I happened to be working the front desk this past Saturday evening with my General Manager, Spiro and we had a guest checking in looking for Nicholas Restaurant. I had never heard of it (not that it’s a rare occurrence for me to be a little clueless on the area), but Spiro did nothing but rave about how wonderful it was. He explained directions to our happy guests and that it was an easy trip from the hotel down Route 35. On Sunday, I picked up my copy of New Jersey Monthly, which I absolutely love. They have a feature section on New Jersey’s Top 25 Restaurants and 192 Best Restaurants by category. Wouldn’t you know it, Nicholas was a Top 25 Choice, Best of the Best and lead many categories for the Central Jersey region. The honors included: Best of the Best, American, Bang for the Buck, French, Romantic, Vegetarian and Wine List. Sounds like a choice you can go wrong with. Here is the excerpt from New Jersey Monthly Magazine:
Many restaurateurs consider it the kiss of death to be thought of as a special occasion restaurant. But when you’re a regular special occasion restaurant, you’re a rare breed. “We have a lot of customers who come six times a year,” says executive chef and co-owner Nicholas Harary. “They’ll come for everyone’s birthday, and anniversary, and Valentine’s Day, and a couple other occasions as well. And we get a couple of marriage proposals every week.” Now ten years old, Restaurant Nicholas stays fresh by constantly tweaking things (like its signature suckling pig, recently given a more Cuban treatment). Its kitchen is a kind of advanced graduate school, where fourteen cooks learn on a steep curve and head out into the world after two years, some to return later in a higher position, such as current chef de cuisine Nicholas Wilkins. “I tell my people, ‘If you’re not getting better every week, then you’re wasting your time,’” Harary says. “Making the restaurant better each year—I really do feel that’s my goal.” 160 Route 35 South, 732-345-9977,restaurantnicholas.com
There were a number of other local restaurants and bars that made the list that was Readers’ Choice and Critics’ Picks. The Best Bakery was the Flaky Tart in Atlantic Highlands, Best Bar Scene The Downtown in Red Bank with the critics also choosing Watermark in Asbury Park and Avenue in Long Branch. Best Beer Selection and Brew Pub went to Basil T’s which is also right down the road. Best Breakfast, Lunch and Soup/Salad/Sandwiches is Turning Point in Holmdel. The Molly Pitcher in Red Bank and Avenue in Long Branch serve up the Best Brunch. Best Burger went to Bobby’s Burger Palace in Eatontown in the Monmouth Mall and Five Guys for the Best Chain Burger with locations in Middletown and Shrewsbury.
Best Caribbean went Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park and Best Chinese was Little Szechuan in Little Silver. Best Deli Italian Style winner was Aleo Italian Specialties in Lincroft and Hot Dog winners were Max’s in Long Branch and The WindMill as a chain. Best Seafood went to Doris and Ed’s in the Highlands. This came as no surprise to me, my table was across from theirs at the Best of Monmouth event in June and the food was amazing. Best Steak went to What’s Your Beef in Rumson and Southeast Asian/Thai winner was Siam Garden in Red Bank.
If the beach isn’t reason enough to come to the shore for vacation, send yourself on a whirlwind tour of culinary delights. Stay with us at the Comfort Inn Middletown and hub and spoke your way around the Jersey Shore, dining as you go. We have a great 7 night stay package for $699 available as long as rooms are. Email me for more details. If you’ve had dining experiences at any of these great restaurants and want to share your feedback, please do so in the comments below. Want to see the article in New Jersey Monthly? Click here.