As a forward-thinking hotel, conference and event facility, it’s no surprise Hilton Short Hills, a AAA Four Diamond-rated property, has opened a modern casual outdoor dining and lounge experience that’s a cut above the rest – literally. The Retreat, an all-new open-air rooftop expansion, added as part of a $9 million hotel transformation project, is the perfect space for locals and hotel guests to enjoy handcrafted cocktails, small plates, daily Happy Hours and Thirsty Thursdays with live music, lounge décor, and fire pits.
‘Retreat’ feels like the perfect name for this seasonal spot as even before your first cocktail, you’ll feel the serenity of the space start to seep in. Visit at dusk and unwind amid this woodland setting that feels so charmingly rustic, you’ll forget Routes 24 and 78 lie just beyond the bar. Strung garden lights add to the ambiance and create a tranquil vibe, as if you’ve wandered into someone’s well-appointed backyard and don’t have to lift a finger.
In addition to live music events, The Retreat hosts Trivia Nights, as well as Tap Takeovers, featuring local craft breweries. During my visit, Ridgefield Park’s Bolero Snort was in the house, pouring unique brews including OVB, an orange cream pop IPA, Kow Lime Pie, key lime pie session, and Pina Bullada, pina colada session.
You’ll also find plenty of mixed cocktails, red and white wine options, as well as boozy milkshakes, and more on the drinks menu.
Food offerings include some innovative twists on happy hour favorites. For example, traditional cheese fries get a serious upgrade and a new name: ‘Piled High Shoestrings’ presented with your choice of sauce: classic, sambal spiked ranch, melted IPA cheddar, jalapeno-lime mayo, smoked paprika aioli – or, if you’re feeling bold, try all five sauces. No bar menu would be complete without burgers and sandwiches, and these also strive to outdo your typical tavern fare. I sampled the Pub Burger, which is comprised of two 4 oz patties, bourbon bbq brisket, arugula, gorgonzola, jalapeno-lime mayo, fried cherry peppers, and served on a pretzel roll, and was happily impressed – and stuffed.
Ample appetizer portions and sizable sandwiches lend themselves to sharing.
Denise Giorno, area marketing manager at Hilton, noted that the fresh ricotta on semolina bread with honey is her personal favorite. To view the menu in its entirety, visit the website.
On the night I visited, the lounge was filled with an eclectic but laid back mix of guests that included group of colleagues sharing a working dinner, a ladies night out entourage, business travelers, young couples, and a family.
Giorno added that the area, with movable privacy fencing, serves as the perfect backdrop for weddings and private events. The location is ideal for companies looking to host a happy hour, golfers hoping to quench their thirst after a day on the nearby links, and shoppers looking to leave The Mall at Short Hills for an equally elegant setting.
Maybe it’s subliminal because you’re at a hotel, but as soon as you take a seat, you begin to feel transported to that covetable vacation state-of-mind.
“We’re working on a fall trivia night among other fun events on Thursdays, 5:30-8:30pm,” said, Giorno, who suggested visiting the Facebook page for the most up-to-date information.
My advice: Go for a drink and a bite before more people discover my favorite new ‘Retreat.’