Thursday, June 22, 2017

A Quick Trip to the Garden State

I wasn't sure what to do on a couple of days off and thought about a Triple D trip.  First I looked at flying to Louisville but when I saw the amount I'd have to pay to rent a car there I decided to look elsewhere and saw that I still had 6 places to try in Central and Southern New Jersey so I started to plan my trip and decided to make it a quick day trip.  I decided to stay overnight north of Baltimore to cut down on travel knowing that I would have to an early start.

I left the hotel in the Hunt Valley area north of Baltimore before 530a for the 2 and half hour drive to my first Triple D stop of the day.  I was really lucky as the traffic was not bad at all all the way.  The route took me north on I-95 into Delaware where I crossed over the Delaware Memorial Bridge and then took the famous (or infamous to some) New Jersey Turnpike.  The turnpike isn't too bad but there are a lot of potholes and being a toll road can be a bit pricy, but it's fast!

I arrived at my first stop about 730a in Plainsboro Township.  "Bagel Street Grill" is in a strip mall with a number of restaurants and a large Asian food market.  They have a pretty large menu featuring their house made bagels, but also have a large sandwich menu with a huge selection of meats, cheeses and bagel spreads.  The restaurant has a small seating area, I noticed most of their business is take-out.

Bagel Street Grill in Plainsboro Township, NJ

Inside Bagel Street Grill

I decided to try an Onion Bagel with Lox Cream Cheese spread.  I took a seat next to the Guy Fieri poster.  I was pretty amazed with their large menu, almost two dozen styles of bagels and the brisk business they were doing.  It seemed to go in waves, they would have 5 to 10 in line and then a small lull and then a line, it was pretty incredible.  One of the staff brought me my huge bagel overstuffed with the spread.  The toasted bagel was topped with baked in dried onions and tasted better than any bagel I had eaten before, I knew that these were, as Guy would say, the "real deal bagels" properly prepared and boiled.  The spread had huge chunks of salmon lox and was very tasty.  
Bagel Street's Guy poster

My Bagel Street Grill Onion and Lox Spread Bagel

Loaded with goodness

I headed out ot my next place just a few miles away in the town of Princeton.  I drove through the Ivy League campus of Princeton University on my way, it was a real pretty drive, very green and rural, not what you think when you think of New Jersey!

"Jammin' Crepes" is a small café across Nassau Street from the main campus on a street that has a lot of cafes and shops.  This place has the feel of a college coffee house and does feature coffee drinks but really lives up to it's name featuring both sweet and savory crepes.

Jammin' Crepes in Princeton, NJ

Inside Jammin' Crepes

I looked over the 2 dozen different crepes and decided to try one of the sweet crepes they call the Crepelini, a crepe stuffed with sweet ricotta with lemon zest and topped with strawberry jam, that they make in house.  I took a seat at a small table that had a sign that said to be patient as all crepes are made to the customers orders.  A staff member brought me my order and just as I was about to take my first bite I saw the owner getting ready to leave so I told the server my Triple D story and asked if I could get owner to sign my book before she left and then most of the staff came over to take with me and the owner, Kim was very gracious to not only sign my book but take a picture with me and she also took a picture of my car with the personalized FLVTOWN Triple D license plate.  I then sat down and really enjoyed my meal, the ricotta was not too sweet and the jam with huge chunks of strawberries was very tasty.  

Jammin' Crepes Crepelini

Tasty filling

Me and Kim, one of the owners of Jammin' Crepes

I left and headed back to Bagel Street Grill so I could meet the owner who wasn't there during my visit and I had some time before the next place I was planning to visit wouldn't open for a couple of hours.  I arrived and asked to meet the owner but he had yet to arrive and so I talked with the manager and we chatted for a few minutes and then he gave me a 3 complimentary bagels to take with me, a very nice treat. The owner did come in a was a great guy, we chatted for a few minutes about his place and the special and authentic way they prepare the bagels, they have a taste U had never had before.  He talked about how the show had affected his store and although they had been really busy prior to their appearance on Triple D, their out of town business and mail order business has grown two fold!  He also really complimented Guy Fieri and told me that he had and has been very helpful and gracious to them since he visited.  This is something I have heard from a number of other Triple D restaurants.

My next stop was in the Village of Rocky Hill, a quaint place with a very old and small town feel.  The streets are lined with huge homes built in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  I pulled into the "Historic Rocky Hill Inn and Tavern" and entered when they opened.  The place had a feel of an old Victorian home with several dining rooms on two floors and a bar area on the first floor.  I decided to take a seat at the bar and was greeted by a server and the bar tender.  The server came over and when she saw my book asked if I was on the "tour".  I told her about my travels and she said that when the staff saw my license plate, wondered if I worked on the show.  When I told her I live in Leesburg she told me her parents live in Leesburg and as it turned out I live less than  mile from them!

Historic Rocky Hill Inn and Tavern in Rocky Hill, NJ

Cool Victorian building

Love the sign

As I looked over the menu I was really surprised because buildings like this usually have a very expensive fancy menu but Rocky Hill calls themselves "Central Jersey's Leading Gastropub" and features an extensive sandwich menu and specializes in locally brewed beers on tap.  I chose the Pork Belly BLT with a side salad.  While I waited the serve showed me around the dining area and helped me to take a picture of Guy's paint stencil on the butt of their pig picture.  The sandwich came and it was delicious.  A thick slab of pork belly with slices of thick cut bacon with lettuce and tomatoes.  The surprising part of the sandwich was the slice of avocado.  Usually I am not a huge fan of avocado but the soft creamy green slice gave the sandwich a wonderful taste!  The salad had a vinaigrette dressing and was really good!

Rocky Hill's Tavern Bar

Guy's stencil on the Pig Butt!

My Pork Belly BLT

A lot of people say "Everything is better with bacon!", but this sandwich makes me thin that it should be changed to "Everything is better with Pork Belly", the pork belly on the sandwich was great!  As I left I walked around the different dining area and just took in the whole atmosphere of this classic place.

One of the any dining areas at Rocky Hill Tavern

Guy's poster is just inside the front door

I headed out to my next stop which was about a 20 minute drive away in Hamilton Township, "Jersey Girl Café" is located in a small strip mall.  It's a pretty small place but has a pretty big menu and was doing a very good lunch business.  I decided to try the Fruit Salad with Raspberry Vinaigrette.  As I looked over at the other diners Jersey Girl has generous portions of their meals and the other diners seemed to really be enjoying their meals.  My salad came lettuce topped with dried cranberries, walnuts and diced apples and was pretty good, the vinaigrette was tart and tasty but I would have liked  more of the fruit and bit less of the lettuce.  I was able to get one of the servers to sign my book, albeit reluctantly since as she said "The Jersey Girl is not here today"

Jersey Girl Café in Hamilton Township, NJ

Guy's stencil on the Jersey Girl Café wall

My Jersey Girl fruit salad

I headed out for a 20 minute drive to Robbinsville, New Jersey.  "Dolce and Clemente's Italian Market" is in a newly built town center area.  This is not a restaurant, although they sell hot food, this is an authentic Italian Marketplace.  They sell all types of Italian products, many that are imported to the shop.  They also have a bakery area, bake their own breads for sandwiches and make their own pastas.  

Dolce and Clemente's Italian Market in Robbinsville, NJ

I love the outdoor signs and awnings

As I was walking around the lady on the cash register asked me if I needed help (kind of a loaded question) and I said I was looking around and when she saw I my Triple D book she asked me if I was one of those Triple D groupies and I told her I was "THE" Triple D groupie having been to 588 places!  She got real excited and called one of the owners over, Mr. Clemente.  They told me the other owner was on his way back and was Mr. Clemente's son-in-law on the Dolce side of the family, and his father was the original owner, who also was in the shop, so I got meet both generations of the shop!  I decided that since it was a hot day, I was only going to get some non-perishable items and chose some of their freshly baked Biscotti's and a jar of Sweet Red Peppers.  I was able to try several items as they have samples of bread and Stromboli's at several places in the shop, they were all excellent!  As I was getting ready check out the cashier told me that the owner called and told me to select one of their tee shirts as a gift, I thanked them and told them to give me their web address so I can take a picture wearing their shirt when I am in the Caribbean.

Authentic Italian Market

Fresh Baked Good, I chose the Biscotti's

Before I left the second owner, came in and I was able to get them to sign my book.  I really loved this place and will definitely go back to try their hot meals and sandwiches.  I enjoyed all of the places that I had been to earlier in the day but the family feel and wonderful staff at Dolce and Clemente's made this one of my favorite places that I had visited on this Triple D journey!

My last stop on this trip was about a 20 minute drive and the most southern place of the day.  "Vincetown Diner" is in the very small town of Vincetown and one I was looking forward to as I love the Jersey Diner.  I would be a bit disappointed!  Most Jersey Diners have a huge menu and a large display case of house made desserts.  I was seated in a booth and nothing really appealed to me, the menu was small and seemed to focus on the wine or beer that paired with the items.  I decided to try a dessert and chose the cheesecake and was told that it was not available, so I chose the Key Lime Pie.  Now Key Lime Pie is probably my favorite pie, but this would not have been one of them.  It tasted kind of stale and there was very little tart lime flavor.  I have a feeling that it had been sitting in the display case for a few hours as I noticed they placed a new fresh pie just before I left.  Not the best way to end the trip, but I guess sometimes there are hits and sometimes there are misses!

Vincetown Diner in Vincetown, NJ

A Classic Jersey style diner

Key Lime Pie at Vincetown Diner

I headed out for the drive back to the Baltimore area after a long day of great fun and wonderful people in the Garden State of New Jersey.  My Triple D count stands at 589, just a few more before getting to the milestone 600th!

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