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Many years ago, when my father worked in the Northern NJ area, he would always take me to the same place if I visited. I knew about the Hamilton Park Ale House before I really knew anything else about Jersey City. Ironically, after being priced out of Brooklyn, my husband and I wound up buying a condo in the Hamilton Park area of downtown Jersey City almost 2 years ago – just blocks away from the Ale House.
The Hamilton Park Ale House has long been a staple of downtown JC. Under the watchful guise of Maggie Vecca, a former waitress turned co-owner, the Ale House thrived and was a local favorite. The food was always top-notch, especially considering the other choices in the area at that time. Executive chef, Krista Trovato, had been a cook at impressive locales such as Gramercy Tavern and the World Trade Center’s Windows of the World before coming to the Ale House.
In recent years, however, since Maggie (also involved with Skinner’s Loft) sold the bar the service and food has gone downhill. One of the biggest issues that had surfaced in my mind…the lack of a good beer selection – they do call themselves an “ale house.” I have read many complaints about the owner that came after Maggie, Jim Leo, and how he ran the bar into the ground. I can attest to the validity of these rumors. The food and service became terrible. Their burger wasn’t even that great. For me, it was the brunch that was the worst. We only had it once. It’s a shame because it’s so nice to walk a few blocks from home in the nice weather and sit outside for brunch. We just haven’t found anything that fits the bill for a good brunch with outdoor seating. (I will write about Beret’s Simple Café in a later post).
After a long phase of papered windows, there is a new name on the window: The Hamilton Inn. There has also been some activity in the way of renovations. I have read some rumors online that the new deal for the Hamilton Inn fell through and that management ran out of capital after the renovation. It has been quite a long time since we noticed the reno being done, but I cannot confirm the validity of these rumors. There’s a short blurb from November 2009 in the Jersey City Independent that states the Hamilton Inn would open in a few weeks, but obviously that didn’t happen. Although, there is another article in JCI that discusses Jessie Dardar – the chef behind JC dessert truck La Petite Temptation – who is “readying to supply desserts for the Hamilton Inn, which is set to open in the former Hamilton Ale House space on Jersey Avenue this April.” So, maybe we’ll get lucky next month and see an open door. I did find the official Hamilton Inn website where there is no new information about their much anticipated and elusive opening. However, if you give your email address they promise to send you “information” about their opening.
For now, we’ll just have to wait it out. If I find out any new information, I’ll write an updated post. In the meantime, check out The White Star bar on Pavonia and Brunswick. They boast a good burger and decent beer selection, better than the Ale House has had in years.
The Hamilton Inn (formerly the Hamilton Park Ale House), 708 Jersey Avenue, Hamilton Park Jersey City.
So…it seems that there is a television shoot in my neighborhood (Hamilton Park). This wouldn’t have been odd in the least, when I lived in Park Slope, but I live in Jersey City now. After some digging, I discovered that it’s a TV pilot called Mercy, about a nurse returning from Iraq and trying to acclimate to life in the States again. I’m not sure who is in it, but I will tell you that Haddad’s movie trailers are taking up all of 10th Street from Monmouth to Brunswick. The parking is atrocious on 10th Street for a few blocks from here until Erie. They have closed the area to parking for the duration of the shoot.
Jersey City Independent reported that “the production company has made arrangements to secure the private parking lot on Erie and 10th.” Click here for full post. However, this information supposedly came from a letter that the production company sent out to residents, but I am a resident and I received no such letter…so…what’s up with that? Anyway, apparantly the number you can call for parking information is (973)925-8157, but according to comments on the JCI webpage, the people answering the phones aren’t much help.
Moving from Park Slope, Brooklyn to Jersey City has been a major adjustment. Finding good food has proven to be tricky. Park Slope definitely spoiled us, in that we could walk down the block and have 5 – 10 restaurants of good quality at our disposal. I’m not saying that Jersey City doesn’t have good food, there’s just less restaurants. In our constant quest to befriend our new neighborhood and find some good eats, we discovered Isabella’s De Cuba. (Downtown Jersey City, Hamilton Park neighborhood.) It’s not a bad walk from our apartment and the food is great. The first test was delivery. We ordered and got our food fairly quickly. I have to say that the Pollo Asado was excellent and best of all only $8 and came with 2 sides! They run daily specials throughout the week ranging from $8 – $10.
We noticed that they served breakfast all day, so we walked over one cold morning in search of some good coffee and food. We weren’t disappointed. The Cafe Con Leche is only $1.75 a cup and delicious. I opted for the Isabella’s French Toast, which is croissants dipped in cinnamon egg batter and powerdered sugar. The hubby got one of their 3 egg omelets with chorizo, onions and cheese. We were blown away that yummy breakfasts were so close to our door and so inexpensive! The only drawback was the service. We have been on 2 different weekend mornings, both times only one girl was working in the front. She had some issues with prioritizing. People would come in and tables were still dirty and she’d say “just a minute”, but then the phone would ring and she would take the delivery order while the people were standing there. (This happened to us both times we went.) Service was slow, too. I think she forgot to put our order in the second time we went because it was just way too long. Be that as it may, if you go in there with a relaxed attitude and have some time to spare, it’s a good experience. The staff is really nice and the place is very cute inside. The orange colored walls and full store-front windows in front make it feel cozy and warm. People watching while sipping your hot Cafe Con Leche is a perfect combination for a lazy Sunday morning.
–Isabella’s De Cuba – 227 7th Street at Erie (201) 222-2562 – Free Delivery w/ minimum order of $15.