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Community Guide

 

May, 2002

Inside This Edition: Franklin Steak House & Tavern in Nutley, NJ; Branch Brook Park in Newark and Belleville, NJ; Movie Review - TRAINING DAY; The Porch in Spring Lake, NJ and Drive in the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge at Basking Ridge, NJ


Jersey Food - May, 2002

The Franklin Steak House & Tavern in Nutley, NJ was discovered on a recommendation  of a friend.  I'm very fussy and am always cautious of any restaurant recommendation by anyone.  On a warm Sunday afternoon in the area I decided to stop by for a late lunch.  The chicken murphy sandwich popped right off the menu at me.  It was incredibly good and there was plenty of it!  The staff was warm and friendly and very attentive.  I decided that this very comfortable restaurant and bar deserved a second look at dinner time.  Returning recently on a Saturday night I knew that a friend and I would have to wait for a table.  How any restaurant handles peak times does as much to define the character of a place as does the food.  There is nothing more aggravating than to have to wait longer for a table than the staff quotes you.  On this night they quoted 45 minutes, a respectable short wait for a Saturday night and we were seated in under 30 minutes which speaks highly of the staff.  The overall experience was quite good and we were never rushed despite the food coming to our table quickly and to order.  I had a steak marino which was quite good and the swordfish was raved about by my friend.  It was a pleasure to dine here and I will certainly be returning in the future to sample more interesting selections from their excellent menu.  An insiders tip on parking is to go around and park in back if there are no spots to be had on the avenue.

Franklin Steak House & Tavern - 522 Franklin Avenue, Nutley, New Jersey


Jersey Treasure - May, 2002

Branch Brook Park in Newark & Belleville, New Jersey is distinguished as the nations first county park.  The park is home to the most extensive collection of cherry blossom trees in the United States.  Branch Brook springs to life this time of year as the trees bloom and park goers flock to the park for numerous activities.  A popular spot for lunch and fishing on weekdays; the park springs into full gear on the weekend.  Ball fields, nature walks and places to bike and jog offer area residents a nice place to unwind and compete.  Many who know Branch Brook Park often make a slight detour to their routes so they can pass through the park and enjoy its beauty.  Designed by the famed architect Olmstead, this beautiful park resembles New York's Central Park in many ways with easy access and pretty views.  Located across the lake on the Newark side is one of the most beautiful cathedrals in the world.  Sacred Heart Cathedral stands high in the sky and adds amazing beauty to the park especially on Sunday when churchgoers gather.  It is this author's opinion that this Jersey Treasure must be experienced at least once by those from Jersey.

Branch Brook Park - Newark & Belleville, New Jersey 


Movie Review - May, 2002

Video Rental Pick:

TRAINING DAY - rated R 

Denzel Washington plays the dirtiest of cops in what may be his finest performance to-date.  His special elite narcotics unit and I do mean his, is sought after by LA's young and hungry cops as a way up in the department.  A young hungry LA cop won a spot in "the unit" know for major league busts and home to highly decorated urban soldiers.  Like many things in life the inside of this world is far different than it appears on the surface.  Waking up on his first training day in "the unit" a gifted Ethan Hawke steps into the character of one such LA cop loaded with idealism and drive for career advance.  The old "dog" goes right to work to brainwash the new "dog" into becoming "a wolf" on the mean LA streets.  Truth is that the old "dog" got himself into a major league jam in his major league job with people far dirtier and more powerful than he.  Lacking in just about everything except confidence and ego, this hardened old "dog" brings the new guy into his sick world at lightning speed.  What takes place on the screen is nothing short of electrifying as these gifted actors deliver some of the grittiest befitting dialogue ever to hit a police drama.  Washington has brought to life a most disturbing character blown off course from all normalcy and decent ethical behavior.  This thought provoking and riveting film is a must see.     


Jersey Clubs and Nightlife - May, 2002   

It is May already and I am getting very excited because one of my favorite holidays, Memorial Day, is coming up fast.  For many of us in Jersey, our plans for Memorial Day are laid out well in advance and many of us head to the shore to spend time with family or friends.  One of my favorite stops during the weekend is The Porch located on Highway 71 in Spring Lake.  I have been going to the Porch for years and for good reason.  First of all, it is a relatively small place so mingling is easy.  The “Happy Hour” specials are some of the best in the area.  We’re talking a dollar a beer folks, which for me can be very dangerous, but hey, that’s just me.  The food offerings are generous and also priced such that you won’t break the bank.  Even at its busiest, you never have to wait more then a minute for a drink, because the bar-hands are all friendly well seasoned experts.  Music is played via a stereo system and the volume is kept at a decent level but not so loud that conversing is difficult.  This is after all, a meeting place that people go to socialize, have a bite to eat, and a few drinks.  Once the summer kicks into high gear, and the summer rentals fill up with out-of-towners, you will need to get inside early because the line to get in does get very long, and nobody wants to spend their evening standing outside waiting to get in.  Keep in mind, you are in Spring Lake, so the dress is slightly upscale, but not required.  You probably stand a better chance of impressing the ladies dressed decently, a dress shirt and Dockers will do fine here.  Did I mention ladies?  How could I forget to mention, some of the finest in the Jersey shore head to this place.  I hate to give that away, but there has never been a shortage of pretty ladies.  One of my favorite drinks to close the night at The Porch, is a Brandy of any flavor, served in a traditional snifter.  Maybe that’s why I always leave with a smile.  Happy Memorial Day to all and make this one your best yet.   

The Porch - Highway 71, Spring Lake, New Jersey

written by: James "Shoreguy" Carroll - New Jersey native & Jersey Spin contributor


Jersey Driver - May, 2002

The Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Basking Ridge, New Jersey has so much to offer and is a great place to take a drive to and through.  Saved from possibly becoming a jetport many years ago this refuge is home to numerous species of wildlife, trees and vegetation.  For those out for an afternoon cruise the road through this protected area offers a very scenic view of these wetlands complete with cattails.  It's not unusual to see thousands of birds flying as I saw on a recent trip.  It's a very relaxing drive out to the refuge and I arrived having taken much in of the surrounding areas which is quite nice.  Deciding to stop here to enjoy some of the foot trails is a good call as you will usually have much to see and photograph.  If you time your drive just right, as I did, heading out of the refuge at sunset offers some very nice scenery.  For me the best Jersey drives offer adventure, interest and relaxation and this drive offers all that and more.

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge - 152 Pleasant Plains Road Basking Ridge, NJ


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