Monday, May 24, 2010

Skylark Fine Diner and Lounge

17 Wooding Avenue, Edison, NJ 08817, 732-77-7878,

Skylark Fine Diner and Lounge

What do you call a cross between a retro diner and a fine dining restaurant? The Skylark answers that question by referring to themselves as a fine diner and, for the most part, we agree.

Skylark Fine Diner and LoungeThe first leg of our diner tour took us to Edison, NJ, about an hour's drive from our home in Manhattan and via a less than scenic route. Looming up from Route 1, the Skylark is done in a mid-century modern design and every inch of it is pretty.

Skylark Fine Diner and Lounge
The Skylark Salad
The menu follows the fine diner theme with traditional diner favorites, updated classics and options not normally found on a diner menu. We began with the seared chicken salad and the Skylark salad, both very tasty. The seared chicken salad featured fresh mesclun greens dressed in a well made raspberry honey vinaigrette along with orange segments, sliced almonds, Stilton cheese and warm sauteed chicken. The Skylark salad is more complex with the same fresh greens and a honey sherry vinaigrette but with the addition of dried cranberries, candied pecans, slices of tart pear, red onion and crumbled blue cheese. The flavors work beautifully together, the sweet offset by the tart and the sharp. If we had any complaint it's that the sweet cranberries and the sweet pecans might be a bit much together. Nevertheless, this is a salad worth traveling for.

Our entrees included the French Dip, a roast beef sandwich on ciabatta bread with grilled onions and cheese served with a dipping jus as well as an 'au poivre' burger. The roast beef was good but a bit stringy and not special enough to warrant a return visit. The burger, however, would get a repeat order. Requested well-done, it arrived exactly as ordered but still moist and juicy. The addition of the spicy, creamy peppercorn sauce elevated this burger to fine dining. Both entrees came with excellent house-made coleslaw and malt vinegar fries. Those, unfortunately, disappointed as they were too thick, not crispy and not tasting of vinegar.

Skylark Fine Diner and LoungeTo read the dessert menu is to see an establishment proud of their pastries and house-made chocolates. We would not have known that, however, had we not specifically requested to see it. More on the poor service below. As for the sweets, our choice was a slice of chocolate cake and two forks! It arrived not at all what we had pictured, a bit ordinary tasting and looking ridiculous on too large a plate. But it was still fresh, sweet and tasty.

Finally, on to the service. It was pretty lousy and dreadfully slow. There appear to be many servers but all look young, inexperienced and a bit lost. Our waitress certainly acted as if it was her first day. But even the young man who greeted us in front seemed lackadaisical. Everyone was courteous but no one was friendly.

Our nitpicking notwithstanding, the food is mostly excellent, the setting is beautiful and the service doesn't do either justice. There were many, many options on the menu that tempted us and we really would like to try more of them. But, the question we ask ourselves each time we write reviews is would we come back? If Skylark was closer to our house or if the road to get there was prettier, our answer would be definitely yes! We've traveled this far and further for great food but in this case, given the proximity (and the service), the answer is maybe.

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