Tiamat's Profile

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As long as you are all aware, as far as I know, it's still in Lambertville and not all that new I'd highly recommend it. I was just there on March 28th and the fish was fantastic. Their soup of the day is typically amazing. It's BYOB so take an extra 10 minutes to walk a block north to the wine store and you'll feel even better about the value:


Apr 06, 2014
Tiamat in New Jersey

Lambertville-New Hope Restaurant Week, March 16-21

Thank you for this.

I happened to be doing some gift shopping today and parked in front of Triumph and remembered this post. If my wife and I were going together, or I had more time, I would have at least called D'Floret but I was in a sit at the bar and order quickly sort of mood. Triumph isn't my favorite restaurant in the area but I do like to support anything forwarding craft beer. For $20, three courses and a beer with generous portions was a good deal. Given that it was across the Delaware and part of a restaurant week I don't want to make it a Triumph review.

I hope we can go back during the week to try something else.


Mar 17, 2014
Tiamat in New Jersey

Coffee Shops

In central NJ I can only think of a few places that are successfully competing with the better coffee places in NYC or longer established coffee towns like Seattle and Portland:

OQ Coffee in Highland Park has good pour over coffee and they roast their own (with an emphasis on fair trade, etc.). Their espresso drinks are good. Seating is limited. Their straight espresso is good for NJ and seemed to be getting closer to places like Gimme Coffee, 9th street espresso, Stumptown, etc.

Hidden Grounds in New Brunswick also has good pour over coffee of different kinds. Lots of seating and many outlets for devices everywhere. I can't comment on the straight espresso. Parking is a challenge here. (The beans are good, but they don't roast them. Not a problem for me...)

Rojo is a great place in Lambertville and they have a new place in Princeton. Good coffee but seating is almost non existent. I've liked their milk based espresso drinks as well. If you go out to Lambertville they have a bit more seating and you can see their roasting operation first hand.

If you're really looking for the people watching (or eavesdropping experience) go to the larger Small World in Princeton. I'm not going to say much about the coffee - people I know like it. It's better than what you find in many places. Their iced green citron tea is great in summer.

Feb 11, 2014
Tiamat in New Jersey

Destination Dogs

About parking: half a block away is the parking deck above the Fresh Grocer. If you buy at least $10 worth of stuff (at the Fresh Grocer) they will validate free parking for up to three hours.

Nov 04, 2013
Tiamat in New Jersey

How to get "free" drinks (not spam.)

I'm a middle aged guy who often, surprisingly, finds my drinks are comp'd. My wife is pretty and looks younger than I do and she doesn't get this benefit -- partly b/c the expectation is that guys buy girls drinks. Still, people ask me how/why I get so many free drinks...

How to get free drinks:

Sit at the bar -- you can order food here too and can get good service. (If you follow all the advice your drinks might not even appear when you sit at a table.)

Go to a restaurant/bar that doesn't measure by electronic and/or measured stoppers, and avoid chains...

Go early or late so that they come to know you and not the crush of folks behind you. At least once or twice a month.

Be friendly, but don't assume that just asking the bartender's name or saying 'bro' will earn you points. (Don't ignore or forget the name either, provided you hear it -- be subtle.)

In addition to going there somewhat regularly, ask the staff about themselves. Are they studying for a degree? What shows are they looking forward to? What tattoo artist is best around here? What new wines/beers are coming in and why? Carefully -- IF not this, what are they hoping to do? *Avoid sports*. Even most of the guys probably don't care a bit as much as you do!! Really!!

**Show some appreciation for their knowledge. If they know beer, talk about hop schedules, etc.. If they know wine, talk about varietals, regions, dry vs semi-sweet, etc.. Ask their advice, and be honest about how their advice has helped you. They let you taste and X and you didn't care for it, tell them 2x more times about how much you appreciate the *Y* they let you taste and you then went on to order.

Don't be impatient. They will get busy. If you are sitting at the bar, they will get busy with orders for the seated tables. Just wait.

Don't try to be slick or flirty!

If you are respectful and give a nod to their understanding of their profession you will find drinks disappearing from your check!


PS ALSO, be sure sure to tip AS IF you got all of the drinks you ordered. Maybe add a bit to compensate if they bought for you at cost to them (still small, but a cost). Even if I tip at 25%-50% on the theoretical total I'm ahead vs 20% on the actual total.

PPS the bottom line is be a nice and genuinely friendly person. If you aren't getting free drinks already, maybe you aren't as nice as you think you are. :)

Aug 01, 2013
Tiamat in General Topics

D'floret: Chef Dennis Foy brings upscale French/Modern cuisine to Lambertville (and the price is right)

We were fortunate enough to be in town when demand for reservations was low and we able to secure an early table.

I would echo the OP's and subsequent general comments about the space, service, commitment to quality freshly sourced food.

Our experience included a mushroom soup that was wonderfully light and foamy, but with deep layers of flavor. (Umami sense for lack of a better description.) My dining partner loved it and even shared some with me.

A greater surprise was the Haricot Vert salad. The beans were nice,fresh, and crisp, but more impressive -- the combination of beans and dressing was pleasantly aggressive and nicely seasoned. It was salty, acidic, sweet, and supported by a complicated mix of fresh herbs, but also shallot, marinated tomato, truffle oil, etc... If the typical salad were a Pale Ale or (worse) a Heineken, this was a Double IPA. Like a Stone Ruination of green bean salads. (FWIW, my father would claim it was too salty, but I am a huge proponent of salt as a flavor enhancer and I think people who can't stand salt need to communicate that as they order. /end rant.)

Entrees were also extraordinary. My fluke, which I ordered out of a mixture of optimism and curiosity (having had OK fluke before), was *perfectly* cooked. It came out with a bit of a crust, and I immediately assumed, as a thin cut, it was overcooked (as most fish is, IMHO). Instead the inside was incredibly delicate, soft, moist, etc.. I should add that it came as *two* fillets, and was a great value for the money.

My wife had the lobster pasta which, true to description, was nearly a lobster bisque tossed with pasta. Having said this, the lobster wasn't a passing ingredient in the stock -- I'd guess she had half of a medium lobster in her dish for only a $5 supplement over the base entree cost.

Service was very welcoming without being smothering or uncomfortable. We have dined in all levels of restaurants, but when we are out on adventures we appreciate it when a restaurant doesn't dismiss us because we aren't formally attired.

Because it's BYOB we were able to share a bottle of wine for less than what we might spend on a single glass further north.

Overall, my new favorite restaurant in either Lambertville or New Hope.

We will make reservations and come back fairly often.


PS My only nitpick is that the menu listed wild Alaskan salmon, but the waiter said, upon clarification, that it was steelhead. Trout and salmon are related, and there are many different varieties, but I can say that steelhead is not wild Alaskan salmon. There are salmon I like less than steelhead, but steelhead is IMHO pretty much inferior to real wild King, Sockeye, even Chinook, etc..I suppose it is sometimes better than farmed pacific salmon. (Therefore, always better than the bland Atlantic salmon (99% farmed -- don't be fooled by 'Scottish', etc..).)

However, In an age when true fish identification is a such a problem, mis-communication doesn't help, IMHO.

Mar 30, 2013
Tiamat in New Jersey

IS there any Good Sushi?

Yes. 100%. done.

The confusion comes with the difference between 'sushi' and sushi. Many people are looking for the dragon/monkey/butterfly roll with seven type of fish wrapped around cold rice. I am truly happy for anyone if this is what they really want from sushi because it's all over and will be for a long time. It's at the mall.

What I look for first in sushi is quality rice and egg: is the rice warm to room temperature? Is it seasoned with vinegar and some sweetness from sake or sugar? Is it properly cooked and neither mushy nor tough? The egg -- is *it* properly seasoned and cooked with delicate layers and sweetness? If it's prepared and cooked for a chef/restaurant before service and all of their (5) fish are pre-cut for them I'm suspicious if open minded.

That's technique. Is the chef open and happy to talk about how he/she buys fish and how often, and how he assesses fish? Is he happy to educate, or is he suddenly unwilling to admit that he speaks English?

I have twice tried something called 'salmon' in Piscataway at a decently rated sushi place, and both times it sure didn't feel or taste like salmon. I'm from salmon land. I know what farmed salmon feels like, and what almost all varieties of wild salmon look and taste like. This wasn't it. It was *super* chewy. This goes back to trust. How can you trust your chef if he doesn't know his fish?

If you want to pick an NJ sushi place, it's probably worth going to sush yashuda, or sushi of gari, etc, in NYC to have a starting point. I can't afford Masa or I would report back. Having harped on sushi, I can say the Jo Sho on cedar grove was OK, as was Ajihei. MoC C or whatever was soul crushing last I tried it.


But, yes, Get to Shumi if you can drive there in a reasonable amount of tme.

Mar 08, 2013
Tiamat in New Jersey

Northern NJ church ladies who make pierogies to raise money

I don't know about that church, but there is a church on Maple Ave. in South Plainfield that has a pierogies for sale sign, "just call or ask sign" that I always find interesting.

I've had homemade pierogies from women from eastern Europe, but for my time, money, and GI safety I'd rather go to Clydz's for their happy hour deal on them.


Feb 21, 2013
Tiamat in New Jersey

French Fries!!!!!

Sorry Joe, I'm the wrong guy to ask. :)

My wife and I are both pescaterian (fish and veggie only in intent). They have a shrimp and alligator sausage I was going to try until I did some research and realized that alligators aren't as primitive as I thought.

I tried their 'sausage' and it's ..... OK?

At least they tried. It's not a tofu pup. I just found the texture unappealing, and it falls apart b/c their isn't a firm casing.

I wish they had a seafood only no other meat option. I think it would appeal in a college town. But they didn't ask me. ;)

Feb 21, 2013
Tiamat in New Jersey

Where to find Veggie dumplings with spinach dough in NJ?

I think H-Mart is a great idea. 'Veggie' *if* it equals vegetarian is tricky with Chinese food in the US. (With packaged goods you can read the label.)

There are all kinds of vegetarians/pescaterians. I am the "I try my best, but if someone misunderstands me and it's already dead it's not my fault, so I'll try my best to eat it if I can" kinda guy. I know other people who sincerely feel it's like cannibalism so they have to be super pure. If you are in the latter group you might have to avoid dim-sum unless you go to vegetarian specific restaurants. [There is one in Chinatown (NYC) that I know of.]

In my experience, if you dig deep enough even fish and vegetable dishes, especially those which are dumplings, often have pork or animal fat. I go to dim sum and love it, knowing that I'm trying my best to avoid the stuff I don't eat, but if it ends up there, *shrug*, I did my best. (BTW - same thing with Thai, and why have thai if you don't enjoy fish sauce, imho.)

I also have shoes with some leather and coats with some down. I drive on roads that suffer from dead dear, skunk, groundhog, and other roadkill. I eat grains that are harvested that kill tons of insects. I don't think anyone is pure. I just try.

In short, authentic Chinese vegan/vegetarian is possible, but unlikely in NJ. You have to search out the outliers in NYC.


Feb 19, 2013
Tiamat in New Jersey

French Fries!!!!!

I love fries -- but only if they aren't battered in anything.

At the risk of sounding ridiculous, have you tried a 'Five Guys'? Don't even get withing 5 feet of the doors if you or family have a peanut allergy, but I think their fries are great. They also have cajun seasoned fries.

More local and less chain -- you might try the belgian style fries at Destination Dog in New Brunswick.

If you get to Philly try the belgian fries at Monk's.


P.S. Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick has good shoestring and steakfries at a good price.

Feb 19, 2013
Tiamat in New Jersey

*ANY* suggestions in Princeton-Skillman-West Windsor?

I just happened to stumble on this, and to have some time to type something out. I'm a critical eater but not an extreme foodie, but still I spend a lot of time between New Brunswick, NJ and Princeton, NJ, and otherwise traveling around the state.

There is some good news and some bad news here, I think for NJ in general, and Princeton in particular. You will be able to find good Indian and Italian within driving distance, as well as some pretty good "foo-foo" places. A quick look at your recent post history (3 seconds) suggests DC, so you will even find a decent Ethiopian place up in New Brunswick (Makeda). There is, IMHO, one good Japanese place in Princeton (Ajihei), but you'd be better off treking out a little bit to Shumi in Somerville, NJ (not far).

IMHO, you won't find good Thai, and whether you will find good Mexican is a kind of existential debate about just what authentic Mexican is, and how downscale you have to go to get it, if you can even get it there. (There's lots of TexMex cheesy stuff around.) Princeton has Tortuga's, and if you have an interview or vacation in the area you might try it out. (That's a neutral comment not an endorsement, but it might be your best bet in the immediate area.)

Indian: Up route 27 from Princeton you have some south Indian places like Dosa Grill (even Udipi Cafe) that are more popular with actual asian Indian folks than are places in Princeton, with are more northern Indian and college oriented (parents/students). Those places on 27 are actually also very affordable. If you can get up to Oak Tree Road area in Edison/Islen you can get some real Indian food in one of the densest Indian populations in the U.S.. It is a rapidly changing scene.

Italian: Mom and pop places are all around NJ (some good!), but you probably want to come up to New Brunswick to Due Mari.

Foo-foo: Princeton is/has been famous for these places that are expensive but not great. Some that are arguably good: Eno Terra just north in Kingston and Elements just out of town in the other direction. Just north are Due Mari, Stage Left, Frog and the Peach, etc., in New Brunswick.

You didn't ask about what Princeton might have that one wouldn't necessarily expect. I will swim against the crowd and say, check out:

Blue Point Grill. Expensive, Yes. However, if you have a craving for very high quality fish, simply prepared with nice sides, try here. It reminds me of high quality Northwest seafood restaurants -- all about decent portions of very high quality fish, carefully prepared.

Family/American food: Harvest Moon has beerpub fare. Alchemist and the Barrister patio or bar isn't horrible and they have some decent beers by the bottle.

[I'm editing this note: if you care this much about food, Princeton has the advantage of easy access to both NYC (via the NE corridor train) and Philly (by public transit or car.) We also have some 'destination' restaurants within a pretty small state. If you need something on a weeknight basis, I think I've given my 2c. If you need to know that you won't be trapped for weeks on end in a food wasteland, worry not!]

Jun 08, 2012
Tiamat in New Jersey

Due Marie, New Brunswick

I wholeheartedly agree with all of the positive reviews. Their spaghetti with half a (small) lobster is fantastic. Pasta is made fresh in house and cooked properly.

For anyone who who want to visit on a budget, they have half-price bar thin-crust pizzas during happy hour which are excellent (~$5.50). Two light eaters can share one for a meal, or maybe add a light appetizer in addition.

Jun 06, 2012
Tiamat in New Jersey

How much do people associate "Asian food" with spicy? (And other stereotypes about Asian food)

Lol. Yes, I do type and reply too quickly for my own good.

Feb 12, 2012
Tiamat in General Topics

How much do people associate "Asian food" with spicy? (And other stereotypes about Asian food)

It's funny, but since you mention Connecticut I think it's regional.

In my part of central NJ most "Asian" is actually Indian food for Indian customers. Which is great for chowhounders in the know. And it often has a bit of spice. (Meaning, my white grandparents would faint.)

Still, I'm not sure even here among white folks people realize that India is on the sub-continent of Asia.

While there is at least one very good authentic Chinese place here (if you know the manager/owner and they sign off), most 'Asian' is what everyone else notes as fake takeout dishes and 'Japanese.'

My complaint about ignorant perceptions of Asian food around here isn't that it is seen as 'spicy'*, but that Asian food is mostly 6 kinds of mild old raw fish rapped around cold unspiced rice, with a center of mayonnaise and horseradish with yet another chum quality fish. And, if you don't throw up in 12 hours your are incredibly cultured and adventurous.

*My second complaint is that people around here seem to think that good Thai food consists of flat noodles, pan fried, with some dried hot pepper flakes thrown in, in severe moderation.

Having vented about all of that, I know that most people in the northwest US haven't really experienced decent Italian or Ethiopian food, etc.. So, we are probably all ignorant in our own ways....

Feb 11, 2012
Tiamat in General Topics

Daryl wine bar really reopening v2

I guess I am still on the email list, and from the following message it seems daryl is reopening soon:

As a previous visitor to, and valued customer at, Daryl Wine Bar & Restaurant, we would like to let you know that we are re-opening!

We will be sending out further updates over the next few weeks

Twitter, etc., confirms.

When I last checked, they had a dinner menu, and some stuff going online, without prices.

If they bring in half-price wine at happy hour, and small plates at the bar I'll come back.

If not, I most likely will not.


Daryl Wine Bar & Restaurant
302 George Street, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Oct 26, 2011
Tiamat in New Jersey

Is Daryl in New Brunswick not dead?

I walked by last week and, though we had a thread and we all guessed the standard 'closing for renovations' was just restaurant speak for we are going out of business, it seems that Daryl may actually be coming back.

They have a posted and approved construction permit with floor-plan that details how they would/will expand, the wine shop looks somewhat stocked, and the outside seating is back out but tied down as if they are preparing for summer service.

So, does anyone know if they might be coming back, and if SO, are they coming back with the same chef/service/menu, or will there be some new approach?

Look forward to any NB gossip.


May 08, 2011
Tiamat in New Jersey

Frog and the Peach behaving badly.

I was also there on Sunday for an early Valentine's day. Our waiter and sometimes bartender (L.... for those who visit F&P often), was excellent, efficient, personable, discrete, attentive without being interfering. She was perfect. (And I've noticed that she is pretty much a perfectionist at the bar as well.)

Having said this, I can note: I have always liked the F&P, but within the last years or so I've had a particular waiter who gets on my last nerve -- I suspect it's the same guy who is up-selling these tables.

I think there is just a bad seed in an otherwise good organization, and I don't know why he hasn't been ejected. Maybe he is someone's relative, or maybe the management is reluctant to punish an employee based on too few people who complain. And, that might be reasonable: some customers can't be satisfied. (Maybe I should have complained.)

In any case, if you like the Frog and the Peach and don't like the waiter, the most effective way to send a message might be to make a reservation for a future visit and insist that he not be your server. That would signal that you appreciate the restaurant, and are not just a negative person, but that you have a significant reason not to want to deal with this joker.


[I've never been a waiter, but my reason for discussing customers who can't be satisfied is based on my last experience at Stage Left, where the jerk at the next table, between loudly explaining to his date how wealthy and powerful he was, sent every single plate back to the kitchen because something or another didn't set well with him, and once he did it twice. It was clear that he liked the drama and the power.

I don't for a second believe this is true of the OP, but I also don't doubt that managers deal with randomly difficult customers frequently enough that they might not take a single complaint as seriously as those of us who are sane customers might hope they would.]

Stage Left
5 Livingston Avenue, New Brunswick, NJ 08901

The Frog and the Peach
29 Dennis St., New Brunswick, NJ 08901

Feb 16, 2011
Tiamat in New Jersey

MoC MoC Sushi, Princeton

It is good to hear that there are at least three of us who care about such things.

It's hard to explain this to native North-Easterners, but I can say the parallel would be if someone from Seattle said to you, I know the best Italian restaurant in the U.S., and it's run by two Norwegian guys who live in Ballard, WA and their best sauce is a tomato base with tamarind and five spice.

(Yes, Yes, I know Batali's connections to the NW, but if you have ever lived in both NYC and Seattle you will understand what I'm saying.)

'Authenticity' isn't everything, and it is often overrated, but whereas we laugh at folks who don't know Italian food from Olive Garden, I'm alarmed at how many don't recognize Japanese and/or Thai food // vs. Chinese + (Raw Fish OR lots of hot peppers)


Feb 13, 2011
Tiamat in New Jersey

Daryl Wine Bar - New Brunswick - CLOSED

It is too bad in a couple of ways -- As a wine bar they were great (at least the last time I went). I'm one of the people who stopped going once they abandoned the small plates and took a more conventional approach. After the change I felt it wasn't a very good deal for the price, and I'm occasionally willing to pay a fair amount for a fine dining experience. I understand that they felt the need for a direction change, but I know others who agree with me that the specific changes they made were detrimental.

Let's just hope that the remaining high end (and upper middle) places in New Brunswick weather this storm.

Jan 26, 2011
Tiamat in New Jersey

MoC MoC Sushi, Princeton

Sunday lunch is a very hard test for a Japanese restaurant in general (or any restaurant), and having been stuck in Princeton for late lunch, I felt this would be an interesting experiment. I've been meaning to try this for awhile, and today I had an excuse. I haven't tried enough, or often enough, to say that I know the place well, but given my experience they are, for NJ sushi places - "OK". Worthy of considering.)

What "OK" means is that the fish is fresh, the eel tastes as it should, the miso soup is generous if not anything better than good (good is better than decent). OK is pretty good for central/south NJ, so take that for what it is worth. (Also, as parent suggests, tea is extra, as is everything beyond what is spelled out.)

Pluses: The fish smells and tastes clean and fresh. (I mean that as a high compliment.) They mention some rare and/or wild fish I wonder if I should have tried.
Minus: *RICE*/miso soup was just OK

I'm sorry, but why is it *so* *so* hard to get decent rice as a base for sushi here? Dense, cold, unseasoned.

I hope it hasn't changed, but Shumi is my remaining standard for acceptable sushi in central NJ. [Actually, the place on Cedar Grove in Somerset is not bad, as I reconsider.]

Incidentally, my wife is more open-minded to non-traditional Japanese food than I am and thought the transformer roll was very good. I truly respect that judgement for people who have palates and (very good) tastes that differ from mine!


Shumi Restaurant
30 S. Doughty Ave., Somerville, NJ 08876

Jan 09, 2011
Tiamat in New Jersey

new Hmart in Edison?

Amen! The single first thing I care about a fish market is freshness, and the second thing is selection. When I consider fish markets in central New Jersey, the Hmart is the first place that didn't smell fishy, had fish with clear eyes (or fresh swimming fish), and a wide selection. I'd love to learn of another.

I grew up in the pacific northwest, and we have markets where the fish on the ice came in at 5am, and you know exactly what you are getting.

The only catch (no pun intended) with Hmart (among 50 types of fish), was the kind labelled Wild Salmon. I'm pretty damn sure it is not. I'm sure it was bought as wild king salmon but the color was all wrong. The country of origin was Canada where there is a lot of Salmon farming, including a bit of farmed Pacific (king variety) fish. But, the color and size and texture didn't look right to me. If you doubt my scepticism just check the last nytimes genetic tests of salmon up for sale as 'wild'. I don't blame hmart directly, although I wish they would spot it, but the distributors around here are apparently taking advantage of any outlet they can. (I've seen it all over central NJ.)


Dec 18, 2010
Tiamat in New Jersey

new Hmart in Edison?

I didn't make the connection, but on some subconscious level my wife must have: we were deeply enjoying the soup and she said 'you remember when Bourdain did that Korean soup/food thing', and having a generic memory problem I said, 'What?', and she she said, 'That's part of the real reason I wanted to come in here. To try that soup.' Proof I married a good woman! :)

Dec 18, 2010
Tiamat in New Jersey

new Hmart in Edison?

I also stumbled into the new tofu place (Tofu House?) to the left of hmart, and I was really impressed.

I can't speak to the authenticity, b/c I am new to the cuisine. I mean, I've had Korean before, but not enough to judge at that level. Having said that, we were the only two non-asian people there during our stay (not a basis for judgement in itself) and the rumbling I overheard from others there seemed positive.

I thought the self-described traditional pancake (with soy dipping sauce, and lots of scallions) was great, and the texture very pleasing. It was also generous in proportion!

There were two of us and I got the seafood tofu soup and my wife got the mushroom tofu soup and we were thrilled. They tentatively asked if we really wanted mild, and when we politely insisted that we loved spicy foods they delivered(*). They also delivered other complimentary appetizers: kimchi (which I enjoyed, but due to my cabbage allergy I could only have one peice); cucumber in a vinegar/red pepper sauce (almost quick pickled?); bean sprouts w/ sesame oil and salt, and iceberg lettuce salad with a little creamy peanut dressing. The soups were very hearty with lots of tofu, in my case mussels, clams, and shrimp with head and shells on, and in my wife's case at least three types of mushrooms, including oyster mushroom. It was spicy, but balanced, with the broth taking the underlying characteristics of the accompanying ingredient. [This opposed to spicy thai soup which can also be very balanced but is much more about spice/sour/salt(fish sauce)/sweet in significant proportion.] After you-tubing the dish, I now know it is customary for this to come out boiling in the traditional ceramic container, and this experience was completely in line with that.

Thanks to Jester99 I now know why the eggs were sitting there and I may use them next time.

The décor is really pleasant. A lot of light wood, with several booths in the middle separated by spiralling planks of wood. It seems setup for family meals, group meals, as well as couples on the 'left' side and front of the room. Hate to have to mention this, but since it often isn't the case, the bathrooms are very nicely designed and cleaned *including* the men's room.

I found the service to be a little green, however, everyone was incredibly nice, and we had three different people ask us, when they had a moment, if everything was OK and if we liked our food. Very eager in a good way. They don't yet have the credit card machine setup, so if you go *bring cash*, for now. As for service, the ambiance is, after all, family oriented, *good* casual food, and not fine dining. I don't expect some kid to fill my water whenever it's down to 2/3 a glass, etc.. What makes it complicated is that they are using a multi-teaming strategy, so you don't really have one person who is responsible for you. Good and bad. Overall, the level of concern for our happiness won me over, and any glitches are easily overlooked.

I feel pretty confident with chopsticks, and did fine with the thin metal ones provided, but I am relieved to hear that I'm not an idiot in admitting that it took a little more attention to manoeuvre than I'm used to, but I actually am very re-assured by the metal that they are seriously and effectively sanitized. I'm happy to accept that over disposable, etc..
Anyway, I'd encourage you to check out the Tofu House and post an update about what you think!


(*) I love Thai food and often find that we are victim to the assumption that the white couple that says that want spicy food doesn't really mean it, and we get the bland dumbed down version. Sometimes if you stick it out as a regular you get what you're looking for, but that's a drag. On the other hand, some other places (cough, 10 yrs ago at Pad Thai, Highland Park) places drop the nuclear bomb (with grease) to disguise untalented cooking. This place was careful but respectful of our wished. A nice balance. [I do realize that thai restaurants probably get sick of stupid people asking for hot food and sending it back, but it's a shame 'we' have to pay for those peoples' mistakes.]

Dec 18, 2010
Tiamat in New Jersey

Last Minute Thurs 12th San Juan Aniversary

Thank you both very much.

Just based on the food reviews I was really intrigued by Allium, and probably would have leaned in that direction if it weren't such an 'event' meal. In this case I weighed setting/room/scenery/service (and the, err, 'safety,' of the choice) a bit more heavily than I normally would. Both sound as if they would be great experiences.

So, I made reservations for Inn at Ship Bay.

I will come back with a review, but most important:

I deeply appreciate the help!


Aug 09, 2010
Tiamat in Greater Seattle

North/Central Jersey Private Room

It may be too late for your party, but you might consider Steakhouse 85 in New Brunswick on Church Street. They aren't inexpensive, but they're not outrageous either. (Their private room is back behind the bar area.) The food is good, and the despite the name they have many seafood options. Strict vegetarians may have fewer choices, but I know that they will make their wedge salad without bacon, etc.. They have vegetable side dishes that are good and fairly large.

Aug 07, 2010
Tiamat in New Jersey

Last Minute Thurs 12th San Juan Aniversary

For reasons that could not be predicted, happily, we will be spending our 15th anniversary in the Seattle area, and since the plans are so sudden I asked my wife, how would you like to spend it? The answer: let's take the ferry out to the islands and have dinner out there.

Great. But, we haven't been out in over fifteen years, and we (I?) only have days to get this set up.

What we would like:

1) A setting worthy of the occasion(view), but not necessarily formal. We can do formal (we are in the NYC area now), but it's not required or even desired.

2) High quality, non-gimicky food. Local/garden fresh/Day-boat out of water, etc., etc., is great.. We don't need anyone to prove they can out French anyone -- we've done that. We also don't want to Pan-Asian the food to death -- if you have great salmon we want to taste the salmon, not just the sesame and soy, etc.. However, we appreciate any style in moderation!

3) Maybe you can give us advice about which islands, even, are better given the ferry schedules going in and out, and the ability to get to the restaurant, activities and sceneries. We can likely borrow a car if necessary to visit any of the 'venues'.

Given our timeframe I will be greatly in debt to anyone who has a response in the next day or so, but whatever your response, if you end up at our restaurant at the end of our meal and are around the bar I will buy you a beer, glass of wine, or some cocktail or another!


Aug 06, 2010
Tiamat in Greater Seattle

So Plainfield, Dunellen, Plainfield: Eatery & Farmers' Market Suggestions?

I apologize.

I came home in a bad mood and decided to sit down with laptop before calming down, so you have an exaggerated and misdirected reaction there. The tone came off as Tony Bourdain, and while I find him funny, I don't, personally, want to be an ass.

About the beer profile, in my experience it's one of the better places for bottles in NJ, and if it weren't I wouldn't bother. I will gladly take it over every PBR/heineken/sam adams pusher around here. And the state makes it no easier with its restrictive alcohol licensing.

I hope we agree on 'notable within the state as among the very best'? :)

I still hold the line at short of one of best in country.


PS as for farm to table it might be another chance to mourn the Ryland Inn at its best, which served up *day* *fresh* produce from their own vast garden for their seasonal tasting menus. I remember going during tomato season, and it was one of the best dining experiences of my life. My wife had the vegetarian, and when I asked about swapping dish or two to have the traditional tasting without beef or pork, Craig Shelton counter-offered a Fish-and-veggie specific tasting menu, which was one of the more memorable dining experiences of my life. Good times.

Apr 19, 2010
Tiamat in New Jersey

So Plainfield, Dunellen, Plainfield: Eatery & Farmers' Market Suggestions?

Brian, I understand on an emotional level what your are addressing -- NJ is under-appreciated for what it is. I defend it vehemently when I'm out of state. People don't understand our diversity or local cultures. And when I say 'our,' I say it as someone who moved here from out of state 15 years ago, and has come to understand parts of the state, and feel somewhat at home here. (I'm still a half-stranger, neither here nor there.)

However(!), if NJ wants to cling to the distinct food personality of Burgers and Dogs and whole in the wall places with folding tables that are hard to evaluate for those who aren't in the know, we are in real trouble. (Or even the bagels, pizza thing.) There is nothing wrong with becoming more cosmopolitan. And I'm not knocking the South American places, I am thinking of Mexican on 27 in New Brunswick which people somehow assume is authentic, but I had a co-worker find processed cheese on some thing or other. It wasn't inauthentic b/c of an absence of clients who should know better, and it certainly wasn't for the non-existent white clients(!), it was just economics and adaptation to new supply chains, economies, whatever. BTW - I'm also not knocking folding table working class joints -- we have great inexpensive indian places all up and down rt 27 in north brunswick with no personality or decor but great food, so I get it.

And I shop at least once a month at that beer/wine store, b/c my wife loves the Unique thrift a block over, and I'm here to say it's not bad, but it sure isn't best in the country territory(??). They have a decent selection of bottled individual beers, but the refrigerated stuff is tame except for maybe Stone Ruination (overpriced), or whatever, and I heard a worker just 3 weeks ago completely blunder the difference between a lager and an ale (I don't think he knows what yeast is or what it does during fermentation)-- forgiveable, I guess, but he spoke so authoritatively I almost interrupted him so the customer could understand the error.

I know what you mean about the chain thing here. It's a 'democratic' problem. People go on and on about good Thai or Mexcian food in NJ, and most of the people writing have never had either. (BTW - I make the same point to many people in the northwest about Italian food!!!) I've had Thai food cooked by old Thai immigrant women for other Thai diners. If I hear one more person talk about how great Pad Thai in Highland Park is I will pull my hair out. (Just as, no, Johnny Carinos or whatever is not the best Italian in the U.S..) I've also seen Marita's in NB recommended as great real mexian food. Thankfully, you can find decent dim sum in central nj. ;)

If I have an emotional response it is b/c the original poster (as he points out) wasn't an outsider judging 'US', he was trying to find decent stuff in walking distance of a relative's house. And he was unfairly singled out.

And if it sounds like I bagged on NJ for *our* beer ignorance, well, I *am*. Instead of saying forget the beer problem, let's go to Texas Weiner II, I say, let's keep fixing the dang beer problem.

I look forward to checking out your book when it's returned to my library. I assume you support stuff like the irritatingly portland style farmers' market in the rutgers gardens, etc., :P

And for the record, if anyone assumes I'm an arrogant pr*k for judging the things in NJ that need improvement, I have learned a lot about how little I knew about Italian, Ethopian, Indian, Jewish, foods here. I'm the student and if I ever had a Pacific Northwestern friend go off on how great their local Spaghetti alla puttanesca was at their Appleby's I'd go off on that too.

Sorry for the rant.

Apr 18, 2010
Tiamat in New Jersey

So Plainfield, Dunellen, Plainfield: Eatery & Farmers' Market Suggestions?

I would hate to weigh in if anyone knows more than I do, and I live close but know little about the specific walking area. But, since no one else is jumping in, I will offer some opinions.

Unfortunately, I don't think you're staying in a foodie or beer-loving neighbourhood. I've come to appreciate central new jersey, but it has some weaknesses. Food, increasingly, *isn't* one, but beer remains a problem in many areas.

I hate to be repetitive, as I recently just posted some similar suggestions in a Piscataway bound thread (on the south border of where you are staying), but it *is* close to where you will be located. Spain Inn on west 7th, technically piscataway, but on the rt 28 side, and Northish, so closer to South Plainfield, has decent paella. Not world class, mind you, but good. And they have good bread, and I'm really judgemental about bread. (They also have a bar, but it seems to be a local 'drinkers' bar -- no judgements -- but not my scene.)

If you can easily get over to centenial ave in Piscataway, Chand Palace has good Indian vegetarian food. It is very popular, and you might be one of the few non-Indians there, but I always take that as a good sign.

For beer and bars, you might want to save up for a cab ride to and from New Brunswick. Harvest Moon is a true Brewpub -- they are forced to offer some tame stuff for New Jersey drinkers, but I consider their IPA to be a truly decent example (and I'm from Seattle). They have some other more adventurous styles, occasionally, (Belgian styles, Imperial Stouts, etc.).

For other beers on tap you might want to try Old Bay in New Brunswick, but in October they go Lager Heavy. Still, best variety around I can think of in the local area, and they almost always have something out of the ordinary. The bartenders there are great, and really know beer, as well.

Failing that, Steakhouse 85 usually has one to three interesting things on tap, and they are a hundred feet up from the old bay (on church street in new brunswick). (Happy hour has 5 oysters for $5, and a crabcake sandwich for $4.5)

I hope you get more encouraging advice!


Chand Palace
1296 Centennial Ave, Piscataway, NJ 08854

Spain Inn
1707 W 7th St, Piscataway, NJ 08854

Apr 17, 2010
Tiamat in New Jersey