No Reservations in Manalapan, NJ
Only been to the restaurant for lunch. It is a mix of a salad bar/sandwich shop/ice cream parlor and the list goes on. Besides the obvious identity crisis, there are a couple glimpses of hope for this new addition to the lunch scene of that area...
Every day there are specials from the chefs. It is generally a traditional Italian choice, with decent eggplant or chicken parm, but has also sported strip steak and more recently trout. Nothing out of the ordinary here, but usually solid lunch entrees as an alternative to Sals.
The ice cream is rich and creamy (I want to say 18% butterfat???) but a pretty limited selection. Salad bar is pretty uninspired with the exception of a decent homemade chicken salad.
My personal favorite from the few times I've tried is a Grilled Chicken with Asiago Cheese, Bacon and Avocado. I have ate with a few people who have raved about the fried eggplant and liked the large angus burgers.
Overall, I think it has potential. The owners are extremely nice, there are some nice find within a very large and diverse menu, but it takes some digging to separate the goods from the rest. Still, considering the lack of lunch options in the area, one can hope it stays around.
Closed. Well, replaced, anyway. We ate there once and were not very impressed (When it was "No Reservations"). Now it's "Susie's Cafe". Saw an ad in one of the Shopper magazines. Grand opening was March 21.
But no menu yet. Says they serve home-made food. I wonder if it's the same owners trying to re-invent themselves.
Went to Susie's Cafe last night. New owners. Chef used to cook at Christopher's in New Brunswick, and the Hilton at Short Hills.
Small place, BYOB. Daily dinner specials. I had Five Spice Hanger Steak. I was disappointed that it was already cut up, but the chef said if you don't cut it right, it can be very chewy. It was very tender, but I am a big boy and can cut my own food. :) Didn't much care for the sauce on top, too salty for me. Sauteed matchstick veggies were very fresh. Preceding Caesar salad with pancetta and roasted tomato was excellent, nicely split by wife and myself.
Our 2 year old daughter had bacon and eggs, but mostly ate Mommy's Rigatoni Bolognese, which my wife raved about. I agree, the sauce was excellent.
We split a dessert of molten lava cake with ice cream and a deep fried Nutella ball. Very moist, very chocolaty cake that was not overly sweet. Even better, I found a coupon in the restaurant, so the $5.95 dessert was free.
We'll be back. Owner and staff were extremely friendly. Food was better than good. Next time I'm getting the papaya barbecued shrimp for sure.. can't order everything at once. :)
Thanks for the report, MarlboroMan. Sounds as though it might be worth trying.
About the steak...
Hanger steak, aka "onglet" (French) is my favorite steak cut. Mainly found in French restaurants. Its sister is skirt steak, which I also love. They are always served sliced rather than whole. And, btw, if you go to Keens and order the porterhouse for two (or more), it arrives at the table already sliced though the slices are so thick that you still have to cut smaller pieces.
Here's a photo of a steak (hanger or skirt) we ordered at a NYC French bistro. As you can see, it arrived at our table sliced and sauced. Delicious!
Here's the fabulous porterhouse at Keens: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/4302377555/in/set-72157623279345424
I'm guessing they don't take reservations. :) But seriously, they couldn't come up with a better name? Also makes it hard to search on Google.
I do know it's a "family eatery" and that they serve ice cream. No idea whether said ice cream is home made or not. "No Reservations" replaced the deli that formerly housed "Wing Daddy".