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  • Writer's pictureJohn Boccellari



Some may be confused with the current name of this establishment that I am currently writing about, but Center Tavern in Westwood, NJ (formerly Bat Barry's and currently being referred to as Bat Barry's Center Tavern) was not what I had heard it to be by any means. Originally I aimed to give more history about Center Tavern, but all I found was just as much confusion around the restaurant's ownership as there was in the name. So I will just go ahead and give you my honest opinion on how I felt about Bat Bar...I mean Center Tavern.

This was my first time ever walking into Center Tavern. Even when it was Bat Barry's, I had always wanted to visit them and try it out but never did. This uncertainty I had felt came from friends and family telling me some bad things about the place such as inconsistency and bad service. I have always wanted to give the place a shot though. I am not sure why I felt it drawing to me, maybe it was the design of the exterior because I do find the front of the building appealing. Maybe the reason was that I just wanted to validate everything that I had heard about Center Tavern. I walked in and I was delighted to see a beautiful bar and dining room. Center Tavern looked very clean and appeared to be well maintained. As I sat at the bar, their friendly bartender greeted me right away. I wish the bartender had given me her name so that I could give a shout out. She did explain to the confusion about the name of the restaurant a little to me though. They are currently in the middle of the name change and are being held up because they did not get the new sign for the front of the building yet. So in the meantime, they are referring to the restaurant as Bat Barry's Center Tavern. Okay, enough about the name of the restaurant. On to the drinks. I am not one to usually order a Moscow Mule or even the Caribbean Moscow Mule that I had, but there was cocktail menu right in my line of sight that displayed different varieties of the Moscow Mule. This menu made me want to try it, so I did. It was delicious. This was a great start to my experience.

I ordered the Mussels Fra Diavolo appetizer. I do apologize for the slight blur in the photo. For some reason, it was very hard to get a clear picture of this dish. I do have to say that I did enjoy the Mussels very much. The Mussels tasted fresh, the sauce was garlicky, spicy and had a great balance with the tomato. However, I was surprised that they did not serve bread with this dish. It was not until I had finished eating the Mussels that my bartender asked if I wanted some bread for the sauce. Of course I said yes, but I would have preferred the bread to come out with the Mussels.

I love Roast Beef, especially when its cooked to a perfect rare like it was today. I saw the Roast Beef French Dip on the menu and I made a quick decision to order it. At this point I would like to make it known that whenever I order a Roast Beef French Dip, I always compare it to the French Dip that is served at The Crow's Nest in Hackensack. I have never brought up another restaurant during a review and I will work hard to never do so again. This review is all about Center Tavern. But when it comes to a Roast Beef French Dip, Crow's Nest is where I set the bar. I can't help it, it's like a reflex to me. When I go there, I find that my mouth waters as I wait for the sandwich to come to the table. The Roast Beef French Dip Center Tavern is almost as good as the Crow's Nest version. There is only one reason the Center Tavern sandwich does not match the Crow's Nest version, the Roast Beef in the sandwich is served cold. In the Crow's Nest version of the sandwich, the Roast Beef is served hot and perfectly cooked. That's it. That is the only reason in my head that The Center Tavern's sandwich is not a "10". When the Roast Beef is hot and thinly sliced, it feels like it is melting in your mouth with each bite. The cold Roast Beef does not do that. But please don't get me wrong, the French Dip was delicious.

After all of the negative feedback I have received from my friends and family, I find myself happy to tell them all that they were wrong about Center Tavern. They provided with with a great afternoon experience and I hope that anyone who reads this review will give them a shot. I look forward to going there again, but next time with my wife and daughter.

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