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Get off the NJ Transit train in Allendale, above, for a good meal at the family friendly Allendale Bar and Grill.
We had an early dinner at the Allendale Bar and Grill on Saturday, then headed over to Northern Highlands Regional High School for an a cappella tournament.
I inadvertently had the "soup" when I ordered a pasta dish that was served in a large bowl with way too much garlic sauce.
"Nuts!" was my reaction at the high school, where we and 30 to 40 others were told we needed tickets to the concert, but it was sold out.
At least most of us were happy with what we ordered at the noisy, family friendly restaurant, where children can help themselves to bowls of popcorn while waiting for their food.
And they'll wait a long time, if our experience is any guide.
We were hungry when we arrived around 4:45 in the afternoon and sorry we didn't order appetizers as we waited for what seemed like forever for our entrees (30 minutes-plus).
We sipped our soft drinks, and free refills, and watched the upstairs dining room and bar fill up with other customers, including a large number of families with young children.
My wife ordered lobster bisque, but was told it wasn't ready, so she settled for a cup of chicken-noodle soup ($3.25). I nibbled on a side salad that came with my pasta dish.
My Tuscan Vegetable Saute was described on the menu as sauteed garden vegetables in a heart-healthy garlic sauce over whole-wheat linguine ($11.95). For another $4, I added shrimp.
When the dish arrived, the pasta and sauce were completely covered by vegetables -- including broccoli florets and small, round Parisian carrots -- and five crunchy jumbo shrimp, but once I started eating, I could see the soupy sauce everything was swimming in.
The linguine was properly al dente, but didn't appear to be 100% whole wheat and was too stiff to twirl around my fork. I didn't finish the dish. My son ate several mouthfuls and said he liked the sauce.
Unfortunately, the side salad was made with iceberg lettuce. I could have ordered a side of sauteed spinach instead of the salad for $3, but when I asked for the spinach in addition to the entree, it cost $5.95.
My son ordered baby back spare ribs with french fries ($12.95 for a half-rack). My wife and mother-in-law both had Chef Pierre's dinner special -- a thick, moist salmon fillet resting on spinach-and-feta-cheese risotto, with asparagus and sliced portobello mushroom ($16.95 each).
The risotto had been formed into a cake and possibly deep fried, leaving a crust around it, so my wife ate only the interior, but loved the dish, as did her mother.
They drank pink lemonade ($2.50) and I had seltzer ($2), plus a glass of cabernet sauvignon ($5.95).
Even with generous portions and fair prices, we spent $107.90 for four, including tax and a $14 tip.
Allendale Bar and Grill, 67 W. Allendale Ave., Allendale;
201-327-3197. Parking lot, free street parking.
Web site: Founded in 1941