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*Unpretentious* but special birthday dinner, preferably farm-y

marisar | Nov 4, 201311:01 AM

My parents are visiting from L.A. in a few weeks for Thanksgiving and my mom's 60th. We both live to eat, cook, and generally obsess about food. My mom is a private corporate chef. I am one of those insufferable millennial/"Portlandia"-type foodies for whom a meal can never be too organic and local--or alternately, exotic.

We currently have a reservation at Blue Hill at Stone Barns in Westchester, which is pretty much THE dream meal I envisioned for my mom's special birthday. However, over the last few days, my sister and I have come to the sober (and very sad) conclusion that BH@SB is just too much of a splurge for us in our current financial situations. ($148/person seemed reasonable for a very special occasion dinner until we factored in wine, tax, and gratuity...)

So now I am kind of scrambling to come up with alternatives for a SPECIAL but not pretentious, early Sunday evening dinner in the $100-150/person range without wine. I am considering some NYC restaurants but would love to stay in Jersey, especially for a more rustic, sedate farm-y experience.

Geography: Anywhere north of Lambertville/Princeton.

I moved here from SF last year so I have not tried many places yet and some of the reviews I've read on higher-end NJ dining here, on Yelp and on Google/Zagat have me a bit concerned about pretentiousness in food as well as service. We are adventurous eaters who appreciate creative menus, but value quality above novelty -- in other words, I'd rather have a perfect pork chop than a mediocre Korean-inspired short rib tourtiere. And we are definitely not into the stuffy, white-glove vibe.

Here are some of the places we're considering:

Eno Terra (have been here)
Ninety Acres
Bernards Inn
A Toute Heure
Ryland Inn

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