Place: Hard Grove Cafe
Neighborhood: Downtown Jersey City, 319 Grove St.
The scoop: We visited Hard Grove Cafe on a rainy Sunday when we were looking to get a quick bite. The restaurant is located in the heart of Jersey City, just a few steps from the Grove St. PATH station. With random music — everything from Latin pop to Monica’s “Angel of Mine” — playing in the background, you get the feeling Hard Grove strives for a Cuban vibe you’d find in Miami. Hard Grove separates the bar from the dining area with white sheer curtains, which I liked. It was pretty crowded when we arrived, but they had enough tables to accommodate all the parties present. We were seated in a booth in which the cushion was ripped. I was wearing shorts and had to switch seats with David because the ripped material was digging into my skin. They have available seating outside the restaurant, but no one sitting there because of the gloomy weather. One of the things I thought was strange was that there was no salt and pepper on the tables. Service was very average — after we finished eating, the server just handed us the check without asking if we wanted to order anything else.
Bottoms up: We went to Hard Grove thinking they had $15 bottomless mimosas, bloody Marys and bellinis , as they state on their website, but we were disappointed to find out they got rid of that deal.
Strawberry and pear mimosa $6
I opted for the strawberry and pear mimosa. I’m not sure why this was called a mimosa because it contained no orange juice. It was more like a bellini — champagne with some kind of strawberry syrup. They should really use fruit purée. I didn’t taste any hints of pear.
Havana Blast $4.50 / Banana and coconut
The Havana Blast was advertised as a banana and coconut shake. To my surprise, it was a coffee-based drink. The coffee overpowered the banana and coconut flavors. The menu said nothing about coffee. I even asked the server about the shake before I ordered it, and she didn’t mention it contained coffee! I’m not a big coffee fan, so needless to say, I wasn’t crazy about the shake.
Chew on this:
Miami Heat omelette $9 / Three country fresh eggs with Spanish chorizo sausage, sweet plantains and cheddar. Served with paprika home fries or fruit and toast or English muffin
The first thing I noticed about the Miami Heat omelette was the shape of it. The omelette was in a disc shape and was overcooked. I did enjoy the fillings, especially the sweet plantains. It really added something to the omelette. These days it’s strange when restaurants don’t serve whole wheat toast. Unfortunately, Hard Grove is one of those restaurants. The potatoes were probably the worst part of the meal. They were super cold, and only one of the potatoes, literally, had paprika spices. I could tell by the color of it. They should just call the potatoes home fries instead of paprika home fries, because that name is deceiving.
El Grande breakfast $10 / Three country fresh farm eggs with two buttermilk pancakes, four pieces of smoked bacon and one country savory thick sausage. Served with paprika home fries or fruit and toast or English muffin
As you can tell, I had quite an appetite during brunch. I asked for scrambled eggs but got overeasy, which was disappointing. I did enjoy the bacon and sausage and thought both were cooked well. The pancakes were flat and not fluffy at all. Although I got a lot of food, I was left wanting more. The quality of food didn’t match the quantity.
The final bite: Although the menu was pretty expansive, there was nothing special about the food, drinks or service at Hard Grove Cafe. Overall, brunch was a lackluster experience.
Reviewed by: Stephanie