NJ Monthly lists a few sort-of-NJ food sites
Cliff's Steakhouse: Englewood Cliffs, NJ

Simon's: Westwood, NJ (closed)


Update:  Simon's has changed hands and will soon be something different, according to Bill Pitcher at Second Helpings.

I read about Simon's of Westwood a couple of weeks ago in a local magazine.  That was the first I'd heard of it.  What caught my eye was the "black angus burger."  It's been on my list since that moment.   I finally got there and had that burger, and I have to say it was very nicely executed.

Simon's serves a burger made from black angus beef.

I'm not sure I know what that really, technically, means, other than black angus is a breed of cow, and there's presumably some amount of that cow's flesh in this burger.  If the beef is "Certified Angus Beef", that's one thing...I think.  But the description of " black angus" doesn't say much to my mind.  Hell, Burger King has an "Angus" burger.  Is it better than other burgers that aren't called "Angus"?  Unlikely.

Now that "Angus" has just about run its course, I'm noticing a lot of "Wagyu", and, more recently, "Kobe" burgers.   I'm pretty sure these Kobe burgers aren't made from the mouth-watering beef from Kobe, Japan, that I first had sliced thin and served raw at March (now called Nish) in NYC back in the late 90's.  I'm pretty damned sure of that.  So what does it mean when you see "Kobe burger"?  Probably not a whole lot.  The fact of that matter is that the burger is either good or it's not.  Most are not.  Simon's burger is actually pretty good, "black angus" and all.

Simon's serves a grilled burger on brioche with McDonald's-style fries (a good thing), a big pickle, and slices of plum tomato, rather than nasty out-of-season tomatoes that I'm usually served.   The fries were perfectly perfect on my visit.  Crunchy, McDonald's-y.  The brioche was tasty, and the burger-to-bun ratio was right about where it needed to be.  I prefer a slightly higher ratio than most, so I dug out the top of the bun.

I would be very surprised if the burger wasn't made on premises.  It certainly didn't have the texture of those mass-produced frozen patties that you find at some many places (even those selling "Angus" and "Kobe" burgers).  The meat was very fresh-tasting and tender.  One criticism is the silly salt and pepper shakers on the table.  On top of that, the pepper shaker seemed to have white (powdered, of course) pepper in it, rather than black pepper.  White pepper goes well with Asian food, but not red meat.  I suppose I'll ask for a peppermill next time for some fresh-cracked stuff, and I'll have to make sure it's black before dumping it on my burger.

The restaurant is attractive and casual, with art from local artists on the walls.  The white-tablecloths-with-white-paper-on-top deal.

Other dishes coming out of the kitchen included some sort of salad with several large shrimp on top.  I'm not one for salad with shrimp, but it looked good enough to eat.  I'm looking forward to trying some of their entrees for dinner soon.  There's a decidedly Asian twist (maybe that explains the white pepper) to the place, as you'll see from the menu, which is on their website.

Service was friendly and efficient, although the restaurant was mostly empty.  A big ol' glass of water was brought to the table immediately (without having to ask) and refilled when needed.  A nice touch.

Simon's : 301 Center Ave : Westwood, NJ : 201.666.8444 :  BYOB