Jersey Food

April, 2007

Inside This Edition: New Jersey Food - Jersey Shadow Article: Sometimes Restaurant Awards Mean Nothing - Jersey Shadow Review: Empire Diner And Restaurant in Parsippany, NJ


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Feedback is always welcome on all of my reviews.  Drop me an email if you like! - Jersey Shadow - 

Sometimes Restaurant Awards Mean Nothing - As my loyal readers know I've been having somewhat of a good run lately with good experiences to report, but it hasn't all been wonderful.  I had an experience in Montclair last fall that was so bad that the place wasn't even able to be reviewed by me.  So why even talk about it?  Well, for one thing it was so bad that the name isn't worth even mentioning, and I am talking about it as a learning lesson (for me too) when to cut your losses and leave a place.
Walking along the street in the center of Montclair on a crisp fall day I came upon an inviting place with the front door wide open for business just before noon.  At least one award as "best" hung in the window within my field of view as I entered to an overwhelming odor of ammonia.  Stopping dead in my tracks and looking around I wondered if this place was open for business and to my surprise at such an odorous welcome was told yes the establishment was indeed open.

A very abrupt employee showed me and my guest to a filthy table , and much to my amazement, saw that it was filthy and laid the menus down on the unclean table.  As the ammonia became more pungent so did my mood at the utter disregard for the customer and right then and there as the employee walked away we walked out.  The only good thing about this experience was the decision to get out fast.  Every place can have an off day but this goes way past that into the why even bother realm.
Awards to me are no assurance of a great experience and most of them don't really tell me very much.  The awards that I have given, however, do mean something because each and every award is backed with a full review by me.  When one of my readers sees that a place was given an award by me they can read deeper and discover why.  On the day I showed up for lunch at this place I can't even imagine on its "best" day this place being anything more than mediocre as their best, and that is nothing to be rewarded.
Now all of you are saying...  what place is he talking about?  Disclosing the name would be mean and not necessary,  but suffice it to say my experience there was miserable and thankfully short.  What is necessary is that when going to a place prepared to spend your hard-earned dollar, you have every right to expect the best.  If something isn't right when you first show up to dine, by all means don't be afraid to back up and select another place to try.  As for the "award" I saw in the window - "sometimes awards mean nothing." - Jersey Shadow -  


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Empire Diner & Restaurant - Only in New Jersey can you walk into a Jersey diner and find a sign that says both pictorially and in words that food from outside the diner is not allowed inside.  I'm sure that there is quite a story behind the Empire Diner in Parsippany having to go to such lengths to protect itself.  Then again this is New Jersey, and if something can be exploited there is usually someone here ready to see just how far they can push the envelope.
Parsippany is not a poor community so the thought of some disadvantaged youth missing out on a good time with friends at the diner doesn't pop into my mind.  I was young once and spent plenty of years ordering the cheapest thing on the menu and would never even think of such a thing, in fact I've never heard of anyone who did.  Anyway, chances are if you did bring food into the Empire you would not be eating as well as you could because the food is simply delicious and first rate.
Judging by the sign out front and pictured above, this place looks like it has been around for a while.  The building appears to have been redone at some point.  The Empire seems to want to be known as a both a diner and a restaurant, and judging by the food this day I'm sure many from the area have this place on their short list for frequent meals.  Many older diners in Jersey have liquor licenses, and so does the Empire for those of you who like an "adult beverage" with your meal.   For the most part, most diners deliver a decent lunch day after day but the Empire delivers more than most.  I had a Buffalo Chicken Salad which was outstanding and even served over baby mixed field greens, chicken not greasy and very fresh.  My lunch was even served on a nouveau plate.  You know the ones I'm talking about ... different geometric shapes and curved up on the ends?  My guest had an overstuffed egg salad sandwich which was said to be delicious.
The service was good, very warm and friendly.  There seemed to be many happy diners on this day and at least one repeat customer that was greeted by a waitress who wasn't even waiting on him that day.  That alone is a pretty good indication that my good dining experience today is most likely available day after day.  I will be back for sure when I'm in the area again. - Jersey Shadow -
Empire Diner & Restaurant
1325 US Highway 46
Parsippany, NJ 07054
Phone: 973-335-2729

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