Jersey Restaurants: INC in New Brunswick, NJ

You’d think it would be easy to get a good whiskey sour in any decent restaurant. After all, it’s a pretty simple and very classic drink, right? Well, I’ve had more watery sours in the last year than I can count, from Chicago to New York and several places in between including several in New Jersey.

But last Friday at INC in New Brunswick, NJ, I was not disappointed. And my sour was not watery. It was delicious, appropriately cloudy, with the bourbon hitting you on the front end and the lemon on the back, all covered with a lovely egg-white froth laced with bitters. Just superb.

And that was the start of an evening that was outstanding.

We began with three apps: crispy bacon dumplings with Tamarind sweet and sour sauce; Vietnamese steamed buns with pork belly, carrot, pickled radish, hoisin sauce and cilantro; and tiny, bit-sized biscuits and gravy. All were exceptionally scrumptious, served promptly at the perfect temperature.

Main courses were equally wonderful—Laura had wheat-beer braised short ribs, tender and falling apart, with a delicious mix of spaetzle and charred sauerkraut. I had hickory-smoked pork tacos, four house-made flour tortillas generously stuffed with smoked pork shoulder, spicy mayo, pickled carrot, cucumber slaw, cilantro, and a hint of mint. After a couple of the whiskey sours each—hey, we Ubered it—and no clear choice of bottle, we ordered wines by the glass from a rather tiny but decent list, and the off-dry Riesling I had worked perfectly with the spiciness of the pork. Laura’s Merlot was a fine if not spectacular match with her short ribs. Anyway, this is a whiskey/whisky place, through and through, with dozens of Bourbons, a surprising number of Ryes, Irish, and of course Scotches. Selections averaged about $13, included my favorite, Michters Bourbon, and were crowned by Balvenie Double Wood 17 yr. at $38.

We concluded with a delicious and not-too-sweet apple pie/tart accompanied by Bourbon-flavored ice cream. Apropos, right?

Service was almost exceptional, except for a long wait for a first glass of wine, and which I attribute to the tag-team concept they employ here, which can be a little troublesome but generally worked out just fine on a crowded but not packed Friday night. The space itself, naturally enough a former wine bar, is dark, lovely and modern without being austere.

We’re making the rounds in New Brunswick, but I have to say I think we’re going back to INC as soon as possible. You should, too.