Summer is FILLED with all kinds of special occasions worth celebrating: graduation, anniversaries, birthdays… so where do you go when you want to go all out? My husband and I celebrated our 3rd wedding anniversary this week, and I spent maybe 4-5 hours scouring the internet for some place new, exciting and romantic to dine out at. It wasn’t easy, since we’ve dined out at many, MANY restaurants over the years.
So when I was contemplating what to write about this week, I thought this guide might help someone else with a big celebration coming up. These are the places at the top of my list when it comes to wining & dining like there’s no tomorrow! Each one has a winning combination of cuisine, aesthetic and unparalleled experience.
The Barley Sheaf Inn (Holicong, PA)
This inn, hidden in the Bucks County countryside, has a restaurant that deserves more recognition than it gets. When you walk in, you’ll adore the eclectic charm of the inn’s sitting room. But you’ll be blown away by the dining room, painted with blue skies and singing birds. The restaurant is encased in windows so you can soak up the view. I love the rustic stone fireplace and slate floors. They have an open kitchen so you can watch your food being prepared (which is always fun for me). They really spoil you here, with seasonal, high quality cuisine and little surprises throughout your meal. (PS – their all you can eat a la carte brunch is also by far, the best brunch in Pennsylvania.)
Ninety Acres (Peapack, NJ)
The Ninety Acres Culinary center is open to the public, a gorgeous restaurant supported by their own 12-acre farm. Recently on Facebook, someone asked for recommendations of restaurants like Ninety Acres. But the resounding answer was this: there are none. This is where we celebrated our anniversary last year, dining out on the patio, looking out at the farm. You can read all about our dinner here.
Inn at Phillips Mill Restaurant (New Hope, PA)
When people see photos of this place, they think I’m in France! Really… the Inn at Phillips Mill has done an amazing job of transporting diners to the Parisian countryside. In the fall & winter, you’ll love the rustic plaid wall coverings and pig statues throughout. In the spring & summer, the backyard garden patio is so romantic, with blossoming flowers surrounding you. And the classic French food matches every bit of the aesthetic experience. We come here every year for Valentine’s Day, and I don’t think we’ll ever break that tradition!
Restaurant Nicholas (Red Bank, NJ)
Quite the opposite of the Bucks County countryside inns, Nicholas is a swanky, modern restaurant serving up some of the best New American in New Jersey. If you want to dine close to the Jersey Shore, but feel like you’re in NYC, this is the place for you. But in my opinion, the service is superior to many NYC restaurants where you’ll pay similar prices. Food lovers will be tempted by their Chef’s tasting menu with 6 courses… and I say go for it. I did, and it was so worth it. We dined here for my birthday in March of 2017, and they made me feel like a queen!
Rat’s Restaurant (Hamilton, NJ)
A special occasion restaurant list would be amiss without Rat’s. Rat’s creates an experience like no other, with their chateau-like setting surrounded by some of the most beautiful sculptures in the world. We have dined in every room here, and you can’t go wrong with your seating selection. This spring we went and dined out on the patio for happy hour, and I would love to do that more often. But you have to get there early to score a table!
These are my five favorite, and I’d love to hear yours!
PS – Don’t miss my other article on Dining Along The Delaware, with 3 more restaurants that I know you’ll love.