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Takeout, bakeries, specialty shops et al in Union County

We'd be grateful for recommendations for top-notch fare in the home-style tradition - not necessarily fussy, fancy foods, but takeout spots, bakeries, specialty-food shops and the like where the quality is high. If there's a restaurant that does home-style well, we'd love to know about that, too.
Any type of cuisine - be it ethnic or American or something showing the unique voice of the chef/cook behind the scene - would interest us. We're just trying to find sincere, homey foods of all stripes. Thank you for any help y'all can offer.

Nov 03, 2010
Cheese in New Jersey

Wine/Specialty Shops - Monmouth County

Spirit of '76 in Manasquan has a good selection of wines, an informed, helpful owner in Susan DiRenna, and just about the best prices around. Bottle Shop in Spuing Lake is too much about gouging to suit me.
Farmstands in season are the best places to buy produce - particularly Dorothy Turner's The Farm on Gully Road in Freehold Township and the Twin Pond Farm stand on Route 524 in Freehold Township (not so much the store on Route 9 in Howell). Also excellent: Clayton's Farm Stand on 537, just west of CentraState Medical Center. Out of season, the best produce is at Delicious Orchards, I agree; Sickles' produce is often old, always overpriced and not as well cared for as DO's. Thank DO producer manager Ron Gasway for excellent sourcing too - lots of local farmers' produce. Worth a look, if you're in way northern Monmouth is Dearborn Farms on 35 in Holmdel.
The best bakery is Flaky Tart in Atlantic Highlands, where pastry chef Marie Jackson presides. Sometimes the manager is cranky, but Marie's pastries are superb and technically correct. Also fine is Ye Olde Pie Shoppe in Little Silver, great for cupcakes, traditional cakes to order for birthdays and such. Nice, nice people. Mueller's in Bay Head is a truly fine traditional bakery that's worth a trip if you're looking for crumb buns and breakfast sweets.
For Asian shopping, check out the Asian Market next to the Crown Palace restaurant on 35 in Middletown. If you're looking to stock up on Asian pantry ingredients or frozen dumplings, it's great. Also go to the meat counter, the prepared-meats end, for good old Chinese roast pork for fried rice. I think the ground pork sold there is terrific and use it to make stuffing for lettuce wraps - it's usually about $1.99/pound.
if you're looking for a good natural foods market, with a solid prepared-foods section, check out Nature's Corner in Spring Lake Heights. Its produce section is small, but choice - as is its salad bar. Much, much better than either Dean's location, where you're always pressured to buy nutritional supplements and the produce sometimes is on the wane.
It's also well worth poking into the many Mexican groceries, particuarly in the southern Monmouth coastal (beach) towns, such as Bradley Beach. Abuelita in Bradley is modest, for sure, but has good queso, crema, mole and sauces.
Where are you moving to in Monmouth County?

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Flaky Tart
145 1st Ave, Atlantic Highlands, NJ

Crown Palace
1285 State Route 35, Middletown, NJ 07748

Sep 09, 2010
Cheese in New Jersey

High-end in Union County?

Thank you for these suggestions. Italian Pantry looks particularly appealing. We'll definitely try it when it reopens after its vacation. (Uproot is a little far afield for our purposes - I've been once and thought it a little overblown but worth a second look.) We'll get to the others you nice folks mention as well. Again, many thanks.

Sep 07, 2010
Cheese in New Jersey

High-end in Union County?

Aside from the very excellent A Toute Heure, is there a chef-driven fine-dining restaurant in Union County doing contemporary fare? Or non-cliched ethnic? It seems hard to find a worthy dining destination in this area - and I routinely take out folks who live here and cannot travel far. Chez Catherine is fine, but we don't want monthly repeats, and Boulevard 521 (I may not be remembering the number correctly) is unexciting. We've enjoyed A Toute Heure, but would like alternatives. Anything new we're just not catching? Many thanks for any suggestions.

Sep 03, 2010
Cheese in New Jersey

Tops in Union County

Seeking recommendations of restaurants from haute to humble, all manner of cuisines. We'd prefer ethnic that's authentic, originality in the New American genre. Thanks very much!

Jul 21, 2009
Cheese in New Jersey