The Skylark Diner on Rt. 1 in Edison makes terrific homemade corned beef hash - my husband gets it every Sunday morning!
I'm going to a an event there next weekend, and looking for a good but casual place to take my parents. Close to campus and easy to find is important, as we're not from the area. Any recommendations?
We went last night!
The space is really nicely laid out, so even when the restaurant got full, we didn't feel crowded. We were also fortunate to be seated at an "end" table next to a floor to ceiling wall of wine (nice place to be!). It is rare when each of us say that every course was terrific for all 4 diners, but that was the case here.
For appetizers, J and I each had the mushroom bisque special soup. This was amazing as it was a creamy pureed soup with NO cream, but was rich and delicious. It was topped with a dollop of creme fraiche (I think) and drizzled with black truffle oil. P had the Rucola salad with Baby Arugula, Fuji Apples, Smoked Bacon, Fontina, Walnut Vinaigrette (with walnuts that were candied). This was outstanding and my husband finished what she didn't (she was saving room for dessert!). R had the Carpaccio, Seared Black Pepper Filet of Beef, Arugula, and Lemon. I've never seen such clean plates when we were done!
For entrees, I had the Robiola Cheese Ravioli with Butternut Squash in a brown butter and sage sauce. All of their pastas are homemade in house, and it was light as a feather. Robiola cheese is creamy/sily when warm like a goat cheese, and it was both rich and light (I had the leftovers for lunch today). R had the Sicilian Swordfish, which was rated highly in the Times review, and did not disappoint. It was actually rolled and stuffed with Pine Nuts, Tomatoes, Olives, and Capers, and served over broccoli rabe--it was as good as the review said. The waitress told us that their fish was really fresh, and that definitely rang true with the swordfish. P had a special of lamb chops that she said was the best she's had (and my friend knows her lamb chops). R, not usually a big lamb fan, tasted them and also loved them. J had the short ribs special that he said was outstanding. At this point, I was so engrossed in my ravioli, I cannot remember how their dishes were prepared (although I recall that the lamb had pancetta). With the exception of my ravioli take home bag, all plates were cleared empty!
For dessert, I had the Vanilla Bean Panna Cotta with blackberry sauce, candied pistachios and lemon sorbetto. This was really smooth and refreshing after an amazing meal, and I really like the candied pistachios, which added a nice crunch to a smooth dish. Based on the glowing recommendation from the Times review, J had the Zucca, which is a butternut squash cake served with toasted pumpkin seeds and vanilla gelato--I know it was amazing as he said so and didn't offer to share it with the rest of us! R had his favorite sorbet in Passionfruit. P had the Tartaletta, which was a Dark Chocolate Cream Tart with Vanilla Crema with Chocolate Gelato. It tasted great, and had a marvelous presentation where the tart was on one side of a long rectangular plate, followed by a trail of the crema that led to the gelato. The boys had two double espressos each, and P and I had Tibetan Tiger tea (a wonderful tea with flavors of caramel, vanilla and cinnamon). They have a very interesting tea list, and now I am on the hunt to buy this tea!
During the meal, the boys drank soda and the girls each had one wine by the glass (a Sangiovese Merlot blend that was really nice). With tax and nice tip, it was $145 per couple.
The service was also outstanding. Our waitress was pleasant but not too eager, answered all of our questions, and was attentive without being overbearing or rushing. Our dinner was served at a near perfect pace. Water glasses were filled throughout the meal, and we were offered a choice of multigrain or ciabatta bread, which they served with an olive oil white bean puree. Oh, and they also offer an option not listed on the menu--you can order any of the pastas for the table as a 'mini course' between the app and entree, and they will split the pasta dish 2, 3 or 4 ways--since their pasta is homemade, that sounded like a nice way to incorporate them into the meal.
You can also eat at their beautiful round bar, which has a flat screen TV. I thought that would be a good option if you just want to go for a weeknight dinner and have only an entree. They do have valet parking on the Nielsen St. side of the restaurant for $8, but we parked around the corner in the Church St. deck for $4.50. The waitress indicated that they will have their next seasonal menu change later this month, so we're eager to go back and see what's next!