If you google “best restaurant in monmouth county nj” and then click on the yelp link that comes up you will see that this restaurant is rated number 1 in monmouth county. So, of course, we had to give them a try. Even though every restaurant that has been in this spot on old 33 in Freehold has been terrible.
The inside looks nice, but the bar area was almost empty at 5:30 for the final half hour of their happy hour specials. There were three food items on the happy hour along with some drinks so we sampled all three - pork belly buns, shrimp and grits, and meatballs with red sauce and ricotta. It all sounded great.
I should have left right then. My single friend tells me that some of his dates were better as ideas than reality. This is exactly how I felt. The meatballs were right off the Sysco truck and the “grits” had the consistency of wet cement. The buns were the best of the lot, but the bar was not set very high. Even one of my trademark fruity drinks, in this case a cosmo, was so bad I just told the waitress to take it away.
On the plus side they didn’t charge me for the drink and the food was cheap. But it wasn’t even worth the $18 it all cost. Thanks a lot Yelp. Best restaurant in Monmouth County my A$$.
Now, because of this post, if someone googles “Hungry Onion” and “best restaurant in monmouth county nj” Restaurant 618 will come up. The folks who own Nicholas are going to pissed at you. And now me.
I was in there the other day because I had some business with the owner. It’s huge & it was empty. & the owner blew me off. Somehow, I’m not surprised by your findings.
Serious question @seal (and the rest of you HOs)…do you really use and trust Yelp? I won’t touch the stuff. Then again, I’m one of those people who cringes at a Sysco truck…
I never use Yelp. You can usually tell from the menu if the Sysco truck stops by.
Yelp is pretty bad. However, it can be useful when traveling as Google picks up keywords I like to search for. For example “dry aged tomahawk review chicago” …Google will pick up those reviews and usually people that tuned into details, well they normally have a clue. You can also tell a lot by the details/quality of the review and time put into it. Of course I never go by one review. I think trip advisor is a lot better than yelp, which seems like a high school popularity contest and a place for people to just rant. There are so many one hit wonders on yelp it is ridiculous. They should make you write ten legit reviews or something before they let your posts public.
@seal sorry to here how terrible that place was.
John were you actually in his restaurant and he blew you off? You obviously said you were inside but did you hang around and wait?
Reading some of the comments here, including my own, I am reminded of an old joke.
In a certain town, on a certain block there were three competing pizza joints. One day the first pizza place puts up a huge sign touting, “Best Pizza in Town”. The next day the second pizza place puts up a billboard proclaiming, “Best Pizza in the USA”. The next day the third pizza place puts a small, handwritten sign in the window that reads, “Best Pizza on the Block.”
Right in the strip mall next door to 618 is The Empanada Guy. 618 isn’t even the best restaurant on that little piece of the block.
I use Yelp skeptically. There’s no better way to find places to eat though.
Nope I never used yelp. Hell before @joonjoon looped me into using chow I never visited a food blog/site at all. When chow jumped the shark I figured my food blogging days were coming to an end but in the immortal words of Michael Corleone: “Just when I thought I was out, they dragged me back in” here at Ho!
Hell before Chow I thought the Internet was only good for Facebook, Google and porn!
I agree with @joonjoon. Yelp is good for finding restaurants and getting some sense of them. There is also TripAdvisor (which Mark swears by and we both contribute to). Both are most helpful when we are in some unfamiliar area.
Been to Restaurant 618 (pronounced “Six Eighteen”) a couple of times in the past couple of months as it’s very close to home. While I didn’t find the food noteworthy enough to post about it here, my experiences weren’t nearly as bad as @seal, and I sampled the same dishes and a few others. As seal noted, the pork belly buns get the job done and are quite tasty. Also enjoyed the shrimp and grits on both of my visits, albeit they are not in the same league as Drew’s but how many places in these parts are? If my grits were like wet cement I’m sure I would feel the same as seal, but that wasn’t my experience. Also had the meatballs on both visits. They could well be Sysco meatballs. We had a very average batch on one visit and a much improved batch on the other. The complimentary and crusty French bread with salted butter is very good. Also had a pretty good grilled pork chop and an unmemorable fish entrée special. They also serve LaFrieda steaks, but haven’t tried one. Had a nicely prepared Manhattan from the bar – they seem to take pride in the bar as the waitstaff on both visits mentioned the freshly squeezed juices and homemade bitters. If I end up with a night of clunkers like seal, I might not return but until that occurs I’ll most likely be back as the place serves as a decent, local non-red sauce spot.
P.S. No disagreement from me as to the best eating experience in that area. Empanada Guy hands down.
Ty for bringing this thread back to the restaurant. I didn’t mean it as an indictment of yelp, just this particular entry.
I was hoping somebody else had been as I know even the best of places can have an off night. But the thing about Sysco meatballs, and Sysco in general, is the uniformity. They are industrially made, all with the same texture, size, and taste. This is why so many in the industry use them as consistency is very important. That said, my wife did like the sauce.
The shrimp on top of the grits were well seasoned and cooked properly, so I can see how the dish would be worth eating if they serve them with creamy, cheesy grits. And I trust you @jsfein enough to know you must have had some good ones.
My initial post was to say that, on that night, they were so from even being good that calling them the best was ludicrous.
I went to try this place for lunch today but they were closed, even though their website says opening at 11:30. They seemed to be doing some construction at the entrance so perhaps they closed for that reason?
Had an 8:45 reservation, showed up at 8:00 so we could have some drinks at the bar. At 8:50 we still hadn’t been called for a table so we went to the hostess station. It appeared if we hadn’t showed up at the hostess station we would’ve still been sitting at the bar waiting. Sat at our table for about 10 minutes before the waiter finally came over and took our order. We gave him our order and at 9:32 we still had not been served. Flagged someone down to ask them where our order was only to find out that our ticket had been “lost” at this point we got up and left. They gave us a $25 off coupon on the way out. Are you serious? Extremely disappointing and I doubt we’ll return after that experience. Not really sure how this restaurant made it to number one with that type of customer service.
Welcome to the forums
May I ask how you found us?
UPDATE: We went back Friday night to give 618 another try. We tried an earlier reservation (5:30pm on a Friday) which seem to be a much quieter less busy time for this establishment. The staff very obviously knew who we were and went head over heels to accommodate us. My husband’s dish was outstanding (bolognese). Unfortunately, I was not at all impressed with mine however. It was shrimp and grits. The grits were served super lumpy. They took it back and brought me a new serving which was better but really didn’t blow my socks off. We really did appreciate the effort they put forth to make our second experience better than the first. They wouldn’t even let us pay for anything even though we went over the gift card amount they sent us. But, I don’t think it’s someplace I’d return to though anytime soon. Too many other places to try in this area.
Thanks for an honest post, @spilozo! That’s what’s great about this board…we (mostly) have people on here who are just regular people looking for good places to eat/drink and put in regular rotation. I’m glad you gave them a second try and that they were accommodating, but it sounds like you got your answer.
ETA that in your first post you said “Not really sure how this restaurant made it to number one with that type of customer service.” The answer to that is that it’s easy for restaurant owners to get friends/family/staff to post online these days. It’s one of the reasons I never use Yelp and prefer being on a board like this where I learn whose tastes align with mine and know I’m (again, usually) getting honest feedback! Hope you’ll post about your other dining experiences – good and bad!