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Oct 19, 2011 07:38 AM

Mad Chef Cafe in Flemington

New place just opened up in Turntable Junction. I haven't been but there is a Groupon deal today for 55% off. Just bought the coupon and will report back once I try it out. If anyone has been, please let us know how it is.

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  1. I have not been. I tried twice to go for lunch because their Facebook page said they were open for both lunch and dinner. That was incorrect but I now see that they are indeed open for lunch (as of Oct. 15).

    I've lost track of how many restaurants have been in this location. It's a tough spot because it's on a side street in Flemington and not close enough to Liberty Village to attract walk ins.

    1. Went tonight for dinner. The only thing I can say is ... AWFUL. The entire place is just awful. The decor, awful. The service, awful. The food, really really awful.
      The crazy thing is that there was a LINE to get in. A long line. The wait was so long that the people in front of us abandoned ship after about 15 minutes because no hostess or server even acknowledged that there were people waiting to get in. Actually, there was no hostess. I suppose that this could all be explained by the Groupon deal. I saw at least 2 other people besides myself that had purchased the Groupon, which bought you $50 worth of food for just $25.

      The servers were very green. Not only is the restaurant new, but I seriously doubt that most of the servers have ever waited tables before.

      The service could have been overlooked, though, if the food had been good, which it wasn't.

      For starters the pumpkin soup was inedible. Really. We left the whole thing uneaten. The calamari was pretty bad. There was no way to tell whether actual calamari was underneath all that batter. Maybe it was chicken, or maybe it was rubberbands. No calamari taste whatsoever. It came drenched in an Asian glaze which would have been tasty had there not been so darn much of it. Another annoying thing is that the calamari was served in a chinese food take out box with a piece of tissue paper and chop sticks. On a bed of mashed potatoes. I kid you not. It was all so odd.

      On to dinner. We had the rigatoni with eggplant and the lobster ravioli. These were not terrible but I wouldn't say they were good either. I would liken them to something you would get at TGIFridays. If you like to order lobster ravioli at Fridays, then you might like this place. Me, not so much. My daughter got the chicken fingers and fries. Even a 7 year old thought her dinner was gross. Too much frying. Everything tasted like old fryer oil. UGH.

      The prices were also quite high. The aforementioned lobster ravioli was $18.95. Really? For a couple dollars more I could get a great dinner at Matt's Red Rooster. Geez, for half that price I could walk a hundred feet over to Blue Fish Grill and get a plate of knockout fish tacos.

      I predict that the Mad Chef Cafe will go the way of so many other occupants of that location. What a shame.

      Blue Fish Grill
      9 Central Ave Ste 4, Flemington, NJ 08822

      3 Replies
      1. re: madgreek99

        Tthanks for the heads up - I'm definitely going to avoid it.

        1. re: madgreek99

          Wow, looks as if I may have escaped a bullet! I was recently charged with organizing a restaurant dinner for ten people in or near Flemington. We had been to most of the obvious places so I thought we might try the Mad Chef. After visiting the restaurant on a Friday evening, looking at the dinner menu and noticing that the place was clearly understaffed, I decided against it. I guess I made the right choice!

          FYI, we ended up at Janina Bistro in Lebanon and had a very pleasant, reasonably quiet evening with good food and good conversation.

          1. re: ambrose

            Ambrose - Could you tell us a litle more about Janina Bistro, perhaps in a new thread? I pass it all the time, have wondered how it is, but have not made it there (yet).

        2. We went on a spur of the moment Sat night. We didn't have a reservation, but since it was early we got in. There was quite a line waiting when we left. The decor is very odd for the type of building it is. Sparse, oddly placed memoribelia in unexpected places. The food was decent, we have no complaints except for the prices. My son had the Louisville slugger (St. Louis BBQ Ribs). He said they were excellent. My husband had the macadamia crusted mahi mahi and he cleaned his plate. I had the Buffalo chicken salad which was pretty good.

          These are my complaints: They bill themselves as a restaurant with "crazy casual food" but the food is crazy expensive for casual. Burgers and wraps are only offered on the lunh menu. While there are some salad offerings on the dinner menu, most are pricey entrees which drive up the price of a "casual" dinner. They are a byo which is fine, but they don't list any beverage options on the menu? Why not? The atmosphere also doesn't match the type of food they are serving. Brightly lit rooms with poor acoustcs result in more of a diner atmosphere while eating your $20 entree. It all seems contrived. The owners also own 2 other eateries in New Jersey so it's not like they are new to the business. I'm just not sure what they are trying to be, and I don't think they are either.

          Dinner for 5 (one kid's meal, 4 adult meals and beverages) came to $100 before tax/tip. That's steep for a causal dinner. We can eat out for half that at any number of other family restaurants in the area. Unless they change their dinner menu, we won't be back. It's such a shame because that spot has had so many failed restaurants. We really want a consistently good,reasonably priced restaurant here, but that has yet to happen as evidenced by all the closings which follow the openings. Bensi's seems to have the same problem...I don't think that place is going to last much longer. Never even go to try Quinto Bistro in the old J&S locaation. That place came in went almost overnight.

          1 Reply
          1. re: sharandmike

            I went a couple months back started with the calamari I have to agree with the earlier post it was all batter and drenched in sauce. I then had fish and chips found very hard to eat in a wire basket fish was not bad. have to say service was bad lack of experience for sure. We also thought over priced. will have to be a big improvement for us to go back.

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. I miss Il Mulinos that was there for years...the food was always excellent, and the service, decor and pricing were all very good. It closed (probably due to the economy) and it became Luigi's, which did not the food was just OK and over priced. It then closed and opened again as " Vincenzo's" which we never visited.

              I saw the "Mad Chef" sign and it immediately struck me as kind of odd, as it does not "go" with the restaurant building style. That said I think it is VERY hard in this economy to open a restaurant and serve mediocre food at a very high price that could easily be found elsewhere..and better...for less...especially at an off the beaten path location.

              IMO, one either has to offer something very special in terms of menu, quality and service to justify the price, or take a huge risk that the venture will not last long.

              1 Reply
              1. re: infojunkie

                I received an email from the forum lthat Mad Chef
                asked what the name had to do with the building.
                Not sure why it does not appear here, but Mad
                Chef, if you read my post I referred to the SIGN, not
                the name. The building is old, traditional, with a lot
                of architectural charm. The sign that can be seen
                looking down Fulper from Main appeared to be
                a banner of sorts, that looked as if it was temporary.
                Perhaps it was..... but if not, it is more fitting
                for a more casual and modern facade. As a designer,
                I tend to notice things such as this that appear incongruous.