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60 Second Review: Blue Eyes Cafe

Blue Eyes Cafe – right idea – wrong place, wrong time

For starters, we applaud the ambition of the proprietors of Blue Eyes Cafe down along the waterfront outside Stevens Institute. There is no shame in “trying” to make something work.

However, it’s our belief that the “planets have not aligned” properly – and this endeavor might be in for a rough ride.

In this case, it’s a decrepit and poorly designed piece of “city property.” This space is essentially supposed to be just a “hot dog stand” that temporarily serves snacks during sporting events on that soccer field. It has public bathrooms which are almost ALWAYS populated by wretched homeless individuals. Putting “private” bathrooms inside this place does not change that fact.

In the past, it’s be a variety of venues – none of which have been successful for long. But how does that factor into the future of “Blue Eyes?”

Blue Eyes Hoboken NJ

What is wrong with Blue Eyes Cafe?

Let’s start with their “opening event,” in which they gave “the public” a chance to sample the output of their kitchen.

What did they offer? Basic pasta noodles and pedestrian sauce, as well as under-cooked pizzas which they could hardly keep up with the demand of freeloaders (including “mayor” don Zimmer and her handler husband).

The problem with this “opening bash,” was they didn’t think it through. Not at all. If you’re going to host an event for people to FORM AN OPINION about your business – then you DO IT RIGHT or don’t do it at all! Who plans a big event and offers shoddy products? Do you want to be doomed?

Thin aluminum trays of cheap penne pasta? What does that tell you? Not sure if it was a Pupie Raia party or a new restaurant!

Blue Eyes Cafe Sinatra Pasta Noodles

Blue Eyes Hoboken samples

Wrong time. Wrong place.

For one, there is NOTHING ELSE going on in this waterfront area. Other than a few bars & restaurants, it’s not much of a tourist location (the day-trippers looking to view the NYC skyline for 20 minutes don’t typically hang around). Unless you have a slamming hot restaurant, you have a lot of work ahead of you.

This is nothing like the shores of San Francisco or Chicago (or even South Street Seaport in NYC) where there is a TON of other things to do. Boats. Attractions. Etcetera. The Hoboken waterfront is tepid to say the least.

Our initial prognosis is that Blue Eyes might be able to “ride the wave” of the (long deceased) Frank Sinatra during his epic “100 year birthday anniversary” (for unsuspecting Sinatra glommers), but otherwise “nice try.”

Sub-arctic winds in the winter along with hypodermic needles washing ashore during the summer won’t lead to much. The space is just bad. Cold. Impersonal. Non-inviting. No fault of Blue Eyes owners at all. Just the choice they made. And the food, service and quality does not make this a destination by itself (like places such as Augustino’s). Maybe their marketing message should be “Mention promo code “DOOMED” and receive a FREE WASHED UP TIRE fresh from the shores of the toxic Hudson!”

scenic views of rubbish outside Blue Eyes Cafe Hoboken NJ

Better ideas: Seasonal and convenient

If Blue Eyes Cafe lasts – God bless them. I hope they do.

If they don’t – and someone wants our idea of what WOULD work – read on.

This space, until Hoboken becomes a “bustling waterfront marina filled to the brim with activity and commerce,” needs to change their tune.

One – make it an ICE CREAM and ITALIAN ICE parlor exclusively during spring and summer months. You’ll bang out more sales than you can imagine!

And during winter months – sure, turn it into a PIZZA SLICE PARLOR (or maybe “soup kitchen”) – where people can buy cheap slices for a buck or two – along with beverages, etc. The homeless population alone could keep that place in business (also hot coffee and cocoa – a sure winner with high profit margin). A sit down type restaurant will struggle big time. Even a 7-Eleven type “pop up” would do better than a fancy restaurant.

Lastly – this property should be removed from city control. It ruined the last (somewhat successful business), and it will likely ruin all others that dare try to mingle with a bunch of inept “officials.”

Too bad – in such a “prime” area, it could be so much more.

views from Blue Eyes Cafe Hoboken NJ

60 Second Review: Vivi Bubble Tea

Vivi Bubble Tea in Hoboken, NJ – Interesting to say the least!

We originally thought that Vivi Bubble Tea (117 Washington St.) was an exceedingly ambitious endeavor. Not knowing much about it – our initial feelings were that it was another one of the “revolving door” businesses in Hoboken. After checking it out – they might have actually done something right!

Stopped in the other day and “observed,” as well as sampled a few of their (non “bubble” items). What did we see?

Hoboken 60 Second Review Vivi Bubble Tea

  • The place was clean, well-decorated (with “happy things”), and staffed with a friendly competent crew (all Asian).
  • They had a thorough and informative menu. Tons of choices. Easy to understand.
  • Decent seating and properly maintained.
  • Sample #1: We had the spicy popcorn chicken ($4.25 plus tax). A very good value. Enough for two to share. Dark meat chicken was prevalent (great!)
  • Sample #2: Bought a “six pack” of “Macarons.” Some treat they source from NYC. Expensive ($2.50 a pop). Those that sampled it found them “decadent” and “great to enjoy while eating slowly.” A wide variety of flavors.
  • We visited during a weekday afternoon. Busier than 98% of other Hoboken businesses. The clientele was nearly 100% Asian as well. Amazing how a certain “demographic” flocked like bees to flowers.
  • I doubt a “brawl” will ever happen in this establishment.

Based on what we saw for the 45 minutes we were there – the place will be around for a while (until the “next big thing” lures customers away). You can also see a menu of their offerings here.

Kudos to Vivi Bubble Tea for a properly executed businesses. Everything they did – down to the staff, was well thought out. Much respect!

60 Second Review: Buddha Press

60 Second Review: Buddha Press Coffee

Buddha Press Hoboken NJ Review in 60 SecondsResidents were eagerly awaiting the opening of Buddha Press at 322 Washington Street.

But what is the (real) verdict?

  • Good: Cool layout, “trendy” product offerings (read: so-called “healthy”), and decent prices.
  • Bad: Only provide two milk or cream choices for your coffee: Almond milk and cashew milk.

This limited cream choices are a deal-breaker for us – and many other coffee drinkers. Most people like REAL cow’s milk to round their coffee out. To force customers to choose from these “new-age” milks – is just bad for business. Maybe they’ll have enough customers who dig the dairy-free products to sustain themselves.

But we hope they change their mind – because the coffee itself was quite decent. And if I have to go home or to another store to add heavy cream to my drink it kind of defeats the purpose. Just get yourself your own Toddy Cold Brew Coffee Kit – and save yourself the trouble.

60 Second Review: McLoone’s

McLoone’s Pier House – Tasteful quality in Hoboken

Tucked away in the northeast corner of Hoboken is a very nice upscale bar restaurant called McLoone’s Pier House (which replaced LUA). And what you’ll find inside is something that hits the mark as “just right” for Hoboken. Not overly pretentious, certainly not “skimpy” and one of the nicest NYC views you can get in town.

McLoone's Pier House Hoboken NJ 60 second review

McLoone’s is spacious and comfortable

For one, the restaurant (which is part of a family-owned group of around 10 locations) is laid out well. The bar is welcoming, and the tables are not too congested. Comfortable seating as well. It doesn’t feel cheap, nor does it feel stuffy.

mcloones pier house bar hoboken NJ

But how’s the food at McLoone’s?

We sampled a selection of their menu items recently – and share photos and our thoughts below.

Click to see the food!

60 Second Review: Plum on the Run

Plum on the Run knocks burgers and fries out of the park in Hoboken!

Today’s 60 Second Review is a simple, yet pleasant one to present! A standard “Cheeseburger and Fries” dish at the newest Hoboken Food Truck vendor Plum on the Run.

Plum on the Run Chris Lukic

Attention to detail makes a big difference at Plum on the Run

Okay, we’ll quickly hammer out the basics here first. Operated by owners Chris Lukic (Hoboken resident, classically trained chef who runs The Yellow Plum restaurant in Bloomfield, NJ) and John Iconomou (chef, longtime friend who lives across the river), the truck is no-frills on the outside and tasty treasures on the inside. Formerly a Con Edison truck from the 80′s, this diesel truck was stripped down to the steel and has a unassuming sign on the side- unlike those other trucks that have wrap-around “loud” graphics. My guess is they want the food to do the talking – not fancy marketing bling.

Anyway, the menu is simple. Sandwiches (burgers, crab cake, etc.), salads, fries and desserts. Their most popular item is a cheeseburger, heaping load of fries and a drink (water, soda) for just $10. We were even provided with a complimentary slice of chocolate cheesecake (don’t assume everyone gets free dessert!)

But forget about this trivial stuff – was the food good? Worth the ten bucks? A resounding YES is the answer to both.

  • Burger was juicy and delicious. Perfect in fact. Meat was tender and flavorful. The key here was the attention to detail with the toppings. You can tell when a chef gives a shit. The lettuce was finely shredded, and the onion and tomato were sliced paper thin. Not to be cheap and skimp on ingredients, but because nothing is worse than a burger when all the toppings are twice the size of the rest – making for a difficult to eat monstrosity that takes focus away from the meat. It’s all about balance. The fact that they only had one kind cheese (American) along with homemade bread and butter pickles., shows how serious they are with presenting an “original.”
  • Fries were exactly what you’d expect when they’re hand-cut, blanched and fried again (“twice fried” – the only way to do raw potato). They taste like potatoes cooked just right.

Plum on the Run Cheeseburger French Fries Hoboken NJ

It’s a no-brainer at Plum on the Run!

It’s one of those situations where you just KNOW “this is the way everything ought to be.” If only other aspiring restaurant owners could use that model as inspiration for their own success. (Next, we’ll try out the Yellow Plum restaurant to see if the quality is there as well.)

The Plum on the Run truck is parked downtown Tuesday through Saturday. Enjoy!

Tony Boloney – Dark meat chicken offends?

5 Second Review: Tony Boloney’s Pizza (“chicken”)

Tony Boloney's Dark Meat ChickenA departure from our usual “lengthy” 60 second review format, here’s a brief glimpse of the new Tony Boloney’s Pizza from Hoboken resident Michael.

“I ordered Tony Baloney’s tonight and got grilled chicken on a pizza. It was dog food. Please see the picture. Dark meat chicken? Really?”

411′s Take:

  • We don’t eat pizza anymore, but “dark meat” chicken is the best! Most flavorful and tender!
  • Why all the hate for dark meat chicken anyway? Where did that come from? I vaguely recall something similar in my childhood. Is it considered “low class” to some people?
  • From the photo, it appears that there is both white and dark meat (can anyone sing “We are the World?”), which means they might have actually used whole roasted chicken meat. Yeah, that’s a bit more “medieval,” but it’s “Paleo” too (which is “trending” these days). I guess they might have been used to the GMO reconstituted chicken on pizza at places like Sbarro or Domino’s?
  • Not sure why he’s complaining? “Grilled Chicken” can encompass ANY part of a chicken that’s grilled. Why do you feel entitled to only receive the breast?

But I can understand how Michael might have been thrown for a loop. It wasn’t “like everyone else’s pizza,” which can be troubling when you get stuck in a routine. But just a few seconds of observation, you’d probably see that it may have been quality poultry. And just because it had more of a “homemade” feel, doesn’t make it worse.

Then again, we didn’t taste it. If it was “low-end” Restaurant Depot quality chicken, perhaps there’s room for debate.

Would you mind “dark meat chicken” on pizza? Or are YOU a food racist?

Tony Boloney Dark Meat Chicken Hoboken NJ