About a month ago, I made lunch plans with a friend for this afternoon. At the last minute, I found out that the restaurant we had been planning on would not be opened for lunch. What seemed like a huge bummer at that moment turned out to be a lucky break, as I remembered that I’d wanted to try Uptown Bistro for quite a while. We got there at around 1:30pm with my year-old son in tow, and were warmly greeted with the confirmation that they do indeed have highchairs (hooray!). The server gave us a few minutes to settle in before taking our drink order (two raspberry iced teas, each with a slice of lime), but came by right away with water—much appreciated on this unusually warm afternoon.
Confession of the day: I am a sucker for anything served with avocado. It didn’t take long for me to decide on the crab salad sandwich (one of the specials), especially once I heard the A word listed as an ingredient. The sandwich was presented with a hearty portion of mixed greens and carrots on the side, splashed with a dijon-esque dressing that had a real kick, but wasn’t too much to handle. In general, I steer clear of sandwiches served on croissants—the bread’s daintiness is often no match for the sandwich’s other components. In this case, however, the croissant’s heartiness rivaled that of the side salad. A slice of tomato and a slab of avocado were stacked atop the crab salad, which was mixed with just a bit of mayo. My only problem with the sandwich was that it looked too pretty to eat. I got over that right away, though.
While there was no dessert menu, there was dessert. Oh yes, there was dessert. My pal and I shared a deliciously gooey piece of chocolate lava cake, and it was more than enough for the two of us.
My son befriended a four-year-old at the next table, and I couldn’t help but notice that both parents and the child each had their own order of the same dish: pancakes with fresh strawberries, cantaloupe, and blueberries. I didn’t ask, but my guess is that they’re regulars.
The menu, downloadable on Uptown’s website, features an array of brunch, lunch, and dinner items ranging from omelettes to pasta to a mahi mahi burger. Lunch prices range from $4.50 to $9.95. The kids’ menu items range from $4.50 to $6.50 and include mini burgers, grilled cheese, turkey and cheese on whole wheat, and more.
A steady stream of people came and went while we ate, primarily made up of families, groups of twentysomethings, a few couples, and a few shopped-out mom-and-daughter teams, as evidenced by their many bags.
The restaurant’s design is earthy and clean, with branches peeking over a few dividers, and fresh flowers displayed in the center of the room. A pillow-lined bench runs the perimeter of the space, and they were some comfy pillows.
I’ll be leaning on those pillows again soon, perhaps to the tune of pancakes with fresh fruit.
596 Valley Road
Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 10pm
Sunday 10am to 4pm
Essex County Regional Editor Rachel Bozek is a writer/editor living in suburban Essex County, where she has resided since 2003. She grew up in Bergen County, and has lost track of how much time she has spent on LBI and in the Wildwoods. Her editorial gigs to date have included a 10-year stint at Nickelodeon Magazine and freelance writing for a number of outlets including Hasbro’s Trivial Pursuit and Cranium. She continues her search for the perfect pancake. www.rachelbozek.com