Update: According to Baristanet, Mei’s Cafe will be merging with Sushi Hana at 5 North Fullerton Avenue. It’s great that they have found a way to stay in business, but it’s very sad to lose the wonderful space. Thankfully, the bubble tea and Mei’s wonderful food will still be served.
Mei’s Cafe lets you feel like you’ve found an obscure, excellent place that’s hidden away and is still undiscovered. It has concrete floors, a lounging area, low-key decor, and lots of space, both horizontally and vertically. It’s cool. And then you find out that everyone you know has also found it and loves it.
The first time I took my family (because in my world obscure and excellent mean you can bring toddlers without feeling like a jackass*), I thought I was all edgy and whatnot for “discovering” this funky place.** Then, before we even got in the door, my husband said, “Hey, someone’s waving to you from inside.” Sure enough, a mom with whom I’d had a few playground dates was sitting with her two toddler family in the window. Hmph. There goes my chance to show off my hipness. And darn it! They got the best seat!
Still, we were the only two groups in the place, so perhaps I could salvage my discovery of obscure places cred. Nope. Within twenty minutes, three more groups came in (all but one toting children) and made themselves comfortable. Oh dear. Another vain attempt at breaking in to the edgy side of life.
Luckily, Mei’s Cafe allowed me to at least revel in bringing both my husband and my kids to a place that satisfied his gourmet needs while keeping the youngsters happy and entertained. Between the dumplings, satay, Vietnamese bread (we got the plain, but our friends got the stuffed – both delicious), and my amazing Tango Red Snapper (which I highly recommend), we were very happy.
Besides the interesting decor that kept the kids’ interest in a walk-about through the restaurant, there were comfy chairs with convenient coffee tables, and two shelves filled with books for various ages. The staff was also very friendly and patient, and while it seemed like the sudden appearance of about twenty customers in less than ten minutes shocked them, they handled all of us beautifully.
My one complaint was that the elaborate set-up for the tea was a let down when I saw that the tea bag had a Lipton tag. Mei’s Cafe had set the bar high for new experiences. I don’t know what I was expecting – Bigelow?
I’m looking forward to returning and trying the vegetable pad thai and the satay. And when the hot weather hits, you know I’ll be in line for a bubble tea. Mmmmm.
Mei’s Cafe – 183 Glenridge Avenue – Montclair, NJ 973 744 0068
*I should say that we went for a weekend lunch, so it’s entirely possible that the ambience and clientele change dramatically after dusk sets in. Feel free to enlighten in the comments.
**It’s all a self-ruse, really, because I was reminded to try this place out when I saw this wonderful post about it by Bernadette Baum on Baristanet. Not so obscure, right?