| DATE NIGHT | Bar Hoppin' in Chilltown

The DATE NIGHT series on BURBS + A BBQ spotlights local restaurants and adult playtime activities for those fleeting but important couples-only nights. Last night, with one of our best friends in town from Toronto, we got a sitter and decided to channel our inner college kids with a downtown bar hop. Who graced this list? We kept a tight radius beginning at TaldeJC (I had to go back as soon as possible for another taste of them pork and chive pretzel dumplings), followed by Dullboy, then LITM and Porta.

I've been keeping a list of "dying to tries" for Date Nights. And it's started to really build up in the past couple months, with the exception of our most recent outing to Talde Jersey City. So it seemed the only way to properly attack such a challenge was to hit many in one night with a bar hop. The rule -- well, not a rule so much as a gentle game plan -- was a drink (or two) and an app (or two) at each spot. We planned to hit perhaps one or two more than we made it to, but that didn't happen. Because we're wimps who can no longer handle our alcohol and hang with the cool kids (which is not to say we threw up in an alley, but rather that we waved the white flag laughably early).

This is why I write a mom blog, not a scene blog.

That said, mama scoped the scene last night and it was a lot of fun. As I said, a return to TaldeJC for, well, basically exactly what we ordered the first time was in order. It was again packed to the gills (a serious congrats to Dale Talde and the crew for an instant-fav in town; that's not an easy feat to accomplish as a new business), but we snagged a few seats at the far end of the bar. With the music pumping, yet the atmosphere still laid back, a Navy Grog, dumplings, and an order of MC Bao kicked our evening off proper. Our amiga Michelle ordered the guacamole (vegetarian), which was also savory yumminess with crispy rice providing a foundation for the guac. It was spicy and fresh. So far, I haven't found anything I don't like on the menu. Our bartender wasn't quite as attentive, or friendly, as the gal last time, but she was busy and I'm sure she was doing the best she could. In what I anticipate is the norm there, we again had a super fun time, but in keeping to the rules, we had to move on to the next destination.

The Interwebs of Talde JC:

Next up was dullboy. Finally! Finally I got my chance to peep the scene that you all can't stop squawking about. And I see why. It was a pretty crowd, beautiful and diverse (in every sense of the word, from age to socioeconomic, race to style, music to relationship status... it blended us all, which is a true representation of Jersey City). I realized that the thing I miss most about going out is people watching. I'm fascinated by watching my fellow humans interact and never so much as in a nightlife setting. With very few chances to go out, it was my first time really enjoying watching the nighttime culture of the people of Jersey City. That space was always meant to be a bar, and it is really nice to chill in. Even as it gets packed, it doesn't feel crowded. There's enough seating to a point, and plenty of standing room from there. I had the delicious Lady Brett (rhum agricole, grapefruit, maraschino, fernet, lime), their twist on a Hemingway daquiri. We shared two dozen blue point oysters (not playing around), pretzel bread puffs with grainy mustard butter (yes, pretzel was an unofficial theme of the night) and the corned beef reuben spring rolls (corned beef, swiss cheese, house slaw and homemade russian dressing). Suffice to say we will definitely be back (unofficial mandatory nightcap location, I think so), and I anticipate a standing afterwork Monday Date Night to take advantage of their $1 oyster special. Watch out!

dullboy's interwebs:

Now here's where we made a crucial timing error. It was about 10:30 PM at this point, and we headed for Porta. Mama was ready to buckle up her dancing shoes, but our bad timing put us there at the awkward (though short-lived, I'm sure) time where it's not really dinner anymore, but people are still finishing up their pizzas because it's also not quite time to dance yet. It was standing room-only at the bar, and I didn't feel like standing while the party built around me. I wanted to walk into the hype. I might have been swayed if we could've grabbed a seat and a drink to pass a little time, but instead we bailed. We intended to come back and end our night here (oops, did I give it away?). But we got carded here, which gave a real authentic vibe to our college kid bar hop, especially since we're 40, 38 and 33 (guess which one is me?). Thanks for the bump, bouncer.

Porta's interwebby:

In the meantime we detoured to LITM, the bar, restaurant and art gallery across the street from Porta. Though most of the bar and restaurant was full, we did manage to find a lucky table in the back. It was a kir royale for me and my Love, a sauv blanc for our friend and thanks to our previous two stops, food was no longer desired or necessary here. We'll leave that for another try. The DJ was fun, and all over the place, playing the expected hits of all different eras, which was fun and surprising. It left me wondering how old I am that certain songs can be ironically played now.

Then, as our not-yet-a-parent-but-always-party-ready friend put it, Cinderella turned into a pumpkin. Almost in unison, my Love and I raised the white flag and threw in the towel. It was 11:30 PM. We just couldn't do one more drink for one more minute. Yeah. So what I'm trying to say is hanging with us is a barrel of monkeys. But it was a valiant effort. Certain members of our party, who shall remain nameless, were certifiably intoxicated. I, sadly was not one of them, as I believe my early dumpling and spring roll intake outweighed my alcohol pace. I was more than fine with that status, and we headed home.

Engage on the interwebs with LITM:

Not a dance floor was torn up at Porta last night (*tear*), but rest easy that it will be. All in good time; Porta, your night is coming.

Our early white flag last night enabled a 9:30 AM workout with Jack Kitching in Hamilton Park (more on that later) this morning. So, there's that. A silver ass-kickingly painful lining to a wimpy late night showing in the streets. Wimpiness aside, I had a blast and it was fun to observe the after-hours weekend culture developing in Jersey City. It felt like Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg in its early days to me. A good thing or a bad thing, I don't know (as in, many would lament that, yet it's being pretty shamelessly developed in that way), but a fun thing nonetheless.

The question is, where to Date Night next? Here's the top of my Gotta Getta Date Night list:

  • Cocktails at Union Republic (thanks to ChicpeaJC's tip), and the ramen in person (I've ordered delivery many times, but I wager that it's much better in person on-site)
  • Third & Vine (because wine and cheese)
  • The Osteria at Carrino Provisions
  • A return to thirty acres for the tasting menu
  • Roman Nose
  • Broa

What's missing here? Tweet me up, leave a comment below or send me a note with your tips for Date Nights to add to the must tries list.