Unaware that the landmark West Brook Inn (525 Talmadge Avenue, Bound Brook, New Jersey; http://www.thenewwestbrook.com/ ) was under new ownership, my family paid our first visit there on a recent Saturday. We were happily surprised to find a restaurant with good food, reasonable prices, and friendly service.
When we arrived, we were greeted by a hostess and offered our choice of tables. The dining room is comfortable, decorated in warm tones and traditional fabrics, and appears to have been recently refurbished. The bar extends along most of one side of the room, while the rest is filled with dining tables. After we placed our order, the new owner of the West Brook came to our table to introduce herself and chat for a few minutes. Many of the customers seemed to know one another, which gave the room a neighborhood ambience.
The menu choices range from appetizers and salads to sandwiches, platters, and dinner entrees. We started with the crab cake appetizer and nacho platter. The crab cake appetizer ($7.95) includes two homemade crab cakes, served on a bed of lettuce and accompanied by a lemon wedge and either tartar or cocktail sauce. The cakes were generously sized and perfectly pan-fried. They didn’t contain large lumps of crabmeat, but were well-seasoned and satisfying. We decided that they were good but not the best crab cakes we’ve had.
The nacho platter ($8.95) is described as “corn chips, chili, cheddar cheese, chopped lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and black olives, topped with sour cream.” We asked for the dish to be prepared without olives, and it was served as we requested. Our first observation was the freshness of the lettuce, tomatoes, and onions in the dish. The homemade chili (which, according to the menu, is a Winner at the Meadowlands Chili Contest) was meaty, flavorful, and slightly spicy. The shredded cheese is not abundant, but we found that this contributed to the fresh taste of the dish.
For our entrees, we ordered a sandwich, a hot platter, and a burger. The cheese steak sandwich ($8.75, additional $0.50 for sauteed peppers and onions) is served with chips and cole slaw; french fries are available for an extra $1.95. The sandwich consists of tasty, tender, thin-sliced beef and a generous portion of cheese. Though we appreciated that it was juicy without being greasy, we would have liked a bit more meat for the price.
The corned beef Reuben platter ($8.95), described as “grilled rye, melted Swiss, Russian dressing, sauerkraut,” is served with cole slaw and a choice of french fries or mashed potatoes. The sandwich is served open-face on thin toasted bread, and contained a good amount of corned beef and cheese. The sauerkraut complemented the other flavors without overpowering them.
Perhaps the best value–and my favorite–is the cheese burger ($7.95). The juicy half-pound burger is topped with a generous portion of melted cheese and piled high with fresh lettuce, tomato, and onion. It is accompanied by cole slaw and french fries.
The cole slaw is standard, somewhat sweet, with a mayonnaise-based dressing. The french fries, though not fresh cut, were very hot, perfectly crispy, and unsalted.
Other dinner entrees–which we did not try–include pasta dishes, homemade eggplant parmesan ($13.95), homemade meatloaf ($13.95), and chicken marsala ($14.95). The tempting dessert menu lists warm Toll House cookie pie (with ice cream and whipped cream, $5.00), homemade bread pudding ($5.00), and homemade rice pudding ($4.00).
Our server was friendly and attentive. She was knowledgeable about the menu, and she consistently refilled our water glasses and cleared our dishes without being asked.
The West Brook Inn, formerly known as Gregory’s West Brook Inn, offers large portions of quality home-style food and a friendly, comfortable atmosphere, all at reasonable prices. We’ll be back.
For more information, visit the West Brook Inn website or call 732-356-9736.