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New Jersey Eats: Top 10 Central Jersey restaurants

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 9/13/17

Somerset, Hunterdon, Middlesex and Union counties are known for their incredible mix of countryside, metropolitan living, diversity and vitality, and this is ever-reflected in the cuisine of the region.

Here in Central Jersey, you can find everything from five-star formal American dining to ethnic fare with a modern twist and everything in between.

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6 fall menu items that bring the season right to your plate

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 9/21/16

Although it’s always a bittersweet goodbye to bid farewell to colorful salads, light meats and summery seafood, those ready for the fall season are gearing up for big changes at their favorite local eateries.

Central Jersey restaurants have been busy as they revamp their autumn menus with hearty stews, flavorful meats and fall vegetables.

If you’re ready to embrace all that autumn has to offer the culinary world, check out what these six hotspots have planned for the season.

Shiitake dusted 50 day dry aged beef terrine from Stage Left. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Stage Left)

Shiitake dusted 50 day dry aged beef terrine from Stage Left. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Stage Left)

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5 unique desserts in Central Jersey

There’s nothing wrong with a classic scoop of vanilla ice cream or a helping of hot, chocolate brownie to finish off a hearty meal.

But where do you go if you get a hankering for a dessert that you can’t find just anywhere?

Luckily for locals, Central Jersey’s finest restaurants have put some serious time, energy and forks to work in creating exciting desserts that venture from the norm.

The Courier News, Home News Tribune and MyCentralJersey.com scoured Central Jersey’s restaurant scene to find the most decadent, interesting and delicious desserts in the area, all of which put the simple chocolate chip cookie or slice of cake to shame.

Read on below to find out where you can go for a craving that just won’t kick.

The banana cake at Origin Thai. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Origin Thai)

The banana cake at Origin Thai. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Origin Thai)

Origin Thai’s Banana Cake 

Bananas don’t make their way into many American dishes, but Origin Thai of Somerville is bringing the fruit back to the dessert plate with their banana cake.

The homemade cake is twisted with caramel sauces and topped with fresh banana glaze, served alongside vanilla ice cream.

“In Thailand, we always use bananas,” said Chon Suthwee, manager. “This dish is a twist between Asian and American dishes.”

For $8, visitors can get the decadent dessert at Origin Thai, a French-Thai fusion restaurant with an elegant and upscale vibe located at 25 Division St. in Somerville and 25 Mountainview Blvd. in Basking Ridge.

The Himalayan salt bowl sundae at Stage Left. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Stage Left)

The Himalayan salt bowl sundae at Stage Left. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Stage Left)

Stage Left’s Salt Bowl Sundae

How would you like try a dessert that has an evolving taste – as you eat it?

The salt bowl sundae, which features a bowl cut from a solid piece of Himalayan pink salt and is layered with caramel, ice cream, candied pecans, banana bruleed with a blow torch, chocolate sauce made with Valrhona chocolate and a pretzel rod, does just that.

“People love that its interactive and changes over time,” said Francis Schott, owner. “Personally, I have never seen anything like it.”

Customers can split this dessert, intended for two, for $19, at the sophisticated New Brunswick eatery located at 5 Livingston Ave.

The crepe cake at the Bernards Inn. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Bernards Inn)

The crepe cake at the Bernards Inn. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Bernards Inn)

Bernards Inn’s Crepe Cake

No one can say no to a sweet crepe for breakfast on a Sunday morning, but what about a crepe for dessert?

The Bernards Inn serves a crepe cake, which consists of 12 layers of buttery, paper thin crepes, married with creamy vanilla infused Diplomat cream and topped with a thin layer of caramelized sugar. The dish is then garnished with fresh winter citrus fruits and a small touch of toasted pistachio.

Elizabeth Katz, pastry chef, said, “This combination creates a three-dimensional experience for the palate as the light flavors of the crepes and custard is met with deep crunchy caramel.”

For $11, visitors can get this dessert from the Bernards Inn, a 100-year-old elegant staple of the region, at 27 Mine Brook Road in Bernardsville.

The blood orange bar at the Pluckemin Inn. (Photo: ~Courtesy of the Pluckemin Inn)

The blood orange bar at the Pluckemin Inn. (Photo: ~Courtesy of the Pluckemin Inn)

Pluckemin Inn’s Blood Orange Bar

Restaurant-goers don’t think twice about ordering a lemon bar for dessert, but the blood orange bar at the Pluckemin Inn has caused some confusion.

“So many people don’t understand what it is,” said Kathryn Alberalla, pastry chef. “But then they order it and they realize it’s so good – it tastes just like oranges, but sweeter.”

The blood orange bar is paired with with brown butter caramel, fresh blood oranges, pomegranate seeds, lemon ice cream and a candied lemon garnish.

Guests can get this dessert for $10 at the Pluckemin Inn, a country-inn restaurant with a vintage flair, located at 359 Rt. 206 in Bedminster.

The Banana Caribbean at the Metuchen Inn. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Metuchen Inn)

The Banana Caribbean at the Metuchen Inn. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Metuchen Inn)

Metuchen Inn’s Banana Caribbean 

It may be the dead of winter, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way at the Metuchen Inn.

The inn is serving up their dessert the Banana Caribbean, which is very fine filo stuffed with fresh bananas, walnuts and chocolate chips served with vanilla gelato.

Jose Solano, manager, said, “People are always recommending it to their friends. The flavors are just fantastic.”

Guests can get the Banana Caribbean for $8.50 at the 1843 building, located at 424 Middlesex Ave. in Metuchen.