Barnacle Bill's (Rumson, NJ)


(Greg Caggiano) #1

I’ve seen Barnacle Bill’s mentioned in several threads, but as I just ate there last night, wanted to share my review and prompt others to do the same.


bb2

It is always a good start when your Mai Tai comes in a pint glass. When space is not being taken up by half an orange and there is no freakin’ umbrella. You can tell a lot about a restaurant by how they treat their cocktails. Are they giving you what is right, or trying to pull the old-fashioned screw? Well, maybe it was because I had not eaten all day before I ended up at Barnacle Bill’s, but I got buzzed off their Mai Tai. That says a lot. The rest of the experience following the drink was sheer excellence. It was such an outstanding night out that it even made me question my rule of not giving a 5-star rating to a restaurant based on a single visit. I almost did it here.

Barnacle Bill’s in Rumson came highly recommended to me by several people. Some mentioned the seafood, of course, and others their signature 10 oz burger. But I’ll be damned if I am going to review a restaurant a mere 50 feet from the water based on a cheeseburger. The menu is not a large one, but a separate listing of specials brings the amount of choices you have over the top. There is every kind of seafood you can imagine, including an odd yet intriguing Boston Scrod done with ginger, onion, and scallions—a combination I had never thought of before.

bb3

We started out with the fried zucchini for an appetizer, though the baked clams sounded good and a few orders passed our table looking delicious. Anyway, this was unlike any such fried zucchini I’ve ever had. Most places give tiny strips that are heavy on breading and low on vegetable. Here that was not the case. These were thick slices of fresh zucchini that had a minuscule coating on them. They were plump, crispy, snappy, and not greasy at all. It was when my mom and I had finished the basket that I realized use of my napkin was unnecessary.

bb4

My entrée was the baked seafood combo, which included stuffed flounder, four juicy sea scallops, and four shrimp wrapped in bacon. It came served with a choice of potato (or rice). I went with baked, and that came with butter and sour cream on the side. There was also a container of homemade tartar sauce. Every item on the plate was beyond incredible. The shrimp were cooked perfectly and the bacon surrounding it was crispy. The flounder was flaky. The scallops were fall-apart tender as I cut into them. There was nothing I would change. This rivaled combos I’ve had up and down the east coast, including my beloved Ocean City, Maryland.

bb5

Our server was Lee who was extremely pleasant and accurate in describing my mom’s dish, when she asked what the Scallops Portofino was. As advertised, these were a couple dozen bay scallops served over linguine in a light cream sauce with sliced mushrooms. I stole a few fork-fulls. I could see myself ordering this (or the Fra Diavolo version) in the future, but the combo was just too damn good. I might just stick with that. Both were priced at $21.95. The portion sizes were adequate, and I feel the pricing was more than fair considering the riverside Rumson location Barnacle Bill’s inhabits.

bb6

As if that was not enough food, we got dessert. I went along with my mom’s selection of a shareable Tollhouse Pie slice, served warm with a scoop of ice cream. We substituted their homemade special chocolate chip cookie ice cream in place of vanilla. There was no added charge for the switch. This was a delectable way to end this meal prior to savoring the last few sips of my second Mai Tai.

While typing this review, I cannot find a single item to complain about. There is literally not one thing I would change or do differently in any way. Every category up for criticism in a review was nailed to perfection. I also have to mention the atmosphere and highly appropriate nautical theme. We were there on a Monday. The place was rocking—perhaps only an empty table or two, and a full bar. This makes sense considering the quality of food and drinks. I trusted them with a Mai Tai, which has become the quintessential drink for restaurants to screw around with by adding copious amounts of fruit juice to a splash of rum. Maybe next time I would consider trying their LIT because after browsing Instagram, it seems to be a house special.

Barnacle Bill’s gets a 4.5 out of 5 stars from me, but only because I don’t like giving 5 stars based on a single visit. If my next one is anywhere near what this one was, the score will climb and join a very limited group of New Jersey restaurants. I cannot wait to go back.

Review taken from my blog, here.


#2

Jeez Greg…way to let the cat out of the bag! I’m kidding. At this point barnacles isn’t a secret. I’ve been going there since I was a kid and the decor hasn’t changed a bit. I miss the peanuts. They used to have free peanuts and the floor was covered in shells. Those were the days.

I’ve honestly been here hundreds and hundreds of times. In fact, I have been here more times than any other restaurant.

I’m glad you enjoyed it and I’m wondering what took you so long? I know you eat out a lot.


(Junior) #3

Very nicely done and welcome to one of our local favs! Glad it didn’t disappoint and I look forward to seeing that 5 star review!! I went there 2 Sunday’s ago when the weather was beautiful, wait was about an hour so I went into Red Bank instead.


(Greg Caggiano) #4

I’ve heard people talk about it for so long, and alas, I am a creature of habit. That’s a bad habit to have as a food blogger. I’ve been guilty of not trying more new places like I did when I first started the blog. So I had to go here. Next on the list (hopefully soon) is Drew’s, and was hoping Russell and Bette’s after the nuclear fallout clears away from that other thread.


#5

From the other night…


(Greg Caggiano) #6

Looks delicious. The zucchini really was awesome.


#7

I’m a creature of habit too. My habit has become barnacle bills cheeseburgers for a few decades lol.

If you go to drews, be prepared to gain weight, have a dwindling bank account, and a big smile on your face from here on forward. You will be going back again and again.


(Mr met) #8

Try the salad with the house dressing with egg. I throw a touch of sea salt from the shaker on it and it’s part of my usual along with the Zukes and either burger or fried seafood platter. Also believe it or not but the chicken parm is also a fairly decent rendition ad well.
And if you ever go for the Long Island iced tea they are known for the. You’ll prob pass out table side from both booze and food


(Mr met) #9

Ah. The usual along with the “traditional” accompaniment of mushrooms and onions. Lol


(Greg Caggiano) #10

Sounds like a pretty good food coma to me!

Seriously, I took one look at the Mai Tai and thought, “If it’s this big, it must be so juiced out that I won’t taste anything”. Well, I was wrong. Could taste the rum and I really got buzzed. That never happens, at least not off one drink. They charge $10.50 but considering it is probably double what you get with the stupid umbrella in those Chinese restaurants, I’ll take it.


(Mr met) #11

Yeah the value is pretty solid for such good food despite the fact that you are on the water and in Rumson of all places. In the summer it’s always nice to head outside beer in hand to check the ducks while waiting then60 min. Also a hint, right around the corner in Brennan’s a pretty awesome deli as well with great sandwiches and really awesome muffins.


(Greg Caggiano) #12

I saw that on the way in. Looked like a nice joint. I really have to get to know the area better. Passed R & B too. Want to give them a shot. Is Salt Creek Grille worth a try? I’ve heard a lot of people talk about them.


#13

Greg, salt creek is not bad and I love the venue. The food is mediocre. It is probably one of the best places for a comfortable meal. It has great spacious seating, ample parking and valet, and it is in one of the most affluent towns in nj. Go for happy hour at the bar. The bacon wrapped shrimp are killer. Chris is one of the best bartenders around…white guy, shaved head and one of the friendliest guys you will meet. He is world class!

The bread there is amazing and probably the best bread you will get around here. The bacon wrapped shrimp with horse radish are top notch.


(D) #14

Much like with Tops Diner, I visited Barnacle Bills once because I heard so much about it. But since I now know I’m likely in for a 45 minute to 1 hour wait, I haven’t been back to either of these places even though I had a good experience at both of them.


#15

Wow! What a review. Honestly, not to sound like a snob (danger: snobby comment ahead) but I was immediately grossed out by the peanut shells when I went there years ago. I just felt like the place can’t REALLY be clean. We have been a couple times since but I’ve never been super blown away. Perhaps we should try it again before the summer crowds start.

@Metsfan53 Regarding Brennan’s: best dang sandwiches. Better than the Oakhurst location. I feel like the bread at the Rumson spot is always fresher? If you go in the summer, be prepared to wait or call ahead.


(Junior) #16

FYI they stopped the peanut shells about 5 years ago. FYI # 2 Avoid Texas Roadhouse.


#17

Oh yeah, I know. I have been a few times since but it just stuck with me for some reason. I also was never all that impressed by anything except the burgers here. Perhaps I should try a mai tai! :wink:


(Greg Caggiano) #18

Or 8 or 10…


(Greg Caggiano) #19

I hope my review does not seem over-the-top. There is no ulterior motive behind it. If you look at my list of reviews, a vast majority are positive, but rarely do I gush.


#20

They stopped the peanuts and dock side dining. I used to cruise there all the time and it’s a shame they are no longer catering to the boaters.

They even changed the cheese sauce. I guess things must come to an end but I still like it there. It has just lost some luster. Good news is the beer is better. It’s good to see carton on tap which they’ve had for a good 2 years.