Having grown up in a place where the beach was two blocks from my house, I really miss the ocean in Brooklyn. Although we live by the ocean, it’s not like we go to the beach every day during the summer (even less just go to take a swim before lunch and come back home).
A couple of weeks ago we spent a weekend at some friends’ in New Jersey and they had planned taking us to the shore to spend the day at the beach with all of the kids. The first thing that struck me was how different the approach to going to the beach is. Living by the Mediterranean, I was used to just put on my bathing suit, a cover up, get a towel, a snack and a Walkman (yes, one of those) and just go to the beach, without a fixed time to go or come back. Here, being that the beach is far and that we were taking four kids under the age of seven in tow, it was a completely different story: coolers with water and fruit, coolers with snacks, two umbrellas, a bunch of beach chairs, toys for the kids, towels, a change of clothing for everyone, a beach cart to bring it all, you name it. Super organized and a whole day affair.
Apart from taking us to spend a great day at the beach, our friends also showed us around a bit of Jersey and took us to Montclair for brunch. Completely different in aesthetic and spirit from the shore, Montclair reminded me, for some reason, of Pasadena, CA, with its lower Spanish looking buildings and people who were just walking and enjoying the beautiful end of summer weather.
We went to Raymond’s, which seems to be the “it” place for brunch. We got there around 10.30am and the place was already packed and, as we were a party of eight, had to wait around fifteen minutes, which was not bad. We were seated outside and the four kids immediately got their own menus with crayons to color them. They also have high chairs and the establishment is super kid friendly.
The menu had the standard brunch fare: eggs, French toast, pancakes. They are BYOB if you want a mimosa with your brunch (which our friends were ready for and had brought a delicious prosecco to go with fresh squeezed orange juice).
The girls ordered the kids’ French Toast, which was delicious and not oily at all, and I went with the Norwegian Benedict with salmon and potato pancakes. Really good and filling. Everyone ordered coffee, but the fanciest was my iced cappuccino by far: strong and ice cold and on a huge glass. Just perfect.
The interior of Raymond’s is beautiful with a wall of colorful old style seltzer bottles. It seems to be a bit loud, but then, that is usually a good thing when you bring kids along.
The two unisex bathrooms are in the back, past a wood door, one of them to the right and the other all the way in the back. We were only able to use the one in the back, which was ample, airy and clean but that didn’t have a changing table.
And even though I am not ready to give up city life for the spaciousness of the suburbs, I have to say that Raymond’s quaintness made think that there could be a middle point between the big city and the suburbs, and I might be even open to consider it.
28 Church Street
Montclair, NJ 07042
Monday-Friday: 8.00am – 10.00pm
Saturday: 8.00am – 10.00pm
Sunday: 8.00am – 9.00pm