BOXCAR at the Short Hills Train Station, NJ

After parking my car, I started walking towards the huge green double front door with the BOXCAR logo sign and began to smile. I noticed the outdoor dining area to the left with glimmering stainless steel tables and chairs and then the classic “Short Hills” station sign on the other side of the tracks. Upon walking through the front door I immediatly felt comfortable. The wood floor, the high back leather booths on the right and the dark wood bar on the left gave way to exposed brick walls and high ceiling with vintage lighting. There are two TV’s over the bar and old railroad themed movies playing on one of the walls over the booths. A walk through the hallway leads to another open area that was once used for baggage in years gone by. Now it is a sitting/dining area. This area is also used as a coffee station in the morning. The hallway connecting the two rooms holds the kitchen which was relatively quiet given the open plan and the bathrooms which are done in ceramic tile and very clean.

Let’s talk about the food and the libations. I will start with the beers on tap. They have all the favorites, Guiness, Harp, Stella and a couple of other equally satisfying beers that go perfectly with the atmosphere. The menu is on the lighter side with pizza, wings, salads, burgers and other lighter fare foods but with some good variations. I was with a group of guys so we hit the tap beers pretty hard. We had several orders of wings which were just the right spice and heat that kept us asking for more beer. The classic pizza was very good with just the right amount of cheese and the crust was thin and crispy but just strong enough not to be a problem eating it with one hand. Next the Boxcar burger….you knew we all had one didn’t you???? It was great! Larger than the toasted bun it sat on with american cheese, lettuce, tomato. Very juicy, flavorful with ketchup and mayo on the side if you want, but definetly not needed! Now one of my loves, the french fries and they got it right. The fries are really cooked well…not soggy, too small or undercooked. They come in a bucket standing up and ready to be devoured, which we did with great pleasure.

Our server, Bari was knowledgable,very attentive and helpful with our questions about the place, the menu and keeping our glasses fulL. The other staff made sure we had a clean table and plenty of silverwear and napkins at all times.

The owners, Jeff & Jane Tauber have done a great job converting the old station into a vibrant happening stopover for the commuter or the “meet me later at Boxcar for………” crowd.

The amazing thing about this place is that even with trains actively starting and stopping just a few yards from where ypu are sitting you can barely hear or feel anything. But seeing the trains moving past the window adds to the ambiance of this kool, comfortable, casual experience that is bound to have you rolling back again and again.l

Giuseppe’s in Kingsport, Tennessee

On a recent trip to visit family in Tennessee, we ate at a local family owned Italian restaurant that we have been going to for years on Stone Drive called Giuseppe’s. They have been operating in Kingsport for more than 20 years. After feasting on the great fried calamari and their signature garlic breadsticks it was time for the main course. Mom had the “make your own” pasta dish. Now get this, she chose the following combination, spaghetti with mushroom sauce, a rather large meatball and a piece of sausage. She is 87 years old and I think the plate weighed more than she did! She said it was rich and full of flavor and gave it a good shot, but we had to package it up to take home……go figure!
My nephew had Fettucini Alfredo with shrimp. Being 17 years old and on the high school football and wrestling team the entire plate of food was gone in about two minutes. But then when I looked over and saw him wiping up the remaining sauce with one of the famous garlic breadsticks I knew he truly enjoyed his meal. He commented that “it had tons of flavor and it has been my favorite since I was little!” My brother had the chicken parmigiana. He likes all the food there and touted how tender the chicken was and the good portion size. I had the famous Chicken Giuseppe. It is three pieces of tender chicken topped with prosciutto, mozzarella cheese and topped off with spinach. It is served over your choice of pasta, but I enjoy the capellini because it is light and does not take away from the main dish and the light and delightful marinara sauce with a hint of lemon. And of course it is perfect for sopping up with one of those signature breadsticks for dessert! So the next time you are in Kingsport Tennessee, stop by and enjoy a true Italian meal and y’all will be coming back for more