Last night some friends and I met up at "Doris and Ed's," a Highlands, NJ based seafood restaurant known for its terrific wine list. Seafood and wine are two of my favorite things so I just had to visit "Doris and Ed's" though they are an hour away from me.
Since this is not a restaurant or a food blog, I don't want to get into too much detail about the service or food, but both were disappointing. The hostess was not very welcoming (since we weren't a full party when we showed up, she was going to make us stand at the very cramped bar) and our waiter was very, very slow.
When the food did arrive, I was excited to dive into my seafood platter (no pun inended). The lobster tail was perfectly cooked and the shrimp, which were brushed with a slightly spicy butter, were quite tasty. On the other hand, the flounder was limp and tasteless and the scallops were nicely cooked, but also lacking any discernible taste.
HOWEVER, the wine list was quite good. They offer an extensive selection of American whites and reds. They offer several Pinot Noirs, which generally pairs wonderfully with seafood. Moreover, the mark up (from expected retail prices) was only around 100%, sometimes less. I know that sounds high, but 100% is the standard, though lately it seems like so many restaurants are now charing 150-200%. Seeing a markup of "only" 100% nowadays is sadly comforting. Though the cheapest wine on the list is in the $60 range, my guess is that they do that so they can maintain a lower mark up than many restaurants.
At most restaurants, the worst deal on the wine menu is usually the cheapest bottle. That's because they'll take a $10-$15 bottle and charge you $40-$45 for the bottle. They do this so that they look like the quality establishment they aim to be and so that you don't feel like you're being cheap. As the restaurant's wine bottle prices go up, they can't charge the same type of margins or else no one would buy the more expensive bottles. If you're trying to get a good value at a restaurant, the rule of thumb (and of course there will always be exceptions) is to stick with the mid-range priced bottles.
Ultimately I would recommend Doris an Ed's to anyone living near or in the Highlands but for me, it wasn't worth the drive. The wine list is as good as promised, but the rest of the experience just didn't make it worthwhile. Plus, there are plenty of good restaurants for me to try in my neck of the woods....
Later today I'm taking some friends wine shopping so I'll hopefully have something interesting to share later today.