I spent 2 nights in East Rutherford, New Jersey this summer. Why, you may ask? Well…I was fulfilling my dream of seeing Bon Jovi live in their home state. They were opening the New Meadowlands Stadium and we were there on opening night…and the next night too!
As we were going to the concert both nights we decided it would make sense to stay in the area to make getting to and from the gig a simple task. The stadium was less than a 20 minute walk from our hotel but this also meant that our lovely Mariott, Fairfield Inn, was also in the middle of nowhere. It can be difficult enough to find places to eat in the middle of nowhere never mind when you’re looking for something gluten free.
Aware that finding food would be difficult, I had brought safe snacks with me. I figured that our ‘free’ continental breakfast wouldn’t exactly cater for Coeliacs and I was right on the button. In the midst of bagels, muffins, cereals and waffles there were exactly 2 things that I could have…yoghurt and apples….how exciting! I had brought my own cereal from New York City anyway so I was sorted for breakfast and I’d also brought sushi to give me something to munch on at dinner that first night before the gig. The second afternoon however, I longed for something new to eat. The only things I had left were cereal and seed and nut bars. Decent enough if I was starving but I was determined to see if I could find somewhere that would serve me something both warm and gluten free in East Rutherford.
I started by checking out the New Jersey section of gluten free registry. Much to my surprise there was one restaurant in the area which claimed to have gluten free options. The search was on to find The Park and Orchard restaurant! I memorised the directions from our hotel (to 240 Hackensack Street) and my friend and I headed off on foot, along a road which looked as though it led to nowhere, to see what we could find. After a few wrong turns and some help from a couple of locals we found it. The Park and Orchard restaurant really did exist and even better it turned out to have some great gluten free options!
The restaurant had a full separate ‘Celiac menu’, which was great, but there were a couple of bizarre things about it. Firstly the items on the gluten free menu had no prices so if you wanted to know what something cost you had to find that item on the normal menu. Secondly, it stated that items on the gluten free menu marked with stars may not be available that day. I asked the waitress which items the restaurant did have and she said that if I could see the item on the normal menu then it was available but if not then it wasn’t. Sounds like a strange way of doing things and it really was but despite this there was a large variety of interesting gluten free things to choose from. They do seafood, meat, gf pasta dishes, imaginative vegetarian dishes and lots of appetisers.
I went for the dairy and wheat free lasagne made from polenta, layered with tofu ricotta, spinach, cauliflower, onions, garlic, basil, parsley, and a pomodoro sauce….This restaurant is definitely not the cheapest and my lasagne was $20 but it was huge and absolutely delicious so I couldn’t complain.
If there are any other huge Bonjovi fans out there who find themselves in East Rutherford, New Jersey, looking for something gluten free to eat then check out the Park and Orchard restaurant where you will ‘have a nice day’!