CHOWDOWN: LOCAL EATERIES ON ‘BEST’ LIST

Img_9842Believe it, Mike, you’re on the list. No Joe’s proprietor Mike Tierney welcomes customers during the Sheehan Classic in June.

New Jersey Monthly magazine’s annual list of the state’s best restaurants is out, and the Red Bank area is represented, scoring in the upscale, bar, raw bar, coffee and other categories.

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Whether it’s underrepresented or perhaps even overrepresented we’ll leave to our commentariat to say.

First, a couple of non-surprises, as the Springsteen and Bon Jovi of the local restaurant scene — David Burke Fromagerie in Rumson and Nicholas in Middletown — are included in among the state’s 25 best, as rated by the magazine’s critics and dining editor. Both places are near shoo-ins on these sorts of rundowns.

Of bigtime chef David Burke‘s place, the magazine says (somewhat inscrutably, we must admit):

Once a bastion of Old World French cuisine, Fromagerie is now a stage for Burke’s whimsical design sense and imaginative food. Tongue on rye is deli, but tongue-in-cheek ascends to cuisine under Burke.

Um, OK, we’ll have the tongue on wry…

Re Nicholas, the blurbing is a bit more straightforward:

Still a preeminent experience, start to finish. The staff, the setting, the food, and the ambience are so superbly in synch you tend to leave here glowing.

Like Nicholas, Fromagerie is presumably classed among the state’s “upscale” restaurants, and, alas, there’s only room for one “best” in the Central Jersey region, as determined in voting by NJ Monthly’s readers. And in that category, Nicholas was the winner.

Also tops in Central Jersey, according to balloting:

• Best Bar Scene: Red, Red Bank (also chosen as best statewide by the magazine’s critics)

• Best Raw Bar: Ashes Cigar Club, Red Bank

• Best Brunch: Molly Pitcher Inn, Red Bank

• Best Coffee/Tea Bar: No Ordinary Joe Cafe, Red Bank

• Best French: David Burke Fromagerie, Rumson

• Best Indian: Neelam, Middletown

• Best Seafood: Doris & Ed’s, Highlands

• Best Vegetarian: Down to Earth, Red Bank

That last one’s got to be a bit of an embarrassment for the magazine, given that Down to Earth went out of business more than a year ago. But there is a cookbook that survives, if that counts…

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