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  1. Right in your hotel is Copeland. Contemporary American, and probably the best restaurant in town, albeit one built for an expense account. The Grand Cafe downtown is lovely, but even pricier. Curlz mentioned Origin Thai, which was a favorite of mine when I spent a month on a jury. I also enjoyed lunching at The Artist Baker, an eclectic bake shop on Cattano, the side street that runs behind Century 21.
  2. I spent the better part of April in Morristown while serving on a civil jury. Two places stood out to me. Origin Thai II: It's a French-Thai restaurant that does a fantastic job of serving express lunches, yet if you want to take your time, they'll give you space and let you get work done. Nice variety on the lunch menu without it being overwhelming. We'll be going back for dinner one of these days (originthai.com/originthai2) The Grand Cafe: This is where all of the suits from the courthouse go, and you can tell. It's upscale to a fault, with plush and polish all over the place. The food is excellent, but you'll pay for it. I remember being particularly annoyed with a $3.50 club soda. About a penny per bubble (thegrandcafe.com). Give me a choice between the two, I'll go with Origin in a heartbeat. The Famished Frog (famishedfrog.com) is perfectly fine, but it caters to everyone, so there are plenty of moms lunching with their kids while running from Century 21 to Baby Gap. I wanted to check out George & Martha's but toward the end, the lunch breaks got shorter. And if you're ever there on your own, get a glimpse of the hot dog lady on the green. Lightning fast while still following everything in the Health Code. There's also a nice new bakery in town called the Artist Baker (theartistbaker.com) with great potpies and cute cupcakes.
  3. There are two steakhouses I usually recommend, depending on what people are looking for. A pure steak dinner? River Palm in Edgewater -- no question. Steak as part of a diverse menu? The Park Steakhouse in Park Ridge. Nobody in Bergen does the porterhouse for two better than the River Palm, and its Edgewater location is the best of the three. But I think the Park has the more appealing overall menu.
  4. Sorry, I should have picked my words better. The price is the same for both -- either the buffet or a la carte.
  5. South City Grill on Route 17 south in Rochelle Park just started one for $20, both for the buffet and a la carte and include unlimited mimosas and the like.
  6. The owner was hoping for a soft opening at the end of the month, permits pending.
  7. I live near Hot Rod's, and I want to like it, but I've never had an experience there that's -- what's the best word? -- complete. The kitchen always seems to be out of something Out of ribs once. Out of the sauce I wanted. Out of pulled pork once. That kind of stuff can happen at a barbecue joint, so no big deal. But it took three visits before I got to try their hush puppies. Each time, they said they'd run out the night before. And when I'd get takeout, I'd get home to find something missing. I started inspecting the bag before I left to save myself the return trip. Invariably, something was always forgotten by the kitchen. But it's a cool looking place with friendly staff. (And it's one of the only North Jersey spots that sells Route 11 potato chips.)
  8. For starters, avoid everything in that stretch of Route 17 and head inland two or three blocks. Just a few diverse choices off the top of my head in no particular order. I don't think any of these would disappoint you. -- After Athens and Eros Cafe (Greek), Rutherford. -- Daruma (Japanese and Korean) in Rutherford. -- Fiesta Hut (Traditional Mexican) in East Rutherford. -- Cafe Cafe (Latin) in Rutherford. -- Cafe Matisse (Contemporary American) in Rutherford. -- Martini Grill (mostly Italian) in Wood-Ridge. Note that of these, only Martini Grill serves alcohol. The rest are BYOs, although Cafe Matisse has its own liquor store. Matisse is one of the best restaurants in Bergen County and probably your best bet if you have a big appetite, a big expense account, and time to spare. In Carlstadt proper, the only worthwhile choices coming to mind are Tina Louise (pan Asian, downtown) and Gianna's (Italian, by the Meadowlands). I've heard good things about both, but I've never been to either.
  9. I'm not sure how well the outside can accommodate a group, but I like Osteria Giotto on Midland Avenue.
  10. The cost-cutting is explained in The Record's review, but I'd characterize it as justified. Short version: The building's ownership abruptly changed a year ago, ultimately resulting in a big spike in the rent. Tremble chose to chose to adjust and cut the payroll rather than move out. So Jack Mistretta, the executive chef, was replaced by Adam Weiss, the pastry chef. (Jack now goes by Giacomo and is executive chef at Napa Valley Grille in Paramus.) Dining manager Larry Dunlap was replaced by Tremble himself. (I think Dunlap is now at the River Palm Terrace in Fair Lawn.)
  11. The people have changed -- the chef and maitre d' of a year ago were let go in a [justified] cost-cutting move -- but the quality remains. Adam Weiss, formerly the pastry chef, has a good command of the kitchen, and owner Scott Tremble, pulling double duty as a host, makes you feel welcome.
  12. If you're looking for something a little more refined up that way, let me add these two to the list: || Pourquoi Pas?, an oft-overlooked French bistro in Westwood -- pretty much the only one of its kind in that immediate area. || Esty Street in Park Ridge, whose food I'd put in the same league as the Saddle River Inn and Cafe Panache. (The Record's recent review is here.) Also, the Cornerstone in Hillsdale is a decent place to grab a beer, order a greasy sandwich with fries, and watch a ballgame. They used to keep a sushi chef in-house (from Flirt in Allendale) but no longer.
  13. In the meantime, you can find Chef Toufayan at Cafe Amici in Wyckoff (www.amicicafe.net), where he's been flying under the radar for the last couple of years. The restaurant earned an Excellent review from Rene Mack with him there, and he seems very happy and content in his role. When Amici, Too opens, he'll be responsible for both kitchens, but I think he'll eventually spend most of his time in the Wyckoff kitchen.
  14. Your assignment is to buy one? You can't make one?
  15. My 4-year-old loves Panevino, just over the border in Livingston. Lively place with good kids meals. And the adult offerings are above average.
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