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Why are there so many terrible restaurants in Jersey?

Just wondering why there is so much bad food in New Jersey when there is a lot of good food nearby.

Is a a decent, medium priced restaurant with a limited menu and emphasis on fresh food rather than the mind-numbing variations on reheated Italian too much to ask for?

And any place that seems decent at the start usually slides downhill fast...

I have a hard time believing that Jersey consumers are that unsophisticated and I know people here like to eat. We also have great produce. Things should be better.

Any thoughts?

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  1. Questions like this tend to leave me speechless.

    5 Replies
    1. re: RUK

      "Questions like this tend to leave me speechless."

      I thought that also at first, but you know, I live in Hoboken and pretty much always eat at restaurants in NYC. When we do go to a restaurant in NJ, more times than not, I find the service extremely lacking as compared to even the most basic service received in NYC. Call me a snob or what you will, but I've thought this for many, many years...and I have lived in NJ all my 51 years.

      And as for "any place that seems decent at the start usually slides downhill fast" I agree this happens a lot in NJ, but it also happens in NYC as well.

      1. re: RUK

        RUK, obviously you have not been to out to dinner in Jersey lately...

        1. re: vikingkaj

          Very true! We rarely go out to Dinner.
          But when we do, we might look for food I don't usually make. We might be inclined to go to a Vietnamese or Malaysian restaurant or go for a decent Sushi place. No problem there for us, we are not disappointed.
          I could not see myself eating out just to get something I can taylor exactly to our liking at home.
          Still, looking around in my area, eateries in Ridgewood and surrounding for instance always look very busy, how bad can they be?

          1. re: vikingkaj

            When I dine at my favorite NJ restaurant, Bay Ave., I'm treated like family - not a reserved, nose up air of elitism, and stiff robotics but one that's commensurate with the food (real, great quality, friendly yet professional) at this wonderful restaurant that's been around for 20 some years (2 locations) and has continued to find a Top 25 slot in Zagat's year in and year out. It's gotten better, like a fine Crue or Cab.

            For what it's worth, a trip to SF this fall had me come across this, which is what everyone's been trying to tell you Viking. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/778725

            1. re: JustJake

              I've been to Palo Alto. It may be a ritzy college town, but it is still a college town. Run-n-Gun burritos and the Soup Factory seem to be the mid-point that sells.

              Lots of good food further south in the Silicon Valley and up north in Napa, not to mention East Bay and San Fran.

              By the way, the Asian food market in San Jose is worth a trip on its own. Yum.

          1. re: equal_Mark

            =Mark, you are so right. I'm spending a lot of time in central MD, Howard County to be exact. There is a lot of good ethnic Asian food to be had, but otherwise it's a joke. More chains than what people complain of in NJ. No good delis, no good Mom&Pop places, no seafood other than crab cakes (but they are far better than NJ). Only one worthwhile pizza place. A true wasteland.

            1. re: cantkick

              Not sure how far it is from you, but the new Volt restaurant Family Meal in Fredericksburg MD was VERY good...

            2. re: equal_Mark

              So true =Mark. I have a client in Harford County (??), in the Joppa/Forest Hill area and it has been the worst ever experience trying to find even sub par dining options. Chain city - I cringe just thinking about it.

              1. re: JustJake

                Well, there's a decent sub shop in Aberdeen just outside the APG gate, and a decent Italian place in the boonies (don't ask me where, I wasn't driving). But most of the people I've talked to who moved there from central NJ (and I concur based on my few trips there) would agree with you.

                1. re: cantkick

                  There's a solid place for crabs in Harve de Grace, as well. Easy on and off from 95 when your passing through: http://www.pricesseafood.com/ Us cranky ol' 'hounds know where to find good chow wherever we go. "The nose, it always knows . . . ."

                2. re: JustJake

                  When deciding not to relocate to Aberdeen when my position was transferred there, the lack of decent private, ethnic and Mon & Pop eateries was a big consideration. Given that the area is pretty much a suburb between Baltimore and Philly this lack of diversity is puzzling.

                  1. re: equal_Mark

                    = Mark. I have a close friend who opted NOT to move to Aberdeen as it's just as bad from a global 'happiness' perspective as he's not a foodie.

                    He commutes and hangs his hat at a fellow RU grad's apt (who's single) and books Thursday back up to Tinton Falls. Will do so till he can retire in 2 years.

                    My experience culinarily mirror that of your own. It's beyond terribly vapid. A big black hole if you will.

                    1. re: JustJake

                      When reading a question such as the one that began this thread I now reflexively think to myself "Try Aberdeen,Md." I have family out in Western Pa, which I used to refer to as "The Gateway to the Culinary Wasteland," but in recent years the scene out there has experienced a bit of a blooming and trips to the area are now pretty enjoyable.

              2. Guess you don't get out much...there are plenty of good restaurants in NJ. Of course, the judgement of what is "good" or "bad" will always be up to the individual.

                Besides...there's good and bad ones in every state. And the proliferation of "chain" restaurants sure doesn't help matters any.

                I will agree, though, that NJ does seem to have an overabundance of rather mediocre Italian restaurants.

                1 Reply
                1. re: The Professor

                  Amen. When one can quantify what they mean by good and bad (number of minutes before each course is served, number times the wait staff checks on you per hour, etc.) then maybe we'll have a good scale to go by. Until then, it's ALL relative.

                2. A Toute Heure?
                  Loerna's?
                  Blue Bottle Cafe?
                  new Ryland Inn?

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: Gastronomic

                    I had dinner at the Ryland Inn last night. I was extremely disappointed. I had the grouper, which was overcooked. My husband had the tuna, asked for it rare, it was also overcooked. The sweet potato soup was too thick and had a weird smokey taste about it. The tab for the dinner was, in my opinion, ridiculously overpriced. We ate at L'Apicio in NYC the night before for half the price, and both the food and the service were twice as good.

                    1. re: NYCPA

                      Ryland Inn is a mere shadow of what it once was.

                      A friend of mine went so far as to call it a parody of what it once was.

                  2. Other than Italian not to much. Ridgewood has Brick Street Curry, Latours is good. if you are comparing it to NYC you're right. Good Porteguese in the Ironbound district.Problem is you have to travel far and wide. You just can't walk up the block or pick a neighborhood like in NY. Actually Chicken Galore in Maywood has good peruvian chicken with green sauce and Seafood Gourmet has really fresh fish. I really don't know what your looking for