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“Must Be the Music”
Review of Hat City Kitchen

Hat City Kitchen
Ranked #5 of 42 Restaurants in Orange
Price range: US$ 29 - US$ 31
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Breakfast, After-hours, Reservations
Dining style: Casual Dining
Cross street: Forest Street
Transit: Highland Avenue Station NJ Transit
Description: Hat City Kitchen is an intimate restaurant/music venue located in The Valley Arts District in Orange, NJ. Serving Creole-inspired comfort food alongside jammin' music, it's a great place to enjoy food, music and drink. Featuring open mics, open jams and many regional artists, Hat City is a destination for a relaxing yet engaging environment. Rated a 3 star restaurant, Hat City is made possible by Hands Inc., a local non-profit dedicated to the revitalization of The Valley. As an extension of the Hands mission, Hat City's profits go towards further develop the area and support local artists.
Reviewed 17 July 2017

My friend and I visited Hat City Kitchen for the first time this past Friday to see jazz violinist Brooke Alford, who was the brightest spot in an otherwise bleak night. (In fact, she was absolutely brilliant!) The other part of the story, however: We were seated, the first waitress came with menus, said she'd be right back, and never returned. Another waitress who saw that we were looking around for someone to pay attention to us, took our drink orders and never returned. We finally had to get the manager, Chris, who sent a young lady who was very attentive, but who, unfortunately, was also attending to almost every other table on our side of the restaurant. When the food finally arrived, it was disappointing. Collard greens tasted as if they'd been soaked in vinegar, shrimp and grit cakes were bleh - and they used medium shrimp, which were cooked for so long they could've almost passed for salad shrimp - and there were only five of them in the dish. Waitress returned with the check and we noticed that there was a ten dollar entertainment charge added on. Fair enough because that kind of stellar entertainment is certainly worth much more. BUT, they also tacked on a mandatory 20% tip, which was not separated from the entertainment charge. So we had to pay a gratuity on the music charge and the service. But I'm not done...They added a gratuity line for anyone who wanted to throw in a little extra tip. Yeah, right. The "attentive" waitress forgot to come back to take our payment, so when we finally motioned for the gentleman at the door and asked him to please find our waitress for us so that we could pay and get the heck outa' there, we paid and got the heck outa' there. As I said in the title ... must be the music...

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1  Thank vanessaphipps0814
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviews (64)
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6 - 10 of 64 reviews

Reviewed 30 June 2017

I could walk here but the hills would kill me on my way back home...seriously. No joke we love this place. The fried chicken is the best and burgers are very good too. The menu has changed a few times but hopefully these staples will remain. I'm from New Orleans and was taken aback by the "creole" claims coming out of the kitchen. To be honest they don't seem to know if they are creole from New Orleans or creole from Haiti or Jamaica...there are big differences. So there is a mish mosh of dishes from all areas (gumbo, shrimp and grits-polenta?? and Rasta pasta). The music is always fun and sometimes you get to see some really great bands you have to pay an arm and leg to see in NYC. Reservations are always confusing especially if the place is crowded. Some of the waiters seem clueless and space out on your orders. But I really still like this place. It has it's quirks but the atmosphere is just cool.

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Thank Michelle G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 June 2017 via mobile

Wonderful, consistent fun restaurant in local area. We do the mac n cheese, home fries. claims, fried chicken and pulledpork. Super variety of musicians which pptovidd terrific atmosphere. Repat place.

Thank Sunshine34500
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 2 March 2017

Visited 02/26/2017 for dinner.
Our Groupon was running out of time, so we came on a night that didn't have any band/music playing. (Although the piped in music was pretty good)
We really wanted to like this place and we do, but there's a lot of room for improvement in the 'dining department.'
My wife and I have different opinions about this place... well, the food really. The dishes I had were pretty good, but the dishes my wife had... not so much.
I started off with the coconut curry seafood & crawfish (appetizer), which I thought was really, really good. My wife doesn't like anything curry, but she tried it and said it wasn't terrible. So for her... that's a 5 star endorsement. My entree was the crab stuffed catfish... with a side of spinach. Also very good... but (in my opinion) overpriced. 2 smaller sized catfish 'rolls' stuffed with crabmeat/stuffing... and the spinach for what I think is a bit too much $$.
My wife had the steamed clams which were just ok. I'm guessing they were steamed in broth of some sort. A bit chewy, tasted ok... but nothing special.
She also had the stuffed shrimp which (according to her) were overcooked. I don't know because I didn't have a taste as I sometimes do.
The side of cornbread was good/tasty and came as along with the entree, but were only 3 tiny muffins and if purchased by as a side will cost you $4. Way too much money.
The sauteed spinach served with the stuffed catfish was pretty good. Nuff said.
The Mac & cheese was pretty good, but with restaurants today utilizing an infinite number of world class cheeses they're coming up with outrageous mac and cheese dishes that make this version seem very bland.
Like I said, we do want to like this place. (The burgers looked good at the table next to us.) The atmosphere is pretty cool and from what I heard, the music can also be nothing short of excellent. There's a decent selection of beer, wine and drinks, so I don't think it would take much of an improvement cuisine-wise to get at least one more star added to their rating.

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Thank Conradb2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 February 2017

The hubby took me to HCK for my birthday tonight for some music and good food. We waited about 15 minutes for a waitress to just come over to our table and take our order. We ordered the Hat City Kitchen Salad to start with and a cheddar burger and rib & chicken combo with grilled corn on the cob as a side.

About 1/2 hour later there was no salad. I reminded her that we wanted to start with the salad and out it came right away. But I had to ask. Then, a while later, the rest came out. I usually don't care about presentation but the burger came out on a long plate with the other half empty except for a few lame leaves of something. No fries because apparently those are a la carte. The burger was big and very good, though. The chicken and ribs were very very good. The ribs fell off the bone and the chicken was in a honey/pepper saucy and was very crunchy. Delicious. It came with a side of slaw and some sweet potato fries. Strange that the burger didn't come with fries, though.

The waitress was very sweet but she was the only one for a medium-sized dining room. The bar manager came to help her but she wasn't so helpful. Nice, but not so helpful because she said she's usually not a waitress. I felt badly for the waitress but they should have had a second person there. That's the second time we've been there with bad service. The people next to us had to ask for their appetizer as well and it came right out. And although they ordered right after us, it took them about 45 minutes to get their food. They were completely annoyed.

I may be too annoyed to go back for a while. But the food was good.

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1  Thank crapschick
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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