Visits home to NJ usually feature dinners at home, at my sister’s or some of the same restaurants I ate at growing up in my hometown. I love the familiarity; we’ve stuck with places for decades because they are good.
But, as you all know, I also love to try new restaurants, and I was excited when my sister suggested the new-to-us Stage House Tavern for Monday night.
Located just a few towns over, the Stage House Tavern features a historic building with an expansive patio and outdoor bar that offers an all-you-can-eat BBQ deal.
They are also known for their tinis, and that was the reason my sister and I were there. Once our family was seated, I perused the lengthy cocktail menu. Happy to see that NJ does allow drink specials for Happy Hour, unlike Massachusetts, I decided to start with a Flirtini, vodka, pineapple juice, and a Champagne float.
Since we were all pretty hungry, we kicked off the meal with tavern fries, smothered in cheese and bacon, crispy on the outside, hot and soft in the centers, pub food at its finest.
My mom and I also split a pot of steamed clams which were swimming in a pool of butter and white wine and were perfectly cooked. We sopped up the liquid with crunchy slices of toast.
As is typical with me, I had a hard time deciding on what to order. The Stage House Tavern has a huge menu with a bunch of fun items, including about six different types of ravioli. The hot and humid day made me avoid ravioli, but I will definitely return to try those out.
Instead I went for this cool beet salad with goat cheese, almonds, and dried cranberries along with the tuna tartini, tuna tartare in a spicy wasabi broth.
The tuna was so tender, ground up and really flavored by the wasabi. I scooped it up with a crunchy sesame cracker. The two small dishes went together really well, offering contrasting flavors and a well-balanced meal. I am trying to make healthier choices, and while I definitely indulged on fries and drinks thought I did an okay job.
My sister and I decided to try another cocktail from the long list, and we both went with the raspberry martini which combined blackberry vodka with Chambord, lime, and cranberry juice. It was delectable.
I found the Stage House Tavern to be a fabulous dining experience. There are at least five more cocktails I would like try and ten menu items, so a return visit will definitely be happening.
My visit with my family was four days long with the wedding in the middle, and it still flew by. I spent a lot of it working, doing things that probably could have waited and knowing all along that I was wasting precious family time in front of my laptop but still so obsessed with working and being on top of things that I couldn’t let go. That is definitely a quality of myself that I dislike, and I wish I could go back and change the way I spent so much of this time. I’ll have to remember to read this post the next time I vow to take some time off.
Do you and your family have an old favorite that you like to get together at?