Jan 31, 2017

Green Meadows Restaurant

By Lori Draz

Green Meadows Restaurant in Colts Neck is a quiet little place that has been around for 62 years and has clearly built its longevity on not chasing trends. If you’re looking to make a “see and be seen” scene and rub elbows with the skinny jeans and stiletto heels set, this is not the place for you. This is “comfortable shoe” territory and it is proud to be what it is. Its retro décor looks like a trip to Grandma’s, in the best possible and most comfortingly familiar way. It’s super clean, with a team of very friendly servers who seem to know everyone by name. The long bar is manned by one of the owners, who serves up a stiff, generous, and very well-done cocktail and everyone seems happy to be there. There is a menu full of reliable dishes, with plenty of specials, and the food is really good, with a very homey feel. The wine list is well managed, with some good choices. We felt a little transported in time when we arrived, and when we were done, we were grateful to have found this sweet, sensible place.

We began with two appetizers: the smoked trout and the fried artichoke hearts. The trout is very simple, but very well done. The fried artichokes were a really nice surprise. I haven’t seen that item on a menu in a while and they do them quite well, with plenty of tang. If they are available, do try them.

Next, we ordered a Caesar salad, split three ways. This was a true Caesar salad, with the correctly assertive flavor a good Caesar is supposed to have.

On to our entrees. Green Meadow offers many classic protein, vegetable, and starch meals, like porterhouse steaks, roast duckling, and a broiled seafood platter, served in a traditional presentation. You will not find complicated recipes and intricate presentations; you will find a good meal that delivers. The meals come with a mélange of chunky braised vegetables and your choice of rice or potatoes done in several ways. Guest number one chose the veal marsala. The veal was tender and perfectly cooked, and the thick gravy was laced with chunky mushrooms. Guest number two chose the broiled filet of sole topped with a lemon, white wine, and butter sauce and said it was one of the most flavorful fish dishes he’s recently had. He was very pleased. I chose the apricot chicken, which is a pounded, almond-coated breast of chicken in an apricot cream sauce, though I was intrigued by the blackened boneless pork chops that come with sliced pears with a honey glaze. I really enjoyed my dish. I like fruit with protein, and while the apricot sauce is a little sweet at the first bite, its earthy, comforting taste wins you over quickly. Each of us ate every bite.

We selected three desserts. We did not choose the recommended rice pudding, though that will be on my next visit’s menu. Instead, we chose the key lime pie, which played the tangy/sweet line right down the middle. The traditional carrot cake was dense, and just spicy enough. The third dessert was a chocolate mousse cake that had a layer of vanilla and chocolate mousse, topped with a sheet of rich chocolate. Yummy! The coffee was very fresh, though I wish the cups were just a few sips larger.

We asked why our menu said Friday Night and that’s when we learned about Green Meadows’ unique and generous pricing plan, which came as a pleasant surprise. On Wednesday and Thursday, you get 15% off your entire check (including drinks); on Friday – one of the biggest nights in a restaurant – you get 50% off your food bill (drinks excluded); and on Saturday and Sunday, you get 20% off your food bill (excluding drinks). It’s an interesting formula for this little restaurant that marches to its own drummer. Green Meadows is a nice choice for a family meal with elders, or for one or two couples who want to enjoy a strong, well-made cocktail, conversation, and a tasty meal.

 

The cost: Low to moderate

What we liked: The homey feeling, the friendly waitresses, the generous cocktails, the wine list, and the very flavorful menu.

What could be better: There is room for updated carpeting, chairs, and decorating, but in a way, the décor lends to the mood. You almost don’t want to tamper with its retro vibe. The parking lot could use some indicated spaces and perhaps some better signage and a fresher exterior. The bread could be better, too.

We give it 4 and a quarter J’s.

Green Meadows Restaurant is located at 270 Route 34 in Colts Neck, right near the entrance to Route 18. They’re open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner from 5:00 to 10:00 p.m. Call (732) 431-8755 or visit www.greenmeadowsrestaurant.com.