Marcus B&P: a Marcus Samuelsson restaurant in Newark, NJ

Marcus B&P Newark-6

That handsome devil Marcus Samuelsson sure has a cool sense of fashion. And he knows a thing or two about food. We couldn't have been more impressed with his newest venture, Newark's Marcus B&P.

The place is gorgeous. Lots of natural light pours through the large windows behind the bar. The restaurant is located in the newly renovated building that once housed Hahne's department store. Are you old enough to remember Hahne's? I'm so old I knew about it and have since forgotten about it, until now.

We had what can be described as a thoroughly exceptional meal, top to bottom. I'll gladly tell you alllllll about it.

But first, a cocktail.

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Best dishes: of 2017

Another year, another 5 lbs sagging from my increasingly sore frame. And another roundup of some of the best dishes that contributed to those issues.

Looking back at this year's list, it's hard to not notice a theme of burgers, tongue, and pizza. And not a single salad. Who woulda thunk. Some of these dishes were found in New Jersey, which is good for you if you live in New Jersey and want to try them. But many were from some travels. As I've noted in the past in these year-end wrap-ups, it should come as no surprise that I'm eating stuff that I find exceptional when traveling. I mean, that whole idea of traveling is to eat exceptional things that you can't find at home. And maybe go to a museum or some shit. I'm not really sure.

On to the list, a list which is in no particular order.

Cheeseburger
Husk : Nashville, TN

Husk Nashville Burger

Husk most certainly has to be one of the finest restaurants in Nashville. So fine that I found myself there twice during two trips. Only during the second visit did a Nashville-sized hangover lead me to order the burger. I had some hesitation when the bartender said they don't take a temp on it, but any concern was unfounded.

This is a double patty burger with gooey cheese and a monster sear on the exceptional beef. On a perfectly-sized bun. This thing is a work of art in its simplicity. Balance, salt, sear, fat. Every note was perfect.

Nashville Hot Chicken and waffles
Kitchen Notes in the Omni Hotel : Nashville, TN

Nashville Hot Chicken Kitchen Notes Omni

And to think I'd never heard of Nashville hot chicken before 2017. And to think even KFC now has it.

I was able to sample Nashville hot chicken from several places (Prince's, Hattie B's, Acme Feed & Seed) during one visit. And they were all fantastic. I had low expectations for the restaurant in the Omni Hotel, especially with respect to this regional specialty, as you might. And that was wrong. Glorious hot chicken, a waffle, a perfectly cooked egg, pickles, a gallon of water, and a coffee. Holy cow did I need that on this particular morning. I returned the next day to have this again, but, alas, they weren't serving this dish that morning. This left a hole in my heart.

Tripe with long pepper and peppercorn
Joyce Chinese : River Edge, NJ

Joyce Chinese River Edge Tripe

As I noted earlier this year on the blog,

"The flavor was intense. The heat was searing. The notes were herbaceous and fruity. Again, two elements I'm not used to experiencing in Sichuan food. The bowl was loaded with tripe, and Chinese celery, and bean sprouts, and pickled peppers, and ginger, and hot chili, and wood ear mushrooms. Textures swimming all around. I didn't know where to start, but didn't want to stop."

This was quite a dish. Not for the faint of heart. In fact, don't order it unless you are an expert like me.

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Krug's Tavern in Newark, NJ: that's a fine burger

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A lot has changed since the last time I visited Krug's Tavern, which had to be 10 or 12 years ago. The place has gotten a facelift, surely to the chagrin of some of the regulars.  It's much brighter than it used to be. A back room has now been opened up to a proper dining room, rather than being the room that held boxes and a pool table as it was. The menu now boasts their "World Famous" burgers. Prices have gone up. I'm pretty sure the cheeseburger was $6 or less. Now it's $8.75 or so. And it was a heck of a lot more crowded this time around. All of this, presumably due to positive press they have gotten from that fella from NJ.com, multiple times a year, every year, without fail.

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The place is a pirate ship. A veritable sausage-fest. Indeed my female companion was the only woman in the place for the entire time we were there. Krug's was and probably generally is filled with regulars, blue collar types with some white collar types eating burgers and drinking Miller Lite like it's their job (I made that my job on this day). Quite a lively bunch. At top volume: "So the f*ckin guy gives me a check, and I says to 'em, I says, 'I'm gunna call your f*ckin bank to make sure this f*ckin' ding is good!'" 

All of that matters none when you consider that it's a great burger, and you still feel like you're walking back in history, even though it's now so fancy.

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Red Hat in Irvington, NY: serious views and foods

Red Hat Irvington-2

Red Hat has been on my list of restaurants to try for some years now. I always wrote it off as likely being a place that rested on its view and ambiance, with food being a second thought, or not a thought at all. And I was wrong.

On an unseasonably warm afternoon, we set out to find a place we've never visited. Red Hat popped up in our search, and I saw that they have some outdoor seating. Additionally, the menu, which leans toward French bistro, looked really, really appealing. There were more than a few things that jumped out at me.

Red Hat Irvington-7

We secured a table on the beautiful patio, steps from the Hudson River. A bottle of water was brought out to the table. This is a practice I've seen all over Europe and the US as well, but for some reasons most owners and managers haven't caught on. Why on earth would you want your servers spending time filling water glasses when they should be focusing on the stuff you are actually SELLING. Anyway, I love touches like this. We were off to a good start.

The items on the menu were priced very simply. A group of items was something like 16 dollars, and another group was 18 dollars. And none of this ".95" nonsense that restaurants insist on doing. Pricing your food at $15.95 looks cheap and desperate. Just stop it, you fools.

 

Red Hat Irvington

The cocktail list read quite well, and had my friends gin and bourbon represented in an appropriate manner. That is to say, they actually had cocktails with gin and bourbon. Good for them. Better for me. We had a spicy margarita, and a Gimlet with cucumber. Both executed well.

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Shanghai Restaurant: Authentic in Fort Lee, NJ

Shanghai Restaurant beef tripeBeef and tripe

I put out an SOS on the ol' Facebook page, asking the fine freaks who follow this blog to toss a few ideas for authentic Chinese restaurants out at me. While I know a bunch of these places exist in north Jersey, I end up returning to the same handful over and over.

One kind freak suggested "that soup dumpling place" in Fort Lee. I'm not sure if Shanghai Restaurant was the place to which she was referring, but once I saw the menu I knew it was authentic, and worth a shot. And I was right, as usual.

Shanghai Restaurant is located toward the east end of Main Street, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Fort Lee. We were able to get a parking spot directly in front of the restaurant.

It's a clean, small, bright place, with several tables outside. Not something I see very often in Fort Lee.

Shanghai Restaurant Fort Lee

A pot of loose leaf tea was placed on the table by the nice gentleman, and refilled several times. Two menus were delivered.

While I know it's not necessarily a dish from Shanghai, I rarely pass up a plate of spicy beef and tripe (pictured at the top of this post).

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