|The lobby of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark.|
If you go to a concert at the magnificent New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark, you'll find a fine-dining restaurant in the building and parking just outside.
But you'll pay a price for that convenience:
A three-course, price-fixed dinner at NJPAC's NICO Kitchen & Bar is $42 per person, plus tax and tip. Parking in one of the art center's lots costs $16.
Across the street, a pre-theater dinner at Maize, a restaurant in the Robert Treat Hotel, is $45 per person with coffee.
I rarely spend $100 or more on dinner for two, and I wasn't about to start now.
We've enjoyed many meals at Spanish, Portuguese and Italian restaurants in the city's Ironbound section, but I tried to find a casual place near the Prudential Center, the downtown sports arena.
I was hooked by a beautiful piece of fish over sauteed greens on the home page of Loft 47 Bistro on Edison Place, but on Friday night, there was nothing like it on the menu.
|The bar room of Loft 47 Bistro reverberates with loud rock music.|
As the name suggests, Loft 47 has an upstairs dining room, so when we heard the loud music in the empty first-floor bar room, we asked if we could be seated on the second level.
We were told the dining room was reserved for a fund raiser.
The menu offered only bar food, in appetizer portions, and a couple of salads.
We ordered a Caesar Salad ($12), Seafood Cakes ($12), Catfish Strips ($7) and Wings ($8), prepared "Devil Hot," and we drank seltzer with lime ($3 each).
The romaine salad had optional pieces of grilled white-meat chicken that we didn't ask for, so I sent it back for another one.
The seafood cakes, made from crab, shrimp and scallops, were excellent, and my wife liked the wings.
|Seafood Cakes at Loft 47 Bistro, where the lemon-slice garnish is useless, if you like to squeeze fresh lemon juice over your seafood or fish.|
|Catfish Strips are made from farmed fish.|
|Wings cost $1 each.|
When I made a reservation at Loft 47, I was told the restaurant offers free off-street parking, and the parking lot attendant said the same on Friday night.
But we had to ask three servers before we found one who knew about the policy and could find the validation sticker for free parking.
We left that lot and drove a half-dozen blocks to the Military Park Garage, which is across the street from NJPAC and charges a flat $15 on performance nights.
But with an online coupon, parking was only $8, half the price of NJPAC's own lots.
|NJPAC rocked with the sounds of reggae on Friday night.|
Next time we attend a concert, we'll be having dinner at Iberia Peninsula, a Portuguese restaurant with a free parking lot less than a half-mile from NJPAC.
Or we'll leave some extra time and go to an Italian restaurant in the Ironbound or the city's North End.