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Posts posted by ELA

  1. Not sure if you are looking for this kind of place -- but there is a Bahama Breeze next to the Willowbrook Mall. I discovered this place in Orlando and they finally opened up one in Northern NJ.

    Nice place, nice environment, good food and drinks, and good service. I've been there several times in the past two months. I sat inside for dinner and outside for appetizers and drinks. Last time I sat outside they had live music.

  2. Had lunch here this weeek. As always, very good. I've been to this place several dozen times, so obviously I like it. This time I had the NE clam chowder and the shrimp parmigiana sandwich. I am not a fan of the soup. It's a little light, not creamy and a bit watery for my tastes. However, the shrimp parmigiana -- every single time, always good. Other times, I've had the shrimp salad (sandwich). I've had other dishes as well, all of which I tend to like.

    This is a quality fish market and had expanded to a restaurant. If you are ever in Maywood, try it.

  3. I've gone back there since my initial visit. Yes, it is one of the very few places I can enjoy a cigar, a drink, food, etc. During the spring/summer, maybe even into the fall, there's a few places where you can "smoke outside" -- patio, outdoor seating, etc.

    However, for the most part, unless I want to go to my cigar club (private, member-only) and while alcohol is certainly allowed, they do not have a full-service bar. Nor do they have a restaurant. So, I might clutch onto a place where I can enjoy a cigar. The Porter House in Montvale is one, and now Jamie's is another. I can sit at the table, eat, drink and smoke.

    So, my second visit was as good as the first. Again, we just had appetizers -- and they were good. Interesting menu -- from chicken fingers, to calamari, to fried ravioli, to the entrees of veal saltimboca, different cuts of steak, pasta, fish, etc.

    The place was more crowded this time, and yet the service was still very good. The staff is attentive, they clear dirty dishes, empty glasses, etc., and they want you to enjoy yourself.

    I'll head back again . . . and again.

  4. Doesn't seem to be as much activity as usual, so I wanted to try and spark a little interest here. I had made somewhat impromptu plans a few weeks ago, and was really in the mood for a cigar, so I ended up at Jamie's.

    On my first visit, there was a nice crowd for the Yankees game. Nobody was happy with the outcome, but that's a different topic. LOL. Seems to be a decent amount of regulars, which isn't a surprise as there are only a couple of places in all of Northern NJ -- yet alone the entire state of NJ -- where you can smoke.

    When you enter, the bar/room/space to the right wasn't being used. Nice space though. To the left is a small, nice dining area, space for about 10 tables or so. My initial thinking was that this was the non-smoking area, but I wasn't sure. However, later on, there were people sitting at these tables, eating and smoking. Perhaps at a certain point they allow people to smoke in this room. I also thought that if this room was smoking, then the room to the right was non-smoking, but again, I am not sure.

    After you walk through this space, you enter a very large, nice bar area with a nice, long bar. This is a very nice, large space. Plenty of seats at the bar, high-top bar tables, and a casual area with a couch/sofa, chairs, etc. This was a large room, almost with a feel of different spaces or areas -- near the bar, away from the bar, couch/sofa, etc. There were plenty of flat-screen TV's of different sizes -- every single one showing the Yankee game!

    This room is for smoking -- and there was plenty of it. A real cigar-smoker's haven. There is some sort of ventilation system, so while you get a nice aroma from the cigar(s), you don't get bad clouds of smoke or a massive amount of lingering smoke. Nice, attentive staff, although the bartender -- an excellent bartender -- also seemed to be waiting on (at least some of) the people who were seated at the tables (along with other staff), so he was running around quite a bit. Regardless, service was very good. They were attentive, clearing the table of dirty plates, napkins, etc.

    We had a couple of appetizers and a sandwich. The fried ravioli was good, nice taste -- stuffed with sausage, broccoli rabe and cheese. The fried calamari was good too -- not overly or heavily fried, and not "chewy" so to speak. I also had the steak sandwich, which was excellent. It was nice, thinly sliced steak -- good flavor, not stringy, chewy or fatty, and instead of melted fontina cheese, I got it with mozzarella. Excellent sandwich. We didn't have any entrees and many of the people/tables seemed to be having (multiple) appetizers. As mentioned before, service was very good.

    Overall, I liked this place. I will certainly go back.

  5. Hi

    Would you share with me and others what you consider "Fine Dining"? To me -- places like The Saddle River Inn and the Dining Room at the Manor are fine dining.

    Customers dress well. Food is impeccable. Table service is done by professionals. Place settings --- hardware, china, glassware --- are high quality. Wine service is is 4 star whether they have a wine list or not.

    I love Blu in Montclair but I would not call it "Fine Dining".

    Love to hear.


    I agree -- fine dining is about the food, the service, ambiance, environment, tone, etc. You can find excellent food in a "dump" of a restaurant, and you can find poor food in castle.

    That said, I think The Manor, Highlawn Pavillion, The Saddle River Inn, and others, fill the order for fine dining. Sure, this could certainly be subjective, but for example, when I am looking for "fine dining" and I want steak, to me, The Assembly (Englewood Cliffs) was always fine dining. Excellent food, service, ambiance, etc. To others that place might not be, or might be lacking in certain areas. Some might say the same thing about The River Palm.

    Regardless, thanks for the comments, good thread.

  6. UPDATE --- Debate aside, now they are closed. About 5 days ago, the owner(s) called it quits. Told the neighbor he wasn't making any money and lost a great deal in the past 9 months.

    It's a shame as the place was a nice little place. I had stopped in once and taken food home. Good dog, a couple of nice sandwiches. The location, this strip mall is like a wasteland, oddly designed. The Japanese restaurant that was there before, Sono, was very good -- it's just the location!

  7. I was in the area, meeting up with friends, etc. -- so I got the entire group to go over to Irving's. It was super. I had been there many times and always enjoyed it very much -- both stay there and take out. The best part is that I've been in the city a lot and recently have gone to my "big three" -- Katz's, Carnegie, and Stage (yes, I know there are others), so I had a recent and "fresh" comparison.

    This is very much like a "best steak" discussion. I think it's no different than ice cream -- some like chocolate, some vanilla, and so on. That's what Baskin Robbins has "31 flavors" so to speak. I also think much of it is the experience. There is nothing like walking down the street and walking into Katz's, Carnegie or the Stage Deli in NY, waiting for a table, the ambiance (or lack thereof, LOL), the aroma, and everything that goes along with the experience. It's conditioning and enticing to the senses, at least for some of us, LOL. NY deli's are very much about the experience. NY is NY and that says it all. If you only like NY deli's, because of the experience, you will probably not find a deli outside of NY that can duplicate that.

    Anyway, Irving's was super. Everybody got everything -- pastrami, fatty, lean, brisket, corned beef, a combo, knishes, hot dogs, you name it -- we got it. I tried a little of everyone's, OK, a lot of everyones. Everything was excellent. In my opinion, this is a great deli for NJ. I am not saying it's better than the "big three" or worse for that matter. It's different. But in my opinion, it's an excellent deli. The pastrami I had, my own and others, was super. Flavorful, tasty, a full bodied meat that hit every tastebud. The fatty serving was just the right amount of fat to add the flavor you were looking for. The leaner version was cut so well that you felt you were getting more flavor even though there wasn't a lot of fat. Sure, it's in your head to an extent, but that's part of the experience. The corned beef was excellent too -- it was cut well, wasn't overpowering, but full of flavor.

    Of course there are other deli's, some very good deli's, a very few excellent deli's. It's about what you like, don't like and so on. If we are using the best NY deli's as a comparison, some will think Irving's and perhaps a couple of others in NJ are "as good" comparitively speaking. Others might not think so. To me, Irving's is an excellent deli, period. Food -- yes, the food is excellent. I like it. Some people like Luger's and some people like S&W. Steak and experience. Irving's is a NJ deli so it's different than the big three, primarily from an experience perspective. Food though, to me, it's in that category. Not better and not so much worse that you think it's second tier. Just different. Bottom line, Irving's is an excellent, top category, highly ranked, have a great time deli.

    Go there, try it. Enjoy.


  8. Fine dining and Orlando are hard to put in the same sentence. But I really liked this Japanese restaurant. Pretty close to the convention center. Elegant - and not inexpensive. IOW - not your normal tourist trap. I haven't been in about 4 years - so I would check current reviews. Robyn

    I've been there numerous times -- pretty much each and every time I visit Orlando. It was rated (perhaps by Zagat's) as one of the top sushi places in the US. I don't remember where I read it but I do think it's on their website.

  9. My recent meal at the Ravenous Pig was very, very memorable -- soulful, original gastropub food. Dishes that stood out: Texas redfish with mustard spatzle and roasted brussels sprouts, and fried chicken livers with a ridiculous chicken liver pate. Amazing. And fantastic house-cured meats, and cocktails. The menu will probably be super different in June, but I'm sure it'll still be totally awesome. :)

    Yes, agreed. I enjoyed this place on my last visit to Orlando.

  10. I am a regular at several places -- none of the ones we are talking about here like Rao's or Il Mulino.

    First, it was never my intention, goal or motivation to "become a regular" so to speak. I liked the restaurant, obviously a lot, and as such I went back a lot; and like any relationship, a familiarity developed -- me with them and them with me.

    Second, I have never expected anything in the way of complimentary food or drink. Never. When a bartender buys me or my party a drink, or the restaurant buys us dessert or our after dinner drinks, whatever -- it's very nice, but I have never once expected it. Being that I never expected, I was never dissappointed when it didn't happen, and of course I was pleasantly surprised and it made me feel good when it did happen.

    Third, after becomming a regular, do I expect anything? Yeah, I guess I do. I like to be recognized. You don't have to run over and kiss my ring, but a quick "Hello" or acknoledgement makes me feel like you are going to care about me and my experience. Sure, that should be the case with everyone, but if you feel that in advance, it adds to the mindset -- whether the experience goes well or not ironically. I expect to get a nice table, or at least not a smaller table -- one with more room than less. Perhaps a more quiet location, closer to this or further away than that. More importantly -- if I am regular -- servers, bartenders, staff, everyone, they all know that I tip well; especially if I enjoy the experience. There's a bit of a quid pro quo there, but this is a service industry. To the restaurant -- more importantly -- I am an ambassador. If I like a place, everyone I know will not only know about it, but chances are most of them will dine there, probably with me, LOL. But they will go and the restaurant of course loves that.

    A mindset of good feeling, good experiences, and all that comes with it -- it can be circular and contagious.

    Thanks and great thread.


    PS -- if anyone is a regular at Rao's or Il Mulino and wants to teach me how to get a reservation, I'd be interested in learning, LOL.

  11. In the days before computerized reservations and the internet it was apparently possible to present oneself as a regular and get some special attention.  My father was particularly good at this.

    He and my mother owned a jewelry store in Cleveland and used to come to New York on business once or twice a year, and if there was a restaurant he wanted to try, he would approach the maitre d' with a certain degree of familiarity and say something along the lines of, "I'm sorry we didn't call ahead, but it was such a long day, and you know how much my wife loves the stone crabs.  She just had to come here tonight, so if you could squeeze us in, we don't mind waiting.  We'll just sit at the bar and have a drink."  The worst that could happen would be that they wouldn't get a table, but surprisingly, this ruse often worked.

    Once the restaurant manager came out and said, "I'm so sorry doctor, we don't have your usual table tonight, but let me take care of your drinks, and we'll have another table right away."  He never found out who the doctor was that he looked like, but he managed to hold up appearances through dinner.

    That was your dad!!! Geez, I had been looking for the guy who took my table.


  12. I would think it would help at Rao's. Il Mulino.

    I realize this was meant tongue in cheek, but it's worth noting Rao's for a moment. The only way to eat at Rao's is if you're a regular or a guest of a regular. So nobody really knows how non-regulars are treated. It makes the analysis difficult.

    I was a regular at Il Mulino for about a year in the late '90s, when I worked downtown and had the budget for that sort of thing. I'm not sure there's any food benefit to being a regular there. It's just easier to get in. But you get offered the same stuff as everybody else, and you pay the same.

    Agreed. Regarding Rao's, we all know about the "condo" kind of thing. I am not sure if it still works religiously that way today, but it used to. I know one thing -- I am not getting in, LOL.

    On Il Mulino, you know, at a certain point, I don't think it's about free food or comps. Yes, when the restaurant buys me dessert, or an after dinner drink, yes, it feels good to be appreciated and that counts for something. However, at a certain point, for me, being a regular is simply having people remember me, give me a personal "hello" kind of thing, and most of all -- simply getting in.

    I don't call in favors and try to get in to a place "now" or tonight. But if I want to go to Il Mulino a few weeks out, it's a bit disconcerting to have to jump through hoops, call someone, call a friend, etc.



  13. By the way -- Christini's is one of my favorite restaurants. Great food, great service, top notch all around. Everything is excellent. I truly look forward to going. An excellent experience in fine dining.

  14. I'll give you another one -- one you have got to go to -- a real experience!!! I was there in January.

    Taverna Opa -- I had never heard of it. Not that it's uncommon that I never heard of a place. Someone down here said this restaurant has a few locations in FL. I can't speak to the other locations -- but this place, in Orlando Pointe . . . HIGH ENERGY!!! Big Time!!! Stroll in, get seated and get ready for a party!!!

    Big place, a few different rooms, and the main room is the heart of all the action. You've got big, long tables in the middle of the room for groups with big #'s, tables on the outskirts of the room up against the walls, a couple more rooms with more tables next to the big room, and very nice outside seating area -- almost cafe style. Very nice.

    You've got high-energy music playing, some with a Greek flair -- and you better -- how else is the belly-dancer going to get her groove on!!! Then, you have the staff doing the Greek version of the horah throughout the restaurant, grabbing patrons by the arm and prompting them to get up and join them!!! Then, you have staff and patrons DANCING ON THE TABLES!!!

    This place was great!!!

    OK -- right -- the food? Yes, there was food. LOL. The food was very good. This place has their version of the bread course -- hot pita served with hand-crushed chick peas, garlic and oil (done in a mortar and pestle right there, tableside). It was very good. A very nice touch. From the appetizers, right to the entrees. Everything was very good, traditional Greek, not cookie-cutter or fast-food'ish at all. Really good food.

    Check this place out. I would certainly go back. Here's the link:




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