Top 5 Pretentious Restaurants in New Brunswick

Mmmm...pretentious...

Here’s yet another new feature for all of you – my Top 5 lists!

As you can tell, my first subject is pretentious restaurants in New Brunswick (New Brunswick the city in New Jersey, not that Canadian state province).

For those who have never been to New Brunswick, my former and current place of residence, the city has quite an interesting culinary scene. As New Brunswick is home to Rutgers, the State University of the Armpit of America, there is no shortage of cheap, unhealthy food geared towards college students – like the Grease Trucks and a countless number of pizza places.

On the other hand, New Brunswick offers plenty of more exotic options, like a couple Middle Eastern places and no less than two Jamaican restaurants. Oddly enough, there aren’t any of those casual chains, like Chilis, Applebees, and Fridays within the city limits (though there is a Qdobas and a Chipotle right across from each other). But what New Brunswick lacks in name brand restaurants, it more than makes up for with plenty of overpriced, snobby, and pretentious dining options:

5. Old Man Rafferty’s – I’m sure putting this on the list won’t make me any additional friends. Though Old Man Rafferty’s is a staple in New Brunswick, this place is more hype than substance. While I admit the food is good, it’s about the same quality and selection you can find at an Applebees or Houlihans (though a lot more expensive). Whatever your thoughts on it may be, people just love this place. But is the standard 45 minute wait you’ll almost always encounter worth it? I don’t think so. So let those parents visiting their children at college go to Old Man Rafferty’s, and everyone else can and should go somewhere else.

4. Daryl Wine Bar and Restaurant – Admittedly, I’ve never been to this place. But it just oozes pretentiousness. First of all, who the hell opens a wine bar in a gritty college town? Secondly, on their logo, the “y” in Daryl is shaped like a wine glass. Uh, sorry to burst your bubble, Daryl, but New Brunswick’s beloved CLYDZ already had that idea and executed it a lot better than you! Anyway, a look at Daryl’s website just confirms its pretentiousness. Rather than showing a room full of people happily drinking and eating away, the main image is of an unwelcoming, stark, and empty dining room full of stiff, high-backed white chairs.

As for the food, it seems just as unappealing. The menu appears to be typical of many expensive, fancy restaurants – small selection, even smaller servings, and exuberant prices. The menu tries to go out of the way to talk up the food, with offerings like Bershire Pork Loin (the fuck does that mean?), Wild Caught Cod (putting “wild caught” in front of “cod” doesn’t make it any more appetizing), and Australian Sea Bass (I guess Daryl is too good for the more standard Chilean variety).

3. Ginger N Olive – This is another place I’ve never been to, but, with a name like that, I won’t be going there any time soon (or ever). Just the thought of those two powerhouses of flavor together makes me nauseous and does nothing to entice me inside. Ginger N Olive is one of those trendy and pretentious fusion restaurants, this time mixing Indian and Italian cuisines – Ginger N Olive, get it? Now I always thought the point of a fusion restaurant was to take elements of two unrelated cuisines and combine them to create exciting dishes that the world has never seen before.

A look at Ginger N Olive’s menu makes clear that this is mostly an Indian restaurant, with only the slightest hint of Italian food. At the same time, I give credit where credit is due. The menu does feature a selection of fusion pizzas that seems somewhat intriguing. I’d just have to get over my repulsion over the name Ginger N Olive before setting foot inside (which probably won’t happen).

2. Tumulty’s Pub – People always rave about this place. I just don’t get it. Based on the restaurant’s name and its traditionally Irish/English half-timbered exterior, you’d think it would be a quaint little pub offering typical Irish/English food. WRONG! It is a snooty restaurant with typical American food that doesn’t stand out at all. For some reason, people RAVE about Tumulty’s salads. Again, I just don’t get it. For those fortunate to have never dined there, let me clue you in. They serve a signature “Heart of Lettuce” salad. This is just a fancy title for an uninspired wedge of iceberg lettuce slathered in dressing – nothing more, nothing less. Anyone can make this themselves. All you need is lettuce and a bottle of dressing.

I know people feel very strongly about Tumulty’s and will probably try to hunt me down for speaking ill of it. But seriously, can one of you tell me what exactly is so special about this place? The food is average at best, the dining room is too cramped and dark, and what the fuck is up with that stupid toy train winding its way around the restaurant?

1. Zafra’s – Oh boy, where do I begin? I guess I’ll start by saying that I don’t even know if this place is still around, as I couldn’t find a website or any recent reviews. If it closed down, that doesn’t surprise me at all. I went here several years ago and took a blood vow never to return. Anyway, let me get into the meat of my criticism or, I should say, lack of meat. That’s right, Zafra’s is (or was) a totally vegan restaurant.

Sure the food was healthy and everything, but there was just too much pretentiousness for my tastes. The menu was full of disgusting imitation meat products, which our waiter swore were almost impossible to tell the difference from real meat. But what the fuck would someone who works at a vegan restaurant know about real meat???

Anyway, I knew not to trust any soy concoction made to resemble meat, so I thought I would be safe ordering a Portobello mushroom sandwich. Wrong! Those soy-humpers had to put their vegan cheese on my sandwich, making it utterly disgusting. Honestly, Zafra’s would have been a lot better if they just focused on the vegetables, instead of covering them with their various soy bean inventions.

So there you have it, the top 5 pretentious restaurants in New Brunswick. Care to carry on the debate? Let’s discuss it in the comments below…

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9 Comments on “Top 5 Pretentious Restaurants in New Brunswick”

  1. dave Says:

    i have never been to any of these restaurants, but i took a look at daryl’s menu. first off, clydz uses a martini glass (their signature drink) and daryl uses a wine glass (it is a wine bar). second your beloved clydz (which i hate) serves that same berkshire pork loin as daryl. australian sea bass is a completely different kind of fish (perch-ish) than chilean (like cod), they just share the ubiquitous label of “bass”. so aside from those little things, i find daryl’s appetizers to be really interesting: lobster/orange/beet, spicy tuna with lime and cilantro, the gnocci looks REALLY neat, and that octopus looks like it could be really amazing. that being said i find their main courses to be rather run of the mill. pork/apple/potato? acorn squash and orange? ribs and onion? you were scoring mad points at course 1, juan carlos fernandez, but i’m going to have to give you a 2 or 3/10 on the main course, at least as far as dish creativity is concerned- which is the only thing that really concerns me when i glance at a menu. plus how awkward would scallops and root vegetables be texture-wise… i cringe at the thought. the desserts look alright, unfortunately i dont like dessert. as for their wine menu, i dont know SHIT about wine. but they have a prosecco and a cava, their rieslings are from germany and austria which is always a good sign, they actually have a gewurztraminer, … thats about all i know about the wine list like i said i dont know shit about wine. its probably very overpriced.

    i propose we go to daryl’s. from the looks it doesnt seem so pretentious, it seems classy. the menu has its moments of creativity and uniqueness, and the wine list seems like it might be good. now if we go there and the food is all fucked up, then sure they should stop taking themselves so seriously. but if its good, you might give credit where credit’s due.

    aside from that i pretty much agree. raffertys is for tools always has been and always will be. ginger n olive looks like a different class of restaurant (which is reflected in their lower price tags), i couldnt find anything about tumultys or zafras (although ive seen that stupid “salad” a few other times, and fake meat is just retarded either you eat meat or you dont.

    • armpitofamerica Says:

      Dave,

      If I ever create a list of the Top 5 pretentious comments, this would surely be #1. But, seriously, thanks for the insight! You sure know a lot about food, and you definitely know a lot more about wine than I do…

      And maybe it is worth checking out, as long as you pay!

      P.S. About the whole martini vs. wineglass…I know they are different, I just meant the concept is totally the same – making the “Y” resemble a vessel for holding alcohol…

  2. yer ma Says:

    I’ve been to 4/5 of these restaurants, and I must say I whole-heartedly agree.
    But why not add to the list?

    Makeda, NJ’s first and only Ethipian restaurant, is also ostentasiously overpriced with a dark and bleak interior. It scores bonus points for charging more for a dinner than it takes to sponsor a starving Ethiopian child for a year. The food is delicious, save for the complimentary side order of guilt.

    Soho on George, ah, what a hip name! Offering a dining experience I consider as bad as Zafra’s, Soho charges obscene prices for awful food served by a rude and inattentive wait staff. It’s just like dining in the true SoHo, only without the culture.

    Do check out Daryls, but only if you you like to drink wine. The rather blah entrees are truly uninspired UNTIL paired with a delicious wine which pulls together the meal. It’s really the pairings that bring an otherwise unimpressive meal to life.

    Keep in mind, your server is a good barometer for the quality of your experience. If your server needs to pull out a slip of paper to describe a highlighted dish, or can’t answer basic questions about a dish or drink, you know you’re being taken for a ride.

    • armpitofamerica Says:

      Dear Ma,

      There are indeed several other places I could add to list…such as Harvest Moon.

      I see your point about Makeda, but I actually really like the food. But you’re right, you can’t enjoy it without feeling some guilt about those starving Ethipians.

      I like your review of Soho on George…more like Ripoff on George!

      And good point about Daryl…I guess it is all about how the food and wine go together…

  3. mynwflorida Says:

    I’ve never even been to NJ, but you’re blog is hilarious! Keep up the good work.

  4. Luigi Fulk Says:

    Great Article! Thanks!

  5. Bud Mcgovern Says:

    Too good dude! I enjoyed!!


  6. I haven’t eaten at Old Man Rafferty’s (or set foot in New Brunswick) since the 90’s, but I remember eating a really good blackened mako shark sandwich there. It’s basically an overated casual dining restaurant though. Tumulty’s, again I haven’t been to in many years, but I remember enjoying the trains that run around the ceiling and the wedge salad is decent comfort food. Not a bad place to drink a beer and eat some basic food I guess.

    • armpitofamerica Says:

      Thanks for the comment! I admit I really like the food at Old Man Rafferty’s, especially the Sunday brunch buffet. It’s just really overpriced and overrated and people talk about it like it’s the best thing ever.

      As for Tumulty’s, I have a lot less respect for it than Old Man’s. I was only there one time, but I was thoroughly unimpressed. I know people love the wedge salad, but they just cut a wedge of iceberg and put it on a plate. Why go out and pay for something that takes no effort and I could easily do myself?

      Anyway, if want to have a beer and eat some basic food, I’ll stick with Stuff Yer Face. It’s as unpretentious and unassuming as they come.


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