but Stage Left in New Brunswick is fabulous. My husband and I go there for our anniversary every year, it's where we got engaged, and have had some of the best dinners with friends. I used to work at George Street, so got to know the owners very well - both through their catering our events, as well as the nights having cocktails/dinners at the bar. I dream about their polenta. And their mushroom soup. And duck confit. (damn, now I'm hungry)

                  Not only is the food delicious, their service is the best I've had anywhere - even against NY restaurants. Which for me makes it even better. They are knowledgeable, friendly, helpful and attentive without being pushy.

                  And even though you're not far, if you're up for a night of it - there is a new hotel right across the street with a spa. When we moved out of the area, we've been known to head down early on a saturday, get a massage at the spa, check into the hotel, have dinner (and a bottle of wine) and then not have to worry about driving back our hour home.

                  Stage Left
                  5 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: mickeygee

                    We love the Pluckemin Inn! The wine list is phenomenal, the space is georgous, great service, delicious food.

                    The Pluckemin Inn
                    359 US Highway 202, Bedminster, NJ 07921

                    1. re: foreverinlovewithfood

                      looks great! thanks for the suggestion!

                  2. You might like Scalini Fedeli in Chatham.

                    Scalini Fedeli
                    63 Main Street, Chatham, NJ 07928

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: berna

                      thanks--would love to try it but my husband has been far too many times to agree to another time!

                    2. I'd also recommend the Pluckemin Inn for a memorable meal - the service and atmosphere are great. the food is inventive and delicious. and they have a great wine selection. It's a quick drive out 78. There's a tavern too so stop in there for a cocktail before dinner.

                      Sounds like you've tried many great restaurants in the City, but I'd add Babbo to some recommended below. If you haven't been there, it's a must for any foodie.


                      The Pluckemin Inn
                      359 US Highway 202, Bedminster, NJ 07921

                      1 Reply
                      1. I know you've been there, but why not just go to Per Se and call it a day?

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: joonjoon

                          um, if you must know, we just went to Per Se on Friday night.

                        2. Many great suggestions above.

                          I know it's a bit outside your desired radius, but truly worth another consideration would be going the extra mile or two and reserving one of the two chef's tables in the kitchen at elements in Princeton.

                          As AC Captain mentioned above, you'll be served a 9+ course tasting menu prepared exclusively for you using the finest ingredients. They're privy to some exclusive proteins (such as Kindai bluefin tuna) not available in most places in the US other than Per Se, Charlie Trotter's, etc. Hire a car and enjoy the evening.


                          1. One of my favorites in the area is A Toute Heure in Cranford. Fantastic food and all locally sourced. Casual and BYOB
                            Or Fascino in Montclair.

                            1. CulinAriane, Montclair