Tag Archives: new jersey

Jersey City: Skinner’s Loft

20 Mar

Also while on our quest to explore neighborhoods in and around Manhattan for home buying, we wound up in Jersey City with some friends who just recently bought a place there themselves.  (We actually really liked it there, but my commute to CT a few times each week made it less desirable than heading north).

They explained the stress of picking a restaurant we would enjoy (to which I always say, I enjoy a diner as much as a 5 star restaurant!) but decided to meet at Skinner’s Loft just a couple blocks from the Grove Street Path Station.

We got there a little early and had a drink at the bar, during which time we saw a lot of people come in and request a seat. Luckily, they saved our table while we waited for our friends, but they were turning people away before noon.  It was hopping!


The bread basket was really great, with a little bit of everything to try and nice butter.  (I love a good sampler bread basket)


The men at the table each got the grilled hamburger with lettuce, tomato, onion, brioche roll, french fries.


Mike said it was a pretty decent burger and I LOVED the fries.


My friend got the eggs benedict with poached eggs over house-made buttermilk biscuits, canadian bacon, and hollandaise sauce.  She really enjoyed it.



I got the poached eggs over corned beef and sweet potato/potato hash.  This sounded SO good.  Sadly, this just didn’t quite come together.  The potatoes were soft but not roasted and there was 0 sauce. That would have been totally fine if the potatoes were nicely caramelized, but instead, they were actually kind of flavorless.  Even the corned beef pieces were lacking in flavor. Saltiness even! Bummer.  This could have been really great.



I can see why this place is popular in town for brunch, with a great menu, but sadly, it just wasn’t quite there.  I think they are on the right track but need a really good cook to come in and bump it all up just a wee bit.  Though my only real thing to base that idea on is that hash, so maybe the other items are better.  I’m sure it’s a great stop if you’re in the area, but I can’t quite tell you to drop everything and do some Jersey City destination dining based on Skinner’s Loft Brunch.

Total Nom Points: 6 out of 10

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Valenca in Elizabeth, NJ

7 Nov

Having a destination wedding meant a few of our favorite people couldn’t make it.  It was a bummer that we couldn’t celebrate with them, but a few of them offered to take us out to dinner to celebrate afterwards.  My cousins were one of those lovely, generous couples.

They told us that they had a place that they thought would be NomNom approved.  So off to Elizabeth, NJ we went to try Portuguese Restaurant, Valenca.

The restaurant wound up being huge inside with multiple rooms (I believe they bought up a few surrounding locations over the years).



We got a pitcher of their sangria and it seemed quite appropriate that the pitcher had a lobster on it (since we had a lobster heavy Maine wedding).



We started with a big bowl of salad for the table. It was fresh and dressed really well.  Simple and good.


We saw a few flaming plates going by, so we quickly decided to order an appetizer of the grilled portuguese sausage, “flamed at tableside.”


They then sliced it up for us.


And with each slice you could hear a crispy crackle through the outside of the casing.


It smelled great, but it tasted even better.  A little on the tough side, but somehow that didn’t matter as the crispiness gave way to an incredibly flavorful (yet not spicy) filling.


Under the recommendation of our hosts, I ordered the surf and turf on a hot sizzling stone.  It came out with the meat set on a metal plate, along with butter and a lemon.


And a side of homemade chips and rice.


But the main event was truly the “cook your own” meat.  This stone came out blazing hot, and you slap your meat and shrimp on there and let it go.  My cousin gave us the tip that you don’t trim it up beforehand, but rather put it all on the stone and then slice it thin and eat after it cooks.  I was surprised, but it cooked up quickly and deliciously.  And sure enough, it was incredibly delicious.


My cousin got a shellfish stew which she gets every time and loves.


And Mike went with the paella with tons of seafood.  This was the biggest dish I have ever seen.  You can’t tell from the picture, but this was the width of a dinner plate and a few inches deep.  Everything tasted deliciously like the sea.


We really loved our meal at Valenca and I really think Portuguese food is a hugely under appreciated cuisine.  Every time I’ve had it, I’ve loved it.  If you find yourself near Elizabeth, NJ, Valenca is definitely a great place to stop. It was a fun and different meal, and I highly recommend that hot sizzling stone!

NomNom approved!

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10


Prestige Diner: New Providence, NJ

7 Mar

I grew up going to the Prestige Diner in New Providence, NJ after every important life event.  At that point in my life, “important life events” consisted mainly of dance recitals, play performances, group dates, and teen dances.

But I’ve stumbled back in a few times over the years, and while it has had a face lift a few times over, it is still almost exactly the same as it was 20 years ago. I’m pretty sure the hostesses and waitresses haven’t changed. And the menu certainly has not shrunk.

A classic Jersey diner can mean many things to many people, but there is one consistency across them all: hundreds of menu options. Just check out the menu for the Prestige. That’s 30 SECTIONS of food!

So it shouldn’t be at all surprising that the family ordered from many different sections.

Including this waffle with ice cream (I think it was actually the Oreo waffle!)



A burger



Some French Toast



A side of bacon and eggs



An open-faced chicken parm



Some crispy Jersey fries (all you need is cheese and gravy to make some Disco Fries!)



And a club sandwich


As far as diners go, Prestige has got it all and it’s all pretty good quality. It’s everything a diner should be. No more. And no less. It’s not a gourmet meal by any regard, but it sure is a solid diner. With great memories.

Total Nom Points: 6.5 out of 10

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