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Everything posted by Casey

  1. Casey


    Went there with a group for lunch last Friday. We started by sharing as an appetizer a lunch portion of assorted sashimi, which was outstanding. Then, we all had different versions of the hibachi lunch--salmon, shrimp and steak. The chef did his show, which was a lot of fun, and great for a group (we were 7 people), and the food was excellent. Everything was very fresh, and the portions were more than ample. With the hibachi lunch, you get soup, salad, noodles and rice and ice cream for dessert. With tax and generous tip it was $15 pp. We will be going back! Casey
  2. Casey


    Rosie, Is this the same place that Toscana used the be? Casey
  3. We had dinner with friends at Trattoria Fresco last night, and had a wonderful experience in terms of service and food. The friends live close by and eat there quite a bit, and offered an explanation of the recent service woes. Rumor has it that the entire previous wait staff was let go and replaced with younger, less experienced staff. Last night was an exception, as we had a wonderful server, albeit a little over the top with his gushing comments. They were debuting their new fall menu. Bread and highly addictive breadsticks arrived promptly and wine opening and service was excellent. I started with the goat cheese dumplings in the most wonderful roasted tomato and olive sauce. Friends has the grilled romaine salad. My husband had what I think was a new dish--stuffed roasted peppers, which he devoured completely and quickly. One was stuffed with a crabmeat mixture, and one with veal, which he said was out of this world (he refused to share!). For entrees, two of us had a dish of alternating skewered pan seared scallops and miniature crabcakes, served over a multicolored sauce (I cannot recall what it was made of, but it was a wonderful mix of savory and sweet), served with a spinach and polenta tart. The other two had sardinian (sp?) pasta with large shrimp and big chunks of lobster. Desserts were the infamous zeppole with butterscotch dipping sauce (Rosie, I never thought they could live up to the hype but WOW were they good!), apple marzipan tart with dulce de lece gelato, and assorted berries with zabaione (sp?). Coffee was good, not great, but cappucino was very good. All plates were cleaned, no doggie bags! With tax and generous tip it came to $110 per couple. Overall, a wonderful evening. The only downside I can mention is that the floors were very slippery while walking on them (even before I drank the wine!), and I could definitely see that as an accident waiting to happen.... Casey
  4. Great idea for the new sign--even though I drive by all the time on the way to visit family (soon to stop as they are moving!), I always think you're lost as the first thing that catches my eye is Curly Stone. Hopefully, a new sign can help. From the PR standpoint, I know from experience that you and your staff do a fabulous job (and I've planned a lot of these functions) at group parties. There might be an opportunity to use this option to promote quietly through the corporate connection. Offer incentives to HR folks and event planners to have small to medium size parties there. You introduce a lot of people to your place at once which hopefully results in return customers. On the chain perspective, let me offer a different one, from someone classified as a DINK (dual income, no kids). If my husband and I are looking to do something other than take out at the last minute after work, I often don't consider a nicer restaurant as I worry that they'll be full and I don't have a reservation, so I go (dare I admit it) to a Bennigan's or a local thai or chinese place. I'd much rather go someplace like AAG in my area, but if that's a misconception about not being able to "get in", other people may make the same assumption we do. I've been out of the PR business too long (and I never did restaurants) to know what the answer is, but a good firm might be able to help with that. Casey
  5. Daniel: If you're driving from NYC, one thing that might help is that both restaurants are within walking distance to train stops. Sawadee in Metuchen is a stone's throw from the Metuchen train station, and Mie Thai is close to the Woodbridge train station (both NJTransit). Casey
  6. I don't think I have a favorite--it is a large menu and we tend to jump around and try lots of things! The two things we always get without fail (takeout or on site) are the vegetable spring rolls (I agree Rozrapp--they are done perfectly!) and the neau dau dow, which is crispy beef with a very hot dipping sauce. Is it our favorite Thai place? Hmmm, that depends. I actually like the food at Mie Thai in Woodbridge a little better, but only make it there when I get my hair highlighted down the street! I prefer Sawadee's convenience and ambience to Mie Thai, where the decor/feeling is a little too "strip mall" for me! Casey
  7. This is one of our staple places, to go in person or even for take out. They do a fabulous job, and I don't think we've ever had a bad meal there. What I also like is that they open up the large windows in the front so you can have an outdoor dining experience without sitting on the sidewalk. Rosie would know this better than I, but I believe they are owned by the same group that owns Pad Thai in Highland Park. But I like the physical space of Sawadee better.... Casey
  8. Is it even open? I drive by every day and it looks dark, and I walked by about two weeks ago and didn't see a menu or any hours posted.... Casey
  9. Actually, I remember reading an annual research report of wealthiest counties and Morris is the wealthiest county on average in NJ, and one of the top 10 in the country. I'm sure stores like Wegmans read similar reports and figure that into their growth plans.... Casey
  10. Rosie: I wish I knew you were an alumna when I was seeking a speaker recently! You may get a call from me in the future.... Casey
  11. That was a just a terrific article! And how nice that they found you though egullet! Curlz, I really liked the fact that you were able to bring out--that a "family" doesn't have to be what we traditionally think of for these types of events. Very "Sex and the City" ish! (my favorite part of that show was always the sisterly interaction between those four women). Food really can serve to bring all kinds of groups of people together.... By the way, I'm also in higher education--I'm assistant dean of the Graduate School at Montclair State! Casey
  12. Just got this email from Stage House Inn regarding the Today show tomorrow: We just wanted to drop you a note to let you know Chef Michael Clampffer of The Stage House Restaurant will be on Channel 4 NBC's The Today Show at 8:50am on Sunday May 30th. He will be doing a demonstration on preparing a meal on the grill, in keeping with the start of the summer season. Be sure to tune in! Casey
  13. I would use that type of gift certificate. I also like the prix fixe option. The restaurant in town where I live (Dans on Main in Metuchen) has a special prix fixe menu Monday through Friday year round, along with the regular menu. They've had it for about a year. We go there a lot, and typically I order the prix fixe, and my husband orders everything else :-) So, Dan seems to do well with it. Casey
  14. Had a wonderful experience at An American Grill today for a family event. We were 36 people in the separate room for my niece/Godchild's communion party. She's a "foodie in training" even at that young age, as she will try anything! This is from memory, which isn't always reliable! Started with family-style appetizers at each table: shitake mushroom ravioli in a shrimp, mushroom and tomato sauce that was heavenly, cornmeal crusted calamari, scallops and shrimp with a jalapeno dipping sauce, and mozzarella, red pepper and prosciutto. Even those who typically don't eat scallops were fighting over them--they just melted in your mouth. (Lou, any way I could get the jalapeno dipping sauce recipe?) After a choice of mesclun salad with shaved parmesan or caesar salad, entrees were steak with a gorgonzola cream sauce, loin of pork with cornbread stuffing and apples, rigatoni valentino, a chicken dish I cannot remember as no one at my table had it, and a pommery crusted salmon over a broth with leeks and mushrooms, which I had. The salmon was perfectly cooked, moist and fresh. They also made my niece her own special appetizer not on our party menu--steamed clams in a wonderful garlic and butter broth (I tried to bribe her to share a clam, but she wouldn't budge, but did let me dip bread into the broth with her afterwards!) Service was terrific, and we had a wonderful time. Lou, sorry we missed you, but hope you had a great, well-deserved vacation! Casey
  15. I just got off the phone with my Mom, who went to An American Grill last night with Dad and another couple, and she talked to me for 1/2 hour on the phone about the great experience she had. She could not stop talking about the firecracker calamari, the black sea bass with chorizo, or the soft shell crabs (which they said were the meatiest they've ever had. This was a gift certificate that was part of their Christmas present (I get them a gift certificate to a new place each year), and they said it was the best one ever, and I could just buy them there from now on! Thanks so much Lou. The whole family is going there on Saturday for my niece/Goddaughter's communion party, and I cannot wait. Casey
  16. Casey


    Rosie, that was my other choice I was contemplating for lunch today, but we got a late start and I was concerned about Church St area parking availability. I'm glad to hear they are open again! Casey
  17. Took my new staff member here today for lunch for her first day as a welcome (wanted to try Alan@Five94, but still not open, so I'll try that next month and report). This is a nice place for a quiet sit down lunch in the middle of a hectic day! On Rosie's recommendation, I started with the baby artichoke salad with shaved parm to start, which I really enjoyed, followed by one of their fresh homemade pastas (they have four fresh on the menu for lunch), the ravioli with spinach and ricotta in a butter sage sauce that was very good. My new staff member had a field greens salad with a lemon vinaigrette that was popping with freshness, and then had the orrechiete with broccoli rabe and sausage, which was very large and very good, and the rest will be her lunch tomorrow. Portions were good sized, so we skipped coffee and dessert, so our meal was VERY reasonable ($30 with tax before tip). I will definitely return, as I really want to try the risotto and the mushroom souffle! Casey
  18. Curlz, our paths may have crossed back in the day--I graduated in '88. And obviously, our culinary experiences didn't take away from our college experience, as I also work in higher education (now at Montclair State, but previously at RU, NYU and Cornell). Since I work on a primarily commuter campus now, I'm not sure of our student's dining preferences, but I know that at NYU and Cornell, the student feedback to dining, and subsequent menu changes, definitely leaned toward more healthy than anything I ever ate as an undergraduate (though I'm sure there's difference between eating while under the influence and not!) I smell a book of some sort--the Highs and Lows of the College Culinary Experience! Casey
  19. Yes it is. I believe the folks at Evergreen lost their lease (at least that's what they told patrons). I'm hoping this new place is a viable lunch option for me. My job doesn't allow me the time to go far from Upper Montclair, and the choices lately are limited. I liked Evergreen for lunch (I'm a "pesco vegetarian"), as they had good salads, grilled veggies, etc. Lotsa Pasta was another decent, fast option, but they also closed. I like Tinga Tacquria, but don't want Mexican every time I get out of the office, and I've never been a fan of the Balcony. Casey
  20. Rosie, the sign reads "Five94" instead of 594. I plan to try it on 3/22 for lunch, if they're open on Mondays and serve lunch, as I always need to find someplace close to campus on the rare occasion that I can get out for lunch. That day, I have a new employee starting and I make it a habit to take them out for a welcome, in addition to getting them out of the office on what is often an overwhelming day! Casey
  21. First, White Rose System, now this! As I approach the craziness that comes with a milestone high school reunion, more trips down the college memory lane! Helena, I too was at RU when the trucks were lined up on College Ave. And yes, two of the trucks parked further up near residence halls, Chi Psi fraternity and just before the dining hall, including Mr. C's Munchmobile! I ate part of a Fat Cat just once myself (in pre-vegetarian college days), probably under the same "influence" as the nights we traveled to White Rose. My husband, too, had many more experiences with them than I, with his fraternity brothers. I also seem to recall a truck called "Sunrise." The grease trucks have shrunk in number, and they lost some of their charm when they moved into the parking lot. They were a welcome alternative for burgers, sandwiches, bagels etc., instead of Brower Commons Dining Hall, as they were quick, convenient and cheap for starving college students. Now that I work on college campuses for a career, and have visited many, I haven't seen a phenomenon quite like them. I remmeber Greasy Tony's too ("no charge for extra grease!"). I think college students have now become more savvy in their food choices, and these places are a a dying breed, which is not necessarily a bad thing! Casey
  22. When we joined friends for the last dinner at Blue Sky, Sherry had mentioned that they expected to be back for some "special cooking events" at the new restaurant that took its physical location. Has anyone heard anything on that? Casey
  23. I would have bet someone a lot of money to say I'd NEVER think we'd be discussing White Rose System on this board! I can somewhat recall late night "system runs" while in college at Rutgers back in the 80s--"somewhat" as system runs usually happened after drinking a lot of cheap beer at fraternity parties. It used to be mobbed late at night into the wee hours of the morning with college students who probably should not have been driving, eating lots of those burgers and then infamous system fries. Years later, I don't know that my stomach could handle them! Casey
  24. A little postscript to my previous post.... One thing that does get me out to a restaurant during the week is something special/different. For example, I have dined at Fascino, Stage House Inn and Dans on Main during the week as they have offered weeknight prix fixe menus. Considering we often get takeout, and a decent amount of it (apps and entrees), these menus are not all that much more than the cost of takeout for us, and the difference is worth it. I have also been sent special "invitations" to some restaurants who have found me through other means (for example, I use a spa in the area and when they sent me a coupon for Valentine's Day recently, inserted in the mailing was a coupon for a free dessert or wine by the glass Monday-Friday at a local restaurant if we purchased an entree). An interesting thought to partner with other upscale businesses (Lou, I'm thinking something like DePasquale in your case). Sorry to ramble--my first career was in marketing/advertising and once I get started.... Casey
  25. Great thread, Lou! Its interesting to see how others respond for us as well! what night do you go out to eat and why? We primarily go out ot eat on Saturday or Sunday, as we both have crazy jobs and typically want to collapse when we get home during the week (we DO grab take out twice a week from local restaurants, though, and love that we have a diverse group to choose from in town). Do you drink more weeknights or weekends? I will typically have a glass of wine with dinner at home, but will usually buy a bottle when we go out on weekends (hubby doesn't drink, so its all me!). Do you prefer to dine as a couple or with others? If we do go out during the week, its just us, and on the weekend, we often go out with another couple, unless its a special occasion for us. Is anymore more apt to dine at restaurant with a liquor license if they waive the corking charge? No. We like BYOs, but will never think twice about going to a place with a liquor license, especially if they have a good reputation. How far will you drive to a restaurant on a weeknight? Weekend? On a weeknight, we rarely leave our town or the next one over due to the amount of choices, so I would say 15 minutes. Our foodie friends live about 45 minutes away, so we take turns eating in each other's vicinity, but we will drive up to one hour on a weekend. Casey
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