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french and romantic

nicksmom Jul 12, 2011 07:48 PM

Looking forward to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We are in our fities and looking for a substantial restaurant in terms of food quality, ambiance and would prefer something french. We will be in the West Milford area and I realize that we likely will need to drive a bit in order to find such a place. I'd like it to be within an hour? I have nothing against this area, but sadly restaurants are far and few between, and yes I love Momentos and warwick, but I need something more special!

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    scholar399 RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 04:01 AM

    For the best french food around, I can't say enough good things about the Chef's Table- the only thing is the ambiance is slightly lacking (it kind of reminds me of a diner with lacey curtains). However, if you are willing to overlook that- I really do think you won't be disappointed with the food and your dining experience.

    Chef's Table
    754 Franklin Ave Ste 7, Franklin Lakes, NJ 07417

    1. m
      MRG58 RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 04:28 AM

      I would suggest Cafe Matisse in Rutherford. Their tasting menu allows you to try many different dishes and includes dessert. Ask Larry to reserve a table for you in their lovely garden and I assure you you will not be disappointed. The setting is intimate with bubbling water features, stone walkways and formal plantings. While the restaurant is BYOB it has a wine shop in front that provides sampling and has an interesting array of choices. The four course "grazing" menu is $65.00, quite reasonable given the high quality of the offerings.

      Cafe Matisse
      167 Park Ave
      Rutherford, New Jersey

      Cafe Matisse
      167 Park Ave, Rutherford, NJ 07070

      1. m
        maryanne06 RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 07:11 AM

        +1 Chef's Table.......you won't be disappointed. It's wonderful!

        1 Reply
        1. re: maryanne06
          Picnicchef RE: maryanne06 Jul 13, 2011 01:12 PM

          Couldn't agree more. Plus it is right off 208 and not a bad trip from West Milford.

        2. angelo04 RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 08:01 AM

          Chez Catherine in Westfield is a good choice.

          Chez Catherine
          431 North Avenue West, Westfield, NJ 07090

          1 Reply
          1. re: angelo04
            spike74 RE: angelo04 Jul 13, 2011 08:08 AM

            I second Chez Catherine. Great food, nice ambiance, intimate setting.

            Chez Catherine
            431 North Avenue West, Westfield, NJ 07090

          2. s
            Sdenred RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 09:26 AM

            Saddle River Inn.

            Saddle River Inn
            2 Barnstable Ct, Saddle River, NJ 07458

            1. ambrose RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 12:21 PM

              Geographically speaking, Cafe Matisse may be your best choice but if you're willing to drive a little farther I too recommend Chez Catherine.

              Another possibility, and it would be my first choice, is Restaurant Lorena in Maplewood. This small restaurant has everything you are looking for and since it's BYO you can have a special wine with your special dinner.

              Wherever you go, enjoy!


              1. ChefJune RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 12:48 PM

                Surprised no one has yet mentioned Lorena's, in Maplewood. Very romantic vibe, and outstanding food. It's a BYO, as well, but that doesn't mean it's cheap.... nor will it break the bank.

                duh, Ambrose. I apologize. posted this before I got down to your remarks.

                1. s
                  scarlet knight RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 03:04 PM

                  Go to Daniel in NYC. This may be the best restaurant in the world . It is less than an hour from West Milford. It will be expensive and you will never forget the experience.

                  In the alternative, Lorena's is very good, but Daniel is in a different league.

                  I realize this is a New Jersey board.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: scarlet knight
                    Sdenred RE: scarlet knight Jul 14, 2011 09:25 AM

                    NYC might be an hour away from West Milford if you have a helicopter or driving very fast at 3am.

                  2. n
                    nicksmom RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 03:42 PM

                    Thank you all so much! I am looking into cafe matisse, chez catherine and lorena. I will let the board know how it goes and bon appetit! BTW...my first husband took me to daniel for my 40th birthday---ambience was outstanding but small portions. My present husband used to work in manhattan and now avoids it. Me-- I love it, never thought I would wind up in NJ, but flexibility is key in life, so here I am. I am now having fun exploring good eats here. Any good restaurants in the rte 23 corridor?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: nicksmom
                      MRG58 RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 04:06 PM

                      Sadly, good restaurants in the Route 23 corridor are few and far between. You may consider Rosemary and Sage in Riverdale or LuNello, a formal Italian in Little Falls. For more casual choices we like Churasco , BYO, in Lake Hiawatha for Argentinian grill; Chengdu 23, BYO, Chinese in Wayne; Sonny's in Riverdale for storefront BYO, an Italian sleeper; Yuki Sushi, BYO, in Butler for Japanese and San Giorgio in Kinnelon another casual BYO I talian. All are modest, none would be considered highly rated...

                      Yuki Sushi
                      1370 State Rt 23, Butler, NJ 07405

                      Rosemary and Sage
                      26 Hamburg Tpke, Riverdale, NJ 07457

                      1. re: nicksmom
                        ambrose RE: nicksmom Jul 14, 2011 05:10 AM

                        Nicksmom, for future reference you may want to follow this blog on north Jersey dining news:


                        You can also check the archives for previous discussion about north Jersey restaurants.

                      2. m
                        madisonnj123 RE: nicksmom Jul 13, 2011 05:49 PM

                        There is always Resto in Madison or Restaurant Serenade in Chatham to consider. Both French and both romantic one is byob (Resto) and Serenade has a liquor license

                        77 Main St, Madison, NJ 07940

                        1. menton1 RE: nicksmom Jul 14, 2011 04:29 PM

                          Most of the NJ restaurants claiming to be "French" really miss the boat. A couple of entrees, a couple of French words on the menu, but that's it.

                          If you want a restaurant experience very close to what one experiences in France, I highly recommend Antelao, in Delaware Water Gap. (On the Delaware River just through the Gap and right off Rte 80). The menu entrees are all in English. However, the service, the timing, the food and ambiance are as impeccable as one would find in France. It's very close to a French experience. It's a most sublime place, in all aspects of dining. You will not be disappointed.


                          4 Replies
                          1. re: menton1
                            joonjoon RE: menton1 Jul 19, 2011 12:44 PM

                            I'm not well versed in French cuisine - only been there once - but this menu sounds more italian than french. Am I missing something?

                            1. re: joonjoon
                              Spaetzle75 RE: joonjoon Jul 19, 2011 02:06 PM

                              Yes I would have to call it generic mediteranean, definitety leaning toward the italian. I guess that would qualify as a region.

                              1. re: Spaetzle75
                                Picnicchef RE: Spaetzle75 Jul 19, 2011 02:17 PM

                                well, really Provence and Southern France share many, many techniques and dishes with italy. Remember that tomato sauce is a mother sauce in French cooking. Peek at Patricia Well's at home in provence cookbook...it really is a spectacular look at that type of cuisine. I plan to check the place out.

                                1. re: Picnicchef
                                  Spaetzle75 RE: Picnicchef Jul 19, 2011 02:48 PM

                                  Somebody had to get all technical. We were just talking about the menu.;) Yes it is one of the five. I think on the menu it says marinara so...

                          2. a
                            Applecheeks RE: nicksmom Jul 14, 2011 05:24 PM

                            I would recommend Madame Claude in Jersey City. I have never been to Paris, but my friends have. They tell me that the food, service and ambiance reminded them of any little cafe in Paris. I think the food is absolutley wonderful. The staff is very friendly. You must make a reservation. The only problem is the area in Jersey City is not waht you are used to in West Milford. However, I have never had a problem driving or parking in the area of the restaurant.

                            Madame Claude Cafe
                            364 1/2 4th St, Jersey City, NJ 07302

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Applecheeks
                              tommy RE: Applecheeks Jul 14, 2011 05:31 PM

                              I wouldn't consider Madame Claude a "romantic" restaurant, or worthy of a "special" occasion for people who might be in their 50's. And it's BYOB, which is another consideration. But your friends might be right: it's like a little cafe or bistro.

                              Very serviceable steak and french fries, though.

                              I'd be shocked if the Saddle River Inn wasn't the final call on this, although the BYO aspect is there, too.

                              Just for the hell of it, I'll throw out Blue Hill at Stone Barns (not french), about an hour away, and likely the best restaurant this side of the Hudson, although it's on the other.

                              Madame Claude Cafe
                              364 1/2 4th St, Jersey City, NJ 07302

                              1. re: tommy
                                menton1 RE: tommy Jul 15, 2011 09:44 AM

                                Saddle River Inn-- if you're not a "regular", expect polite but minimal attention there. And past its prime IMO.

                                The closest place in NJ that "looks like" a cafe in France is Epernay, but that's in Montclair, a good ways from West Milford.

                                I thought of Antelao because, while the dishes are not classic French, the experience is much like dining in France-- unrushed service (Dinner takes 2 hours in France) no bus help, just a very efficient waiter, and beautifully presented wonderful seasonal, regional food. Wish it were closer to Bergen County, I'd be there often!

                            2. riverman18 RE: nicksmom Jul 14, 2011 07:14 PM

                              Not sure if it fits the "substantial ambience" requirement (it's small...I mean "intimate"...), but Le Rendez-Vous has been our go-to place for authentic French for several years.


                              1. n
                                nicksmom RE: nicksmom Jul 16, 2011 02:41 PM

                                Thank you all! I think it is between matisse and lorena's. Any opinions? We don't eat out often--my husband loves to cook, and I am the baker--but we did go to Dinallo's in Rivers edge. Very good--esp the stuffed calamari.

                                Dinallo's Restaurant
                                259 Johnson Ave, River Edge, NJ 07661

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: nicksmom
                                  RayP RE: nicksmom Jul 16, 2011 06:04 PM

                                  I have never been to Lorena's but have been to Cafe Matisse many times and you really can't go wrong there at all..ESPECIALLY with the added attraction of the outdoor garden area!

                                  Cafe Matisse
                                  167 Park Ave, Rutherford, NJ 07070

                                  1. re: RayP
                                    scholar399 RE: RayP Jul 16, 2011 07:00 PM

                                    i agree- cafe matisse has been a wonderful dining experience each time we have been

                                    1. re: scholar399
                                      Spaetzle75 RE: scholar399 Jul 17, 2011 04:48 AM

                                      What about Sophies' Bistro in Hamilton NJ?

                                      1. re: Spaetzle75
                                        menton1 RE: Spaetzle75 Jul 17, 2011 03:24 PM

                                        You might mean the converted bowling alley in Somerset... It's nice, but probably pushing 2 hours from W Milford. If the poster is considering Maplewood, a good 90 minutes drive, they might also consider the closer Montclair restaurant, Epernay.

                                        6 Park St, Montclair, NJ 07042

                                        1. re: menton1
                                          Spaetzle75 RE: menton1 Jul 18, 2011 01:53 PM

                                          I guess I did mean the converted bowling alley, not that you can tell. No, it is in Hamilton. I would say without traffic hour and 45.

                                          1. re: menton1
                                            ChefJune RE: menton1 Jul 19, 2011 12:30 PM

                                            To me the most "special occasion" place in MOntclair is CulinAriane.

                                    2. re: nicksmom
                                      ChefJune RE: nicksmom Jul 19, 2011 12:21 PM

                                      Been to both, but prefer Lorena's for its romantic vibe. and I prefer their food.

                                    3. t
                                      tantesheri RE: nicksmom Jul 20, 2011 05:19 AM

                                      You might want to try Manon in Lambertville. It has been our anniversary place for years. It's a BYO.

                                      1. b
                                        BernieMSY RE: nicksmom Nov 16, 2011 08:10 PM

                                        I recommend Bienvenue in Red Bank. Wonderful food in a charming space, it won't leave you disappointed.

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