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Apr 18, 2012 07:12 AM

My Personal Favorite Restaurant in NJ (Monmouth County)

Well well well……I have recently come back to Chowhound after a hiatus and I have made a few posts or observations etc. However when I went to search for one of my all time favorite restaurants locally (Monmouth County/Red Bank area) I was shocked to find relatively little information or posts about it. So I figured I would change that and pay homage to one of my consistently favorite dining experiences.

The Raven and The Peach in Fair Haven NJ on River Road has been consistently one of my all time favorite fine dining restaurants. I have been a frequent customer of theirs I would say for the past 10 if not 15 years and I do not think I have ever had a bad meal there. The wine list is extensive….the food quality and preparation is always excellent and the frequently changing menu options keep things adventurous and “fresh” for a place I like to frequent often.

On a Fri or Sat night….with the piano player or sometimes lounge singer…there are few places I would rather be than in a large booth at the Raven and the Peach. In my opinion it has the best ambiance of any restaurant I frequent and it reminds of what fine dining use to be.

Prior to it’s closure La Fontana in New Brunswick was my all time favorite dining establishment. While it had scaled down the OVER THE TOP service they provided in the early 90’s where each table had a 3-5 person wait staff……(I really do miss that place) but ever since La Fontana closed The Raven and The Peach has been on the top of my list!!!

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  1. We haven't been to Raven and the Peach* in ages. Probably 10+ years. We had dinner there twice. I guess we didn't find the food exceptionally enticing. Otherwise, we'd have gone back. I recall the decor as being tropical, and I see from photos on the website that it's still the same. Some interesting sounding dishes on the menu. Most of the main courses are offered in two sizes. I do like the idea of the smaller option. Perhaps, we'll give it another try.

    *Note: There is no "The" before "Raven."

    1. We're considering having a party here. Has anyone been to an event here? As jr says, there is a very limited number of reviews for a restaurant that has been in business over 20 years.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Snorkelvik

        My sister had her son's baptism party here about 5 years ago. Let's just say...I cannot remember anything about the place. I can sister and I both thought the food was lacking. I did not want to tell her all the "wrong" in the food....whether it be, presentation (FORGET about it!), taste, timing, temp. I just would not use this place for a banquet. Just me....ask my sister...after 50 + guests...she says the same......

        (this is a review for Raven and the Peach)

        1. re: Angelina

          While placing my comment here isn't addressing the OP's favorite restaurant in monmouth county (because I don't necessarily have one) I have to agree with Angelina on the Raven and the Peach. We were disappointed recently too.

          However, to our 'great' surprise a recent family gathering at the Navoo Grill just around the corner in their 2nd floor private room was surprisingly excellent. I had nothing to do with the menu selection or planning but the pre dinner appetizers and private bar were the highlight but the buffet entrees weren't bad at all. Plus, the setting is 10x that of R&P. Valet parking for guests.

      2. Wow I'm feeling very chow-ousted on my all time favorite. Let me ask how recent most of you have been. It's been probably 6 months for me mostly because we have been doing a ton of dining with friends and that's a bit too stuffy for them. Perhaps something has changed recently?

        Also Nuevo use to be the same owner.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jrvedivici

          Is Nauvoo Grill under the same ownership still or not. I know there was some relation but their menus are different.

          The last time we went to F&P was last August for lunch. I had a medicore salad and paid way to much for it. My husband has a shrimp grill and was shocked that 3 large shrimp was all he was getting for the price. That's what stands out all these months later and because we are willing to spend $$$ for excellence that's not a great commentary on my fond memory for the experience there.

        2. Sorry, Jrvedivici, we had dinner at Raven & Peach to see for ourselves if the food was good, and we've decided to keep searching for a spot for our party. Thanks all, for your input.

          Let me set the scene - Friday night, 5 people, reservations at 7:30pm. A pleasant wait in the bar for our last guest to arrive, nice drinks, and a duo playing live music in the corner.

          Dinner, alas, was a disappointment. Let's start with apps - Lobster bisque was a bright note, the 2 sushi dishes were blah but ok, my coconut shrimp were fine but not hot, one diner said they were tough. Apps came before wine ( a personal pet peeve.)

          Entrees came after a leisurely fashion, which I love - we're big talkers and I like time between courses and hate feeling rushed). We all ordered something different - halibut, steak, chicken, scallops, mahi mahi - and not one meal was hot. Not one plate was hot, i.e, waiting at the pass. Our server came by after a very long, long time; long enough for my uncle to finish 2 out of the 3 room temp & un-fresh scallops in his dinner ($32). (He gave me a bite to try.) Long enough for me to try to cut a piece of my stepmom's dauphinoise potatoes and fail the first time (way underdone & tough to slice, think potato gratin). On the plus side, my mahi-mahi was good, just the whole dish was room temp, nothing hot, not the sides, not even the plate.

          When the waitress did come by, two-thirds through the meal, she was very dismayed that the food was cold, apologized, and stated that she had brought the dishes out personally when they were ready. She took back the potato gratin (dauphinoise) immediately to the kitchen and promised free desserts for all right then & there. This seemed to be a common complaint for her, she was unfazed to hear 5 out of 5 dinners were cold. She didn't need to call the manager or bring him or her by - she just immediately offered up free dessert. We finished our dinners with no more interaction from her. No new side of potatoes came back, no more mention of our complaint or any comments relayed from the kitchen or chef. She finally returned to clear the table & take our dessert order.

          Desserts were blah, coffee was fine. We all agreed, this was not the place to have a party. R+P knew I was dining there that evening to check out the place to host a party in the next 6 weeks, the server had shown me the room the week before and said "nice to see you again." The special events coordinator was there and never came to the table as she said she would, and thank goodness, because that was a needless conversation once the dinner was served. Such a shame, because I really like the party space. If my husband or dining companions had said, it's ok, and not so bad, I would have signed up immediately, I'm anxious to find a space & plan this party, but the search continues.

          On the bright side, we did have time to pay a quick visit to Nauvoo Grill before dinner; nice space, lots of flexibility for configuring it too, but learning that it is owned by Raven & Peach makes me leery. (I asked the host there and he confirmed that they are owned by the same gentleman.)

          My conclusion - yes, there is a reason why there are so few reviews for a restaurant open 25+ years - and it isn't good.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Snorkelvik

            Nauvoo Grill doesn't employee the same staff, chef or menu. Eat there before deciding. Especially if you liked the space.

            There are many establishments open 25 plus years with few reviews. I can't say I've taken the time to write many reviews myself.

            1. re: Snorkelvik

              Wow!!!!! I haven't been there since over the summer but something must have changed! I feel like I owe you an apology! That's so sad I loved this place for so long! Good luck!

            2. It honestly pains me to write this as I am still so in love with my fond memories of this place over the years. This is actually long over due as my past few experiences haven’t lived up to my expectations but I kept saying “It was just an off night” but now I've had about 3 or 4 consecutive “off nights” and this last one is just a deal breaker for me.

              As my OP states this has consistently been my favorite Monmouth County location for well over a decade. But something has changed….the kitchen isn't what it use to be, and while the servers are still excellent in my opinion, they can only serve what the kitchen gives them, and the wait between salad and entrée is just excessive. Once the entree does get to the table, it has often been cold. I don’t know what they are doing back there that takes near an hour between salad and entrée for food to arrive cold.

              Our latest trip there was a party of 7, 3 entrée’s (halibut) were served cold, my steak was way under cooked, rare/bloody as opposed to medium AND my creamed spinach was actually cold, not room temp or luke warm, cold as in still refrigerated cold. One of my guests had the porterhouse for $68.00 (my daughters boyfriend knows how to eat) he offered me a taste and it was average as best. I’m actually suspect if it was actually a prime, dry aged as published in the menu. Not nearly worth the price being charged
              with the addition of a $12. Cesar salad and desert, you are looking at $100. per person without booze. I’m finding it very hard to justify based on my past few experiences.

              Like I said, this is at least my 3rd or 4th very disappointing experience here and at these prices I just don’t expect to have my expectations fall so short. Looks like I’m going to be giving Nicholas some more of my dining dollars as Raven and Peach is just in some kind of rut.

              1 Reply
              1. re: jrvedivici

                Can I be your daughter's next boyfriend?