Saturday night, I joined my brother, his girlfriend, and a few other friends for dinner at 15 Fox Place in Jersey City. My brother told me about this restaurant after his birthday — at that time I wasn’t willing to shell out $115 (including taxes and tip) for a meal. But this time around, I decided I had to go (I almost forgot about it because we made the reservation a month ago). I even picked up a more expensive bottle of wine than I usually get because the restaurant is BYOB.
15 Fox Place is a unique dining experience — according to the website, it’s by reservation only for 2 to 40 people. It’s a small house, and each room is set up with individual parties. It almost feels like eating a feast with family — it’s fine dining without being pretentious. It doesn’t look like a restaurant — it’s a converted house in a residential neighborhood, but the backyard is beautiful for dining if the weather is nice. We all thought it was a beautiful backyard garden when we wandered through the house during our dinner intermission (yes, you really need to get up and walk around halfway through).
Our dinner began with homemade tapenade that was the best I’ve ever tasted, and the food just kept on coming. I’m not entirely sure how many appetizers came out after that, but it was a lot. There were spicy peppers on fresh-cut potato chips, followed by an amazing plate of stuffed peppers (which was one of the few plates we completely finished).
I was told the polenta arrabiatta was great, but when I had it with the sausage sauce, I had to dig in for more (it was also the first time that I can remember eating polenta) — it was creamy and savory. It was gone from the table faster than any other antipasti.
There was also a pasta appetizer with a lemon sauce, which I thought was much better than the manicotti that arrived on the table at the same time. And yet, I thought the manicotti was delicious — it was not as heavy as I expected considering how much we ate before.
Unfortunately, I just bought a new camera and I’m still trying to figure out all the settings and how to best take photos. There were a few dishes that came out rather blurry in the low light — maybe my hands were shaking in anticipation of the wonderful flavor or it could’ve been the Desierto 25 malbec (one of my favorite wines). I was disappointed that my photo of the watermelon salad served in an ice bowl didn’t come out — and I was surprised how good watermelon with vinegar tastes.
After intermission, which was spent in the backyard and checking out the upstairs dining rooms, I managed to screw up the photo of our main course. The chicken topped with thinly-sliced crispy ham was delicious. And for the pescatarians, there was a fish option (ordered in advance at reservation). There were even mussels and shrimp somewhere during the appetizers.
To end the meal we were served espresso, coffee, or tea and three desserts (normally one dessert is more than enough for me). The desserts were an assortment of homemade cookies, some ice cream, and zeppoles.
Probably the best perk of dinner was the family that runs the restaurant. They went along with our jokes at the table. There were some comments about getting adopted by the family, but we all realized we’d get really fat with all that awesome food. As our friend Jarrett put it, “If you leave here hungry, you’ve got a tapeworm.” Considering you’re encouraged to NOT finish every plate, I’d say that’s an accurate statement. We needed an extra 20 minutes after dessert to finish our wine and roll ourselves out the door.
So, was my dinner at 15 Fox Place worth $115? Yes. It was a huge, elegant meal that lasted about three and a half hours. Would I go again? Probably not for at least a year. I just can’t justify the cost more than once a year. The restaurant also offers cooking classes and wine tastings.