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need a special restaurant--money is no object

noya Mar 19, 2010 10:08 AM

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!

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  1. Bosmer RE: noya Mar 19, 2010 11:30 AM

    It might be pushing the 45 minutes a bit....

    Nisi in Englewood, NJ.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Bosmer
      noya RE: Bosmer Mar 19, 2010 12:12 PM

      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
        noya RE: noya Mar 19, 2010 12:16 PM

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

        1. re: noya
          foreverinlovewithfood RE: noya Mar 20, 2010 01:28 PM

          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!

          1. re: foreverinlovewithfood
            noya RE: foreverinlovewithfood Mar 21, 2010 04:44 AM

            Been to Le Bern. LOVE it!

    2. t
      tom246 RE: noya Mar 19, 2010 11:49 AM

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

      1 Reply
      1. re: tom246
        noya RE: tom246 Mar 19, 2010 12:16 PM

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

      2. g
        gooter RE: noya Mar 19, 2010 12:45 PM

        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
          bgut1 RE: gooter Mar 19, 2010 01:03 PM

          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
            tom246 RE: bgut1 Mar 19, 2010 01:09 PM

            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
              noya RE: tom246 Mar 20, 2010 05:00 AM

              Been there, done that! But thanks

          2. re: gooter
            noya RE: gooter Mar 20, 2010 05:03 AM

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

          3. r
            Rosie Saferstein RE: noya Mar 19, 2010 01:02 PM

            Elements, Princeton

            4 Replies
            1. re: Rosie Saferstein
              AC Captain RE: Rosie Saferstein Mar 19, 2010 02:52 PM

              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
                noya RE: Rosie Saferstein Mar 20, 2010 05:04 AM

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

                1. re: noya
                  yogi70 RE: noya Mar 20, 2010 08:02 AM

                  how about the Stony Hill Inn in Hackensack?

                  Stony Hill Inn
                  231 Polifly Rd, Hackensack, NJ 07601

                  1. re: yogi70
                    noya RE: yogi70 Mar 20, 2010 11:54 AM

                    another great suggestion. thank you!

              2. ambrose RE: noya Mar 20, 2010 08:56 AM

                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
                  noya RE: ambrose Mar 20, 2010 11:54 AM

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

                2. m
                  mickeygee RE: noya Mar 20, 2010 10:55 AM

                  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
                    foreverinlovewithfood RE: mickeygee Mar 20, 2010 01:25 PM

                    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
                      noya RE: foreverinlovewithfood Mar 21, 2010 04:46 AM

                      looks great! thanks for the suggestion!

                  2. b
                    berna RE: noya Mar 22, 2010 05:49 AM

                    You might like Scalini Fedeli in Chatham.

                    Scalini Fedeli
                    63 Main Street, Chatham, NJ 07928

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: berna
                      noya RE: berna Mar 23, 2010 05:07 AM

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

                    2. ladyberd RE: noya Mar 22, 2010 11:58 AM

                      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. re: ladyberd
                        noya RE: ladyberd Mar 23, 2010 05:06 AM

                        it's on the list! thanks!

                      2. j
                        joonjoon RE: noya Mar 22, 2010 11:59 AM

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

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: joonjoon
                          noya RE: joonjoon Mar 23, 2010 05:05 AM

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

                        2. Foody4life RE: noya Mar 23, 2010 01:40 PM

                          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. c
                            cmarie RE: noya Mar 23, 2010 05:16 PM

                            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. menton1 RE: noya Mar 24, 2010 09:11 AM

                              CulinAriane, Montclair

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