Ground Connection

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I recently visited Jersey City’s newest coffee addition addiction, Ground Connection, located at Harborside Plaza 10.

Owner Scott Gillman (of Jercey City’s Markers Restaurant) and director of the coffee program, Alex Mastrando, who is the head chef, went to different places in the city New York City “to see what was working and what wasn’t” in the coffee industry, while the head barista and store manager, German Chabur, visited Seattle and Atlanta coffee conventions to do the same.

The result is awesome “third wave” coffee in a fast-casual environment [Ed. note: “first wave” is mom-and-pop shops, “second wave” is Stabucks, et al]. “Third wave coffee means we are bringing it back to basics using real espresso with real machines and actually weighing everything properly,” says Alex as he shows me their Italian espresso machine, which is one of few in the U.S. and uses technology that just came out last year.

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“You can go to a coffee chain, where the machine will weigh the coffee and the barista will push a button, but this machine can figure out the weight from the dry—it’s amazing technology,” says Alex. “The machine allows us to weigh exact grinds, program the weight, and create a ratio. So you give it the ratio, you give it the grind, and it automatically calibrates as it’s coming out. It gets that perfect ratio and its always going to be in balance. That allows us to keep our coffee consistent.”

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Jersey Girls Food Tours

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The Jersey City culinary food scene is off the charts, and what better way to experience it than to enjoy a variety of cuisines from different venues—all at one reasonable price, and all in one day or one night?

Jersey Girls Food Tours (JGFT) showcase the gastronomic scene in Jersey City, perfect for locals and non-locals alike. Guests can enjoy YUMzzz from the best eateries in town and get a dose of JC history while walking from spot to spot.

My gals Janis Borroto and Alessia Aron (pictured from left to right, above) of JGFT invited me on a test run of one of their new Jersey City tours, titled “Best of Downtown.”

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The Merchant

 

The Merchant is super quiet during lunch and often pretty hopping during dinner. Both atmospheres have their advantages if you are in one of those moods.

Last week, I took out my boyfriend for a quiet and late (3pm) lunch. We were the only people in the restaurant, but it was cool (it was 90 degrees outside), quiet, and nice to have the place to ourselves. Service was perfectly timed—not too rushed (we are European)—and not too slow. They were attentive in keeping our glasses full and checking on us every now and then, but not intrusive at all.

My date got the short-rib burger, a $15 monstrosity of glorious meat topped with horseradish chive cheddar, bourbon bacon, beer-friend onions, and LT. He chose to have cheese added to his fries. I watched in awe as his 6-ft 148 pound body cleaned the plate. It was that good.

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I was enticed by the bbq duck quesadilla, but eventually decided on the pan-seared rare tuna wrap, mixed with asian-style vegetables and dressed with teriyaki sauce and wasabi mayonnaise and comes with a side salad. I could only get through half of it. Tuna was maybe not as rare (or juicy?) as I liked and I thought the flavor a little bland…maybe not enough of the dressing/condiments.

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We were both in a food coma walking out. The hearty portions left no room for dessert, even though the deep-fried Snickers looks like it’s worth a try. Next time.

On a previous lunch date, I sat outside (great for people watching). My friend and I ordered the steak wrap to split (with onions, goat cheese and horseradish), which was plenty of food per person—even really hungry people—on a warm July day. We were spending the rest of the afternoon outside, and you never want to get into a food coma when you’re susceptible to a heat one. I don’t even think I finished my half in fear I’d get sluggish, even though I walked in hungry.

Dinner here is always more impressive than it seems it will be. The bar is fairly scene-y, the lighting is just right, and the service is usually spot-on in attentiveness. I’ve tried a variety of things here for dinner. My favorite meal would be a shared appetizer of “bang bang” shrimp to start, then the warm goat cheese salad with apples in raspberry vinaigrette, and sea scallops (pan roasted with truffle butter) served with broccoli rabe for an entree. I tried my companion’s filet mignon, which was flavored and cooked to perfection, everything a carnivore would like in a good piece of meat.

When you’re jonesing for a well-made drink and a sophisticated bar crowd, going here for cocktails won’t disappoint. There are happy hour specials every night of the week, too, and on weekends, drink specials last all night long.

I have yet to have brunch here, but feel free to comment here or email me: jerseycitygia@gmail.com about your experience at The Merchant.

JCG



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