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    The Jersey Shore
  1. Frank - As you have realized, ocean county is pretty much a culinary wasteland. However, if you look hard enough you may find some diamonds in the rough. Some of my favorites include the following: Atlantic Bar and Grill in Seaside Park; Bistro 44 in downtown Toms River; and El Familiar also in Toms River in the Stella Plaza. Good Luck to you and don't lose hope.
  2. As noted above - we normally go ever year to Carmines. They like the idea of a nice crowd and family style meals. As far as drinks are concerned, they want a "happening" vibe with a "cool" room and prefereably a view. I've thought of doing either the Stone Rose or maybe Buddakan (albiet no view).
  3. Budget for the meal is $50 p.p. (give or take) exclusive of drinks. Sorry raji - the group mostly consists of females Otherwise a good idea.
  4. I want to thank Eatmywords for the wonderful suggestion of Ava Lounge. It was fantastic and my staff truly enjoyed themselves. We arrived a little after 10 (following Damon Wayans at Carolines - hillarious). What struck me about the place was its size. Its much smaller than I had imagined. The view and the "vibe" were spectacular. We were lucky to get our own little area below the picture window looking out at Times Square. Drinks were decent (the Key Lime Martini was a standout however) but quite pricey - a little shocked with the final tab. All in all a perfect night. BTW, the food at Carmines while not great was pretty solid (especially the porterhouse). ← My pleasure dude! ← Its that time of year again and I need help planning this year's dinner. My staff is looking for me to top last year and is finally willing to try another restaurant. Any recommendations dinner and/or drinks? Thanks.
  5. A fantastic choice. We went there for the first time a few months back and thoroughly enjoyed our meals. Clearly one of if not in fact the best restaurant in NJ. Enjoy your meal and your occasion.
  6. Thanks Al. The meal looks very good but I agree its not as visually appealing as the earlier gourmand menus. Would you still recommend it to friends? I'm not sure but I may switch to ala carte and put together my own tasting menu including the suckling pig and the muscovy duck. Your thoughts? I was really looking forward to an over the top gluttonous tasting menu with wine pairings. ← If you've never been to EMP, I'd still recommend the gourmand as worthwhile. If you've been before, and (like me), you don't dine in these sort of restaurants all that often, I might suggest trying someplace new. I think the ala carte approach might be a good way to go. Even if the food in the gourmand wasn't over-the-top gluttonous, the wine pairing (though not cheap) was pretty excessive and decadent. It's a lot of booze, and good booze at that. ← My meal last night (4.5 hours worth) was bar none the best I've ever had. This is quite the accomplishment having dined at most of the "best" restaurants in the country including the French Laundry, Jean Georges, Daniel, and Le Bernadin. Noting a few of the mixed reviews regarding the new Gourmand menu, I decided to compose my own from the ala carte offerings with wine pairings. The kitchen as well as the sommelier were very accommodating. The three best dishes and probably the best I have ever eaten were the foie gras torchon with brioche and foie gras brulee, the suckling pig and the muscovy duck. In a word PERFECTION. The weakest dish of the night was the lobster lasagne. Service was impeccable and would not hesitate rrecommending to anyone seeking a once in a life meal. Note to alwang - Chef Humm seems to have jettisoned the Foie Gras Lollipops and replaced them with the torchon. A good move as far as I'm concerned.
  7. Thanks Al. The meal looks very good but I agree its not as visually appealing as the earlier gourmand menus. Would you still recommend it to friends? I'm not sure but I may switch to ala carte and put together my own tasting menu including the suckling pig and the muscovy duck. Your thoughts? I was really looking forward to an over the top gluttonous tasting menu with wine pairings.
  8. OK - I'm getting a little worried about this new gourmand menu. I have a reservation for this Friday and was very excited about it before reading these comments. Should I cancel and go someplace else? Or maybe we can sub a few courses for proven winners (i.e. the duck)? I would appreciate the advice as I don't want to drop $600 for 2 with the wine pairings for a mediocre meal. Thanks all.
  9. I'm going in November to L'Atelier and thought to put together my own tasting menu as a number of the items on the Discovery Menu will not appeal to my DW (i.e foie gras, quail and veal). Of interest are: the langostine, the egg, the oysters, the aparagus capuccino, the potato confit with truffles, the tuna belly, the hanger steak or rib eye, the steak tartare, the chocolate and the tartes. Any advice would be appreciated.
  10. The menu - http://media.caesars.com/GetAttachment.asp...tachmentid=2302 We intend to try it before L'Atelier during our trip in November. I will report back.
  11. Wow that's right ... Irwin. He made the place. I hope he's still there.
  12. I was waiting for someone to talk about the Rockleigh as I didn't want to come across as being too biased. I had my wedding there back in 2000 and it was fantastic. To this date my friends and coworkers remark that it was the best wedding food they have ever had period. In second place I would have to agree with many poster that Crystal Plaza is top notch. Good luck.
  13. First and foremost, I must apologize to Nathan. Otto was nothing like I had expected. In short, the food and the experience were excellent. What a place. It was packed, vibrant and "hip". We had a reservation for 6:45 PM and were quickly seated in a nice table toward the back of the restaurant. While I consider myself an educated wine drinker, I know very little about Italian wines and was somewhat overwhelmed by their extensive selection. The waitress sensing my hesitation called over the sommelier who helped choose a wine flight for our table, which in turn led to a more wine being ordered. I enjoyed the wines tremendously and appreciated the spot on recommendations of the steward. Having read the Otto posts on this board we ordered the following items: a plate of Carni, a plate of Fromaggi, figs Agrodolce (recommended by our waitress to go with the cheeses), and two pizzas (the guanciale and the quattro stagioni). The meats and the cheeses stole the show. While I enjoyed the pizzas, they just didn't blow me away. In fact, I enjoyed the quattro stagioni much more than the guanciale (none of which that I could find on the pizza). As other people have previously posted, the accompaniments to the cheeses were fabulous. I just couldn't get enough of the truffled honey. I know I'm going to crave some more of it very soon. One thing to note is the omission of a bread basket. I have to have a lot of bread to truly enjoy the cheeses and the meats. Here you’re presented with several packets of bread steaks and a few slices of nice and crusty country bread wrapped in paper. I had to request more bread and again was presented with more sticks and another package of bread. I would have appreciated a nice basket full instead. The figs were okay but to me seemed liked an acquired taste. They didn't add to the cheeses and were the only item not finished on the table. We next moved to dessert and ordered a dish of olive oil gelato, a black and white and the butterscotch and banana coppetta. All were amazing!!! I have to admit being a skeptic about the olive oil gelato but it was the best gelato I've ever had. All the above being said, I will definitely return when I'm looking for a place to nosh and drink with friends. Is Otto a place to go for a full and complete meal? To me I would answer no however I don't think that's the concept the owners were looking for. Again much thanks to Nathan and the rest of you for the recommendation. BTW, we did follow Otto with a nice walk to Pegu and enjoyed several drinks there as well.
  14. Nathan - Thanks for the recommendations. BTW, what are contorini? I don't see it on their menu online nor can I find anything about it through a Google search. Thanks.
  15. Jessika - As I noted before, it is a matter of preference. While I enjoy Italian food, I don't usually go out of my way to eat it out. For me, I would rather eat french bistro fare than Italian. Again this is a matter of personal preference. Don't get me wrong, while a meal at Babbo and Del Posto might definitely do it for me, pizza or pasta no matter how good is not what I'm interested in (topping or no toppings). In fact if I had my drothers I would rather go to Una Pizza Neopolitana or Di Fara's for a pizza fix. But again its not my idea of a night out especially for a trip into the city. I didn't mean to offend the fans of Otto or Mr. Batali by my comments. BTW, I did take a closer look at the menu and did note the ingredients used on the pies. That being said it is STILL pizza. To some a nice plate of choucroute is just hot dogs with sauerkraut. It's all a matter of perspective as well as likes and dislikes. ← good luck and report back! with that said, I think you're misunderstanding Otto still. A. its very possible to have a good meal without ordering either pizza or pasta there. B. if you don't want to eat pasta when out...there's no point whatsoever in going to Babbo or Del Posto. C. if you don't wait too long..Ssam Bar is definitely the way to go... ← Nathan - I thought you might want to know that after putting it up for a vote the choice of my friends was Otto with a stop at Pegu (or PDT) afterwards. So I guess after all, I will get to see what you and the others are talking about. Any recommendations?
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