This is the first edition of my Game Day Grub series in which I will review a good spot for food pre or post game for parents and players alike. As you will recognize after reading this article and following this series, I consider myself a budding foodie. I got a late start in the grubbing game, but I pretty much plan out my daily meals at this point in my life. As Virginia Woolf once said, “One cannot Think Well, Love Well, Sleep Well, If One Has Not Dined Well.”
This series will simply inform you of some quality places to eat, including recommended pre and post game menu items for your little athletes. Game day nutrition is critical to your child’s energy level, and it is something I discuss with my teams consistently throughout the season. I will try and give you some insight on the amount of time the meal will take (because I understand the life of soccer parent is rushed) and what age and party size (for the post game caravans) the restaurant can handle. Don’t get me wrong, diners are great, and generally they can satisfy the needs for all, but there are better options out there and that is the purpose of these articles. If you have any good recommendations in your home town, please follow up my articles with your suggestions.
- Game Location: Volunteer Park, 2221 Stanley Terrace, Union, NJ 07083
- Eatery: Van Gogh’s Ear Cafe. 1017 Stuyvesant Ave, Union, NJ (1.6 miles or approximately 7 minutes from the field)
- Parking: Street Parking (2 hours) on Stuyvesant or a small parking lot off of Rt. 82 that provides a back entrance to the cafe
- Type of Food: American Cafe – Salads, Sandwiches, Gourmet Pizzas
- Weekend Hours: Saturday 11:30AM-1AM, Sunday 6PM-12AM
- Price Range: $10-$15 Per Head
- Kids Menu: No
- Standout Items on the Menu: Buffalo Chicken Meatballs, Black& Blue Pizza, Focaccia Pizza Salad
I like to start out on a good note, and the atmosphere is really cool. Unexpected and eclectic, it is full of different types of tables, chairs, even sofas to sit in and chat with friends over a cup of coffee. I didn’t have the coffee myself, because 2 cups in a day throws me off the walls, but they were well manicured and in the hands of nearly every patron. The “chocolatina” which was a dark chocolate expresso sounded official and would have been my choice. However the “Flying Fox” is their recommended drink of choice which is a fresh spin on a latte.
The food menu was nice, a lot of fresh options for your soccer player with the turkey brie and apple sandwich or honey mustard chicken wrap sounding like good game day options. I had the turkey special, which came with avocado, orange marmalade, mayo, and romaine. My choice of side was the sriracha slaw, but it lacked the spicy bite I was looking for to complement my sweet sandwich. The marmalade was really freaking good, house made and lots of flavor, but it over-powered my sandwich. It was one of the sweetest sandwiches I ever ate and I like sweet, so I warned you. The bread was good though (which can make or break a sandwich), and it came out fast (after 10 minutes of waiting to order), which is good for anyone with not a lot of time before a game.
This is a Post-Game place though with the ability to cater to bigger groups if needed. For the kids, or more fun adults, they have board games (Battleship, Guess Who, and my personal favorite Stratego) to keep you occupied. They do have live music so you need to check out http://www.vangoghsearcafe.com/ to make sure you don’t get caught with a cover charge, but this is a solid place with good healthy options for game day recovery grub.