Wookiee Hut Cuisine presents:
Arthur's Tavern
Morris Plains, NJ
973-455-9705

Review by Diana DeRiggs

We'd been driving a while and hadn't seen anywhere that looked promising for dinner. Driving through this part of New Jersey is a bit of a crapshoot in terms of where to stop and eat. There are the service stations on the New Jersey Turnpike, many rather seedy looking delis, pubs, etc. This place is located across the street from the Morris Plains commuter train station. Anyway, it had been raining hard with plenty of lightning, so stopping sounded like a good idea.

We were pleasantly surprised at this bar/restuarant. They pride themselves on their steak, it says on the menu, and it's a family place -- no smoking, clean bathrooms, motherly waitresses. It's so popular that there are three floors of dining space in this standalone barn-like building. Being just past St. Patrick's Day, the place still was decked out like an Irish Oktoberfest, with orange, white and green streamers festooning the ceiling. At the junction of the streamers and ceiling were promotional bottles normally given out by liquor salesmen so that stores can put these things in their window to advertise that they carry this product. Instead, they cut the bottoms out and made party lanterns out of them. Also, the neon beer signs provided "mood lighting" -- as the hour got later, the normal lights were dimmed and the neons turned on. They bordered the soffet above the bar. Very decorative. They also made Sambuca bottles into lamps.

Their menu is simple: 24 oz. steak, 48 oz. steak (about 1.3 kg!), "petit" filet steak with shrimp, deli-style sandwiches like liverwurst and onion (yum!), corned beef, pastrami, roast beef, ham, tongue.... On the table are hot and sour pickles, including the best garlic dills we've had in a long while, pickled green tomatoes and sauerkraut. There was a nice selection of desserts like carrot cake, mousse pie, cheesecake, etc. Their salads were simple too -- Caesar style, mesclun, or a wedge of iceberg. For $1.50 more you can get a little pottle of blue cheese crumbles to go with the salad.

The daily specials listed onion soup and New England clam chowder. One of us is an afficionado of both, and both were highly disappointing, tasting of synthetic mixes brewed on a stovetop for a bit too long. However, everything else was fabu! We ordered the 24 ounce steaks, liverwurst and onion on marbled rye, wedge of lettuce salad, and carrotcake. The steak came with "Arthur's Famous Potatoes" though we couldn't quite figure out why they were famous. They're red-skinned things, sliced and seasoned. No biggie.

The steaks ... woah, baby! They are the Delmonico, or ribeye cut -- fatty (but easily separated from the meat), juicy, flavorful, it's my very favorite cut for grilled steak. Arthur's grills the hunks of meal beautifully, with a nice, crispy char on the outside. The 24 ouncer (about 1.5 lb/700 g) is frickin' huge, it hung over the plate, and I dumped the accompanying potatoes and pickled cherry pepper onto the placemat. Hate to think what the 48 ouncer looks like! Not over coals, but they do a really really nice job of it here. Okay, I hate driving through Jersey, but I'd do it to come back for this steak!

Between three of us for this huge meal with leftovers packed up for us, we paid $70 including tip. They don't take credit cards, but they do take personal checks (go figure!). That also explains the ATM machine by the door with a sign on it that reads, "Feed Your Wallet." Fortunately, this meal was reasonable enough that we actually already had enough cash in our wallets to pay for it anyway. We're going back!


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