Skinner’s Loft, located at 146 Newark Ave. in Jersey City, gives locals a reason to go out. It features a sumptuous menu featuring comfort food favorites like their mini-burgers and decadent mac & cheese, plus an inventive drink menu.
The restaurant, which will reach its first-year anniversary in September, features all the characteristics that one wants from a neighborhood place: a friendly and knowledgeable staff, comfortable dining rooms, and fantastic food.
Open seven days a week, Skinner’s Loft offers lunch, dinner, brunch, and dessert.
On the street level of the restaurant, Skinner’s Loft looks much like a quaint Irish pub, with its dark wood floors and tables and the bar tucked against the wall.
The first floor area looks quaint. Mini-vases with fresh flowers adorn each table, and simple salt and pepper shakers provide the only table decoration. Colorful modern art provides eye appeal and contrast for all the dark wood.
Yet for all of the dark colors, Skinner’s Loft couldn’t be described as somber. Instead, it has a cozy, homey feel. It is the kind of place you’d want to find on a vacation, particularly if you were feeling lonely. The efficient, friendly staff is all smiles, offering suggestions when asked. Yet they are never pushy.
In addition to the cozy first floor, there is a fancier second floor dining area. The second floor features high ceilings, beautiful wood cut-outs that show off the colored glass windows, and crystal chandeliers. The gorgeous second floor features an intimate dining space that is perfect for couples or larger gatherings.
Also open for dining is the seasonal rooftop area for those who like to dine alfresco.
On a recent Monday, Reporter correspondent Hilary Morris and I decide to sample a few of their popular dishes.
We began with a few of their specialty drinks, which are not only unusual but tasty, including the Bumpkin and the Pimm’s Cup.
Morris tried the Bumpkin, which is blend of Grey Goose vodka, cucumber and honeydew melon juice.
“It’s refreshing,” said Morris. “The cucumber comes through most of all so it’s not too sweet. I love that.”
Also worth revisiting is the Pimm’s Cup. This cocktail blends Pimm’s liquor (an herb infused gin), fresh fruit, and lemonade together for a smooth not too sweet finish. This underrated liquor, which is most popular as a mixed cocktail in London, has an interesting citrus flavor that is pares well with food.
There is a lot to tempt diners including the complimentary basket of fresh warm bread, which included fresh rosemary bread.
Instead of listing appetizers, Skinner’s has created a “small plates” menu, which also gives a nice sampling of menu items for those who want to try many things.
To start, we tried the BBQ baby back ribs and the mini lamb meatballs. The ribs were fall-off-the-bone tender and the sauce was a nice sweet/salty blend.
Also good was the lamb meatballs dish, which came on pita points with cucumber salad and yogurt dipping sauce. This was big enough to share if you are sampling a few things.
Next, we had the fantastic Filet Mignon sliders. Unless you are vegetarian, there is no reason to miss this! The Filet is tender and seasoned with sautéed mushrooms and garlic butter. These mini-burgers are delicious. We loved them.
Other small plates include: the cutting board (a selection of meats, cheeses, olives); mussels in white wine broth; fried calamari; mac & cheese (featuring cheddar, Monterey jack, gruyere); seared seas scallops; grilled vegetable skewers; and more. They are reasonably priced from $6 to $14.
There is a lot to satisfy on the dinner menu, no matter what your tastes or mood. They offer a wide selection of meats, pastas, and salads.
We decided on the stuffed chicken breast and the pan-seared crab cake. Before our entrees arrived, we split the three tomato & arugula salad.
The salad featured a nice mix of tomatoes – from the rich red sweetness of the plum tomato to the robust flavor of the beefsteak – that was lightly tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. The fresh greens provided a nice contrast to the tart wedge of blue cheese. This would probably be enough as a meal for the calories conscious, especially if pared with a starter. Or it would provide a nice appetizer before dinner.
Next came our dinners, which both had a nice presentation.
The crab was served on top of sweet corn succotash and piled high with shoestring fries. It was served with a lemon-chive remoulade and fresh lemon. The large portion of crab was deliciously seasoned and golden brown on the outside. The mix of sweet corn and diced vegetables (peas, carrots, zucchini), provided a nice texture to each bite. The salty shoestring fries gave the dish crunch.
The chicken was a feast for the eyes. It was stuffed with feta cheese, roasted tomatoes, and olives and was served on top of a crisp quinoa cake and came with sautéed spinach.
Morris had no complaints about this Mediterranean dish. She said, “My entrée was fantastic; it really was. And the quinoa cake was excellent.”
The portions for entrees are generous. Other entrees include: sliced steak salad (topped with cheddar, potatoes, mushrooms); summer shell pasta (a blend of broccoli, squash, tomato, tiger shrimp and topped with an olive oil dressing); fettuccine in a dill cream sauce topped with pan seared salmon; grilled eggplant, tomato, and Portobello mushroom topped with goat cheese vinaigrette; and more. The entrees are reasonably priced from $12 to $22.
Although we were happily stuffed, we couldn’t resist sampling a few of their after-dinner suggestions that included a list of cordials.
We tried the Faretti Biscotti, which is a light, sweet caramel cordial and really delicious.
The Averna, a digestif, was slightly richer than the Biscotti. It tasted like espresso with a light mint aftertaste. “It’s like Christmas,” said Morris about the Averna, “Christmas in July.”
We also sampled the mini-ice cream cones, which were presented to perfection. Guests are given nine mini-cones filled with an assortment of gelato and sorbet. On the night we were there, we had mango, watermelon, raspberry and lemon.
We both loved the mango, but Morris said she loves the idea of the mini-cones: “I love miniature food,” she said. “I love the cuteness and the variety where you can try a lot of different things.”
Other desserts are available including several chocolate temptations, crepes, and of course coffee and tea.
In addition to the items mentioned, Skinner’s Loft also has a full-bar and large beer and wine menu.
All major credit cards are accepted and reservations are recommended for large parties.
Skinner’s Loft is located at 146 Newark Ave. in Jersey City. For more information, call (201) 915-0600 or visit: skinnersloft.com.
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