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Destination Lunch

Well time keeps marching on and the only true alternative to aging is not particularly attractive to me. On the upside, the anniversary of the day I was born permits an excuse for out of the ordinary consumption. This year, I'm thinking I deserve an extra-long, extra-delicious lunch indulgence. Problem is, I'm not sure where to go.

I definately want to leave the everyday and that pretty much requires leaving the area. I thought maybe Reading Terminal Market, but I bet I can do better with less hassle. Pizza in Trenton? Dragon Palace in Edison? Maybe a tour of Indian places on 27? White Rose? Allen's Clam Bar? Little Saigon in AC - then gets some subs for the ride home? I don't know. Nothing's really knocking my socks off.

Anybody got any ideas? Where would you go in the Garden State?

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  1. I have been trying to get here for quite some time! I don't know if they do lunch, but I heard the view is fabulous!

    http://ninetyacres.com/

    Hope you have a great time where ever you choose!

    1 Reply
    1. re: Angelina

      +1 on Ninety Acres. It's the NJ equivalent of the Westchester highly acclaimed farm-to-table Blue Hill at Stone Barns. It's a Moroccan Prince's former estate instead of a Rockefeller's, but it sounds wonderful, especially as the weather gets warmer for the harvest!

    2. It's not in NJ, but the Gramercy Tavern in NYC is one of the greatest long lunches you will ever have. In Philly, I would go with Parc on Rittenhouse.

      3 Replies
      1. re: coldbeer

        I must disagree about Gramercy Tavern. While I like the food in the Tavern Room, I have never had a meal in the formal dining room that even came close to wowing me. In fact, the last time we had dinner there in early Jan. 2009, my appetizer and main course were pretty awful. That meal turned out to be my worst meal of that year. I've finally given up on the dining room and will not go there again.

        If we're talking spectacular, long lunches in NYC, my pick would definitely be Eleven Madison Park. We've done many, most recently for Mr. R.'s birthday.

        Photos of Mr. R.'s Birthday Lunch at EMP: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391...

        I wish there was something like EMP for lunch in NJ. So far, I've not found it. Perhaps, Ninety Acres is of that ilk, but I haven't been there yet.

        http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

        1. re: RGR

          Instead of trying the NJ equivalent, why not take a drive to Blue Hill at Stone Barns. They do lunch on Sundays. http://bluehillfarm.com/food/blue-hil...
          Another idea is try the Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater. http://www.mitsuwanj.com/en/index.htm
          Good luck and let us know where you go.

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          Mitsuwa Marketplace
          595 River Rd, Edgewater, NJ 07020

          1. re: bgut1

            Why do you feel that Blue Hill is so much better than Natirar? Is it worth a 2 hour drive? Just because it gets more press? I've heard terrific things about Natirar, and it's in a beautiful part of NJ!

      2. Thanks for the thoughts so far. I have ruled out NY and Philly since I intend to do this on a weekday and really should, at some point, return to work.

        90 Acres and Blue Hill are great ideas and I was disappointed to see that they don't do weekday lunches.

        Mitsuwa looks pretty cool - Japanese whiskeys and all. Is there anything else around there?

        16 Replies
        1. re: MGZ

          Have you considered Rats/Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton? A great venue, a highly-acclaimed restaurant, and you can do a cultural experience before or after.

          1. re: menton1

            menton1 - While I wouldn't disagree that Rats is a very nice venue with beautiful grounds, I wouldn't classify it as a "highly acclaimed" restaurant. The reviews on this board are mixed at best and the previous chef (last season's top chef winner) has left for greener pastures. I would choose a destination with better food.

            1. re: bgut1

              At the very least, it should be saved for a springtime visit so you can get the full impact of the grounds. I do want to try the new chef though at some point.

              1. re: bgut1

                bgut1, are you referring to the previous chef or the new one? Or both!!

                1. re: ambrose

                  ambrose - I am referring to the reviews of the previous chef.

                  1. re: bgut1

                    bgut-- why do you feel that Stone Barns is worth a 1 1/2 hour drive when Natirar is so similar? Have a Richard Branson aversion? :)

                    1. re: menton1

                      menton1 - None whatsoever. I just feel that Stone Barns is in a class by itself and worth the additional drive. If I were looking for a day trip/food destination this would be my choice.

                      1. re: bgut1

                        Have you been to Natirar? It's the same concept as Stone Barns...

                        1. re: menton1

                          menton1 - I haven't. While I understand that the concepts are similar and I don't doubt the food is good, Stone Barns has received much more acclaim.

                          1. re: bgut1

                            Before embarking on a 2 hour drive, I suggest trying Natirar. Stone Barns has paid for most of their good pub. They are smart business people. But when Branson gets going, it will be nice to say that you were one of the first to discover Natirar.

                            Actually, it looks from the photos and write up BETTER and more attractive than Stone Barns.

                            1. re: menton1

                              I'll add it to my list for when I'm up that way. Thanks for recommendation.

            2. re: MGZ

              In Edgewater you might want to try the River Palm Terrace for burgers or steaks.
              http://riverpalm.com/

              -----
              River Palm Terrace
              1416 River Rd, Edgewater, NJ 07020

                1. re: fourunder

                  four - I've visited the campus but never got around to trying any of the restaurants as they were closed that day. The trip to that part of NY State was beautiful when I visited in the fall. If you go up that way, I suggest the short drive to Rhinebeck as well as the FDR Home in Hyde Park.

                  1. re: bgut1

                    last time was many years ago......If I recall correctly, i went to the mansion of the Grandson of Cornelius Vanderbilt....great stuff. I've been to three of the six restaurants. American Bounty, Caterina and Escoffier

                    I'll have to do FDR's next time.

                    1. re: bgut1

                      Best sight in the area is Olana,a house where you get a real education about the Hudson River Artists, including the owner of the house Frederick Church. Just across the river from Saugerties, a great foodie town, as well as New Paltz, a few miles down river.

              1. When it comes to birthdays, I would rather something comforting rather than fancy. Stay in the neighborhood, go to Siam Spice in Toms River and order the Duck Soup.
                You will thank me later :)

                11 Replies
                1. re: tom246

                  Good call by tom246. But make sure you call ahead to check that its available the day you go.

                  1. re: tom246

                    +1 for Siam Spice.

                    -----
                    Siam Spice
                    1174 Fischer Blvd, Toms River, NJ 08753

                    1. re: MGZ

                      Oh also, any thoughts on the Leitao a Bairrada at Casa Do Leitao?

                      http://casadoleitao.com/casadoleitao....

                      1. re: MGZ

                        Their suckling pig sandwich is delicious. I buy one and take three home for the family. Lunch time can be super busy or cricket-quiet.

                        1. re: smilingal

                          smilingal - I'm sure you are aware of the distance between the Grounds in Hamilton and your hotel in Eatontown. There really isn't anything that comes to mind that is in between those two places. I would therefore recommend some place near your hotel. There are a number of offerings available in nearby Ocean, Red Bank and Asbury Park. Please let us know what type of food you had in mind and at what price level Thanks.

                          1. re: bgut1

                            I am usually open to all kinds of food - I want outstanding food and/or a unique memorable experience. (is that asking too much - not really from foodie to foodie!)

                            1. re: smilingal

                              I would then recommend that you try either Restaurant Nicholas (fancy) or its less formal Bar N in Red Bank (really Middletown) or Belford Bistro in Belford (also a part of Middletown).
                              http://www.restaurantnicholas.com/
                              http://www.belfordbistro.com/

                              -----
                              Belford Bistro
                              870 Main Street, Belford, NJ 07718

                              1. re: bgut1

                                thanks for the suggestions - I presume you are familiar with these areas? Perhaps we will opt for the less formal as the following day we will be celebrating at a wedding. so of those two you suggested which would be your fave? I don't think that the distance from grounds for sculpture is terribly far from Eatontown - especially since we would be doing that trip on it's own from Rockland county - so I figured it is a slight diversion from Rockland to Eatontown!?! Am i making sense?

                                1. re: smilingal

                                  If I had to pick just one place to eat and money wasn't an issue, it would be the bar at Nicholas. It usually comes out to about 75+ a person when I go.

                                  1. re: joonjoon

                                    You will enjoy either restaurant. Of the two Belford Bistro is less formal. The distance between the Grounds and Eatontown isn't horrible. I just wanted to make sure you knew it wasn't next door.

                                    -----
                                    Belford Bistro
                                    870 Main Street, Belford, NJ 07718

                        2. I'm not sure when the big day is, but why not head to Cape May for the day? If it is nice, you could have a cocktail and lunch on the boat at the Lobster House, walk through all those lovely streets with charming b and b's grab an afternoon tea someplace then stop at AC on the way home? Just a thought.

                          -----
                          The Lobster House
                          906 Schellengers Landing Rd, Cape May, NJ 08204

                          1. When I saw your post, I started looking up all my favorite places in New Jersey, and NOT ONE OF THEM serves lunch! So sorry, I can't give you a single supey0duper recommendation. Isn't that a kick in the teeth?

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: ChefJune

                              3 West does a great lunch. In Basking Ridge.

                              -----
                              3 West
                              665 Martinsville Rd Ste 101, Basking Ridge, NJ 07920

                            2. Sorry to be so low-end here, but my favorite long lunch lately involves a short drive in the middle. I start off at North of the Border in Red Bank for the savory part of my lunch. Then I drive through Red Bank on Front St, make a left over the bridge and in a few minutes I am at Flaky Tart where I eat a sweet (and bring something home).
                              I also have enjoyed more than a few amazing deals for lunch at Le Fandy.

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: seal

                                That reminded me of the NJ Coastline - Chow Tour brain fart I once pondered. Starting in Point Pleasant, there are some decent eats close to several stations. Armed with a cooler of beer, heading north, hopping off to gorge. Lots of possibilites, huh?

                              2. Hey MGZ, hope you enjoy your Bday! How much time do you have for your lunch? Are you going to be doing a dine-and-dash or looking to hang out a bit? If you're looking to do more than just eat the first two places that come to mind are the Indian area in Iselin and Korean+Japanese in Fort Lee. You can check out Mitsuwa while you're there and enjoy the best (only?) ramen in NJ and bring home some top grade fish or meat to have for sushi or steak dinner. Alternatively you can go the Korean route and hit up HMart and one of the Korean joints in the area.

                                If you're going for Sichuan and don't mind traveling I think it's worth a trip to Cedar Grove for Cheng Du, which imo is slightly better than Dragon Palace. If you're going to be up in the area maybe lunch at a place like Highlawn Pavilion might be your cup of tea.

                                Or how about hitting up Avenue and ordering up one of their monster raw bar towers? Now that would be a seriously nice birthday lunch!

                                If it were up to me I'd hit up a fancy nyc Michelin starred tasting lunch. That would be an awesome over the top birthday treat.

                                Enjoy!

                                -----
                                Dragon Palace
                                41 E Milton Ave, Rahway, NJ 07065

                                Highlawn Pavilion
                                Eagle Rock Reservation, West Orange, NJ 07052

                                3 Replies
                                  1. re: MGZ

                                    There are about 4 unrelated Chengdus. Chengdu 23 and Chengdu 1 are the go-to places.

                                    -----
                                    Chengdu 1
                                    89 Pompton Ave, Cedar Grove, NJ 07009

                                    1. re: MGZ

                                      ChengDu 1 at Cedar Grove...awesome Sichuan in NJ. Haven't been to 23 yet.

                                  2. Sadly, I had to indefinitely postphone my indulgent disappearance (At the time, I thought it would only be for a week.). I did get to drink the last bottle of the Lapierre I had been saving, so, I suppose, all was not lost. Nevertheless, thanks for the suggestions, and if anyone should have anymore ideas, feel free to share. This list has some good ideas.