By Kurt Epps—The PubScout
For the Boomer Generation, the town of Hoboken, NJ conjures up just two words, and one of them is "Frank." If I have to tell you the other, you ain't a Boomer. Hell, you may not even be an American.
But in the event you haven't been paying attention, Hoboken today is the place to be for Generation Everybody. Upscale, chic, bustling and close to the Big Apple sans the NYC prices, Hoboken is simply a hopping, happening place. Ol' Blue Eyes himself might never have imagined how his hometown could have evolved into what it is.
But it is something to see. Chock full of fine restaurants, beer bars, coffee shops and a host of boutiques and businesses, it's even billed as The Home of the Cake Boss, and the long lines to get into Carlo's Bakery on 1st and Washington Sts. testify to Hoboken Quality. Those lines, by the way, are equaled by the number of applicants for admission to the highly selective Stevens Institute of Technology, which makes its home atop Castle Point Terrace on Hudson in the heart of the city.
Ironically, it was a week-long stay at Stevens Wrestling camp for my RPS wrestlers that sparked my investigation of quality restaurants and beer bars in the city. While they were doing impossible Navy SEAL workouts under the auspices of Coach Mike "Maniac" Clayton, I was thinking about places to eat and drink good beer.
With my 26th anniversary approaching, I thought it might be a nice change of pace to bring the missus to the city—and a restaurant-- with the best view of The Big Apple, and my search yielded a gem in a place known simply as 3-Forty Grill. That happens to be its address on Frank Sinatra Way (hence the My-Way Highway), and if outstanding food expertly prepared and presented, superb service, some very good beers and eye-popping views are your bag, do yourself a favor and get there. Tell them The PubScout sent you.
Tammy, the assistant manager, was as pretty as she was affable and accommodating, and truth be told, the entire staff was both friendly and efficient. Our server Michael (himself a former wrestler for Don Bosco Prep) was an expert at pouring, and he filled my pilsner glass perfectly (three times, I confess) with the exceptional Brooklyn East India Pale Ale served at exactly the right temperature. My first sips, while looking out across the river at the building King Kong once climbed on, made me know I was in the right place at the right time—just before sundown.
The Brooklyn East India Pale Ale happened to be an exceptional match for 3-Forty's appetizer of Asian Style BBQ Gulf Shrimp—a portion large enough to have made it a stand-alone meal. Five perfectly cooked Jumbo Shrimp in a tantalizing Asian sauce made a wonderful introduction to what was to be a most memorable Hoboken meal. The missus, drinking wine this evening (hey, there's only so much I can do), had a Slow Roasted Beet and Crispy Warm Goat Cheese Salad. To say she raved about it is an understatement. In fact, she talked about it all the way home. She is still talking about it, and we've been home for an hour.
For my entrée, I chose the Asiago-Crusted Chicken Medallions (knowing full well they would pair perfectly with my BEIPA) and the presentation of this dish was only outdone by its taste. Thin-sliced, tender chicken, encrusted with an out-of-this-world Asiago coating, over a bed of orgasmic risotto, made this dish a winner. The missus had the Crab Cakes with the same risotto and had nothing but good things to say about it.
So full were we after the entrees, that we couldn't even entertain thoughts of dessert, and the dessert menu is fabulous. So we repaired to the Hoboken Waterfront—directly across the street-- with its spectacular views of NYC, where I waxed nostalgic over that exceptional meal with a fine, hand-made Alvarez cigar. As I soaked in the view, I quietly thanked 3-Forty owner Jerry Maher for setting up shop on the My-Way Highway. His outside seating areas are perfect for that early lunch or post-sunset meal. That's when the city lights come on. Even if you think you've seen the skyline before, it's magnificent.
Parking in Hoboken can be challenging to say the least—even on a Sunday night. But the Anniversary Gods smiled on us by providing a spot directly across from the restaurant. If they don't smile on you, you can park in the Littleman Garage around the corner on 3rd St. between River and Sinatra and have your ticket validated by 3-Forty which makes it an even better value.
There's something magical about viewing NYC from a short distance away, especially when the lights of the Empire State Building come on, and 3-Forty is the optimum spot for doing so. Couple that location with an outstanding meal, exceptional service and a chic ambience, and you'll know why 3-Forty is a prime spot in Hoboken.
We will definitely be visiting 3-Forty again. Maybe we should celebrate anniversaries more than once a year?
Not a bad idea at all. And maybe next time we'll save room for dessert.