—We reported on the Meeting House being near-ready to open just over a month ago, and as of Tuesday evening, it’s in full swing. The concept, as mentioned, is all about conviviality (hence “meeting house”), with a refined, unique American menu (from “Top Chef Masters” alum Carmen Gonzalez) and that sleek-meets-rustic kind of upscale homey design. Adding to the neighborhood vibe will be Dago Villanueva, the former longtime general manager at Agricola. The Meeting House, 277 Witherspoon Street, Princeton; 609-436-7891
—The restaurant isn’t new, but the experience will be: Ani Ramen House in Jersey City is hosting the popular Sushi by Bou Pop-Up, an omakase 60-minute “speakeasy” dining experience that’s gained some popularity in New York City and Miami. Omakase is a way of dining in a Japanese restaurant in which the chef chooses and prepares each (of many) courses for you, one after the next. It’s essentially “chef’s choice,” and when it’s sushi, that means a huge emphasis on the freshest, highest quality fish. Your $50 per person hour of bliss is accompanied by craft cocktails, imported sake, and Japanese whisky. Ani Ramen Jersey City, 218 Newark Avenue, Jersey City; 201-408-9811
In the Works:
—With locations in Red Bank and Toms River already serving up 105, 893 meals to date (as of this writing), Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea are adding a third JBJ Soul Kitchen to their feel-good, do-good restaurant empire. Rutgers University’s Newark campus’ Robeson Campus Center will be the site for the next JBJ Soul Kitchen, which will operate under the same dignity- and charity-first premise: everybody eats, and you can either donate a small sum, pay for someone else’s meal, or volunteer for your meal. The idea, says Bon Jovi, is to accommodate university students and staff who may not be able to afford to dine elsewhere. JBJ Soul Kitchen celebrated its eighth anniversary just over a month ago. Expect the kitchen to start running—and fists to start pumping—on January 22, the restaurant’s Grand Opening. JBJ Soul Kitchen, Paul Robeson Campus Center, 350 Dr. MLK Boulevard, Newark; no phone yet.
—Back in March, the Jersey City-based Grubbs Takeaway expanded into Newark. Now it looks like they’re rapidly expanding, with (according to one online resource) three new sites opening in as little as eight weeks. The Grubbs website only lists addresses for two specific sites—one on York Avenue on New York City’s Upper East Side, the other at 725 River Road in Edgewater—but we’ll keep our eyes peeled for a third spot. For the hungry northern Jerseyan, it’s a good option for interesting/fun greasy paper bag takeout (Kimchi Jam Burger, Jamaican Jerk Wrap, Chili Cheese Tater Tots, Crème Brulee Cheesecake). No exact opening date for each location yet, but it should be a matter of a month or two tops for Edgewater. Grubbs Takeaway, locations vary.
Filing for Bankruptcy (But Open):
—A near triple-decade Haddon Township mainstay, the Crystal Lake Diner has filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy. Owner and founder Anthony Exadaktilos says the diner will remain open and operational during the bankruptcy proceedings, which may or may not have been necessitated (at least in part) by financial losses from a devastating fire in 2014. In fact, they’re still offering full turkey- or ham-based Thanksgiving dinners for $150 each. Crystal Lake Diner, 527 West Cuthbert Boulevard, Westmont; 856-240-7900Click here to leave a comment