—A relaxed Indian restaurant with a twist opened just about a week ago in Jersey City. Nukkad is an elegant-looking fast-casual Indian restaurant doing “Indian Soul Food” from chef Garima Kothari, one of the top 15 finalists from “Master Chef: India.” There are staples on the café’s menu, but don’t relegate this to another possible curry takeout. The food here demands attention, with Indian staples scattered among lesser-known regional specialties and some deftly tongue-in-cheek fusion-style dishes (butter chicken mac n’ cheese). They specialize in dosa, or large thin crepes filled here with anything from masala potatoes to spicy minced lamb to the special peshawari dosa, which takes extra prep time and is filled with coconut, dried nuts and fruits. There’s also a large “Chai Nashta” section, basically small plates you would take with afternoon tea (or chai). Think of it like Indian tapas and dive into dishes like masala fries, curried momos (a kind of Indian dumpling), chana masala chickpea tacos, or puchka, aka pani puri shots, inimitable and addictive crispy fried semolina cups filled with cooked potato, mint, and tangy tamarind juice which you consume in one marvelous bite. Many options, including those puchka, are vegan. The space is smaller, with seating for 30 and a nice light atmosphere: exposed brick walls, high ceilings, a light blue and white tile mosaic. Nukkad, 105 Greene Street, Jersey City; 201-434-2300
—The Office Tavern Grill opened its fourth location, on Route 10 in East Hanover, toward the end of January. Part of the 40North Restaurant Group, the Office in East Hanover will be doing the same kind of global gastropub menu with a heavy emphasis craft beer as the other locations. Menu options are more than full-throttle burgers, FYI: you’ll find dishes like crispy coconut cauliflower, a flatbread with gochujang and blistered shishito peppers, ground duck burger with verde mayonnaise and queso fresco, chicken and waffles with gruyere and applewood smoked bacon. There will also be a raw bar and regular happy hour. The other three locations are in Ridgewood, Summit and Morristown. The Office Tavern Grill, 240 Route 10, East Hanover; 973-386-5850
In the Works:
—It looks like Spring 2020 is the approximate opening time for an eagerly-awaited Trader Joe’s in Cherry Hill. The store, which will do the regular grocery-meets-funky-vibe-meets-addictive-snacks repertoire that’s made TJ’s famous, will be located at the Towne Place at Garden State Park in Cherry Hill. Most everything about the Cherry Hill store is still very much “TBD,” so don’t get your reusable shopping bags ready just yet. Chances are, once the store does finally open (it’s been about 18 months of waiting), there will be more than a few bells and whistles, and Hawaiian shirts, on opening day. This brings the total of Trader Joe’s in New Jersey closer to 20 (with another store in the works in Freehold). Trader Joe’s, Towne Place, 775 Haddonfield Road, Cherry Hill; no phone yet.
—The only easy thing about saying goodbye to a dive bar is that you know you can do it with cheap whiskey. We’re assuming that’s pretty much how it’ll go down when DC Tavern on 8th Street in Hoboken finally closes its doors—and that date isn’t exactly decided. The bar has been in operation for seventeen years and, per some suggestive social media posts, is closing its doors any day now. There are slightly confusing signs of life on their Facebook page, but at least one recent post indicates imminent closure (e.g. “It was great to see friends, old friends, and some very old friends. And to all those who showed up because you heard we’re closing: where the &*%$ have you been?”) DC Tavern, 505 8th Street, HobokenClick here to leave a comment