Park Ave Diner

A few weeks ago, my friend Devon and I met at the Park Ave Diner in South Plainfield, NJ.  I hadn’t heard of the diner until recently, but it was the perfect time to meet up.  It just so happened we met up on Halloween weekend, so they were dressed and festive for that as well.

park ave diner South Plainfield
It was pouring rain when we arrived, so I borrowed this photo from their website

Atmosphere: A
The Park Ave Diner is a hidden gem in South Plainfield.  It’s modern, well kept and clean.  The inside has plenty of seating and booths as well as a full bar.  I was surprised!

Service: A
We had several different waiters help us at the Park Ave Diner and check on is.  It is actually one of the best teams of service I’ve received at a diner and even a restaurant.  They brought plenty of refills and made sure everything tasted great.  When Devon and I went the first time on Halloween weekend, each staff member was dressed up.  Our primary waiter was dressed as a banana.

Coffee: A
The coffee was extremely hot.  Since it was pouring rain outside, all I wanted was piping hot coffee.  There was plenty of whipped cream as well.  It tasted great and I have no complaints.

Park Ave Diner South Plainfield

Food: A
The Park Ave Diner has everything you can imagine: Seafood, steak and everything else.  The first time I went, Devon got the “50 Shades of Green” salad.  Honestly, I regretted not getting that.  I ended up driving through the area last week and decided to get the “50 shades of green salad”.  How unique and fun!

Park Ave Diner South Plainfield

I added cheese and salmon but the salad came with several mixed different mixed greens as well as walnuts.  It was one of the best salads I’ve had in a while.

Cost: $$
For my coffee and salad, the cost was $22.  Not bad, considering the quality of food was extremely high.

Overall Thoughts/Would I come Back?
I liked the Park Ave Diner enough that I’ve already been back a second time for the “50 Shades of Green Salad”.  It’s definitely one of the better diners I’ve been too.

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: A
Price: $15-20
Overall: A

Questions for you:
What is the most uniquely named food item you’ve ordered?
Did you dress up for Halloween this year? 

Ivy Stone Diner, Bar and Grill

The Ivy Stone Diner in Iselin has been on my to-do list for a while.  As most people know, I like seafood a lot.  Growing up in Virginia Beach, you’re never far from seafood.  The Ivy Stone Diner and Lounge, claims to have the “the best seafood” around.

I met my friend, Christine, for lunch.  We arrived around noon, and there were only two other parties in the restaurant.

Atmosphere: B
The Ivy Stone Diner is having a major identity crisis.  Is it a diner? A nightclub? A bar? It’s a very fancy restaurant with minimal features that make it a diner.  It’s nice, but the ritzy chandelier or moonlit bathroom sink hardly classify it as a diner.

Ivy Stone Diner and Lounge
The moonlit bathroom sink

Service: C
It was clear the server was extremely new.  He was nice and refilled our beverages when we asked.  For only two other parties in the restaurant, the food came out very slowly. I felt like I’ve been to many other diners, much more crowded that the food came out quickly.  It was borderline slow for a buddy restaurant let alone a diner with three parties.

Coffee: B
The coffee was good.  It was brought out hot and fresh.  We had plenty of refills as well.Ivy Stone Diner and Lounge

Food: C
The Ivy Stone Diner has a small menu.  It more resembles a bar than a diner.  There aren’t a lot if breakfast options.  Since they are well known for their seafood, I ordered salmon and a Greek salad.  I was shocked when I tasted the salmon.

It was apparently frozen and reheated. It wasn’t terrible but the hardly quality I would label as “the best.”  The Greek salad was good, and I enjoyed the dressing.Ivy Stone Diner and Lounge

Price: $$
For my salmon, salad, coffee the cost was $21.  It was more on the pricy side for the quality of food and size.

Summary/Would I come back?
The Ivy Stone Diner is interesting and not the usual “diner.”  It’s not a bad stop, just a very ok restaurant.

Atmosphere: B
Service: C
Coffee: B
Food: C
Price: $12-20

Overall: C
Questions for you:
Do you like seafood?
Is your area known for anything?

Route 130 Diner

A couple of weeks ago, my friend Eric and I visited the Route 130 Diner in Delran.  Eric is a fast local runner who is a good friend.  We originally met through work, and he trains with some of my faster coworkers.

I’m always skeptical of diners that are within 20 minutes of my house that I haven’t been too.  At this point, I’ve been to most, if not all of the diners that have been recommended by friends.  I’ve steered clear of local diners that people have told me are not great.  I hadn’t heard much about the Route 130 Diner in Delran, so I didn’t know what to expect.

We arrived around 6 pm on a Friday, and it was packed.  It was one of the few diners that we even had to wait for a table.

Atmosphere: B
The Route 130 Diner layout reminds me of an Old Golden Corral.  It uses wooden side paneling as well as similar booths.  There is a bar and bakery case.  The bakery case caught my eye.

There are actually two entry doors to the restaurant, and it’s extremely confusing.  People come and go from both sides and then you don’t know where the line to be seated starts or ends.

Service: B
We waited for about 5 minutes for our waitress to acknowledge us but once she did, she brought over drinks and took our food.  I felt as though as I was always asking her for refills, but she was friendly.

Coffee: A
The coffee at the Route 130 Diner was great.  The waitress added lots of whipped cream (let’s be honest more whipped cream always wins).  Plus it was hot.  I have no complaints and it one of the better diner coffees I’ve had.

Route 130 diner Delran

Food: A
The menu for the Route 130 Diner isn’t posted online anywhere, so I had no idea what to expect.  They do have everything from breakfast to lunch to dinner.  I saw a table order a salad next to me and decided to go with the same one.

Route 130 diner Delran

Their house salad resembled a Greek Salad with a lot of cheese.  There was an entire layer of cheese, but I didn’t mind.  I think all entree salads should come with meat, cheese, and bread.  If not I will probably order some.

I ordered salmon, and it was extremely fresh.  I was pleasantly surprised with how large the portion was as well as the quality of the food.  Honestly, it was one of the best salad I’ve had at a restaurant in a while.

Dessert: C
I decided to order the German Chocolate Cake to take home.  The frosting of the cake was good. However, it tasted as if the cake had been sitting for quite some time.  The pieces of layer cake were hard and somewhat crusty.  It wasn’t the worst cake I’ve had but not the best either.  If I came back, I probably wouldn’t have ordered the cake.

Cost: $
For my coffee, salad, and cake the cost was $22.  That’s not too bad for the amount of food as well as the quality of the entree.

Summary/Would I come back?
I was pleasantly surprised with the Route 130 Diner in Delran.  It’s a great stop if you are heading North from Philadelphia or around the area.  It’s one of the better diners I’ve been too locally.

Closeby Diners: Jersey Diner, Golden Dawn Diner, and Dolphin Diner

Summary:
Atmosphere: C
Coffee: A
Service: B
Food: A
Dessert: C
Cost: $12-20
Overall: B

Questions for you:
Have you ever ordered something because you saw another table order it?
When was the last time you were pleasantly surprised at a restaurant? 

River Star Diner

Recently I went to the River Star Diner in Hackettstown, NJ.  Before going it was an area of New Jersey I hadn’t been too. I’d heard from a friend, it’s a pretty small town. When driving through, I didn’t realize how hilly and beautiful the area was.  There are several different parks, and plenty of runners and cyclists out.

Trying new diners and hiking has allowed me to see so many different areas of the state.

Atmosphere: A
The River Star Diner is located along a small creek.  If you are lucky enough to get a window seat, you can see birds and small animals frolicking in the water. The inside is typical of a normal small town diner but it’s great you can look outside.

river star diner
Image from LehighValley Live

When we arrived, the parking lot was full, however, there was plenty of seating available.  I definitely think they could use a bigger parking lot. Even when every parking spot in a diner is filled, there always seems to be room.

Coffee: B
The coffee was good, but it was nothing unusual or unique.  I don’t have any complaints or anything unique or interesting about it. River Star Diner

Service: A

Despite the diner being relatively crowded, our waitress was great.  Our food was brought out quickly, and we had plenty of refills and food.

Food: B
River Star Diner The River Star Diner has a huge menu and nothing is left out.  There are about 10 pages of menu.

I ordered the scrambled eggs, bacon, french toast, and a side bagel.  It’s a pretty standard; home cooked diner meal. River Star Diner

The eggs were cooked well.  The bacon was crispy, and I liked the french toast.  I can’t remember the last time I ordered French toast before but River Star used thick bread.  Thin bread might be healthier but thick bread tastes better.

I’ve mentioned before that I think North Jersey bagels are better than South Jersey.  I try to get one whenever I’m up there.  The bagel was delicious and I left feeling both full and satisfied.

Cost: $
For my meal and coffee, the cost was $12.  It was definitely one of my cheaper diner meals.

Summary/Would I Come Back?
I enjoyed the River Star Diner, and the view was unique and fun. If you can, request to sit by the window!  I don’t have any complaints and it’s one of the better diners I’ve been too.

Summary:
Atmosphere: A
Coffee: B
Service: A
Food: B
Cost: $10-15
Overall: B

Questions for you:
Which restaurant you’ve been too has the best view?
Where are your favorite bagels from?

Jersey Diner

The Jersey Diner in New Jersey?  

A few weeks ago, Cyd of New Jersey Isn’t Boring, and I met at the Jersey diner in Cinnaminson, NJ.  Amazingly enough, this diner isn’t far from me yet I hadn’t been before.  When she first told me about it, I was shocked it was one I haven’t been too.

Atmosphere: A

The diner itself is picture perfect NJ diner.  It is after all called, the Jersey Diner! The outside is a shiny metallic building, and inside is filled with booths, tables, and a long bar.  It’s everything you picture from a diner.

Jersey Diner

Jersey Diner
So shiny…

Service: A

I’ve been extremely lucky with waiters and waitresses lately, and this was no exception.  Our waitress was extremely friendly, and I have no complaints.  She was one of the kindest and friendliness servers I’ve had to date.

Coffee: A

The coffee was excellent, and I have no complaints.  The waitress added a lot of whipped cream, possibly more than actual coffee.  Let’s be honest; we all know that was okay by me.

Jersey Diner

Food: A

The Jersey diner has a lot of unusual foods and a lot of Mexican food.  I haven’t seen a lot of diners with that.  I decided to order a gyro quesadilla.  The quesadilla came with gyro, feta cheese, onions and French fries.  The quesadilla itself was good but messy. Jersey Diner

 It was filled with feta cheese and chicken that seemed to spill everywhere.

The French fries were nice and soft.  Personally, I like soft, large fries versus small crispy ones.  These fit the bill.  It also came with soup, and I ordered the beef barley.  It was good but nothing out of the ordinary.

Jersey Diner

Dessert: A
We had been sitting right next to the dessert case so it was hard not to stare.  I ultimately decided to get a “puff pastry” which is something I’ve never had before.  It was like a giant pastry filled with frosting and whipped cream so for me it was perfect.  This was one of my favorite “noncake” desserts to date.

Jersey Diner

Price: $

For my quesadilla, coffee, and pastry the cost was $14.  The pastry was only $2.99, I could not believe it.

Summary/Overall:

The diner was good and a very stereotypical diner.  The puff pastry was one of the best desserts I’ve had, and I will be back.

Atmosphere: A

Coffee: A

Service: A

Food: A

Dessert: A

Overall: A

Questions for you: 

What is your favorite type of cake?

Do you like quesadillas? 

Flying Fish 5k (19:35)

To be honest, if I weren’t so excited all month to run the Flying Fish 5k, I would have skipped it.  The Flying Fish Brewery is a local Brewery with some of my favorite beer.  The race director is great, and we did a special group run with them a few weeks ago.

After running RNR last weekend, I can tell you I wasn’t recovering well.  It took me four days for my calves to loosen up, but they were still sore. On Thursday someone burst my bubble and said the temperature high was going to be close to 100. The race started at 10:00 am so I knew it would be a tough day.  I don’t typically like to race at 10:00 (I like the race over) by 9:00 but this race was worth it.

I woke up at 6 am and had no idea what to do beforehand.  The race was closeby do I didn’t have to leave early either.  After twiddling my thumbs for a few minutes, I opted to clean my house and head over.  When I got out of my car, I realized just how hot it was.  I easily picked up my bib, warmed up (which meant I just sweat more through my clothing) and headed to the start line.

The race announcer said the race was going off promptly which I was thankful for.  After the countdown, we were off. There was a lead pack of several men followed by two women, then me.  The first mile went through several turns and by the end of the first mile I found myself as first woman overall.  I was unsure if I would be able to maintain that lead throughout the entire race and honestly if it was another mile, I probably wouldn’t have.  I crossed the first mile in 6:08 which was my fastest mile after injury.

The second mile got hot.  I was running alone, but I knew the two women were on my tail.  I tried to power through, but my legs had minimal pep (which I know was from racing Rock n Roll the weekend before).  After running up the hill and doubling back, I crossed the second mile in 6:37.  I was worried it might be a 5k where I regressed the final above a 7 min mile.

The final half mile was a long straight away where you could see the finish line, but I knew it was coming.  Combined with the 93-degree heat and no shade, I knew it would also be tough.  I knew I had zero kick and that the second place woman was closing the gap.  I had to fight and dig deeper than I had to win.  Did winning fuel my fire? Maybe, but I also really didn’t want to log another 6:30+ mile.  I knew I could potentially run a post injury best, and I wanted to give that a fair shot.

I also knew I had zero kick and that the second place woman was closing the gap.  I had to fight and dig deeper than I had to win.  Did winning fuel my fire? Maybe, but I also really didn’t want to log a 7-minute mile.  I knew I could potentially run a post injury best, and I wanted to give that a fair shot.

I mentally blocked everything out and dug as deep as I could go.

I hurt.

I hurt a lot, but I didn’t injury hurt.

As I saw the finish line draw closer, I saw two kids holding a tape to break.  I powered through and crossed the third mile 6:18 and finished in 19:35.

Flying Fish 5k

I was extremely pleased for several reasons:

  • It was my fastest 5k after my injury, and I was injury free.
  • I actually showed up to the race, which I wasn’t sure I would in the heat.
  • I mentally pushed myself out of my comfort zone again.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m pleased with my time.  I do believe when my legs feel good and with a good weather day, my fitness is closer to 19:00 right now.  I might be biased but the Flying Fish 5k is one of my favorite 5ks because it’s hosted from one of my favorite local Breweries (Flying Fish).  If you’re ever in the area, you should definitely check them out (but you should invite me too).

Questions for you:
Do you have a favorite beer?
Have you ever run from a brewery?

Nutley Diner

Last month, we headed back up to North Jersey and New York State to hike at Bear Mountain State Park.  We wanted to have a big breakfast before hiking. You never know what can happen on the trails and the last thing I wanted was to feel exhausted in the middle of the forest.  It’s an excuse to go out for brunch and eat at a new diner.  What more could I want?

Nutley Diner

Atmosphere: A
The Nutley Diner is a big, shiny metallic building.  When we arrived on a Sunday morning, it was crowded. It’s probably a bad sign if a diner isn’t crowded on a Sunday morning.  That’s prime diner time.  Every parking spot was taken, and we parallel parked on the street.  Even though the lot was full, we were sat quickly.  I was pleasantly surprised they sat us so quickly.

IMG_6212

Service: A
As I mentioned, I haven’t been to a diner that crowded in a while.  The waitress refilled our beverages, and the food was brought out within 10 minutes.  That is great speed for an empty restaurant, let alone a restaurant where every table is filled.  The Nutley Diner was the fastest service we’ve ever received.

Coffee: A

I was surprised to see the Nutley Diner brewed local Lacas coffee.  Lacas is local to me in South Jersey and about 80 minutes south of the Nutley Diner.  The coffee was a darker roast and hot. I have no complaints. I like Lacas Coffee and buy it to homebrew at my house too.  One additional thing I like is restaurants that use logo mugs.  It’s not as common but I always think it’s a great touch.

Nutley Diner

Food: A
Like most diners, there were plenty of options.  Since it was breakfast time, I went with a Mederrenean omelette and bagel. While North Jersey bagels are no NYC bagels, they are better than South Jersey bagels.  I’m sorry South Jersey friends, but it’s true.

Nutley Diner

The Mederettean omelet was good. The omelet was baked, and it was large.  It wasn’t overly greasy and the there was plenty of feta cheese and onions.  I liked it a lot.

Nutley Diner

They added plenty of butter to the bagel. By plenty I mean it was drenched in butter but to be honest, I didn’t mind.  As a kid I grew up with butter dripped bagels as a treat.

Nutley Diner

Dessert: B
We ordered a black and white tuxedo cookie to go.  The cookie wasn’t amazing or terrible.  It tasted like a frosted sugar cookie that we split while hiking.

Nutley Diner

Cost: $$
For my coffee, omelet, cookie and bagel the cost was $20. It wasn’t bad considering all of the food I received.

Summary/Would I come back?
I enjoyed the Nutley Diner a lot.  It’s one of my favorite diners in the area, and I’ll be back.

Atmosphere: A

Service: A
Coffee: A
Food: A
dessert: C
Cost: $10-20
Overall: A

Questions for you:
What’s the fastest service you’ve gotten? 
What’s your favorite type of bagel?