Feels like 36°F

September 3, 2012

Christin’s Morning Spoon: Carpe Diem in Hoboken

After a successful, but parade-less Hoboken St. Patrick’s Day, my brunch buddy and I were lucky enough to enjoy Sunday brunch with a few more people than usual.  Joined by The Drunken Polar Bear, his girl friend Sue, and his friend Enrique, we ventured to one of uptown Hoboken’s hidden gems, Carpe Diem.  Carpe Diem is located right underneath the viaduct on the corner of 14th and Grand.

Carpe Diem is the perfect place for a post movie drink and dinner is pretty good too.  My favorite spot is the two chairs in the dining area right next to the fire.  It is perfect for enjoying a delicious drink on a chilly night.

Challenged to find a place that would give us the greasy and tasty food we were craving after a long day/night of celebrating, we decided Carpe Diem was the place to try.  It also didn’t hurt that Carpe Diem is right up the street – easy to get to with little effort!

Here is my recap.

No Wait.  Since we all had a pretty long Saturday, it took us awhile to get ourselves together and ready for brunch. We met at Carpe Diem at noon and, lucky for us, there was only one other table full. Surprisingly, there were more people seated at the bar than in the dining area of brunch.

Since it was nearly empty, our waitress let us choose where we wanted to sit.  We decided on a table right up against the outside window.  We had plenty of space to spread out and recap our crazy nights.

Warm, Welcoming Environment.  Unlike many of the typical bar/restaurants on the Hoboken scene, Carpe Diem has a unique, neighborhood feel.  Whenever I have been in there, it seems like everyone knows everyone.

On their website, they have the phrase “welcome stranger, farewell friend.”  I think that perfectly sums up the inviting, comfortable atmosphere.  The music is never too loud and you can easily sit at the bar for a casual drink, chat with friends, the bartenders or even strangers.

Breakfast/Lunch Selections.  Carpe Diem has a large, diverse brunch menu, but a majority of it focuses on lunch selections.  On the breakfast side they have frittatas, egg sandwiches and an Irish Breakfast.  The “create your own breakfast” sandwich gives you the choice of breakfast meat:  bacon, ham, sausage or turkey (sadly no Taylor ham) and a pick of a variety of cheeses to add to your egg.  They can be put on a Kaiser roll, seven grain bread, white bread or Texas toast (my favorite).  Sandwich are served with a choice of home fries, French fries, sweet potato fries or yogurt.

My friend Sue decided on the create your own breakfast sandwich with egg whites, bacon and mozzarella.  She thought it was delicious and loved that she had so many options for creating a delicious, customized breakfast sandwich.

For the lunch, there are salads, burgers and sandwiches. There are five different salad choices:  house, harvest (baked brie, walnuts, raisins and tomatoes), Caesar, pear (pears, walnuts, blue cheese) and orange chicken salad.  For the sandwiches, they have a number of choices including chicken and mozzarella, buffalo chicken and katie’s way – open faced turkey sandwich with bacon and gruyere with gravy.  One thing that I love about Carpe Diem’s sandwiches is that you can order them in a peckish (a little hungry) or lee (very hungry) portion.

Frittatas.  Carpe Diem has a number of delicious sounding frittatas, something not typical on brunch menus.  The Brie Frittata immediately jumped out at me.  It is made with brie, bacon and tomatoes.  After initially sounding great, I decided I would prefer to have Swiss instead of brie and no tomatoes, so instead of annoying the waitress with my substitutions, I decided to keep looking for a better option.

I decided on the Western Frittata.  It is made with cheddar cheese, red and green peppers, onions and ham.  I was amazing!  The portion was perfect and packed with a ton of flavor.  For my side, I chose the potato hash.  Potatoes are mixed in with peppers and onions.  There was a little heat to the potatoes adding a great compliment to the frittata.

The Morning After.  Carpe Diem has an array of burgers on their brunch menu.  A few of the delicious choices include the Brie Burger; bacon, melted brie and fresh herbs, the California Burger, lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles and a cilantro jalapeno sauce and Claire’s Favorite, gorgonzola cheese and thin crisp onions.

All three of the guys picked the perfect burger for their first meal after a long day of drinking, The Morning After. The Morning After Burger is piled high with cheddar cheese, bacon, a friend egg, lettuce and tomato and finished off with a garlic aioli spread.

The burgers come with a choice of French fries, sweet potato fries, soup or salad.  My brunch buddy picked the sweet potato fries – definitely the right choice.  They were served with an aioli dipping sauce that was amazing.  I took a few fries from him while he was not looking.  All three of the guys loved it, which you could easily see since all three of them finished every bite!

Out of five spoons, I give Carpe Diem four.  All five of us really enjoyed our meals.  Everything tasted delicious and the service was great.  My favorite parts were the home fries and of course the sweet potato fries with the aioli dipping sauce.  Amazing!

Carpe Diem is a great, local hangout that really makes you feel at home.  It is definitely worth making the trek uptown for a drink or grabbing a pre beer garden dinner.  And on Thursday nights Carpe Diem offers half off bottles of wine.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

February 12, 2012

Christin’s Morning Spoon: The Malibu Diner

Saturday morning my brunch buddy and I were catching up on Top Chef Texas reruns, one of our favorite shows.  Their quick fire challenge was to make a whimsical pancake for Pee-wee Herman.  As we watched the chefs prepare delicious ricotta pancakes and crazy sprinkle filled pancakes, we both decided a pancake brunch needed to be in our immediate future.

After scanning the menus of a few brunch places in search of a delicious pancake selection, my brunch buddy suggested that we try the Malibu Diner.

The Malibu Diner is located at 257 14th Street, right on the corner of 14th and Park.  Believe it or not, after living so close to it, I have never actually been there – not even for a late night post-bar snack.  He promised great pancakes, so I was sold!

Here is my recap.

Parking Right out Front.  My brunch buddy called his friend Chris to come join us for brunch.  We hopped in my car and drove over to the Malibu Diner.  At first I was concerned about trying to park, but then remembered the parking lot in the front and side of the diner.  To be able to drive and park (without having to pay) right in front of a restaurant is a huge bonus for a place in Hoboken.  So even though the walk is quick, it was great to be a little lazy and just jump in the car and not have to deal with finding a spot.

Not So Great Service. After we met Chris, we sat down and read through our menus (obviously turning straight to the pancake section).  We decided on our meals, closed our menus and waited…and waited and waited, but our waitress did not come.  After about ten minutes, she finally arrived and took our order.  Luckily, our food came out pretty quickly, because by then we were starving.

After we were done eating we again waited quite awhile for our plates to be cleared and the check to arrive.  As Chris pointed out, we were at a diner, so we should not expect amazing service.  Although it was slow, our waitress was friendly enough.  We weren’t in a rush to leave breakfast, so it just gave us extra time to sit and relax.

Plenty of Menu Choices.  One of the things that always deters me from going to a diner is their incredibly large selection of meals.  I always think that if a menu has that many items, they can’t possibly make them taste great.  But if you are looking for a quick, cheap breakfast, diners are the way to go.

In addition to a large selection of pancakes (I’ll get to them in a minute), they have eggs any way you could possibly dream; omelets, skillets and benedicts.  They also have Belgian waffles, French toast and even bagels.  Regardless of what you are in the mood for, they most likely have it on their menu.

My brunch buddy was toying with the idea of ordering a side of bacon, but at the last minute decided on a halved cantaloupe.  He loved it.  He thought it was very fresh and a great healthy snack to hold him over until our meal arrived.

Lots of Pancakes.  Just as my brunch buddy said, the Malibu Diner has a ton of pancake varieties.  They have fresh fruit, cinnamon raisin, peach n’ cream, peanut butter and chocolate chip and apple walnut pancakes.

My brunch buddy made a healthy substitution and ordered whole wheat pancakes with blueberries.  Expecting fresh blueberries, he was very disappointed to see the blueberry compote on his pancakes.  He hoped that fresh blueberries would be mixed in with the batter.  He ended up wiping off the syrupy blueberry compote with his fork and eating them semi plain.

Chris ordered banana peanut butter pancakes.  Unlike my brunch buddy, he loved his, commenting that they were definitely a four spoon pancake.  He also ordered a side of bacon, which was placed right on top of his pancakes.

Chocolate Chip Pancakes.  After debating between banana walnut or chocolate chip pancakes, I decided on chocolate chip.  They are usually my all-time favorite and I was definitely in the mood for something chocolate-y.  I was served three large pancakes, with mini chocolate chips mixed right into the batter.

They were a little dry and the chocolate chips on one side of the pancakes were burnt.  The only syrup option was in a small plastic container, which did not taste that great – I am a big fan of real Vermont maple syrup.

Out of five spoons, I give the Malibu Diner three.  With such a large and diverse menu, there is sure to be something to please everyone in your brunch party.  Sadly though, the taste definitely does not compete with the many great brunch spots in Hoboken.

The pancakes were good and since all three of us got them, maybe something else on the menu would have tasted a bit better.  Since it is one of the only true diners in Hoboken, it’s clean, large and a great place to stop for any meal of the day or even a late night snack since the Malibu is open 24/7.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

January 20, 2012

Christin’s Morning Spoon: The Hoboken Gourmet Company

This week, my brunch buddy was a little under the weather, so we decided to mix up our typical weekend brunch outing and order take out instead.  Since it was absolutely freezing out Sunday morning, I wanted to pick a place close by so that I did not have to be out in the bitter cold for too long.

After debating between a few options, we decided on The Hoboken Gourmet Company.  It is located in midtown Hoboken at 423 Washington Street.

It is pretty easy to miss this great little spot if you aren’t paying attention.  I have walked past it many times, without even realizing it was there.  Luckily for me, my brunch buddy lives a few buildings down. He always says it is a great place for breakfast, lunch or even to sit and enjoy a coffee.

Here’s my recap:

Adorable Inside.  Three steps down on Washington lead you into a charming, quaint space, perfect for enjoying a morning meal.  Being that I did not get to eat in, I spent a few minutes taking in the atmosphere while waiting for our food to be ready.

Since it is so easy to miss this great little spot, I was happy to see so many people inside.  There are about eight tables and when I arrived around 10:30, they were all full.  There were a variety of people: families, college kids and groups of friends.  Everyone looked relaxed and excited about enjoying their delicious meals.

A counter is located at the front.  Behind it, there were different pastries and muffins that look absolutely amazing.  At the table closest to the door, two little girls were enjoying large chocolate chip muffins.  They looked great – I was very jealous I did not order one for myself.

Quick for takeout.  Although they had a full restaurant, our meal was still ready in about 15 minutes.  Since the counter is right up front, it was very easy to walk in and pick up our food.  It is set to the left of the tables, so I did not have to dodge chairs, tables and people.  I was able to run in and grab my food, without interrupting anyone’s meals or bothering any of the waitresses.

Lots of Eggs.  Hoboken Gourmet Company’s breakfast menu is dominated by egg dishes.  They offer a variety of omelets:  Garden Omelet with red and green peppers, onions, tomatoes and mozzarella, Italian Omelet with arugula, basil and goat cheese and Western Omelet with peppers, ham, tomatoes, onions and cheddar.

In addition to omelets, they have Huevos Rancheros and Lydia’s Breakfast Tacos.  I have obviously heard of Huevos Rancheros, but was very interested in what breakfast tacos would be like.  Three scrambled eggs are mixed with chrizo, cilantro and jalapenos and the wrapped in two corn tortillas and served with beans and salsa.

My brunch buddy ordered Three Eggs Any Style.  He chose scrambled eggs topped with cheddar cheese.  It was served with home fries, corned beef hash and Italian toast.  Usually a skeptic of take-out breakfast, he thought it tasted just as good as if we were enjoying it at the restaurant.  He really liked the corned beef hash!

If you are not in the mood for eggs, there are only three items on the breakfast menu that are not egg based.  They have yogurt with granola and fresh berries, oatmeal with fruit and a bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, tomato and onions.

Omelet.  Since I did not want any of the omelets on the menu, I decided to make my own.  I ordered an egg white omelet with cheddar cheese, ham and onions.  This tends to be my go-to omelet of choice and I seem to be trying it out all over Hoboken.  And this was definitely one of my favorites!  Sometimes egg white omelets are a little dry and lack the flavor of a regular omelet, but this one was amazing.  It had great flavor and while eating it, I almost forgot I went for the slightly healthier route.

The omelet was served with a side of delicious home fries.  Instead of typical toast, I really liked that Hoboken Gourmet Company served it with smaller slices of Italian bread.

Lunch Options.  The Hoboken Gourmet Company has a large lunch menu.  They have six delicious sounding salads.  There is the Hoboken Gourmet Mango Salad, baby green, tomatoes, red onion, pecans and mangoes tossed in a citrus dressing.  They also have a Warm Grilled Chicken Salad with blue cheese, avocado, roasted red peppers, cranberries and sunflower seeds tossed in a balsamic vinaigrette.

There are also a number of wraps and sandwiches.  They have all of the basic types of sandwiches, tuna salad, chicken salad, fresh mozzarella and ham and swiss.  The turkey, brie and honey Dijon sandwich sounds delicious.  They also serve one of my favorite cold weather lunches, soup and grilled cheese with tomato.  In addition to these sandwiches they also have a few types of pasta and a chicken entrée.

Even if you are not in the mood for a meal, The Hoboken Gourmet Company has a great variety of coffees and teas.  At the front of the restaurant, in one of the window areas, they have a coffee and tea station for customers to prepare their drinks.  It is the perfect place to warm up on a cold day and enjoy a coffee or pastry with a friend!

Out of five spoons, I give The Hoboken Gourmet Company three and a half.  Although I did not get to enjoy the experience of dining in, I loved the welcoming atmosphere on the place.  My brunch buddy and I both loved our breakfasts (I am even thinking about going back tomorrow!).  If eggs are not your favorite and you are looking for more diversity in a breakfast place, this may not be the best place for you.  But definitely give them a try for lunch!


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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)

January 7, 2012

Christin’s Morning Spoon: The Clinton Social in Hoboken

After a great holiday season, I started 2012 off right with a New Year’s Day brunch at The Clinton Social.  It is located at 700 Clinton Street, on the corner of Clinton and 7th Streets, right across the street from A&P.  They are open for brunch on Saturdays and Sundays starting at noon.

I have been to The Clinton Social a few times for dinner, but never tried their brunch.  For New Year’s Day, they had a brunch special:  an entrée and two brunch cocktails, bloody Mary, mimosa, draft beer or house wine, for $20.  Unfortunately, my brunch buddy and I were never told about the deal and only saw it advertised as we paid the check.

Here’s my recap.

Two rooms, two different feels.  As you walk into The Clinton Social, the first room is the bar.  There is a large bar with TVs perfect for watching the game, and there are high tables up against the windows.  The bar area was partially filled with quite the noisy crowd.  Since we had a late New Year’s Eve and were looking for a quieter meal, we decided to sit in the back room.

The back room has a completely different feel from the bar section.  The exposed brick and brightly painted walls bring light into the area, creating a warm and inviting space.  This gives it more an upscale feel in contrast with the front bar. The back area has about fifteen tables.  The hostess offered to seat us at a table next to two families with little children or at a table in the middle of the walkway.  When we asked if we could sit in the back corner by the windows, we were told that all of the tables had reservations, so there were only a limited number of tables to chose from.  We chose the table in the walkway, and by the end of our meal, only one table was seated!

Small Breakfast Menu.  The Clinton Social’s brunch menu only has a limited selection of brunch items.  Although there are only eight items, the menu is very diverse.  They have steak & eggs, a smoked salmon platter, French toast and short rib hash.  The most interesting item on the menu was the Eggs David.  It is The Clinton Social’s unique spin on Eggs Benedict.  English muffins are topped with meatloaf, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce.  It is definitely not something I would try, but my brunch buddy said that was his second choice.

The Clinton Social does have a larger menu with lunch items.  There are numerous appetizers, my favorite of which is the artichoke and goat cheese pierogies.  My girlfriends and I shared them the last time we were there and absolutely loved them.  There are a few choices of sliders, salads, pizzas, sandwiches and even pasta.  If you are looking for a more of a lunch spot, this is your place.  They also have a number of lunch cocktails if a liquid lunch is more your speed!

Huevos Rancheros.  Instead of the Eggs David, my brunch buddy ordered the Huevos Rancheros.  Black beans, jalapenos, avocado and sour cream are served with eggs made your way and placed atop a corn tortilla.  He chose two sunny side up eggs.  He liked that Clinton Social did something a little different with the meal, but felt like they sacrificed practicality for presentation when they fanned out the three tortillas around the eggs in the middle. Overall, he said they were among his favorite huevos in town, after he got through the ordeal of rearranging his plate.

I have actually never tried Huevos Ranceros.  I always thought eggs combined with the fixings for an amazing burrito are a bit too odd for a morning meal.  Boy was I wrong!  I skeptically tried his brunch and I was instantly overcome with food envy.  It was amazing.  I loved the mix of flavors that were in every bite, absolutely amazing.

The Social Breakfast.  I was truthfully stumped over what to order for brunch.  I did not really feel like pancakes and I had French toast the day before.  So after I bit of deliberating, I decided on The Social Breakfast.  Although I thought it was a bit too much food, I went for it anyway.   It consists of two eggs any style, bacon or sausage, home fries, toast and two pancakes. I chose scrambled eggs with a bit of cheddar cheese and asked if I could have it without the pancakes. My brunch buddy scoffed at me giving up food, and gladly offered to eat a few bites of them for me.

When my meal arrived, it turned out not to be as big as I was expecting.  There were only two slices of bacon and the pancakes were actually very tiny.  Even though I initially wanted to eliminate the pancakes, they were actually my favorite part – just the right amount of vanilla; sweet and powerful, without being overbearing.

A Bit Expensive.   Almost all of the items on the brunch menu are around $12-$14.  The most expensive, the short rib hash is $18.  My brunch buddy’s Huevos Rancheros were $12 and my social breakfast was $14 ($15 after they tacked on a dollar for cheese).  Although it may not seem like that much, for the portion size, I thought that it was a little pricey.  They also did not give a bread basket which is a huge letdown to me!

I was recently told that I was a bit too generous with my spoons last year, so for 2012, I will be a bit tougher.  Out of five spoons, I give The Clinton Social three.  As a whole it was a good brunch, but lacked the variety of breakfast choices that I was really hoping for.  Although my brunch buddy and I both enjoyed our meals, for the price, we felt that the food could have been a bit tastier.

Next week, I will be brunching at Marty O’Briens Social Club.  It is a newly redone bar/restaurant on the corner of 1st and Bloomfield, where Buskers used to be.

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Rating: 9.5/10 (4 votes cast)

December 11, 2011

Christin’s Morning Spoon: Court Street Brunch in Hoboken

After a relaxing trip to Florida for Thanksgiving, my brunch buddy and I are back in the chilly weather. This past weekend we decided to try Sunday brunch at Court Street. Court Street is one of Hoboken’s oldest family-owned restaurants. They pride themselves on serving high quality food at a reasonable price. We have been to Court Street once before for a delicious dinner so we were very excited to try out their brunch menu.

Court Street is located on 6th Street between Washington and Hudson Streets. Since we arrived just as it was opening, 11am, we were one of the first tables in the restaurant.

Bread Basket: Irish Soda Bread and Fresh Fruit. As you know, I LOVE when brunch spots give a muffin or bread basket. It is a great way to hold you over while waiting for your meal to come out. Court Street serves a bread basket of delicious Irish soda bread. The center is soft and the ends are crunchy; my ideal combo for a great piece of Irish soda bread. I thought it was very unique and a great way to stand out to a diner.

Fruit Salad: They also serve a fresh fruit salad. Unlike most restaurants where the fruit seems a bit old and mushy, at Court Street, the fruit looks and tastes like it is cut fresh for each cup. There was a mixture of watermelon, grapes, cantaloupe and honeydew. All of the pieces were delicious and refreshing.

Amazing Service: My brunch buddy’s best friend started working as a waiter at Court Street and we have been promising for a few weeks that we would visit for brunch. Since we were there on the early side, there were plenty of tables to choose from, so we picked a spot in his section. We were very excited to have his bff as our waiter!

We knew he would be a fun, entertaining addition to our brunch. Of course, he followed through with every request that we made and ensured we had a delightful brunch. You may be thinking, “Well they obviously had great service if they knew the waiter.”

But aside from him, everyone we interacted with at Court Street went above and beyond to ensure we had a great brunch experience. Our waters were refilled before we could even think of needing one. Numerous people came by our table to see how our meal was going and to ask if there was anything else we needed. The very friendly and accommodating staff made this a great brunch.

Cocktails by the Pitcher: $12.00 Morning Cocktail Pitchers. Court Street has a full bar and a great morning cocktail. Not only do they offer the typical morning drinks: Bloody Marys, Screwdrivers and Mimosas, they also serve the Poinsettia – cranberry juice with champagne. Each drink is $6.00 each or only $12.00 for a pitcher, great place to start off Sunday Funday! They also serve champagne and my favorite, a peach or mango Bellini.

My brunch buddy and I decided not to have a morning cocktail since we had a busy day ahead of us. He did order a coffee that he thought was good.

Build Your Own Omelet: I chose the build your own omelet. I decided to go with an egg white omelet to be a little healthy (it was $1.00 extra). There is a long list of ingredients to choose from; four types of cheese, vegetables and breakfast meats. The omelet is served with a side of home fries and an English muffin. In the past year I have developed a new found love for English muffins so I was very excited to see these on my plate instead of typical toast.

For my three, I selected cheddar cheese, ham and sautéed onions. When I cut into my omelet, it was overflowing with ham and onions. I have never had am omelet packed so full. The omelet was nice and fluffy, with so much flavor in each bite.

My brunch buddy also ordered the build your own omelet. He went a little wild and picked re-fried beans, sautéed onions and peppers. He thought the omelet was very well done, and remarked on how much food comes out with every order.

Breakfast/Lunch Selection: Court Street’s brunch menu offers a great variety of breakfast and lunch dishes, sure to please everyone at your table. They have a Grand Marnier French Toast that immediately caught my eye. It is served with your choice of breakfast meat. Along with the typical breakfast meat selection of bacon, sausage and ham, they serve a corned beef hash. My brunch buddy decided to order a side of it because he decided it looked too delicious to pass up. He loved it, and although the portion was large, almost finished the entire thing.

In addition to the typical Eggs Benedict, they have a variety of twists on the breakfast favorite. There is a Florentine, smoked salmon, crab cab and seafood versions.

Court Street also has a colossal breakfast dish, “The Starving Hobokenite.” For only $13 you get three eggs any style, choice of breakfast meat, home fries and three buttermilk pancakes. Gigantic meal for an amazing price!

More Lunch Options: For lunch they offer sandwiches, salads and pasta. They serve a black forest ham sandwich on a croissant with apples, brie and mustard dressing. Kate’s Popeye Salad has fresh spinach mixed with cucumbers, apples, celery, walnuts and onions tossed in a lemon garlic dressing. If you are looking for something more hearty, Court Street also had a penne pasta dish with sweet sausage, fresh basil, tomato, garlic and olive oil.

The Verdict: Out of five spoons, I give Court Street four and half. It was by far the best service I have had while brunching in Hoboken. I loved that they gave really fresh fruit and delicious Irish soda bread. The Irish soda bread was very unique and a great way to start a delicious meal. Bread baskets really are the way to go!

Next weekend will be another traveling brunch review. My brunch buddy and I will be checking out the Victorian Christmas decorations in Cape May and having brunch at the Mad Batter.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

November 19, 2011

Christin’s Morning Spoon: Backyards Bistro

A few years ago, my old roommate and I were in search of a cheap BYOB to enjoy a delicious meal and have a bottle of wine. I had passed by Backyards Bistro many times during my 30+ minute post-work search for parking. Each time I passed, I thought “I will never, ever eat there.”

Backyards Bistro Hoboken Exterior

One night after looking through the menu, we decided to give it a try. I was a little reluctant and nervous that the food would not be good, but after trying their mac and cheese and pretzel bread, I was completely hooked. They have a variety of delicious sandwiches (my favorite is the San Francisco). I have introduced it to many of my friends and since then, it has become one of our favorites.

I have never been there for brunch, so this past Sunday, my brunch buddy and I gave it a try. Backyards Bistro is tucked away at 732 Jefferson Street. It is a small unassuming white building on the corner of Jefferson and 8th Streets. Unfortunately their website is down, so you’ll have to pass by to check out their menu.

Here is my recap…

Looks may be deceiving: From the outside, Backyards Bistro does not look like the most appealing place. But don’t be fooled by the exterior, because great food is waiting for you inside. Backyards is under new management and the interior has been fixed up and freshly painted. Luckily the menu has stayed the same.

Empty: Every time I have ever been to Backyards, the restaurant is empty. A few people usually stroll in to pick up take out orders, but for the most part, there have never been more than two or three other tables filled with people. There are about ten small tables and a counter.

Backyards Bistro Hoboken Interior

The one great thing about Backyards is that you never have to worry about dealing with a wait. For most of our meal, we were the only other people in the restaurant. Even though we were the only ones there, we did feel a bit neglected. My brunch buddy had to wait quite awhile for a refill on his water, which he was not too thrilled about.

Breakfast Items: Backyards Bistro serves brunch Saturday and Sundays from 10am-3pm. In addition to the sandwiches and salads on the dinner menu, they have a number of breakfast items. They have egg sandwiches, a breakfast burrito, pancakes and Backyard’s take of Eggs Benedict, Eggs Jefferson.

My brunch buddy order the Three Egg Scramble. Three scrambled eggs are served over hash browns with a side of toast. To jazz up the scramble, he added cheese, tomatoes and onions and ordered a side of bacon. Overall, he thought the meal was OK, but very greasy. The cheese was laid on top of the scramble to melt rather than mixed in, which may sound good but it looked congealed and greasy. He thought the potatoes were good, but the bacon was overdone.

Backyards Bistro Hoboken Food 1

The “Vermonster”: Initially I wanted to try the crème brule French toast, but in the end I ordered the “Vermonster” breakfast sandwich. Pretzel bread is top with eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns and cheddar cheese. I decided to make a substitution and asked for Taylor ham instead of the bacon and sausage. Unfortunately, the kitchen did not make the change and my sandwich was made with bacon and sausage.

I removed the sausage, but kept the bacon on. I really liked that the sandwich was made on pretzel bread instead of the typical breakfast sandwich made on a bagel or roll. I also enjoyed that the home fries were added into the sandwich instead of just on the side. I also wish the eggs were scrambled instead of just cooked similar to an omelet. Overall it was a good sandwich, but a bit too greasy.

Backyards Bistro Hoboken Food 2

Affordable: This was one of the least expensive brunches we have had so far. The total for two breakfasts and a coffee was only $20.00. The portions were large and I was completely full after finishing my sandwich.

Rating: Out of five spoons, I give Backyards Bistro three. Our meals were good, although a bit too greasy. The service was mediocre, but the bill was affordable. Although it was not the best for brunch, I would definitely recommend going for an affordable, delicious dinner.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (2 votes cast)

November 11, 2011

Christin’s Morning Spoon: Good of NYC Brunch Review

My brunch buddy and I enjoyed Saturday’s beautiful, crisp weather by going into NYC to try a new brunch spot. This week’s brunch spot was Good, located at 89 Greenwich Avenue, on the corner of Greenwich and Bank in the village. Since we had a late Friday night and a slow start in the morning, our Saturday trip into the city was running a little behind.

We left Hoboken around noon and took the PATH to 14th Street. From there it was a quick walk to Greenwich Avenue. We put our names on the list and were told the wait would be about 20 minutes. Since it was such a nice day outside, I was hoping we could bypass the wait and sit in the front, outdoor seating area. I figured it would be the last day to enjoy the beautiful weather before the cold weather rolls in. My brunch buddy shot me down right away saying it was a bit too cold to eat outside and a 20 minute wait was not that bad.

Good NYC Brunch Christin's Morning Spoon Exterior  #5

We took a stroll down Greenwich and right next door to Good was a NYC location of one of my favorite Hoboken shops, Jesse James. I browsed through quickly, and then checked out an adorable home store next door and the browsed the menus of a few other restaurants on Greenwich.

Before we knew it our 20 minutes were up and we went back to Good very hungry and excited for our brunch. Here’s my recap.

Amazing Staff. Once we returned to Good, we were hoping to be seated right away. Unfortunately a few tables were taking longer than expected to finish up their meals and the wait would be a bit more. We waited in the bar area and then as that started to fill up, moved back outside. The host came outside to let us know how sorry he was that the wait was taking longer than they anticipated. He even offered to get us a drink or coffee while we waited.

Within a few minutes he came back out to let us know that our table was ready. We were escorted in to a table towards the front of the restaurant.

Adorable Atmosphere. The adorable décor of Good was very welcoming. The cool blue walls brought light and energy to the restaurant. There are also large paintings of knives and forks on the walls that create a homey, comfortable place to enjoy a morning meal.

My favorite part of Good was the chalkboard paint they used around the bar area. White chalk was used to list Good’s cocktails and wines creatively on the walls.

Get it All Special. Good offers a get-it-all special for weekend brunch. For $24 you receive a house-made bread or side, egg, pancake or French toast dish and a morning cocktail. Each menu item is between $12-$14 and the drinks are about $10 so it is an amazing deal! My brunch buddy and I both decided that the get-it-all was the way to go.

Their side dish offerings include home fries, cheddar jalapeno grits, bacon, sausage, pancakes, eggs and yogurt. If I didn’t just have amazing grits at dinner the night before, that would have been my pick!

Good NYC Brunch Christin's Morning Spoon Drinks #2Breakfast Cocktails. Good’s morning drink menu has a collection of cocktails, beer and cider. Four of their drinks are included in the brunch special; the chipotle mary, passion mimosa, brunch punch and the goodMorning cocktail.

My brunch buddy ordered the goodBrunch punch. It is made with peach vodka, fresh strawberry and orange juices, peach schnapps and mint. As hungover as he was, he thought it tasted great and drank every drop. For me, it was a little too aggressive that early on a Saturday after a rough Friday night.

I ordered the PassionFruit Mimosa, a typical mimosa jazzed up with a passionfruit puree. Although it was great, I was hoping that the passionfruit would be more noticeable and impact the overall flavor of the drink more than it did. The orange juice was also a bit too pulpy, but nonetheless, a great morning drink.

House-made Breads and Sides. Good offers a mouth-watering selection of unique home-made breads. They have savory cheddar cornbread, hand-rolled orange sour cream donuts, warm buttermilk biscuits, pumpkin chocolate cherry bread, pear pecan crumbcake and biscuits with ham and jam. Each bread is $4.00 with the exception of the biscuits with ham and jam, which are $6.00. If the decision to just choose one is too tough, there is also a bread basket for $10.00, where you pick your top three favorites.

By the time we ordered our food, it was after 1:00, so we were very excited to have a little brunch appetizer. I chose the savory cheddar cornbread. I was served two warm and delicious pieces of cornbread. I absolutely love cornbread and with hints of cheddar cheese in every bite, it was amazing. I did add a little spread of butter for some extra taste.

My brunch buddy selected the buttermilk biscuits. They were amazing – browned and flakey with a buttery taste. He was given two large biscuits and, luckily, I was given a large piece of one.

Banana Cream Cheese Stuffed French Toast. For my brunch dish, I ordered the banana cream cheese stuffed French toast. French toast pockets are stuffed with a cream cheese banana mix. They are then topped with brown sugar and served with a side of flavorful maple syrup. I was slightly worried that it would be a little too banana-y so I added some sliced strawberries.

The French toast was delicious! It was stuffed with the perfect amount of filling, not too rich and overpowering, sweet without being too sweet. The four slices were way too much to eat, but I did my best!

Good NYC Brunch Christin's Morning Spoon #1

Basil & Goat Cheese Egg Scramble. My brunch buddy ordered the basil and goat cheese egg scramble. Eggs are scrambled together with ample goat cheese, then placed on sourdough bread. They Roasted cherry tomatoes, asparagus and pesto are served on the side. Again, he’s such a sucker for pesto!

He absolutely loved his breakfast, saying it may be his favorite yet. The eggs were cooked perfectly and the goat cheese/pesto/roasted tomatoes combination put the meal over the top.

To top off the amazing food and experience at Good, a fantastic nineties music station was on throughout our meal. We were able to catch up on some of our favorite jams from the past while enjoying a delicious brunch.

Good NYC Brunch Christin's Morning Spoon Omlette #3


Brunch Rating. Out of five spoons, I give Good five! Everything about Good was amazing – friendly staff, welcoming atmosphere, great drinks and amazing food. The get-it-all special allows you to try their delicious food and drinks at a great price. It is absolutely worth the trip into NYC for this amazing brunch gem!

Next weekend I will be staying in Hoboken to try brunch at Backyard Bistro, one of my favorite BYOB dinner spots in town. I can’t wait to try their brunch!

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October 5, 2011

Christin’s Morning Spoon: The Little Grocery in Hoboken

This past Saturday, my brunch buddy and I woke up early to prep for a much anticipated afternoon wedding. Since we were brunching earlier than normal (8:45 am!), we wanted a place that served a delicious breakfast that would hold us over until the appetizers at the cocktail hour. Since I had a 10:00 am hair appointment downtown (which did not go well), we needed a quick, convenient place near the hair salon. Our pick was The Little Grocery.

After being told time and time again how great The Little Grocery is, we finally had the perfect opportunity to try one of Hoboken’s best hidden treats. It is tucked away, off the beaten path, at 214 Jefferson Street. Although it is a little far from Washington Street, it is absolutely worth the walk! Here is my recap.

Quaint Café. Similar to last week’s brunch spot, The Little Grocery is a small, charming café. There are only five tables inside, all best for parties of two. Each table has an iconic French picture that hints at the café’s Parisian theme. There is also a small seating area out front with a few tables, perfect for enjoying a great breakfast or lunch before the cold winter weather rolls in.

When you walk in, the counter for ordering, cooking and serving is towards the back left. It gives the vibe of being in someone’s kitchen waiting for your home cooked morning meal. There are shelves on the side selling boxed goods and coolers with juices and sodas. Chalkboards above the counter list their menu options and varieties of coffee and teas.

Great place for Takeout. For me, on most weekend mornings, it is a chore to get ready and head out for breakfast at a decent hour. Many times I opt for quick run to the local bagel shop instead of enjoying a real breakfast. The best part about The Little Grocery is that it combines restaurant quality food, with the ease and quickness of a bagel shop.

Since The Little Grocery is rather small, it is the perfect place for take out. You can call ahead and place an order or stop in to enjoy the scenery or surf the web on their free Wi-Fi while waiting for your meal to be prepared.

While we were waiting for our breakfast, a dad and two children, still in their pajamas, were ordering a morning breakfast to go. They sat at a table and enjoyed their chocolate milk while patiently waiting for their breakfast. They were so excited and hungry that they wanted to eat as soon as their take out bags were passed to them. Unfortunately their dad told them they had to bring it home. Hopefully the walk wasn’t too far!

One Master Chef. With only a small cooking area behind the counter, workspace and servers are limited. One man was working as a greeter, waiter and chef. He was very friendly, calm and efficient for the amount of orders he was taking and preparing.

When we arrived, there were a few people ahead of us at the counter waiting to order. I evaluated the situation, a table of two sitting down waiting for their meals plus three people ahead of us; this could take awhile. Surprisingly, the chef took each order quickly, but still took the time to be chatty and friendly to each customer.

Short but Sweet. Being that The Little Grocery only has a small area for cooking, they do have a limited menu. Although the list is short, each item is carefully prepared with the freshest ingredients. Their breakfast menu focuses on egg sandwiches, French toast and pancakes. They also serve delicious breakfast pastries from NYC favorite Balthazar (next week’s brunch spot!) and local bagels.

For lunch, they have a variety of mouth-watering sandwiches and Paninis. They serve a pork tenderloin sandwich with Swiss cheese, dried cranberries and Dijon mustard. There is also a Cobb Club with grilled chicken, bacon, avocado, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. For Paninis, they have a French specialty, the Croque Monsieur with ham, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard. They also serve the Toscana, prosciutto, brie, sundried tomatoes topped with olive paste.

Lorraine Omelet. Omelets are the definitive items on the Little Grocery’s menu. They have seven unique omelet offerings. The Aurora has peppers, onions, tomatoes and crush red peppers. The Veggie omelet is filled with brie, spinach, mushrooms, onions and avocados.

Little Grocery Hoboken Brunch #1 - Christin's Morning Spoon TheBoken.com

Always a fan of quiche Lorraine, I was very excited to see The Little Grocery’s breakfast twist on this French Favorite, the Lorraine Omelet. The omelet is prepared with bacon, Swiss cheese and onions. It was amazing! The fluffy and perfect cooked omelet with filled with loads of Swiss cheese oozing from the sides. The bacon and onion added flavor and sealed the deal on this amazing omelet. Definitely one of the best omelets I have ever had. It was served with a slice of multi grain toast, although they did go a little heavy on the side of butter!

My brunch buddy ordered the Greek omelet with feta cheese, spinach, onions and olive pesto. The olive pesto was mixed throughout, giving the omelet a very different taste from anything he has ever had. He was pleasantly surprised by this, and thought it was great to try something different for breakfast. If you are a fan of olives, it is a must try.

Little Grocery Hoboken Brunch #2 - Christin's Morning Spoon TheBoken.com

Out of five spoons, I give The Little Grocery four. It is a great spot for a casual, delicious brunch. Although the walk may be far to some, it is definitely worth going a little further away to try something different. They have a small menu, but what they lack in selection they make up for in taste. It is definitely one of my new brunch favorites in Hoboken. I can’t wait to go back!

After seeing the amazing Balthazar pastries at the Little Grocery, my brunch buddy and I decided that it was time to venture outside of Hoboken for our next brunch. We will be taking the PATH to New York City hotspot, Balthazar, for a delicious weekend brunch!

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September 29, 2011

Christin’s Morning Spoon: La Bouche

Filed under: Breakfast & Brunch,Coffee Shops,Columnist,Food,Hoboken,Restaurants — Tags: , , , , — Christin DeMassi @ 10:00 AM

This week, my brunch buddy and I decided to try a brand new Hoboken brunch spot, La Bouche. La Bouche is a French café that just opened at 103 Garden Street. It is located in the former spot of Miami Rice Pudding.

My brunch buddy heard great things about La Bouche from co-workers, so we decided to try this new addition to the Hoboken breakfast and lunch scene. We enjoyed a casual outdoor lunch on a beautiful fall day. Here’s my recap.

Quaint Feel: My brunch buddy and I ventured inside to the back counter to request a table. I immediately noticed how quaint and absolutely adorable La Bouche was. Although the space is tiny, it serves as the perfect spot for gathering with friends, relaxing and recapping your weekends.

La Bouche Cafe Hoboken Interior TheBoken.com

A row of tables with mix-matched chairs line the side of the café. A long bench next to the far wall is piled with comfortable pillows. Their inviting appearance allows you to feel as though you are sitting in your own kitchen enjoying a home cooked meal. With their free wifi, it is the perfect place to enjoy a great meal while working from the comforts of a home away from home.

La Bouche Cafe Pillows

Aside from their printed menus, their fare is listed on chalkboards hanging above the kitchen area.


Street-side Garden: With few beautiful, warm days remaining, I was really looking forward to enjoying a meal outside. My favorite part about La Bouche is their street side seating area. A few adorable tile-topped, round tables fill the seating area out front. Hanging flower baskets and potted plants create a backyard garden feel right on a main street in Hoboken. Unlike Washington Street, Garden is usually quiet with few honking horns and passers-by.

We enjoyed the warm sun and a great meal. Unfortunately the seating area is relatively small and I was forced to sit halfway under one of the flower baskets!

Limited Breakfast: La Bouche offers a small breakfast menu that includes omelets, bagels and croissant sandwiches. With a small kitchen area, they are limited to the variety of breakfast items they can make. Although their limited abilities to create a large breakfast, what they do make has flair and strays from a typical dish of scrambled eggs.

Unfortunately this should not be your pick if you are looking for a large breakfast and morning cocktails. It is a great place to grab a coffee or tea on your morning walk to work along with a delicious muffin. The next time I stop in, I am going to try the nutella and banana crepe. Since the Crepe Grill on Sinatra closed I have been dying for a new crepe spot. Hopefully this will not disappoint!

Sandwiches and Paninis: La Bouche has more of a diverse menu for lunch. They have a variety of paninis and sandwiches. The roast beef panini immediately caught my eye. Roast beef and provolone cheese are topped with crumbled blue cheese, onion marmalade and balsamic vinegar. There is also a veggie sandwich with eggplant, zucchini, peppers, tomatoes and pesto.

La Bouche Pannini - Hoboken

Surprisingly my brunch buddy passed on a meal with pesto and chose the Goaty Panini. Although the name sounds a little odd, it was absolutely delicious! Turkey and proscuitto are piled onto brioche bread spread with goat cheese and apricot preserve. It is then toasted and served with a small salad on the side.

After one bite my food envy set in. It was absolutely delicious! He liked it enough to officially include it in his rotation of downtown weekday lunch spots, a category he finds surprisingly lacking.

Great Salads: La Bouche has a variety of salads including a Caesar salad, warm goat cheese with peppers and orange slices, roast beef salad with peppers, onions and parmesan and a typical French Nicoise Salad.

Le Bouche Salad - Hoboken

I decided to order the Spinach & Pear Salad. Baby spinach is served with caramelized pear, toasted walnuts, blue cheese and cranberries tossed in a vinaigrette dressing. Instead of blue cheese, I made a substitution for warm goat cheese. The only issue was the lack of pears. I ended up with a ton of extra salad and not enough pears to enjoy it with!

My favorite part of the meal was that the bill arrived in a small metal box. It was an absolutely adorable addition to a great meal in a charming atmosphere.

Out of five spoons, I give La Bouche three and a half. It is a quaint, unpretentious place that offers a good meal in a different atmosphere from many other Hoboken establishments. Nothing on the menu costs more than $10.00. It is the perfect spot for an inexpensive, casual meal. Definitely visit while La Bouche is still a somewhat unheard of place. Once word gets around, lines will get long!

Next week I will be trying another small, quaint gem in Hoboken, The Little Grocery.

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June 3, 2011

14-Year-Ol​d Marina Wardell to be D’s Soul Full Cafe Musician of the Month (June)

Here is one special live musical event in Hoboken this weekend….

DSFC_LOGOPlease consider checking out Mariana Wardell at D’s Soul Full Café on 918 Willow Avenue, Hoboken as she launches into her Featured Musician of the Month debut in June.
She will be performing at the café at the following times this weekend and every Saturday/Sunday of the month of June:
Saturday, June 4—11:30am-12:30pm
Sunday, June 5—11:30am-12:00pm

About Mariana Wardell:
·         She lives in Hoboken
·         She’s 14 years old
·         She is a singer/songwriter
·         She plays the piano and guitar
·         She takes voice lessons from Barbara Simon
·         She’s a wonderful and talented young woman

Marina WardellYou can listen to her song “Connected” on the café website:  http://www.dssoulfullcafe.com/music.html
You can read her bio at:

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