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  • Restaurant Reviews Archive - New Jersey Monthly
    great starter Honeygrow December 9 2015 Philadelphia based Honeygrow has brought its fast casual salads and stir fries to Cherry Hill and Hoboken Steve Cookie s Since opening in 1998 Steve Cookie s By the Bay in Margate has become a beloved local institution that pulses 365 days a year The Kitchen at Grove Station December 3 2015 David Viana after stints under several top chefs now leads his own crew His Kitchen at Grove Station is worth a stop The Counter Quick Bite November 24 2015 The Counter Burger an industrial chic California chain dizzies with its six types of burger and long list of options 16 cheeses for instance Bukhara Tandoori Grill Quick Bite November 19 2015 Bukhara Tandoori Grill in Burlington has just 22 seats but its Indian curries and chicken dishes cooked in the tandoor oven are big in flavor and value Liberty Hall Pizza Quick Bite Liberty Hall Pizza boasts a lengthy list of Neapolitan style pizzas that come from Liberty s wood burning oven And let s not forget the root beer floats VB3 November 5 2015 At VB3 in Jersey City chef Mike Colletti presents Italian classics also a burger that won him the 2009 Rachael Ray Burger Bash Oceanos The owners of Oceanos import ingredients from their farm in Greece The seafood centered menu blends traditional Greek with modernity and is delicious Elements October 28 2015 Finally reopened in its new downtown home Princeton s Elements brings depth daring and delight to high end prix fixe Bunny s Sports Bar Quick Bite October 22 2015 If you love thin crusts the pizzas at Bunny s Sports Bar in South Orange are for you Bum Rogers Crabhouse Quick Bite October 15 2015 The Bum Rogers Crabhouse was renovated post Sandy and draws a crowd for its steamed hardshell crabs complete with ear of corn potatoes and wooden mallet Shanghai 46 October 8 2015 Though owner Kevin Lin pads his menu with crowd pleasers from other provinces the Shanghai classics are worth getting to know South Pine South Pine is about seriously fun food well conceived and well executed at reasonable prices Gordon Ramsay Pub Grill October 1 2015 With two Hell s Kitchen winners at the stoves brash Gordon Ramsay creates a fantasy pub with surprisingly refined grub Page 1 of 33 1 2 3 4 5 10 20 30 Last Dining Podcast If you love dining out have a passion for great food or want to hear about the latest food trends our new podcast Eating With Eric should be on your plate Listen to episodes Subscribe in iTunes 7 Songs to Comfort Christie on His Failed Presidential Bid Podcast Why We re Called The Garden State Table Hopping Jersey Shore Restaurant Week Melange in Somerville A Dress For Every Occasion NJ Father and Son s Wines Win Big 7 Dining Trends to Watch in 2016 February 2016 Best New Restaurants Table of Contents Subscribe Give a Gift Locate a Newsstand Purchase

    Original URL path: http://njmonthly.com/articles/restaurant-reviews/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Bottoms Up! The Rise of Brown Whiskey
    and unloading it on the cheap for use in bland cocktails By the end of the decade brown whiskey had lost its cachet The Rye Sour from Avenue Photo by Michael Barr The situation began to change in 1984 when master distiller Elmer T Lee introduced Blanton s the world s first commercial single barrel bourbon Each bottle comes from a single aging cask insuring consistently high quality since it can t be blended with another ie inferior batch The novelty intrigued drinkers and Jim Beam and Brown Forman both based in Kentucky like Blanton s began distilling more complex older and higher proof single barrel brands like Knob Creek Basil Hayden s and Woodford Reserve which remain popular today In doing so they sparked America s new love affair with whiskey Recommended Reading Pasta Dal Cuore Is Pasta From the Heart Scotch too has been buffeted by changing tastes The Scotch Whisky Association reports that the value of exported Scotch lately has tumbled from its peak of 6 4 billion in 2011 the result of a push toward austerity by the government of China where Scotch is a status symbol among the newly wealthy Still Scotch has been largely ascendant since the late 1990s Around that time explains Bryson some Scotsmen got hip to the idea that they could step up drinkers of commercial blends to more esoteric single malts Scotch started moving so fast that some producers began alienating the purists who make up their core constituency In what appears to be a rush to get their products to market nontraditional craft distilleries like Oban Laphroaig and the Macallan have introduced bottles without age statements much as craft distillers are testing accelerated or lightning aging processes And like American distillers who are broadening the appeal of bourbons with flavors like fruit honey and cinnamon the spicy hot Fireball Cinnamon Whisky some Scotch producers are livening up Scotch s staid image by experimenting with novel approaches such as finishing their liquid in beer or wine barrels Francis Schott co owner of Catherine Lombardi and Stage Left in New Brunswick loves this direction He cites Bruichladdich a distillery on the Scottish isle of Islay pronounced eye lah that turns out what he appreciatively calls a bunch of crazy whiskys They come with names like Rocks and Black Art and pull the same types of headline grabbing stunts that beer drinkers have come to expect from craft brewers Example the Octomore which contains more peat than any Scotch in the world The Scottish are keeping it interesting Schott says They don t only make your grandfather s whiskey Scotch producers have been selling high end whiskey at staggering prices as Schott can attest Last year a distributor offered him the chance to buy one of 15 bottles of 50 year old single malt Balvenie being released in the United States for 38 000 Schott tried pre selling one ounce pours for 1 800 each He didn t garner enough interest to

    Original URL path: http://njmonthly.com/articles/eat-drink/bottoms-up-rise-of-brown-whiskey/ (2016-02-11)
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  • 11 Smoking North Jersey BBQ Spots
    dry rubbed and smoked at 220 degrees for six hours They are wrapped in foil for the last hour of smoking to seal in juices and flavor 17 99 a half rack 25 99 full rack Chickens get a 24 hour saltwater bath before being dry rubbed and smoked at 220 degrees for three hours A menu note alerts newbies that the pink hue of the meat is a normal result of the smoking process not an indication of undercooking Wings are coated with a secret seasoning before being smoked for three hours Then they re deep fried and coated with one of Hot Rods signature wing sauces sweet and spicy or Buffalo spicy 7 99 for six pieces Brisket is mopped with a honey brown sugar concoction to impart a tasty crust before it exits the smoker On the tables are squeeze bottles of Hot Rods original sauce tomato based spiked with cider and white vinegars and just a touch of brown sugar and finger licking maple bourbon sauce Willie Degel host of Restaurant Stakeout suggested the Sibonas create this sweeter sauce It s awesome on French fries Anthony says There s cole slaw baked beans burgers salads even meatloaf Pizza is coming One pie will feature burnt ends with vodka sauce TLG 175 N Main Street 973 361 5050 Mama s Southern Style BBQ 2 Vauxhall I haven t met no one that came here just once says Chris Finnick pitmaster since 2007 of this takeout establishment opened in 1997 The native Jerseyan taps his family s Carolina roots to infuse sweet and sour style into barbecued chicken 8 50 pork ribs 8 beef short ribs 9 and chopped pork 8 sandwiches His mother the owner I just go by Mama says the pork gets a dry rub is baked four hours smoked in a coal fired pit chopped then marinated overnight in her grandfather s Carolina vinegar sauce Pork ribs 10 half rack 20 whole get a similar treatment The menu includes fried chicken 13 fried whiting catfish shrimp and tilapia as sandwiches or dinners Add candied yams collards string beans or Spanish rice among other sides The tough choice is dessert So many paths to perdition sweet potato pie banana pudding peach cobbler pineapple coconut cake and more Regulars know to call in their orders to shorten their waits in the tiny space It gets crowded here says Finnick There s a lot of kitchen and no front MACF 2181 Springfield Avenue 908 687 0400 Mighty Quinn Clifton I cook a lot on feel says pitmaster and co owner Hugh Mangum It sounds ridiculous but the brisket has to tell you when it s ready to be touched when it s ready to be pulled After you do this for awhile you develop a relationship with the meat Recommended Reading Breaking Ultimate Chef NJ Rescheduled Due to Snow Storm Jerseyans are developing a relationship with Mighty Quinn which has four New York City locations and opened its first here in Clifton in 2014 The restaurant with its long wooden tables 130 seats reclaimed wood and white tile walls suggests a butcher shop and also an old time food hall but with a hard rock soundtrack When I cook the dream I m chasing is the taste of the food I ate with my father when I was a kid Mangum says I think it s that way for everybody Mangum grew up in Los Angeles where his father Hugh III was a banker Together they often visited Houston his father s hometown and made pilgrimages to its barbecue temples When Mangum s father died in 1999 he left me a little bit of money and I wanted to honor my relationship with him says the son That s what sent me on this path Mangum does not sauce his brisket because they don t sauce it in Texas And the only items we sauce on the top are pulled pork and a thin glaze on spareribs The result is soft meat with crisp skin because sauce doesn t touch it until it s done cooking Sauce is on the table in growlers Mighty Quinn offers just one kind It s basically Texas style molasses ketchup brown sugar garlic and other spices nipped up Carolina style with a touch of apple cider vinegar Sauce enhances the flavor but it s not the first thing you taste Mangum says You want the meat to be the first thing you taste In taste you can t entirely separate the meat from the smoke I cook on olfactory senses and remembrances he says He and his father cooked on pecan wood all but unavailable here So he uses 90 percent oak 10 percent fruitwoods Oak is an amazing heat source he says It burns down the cleanest and it s the longest burning It produces the best smoke the best embers And meat should be kissed not hugged by smoke I m a firm believer in that Cherry might be his favorite fruitwood but he says the flavor is too strong to use for the full 18 to 24 hours the briskets smoke It s great for pork he says adding It s a great finisher Spice rubs also contribute flavor Mighty Quinn uses two The rub is essentially salt pepper and paprika the pork and chicken rub includes a few more ingredients notably sugar People tend to think that because it s called rub you have to rub it in Mangum notes But it should be sprinkled over Because meat sweats and you want the pores to be open so they can work for you If you rub the meat with rub you re clogging the pores Mighty Quinn has earned praise from New York food critics and attained something like cult status among the city s barbecue cognoscenti But when it comes to food Mangum is not just blowing smoke He graduated from the French Culinary Institute in

    Original URL path: http://njmonthly.com/articles/eat-drink/11-smoking-north-jersey-bbq-spots/ (2016-02-11)
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  • 6 Sizzling Central Jersey Barbecue Joints
    spicier options The Big Time platter is made for the indecisive ribs brisket chicken two burritos tacos a quesadilla and two sides for 44 95 MR 307 North Main Street 908 203 8003 Memphis Pig Out Atlantic Highlands Head smoker Mark Strassburg has been cooking Memphis style barbecue at this spot for 30 years He smokes his meats over hickory the smoke perfuming the entire restaurant He uses a light spice rub and finishes them with barbecue sauce His most popular items he says are baby back ribs spareribs and pulled pork Customers can t help but notice the roughly 4 000 pig related items covering the walls Straussburg says he has reduced the number from 7 000 The restaurant occupies an old building with high pressed tin ceilings The pig art might bring people in once but as Straussberg puts it You don t stay in business for 30 years if you don t have something good that people enjoy and keep coming back for MR 67 1st Avenue 732 291 5533 More Than Q Stockton A lot of our faithful customers are from Texas says Matt Martin owner of More Than Q in the Stockton Farm Market Anytime we get a new one they walk right up and say I m from Texas And I think Oh shit how s the brisket looking Recommended Reading Jersey Shore Wine Weekend Comes to Long Branch Martin needn t worry Pretty much every More Than Q customer is soon too busy licking lips and tucking into Texas style brisket pulled pork and assorted fixin s to do anything but give a sauce splattered thumbs up to this low profile but big flavored Jersey cue corral When it comes to meat Martin declares Texas is the only influence Brisket to me is what you need to do right if you re going to do barbecue I still hand select every brisket because I m looking for something special It has to have the right size and the right fat content on top It also has to be all natural or prime Angus Martin who hails a long way from Texas Newtown Pennsylvania approaches his smoker as other great brisket whisperers do with reverence his senses on alert The meat tells you when it s done by feel and by sight he says I never ever need to use a thermometer Even so and despite frequent lines for the brisket and pulled pork Martin is reluctant to bestow barbecue s ultimate honorific on himself I d put our meats against anybody s he declares But I ve known guys who have done this decades and decades and that s a humbling thing I don t know that I m qualified to call myself a pitmaster Ironically Texas is not where Martin got the barbecue bug In 1994 he was about to start his freshman year at the University of South Carolina when he stopped for a pork fix and some famous South Carolina

    Original URL path: http://njmonthly.com/articles/eat-drink/6-sizzling-central-jersey-barbecue-joints/ (2016-02-11)
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  • 7 Authentic South Jersey Barbecue Restaurants
    eat buffet I ve never done advertising Henri 60 says with pride The buffet includes corn pudding thick with kernels marshmallow topped candied yams spicy macaroni salad and house baked peach cobbler DH 1003 Black Horse Pike 609 270 7268 Hickory Hog Point Pleasant Husband and wife team Mike and Maureen Cassidy have been cooking barbecue for eight years at this Shore restaurant serving their Carolina pulled pork and Memphis dry rub baby back ribs The ribs and meats 10 99 19 99 are slow smoked over hickory mesquite and applewood Hickory Hog is in the same building as a liquor store but the atmosphere is family friendly and full of pig art Mike the head chef has been grilling and smoking for more than 25 years working at nearby barbecue spots before opening Hickory Hog The Cassidys pride themselves on making everything in house from the corn fritters and popcorn shrimp to Texas red chili and the Hickory Hog fries smothered in melted cheddar smoked bacon and chives MR 2310 Bridge Ave 732 714 7427 Local Smoke Cookstown Neptune City Ask Steve Raab co owner and co pitmaster of Local Smoke what a newbie should sample first at his small but dizzyingly fragrant Neptune City restaurant Recommended Reading Paul Hobb Wine Dinner and Tasting You need the brisket some pulled pork ribs and jalapeño poppers he says seated at one of the six tables in what used to be a Carvel Some might say the best place to sit is the counter on one of the six stools especially the last few on the right which face the restaurant s massive Southern Pride smoker the Cadillac of smokers Raab calls it No one style of barbecue sums up Local Smoke We do Texas style brisket North Carolina style pulled pork and Kansas City style ribs Raab says Cooking these classic forms on the competition barbecue circuit where Raab and co owner and co pitmaster Eric Keating have been jousting against the best since 2007 Local Smoke has bagged a host of awards including four New Jersey State Championships and a first place in ribs at the 2009 American Royal World Series of BBQ in Kansas City Raab s wife Loren the logistical master of the team also designed the logo and several of the popular sides Local Smoke uses only Certified Angus Beef brisket and high quality pork butt which is actually shoulder Some people buy whatever brand is cheapest that week Raab says but I feel that affects the end product Local Smoke s signature rub is sweet with heat on the back end Ingredients include turbinado sugar brownulated sugar and kosher salt as well as pepper garlic and onion powder chili powder paprika and cayenne You have to smoke the meat over the right kind of wood which for Local Smoke is cherry and sugar maple cherry for color and flavor sugar maple for its sweet smoke Last comes a slathering of what Raab calls the proper

    Original URL path: http://njmonthly.com/articles/eat-drink/7-authentic-south-jersey-barbecue-restaurants/ (2016-02-11)
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  • The Butt Stops Here: Chatting with a Barbecue Master Judge
    oath at each contest do not get paid in fact they foot their own travel expenses Both Mullaneys have full time jobs Diane is marketing and communications director for a Freehold distributor of charcoal and propane products At times it can sound like hardship duty well almost Mullaney 41 has enjoyed judging the New Jersey state championships in North Wildwood in July but it s pretty much always 100 degrees At least the organizers pump air conditioning into the judges tent A frigid weekend at the Dover Speedway in Delaware one October presented the opposite challenge It was raining and muddy she recalls The winds were horrible some competitors tents blew over We ended up running out to Walmart to get hand warmers Recommended Reading Courting Danger Actress Christina Jackson Among the compensations on the other hand exceptionally scrumptious food compared to even the best barbecue restaurants One reason is that would be winners invest hundreds of dollars in their meat They re buying cream of the crop brisket Mullaney points out That s probably not what they re serving at their restaurant because then a brisket sandwich would cost 30 It wouldn t make sense Besides competitive teams can experiment with rubs injected seasonings and cooking techniques while restaurants need to maintain consistency and reasonable labor costs If Mullaney sounds fixated on brisket it s because that s her personal weakness A good beefy taste with a little bit of smoke that s what I like she says Prize winning brisket when you pull on the slice there s a little give and then it comes apart but it doesn t fall apart That means it s cooked perfectly Ditto for ribs The perfect rib this is a huge misconception does not fall off the bone Mullaney says When you take a bite your bite mark will actually stay in the rib Judges need to be knowledgeable in all four categories and score each meat on appearance tenderness and taste The point scale runs from 1 disqualification for a rule infraction like leaving a foreign object an errant toothpick say in the box or submitting the wrong meat at the wrong time to 9 excellent Disqualification is embarrassing but almost worse is a score of 2 which means inedible Food represents only part of the attraction for judges though Despite the aggressive shenanigans of pit war TV shows it s really a culture of friendly camaraderie Mullaney has found Yes it s a competition and people want to win bragging rights and take a trophy home but everybody s going to help everybody When Hurricane Sandy devastated the Jersey Shore for instance volunteers from OBR Operation Barbecue Relief founded in 2011 after tornadoes tore through Joplin Missouri arrived in trucks full of donated supplies and set up operations in parking lots in Brick and Neptune then Hoboken If you think about it it makes a lot of sense They know how to cook when there s no electricity Mullaney

    Original URL path: http://njmonthly.com/articles/eat-drink/the-butt-stops-here-barbecue-master-judge/ (2016-02-11)
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  • The Year of Living in Limbo
    when you have a cook actually describing a dish The new Elements will offer a 4 course tasting menu then on weekends smaller and larger menus Anderson says Whatever the chef s tasting of the day might be five nine 12 courses In addition to wine pairings other kinds of beverage pairings will be offered with each course including beers low alcohol cocktails and non alcoholic infusions juices and sodas A potential flashpoint All tables regardless of number of diners will be assessed a 20 percent service charge in lieu of tipping Legally speaking that s how we are able to have the chefs participate in some of the money that comes out of the service charge says co owner Stephen Distler the team s business brain It s a trend across the country though it s not really here in a big way yet Recommended Reading Kimchi Smoke Opens in Bergenfield I m not excited about taking away the element of discretion from the diners Distler adds Certainly you can leave a tip above 20 percent but we re not encouraging customers to do that or trying to trick them into doing that Distler has had a trying year himself Making major alterations to an existing building is a very complex process he says If we could have built from scratch this might have gone faster it definitely would have been cheaper Surprisingly neither chef longed to eat at let alone do a volunteer kitchen stint or stage at influential restaurants Early in their careers ambitious chefs often take every opportunity to learn by staging but Anderson 40 and Ryan 35 are well beyond that We realized says Anderson we didn t necessarily want to be influenced by what other chefs are doing And if you stage it s inevitable We want to be influenced by each other and by the ingredients around us They had long since sworn off looking at restaurant websites and feasting their eyes on food pictures It gets into your brain it comes out in your food he explains They did read books especially those by or about restaurants The most important thing is not the techniques or the platings but the stories of the restaurants says Ryan Restaurants are alive You see how they evolve when you read their book A good restaurant starts one way and then evolves It doesn t stays the same for years on end Even though it has been closed a year Elements has been gestating in the minds of its creators As I get older says Anderson I find myself enjoying simpler and more pristine preparations really paying respect to the ingredient I honestly think it s how a chef s career goes It s not necessarily an intentional thing but from line cook to sous chef to chef de cuisine they go through a phase of wanting to do things more complex then they relax a little bit The complexity of our food now comments Ryan

    Original URL path: http://njmonthly.com/articles/eat-drink/the-year-of-living-in-limbo-elements-princeton/ (2016-02-11)
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  • Burlington Buoyed by Smith Group
    famously met Clarence Clemons Hinchliffe notes Probably 20 different establishments built their box inside the box that was there says Jim We envisioned that if we stripped all that away there was going to be this quite remarkable space a guess based on wabi sabi the Japanese aesthetic that embraces the beauty of imperfection Indeed part of Porta s appeal in addition to authentic Italian dishes beyond pizza and dancing on weekends is its bare bones architecture exposed ceiling beams communal tables made from wood that was pulled off the ceiling and unadorned light bulbs strung across a cavernous room decorated with repurposed doors that echo the restaurant s name porta is door in Italian and its core purpose a favorite Smith phrase which Jim describes as we are the door Recommended Reading Sofia in Englewood Merges Steakhouse and Italian Menus Porta became the door that everyone in Asbury Park wanted to open Porta was in the black five minutes after we opened it says Jason Watt exaggerating only slightly In 2011 the partners changed the name of their business from Knockout to Smith stressing the word s meaning of maker as in blacksmith They didn t want to be seen as a traditional restaurant group they thought bigger envisioning a company where they could bring to fruition whatever ideas resonated with them In addition to the restaurant ventures Smith encompassed Knockoff a printing company and Fishbird both a commercial venture and a corporate philosophy The name derives from a sculpture Brunette was given of carved wooden birds floating through the water of an actual fish tank The piece became a metaphor for the group s fluid philosophy Unlike most restaurant groups for instance Smith rotates its chefs among restaurants Chefs are like artists says Brunette We like to give them the opportunity to stay fresh and creative In its formal incarnation Fishbird is a two day workshop offered to companies looking to rebrand or expand It aims to break down mental and corporate barriers to change The company s first Fishbird client was RSI Bank which had a single branch in downtown Rahway RSI had hired Smith to rebrand the bank with a new logo stationery and brochures and the bank s president Russ Taylor signed on for a Fishbird workshop The process led him to open multiple branches which he s done successfully Fishbird under the leadership of Jason Watt also helped Johnson Johnson create its global public health initiative Fishbird thinking the partners say underlies every decision they make It s a conversation they have every day with themselves What can we imagine What s possible says Hinchliffe Listening to the group talk about Fishbird with its echoes of the human potential movement of the 1960s and 70s can make Smith sound a bit like a cult But it s a cult you might want to join because hey they re having one hell of a time Relying on Fishbird thinking rather than market research has its

    Original URL path: http://njmonthly.com/articles/eat-drink/restaurants-to-the-rescue-smith-group/ (2016-02-11)
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