—As of Sunday, November 10, Third & Vine in Jersey City has closed its doors. (Third & Vine received a 1.5-star review from NJM in the October issue.) After almost six years, the restaurant is shutting down without a tremendous amount of fanfare (though they did host an informal farewell for their last service). No concrete reasons were given, though a change in management and/or menu in 2018 might have led in part to the closure. Plus, Third & Vine certainly isn’t the first downtown Jersey City restaurant to close in recent months. Third & Vine, 353 3rd Street, Jersey City.
—If you haven’t yet checked out Café Chameleon in Bloomingdale, now may be the perfect time. Yes, the 100-seat restaurant opened back in April, but they only brought on new executive chef Bryan Gregg about a month ago. And now that he’s had time to settle into the menu—and seasonal ingredients like white truffles are arriving—it couldn’t hurt to stop by for a bite in advance of your own holiday cooking challenges. You might have tasted Gregg’s cooking before if you’ve been to his former Montclair farm-to-table restaurant Escape as well as the now-shuttered high-gloss Edgewater riverside restaurant Orama. The menu at Café Chameleon steers rustic and homey with elegant and thoughtful touches (Crispy Pork Belly with ‘Nduja Vinaigrette, Ravioli with Burgundy Truffles and Squash Butter, Fettucine Cacio e Pepe—yes please—with Cured Egg Yolk, etc.) Café Chameleon, 60 Main Street, Bloomingdale; 973-850-6969
—With the mid-October opening of the Baklava Lady, Englishtown just got a 100 percent vegan Turkish café that specializes in buttery, flaky, vegan baklava. For the uninitiated, baklava is a multi-layered dessert made with phyllo dough, chopped nuts (typically walnuts or pistachios, though it can vary), and syrup. Butter and honey are often used, but not here; don’t expect that to mean things are less golden and delicious-looking. They have the titular baklava, sesame seed-studded twists of simit, and may even have enough of the pecan pie birds nests for some pre-holiday entertaining. The bakery/café does savory items too, including lunch options and weekday specials like this muhamarra roasted red pepper and walnut spread. They’re open Thursday to Monday, 8am to 3pm. The Baklava Lady Café & Bakery, 34 Main Street, Englishtown; 732-851-5445
—After a fairly devastating freak accident shut it down (a truck crashed into the next door restaurant in August of 2018, causing extensive damage to both locations), Frenchtown Café in Frenchtown has finally reopened. It’s as much a relief to owner Rosella Caloiero—who we profiled in the October issue—as the town, where the café is a mainstay and the building is a piece of local history. Caloiero, who also runs Sky Café at Sky Manor Airport in Pittstown, isn’t a stranger to adversity, and saw the space through the renovations, finally reopening, after just over a year. The staff shared a Facebook video of themselves taking down the paper covering the windows on November 6. Frenchtown Café, 44 Bridge Street, Frenchtown; 908-996-0663
In the Works:
—The Office Tavern Grill is opening a new location in East Hanover, just in time to brighten up the bleak midwinter with a good burger and a decent pour of a nice deep red wine, or—since they’re running plenty of it—some sudsy craft beer. The fourth Office in New Jersey, this next spot will have ample seating, with room for up to 160, and still somehow cozy (a promised fire pit helps). No exact opening date yet—they’re still in hiring stages—but keep your eyes peeled into and just after the holiday season, when you need somewhere to go unwind (and de-tinsel). The Office Tavern Grill, 240 Route 10, East Hanover; no phone yet.