Char, Raritan, NJ

I was seriously craving a steak this past week. I’ve been trying to cut down on meat, especially red meat and going from red meat 2-4 times a week to 2 times a month left me with an itch for a steak. And when you have an itch, you really do have to scratch it. There are a few decent steakhouses in the Princeton area, including Ruth’s Chris, KC Prime and Char along with good steaks at other, non steakhouse restaurants. I’ve been to Char many times since it first opened a few years ago, and have previously blogged about it. I really do like Char, it is an excellent steakhouse.

I made a reservation for 8.15 on Saturday. We got there around 8.10, our table wasn’t ready and we were asked to either wait upfront or at the bar. Ended up waiting upfront since I had my kids with me. We didn’t get our table until 8.35 which seems excessively long to me. 10-15 mins is acceptable, but 20 mins? Would it be acceptable if I turned up 20 mins late for my reservation?

The restaurant was completely packed. It really is testament to how good the restaurant is. Not just the steaks, but also the vibe, the bar, the decor and I love the outdoor seating. They are opening a second location in Red Bank in the next 2 weeks. And oh yes, the hostesses are probably some of the most attractive in the NJ restaurant scene.

After finally getting to sit down, our waiter came over, introduced himself and his trainee. She was going to start in 2 weeks at the Red Bank Char. He then proceeded to tell us that Char had wonderful steaks. Really? Thanks Sherlock, I didn’t know I was in a steakhouse. After that he proceeded to explain steaks to us and pretty much rattled on for 10 minutes, and I let him becuase I couldn’t believe what I was witnessing. I think he assumed we didn’t know the difference between the steaks. My 12 year old daughter could’ve explained it to him. His information wasn’t bad, I just take exception to the condescending manner and his assumption that we didn’t know anything. He could’ve asked if we needed any information. And while his oratory tour de force continued, his trainee was completely disinterested and not paying attention at all.

We did eventually get a porterhouse, perfectly cooked along with crab cakes which were really good, no filler with mushrooms, mac & cheese and potato gratin as sides. Everything was great. Thank god the food is not a reflection on our waiter. My one quibble was the poor selection of wines by the glass. I love red wine and since nothing caught my eye, I had to drink Chimay.

Char did “scratch my itch” and I think I’m good for a couple of months before I’ll need a steak again.

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