Like the Melting Pot.. but.. not..
January 14, 2010 6:27 PM   Subscribe

Suggestions for a North NJ (not NYC) dining ... "experience" - think melting pot/hibatchi kinda places, but not either of those?

I know this is probably worded weird.. I am taking a good friend out to dinner (birthday) and she has requested someplace "unique" and "fun"... but it's got to be in North NJ, but NOT NYC.
When I asked her to help me out, she said "...someplace like Melting Pot, where you get to participate in the dining experience or someplace we can sit on pillows to eat". I'm at a loss... Anyone have any ideas or pointers?
I'm not concerned about price, I'd just like to do something nice for her :-) Bonus points if it's good food (more for me than her LOL)
posted by niteHawk to Food & Drink (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
How about one of the Portuguese restaurants in Newark, NJ? You can also pick up dessert afterward at the Portuguese bakeries down the street.

It's not where you'd sit on pillows, but it's boisterous.
posted by chengjih at 6:41 PM on January 14, 2010

How about an Ethiopian restaurant? There's a great one in New Brunswick, though I don't think that qualifies as North Jersey. I'm sure there are some up there, though. Depends on the restaurant, but at some of them you sit on low seats, and the food is served on a large tray. There are all sorts of veqgie and meat dishes, and you wrap them in Ethiopian spongy bread. It's fun, and the food is really delicious.

Another suggestion is a sushi place where you can sit at the sushi bar and watch it being made. That's always really cool to see, though not exactly participatory.
posted by amro at 6:41 PM on January 14, 2010

Route 46, Parsippany NJ:

Haven't been here in years (dancer was a friend), but pillows, etc, are at Marakesh in an otherwise, to say the least, unimpressive strip mall.

If you like great Polish food, and negative atmosphere, here's a place that doesn't even have a web page:
Ania European Gourmet Deli
290 U S Highway No 46, ParsippanyNJ
Pretty near the above, but on 46 West (Marakesh is 46 east) and the strip mall is perpendicular to Rt 46 (Marakesh is parallel). This may not seem important.

And finally, DIM SUM! In Parsippany! Deep in Arlington Plaza!
Noodle Chu Dim Sum Seafood 770 Rt 46 (west) Parsippany.
This is not a secret--there are many over-the-top reviews of this wonderful place, located at the back of the Arlington Plaza mall, near Home Depot and the Shoprite Liquor Store (not near Shoprite, though). I think Dim Sum is just Sunday lunch and special days (we went there christmas and had to wait for a table). Shoprite liquor is pretty good too--cheap booze.
posted by hexatron at 6:53 PM on January 14, 2010 [1 favorite]

How about an Ethiopian restaurant? There's a great one in New Brunswick, though I don't think that qualifies as North Jersey.

Makeda was my first thought as well, but I also agree it probably doesn't fit the "North Jersey" requirement. You might also try asking over on the Mid Atlantic board at Chowhound.
posted by booksherpa at 6:55 PM on January 14, 2010

Not an experience, per se, but in Bloomfield there's a place called The Orange Squirrel. I've eaten all over the world and The Orange Squirrel is still one of my favorite restaurants and beats the pants off a lot of high-end NYC dining as well. A little pricey, but the food is extraordinary and the chef is a nice guy.
posted by GilloD at 7:26 PM on January 14, 2010

How about some Korean BBQ? It's been a long time since I've lived in North NJ, but I'm fairly certain that the Fort Lee area will still have some fun and good restaurants to try.

A quick google turned up this place: (note that 2 locations are listed, one in Manhattan, and another in Fort Lee, NJ), but there seems to be plenty more...
posted by NikitaNikita at 7:30 PM on January 14, 2010

I am with all those suggesting Ethiopian. It is delicious and it is fun! My favorite is Mesob in Montclair, NJ. Mmm.
posted by tastybrains at 7:31 PM on January 14, 2010

2nd-ing Marakesh! Make sure you find out when the dancing happens, and stay till the end when everyone gets to dance too (it's BYOB, so that helps with the dancing!). An awesome place to go and try cool mediterranean food and share hummus and babaganoush with everyone!
posted by KateHasQuestions at 8:11 PM on January 14, 2010

Jefferson Diner.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 8:39 PM on January 14, 2010

Medieval Times in Lyndhurst?

If you want to go more for better food than funky experience, Mr. WanKenobi and I used to enjoy Bangkok Kitchen in Caldwell.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:57 PM on January 14, 2010

You could try Brazilian Barbeque/Churrasco. Servers wander around the tables DimSum-style with a variety of meat-based foods. Each table or person has a flag or marker that you put out when you want more food and take away (or turn over or something) when you don't want any more, to signal the servers to stop or not stop at your table. It's a lot of fun, though it's easy for it to get less slow or low key than fondue. Think: "oh, there's the sausage guy, quick turn the plastic disk over!" But how frenetic it ends up is probably up to you.
posted by sentient at 9:56 PM on January 14, 2010

You have some excellent suggestions here already. I was going to come in and suggest Mesob as well, the Ethiopian place in Montclair. As for Korean BBQ, this place in Parsippanny is pretty good and would qualify as an experience, I think. I've heard good things about Marakesh too, although I've never been there, but they are practically next door to the Korean BBQ place.
No offense to Zen Master This, but I wouldn't call the Jefferson Diner an experience; perhaps it's because I've been eating there since I was a kid, but it's just a good NJ diner. If you're from northern NJ, I would assume you eat at good diners all the time!
I've eaten at this Brazilian BBQ place and I have to say it was lots of fun, as sentient says. I didn't think most of the food was incredible by any means, but it was good and my companions especially liked it. They roll around carts with whole roasted pigs, and come by with small skewered whole poultry (quail, maybe?) and just about every kind of protein you can imagine. You'll be insanely full by the time you leave.
posted by katie at 3:19 AM on January 15, 2010

What about Harrar Cafe in South Orange? (Ethiopian). Call ahead and see if they are having a coffee ceremony - I was there on a Friday night and they did...sounds like something your friend would enjoy.

If you're looking to have a beer after I like the Gaslight.
posted by beyond_pink at 7:35 AM on January 15, 2010

I came in to say Korean BBQ. Been to a place near Princeton that was great but I have no idea of the name.
posted by reptile at 7:42 AM on January 15, 2010

Response by poster: You guys are the BEST!!
posted by niteHawk at 4:23 PM on January 16, 2010

« Older Advice on finding cleaning service in White Plains...   |   vhs video capture problem Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.