How was your commute today? Did you have to pass through a cold and liminal space en route to home or work?
What if you had a chance to enjoy dinner, catch up with friends, have a beer (or insert your beverage of choice here) and enjoy beautiful transportation architecture? If so, you best head to the Short Hills train station. And there’s no need to buy a ticket to anywhere.
In 2012, co-owners Jane and Jeff Tauber spearheaded the idea to convert the Short Hills train station into a multi-use space which would feature a full restaurant and bar. The classic depot built in 1907 now houses Boxcar Bar & Grill. The commuters still come and go, but this transportation hub encourages you to stay for awhile.
The station’s waiting room has been fashioned into a dining area. While the seats may have comfortable cushions and overhead lighting and lanterns provide a warm atmosphere, the elements of the train station have been embraced. And that classic ticket window still functions during its usual hours.
A short hallway leads into a bar area designed with warm brick and a festive purple ceiling. On a Friday night, the packed bar had a post-Happy Hour buzz. The room was a mix of commuters sharing a drink before heading home for the weekend as well as groups of friends who gathered at the tables for a drink and a meal. A handful of families with young kids peppered the dining room. No need to hesitate if you want to bring the youngins’.
The drink menu includes a generous collection of beer and wines, a dollop of fun signature cocktail concoctions as well as a healthy dose of top-shelf bourbons, tequilas and single-malt scotches. The Kane Head High IPA is hoppy with a surprisingly dry finish. The Westbound — a fusion of prosecco, St. Germaine and lemon — was tart and refreshing.
The menu reads like an unabridged dictionary of bar and comfort food selections. In addition to a slew of appetizers, you can choose from salads, entrees (strip steaks, pastas and seafood), burgers and five pizza options.
The fish tacos were fresh, pan-seared and came with a generous side of jicama sauce. We treated the satisfying dish as an entree, however, a group of friends could do well with sharing the bounty.
The broccoli rabe and sausage pizza had a thick but light-tasting crust. Akin to other selections at Boxcar, the portions are rather generous. And the pizza pairs well with a glass (or two) of Domaine Bousquet Malbec.
Boxcar is open for lunch and dinner throughout the week (Mondays – Fridays, 3:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.) with Saturday (11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.) and Sunday (11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.) hours as well.
And keep in mind, commuters are offered full coffee service between 5:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Head to Boxcar for the experience. The food is solid, the drinks are impressive, and the use of space is tremendous. I’m not sure what magic the designers performed, but those passing trains are whisper quiet as you drink and dine inside. There’s plenty of parking in the Short Hills train station. And heck, you can even take the train there.
Visit the Boxcar Bar & Grill website for further information. Keep in mind that all seating is first-come, first-served.