The first place I’d like to highlight in NJ – and frankly, at the rate I’m going, it may be the only one I get to) is downtown Metuchen. Metcuchen has one of my favorite main streets in the world. A couple of highlights:
Afghan Kebab House #7: This is fantastic Middle Eastern food, served in a cozy atmosphere. There’s a dish that comes with this pistachio rice that’s to die for. I recommend opting for the lamb over the chicken; the do a really nice job with it.
Main Street has a couple of nice ice cream shops, as well as Café Paris, a neat little French bistro. My wife and I honeymooned in Paris, and it’s great to have a local source for crepes. We haven’t really been able to master them at home yet.
There’s a liquor store on the corner that I’ve only stopped in once, but I had a great experience when I did. I bought a saki set for a housewarming gift for some friends. When we were picking it up, the proprietor (an Indian man) asked if I liked saki. I said I hadn’t had it in years, but this set was a gift – and what really drew my eye to that corner of the store was the soju. He told me how much he loves a cold shot of soju after coming home from work on a hot day. He keeps it in his freezer. I’ve still got to go back and buy a bottle from him, because man, that’s good stuff.
But my point is: one Saturday afternoon, an Indian guy and a Caucasian mutt stood around for a minute, talking about Japanese and Korean liquor. That’s America, right there, boys and girls. Cheers.
Probably my favorite place on Metuchen’s Main Street is a bookstore called the Raconteur. Their motto is “Get Lit,” and I think that’s a great example of their attitude. More than simply a bookstore, they’re becoming more and more of a cultural hub in the town. They show old movies in the back of the store (or, in the summer, in the parking lot), and serve complimentary snacks and drinks. They sponsored the first annual Metuchen Film Festival (which I’m kicking myself that I didn’t get a chance to go). They have readings and meetings (a new Sherlockian Society is starting up Nov. 29th) in the store, and on top of that, they’ve got a great selection of new and used books. Give it a look.
(Cross-posted at Laughing at the Pieces)