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BYOB Blues Banished

I usually love BYOB restaurants. You can bring one from home or pick up something on the way and keep some cash in your pocket by avoiding that steep restaurant mark up. The drawback is without having the menu on hand you take a chance that the bottle you choose may not match the food. Not to mention, if you’re running late, just plain forget, or don’t know you’re headed to a BYO it’s a bummer to arrive empty handed. Which is exactly why I adore these two Jersey gems that give the diner options with the BYO part.

Our latest jaunt to Hamilton’s Grill Room was spur of the moment. We were without a reservation and had no B. When offered a table in the Boathouse, with the same menu, we were psyched just thinking of that grilled shrimp in anchovy butter. Best of all, they told us we could order a bottle of wine. Since it’s attached to the Boathouse Bar and not technically Hamilton’s, you get to skirt the BYO issue. The space is teeny tiny, which amps up the charm but also the earshot. Minus the fellow at the next table, who rudely barked at the waiter, “I DESPISE RARE, IT MUST BE BLACK and BLUE”, loud enough for the rest of us to cringe, the experience was fabulous.

On the heels of that night, we spent my sister’s 40th b-day at Café Matisse, another BYOB in Rutherford. This time I was armed with lots of bottles to celebrate with, but the chef’s ever-changing menu and his eclectic blending of flavors means you never know which wine to bring. Luckily, along with amazing service, yummy food, and a great décor (minus the placement of the ladies room) they’ve got the wine sitch covered. Check out their on-site wine shop, and be sure to talk to Jon for great recommendations and that last-minute B to pair with dinner.

Jon’s Pick- Matua Sauvignon Blanc, Paretai Vineyard, New Zealand$28. He instructed the room of tasters to chew on it first if it was their first taste of wine for the day-clearly he wasn’t talking to me. This was a perfect juicy, acidic, playful pick to get everyone’s mouths watering for dinner. While the Matua brand is easily available, this single vineyard bottle is worth a visit to Jon at Café Matisse’s wine shop, 167 Park Avenue, Rutherford NJ, or call and he’ll order you some- 201.935.2995.

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