Garage Restaurant is Johnny Rockets Wannabe
Restaurant Features Hot Dogs, Hamburgers, Chicken Tenders and Soups and Salads.
The Garage Restaurant, 257 Essex St., Millburn, is a Johnny Rockets wannabe without the flair.
It's the kind of restaurant you head to when you want a no-frills meal that offers family-friendly food, complete with a mild flavor palate that would appeal to the junior set.
The menu consists of kid friendly favorites includes hots dogs, hamburgers, fish, soups and salads
To start off, we ordered two different types of soup and two different types of salads.
The soup de jour was the cream of tomato soup ($4), a hot, thick, creamy soup that didn't offer much flavor. The other soup, a chicken noodle ($4), also lacked a distinctive flavor. It featured carrots and celery in a watery broth with a few pieces of chicken and was served with oyster crackers.
The Caesar salad ($7) was the hit of the table. The salad can be made into a meal for a few more dollars by adding chicken ($4), fish ($5), steak ($6) turkey burger ($7) or hamburger ($5.50).
The second salad, the Garage market salad ($8), contained chopped romaine and iceberg lettuce along with tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, green beans, chick peas and celery. The dressing was supposed to be a balsamic vinaigrette dressing, but we couldn't taste it on the salad and ended up dressing it with some honey mustard dipping sauce on the table for some chicken tenders.
One person at our table ordered chicken tenders ($7) and upgraded to the deluxe, which included fries and a soda for an additional $4.
Another of our guests ordered the hamburger ($6.50) cooked well done. The hamburger was cooked as requested, but seemed to be small in proportion to the bun.
One of our guests ordered the pan seared fresh fish (Salmon) on a whole wheat bun with lettuce and tomato ($10) and upgraded to the deluxe as well, which came with onion rings.
The piece of fish was large and thick and she noticed right away the chef took off the skin when the fish was cooked. The onion rings were not rings, but more like onion crisps – super-thin pieces of onions deep fried with flour.
I ordered the tuna melt ($6.50) on rye bread and Swiss cheese and upgraded as well. The waitress, however, brought an incorrect order. After we pointed out her error, she returned with the proper order.
The Garage appears to be a favorite destination to parent bringing young children for dinner or ice cream. Though it was the dinner hour, the noise level grew fairly loud with the sounds of the children combined with the sounds of blenders making the milkshakes.
The more crowded the restaurant became, the noiser it became, not just from the sounds of the patrons but also from the volume of the piped-in music.
The restaurant, a former auto repair shop open for almost a year, is a bright, airy space with four booths, 14 tables, and 10 stools – not including several tables strategically placed outside for warmer weather.
The walls are painted turquoise and red matching the color scheme of the menus and upholstery of the seats. The walls are also adorned with old license plates and pictures of hot dogs and hamburgers. The décor melds both the old auto repair shop feel with exposed heat and cooling shafts. A garage door enhances the décor.
The waitstaff is young and may need a little seasoning. Though our waitress asked if we wanted our soups and salads before our meals, after we told her yes she still brought all the food at the same time. We were surprised the wait staff did not come back to our table during the meal to find out how our meals were and if we needed anything.
There is one large, handicapped-accessible restroom. During our visit, we found that it needed tidying up since there were paper towels and toilet paper scattered on the floor. The mirror above the sink was cracked and the restroom, as well as the whole restaurant, was cold. Because they cater to a large family clientele, a baby changing table would be a nice addition to their restroom.
A full ice cream parlor experience is available, as well as several cake varieties though no one in our group sampled the desserts.
Although Garage may have some problems, we can envision many customers enjoying the warmer weather outside here, though it is competitive to get a parking spot nearby.
Garage Restaurant (garagenj.com)
257 Essex St., Millburn
Hours: Sunday, Tuesday-Wednesday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Thursday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m.
*Website does not say the restaurant is closed Monday