There’s nothing better than a serendipitous find. Though I suppose Riverside Inn is less something that we stumbled upon than one in a group of confusing recommendations from some Jersey dudes at an appliance showroom. I believe the request was, “Where can we go ’round here for a casual burger and beer?” They gave us some options, and we chose well.
It didn’t hurt that it was an absolutely perfect early fall day. We sat out back in what I can only call a hippie shanty patio. So named because of the preponderance of Grateful Dead bears and the ramshackle nature of the tent setup that wouldn’t be out of place in a Berkley homeless young person’s encampment. Or maybe it’s just because “Sugar Magnolia” or maybe “Casey Jones” was playing when we rolled up. Or maybe it was “Uncle John’s Band?” I don’t know. Point is, it was beautiful out, I had a decent beer on front of me, and even I could get into Jerry if the mood is just this chill.
Now, everywhere you look online, they classify this joint as a dive bar. And I suppose it’s not completely off-base if you consider the hodge-podge of frat basement decor inside the well-worn bar interior, but it’s certainly not your seedy type of dive. It’s more of a down-to-earth neighborhood watering hole. Like a much more irreverent Tierney’s mashed-up with a college bar. They serve a decent old-school tavern burger, cooked just like you want it. Along with crispy fries and a pickle. It was exactly what we wanted. They have some more, uh, gourmet items on their menu, including sandwiches and a smattering of fried fish, too. If you like ordering sea creatures in a town many, many miles from the shore.
The dudes who run the place were very friendly and accommodating. Which, as non-locals, was actually an important thing. You never know what kind of surly jerks you’ll run into in a “dive” bar. But, no, the whole experience was incredibly pleasant and really hit the spot. It’s not as though we often find ourselves in random NJ towns like Cranford — though Hipster Jr. Jr.’s soccer does bring us to various burbs in NY and NJ pretty regularly — but I would certainly make a repeat visit if I was in the mood to slum it for an afternoon in the sun.