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Everything posted by jim07044

  1. I realize the banality of this question is like asking what is the best color Ferrari ... but I need help choosing a restaurant for a birthday dinner in mid March. Here are my list of contenders: BLT Steak Bobby Van's Del Frisco's Landmarc Minetta Tavern Palm Post House Peter Luger Sparks STK Strip House Wollensky's I want a great steak, big red wines, and a space that invites lounging and people/celeb spotting. Any recommendations?
  2. FYI ... from various web sources: David Felton, previously at the Pluckemin Inn, Bedminster, is the executive chef at Ninety Acres Culinary Center at Natirar, 2 Main St, Peapack-Gladstone (908-901-9500). In the Hard Act To Follow Department..... , the vacancy created at the Pluckemin Inn by the departure of long-time chef David C. Felton ranks high. (Felton has signed on with the much-anticipated Natirar Resort & Spa, the 491-acre Somerset County property being developed by Sir Richard Branson, head of Virgin Group.) But enough about these others. The arrival of executive chef Juan Jose Cuevas is a coup for the plucky owners of the Pluckemin Inn, Carl [passed Jan '09] and Gloria LaGrassa. A native of Puerto Rico and an honors graduate of the CIA, Cuevas has a stunning resume: sous chef at Lespinasse, executive chef of Blue Hill in Manhattan, opening chef of 81 in Manhattan, to name a few. But enough of resumes. This guy's food is pure rapture. His salads are much more than the sum of their parts, his pastas ditto. His slow-cooked duck puts most others to shame. His halibut with pancetta, whole-grain mustard and Sauternes jus is meltingly delicious. At lunch, he elevates fish and chips, hamburgers, and sandwiches to rarefied levels. And, having arrived this spring, he is just getting started. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natirar http://ninetyacres.com/ http://www.njmyway.com/index.php?option=com_wordpress&p=1381&Itemid=53 http://www.nj.com/news/local/index.ssf/2009/11/natirar.html
  3. The Montclair location is now open: http://www.baristanet.com/food/2009/12/a_smashing_star.php
  4. Here's my grand opening review: Ordered the Elevation Burger (double cheeseburger) with caramelized onions and a side of fries. The burger was cooked well-done (I was not asked how I wanted it cooked, so I presume the standard policy is to cook them all well-done) and it was dry and flavorless. The melted cheese and ketchup provided the only wet texture. This was disappointing, given the "better burger" expectation that comes from organic, grass-fed, free-range beef. Maybe if they could make the patties thicker and offer them cooked medium-rare with a seared crust flavor profile, then maybe I could taste a difference between "better beef" and McDonalds-grade burgers. Without some kind of distinctive "wow" factor in flavor/taste, I fear many one-time customers will tag this place as another yuppie spot for the Whole Foods demographic. The fries, on the other hand, were exceptional. I did not try the milkshakes or malts, so I may make another visit just for one of those. Note that they use fresh bananas and strawberries, but syrups for the other flavored shakes/malts ... can you guess which ones would probably taste better? The restaurant itself is located in a nice corner spot on Bloomfield Ave and North Willow St, but there is no restaurant-dedicated parking lot, and parking in Montclair is infamously limited. You can get lucky with on-street parking on North Willow St, or take a chance in one of the "tenant only" spaces in the parking lot behind the restaurant. The interior space is modern with lots of glass, and a nice quiet seating area is located in the rear.
  5. Just called the phone number. Person said their grand opening will be on July 28.
  6. FYI Five Guys doesn't pretend to be gourmet, organic (there are signs for where today's potatoes come from, but no info about where the beef comes from and how it was raised), or otherwise transcendant. What it does well is good burgers for a cheap price that are a step-up in experience from McDonalds and Burger King. All thats missing is a Presidental Seal of Approval. More info: Q: Why does Five Guys only serve burgers cooked well done? A: By cooking all of our burgers juicy and well done we are able to achieve two goals. 1. Insure a consistent product 2. Meet or exceed health code standards for ground beef We understand that there are varying opinions on what level a burger should be cooked for optimal flavor and our opinion is that our burgers taste best cooked juicy and well done. Q: Does Five Guys serve organic or free range beef? A: While our beef is neither organic nor are the cattle free range, our distributor purchases raw materials from the major meat suppliers in the US and they treat the cattle humanely and follow all the procedures set forth by the USDA. Q: Is Five Guys trans-fat free? A: Yes! All of our products are trans-fat free. Our ground beef, like all beef, contains traces of naturally occurring trans-fats but they are less than 0.5 grams per serving.
  7. Anyone been yet? Sublime 12 Lackawana Plaza Gladstone, NJ 908-701-1888
  8. Anyone been yet? Elevation Burger 367 Bloomfield AVe Montclair, NJ 973-783-8000
  9. I did a search and could not find any previous posts, surprisingly, since some locations have been open for over a year. I've been visiting the one in Wayne off of Rt 23 (just past Burger Deluxe) and have also visited the one in Watchung. Excellent burgers IMHO, highly recommend the "double" instead of the "single." Fries are hand-cut in-store and cooked in peanut oil. Newest location opening in the old Olympic Store in the Upper Montclair village.
  10. Is there a website? Menu? Do they have savory crepes (egg/ham/cheese)? I've been driving up to Greenwich's Meli-Melo for my crepe fix ... a NJ location would be much more convenient!
  11. Who will be the lucky customer to get the last AHD dog?
  12. I'll throw out a few more places I found: Plat Bleu at the Delano Sandwich-Wise Maison D'Azure at the Astor Hed Kandi Lounge (features molecular gastro menu) Apple Restaurant & Lounge (Miami outpost of Los Angeles restaurant) BLT Steak at the Betsy If anyone has been, please post your review/thoughts. BTW: I'm from Jersey, home of Italian restaurants, so the last thing I want on vacation is more Italian food!
  13. It seems much of the action has moved over to the downtown design district. I will only be on the beach for three days and two nights and prefer to find dining within walking distance of the south beach area. What new restaurants are worthy of a visit? I see OLA just received a Golden Spoon award, 8 oz Burger and Meat Market got good reviews, and Loftin's 1116 Ocean gets you access into the Versace home. How are older places, such as Prime One Twelve (ate there in '05), Barton G (ate there in '05), Blue Door (ate there in '05), Nemo, and Sushi Samba (ate there in '05) doing? I've never been to Big Pink and feel as though I should. I think I also saw a good review for the bar food at The Setai. Any suggestions?
  14. jim07044


    Bring your laptops and post a review with photos before you leave!
  15. Its been open since September, yet I haven't read any reviews or heard any buzz about it. I hear its a restaurant and after-dinner lounge for the over-30 crowd. Please post any info, reviews, etc.
  16. To borrow a quote from Yogi Berra, "Nobody goes there anymore because it's too crowded." There used to be a time when these festivals were a fun way to get up close and personal to rising and seasoned professional chefs. Now, thanks to national media attention, they have become convention-sized parties that attract B-list celebrities and the party circuit crowd. So if you want a party with a food theme and the possibility of appearing on Food TV or Ocean Drive's Shot On Site, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival may be fun for you. But if you want to get some face time with local/national chefs to "talk shop", you might be disappointed.
  17. I'm planning a trip to South Beach in March '09 for my 40th birthday, but I am holding back for any possible deals on hotel, air, and restaurants for that timeframe. I am reading about some Miami restaurants that are seeing a drop in revenue, but then others that report they are up (the uber wealthy keep spending, it seems). What can I expect for March '09 ... do the ultra wealthy really keep all the high-end hotels and restaurants busy, or is there room for negotiation and discounts? I'm thinking about staying at the Raleigh and dining at places like Prime 112.
  18. I think the space is doomed for bad luck. Someone should raze it and start over with a more interesting architecture (windows! rooftop deck!) and proper parking lot. And does the area really need another italian restaurant?
  19. A buddy of mine recommended John's Meat Market in Scotch Plains (haven't been there yet, so I can't personally confirm).
  20. "around Wayne" Check out South City Prime steakhouse, just on the other side of the river from Hooters (Rt 23). According to their website, they are open for business.
  21. I walked past Martini Bistro (and La Campagna) on my way to Restaurant MC that night. MB's main bar was packed, but the secondary room was almost empty (I guess thats the one you were in?). La Campagna was also packed full of diners that night. Read my comments about Restaurant MC. Whoops ... wrong weekend ... sorry.
  22. Had some snacks and drinks there tonight. Place was packed (8:00 pm). Sat at the upstairs bar, watched the Patriots vs. Jaguars game on the flatscreen and also projected on the wall in the next room. Cocktails were excellent (try the nutty pear!). Mussels and fries were good. Had to have the signature cheesecake lollipops (fun!). A little pricey but I'll be back when I want a hip and upscale night out in Millburn.
  23. Looking for a nice, new-ish, bar for meeting friends for happy hour drinks. If anyone has been to the upstairs bar and lounge of Verona's Giambotta, this is the type of atmosphere I'm looking for. West Orange, Maplewood, Millburn, or Livingston towns only. Any ideas?
  24. I just had my first visit to SRI this past weekend and thought the food was excellent. I had the foie dish as a starter and it was the best foie I've ever had, perfect with roasted pears and fall vegetables. I had the filet of beef for my main course, and it too was among the best steaks I've ever had, with a classic bernaise sauce. I tasted the chateaubriand from a friend's plate and it was very good as well. Yet, the desserts did not impress me. I had the passion fruit tart, and while well-made, it did not "hit the spot." I was very surprised there were no chocolate items that usually follow steakhouse menus, such as a molten chocolate cake or creme brulee, either of which I would have happily enjoyed that night. Is the SRI's menu dated? Sure, but a kinder description might be "classic." As long as the food is well prepared and service is excellent, SRI will continue to find customers for special occassions. Its not going to be an everyday destination and maybe its owner doesn't want it to be.
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