Each week, Patch picks a great restaurant either in town or nearby that is worth checking out. While the last thing you might want to think about on Thanksgiving at dinnertime is another meal out, we're looking ahead to some options for a bite out during the next few days at restaurants where you won't necessarily have to stuff yourself with a heavy meal.
Our highlighted restaurant is 'Fresh,' at the Highlands Village Center off Allen Road in The Hills section of Basking Ridge.
Fresh is one of New Jersey's few certified "Green Restaurant Association" eateries. The semi-organic health-conscious restaurant can serve up some hearty sandwiches, meals and tasty desserts, but it also has many options for salads and meals that are on the lighter side.
If you browse through previous Bites Nearby selections in Somerset County, you'll see other places that might be a good food stop while shopping or visiting friends—without adding another helping of catastrophic calories to your plate.
For example, Basking Ridge resident Geetha Jayaraman offers a tasty selection of veggie meals at her Spoon & Sprout Cafe in Hillsborough. Or you can munch on something fresh at SaladWorks in the Bridgewater Commons Mall and at the Hillsborough Promenade.
Fresh Food Kitchen in Raritan, near the Somerville Circle, is another option for food that's real and healthful. And our list includes many area restaurants that offer sushi—maybe that sounds like a good follow-up to a Thanksgiving dinner to remember!
Fresh is open from 11:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Monday through Saturday.
562 Allen Road, Basking Ridge
After it's remake about two years ago, Fresh—with country kitchen tables, bamboo floors and wooden window shutters recycled from an old barn—no longer looked like the previous Dairy Queen that served up burgers, fried chicken and fries along with DQ's trademark ice cream.
I've been there a number of times to eat in or take out. A favorite salad is the Vietnamese chicken salad [$8.50]. With its spicy [but light-tasting] ginger lime dressing over a salad of organic chicken, cabbage, carrots, red peppers, scallions and mint, the salad definitely provides its share of flavor.
There's also a Turkey Cobb Salad made with organic turkey [$8.95] and a Salad Nicoise with "pole-caught tuna" for $8.95.
After it's remake, Fresh may look like a totally different shop, but it still has one major leftover from the space's previous life as a Dairy Queen—a large soft-serve ice cream dispenser.
These days, the machine is used to serve either vanilla or chocolate soft-service ice cream or frozen yogurt. Store manager Amanda Stevens said the flavors of the frozen yogurt can vary—this week's specialty flavor was coffee. The menu at the store lists sizes at $3.50, $5.50 or $8.
Either is available with a wide variety of toppings, including gummy bears, crushed Oreos, Swedish fish and more, and it comes in either a dish or waffle cone.
One of Fresh's specialty ice cream offerings are its handmade ice cream sandwiches. Earlier this summer, I opted for an overstuffed sandwich made with chocolate ice cream, rimmed with sprinkles and stuffed between two chocolate chip cookies. It easily served two.
In case you haven't had enough dessert!