We write a lot about food and restaurants here. But there is one restaurant that is so uniquely New Jersey that one could almost say you’re not a New Jerseyan until you have been here.

Yes it’s fancy-schmancy but I believe it’s also a rite of passage to visit here at least once if you really truly want to experience the best of New Jersey.

Rat's, located in Hamilton, is situated on acres of magnificently landscaped property called The Grounds for Sculpture, which was founded by Seward Johnson (yes, those Johnsons). It is one of the most interesting yet delicious restaurants I have ever been to, and before you ask, no it is not “rat” themed. It is actually named after Rat, one of the major characters from Kenneth Grahame’s "Wind in the Willows."

Rat’s is located on beautiful acres of land that were transformed into sculpture gardens. As you enter the restaurant, you are immediately transported into a mystical village scenario, and there are a number of paths which allow you to explore the sculptures. The not-for-profit-maintained Grounds for Sculpture is ticket entry only, even if you are dining at the restaurant.

The restaurant is conveniently close to the train station as well, making it a desirable place to catch up with friends from the city, or even have more of an adventurous dinner night. This also gives you the chance to make a day out of your meal and explore the area with friends or family. Because they offer lunch and dinner you are able to spend the entire day there.

In terms of the menu, Rat’s is a French-based restaurant and offers a wide variety of items. Some of most raved about menu items like the charcuterie board, grilled branzino and profiteroles really need to be experienced to be believed. This menu truly transforms you to France, and the comfortable seating will make you never want to leave.

They even offer event planning so if you love the restaurant enough your next family party can be there.

The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Judi Franco. Any opinions expressed are Judi's own.

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