Good news: I decided to give the place a try last night!
Bad news: I had steak the 3 previous nights, I wasn’t up to it again.
Overall impression, I like the place. I really like the space, the bartender told us they are going to be closing for a bit while they complete their roof top bar & dining area. That will be a BIG hit.
On to the details. For food my wife and I shared the Lobster Fagioli soup, Mussels in a saffron cream sauce (special) and the Fish and Chips.
Lobster Fagioli: this was the only “disappointment” of the night, while the soup was actually very good, this is a case of too much creative interpretation in a dish. When I hear Fagioli I’m expecting a bean and pasta soup, this was more a vegetable soup than a Fagioli. There was no pasta, however there is no pasta in the name and there was adequate lobster, but there was squash, eggplant and other vegetables that I have never had in a Fagioli soup. There was equal parts “other” veggies as there was beans, again the soup was very good just not what I was expecting.
Mussels in Saffron Cream Sauce: This turned into the surprise favorite. The reason why I said surprise is because they are really defeating themselves in serving this in a deep narrow bowl. This should be served in a shallow bowl, where the mussels can all bathe in the delicious sauce. Unfortunately the bowl they served it in has the mussels piled high, with the top half of the portion sparsely containing any sauce, so it was very hard to taste the flavor. It initially tasted like it was just boiled mussels. We were very disappointed but once we got about half way through the order and we could actually dip the mussels in the sauce, WOW. It was delicious! Excellent dish, poor plating.
Fish and Chips: This is the second time we’ve ordered this and received a whole fish filet battered and fried. I guess this is the new method instead of “fish sticks” as I’m familiar and accustomed to. The fish was fresh, and the batter was very good, crisp not too oily and overall very good. The chips were “smashed” fried fingerling potatoes tossed in old bay. (ehhh neutral on them) It’s served with the tarter sauce already applied to the top of the fish, that’s fine but they should put some on the side. You can’t equally distribute it to each bite on a large piece of fish like that. Overall very good.
Few additional observations:
The dining room is very nice with big roll up doors/windows that over look the water. Bright and airy a very nice space. Whoever put the one picture of the oars on the wall on their website is doing the place a HUGE disservice. I really, really, really like the space.
We sat at the main bar, in the dining room, there is a small bar when you enter. They had a bartender and bar back, the bartender and service overall was very good. I watched as the bar back was preparing “set ups” for the patrons at the bar (fork, knife, napkin, spoon, plate etc.) As he was setting up a napkin and plate he had it sitting on the edge of the bar, it tipped over back onto the work space he took them from. Literally a 1 foot drop, back onto the original space he took them from. Once they “fell” he took them and put them in a bus pan as “soiled”. As an owner that would piss me off they were clean, as a customer I appreciate the thought that goes into that. Very conscientious move by a bar back.
I watched the managers actively serving drinks, clearing tables and supporting the staff. I appreciate that. Apparently there is only one cash draw at the two POS stations at the bar. The manager who took our check had to wait a few minutes to cash us out, literally maybe a 5 min. wait, when she dropped our change off she apologized for the delay.
When leaving you pass the open kitchen as we walked by 2 or 3 of the kitchen workers said; “Good night, thank you” etc. Unprompted and these weren’t the Chef’s/cooks, these were the “workers”. Again a very conscientious move by kitchen staff.
I ordered a Stoli martini when we arrived, I was told they don’t carry stoli and was offered their other vodka selections. About half way through our meal I noticed a bottle of stoli sitting in the speed rack. At one point when the bartender was using the POS terminal in front of us I called her attention to it in a joking manner, she looked and responded: “I don’t know what that is doing there, we don’t carry stoli”. lol Well I guess that makes two of us.
When we walked in there was no hostess or manager or anyone to greet us. Especially being our first visit and unsure as to what the set up was, where the dining room, other bar etc. it would have been nice to have someone there to greet you. As noted above, the managers/hostesses etc. are very active on the dining room floor, although one should always be stationed up front. (in my opinion)
Parking, well it’s Red Bank enough said.
All in all I will definitely be back. It was a Wednesday night we arrived around 6:15 and by 7:30 the time we were leaving the dining room was mostly full as was the bar. Once they open the roof top I can see this place quickly becoming one of the “trendy” places in Red Bank, and sadly I anticipate that will also be it’s demise. I hope I’m wrong but only time will tell. Until then I encourage you to give this place a try before I suspect it will become a victim of it’s own success.
(ETA I just went back to their web site and realize you can scroll through pictures, so there are some other pics of the dining room etc. my bad)