Muscle Maker Grill (Colonia, NJ)
I started my weekend in Jersey with my favorite QSR in the area, Muscle Maker Grill. Don't get me wrong, the name is awful, but the food is awesome and supposedly good for you. They don't tell you how many calories are in each item, but the whole concept is driven behind delicious yet healthy food.
I actually looked into becoming a franchisee of a MMG, but I didn't end up going through with it. I probably would have made a lot of money as Muscle Makers are popping up all over the place including Jersey City, Hoboken, and even New York City. I was surprised to see there is a muscle maker in Tribeca--not too far from my apartment.
The original Muscle Maker was opened in Colonia, NJ by Rod Silva. The quick-serve restaurant started as a smoothie store, but Rod began to add food to the menu as he felt there were no restaurants in the area offering healthy food. The concept grew and evolved into what it is today--a multiple unit QSR franchise with locations from NJ to Miami.
I'm a big fan of most of the menu; however, I usually get the Yee-Ha Chicken Wrap. This wrap comes with grilled chicken, western potatoes, turkey bacon, and southwest sauce. I would definitely recommend this casual, quickserve to anyone looking for "great food with your health in mind".
D'Jais (Belmar, NJ) A First Pumper's Paradise
A bunch of friends from home decided to spend the Saturday down the shore. Our friend Justine and Kelly have a house in Belmar, right on Ocean Ave. This is conveinently located one block away from the infamous D'Jais. Normally my friends and I wouldn't step foot into D'Jais as the crowd is usually a little too guido for our liking. The people that go here are usually right out off the cast of the Jersey Shore. But it was happy hour, so we were hoping the guidos were still in their Gym, Tan, Laundry routine.
After being ID'ed twice, you walked into a dark room with loud music and glaring lights. A horn sounded and everyone went wild. I was kind of surprised my friends didn't run for the door as soon as they got there, but maybe it was the cheap drink prices that kept them there. I can't give you exact prices, but everything was under 4 bucks. I think draft beers were $2 and bottles were $3. Red Bull Vodkas were $2.50 if you get down with that. At one point, they had a "shot special" were everything behind the bar except Patron was $2. We took full advantage of that by ordering a round of Jameson for whoever was close by.
D'Jais happy hour actually turned out to be a lot of fun. Granted, you have to be willing to get hammered and dance like an idiot; but its all in good fun. I would recommend D'Jais happy hour for sure. Bring your dancing and drinking shoes.
PK Shamrock's (Lake Como, NJ
After going to D'Jais and back to Justine's apartment, I convinced a group of ten people or so to follow me to PK shamrocks which was down the street from their house. I was looking into buying PK's a few years ago and my interest was regenerated a few months ago after graduating from culinary management school. I haven't been there in awhile, so I thought it'd be cool to go grab a beer with some of my friends on our way to Bar A. PK's was empty as I double the crowd when we showed up. We sat down and grabbed a bud light while scoping out the crowd. Not only was i disappointed in the amount of people there, but the price at what they served beer. A domestic draft was $2.5o on a saturday night. I was happy as a customer, but not as a potential owner. I thought that was too cheap for a saturday night. I was surprised they didn't have a better crowd with drink prices like that. We only stayed for a beer, so I don't have much else to report on.
PK's does do this Thursday night "Price is Wrong" game which is pretty cool. They do it during happy hour to get people to come in. Its like the old gameshow the Price is Right. They usually have two cute girls run the show and they actually give out pretty cool prizes. My friend Hennessy and I dominated last time we were in there.
The place has great potential to be an awesome bar. They just need a owner who cares and gets it going.
Bar A (Lake Como, NJ)
I did a commentary of Bar A last weekend, so just read that. All I got to say is that you better bring two forms of picture ID if you want to go here because the bouncers could be dicks on letting you in. Don't cause too much fuss either as they have cops hanging out looking for drunk idiots to arrest.
Boathouse (Belmar, NJ)
Cheesecake Factory (Edison, NJ)
I went to the Cheesecake factory with my family to celebrate my sisters first day on her new job. I don't know if thats the reason we went out, but it sure sounded good. The cheesecake factory is a good place to go with my family because their menu appeals to everyone. My mom and John are not too adventurous when it comes to eating, so the menu gives them options while also appealing to a foodie like my sister, Jen. Jen actually didn't make it, but I feel like we ate enough for her.
The waitress was very nice, she seemed a little nervous but she was very attentive and timely. I did have to wait a few minutes for a refill of water, but I drink fast! For appetizers, I got the Crispy Crab Wontons that were awesome. it was crabmeat blended with cream cheese, green onion, water chestnuts, and sweet chili sauce inside of a crispy wonton wrapper. I normally go for the Buffalo Blasts or the Sliders, but this was a good change for sure.
For my meal, I was boring and got a Chicken Ceasar Salad. The salad was HUGE was I couldn't even finish it. I question why the chunks of chicken in the salad were so big, but thats just me being critical. The chicken itself had good flavor--it was just too big to fit in your mouth without cutting. The crutons were also hard to find, which made me a little disappointed. I probably had 6 crutons in this gigantic salad. The salad was good though, so I will stop complaining about the little things.
I also took a bite of Kim's chicken madiera, which was alright. I took a piece of the peanut butter cheesecake Kim ordered and that was pretty damn good.
Overall, the Cheesecake Factory is a good place to go if your with a group that has a lot of different food opinions. The menu is so big that it gives everyone something that they like. We had a very nice dining experience and I'm sure I'll eventually go back as my neighborhood back home lacks quality restaurants.