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Recommendations for Things to Purchase at Trader Joe's

Never really looked at cheese there...thanks for the heads up...

1 day ago
ELA in Chains

Texas Roadhouse, Holmdel

I hear you. Agreed. While some of those might be "upscale" chains, personally, I don't consider Morton's a chain per se. Technically, OK, sure, I'll give that to you -- but IMO, it's not your stereotypical chain. Perhaps it's due in part to it being upscale, or there is a presence of "ownership" or management that has a real vested interest (as Capital Grille does), or something else -- but to me, those are very nice, very good, high quality places (CG, Morton's, The Palm).

As far as a steak, for me, if I was interested in having a steak, I certainly wouldn't select TR, but I wouldn't select Outback either. If I want a steak, I am going to a real steak place. I would absolutely select CG or Morton's.

1 day ago
ELA in New Jersey

Texas Roadhouse, Holmdel

No, not when I was there...I didn't see that, LOL.

1 day ago
ELA in New Jersey

Texas Roadhouse, Holmdel

There's another thread on TR, and I think a nearby location was mentioned, here:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/987818

I've been to a few of their locations -- FL, NJ, others. I am not a big chain-guy, but I am not anti-chain either. I have occasionally seen an anti-chain mindset on this and another food website. Even more extreme, I've occasionally seen a hatred toward chains.

That said, I don't have disdain for or a hate for chains, LOL. Where I live, like many places, there are tons of chains -- Chilli's, Friday's, Houlihan's (fewer and farther between, and certainly not as popular and good as they once were in my opinion), and so on. They've been around so long, re-invented, re-branded, etc. themselves, and to some extent, IMO, it's the same old same old. I am just not a fan of the stereotypical common chain. If I am out running errands, it's convenient, and there's nothing I'd like more nearby, sure, I would hit a Friday's or a Houlihan's for lunch. It serves the purpose at that moment.

IMO, not all chains "are bad" so to speak. There's a few I like.

As far as TR -- the locations I've been too have been good. IMO, better than the typical attempts at pub grub or glorified pub grub (like at Houlihan's, Chilli's, etc.). Maybe there is a novelty aspect of it, as I don't go often, and perhaps it's a "change of pace" kind of thing -- but the experiences I've had at TR were good. There seemed to be very good value IMO -- from the happy hour/specials, to the regular specials. Service, I specifically can say, was very good. Maybe it was these locations, but there seemed to be a theme of good service whenever I went there.

If there was one near me, I am not saying I would go every week, but I would certainly go over other chain choices and I have no problem going at any time now.

1 day ago
ELA in New Jersey

Wayne, New Jersey

In my opinion, the Taphouse Grille (in Wayne, on French Hill Rd. I think).

Oct 28, 2014
ELA in New Jersey

Lyndhurst Perkins closes because of rent increases

While the article didn't give details as to the increases -- it must have been allowed as per the lease. Sure, there's your "typical" or "standard" lease, but no one has any idea what this lease says.

Going up 70% plus in 7 years does seem far off from any of the norms you hear about in commercial leases of this type, but anything is possible.

Oct 27, 2014
ELA in New Jersey

Sweetwaters Steak, Westfield

Thank you...I am a steak guy and I try to hit every so-called "good" steak place in Northern NJ and throughout NJ in the course of my travels. Fortunately, I don't have to travel as much as I used to -- so I get to limit myself to the Northern NJ area.

Although I haven't been in years, in that area, the Strip House was always well regarded, popular, etc. My last time there I thought it was good. Might be time for a trip there.

Thanks again.

Oct 27, 2014
ELA in New Jersey

Sweetwaters Steak, Westfield

I have no idea...I am not really familiar with the place.

Good reputation? Good food?

Oct 27, 2014
ELA in New Jersey

O Lar...Piermont...

Another wonderful meal at O Lar...still no website, still cash only, still the same, LOL...but wonderful food.

It was a crowded night as always. Had to call very early to get a reservation. Not easy to get into.

From the brick-oven pizza to the ceviche, to the "naked" ravioli special (which was incredible) to the paella -- everything was excellent!

I've been back several times, and every single time -- whether I ordered from the menu or went with one of the specials, it's all been excellent. This time, the owner was busy in the kitchen, cooking, etc. -- and the young man who waited on us (any everyone else for that matter, LOL) had an excellent handle on the menu and specials. He explained everything, answered questions, and was top notch in every respect. He was the main waiter for all 8 tables there, but his staff delivered food, refilled water, etc. They worked together very well.

Try this place...you might like it...a lot!

Oct 27, 2014
ELA in New York State (exc. NYC)

Best diners in NJ

I hate to stereotype, but we've seen this all over. Like many other industries, diners have been impacted by numerous things, and the answer like we've seen in many other industries -- is to cut back, cut corners, tighten the belt, etc., whatever you want to call it.

I've seen restaurants cut back on portion size, even go as far as firing a chef, thinking the assistant or sous chef has watched and assisted long enough, he/she can do it at a lower salary, or they can save a partial salary, and so on.

I've seen less staff, less food, lower quality, etc.

Oct 27, 2014
ELA in New Jersey

Recommendations for Things to Purchase at Trader Joe's

Yes, even more confusing. I have to look twice when I go to buy soda these days -- sugar, sugar free, diet, no cal, zero, and so on. Now I have to worry about the sweetener as well. Wonderful. LOL.

Fortunately, I am not a big soda drinker. When I have people over -- I never know what to get! LOL.

Oct 27, 2014
ELA in Chains

Recommendations for Things to Purchase at Trader Joe's

I remember reading something about this. It was part of an article in some trade journal that talked about companies decision making process, planning, etc., when they remove, change, etc. current products. I don't remember the details of the Vintage Cola story, but it was something along the lines of the product not being a "good seller" and not having good market penetration -- not in the marketplace -- but amongst shoppers at TJ's.

I've seen cases where companies make what appear to be a "smart" decision and also a "stupid" decision. Sometimes they appear to be premature and rash, others not. Who knows, LOL.

Bucking a trend and going "against" what appears to be happening in an industry is never received as a good decision.

Oct 27, 2014
ELA in Chains

Jersey barbecue freaks prepare yourselves - Mighty Quinn's to open in Clifton

A few friend of mine just went to MQ/Clifton and were disappointed. I wish it were better. I don't think I'll be going back.

Oct 27, 2014
ELA in New Jersey

looking for simple, good vodka drinks that are not loaded with calories

I used to drink vodka with "twister light" -- but I don't even know if they make that anymore. It was a Tropicana product, but it did get re-vamped, re-invented, etc. If I remember correctly, it wasn't too bad on calories, diet, fat, etc.

Also, although it's a make it yourself -- I also use crystal light.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Spirits

looking for simple, good vodka drinks that are not loaded with calories

Good idea...thanks for the heads up.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Spirits

looking for simple, good vodka drinks that are not loaded with calories

Very good idea...I drink the "Arnold Palmer" light version...

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Spirits

Is it appropriate to request specific glassware when ordering a cocktail?

Do I think you can request it...sure, absolutely. Depending on how you like your drink, preference, etc. -- certainly what type of glass is used is also your preference.

This is not an issue for me -- it is rare that a martini is not served in a martini glass (the traditional, classic type). For an after-dinner type drink I request a snifter, and perhaps it is out of habit.

I see it very much with a Manhattan.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Spirits

Proper martini glasses

Yes, I've seen/heard that. I had a martini in a couple recently at a nice restaurant, both at the bar and table -- and it was very good, excellent actually.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Spirits

Proper martini glasses

I don't find it to be an extremely common problem. At the bar, they pour and serve, or pour right in front of me and a professional knows not to create a problem of filling it to the brim. Sure, I've had it happen -- and sometimes they think they are doing you a favor. I don't want to slide or slide and sip my martini to make room. LOL.

I've had, more often, they fill to the appropriate level and if there's some left, they leave it or re-fill, etc.

If I am at the table, I've rarely had a martini served that either spilled a lot or couldn't be easily handled. It's in the hands of the staff, and if they are pro's, then they know what they're doing.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Spirits

Proper martini glasses

I've used the coupe style, and sure, it's good. Would I not drink it? No, not at all. Sitting at the bar, or at a table, somehow, I get my martini. I just hope it's good, LOL.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Spirits

Proper martini glasses

I am not pointing fingers and saying anyone did "advocate" for a 2 oz. martini. However, it was referenced and mentioned -- and my point is that it's a discussion of futility.

Side and related note, I certainly feel the discussion about glasses, how it's served, chilled, etc. is a very good discussion, and my point was that the minutia of 2 oz and the definition, in my opinion is fallacious. When some people get hung up on that or the semantics, to me, that doesn't seem to be a learning discussion or exchange of information. Every thread is "take what you like and leave the rest" so to speak.

I certainly get the practical application of how close to the rim, and the problem. It's a good problem, LOL.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Spirits

Proper martini glasses

Thanks for the professional perspective. If you don't mind (and I realize this was a long time ago, LOL), I wanted to ask what type of chiller are you using? Are you using a small martini shaker? I've seen places do that.

The "ice bath" in a tall cordial glass -- nice touch -- do you then use a strainer to pour the rest?

Thanks in advance.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Spirits

Proper martini glasses

Like many, I like my martinis. LOL. Actually, I like excellent martinis (also like many). That said, the traditional, classic martini glass is a must for me. I've had martinis out of other types of glasses, and maybe it's conditioning or something else, but it just doesn't seem the same -- and I am not talking about the experience either.

That said, while I do not like the "super size" martini glasses -- what I do like is a "sturdy" martini glass. Obviously it's just me, an idiosyncrasy -- but a sturdier, heavier glass just feels better in my hand. In addition, I feel it keeps the drink "colder" but again, maybe that's just me.

As far as size -- no offense, but the drink police don't get paid enough to make that big a deal over this, LOL. Many years ago -- many things were "smaller"...and today, many things are smaller too. So what. In today's day and age, go into any bar an order a martini and you are NOT getting a 2 oz. drink. If you condemn the place or the drink because of that, so be it.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Spirits

Sonic Drive-In Is it worth seeking out?

Went once...will not go back...perhaps it was a one time incident, or maybe for my likes, tastes, etc., I just did not like their burger.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Chains

Recommendations for Things to Purchase at Trader Joe's

I don't do my "regular" shopping there -- but I go there for frozen appetizers. They are excellent. I've had a rare miss, maybe two, but all of them are hits.

The parmesean-crusted pigs in a blanket are excellent and a very popular item. Some of their flatbreads are excellent as well. The vegetable birds nests are very good, if you follow the directions and keep an eye on them (so they come out crispy etc. and not soggy). They also have a chicken parmesean lollipop that is very good, as well as the chicken samosas, mini-chicken pot-pies, and mini-pizza bites.

I've tried many of them, and stick with what I like, and when I see new ones, if it looks interesting, and it is something I might like, I'll give it a shot.

Oct 26, 2014
ELA in Chains

Worst Restaurants in NJ

I went to Blu a while back -- I was talked into it by a friend -- on a Saturday night. We did not eat there and the reports I've heard on the food are "fair at best" to "not good" -- so it doesn't sounds like any change from Rupert's.

Anyway, late night Saturday night, the place was crowded. Very mixed, young, crowd. Too crowded actually. A lot of power-drinkers, young "kids" being a bit loud and rowdy, etc.

Oct 23, 2014
ELA in New Jersey

Best BBQ in Bergen County?

Fink is back in Dumont. The original plan was when Bobby Q's opened, Fink was going to alternate days and his right-hand man, Bobby (the pitmaster) was going to be at Fink's as he always is. Recently, Fink was spending a lot more time at Q's, but he went back to Dunmont, before Q'a closed. I was at Fink's when Fink himself was at Bobby Q's, and for my likes, tastes, etc. -- there was no difference. I actually thought the gumbo was excellent (Bobby made it), better than the time before. I order what I like, so for me, I expect to enjoy it thoroughly. If something looks good, I'll give it a shot on occasion, but most of the time I am sticking with what I like. Bobby has been with Fink for a very long time, so he knows what he's doing and and he knows the Fink way, LOL.

Yes, Bobby Q's has closed. It has nothing to do with Fink per se as it's not "his place" so to speak. He was brought in to try and replicate the Fink's operation. Obviously, different place, different location, etc. The place is closed temporarily. I don't know the details, but there is a plan to re-open and soon. They were not attracting bar business. Tough to overcome the Ireland's reputation, LOL.

While downtown Suffern is a nice little town -- this place is very close by, just north, outside of town. A bit tougher to get to for some, and not so easy to get to off of Route 17, 87, 287, etc. Not a very high-traffic road. Regardless, I don't know when they will re-open.

Oct 20, 2014
ELA in New Jersey

Locale in Closter

For me, with certain restaurants, or certain times I am going out, it is also very much about "the experience" so to speak. That's just me. For those places, bad service can absolutely ruin the evening. No matter how good the food is, if I have to wait for long periods of time, am neglected, am being treated poorly or rudely, etc. -- it impacts and ruins the meal and experience. Sure, you can say "how important is it, the food is excellent" and so on -- but it gets frustrating.

I had this recently at a sushi place in Montclair, Nori. After a great experience and a great meal prior -- this time, with a party of 6 or so, and for a birthday, the service just ruined the meal. Even more was that the sushi was sub-par from the prior visit. However, I can assure you, if it were not -- the service ruined the meal and the experience!

Unfortunately, this is too common.

Oct 20, 2014
ELA in New Jersey

Locale in Closter

Very sad. Service can prevent people from returning -- no matter how good the food is. If an owner doesn't see it -- that's a problem; and a big one for the owner. If the owner doesn't care...he/she might soon enough...when they are closing having gone out business, LOL.

Oct 19, 2014
ELA in New Jersey

Locale in Closter

That's just unacceptable. Period. I am polite to waiters/waitresses...but if they are rude to me, I have no problem letting management know.

Oct 19, 2014
ELA in New Jersey