Chains

Capital Grille: Paramus, NJ, The Burger

Capital Grille burger

I didn't have high expectations, but I thoroughly enjoyed a burger ($16) at the bar at The Capital Grille in Garden State Plaza. As scholars of malls know, Garden State Plaza is in Paramus, NJ. As other scholars know, there's no 'e' in 'grill.' Unless they meant to name it "Ye Olde Capital Grille," which would be somewhat more annoying. 

The burger is said to be "infused" with bacon.  This could mean a few things, but in this case it means that bacon (along with onion) is ground into the beef.   The bacon flavor is somewhat pronounced, so if you don't like bacon, you might not like this burger. It works, although somewhat insults my purist views on burgers.  Yet it's hard to argue with results.  So conflicted. Adjusting meds...

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Homemade Pizza Company: Ridgewood, NJ - [CLOSED]

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Homemade Pizza Company in Ridgewood has closed.

UPDATE:  Please find an update below in red.

New Jersey is overrun with mediocre pizza. --Look at my sad life.  One sentence in and I'm already annoyed-- You know the pizza I'm talking about:  the popular stuff. Just this morning we passed Puzo's in Ridgewood and the missus asked "how can that place still be in business."  The answer, which I grumpily mumbled (it was early and pre-coffee, which means I was even more grumpy than usual) is simple:  it's a crappy pizza place, and people flock to mediocrity.  They demand it.  Why be challenged when it's easier and more comforting to be spoon fed familiarity?   

I skip just about all pizza in this area, expect for A Mano, Ah'Pizz, Nellie's, and Pizza Town. These are exceptional in their class.  Other than those handful of places and a few other notables, I make pizza at home.  Lots pizza.  Almost every week. Have been for several years.  Dats a lot of pie, and a lot of mistakes.  Successes, occasionally. 

Along side of those crappy places comes a pizza place that is hoping to stand out.

Homemade Pizza Company, a small chain which opened an outpost in the old Cheese Shop spot on Ridgewood Ave in Ridgewood, seems to be fitting into a niche that it may very well be creating:  quality ingredients on a pizza that you bake at home.  I suspect this approach will appeal to some folks who find it a novetly, or appreciate the convenience of buying a raw pizza and baking it at home, but who don't want to be bothered to doing it all themselves. Especially if the perception (or reality) of "quality" speaks to them.  

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Zinburger: Clifton, NJ

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Sigh.

We certainly had high hopes for Clifton's outpost of Zinburger, part of the Fox Restaurant Concepts group of restaurants.  After all, if you read the reviews of the place on the web (many of which were from their free "VIP Preview" event), you'd get the impression that this place serves an exceptional burger.  <mini-rant>Perhaps if bloggers and yelpers waited until they spend their own money, bringing a more critical eye to the table, rather than filling their egos with "VIP" treatment and bellies with free food, their opinions would be more insightful and ultimately more helpful. No offense intended here, of course.</mini-rant>   But it doesn't serve an exceptional burger. 

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Zinburger: coming to Clifton, NJ? Indeed it is.

We finally got around to giving Zinburger a try.  Report here <click>.

Per their PR agency, Zinburger in Clifton is opening 12/13/2010.  Bloggers will no doubt be lined up to grab the free food they are offering during their soft opening.

Update (2010/11/26):  t:e field reporter jimmy:rocks informed the t:e organization today that the lights are on, the signs are lit up, and they are looking like they are getting ready. He also spied a "nice big bar."

Zin burger clifton

I suspect a  January, 2011 opening of Clifton's Zinburger.  Zinburger appears to be a place that won't bother competing with the likes Smashburger and Five Guys (these are obviously fast food restaurants), and if they can pull off their concept, it will be a welcome addition to the New Jersey burger scene.   Now back to the speculation from a few months ago...

 

t:e field reporter jimmy:rocks contacted the t:e organization today to tip us off on a "coming soon" situation in Clifton over by Stew Leonard's ("The Promenade Shops at Clifton", as it's called).  Apparently a Zinburger is opening there.  It seems to be from Arizona.  A far-away land.

Zinburger is a burger and wine bar concept type of deal, or at least that's what I gather from their website.  Here's the menu (click).

I like burgers.  I like wine.  So I like the possibility of yet another burger joint opening.  

If you have patience, you can read through what various Arizona yelpers are yelping.  I have no patience, so let me know if anyone has anything interesting to say. 

Whether any of this is true or valid remains to be seen.  Maybe it's "Zin Burger", different than "Zinburger".  But I'm no reporter, so I'll know when you do.

Update:  t:e field reporter jimmy:rocks has confirmed with the Fox restaurant group that it is indeed Zinburger.  


Sub Base: Fair Lawn, NJ [CLOSED]


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#2 - "all the way"

I grew up on Mike's Subs down the "Jersey shore."   This was looong before Mike's franchised and changed their name to "Jersey Mike's" (and looonger before the phrase "Jersey shore" brought to mind gorilla juice-heads from Staten Island and Queens who drink Ron-Ron juice).  Mike's defined "sub" for me.  Their sandwich is the barometer against which all other subs will be compared.  Forever.  

For the uninitiated, a Mike's sub is a sandwich of relatively generic cold cuts (ham, provolone, hot ham capicola is the standard "#2"), on a soft hero, topped with tomatoes, onions, copious amounts of shredded iceberg lettuce, salt/pepper/oregano, and a ridiculous amount of oil and vinegar.  The s/p/o and olive/vinegar are key here; Mike's makes a wet sandwich.

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McDonalds: Big Mac McDouble

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The lowly Big Mac gets taken to the next level.  Or at least gets a modification.  

I'd be lying if I said I don't like Big Macs.  But on the rare-ish occasion that I find myself at McDonalds, I rarely order one.  In fact it's probably been 15 years since I had a Big Mac, but I remember what they taste like, fondly.  The star, of course, is that Mac sauce they put on it.  And the crunchy lettuce that's always overflowing into the box is no slouch in the show, either.  

The flaws of the Big Mac, though, are too egregious to consider ordering one.  Most notable of these flaws, that ridiculous piece of extra bread, and the tiny patties.

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Best of Bergen Restaurants: 2010

201 Magazine recently published their yearly readers poll of the Best of Bergen 2010, online here (click).  It doesn't seem to be online yet, but I'll update this post once it is.

Since I haven't done a "best of" in a while, I figured I'd list their winners, and then provide the real (my) answers. 

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Cici's Pizza Buffet: commercial

I'm slack-jawed.  I just saw something on TV, and had to rewind it.  Twice.  To try to figure out why I wasn't getting the joke.  I came to find out that it wasn't a joke at all.   This is really a commercial for Cici's Pizza, a chain which specializes in a spongy, rubbery, doughy product, which I can only assume is supposed to be reminiscent of pizza.

They've managed to make unappetizing food seem even more unappealing than it already is.  This, is a masterpiece.

Assuming you actually want to eat something notable in New Jersey, check out New Jersey Monthly's recent article on pizza.  You can find it here (click).


Sonic Drive-in: Burgers in New Jersey

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It was the early '90s, and I was living and working in Columbia, South Carolina.  Being right out of college, I was eager to devour the world.  At that point, finances would dictate that I would be devouring the world one fast food meal at a time for the most part, but that was OK.  Exploring fast food is still a way of exploring a culture (if you don't believe me, sit in a fast food place for a day...you'll get some insight into the bowels of a culture alright).  And there was a world of fast food joints in Columbia that I had not ever seen in my part of the New Jersey.  

I recall, fondly, my first visits to Popeyes and Bojangles' Chicken.  My first visit to Sonic, however, I do not recall, although I'm pretty sure I went.

My second trip to Sonic, this time in North Jersey, 17 years later, as an older, wealthier, much fatter man, was about as memorable.

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Wendy's: "Center cut" chicken breast

Americans, by and large, small and large, enjoy bland meat and are turned off by any flesh, muscle or organ that resembles something that might have actually come from an animal.  So it's no surprise to see "all white meat chicken" promoted in everything from soup to fajitas, and found on every "Italian" (actually, "Italian-American"...there's very little that is "Italian" about these places) menu in New Jersey, which generally offer 10 different flavors of chicken breast, none of which seem very Italian.

But Wendy's is taking this one step further.

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