Continental Food, Cold Brews, and Skinny Martinis
By Sally Deering
Carpe Diem’s dining room features comfy chairs with a real working fireplace
On Hoboken’s west side right around 14th Street, the neighborhood continues to reinvent itself from industrial no man’s land to a thriving residential neighborhood with apartment complexes, daycares, dry cleaners, even a big chain supermarket. Still, it wouldn’t be a real Jersey neighborhood without a local pub where the food is tasty, the beer flows cold from the tap, and you can belly up to the bar to share a pint with your neighbor.
Carpe Diem on 14th & Grand is in the hub of Hoboken’s 14th street west side neighborhood, a corner pub with a plain exterior that hides a really nice wood-lined bar with a dining room that has a fireplace and a cozy upstairs pub room for private parties. Carpe Diem serves craft beers and a cuisine co-owner Joe Jones describes as “continental comfort food”.
The bistro opened in July 2006, an “American Dream” for owners Jones and Billy O’Hara, two cousins who went into business together here in the states after growing up in Limerick, Ireland. O’Hara came to the U.S. first and inspired Jones to join him. .
“Each time Billy came back to Ireland to visit, he would tell me ‘I think the states would be good for you’,” Jones says. “I got a Green Card in the lottery system. I was here for three months and loved it.”
After planting roots here, Jones teamed up with O’Hara and the two cousins opened Carpe Diem.
If you’re grabbing a bite at the bar or in the cozy dining room with the fireplace, Carpe Diem’s continental cuisine reconstructs comfort foods and ramps them up a notch. For starters, you might try the Pasties which are seasoned Angus beef and potatoes stuffed in a braided puff pastry ($9); or the Southwestern Chicken Rolls with chipotle dip; Spicy Steak Bits tossed in a sweet soy sauce with jalapeno peppers; and the Coconut Shrimp with sweet chili sauce ($9-$14).
Soups include Hearty Chicken; and a Mushroom soup ($7); and for salads there are several choices including the Goat Cheese & Pear salad with mixed greens, walnuts, raisins, dried cherries, cranberries, brie cheese and carrots ($13).
Burgers & Sandwiches include Mini Burgers, you get four; Pulled Pork; Grilled Steak; and a Veggie Mash ($10-$14). Main Dishes include Fish & Chips; Shepherd’s Pie; NY Strip; Braised Short Ribs; and a Veggie Risotto ($14-$27).
On Tues, March 17 – St. Patrick’s Day – Carpe Diem will be serving a traditional Irish menu, so you can be sure there’ll be plenty of corned beef on hand. On a recent Monday, Corned Beef Egg Rolls, and Shepherd’s Pie Cake were offered as specials.
The menu also features a section of craft and name-brand beers on tap and bottled, and a list of sexy cocktails like the Skinny Margarita with agave nectar, orange, cucumber and mint; the Blue Jersey cocktail with muddled blueberries and lemons and blueberry vodka; and the Gatsby Seven with Tanqueray gin, apple juice and apple brandy.
There’s an extensive beer and wine list, too, and if you’re not sure what to drink with the Shepherd’s Pie or NY Strip you ordered, there’s a suggested pairing of either wine or beer right next to the dish’s listing on the menu.
“Those are just beer or wine suggestions,” Jones says. “I’m not a beer or wine guru, but sometimes people look for suggestions.”
Carpe Diem has a really nice upstairs room for private parties with bar and tables & chairs that line the walls, giving lots of room for dancing and mingling. And with spring just days away, outdoor dining soon resumes with tables and chairs all along the sidewalk.
A popular pub & restaurant, Carpe Diem, which means “seize the day” in Latin, was a term made popular from its use in the Matt Damon & Ben Affleck film DEAD POET’S SOCIETY.
“The name has nothing to do with the movie,” Jones says, clarifying the misconception “We just liked the name. If you look at the walls, they’re covered with pictures of people from all walks of life that we believe have seized the day in their lifetime.”
Yes, Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong is on the wall, along with Marilyn Monroe, Amelia Earhart and countless more. The owners posted this explanation on Carpe Diem’s website: “Carpe Diem Pub & Restaurant celebrates life and those bold enough to live it to the fullest. The phrase, roughly translated as ‘seizing the day’, means eating, drinking and making merry for tomorrow.”
If you go:
Carpe Diem Pub & Restaurant
1405 Grand St, Hoboken
(201) 792-0050; www.carpediemhoboken.com
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 4 pm-2 am; Fri 4 pm-3 am; Sat 11 am-3 am; and Sun 11 am – 2 am
Brunch: Sat, Sun, 11 am to 3 pm; Tues, Mar. 17, St. Patrick’s Day: 11 am – 2 am