Every year it’s been a small tradition of mine to surprise Chris with a date - where we go out to eat and see a show. It all started when I surprised him with tickets to see Madeleine Peyroux, a Jazz singer in Morristown. And last year I surprised him with dinner in Montclair and a comedy show with John Mulaney.

This year, I decided to do something different and surprise Chris with a trip to nearby Madison, New Jersey for an afternoon showing of Richard III, one of our favorite Shakespeare plays.

Madison is only about a 15 minute drive from our home, so it was the perfect distance for us to drive in for lunch, see the play, and enjoy cappuccinos in town afterward.

I began my hunt for the perfect spot to eat, as I always do - by looking for the highest recommended restaurants on Yelp. We also like to try new things - our past two surprise dates we had Afghan food, and Cuban food, so I was hoping to find something new and exciting. One of the first restaurants that popped up on Yelp was Slamwich Scratch Kitchen and with nearly a five star review and a unique dining premise - I knew we had to go!

As soon as we pulled up on Main Street and stepped out of the car, we could smell the aroma of smoky bbq. The last time I smelled bbq like this was in Dallas, and New Jersey isn’t exactly known for their award winning bbq.

When we entered in we were helped almost right away and their simple menu made it easy to order. Chris got the BLT: “Crispy Pork Belly topped with Tomato Chutney, Arugula and our Smoked Mayo.” And I got the BBQ Brisket: “Smoked Beef Brisket topped with Havarti cheese and Sweet Potato crispies.”

We found a seat near the window, and in a few minutes they brought our food out to us. It’s as amazing as it looks! And for just about $25 total for lunch - it was the perfect lunch date without spending too much.

The lunches both came with house-made chips and pickles - also AMAZING!

Since the play didn’t begin until 2:00, we headed over to the Drew University campus, the home of the Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, to walk around and enjoy the perfect fall weather. And I managed to bug Chris to take a few pics of me as well!

Outfit Details

Trench Coat: Guess (similar)

Tunic: Namu (local shop)

Cardigan: H&M (similar)

Blanket Scarf: Rampage

Leggings: Victoria Secret

Ankle Boots: Louise Est Cie (similar)

Bag: DKNY (similar)

Necklace: Namu (local shop)

Lipstick: Milani #17 Plumrose

The play was about two and half hours and we loved every minute. Derek Wilson who played Richard was perfect as he hobbled around the stage and wove comedic elements into this Shakespearean tragedy. The play is still running for one more week and I was even able to get discount tickets for myself since I’m under 30.

After the show we headed back into town to enjoy coffee at Drip. I almost always order a cappuccino and Chris got a Pumpkin Spice Latte. We had been there before for a few coffee dates and they never fail to impress. While we loved the cappuccinos on our recent trip to Italy - Drip comes pretty close!

Surprising Chris is one of those fun things that I look forward to every year. Since we don’t go out to eat often and hardly ever go to the movies - spending a little bit more to see an amazing show or concert that we’ll remember for the rest of our lives is so worth it! Some of our favorite memories have come from these surprises. I can’t wait to figure out what to do next year!

Are there any fun traditions that you do with your family? How about surprises? Do you like planning them as much as I do?

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