Bergen County foodies will tell you that there is no shortage of fantastic fine dining establishments in the area. And while the food, service and experience is often worth the hefty check that comes along with enjoying these extravagant meals, there are some hidden gems worth noting that allow for a taste of gourmet without putting a hole in the wallet. Here are a few ways to take advantage of fine dining in Bergen on a budget:
The Early Dining Menu
Banish any preconceived notions you might have about “Early Bird Specials” and use this as an opportunity to try out a restaurant you may not have the chance to get into either due to lack of a weekend reservation, or if the listed prices seem a little too steep. Early menus can also be a lovely prelude to a night on the town.
One restaurant that seems to have the Early Dining Menu formula down is the Ivy Inn in Hasbrouck Heights. This cozy, romantic bar and restaurant offers what they call “The Best Dining Value in Bergen County” – a three-course gourmet dinner for $15.99 per person during limited hours all week long. They also offer a wine special, with bottles priced at $15.99. The menu can be a bit limiting (there are just five entrees to select from) but there is no arguing the price/value equation and the overall charm and ambience of the restaurant setting.
268 Terrace Avenue
Hasbrouck Heights, NJ 07604
The Prix-Fixe Menu
A distant cousin to the Early Dining Menu, a Prix-Fixe Menu is a great way to sample some of a restaurant’s signature dishes, often at considerable discount from the otherwise listed a la carte prices.
Perhaps the best kept secret in Bergen County is the “Taste of Latour” Prix-Fixe Menu offered most weeknights and on Sundays throughout all of dinner service at Latour in Ridgewood. This four-course menu shines, with ample selections to choose from and at the stunningly low price of $39.95 per person – which also includes dessert and American coffee or tea. Start with the Fallen French Cheese Soufflé, followed by the decadent Traditional Lobster Bisque soup before diving into the Pan-Seared Florida Grouper. And do not miss the Profiteroles & Ice Cream with Warm Chocolate Sauce for dessert. The pièce de résistance? It’s BYOB so not only do you save further on your dining experience, but you can also bring your favorite bottle of bubbly or Bordeaux along for enjoyment.
6 E. Ridgewood Avenue
Ridgewood, NJ 07450
The Tavern Menu
Also known as the “Bar Menu,” checking out the Tavern Menu at key Bergen County hotspots is a terrific way to enjoy a quality, gourmet experience in a more low key environment and at a lower price point.
Check out the “Bar Bites” menus at tony steakhouses like Morton’s The Steakhouse in Hackensack or The Capital Grille in Paramus. (Hot tip: The Capital Grille offers free valet parking for diners – no need to circle the Garden State Plaza parking lot!) You’ll find Tenderloin Sandwiches, Truffle Fries and Lollipop Lambchops for around $20 or less at The Capital Grille –half the price of an entrée in the dining room. While at Morton’s, if you time it right, you can enjoy Filet Mignon, Iceberg Wedge Bites and Crab Cakes for $7 on their “Bar Bites” menu during key “power hours” of 5-6:30pm and from 9pm-close. Outside of these hours, the same menu is still modestly priced at under $20 for tastes of what’s offered on their pricier dining room menu.
If you’re looking to dine outside of a chain establishment – or just dine outside — don’t miss the Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern in Ho-Ho-Kus, where fresh, seasonal and locally-sourced fare can be enjoyed in their quaint and casual open-air bluestone patio, or inside the rustic Tavern. Their Bistro-Menu is offered all-day long, including moderately priced salads and entrees including their much talked about Tavern Burger.
Morton’s The Steakhouse
The Shops at Riverside
One Riverside Square
Hackensack, NJ 07601
The Capital Grille
1 Garden State Plaza
Paramus, NJ 07652
The Ho-Ho-Kus Inn & Tavern
1 E. Franklin Turnpike
Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ 07423
Tell us about your experiences with any of the abovementioned establishments, or share how you fine dine on a dime in Bergen County in the comments section below.
Lisa Pisano is a Bergen-county based lifestyle blogger, PR/Social Media consultant and content director. Her love and appreciation of food began at an early age, in the kitchen of her Italian-American home, and then extended to a fascination and enjoyment of all things foodie as an adult. Food is very much a central part of Lisa’s personal life — from partaking in culinary vacations and walking tours to dining throughout the NY/NJ Metro Area and developing original recipes. Professionally, she’s worked as the first in-house PR Manager of Manhattan’s Institute of Culinary Education and has provided consulting and content creation to food websites and restaurants. Lisa brings her passion for food, fashion, family and pop culture to life through her blog,mom a la mode. Follow Lisa on Twitter @momalamode and onFacebook.com/momalamode.