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Stage Left or Highlawn Pavillion


bp1123
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I usually take my better half to NYC for our special occasion dinners, but I'm considering staying in NJ this time. Any opinions out there regarding the food and atmosphere at either Stage Left in New Brunswick or the Highlawn Pavillion? Both menus look appealing & they both seem to be quality restaurants, but I'm looking for some recent reviews.

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I work in New Brunswick. Went to Stage Left for a celebration dinner in December. I thought both the food and service were excellent. If I remember correctly, my father and I shared a salad and they split it in the kitchen - the portions we received were huge. My mother got a garlic soup or something like that which was very interesting. I believe I had salmon for my main and it was perfectly cooked.

The menu is small (or at least it was for dinner) but the food was great and the service was polished and gracious. I definitely recommend it.

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Both are excellent, but very different. the atmosphere at HIgh Lawn is so grand - high ceilings, lots of gleaming brass around the open kitchen, and of course that incredible view. Stage Left is much mopre subdued and intimate. Their new place upstairs, Catherine Lombardi, is very attractive, with big stone fireplaces. The Italian fare is fabulous.

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One of my favorite restaurants is Highlawn Pavilion. The food and service are outstanding and the view is breathtaking. If the weather is warm enough, have a drink outside on the patio and enjoy the spectacular view of Manhattan. Have a great time.

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I agree with suzz that the restuarants are completely different. I haven't been to Highlawn in years, but I recall the food was not at the same level as Stage Left. Obviously this may have changed over the years. I do have to agree however, that the room and the view at Highlawn are beautiful. Those alone merit a trip for a romantic evening. That being said I would rather go to Stage Left for the evening.

Edited by bgut1 (log)
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The Highlawn Pavilion was caterpulted from the mundane

to the exciting following the advent of Exec Chef Mitchell

Altholtz. Do consider this a fine dining venue, not simply

a destination for its view, which can be spectacular.

We have had both fine and poor experiences at Stage

Left.

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  • 9 months later...

I haven't been on egullet for a long time, as I live in DC and prefer a local board that we have here. However, I am originally from NJ and still visit the parents, who live in the OFF (Old Folks Farms) in Central NJ.

They took us out for our 10th wedding anniversary about 2 weeks ago, and we chose Stage Left.

I had a mixed experience.

The negatives were mostly about the logistics. It was a bitterly cold night, and here we were with two elderly people. They waltzed us through a cozy interior room with plenty of empty tables, to the room where the wine is stored. A nice room in warm weather, perhaps, but very cold that night. My mother asked that they turn off the overhead fans, but they said that the fans were drawing the heat up. Well, the room never warmed up.

Worse - much worse - they allow people to exit that room through the door to the street. Blasts of cold air all through the evening. SHOULD. NOT. BE. ALLOWED.

Food - the mixed green salads were very good but skimpy (we split one, but even as one plate, it would have been skimpy). It was billed as a green bean salad. We each had two tiny green beans on our plate, under a bed of very fresh mixed greens and a very nice, light vinaigrette. Bread - sourdough or pecan raisin - was excellent in terms of flavor. Only very, very slightly dry in both cases.

We also shared the venison with the pomegranate reduction, which was fantastic.

I had been looking forward to - and saving my monthly "food indulgence" for the famed bread pudding with hibiscus sauce or the equally famed blueberry financier.

To my great disappointment, neither was available. We shared a dish that featured apples fixed three ways. Nothing memorable. Tiny little portions - again, even if not shared, these were tiny portions.

Now, we are both very careful about food intake - quantity and quality, so the small portions weren't a problem for us. And we are in the habit of sharing because in most restaurants, the portions are huge. But for most people, the portion size would be an issue. The real issue in terms of the portion size is price. We have lots of pricey restaurants here in the DC but they are good value for the money. We felt that Stage Left was overpriced - especially the wine - their markups are obscene.

This place could never survive in a more competitive environment. The food is good, but there is an apparent lack of concern for the diner's comfort and the value is just not there.

By the way - I tried reading the egullet and chowhound reviews before we chose this place. Most were very short on detail, which makes it hard to know anything about the restaurant. I encourage egulleteers to make their posts more detail-rich.

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