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Blog :: 09-2010

Reasons I Love Montclair #2: Bonjour Montclair

"The perfect meal at Bonjour Montclair: the turkey-goat-cheese-tomato-pesto crepe, iced coffee, and the strawberry-banana-nutella dessert crepe (although really, they're all delicious, I also love the cinnamon-sugar). The one downside to this creperie is their use of styrofoam and plasticware, but you can always try bringing your own reusable stuff. Bonjour Montclair is cheap, fast, friendly, and never as crowded on the weekends as Bluestone, with more outdoor seating, located in lovely Watchung Plaza."

Guest post: Vicky Ludas.

I invite you to comment below or email me with your own reasons for loving your hometown, and I'll post them here!

Reasons I Love Montclair #1: Sandwich Theory's #5

The #5 sandwich (roast beef, havarti, lettuce, tomato and herb mayo on peasant bread) with sides of sauteed green beans and beets, coffee, and a brownie, at Sandwich Theory (formerly known as The Cheese Shop), 590 Valley Road. It is delicious, filling, sort of good for you, and absolutely satisfying. Sandwich Theory is an unpretentious (read: low- to no-atmosphere) grab-n-go place in the heart of Upper Montclair.

I invite you to comment below or email me with your own reasons for loving your hometown, and I'll post them here!

Montclair as Travel Destination

Travel + Leisure's August 2010 issue has a list of "Coolest Suburbs Worth a Visit," and Montclair is first on the list. Baristanet is unimpressed, as to live in Montclair is to know it's a "cool" suburb, but the article does make you think- what makes a suburb a travel destination? There is a lot here for a variety of different sightseers. Gardeners and horticulturalists can stop by the Van Vleck Gardens and Presby Iris Garden. Fans of independent bookstores have two to visit, Watchung Booksellers and Montclair Book Center. Art lovers can take in the Montclair Art Museum, and history buffs can tour the Montclair Historical Society. And foodie-types will have as much and as varied a meal plan as they could hope for (Thai! Japanese! Greek! French! Mexican! Pizza! Bagels! The list goes on!).

Montclair in the Middle? (Answer: No.)

In the season 5 premiere of the NBC show "The Office," two dating characters who are for the moment living apart in Scranton, PA, and NYC meet in the middle for lunch at a rest stop at "exit 17" on Rt 80. But the one coming from NYC, Pam, realizes it wasn't actually in between the two spots:

Pam: Hey! This is not halfway! I did the math, I had to drive way longer than you. Montclair would've been closer, so you have to buy lunch.

However, I did the actual math, and Montclair is nowhere near the midpoint between Scranton and NY, not by a long shot. Montclair is just one of those towns that comes up a lot in movies, tv, and commercials. Must be all the media types living here...

Watch the scene here (but beware of spoilers!):

Refusing to Compromise on Walkability

good walking streetAccording to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal,

"Today's home buyers aren't just looking for good schools and low crime rates when they evaluate a neighborhood, many brokers say. They're paying much more attention to what they can walk to." (emphasis added)

The growth of walkability as a desirable quality comes from homebuyers who want to avoid traffic as much as possible, and may also be looking forward to a day when gas prices get too high. Aging boomers buying homes to retire in and younger couples buying their first homes are both starting to look for the same easy proximity to town restaurants, shops, and activities.

This is why the towns I work in are so popular, and why I focus on the benefits of walkability when buying or selling homes. Though walkability depends on a number of factors - traffic patterns, topography - I have found that buyers are more and more looking to be within walking distance of things to do, and are willing to pay more for it.

Browsing in Brookdale: A Blend of Old and New in Bloomfield

I'm a big fan of the Brookdale section of Bloomfield. It has charming, well-maintained houses right by Brookdale Park, as well as a great mix of traditional and trendy shops and restaurants on Broad Street. Italian food fans have two delicious choices, each open less than a year.  Bar Cara is the more casual sibling of Montclair's haute Italian restaurant Fascino;  both are owned by the DePersio family. On the other side of Watchung Ave. is Pizza Rustica, serving pizzas, pastas and the like. Literally next door is the popular Greek eatery Stamna, and right across the street is Boonsong Thai Cuisine.

Looking for something less exotic?  The IHOP is perfect for a traditional pancake breakfast, and Mastriano Prime Meats & Deli has been the  neighborhood butcher since 1966. After dinner,  Brookdale-ites often stroll over to Holsten's. Open since 1939, Holsten's was famous for its ice cream long before the Sopranos came to town.

The neighborhood is also home to several houses of worship. Among others, the Watchung Presbyterian Church is right next to the IHOP, and Temple Ner Tamid, a Reform congregation, is just a bit further south on Broad.

Clearly local shop owners are proud of their neighborhood: long-established businesses here include Brookdale Wine & Spirits, Brookdale Pet Center and Brookdale Barber.  Add Brookdale Elementary School to the north, Bloomfield Middle School to the east, and you have one of New Jersey's best walkable communities.