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Mercer Street Grill in Hightstown - anyone try it yet? (with fun backstory!)

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wereboar Dec 26, 2011 10:37 AM

So there's a new venture in this location, which has to be one of the more doomed spots for a restaurant that I've ever seen. When I first got to Hightstown the place was the Slow Down Cafe, a mysterious coffee joint that was barely open (I think it was only open weekdays 9-4 p.m., seriously). That eventually went under, and was replaced with - of all things - a Thai noodle place, called Da's Thai Noodles.

When Da's opened all you had to do was glance at it and you knew it was never going to last. The owners did very little to change the decor from the previous use, so it looked like the Slowdown suddenly went under new management and added Thai food to the coffeehouse menu. Apparently the owners felt the location was too small to be successful, and they've since moved to Hopewell.

Which leads us to the mysterious Mercer Street Grill. No website yet. It's closed Mondays. My wife and I have peered through the windows, and it looks like it's a New American cuisine attempt with emphasis on steaks. The restaurant is TINY so I'm highly skeptical that this is going to last. I mean, you don't really think of downtown Hightstown when you're in the mood for steaks, do you?

One of the fascinating things about this location is that years ago, a woman was murdered in the apartment above the restaurant. My wife thinks the location has been subsequently cursed/haunted. Now personally I think haunted food tastes better but I haven't mustered up the courage to try Mercer Street Grill. So any info would be appreciated!

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  1. w
    wereboar RE: wereboar Jan 17, 2012 12:56 PM

    Why aren't the comments showing up?

    1 Reply
    1. re: wereboar
      c
      cutemsomeslack RE: wereboar Jan 17, 2012 05:38 PM

      I've been 3-4 times, good food, great service, people eating at 3pm weekday- in the rain in- January. Best Cuban sandwich south of Hudson County. *Fire Grill* steaks in Hightstown!

      Do you actually go into these places or only do drive-by reviews?

    2. c
      cranrob RE: wereboar Jan 22, 2012 07:37 AM

      Went here last night - this place is a winner. It's Portuguese-style BBQ, like the places on Ferry Street in Newark. We had a rack of pork ribs, which were delicious. They were marinated in Brown Sugar, Cumin, and other spices before cooking. These aren't fall-off-the-bone-style low-and-slow ribs (which is a good thing in this case). We also had a Skirt Steak, which was perfectly seasoned and cooked. Desserts (coconut cake and homemade flan) were surprisingly good.

      2 Replies
      1. re: cranrob
        j
        jethro RE: cranrob Jan 23, 2012 07:27 PM

        Cranrob, since your posts are all on the money, I am going to take the family here soon to try it, since we live 5 minutes away. I have been disappointed with Tavern on the Lake lately (new chef I guess), so will see how they do here.

        1. re: jethro
          c
          cranrob RE: jethro Jan 24, 2012 06:16 AM

          Thank you Jethro... I went back to take out some of their grilled chicken. When I arrived to pick it up, they were just getting the charcoal grill going, and I saw them reheating my chicken, which I guess was cooked earlier, in the microwave (!!!). It was still very good (and still moist), but I can imagine how much better it would have been if it was grilled-to-order.

          So, I suggest calling first to make sure their grill is fired up before heading over.

          Another (small) nit: They have Tabasco on the tables, but in the kitchen they have the more traditional "Piri-Piri" sauce, which the places in Newark serve with their meals, and is so much better on the grilled items. When we asked, they gladly gave us some for our table.

      2. s
        sundae RE: wereboar Jan 24, 2012 12:37 PM

        We have been there three times. Once for breakfast, the other for lunch. Each time our meals have been really good. The BBQ wings special on my last visit were the best I've had anywhere around here. The interior has gotten a nice makeover since the last restaurant left. The staff is very friendly.

        1. k
          kalookalaa RE: wereboar Mar 3, 2012 03:20 PM

          Cuban sandwich was excellent!

          1. w
            wujamie RE: wereboar Mar 4, 2012 11:53 AM

            I second that the pork ribs were excellent, and the best rice and beans I have ever had in my life. It looks like they finally have a website up, and the to-go menu we got shows that they now deliver also.

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