Two local restaurants — Thyme Square, on Broad Street, and Nicholas, on Route 35 in Middletown — are included in the ‘ten best’ list of those visited this year by Star-Ledger reviewer Art Namendorf, who goes by the nom de blog The Artful Diner.

“There is absolutely no question in my mind that Nicholas is the most superlative dining experience the Garden State has to offer,” Namendorf gushes from the get-go in his entry on that eatery.

Before he’s done, he’s also waxed on about “the electrifying interplay between cinnamon jus and tincture of quince that accompanies the incredibly moist braised suckling pig.”

As for Thyme Square, Namendorf begins:

Even in a restaurant rich community like Red Bank, there is always room for an establishment that serves up first-rate, casually creative cuisine at reasonable prices. And this is surely the case with Rona & Steve Rosenstein’s Thyme Square. Chef James Corona, the power behind the stove, cooks up an appetizing array of superb bistro fare with Mediterranean flair that is decidedly innovative but still manages to maintain a comfortingly homey touch.


More on Thyme Square:

When it comes to the entrees, the messe-rigatoni — al dente pasta partnered with chunks of caramelized eggplant, fresh plum tomatoes, and touch of basil — is simple yet sublime and exhibits an excellent combo of flavors. Tender slices of skirt steak are set atop a luscious melange of pesto fingerling potatoes and crowned with an ingratiating dollop of red onion marmalade; and the incredibly moist organic chicken breast is pillowed on potato puree, with chorizo & green olives adding a hint of spice and sweet & sour peppers a splash of color.

Gotta love those ingratiating dollops! Speaking of which, here’s an ingratiating dollop of the Thyme Square dinner menu: Download dinner.pdf

More on Nicholas:

To start things off, the Parisienne gnocchi is without peer, as is the ethereal beef carpaccio. On the other hand, who could resist the unmitigated joy of delicate flakes of peekytoe crab salad set on an infectiously crunchy coriander tuile chaperoned by a scintillating red pepper vinaigrette?

Who, indeed? Here’s the Nicholas menu.

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