Hard to believe that there isn't a thread on this board yet about Family Meal, so this NJ 'hound figured she'd get one going. I had the pleasure of dining there a few days before Sandy hit, and have continued to think, "Wow, I wish we had this in northern NJ..." For those who aren't aware of the place, it's Bryan Voltaggio's newest spot, a free-standing, bustling, fun place with a true eye on quality and hospitality.
We went for dinner, and since we arrived early, started at the counter/bar. Not the usual selection of brands, but there's are some excellent spirits (I didn't look at wines) back there! I was thrilled to see Root Liquor was being used in one of their 'adult milkshakes' as it was an indication to me about the quality of the spirit choices. I went with their rum cocktail which was perfect--not super sweet, with seasonal fruit and ginger beer. Excellent entry point, imo.
My family is still talking about the chicken pot pie fritters. This is not something I would normally order but OMG. Fantastic mouthful of chicken pot pie, and each one had at least one pea inside, which both made me laugh and again told me there's great attention to detail here. I won't run through every morsel we ate, but the standouts were those fritters, the rye cavatelli with chorizo and lima beans, the bbq pork (w/excellent cole slaw), and the pork chop w/black-eyed peas. Desserts were stellar, and I'm NOT a sweet eater, so it's really unusual for me to even care about the dessert menu. Nothing was super sweet (except for the sweet potato casserole, which was a side dish that should be on the dessert menu, imo) and I enjoyed tastes of the apple cobbler and hazelnut donuts (serious choc for those who need it), but the lemon tart really knocked me out, particularly b/c it was paired with a stunning, TART cranberry sorbet.
In short, this is a place I wish I had near where I live...comfort food done on a level that exceeds your local spot, reasonably priced, and in a lively atmosphere! Next time I get down there I'll stay at the counter, as it's fun to watch the action.