Elysian Cafe

Elysian Cafe is located on Washington Street between 10th Street and 11th Street in Hoboken, New Jersey. The French restaurant operates out of a saloon from the late 1890s, much like its sister restaurant Amanda’s, which operates out of a brownstone from the same time period.

The food
After having dined at Amanda’s and raved about it, my parents and I felt compelled to check out Elysian Cafe as well. The spot garners great ratings for its menu filled with French classics, so my family and I figured we’d stick to the items we know we enjoy.

We started with a salad and had some trouble choosing between several options. Though I was more privy to the idea of ordering the arugula salad (served with roasted beets, goat cheese, red onions, and tarragon), we eventually agreed on the Organic Field Greens salad instead. The salad came with mixed greens served with shaved fennel and cherry tomatoes in balsamic vinaigrette. As it turns out, this was a great choice. The fennel was deliciously fresh, as were the greens and tomatoes. It was the perfect light option before we moved on to the entrees.

Then, my father ordered the Pan Seared Alaskan Cod (cod served with black olives and a roasted tomato vinaigrette over basil risotto), while my mother was torn between the Rosemary Brined Pork Chop (served with applewood smoked bacon and creamy white beans, spinach, and a red wine demi glace) and the bistro’s take on steak frites (grilled New York strip steak with a thyme beurre and pommes frites). In the end, she settled on the steak, which was a beautiful cut of meat atop an absolute heap of fries.

I, on the other hand, was torn between the Chipotle Thyme Marinated Skirt Steak, which comes with mushroom risotto, and the Burgundy Braised Beef Short Ribs. In the end, short ribs won out (they almost always do with me). The dish is served with Yukon mashed potatoes, haricot vert, and a few of the absolute best—and biggest—onion rings I have ever eaten. Everything was delicious, but I’m still thinking about those onion rings. They were crisp on the outside, soft on the inside, and the least greasy possible.

The drinks

Elysian Cafe boasts a full bar and they certainly take advantage of this offering. The cocktail menu is extensive and includes both classics and their own concoctions. Personally, there were several drinks I found intriguing. Elysian’s take on a Manhattan was one of them: chai infused whiskey, Harvey’s Bristol Sherry, and chocolate bitters. If that isn’t the perfect nightcap for a cool fall evening, I don’t know what is.

Instead, I went for something a bit more refreshing and ordered the Car Chase: Bulleit Rye, simple syrup, mint, and lemon juice served on the rocks. This cocktail reminded me a bit of a mint julep, only the mint wasn’t muddled and the ice wasn’t crushed, but I loved that it included lemon and rye. I can’t believe I’ve never thought to make this exact combination before.

Beyond this, Elysian Cafe also serves wine, beer, and beer cocktails.

The service/ambience
What drew us immediately to Elysian Cafe is its beautiful outdoor patio. It’s visible from blocks away, as the patio area is surrounded by boxes beyond boxes of flowers. So, of course we had to sit outside. The tables and chairs are reminiscent of Parisian coffee shops and the overall ambience is quite lovely.

Inside, the bar area is dimly lit and is equipped with televisions showing the latest games. It is a restored saloon, after all, so the ceilings are intricate and very likely updated versions of the originals.

The wait staff is friendly and attentive, and overall Elysian Cafe offers a pleasant dining experience I’d be happy to repeat again and again.