Nicholas Barrel & Roost, Red Bank, NJ

Note: Previous posts about Barrel & Roost have appeared on the Nicholas Restaurant thread. I started this thread because I felt B&R deserved its own thread.

We have been going to Nicholas since right after it first opened in December 1999. Our first visit was for Michael’s birthday on January 26, 2000. At that time, you had the table for the evening. From the start, we liked everything about it and over the years, had dinner there many times and not just for special occasions. In addition to the superb cuisine, service was always pleasant and attentive. We never found the dining room “stuffy.” The restaurant was, in all respects, much like many of the upscale restaurants we’ve frequented in NYC though not as expensive. After the bar opened, we at there quite a few times. It was fine, but we preferred the dining room. The last time we ate there was several years ago.

It was on this board that I heard about the change to Barrel & Roost. We didn’t try it immediately because we were not, and still are not, doing any indoor restaurant dining. While mentioned was made here about there being something outdoors, I had the impression that it was for drinks and snacks which didn’t interest us. However, a couple of weeks ago, when we stopped into the Creamery in Atlantic Highlands to get ice cream (after eating at Kunya Siam, which I should talk about on the appropriate thread), the young ladies assured me that there were outside tables at Barrel & Roost where one could have a meal. When I looked at the B&R website, I saw that they take reservations for outdoor dining. Yesterday, the weather being pleasantly warm, we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to have lunch there. No problm reserving a table at 2:45 p.m. In fact, when we arrived, there was only one other table occupied (by a group women). (And, by the way, no problem parking ourselves right in front. If there is valet parking, I guess it’s in the evenings or on weekends.)

When they rebuilt, they installed doors in the bar are that opened to the out-of-doors and built the outdoor dining area in front of it and to the side. Plants and shrubbery provide shields from the bustle of Route 35.

We have been going to Nicholas since right after it first opened in December 1999. Our first visit was for Michael’s birthday on January 26, 2000. At that time, you had the table for the evening. From the start, we liked everything about it and over the years, had dinner there many times and not just for special occasions. In addition to the superb cuisine, service was always pleasant and attentive. We never found the dining room “stuffy.” The restaurant was, in all respects, much like many of the upscale restaurants we’ve frequented in NYC though not as expensive. After the bar opened, we at there quite a few times. It was fine, but we preferred the dining room. The last time we ate there was several years ago.

It was on this board that I heard about the change to Barrel & Roost. We didn’t try it immediately because we were not, and still are not, doing any indoor restaurant dining. While mentioned was made here about there being something outdoors, I had the impression that it was for drinks and snacks which didn’t interest us. However, a couple of weeks ago, when we stopped into the Creamery in Atlantic Highlands to get ice cream (after eating at Kunya Siam, which I should talk about on the appropriate thread), the young ladies assured me that there were outside tables at Barrel & Roost where one could have a meal. When I looked at the B&R website, I saw that they take reservations for outdoor dining. Yesterday, the weather being pleasantly warm, we made a spur-of-the-moment decision to have lunch there. No problm reserving a table at 2:45 p.m. In fact, when we arrived, there was only one other table occupied (by a group women). (And, by the way, no problem parking ourselves right in front. If there is valet parking, I guess it’s in the evenings or on weekends.)

When they rebuilt, they installed doors in the bar are that opened to the out-of-doors and built the outdoor dining area in front of it and to the side. Plants and shrubbery provide shields from the bustle of Route 35.

Nicholas Barrel & Roost

On to the food. Michael started with French Onion Soup which I dipped into several times. And excellemt version.

Classic French Onion Soup

We then shared the “Nicholas Burger.” Prepared precisely to our medium rare specification, it was delicious. One of the best burgers we’ve had. A surprise was that the “chips” were not French fries but rather house made potato chips. Very tasty and a pleasant change.

IMG_0666

For desseert, we chose the Giant Chocolate Chip Cookie with the Creamery’s Barrel Aged Coffee Ice Cream. Frankly, calling it a “cookie” seems to me a misnomer as it’s more like a chocolate chip pie. Very rich and way to big for us to finish. We managed to eat half – along with the ice cream, of course – and took the other half home.

Dessert

Our server was friendly and attentive. Overall, an extremely pleasing experience. If the weather cooperates, we’re planning to go back for dinner one day next week.

The album for this meal, including more photos of the exterior, can be viewed on my Flickr Nicholas Barrel & Roost | Flickr.

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I agree about the burger. I think it is the best restaurant burger I’ve had. The French Onion Soup is also excellent.

You touched on the service and I would agree that although no longer an upscale restaurant it’s still impeccable. We went to the original incarnation occasionally(frequently enough to recognize staff members) and it’s impressive how much staff he’s retained through the renovation and these generally crazy times.

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My wife and I have been regulars since the ‘change’. What I am most impressed with is the staff’s ability to recover from failures. Things happen and the kitchen is only human. The real measure of a restaurant is how they recover from those missteps. One night they delivered a pizza that simply “wasn’t right”. No argument, no discussion - just an earnest desire to make things right for me. The problems are the exception - most visits are nothing but wonderful. My wife has tried most of the dinner menu - she’s the ‘foodie’, not me, really. She has been very happy with the quality and preparation of the meals. And, yes, sometimes even pleasantly surprised.

Others have mentioned the staff - they have been uniformly wonderful and quite focused on making things good and right for you. It’s a welcome change from the now-standard amateur bumbling common these days.

Something utterly important to me - reliability. I can make a reservation confident that they’ll be ready for us; I can park in their parking lot (sometimes a challenge, but nothing like Asbury). and I’ll get a great meal served by people who actually seem to care - and are eager to correct any situation.

Is it perfect? NO. Frankly it can be overbearingly noisy in some rooms when things are jumping. This is likely correctable - if they choose to do so. And perhaps do valet parking when they know they are heavily booked.

I’ll close with a simple statement - we are going there for dinner tomorrow to celebrate my wife’s birthday.

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@The_Happy_Wizard Happy Birthday to your wife! Enjoy your dinner! And please report back.

Here’s the report from last night. We arrived at 8pm for our reservation. We were promptly seated in the bar at a hi-top as we had requested. By 8:15 the bar was lightly occupied and things quiet. Between us we ordered: the French onion soup and a Nicholas burger for me and my wife had a salad and the soft shell crab. The food was excellent and prepared as requested. We passed on our usual dessert and did coffee and after-diner drinks.

Service was a bit more leisurely than I might have liked but there was actually nothing to object to. All in all a nice night and a very good meal.

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Thanks for the report! Glad you enjoyed your dinner.

Taking as much advantage as we can to do outdoor restaurant dining while the weather cooperates. B&B is one of the few restaurants with outdoor seating that is open on Mondays. So, we’re going back there for dinner this evening.

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“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold