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SOS!!!!! Foodie parents coming to visit in May...where to take them that will not break my bank account!

My parents who are foodies and have eaten in the best restaurants in the world (Including Paul Bocuse's kitchen in France) are coming to celebrate with me my Dad's birthday....WHERE CAN I TAKE THEM?
Dad does not like spicy food or Indian food. They do not like noisy places. A fabulous steak is always a good choice...but were to go? Please any suggestion will be appreciated! I live in New Brunswick and work in the Edison/Woodbridge area. But for a great evening for dad would go anywhere within reason. Also, my financial resources are not unlimited.

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  1. A toute heure - Cranford
    Loucas - Edison

    Both BYOB to help defray costs

    1. We've had very nice meals a Due Mari in New Brunswick.

        1. Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick

          What is your definition of won't break the bank?

          1. Second A Toute Heure in Cranford.

            You said no spicy, does that include Mexican? If you head south, I would suggest Tortuga's in Princeton - delish mexican and you can go to the Bent Spoon for some AMAZING ice cream after. (Also, BYOB, so definitely affordable). It's low key, but good.

            Due Mari, Stage Left and Frog and the Peach are the top in New Brunswick, but all on the pricier side for dinner.Of the three, Stage Left is my favorite.

            1. Sophie's Bistro in New Brunswick has wonderful French Food, Another great place in Princeton is Eno Terre. Is Asbury Park too far? Some very good restaurants there.
              A Toute Heure is very good as well, also byob which always helps

              1. I guess it depends on whether or not your parents want/need a 'fancy' restaurant...I always feel like NJ offers some excellent restaurants, but they're certainly not Bocuse-style!

                I have a foodie dad, and he's always pleased with meals at Blu (BYO in Montclair). Closer to you, but the same owner, is Daryl in New Brunswick (full liquor license and wine list). The chef/owner isn't there every day, but it's his menu...

                Far more casual, but with excellent food is Taka (Japanese and sushi) in Asbury Park.

                Of course there are also the higher-end options of Natirar, Pluckemin Inn, Ryland Inn, or Nicholas...I haven't been to any of them but a search on this board should yield some recent comments if others don't chime in on this board.

                And if you want to cross the river, North End Grill in Battery Park would be my choice!

                1 Reply
                1. re: Curlz

                  Do not recommend Ryland Inn, especially if you haven't been there. It will most definitely break her bank. I posted about my experience there at the end of December. It is over the top expensive, and definitely not worth the price.

                2. If they are sincerely into food - not just restaurants - why not have fun and go to Wonder Seafood or Dragon Palace in Edison? I mean, that's some of the best Chinese one can get in the Country - outside NY or SF.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: MGZ

                    Along the lines of MGZ's reply...

                    Noodle Gourmet/Stuff Yer Face/RU Hyngry in NB
                    Harold's Deli

                    Check the bar menu at Nicholas on the night you want to go - $29 for three full size courses is a great bargain.

                    1. re: seal

                      Yeah, I mean if Dad's a true "food dork" like me, take him to H-Mart and follow up with some Korean barbecue or soft tofu soup in one of the places next door. Plus, there's that Sichuan place just down 27. Hell, make a bit of an adventure out of it. Then go have a cool nightcap at Catherine Lombardi's on the way home.

                  2. Not for nothing, but you sound way too panicked about this. I'm assuming your parents will be happy to spend their time with you, no matter the location:)

                    In any case, you might want to go to the Blue Bottle Cafe in Hopewell. It's about a 40-minute drive.

                    The atmosphere is low-key, the food is usually wonderful and creative (and NOT spicy), with many locally sourced ingredients. It's also not psychotically expensive.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Heatherb

                      I like Heather's recommendation. Combine it with a day at the Scupture Garden and I guarantee that you'll have a memorable day with your parents. It's May, and there's nothing better than a day 'outside' even a day with a bit of showers - oh that pop of nitrogen and what it does to the blooming landscape. If you can, make a reservation for a weeknight (Weds-Thurs) should you consider my recommendation - this will allow for a less crowded garden walk.

                      I like the BBC as it's but 10 minutes from the Gardens - this pairing will beat a full house any day of the week.

                      1. re: JustJake

                        Yes, Grounds for Sculpture is a great experience. Could even stop off at Rat's for drinks before heading up to the Blue Bottle, which is BYOB.

                        Rat's is nice, but no matter who the chef was, it always seemed more like an "experience" than a strictly food-focused event. I think the food at the BBC is probably better, or at least more price/quality proportionate.

                    2. I just want to do something special for my Dad. Even at 40 something....I'm dad's not-so-little-any-more-little girl. They leave overseas and I don't get to see them often.

                      Thank you for all your suggestions....I'll share them with mom and we'll figure out. IF you have any more...keep em coming!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Bibisa

                        I guess the one thing worth mentioning is the fact that you're only 30 minutes or so from a city with better restaurants than Paris.

                      2. MGZ: They will be in the city for days....but I live in NJ and have a crazy schedule....so I can't cross the river as easily as they can take the train (with no set schedule) and come to me. If I was in the city....there's at least 10 restaurants I can think of, off the bat, to take them. And actually, my first choice would be in Astoria, Queens.....Trattoria L'Incontro!

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: Bibisa

                          You could have them take the train to Hamilton, and have a cab scheduled to take them to the Grounds for Sculpture during the day. They can have lunch there and then take the train up to NB, and you can take them to dinner in Hopewell. a bit of zipping around, but a nice day overall.

                          1. re: Heatherb

                            Bibisa, after reviewing all of the recs, Heather's citing of the Blue Bottle Cafe to this writer strikes me as being the best option for you (I happen to love Du Marie in NB), but again.... (pick them up at the NB train station and the drive to Hamilton is but 20 minutes). BBC is but another 10 minutes (through beautiful country) from Hamilton to Hopewell.


                            If you're looking for a 'quality day' with your parents, combining an early dinner after a tour of the Grounds for Sculpture will make what fine cuisine the BBC offers even better (this on the presumption that your parents are able to leisurely walk the beautiful grounds).

                            You commented in your OP that you didn't have unlimited funds for a day in Manhattan. The BBC and the nominal admittance fee to the GFS will be memorable - trust me. You'd be hard pressed to have as nice a day anywhere here in Central NJ than by having these two venues in your itinerary.

                            Nevertheless, please let us know what you eventually decide upon.