The Blue Collar Foodie Goes Round For Round With The Duke at Charlie Blood’s

Occasionally the fact that I have a food blog comes up in conversations and when it does I typically get mixed reviews, pun intended.   Some people respond to this statement as if I just told them that I kick dogs for fun, while others reply as if I had told them I write for the New Yorker.  Although, I tend to enjoy the latter as opposed to the former reaction, by far my favorite response is also the most common; “That is, (Insert Favorable Adjective Here), you should really check out, (Insert Restaurant’s Name Here).”

This is exactly what happened a few weeks ago while I was at my local watering hole, The Twisted Elm, and ran into a few old friends.  One of them was unaware that I write this blog and as soon as I mentioned it she instantly began throwing names of restaurants out faster than I could digest them.  As I fervently tapped on my phone with my giant clumsy thumbs, trying to capture all the potential Blue Collar eateries that were being hurled in my direction, one seemed to stand out amongst the crowd, Charlie Blood’s Restaurant.  Not only was the name appealing but the way she described this joint lead me to believe that it was right up my alley.  She may or may not have used the phrase Dive Bar a few times.

Charlie Bloods

Charlie Blood’s Restaurant

The following night Kat, our friend Rory, and I embarked on our culinary quest to Charlie Blood’s, which is located at 147 Frederick St., in Garfield, NJ.  As we pulled up to what I assumed was the front of the building, more on this later, I could feel the blue collar vibe emanating from this establishment.   The yellow brick of the building illuminated by the welcoming glow of the neon beer sign in the window attracted Rory and I like a tween to sparkly vampires.

Upon entering Charlie Blood’s Restaurant we were whisked away to a wondrous world of wood paneling and draught beer, that I lovingly call DiveBaria.  This extraordinary land is a lot like Narnia from the acclaimed novel, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, except that the Wardrobe is a bar, the Lion is food, and instead of a witch there is beer.  Come to think of it, there are really not any similarities between these places, except of course, they are both magical.  Once inside, we grabbed a table adjacent to the bar, ordered a round of drinks, and asked for a few menus.

Inside Charlie Bloods

Inside Charlie Blood’s

While we swigged our first round, we discussed the menu and conversed about the astonishing selection of food that this seemingly unimposing tavern has to offer.   Even though Charlie Blood’s offers a wide variety of Italian American fare, my mind was made up the second I picked up the menu and saw “The Duke’s” face staring back at me.  The Duke is Charlie Blood’s Famous 24oz Ribeye Steak and I felt obligated to my readers to conquer it, especially since it was only $17.95.  Kat opted to attempt to keep her girlish figure, which this blog does not help at all, and ordered the 12oz steak for $11.95, while Rory went with the Seafood platter, which is described as Shrimp, Calamari, Mussels, and Baked Clams for $14.95.  To add to the affordability of this spot, all of our meals came with a house salad and fries as well.

After the hardest part of the evening was over and our food ordered, we took our beverages in hand and drank in all that this restaurant has to offer.  The walls of Charlie Blood’s restaurant are covered from floor to ceiling with local sports memorabilia and hometown heroes.   I am not talking about the kind of crap that is draped all over the walls at your local Applebee’s, that was clearly professionally framed and placed there by a decorator either, I am talking about  the genuine article.  A large poster of this establishment’s namesake, Charlie “Blood” Benanti, hangs in the bar alongside this memorabilia.

Charlie Blood's Logo

Charlie Blood’s Logo

According to the Googles, “Charlie gained his nickname “Charlie Blood” at a young age from his reputation as a street tough fighter during his school days. He began professional boxing at the age of 16 to aid his family in the pre-depression years. Many of his fights were held in Garfield, Jersey City, and Paterson.  He gained the New Jersey Lightweight crown in 1928. With a winning record of 65-5, he retired in 1931. In 1940, Charlie took over a tavern in Garfield from his father-in-law and is now owned and run by his son Sal Benanti, and his family.”

Our salads arrived and I have to say I was impressed by the portion size.  That is not to say that the salads were over sized but they were not overtly petite either.  To paraphrase a famous blond girl who broke into a bears house, it was not too big or too small, but just the right size.  The actual contents of the salad appeared to be fresh and as far as a dinner salad goes, it did its job flawlessly.

The Duke

Charlie Blood’s Famous 24 oz. Ribeye Steak

With my appetite intact and properly primed, I was ready to go round for round with The Duke.  As this 24oz beast of a steak came to our table the theme song from Rocky was playing in my head.  I have never met a steak I could not finish and I was determined to make sure that the Duke was not the first.  So far Charlie Blood’s Restaurant was not disappointing this blue collar foodie, but as the first forkful of steak was slowly approaching my craw, I knew that the moment of truth was upon us.  For, a cheap bill is not the only requirement for a restaurant to be Blue Collar Foodie approved.   But alas Charlie Blood’s Restaurant did not dissatisfy, it was love at first bite.

The Duke

The Duke’s Close-Up

This colossal slab of cow was perfectly cooked, medium rare, and seasoned just enough to enhance the natural flavor of the meat.  This was one of the best steaks I have had in a long time, and I could not believe that I was having it at a place like Charlie Blood’s Restaurant.  Kat and Rory seemed to be enjoying their meals too, considering the conversation that we were having when the food arrived had not only stopped but was only a distant memory.  As I finished my steak, I found myself sopping up the juices with my French fries so I would not waste any of the deliciousness.

Seafood Melody

Seafood Melody

All in all, Charlie Blood’s Restaurant is the perfect two punch combination, it is affordable and the food is terrific.  This is yet another establishment that makes you hear your wise mother’s voice urging you not to judge a book by its cover, in that motherly tone that we all love to hate.  These hyper local Blue Collar foodie havens are difficult to find and get harder and harder as the years drag on.  There is something extremely comforting about Charlie Blood’s, a Cheers’esque’ quality, that is sadly endangered nowadays.

There are a few notes about Charlie Blood’s Restaurant that I wish I knew before we visited that I will now share with you.  This blue collar foodie find, much like many others, only takes cash.  They do have an ATM on site, but if you want to save the fees stop at the bank before you head over.  Furthermore, if you are not into eating at the bar, I have been told that there is a full service restaurant side to Charlie Blood’s Restaurant that I will be checking out on our next visit.  The entrance to the restaurant is apparently around the corner from the door we used to get in.


Overall:                          4 out of 5

Taste:                             4 out of 5

Presentation:                3 out of 5

Value:                             5 out of 5

Charlie Bloods on Urbanspoon

Crepes, Baseball, and Puns Oh MY! The Blue Collar Foodie visits the Field Of Creams Cafe’


I recently caught wind of an establishment called Field of Creams Cafe, located at 550 Ramapo Valley Rd. Mahwah, N.J., inside Continental Soldiers Park, that seemed right up my alley.   Field of Creams Cafe is a converted concession stand in the middle of a park that serves up normal concession fare like burgers, hot dogs, and fries but adds a foodie flare with a full complement of Crepes and something called Bubble Tea, more on this strange little drink later.  Not only did Field of Creams entice me with their crepe selection that includes both the savory and sweet varieties but I am a huge baseball fan that thoroughly enjoys puns, so I was attracted to the name like a hipster to black rimmed eye glasses.  Furthermore, while perusing their website, I noticed that every Tuesday there is a vintage car show that occurs in their parking lot.  Baseball Puns, Crepes, and Classic Cars OH MY, my inner monologue repeated in the classic Wizard of Oz voice as I made arrangements to get my foodie on at the Field of Creams Café on the next available Tuesday.

As Kat and I approach the Field of Creams Café with our dog Lilly, the first non-human guest foodie that has joined us on our food expeditions, I was whisked back to my childhood on the Baseball Field.  Field of Creams Café is quite literally a concession stand, much like the one that I used to buy Big League Chew and sunflower seeds from during my days as a little leaguer.  As Kat and I discussed what to order we realized this was no ordinary concession stand.  Hamburgers for $2.50, Hotdogs for $2.00, Philly Cheesesteaks for $4.00, Baby spinach, chicken & cheese crepe for $6.50, Bubble Tea for $3.00 and Nutella covered French Fries for $4.00 are just some of the highlights of the offerings at this blast from the past.

We approached the counter to order after a lengthy discussion and we were met by a smiling clerk that seemed genuinely happy to assist us, which in this day and age is hard to come by.  We decided to order a small sampling of what Fields of Creams Cafe has to offer and split it knowing full well we had to save room for desert.  We ordered one Cheeseburger for $2.75, one Hot Dog for $2.00, a Chicken & Cheese Crepe with a side of Pesto Sauce for $6.00, and a Banana bubble tea for $3.00.  After ordering they took our name and we took a seat at the nearby Picnic Tables and awaited our order.

The ample seating allowed us to sit down and take in the activities that Continental Soldiers Park has to offer.   A few feet from the Café itself was a rather large, fenced in, play structure perfect for children to build an appetite while their dinner is being prepared.  Across the parking lot in the distance we could see a fully functional skate park for your teenage to blow off some of their built up angst before telling you the Hamburger you are about to eat is murder and chowing down on the Veggie Burger for $2.50, they ordered with a smug look on their face.  Meanwhile, the Fields adjacent to Fields of Creams Café were bustling with the sounds and sights of a soft ball game and a soccer practice and the parking lot was littered with cars that were made of steel and guzzled gas by the barrel.  Before we knew it, the clerk behind the counter was calling my name and handing me my very first bubble tea.


Bubble tea, also known as pearl (milk) tea or boba (milk) tea, is a Taiwanese tea drink that originated from tea shops in Taichung, Taiwan during the 1980s. Bubble tea contains small chewy tapioca balls (fenyuan), commonly called “pearls” (zhenzhu).   Additionally, there does not seem to be people who are in the middle of the road when it comes to Bubble Tea, according to the research I did before ordering it, you either LOVE it or you HATE it.   I took my first sip of bubble tea from the abnormally large straw that is served with this foreign concoction and was surprised by the consistently of the Peals or bubbles.  There is no real way to describe the texture that these tiny treasures bring to the table other than slightly gummy, but that does not really sound appetizing now does it.  Kat and I fall into the LOVE category for this drink, but I do believe that it is a treat as opposed to a drink with a meal.  The Banana flavored juice was excellent and with the addition of the petite flavorful orbs creates quite a fun drink that I will be ordering again in the near future.


After we were done being both mesmerized and confused by the Bubble Tea our food order was ready and Kat retrieved it from the window.  We cut each item in half and allowed the hot dog to bat in the lead off position.  The dog was a standard hot dog, nothing more, nothing less.   Which, when and if you have children you will be pleased to know.   Even though foodies love accompaniments and frills, kids love plain and simple.  The hot dog gets a single in my book, which if you know baseball, ain’t nothing to thumb your nose at.  The Cheeseburger falls into the same category as the hotdog, a simple, straight forward, concession necessity for people that tend to shy away from the out of the ordinary menu items that this foodie loves and seeks out.  The Cheeseburger, gets another single here, meaning there is a man at first and second for the number three hitter, THE SAVORY CREPE.


We went with the Chicken and Cheese Crepe but because Kat is not a huge fan of Spinach, we added tomato instead.  This crepe was a very respectable portion considering what we paid and it was chock full of chicken, cheese and tomato.  We tried this crepe without the assistance of the Pesto sauce first and we felt that it was worthy of praise but was missing something.  We then dipped the crepe into the side of Pesto sauce and we watched the Chicken Crepe hit a solid triple off the wall.  The fresh made Pesto sauce sent this crepe into a League of its Own, and in both of our opinions completed the dish.

After the Savory Crepe hit a triple I was very excited about partaking in the desert offerings that Field of Creams is really known for.  Considering that ever since I came back from France I crave Banana Nutella Crepes like a dog craves peanut butter, I ordered one of those and Kat ordered a cone full of, the almost impossible to find, Hershey’s Birthday Cake Ice Cream.  The Hershey’s Ice Cream cone delivered a pretty solid double, due to the large amount of ice cream crammed inside and the overall quality of the Ice Cream itself.  I had never tried Hershey’s Ice Cream before so I was not sure where it would fit in the ever-growing list of Ice Cream makers.  I was very impressed by this Ice Cream, it was bursting with birthday cake pieces and the actual ice cream was very creamy and packed with flavor.

Next up at the plate was the Banana Nutella crepe.  As stated before, Kat and I went to France last year and fell in love with Crepes, especially the ones of the sweet persuasion.  With that said, I am quite particular about my crepes now and tend to be a rather harsh judge when they don’t come through in the clutch.  Field of Creams Café’s Banana Nutella Crepe got up in the bottom of the 9th with two outs in a tied ball game and crushed the first pitch out the park for the walk off win.  This sweet crepe brought me and Kat back to the streets of Paris bite after bite as we ate this amazingly decadent desert.  This crepe not only tasted incredible but also looked absolutely scrumptious, from the dollop of whipped cream to the drizzle of Nutella on top.  When we were finished there was not a dollop of Nutella left on the plate as we fought over the last bite.

In summation Field of Creams Café is not your everyday concession stand, although they do serve up some of the standards, like burgers, dogs, and chicken nuggets, for the less adventurous eaters in your clan. I suggest that if you have finicky friends or children let them stick to the conventional menu items while you unleash the foodie in you when ordering your food.  Some people might not enjoy the fact that there is no indoor seating but I for one think that this aspect only adds to the charm, and I was able to bring my pooch with me, which I always enjoy.  I also love their motto, which is a play off the quote from the movie Field Of Dreams, “If you serve it, they will come.”  As for the park atmosphere, you can’t ask for much more if you have a family, a park for the kids, a skate park for the teens, and classic cars for the parents, all for free I might add.  As a reminder, Field of Creams Cafe’ is a cash only establishment.   Furthermore, Continental Soldiers Park is about a mile from Lily’s favorite hiking spot, Ramapo Reservation, so we decided to walk off some of the desert we just ate which was the perfect ending to a wonderful night.




Overall:                         3.5 out of 5

Taste:                           4 out of 5

Presentation:               3 out of 5

Value:                           4 out of 5

Hours:  7 Days a week 12PM-8PM