Sitting Duck - Long Branch, NJ


(Greg Caggiano) #1

Was going to create a separate thread, but since this is only a few miles away from Asbury, I’ll post it here. My review the Sitting Duck (Long Branch).

Long Branch and, of course, Asbury Park have hopping restaurant scenes. However, both of these areas are as foreign to me as the landscape of Mars. If this blog is going to get to the next level, this can no longer be so. I am making it my mission to become more familiar with other Jersey Shore towns by the end of this summer. I feel like I have beaten my area (Middletown, Keyport, Red Bank, Hazlet, Holmdel, Atlantic Highlands) to death. It is time to finally explore the places that have long eluded me. Hearing this, my friend Justin took it upon himself to take me out to one of his favorite restaurants, The Sitting Duck, in Long Branch. He said it was a different kind of restaurant than you might find in some of the more posh areas of the Shore.

sd1

When you first walk in, The Sitting Duck reminds you of a neighborhood bar. This is not a trendy spot catering to the glitz, glamour, and B.E.N.NY’s of the Shore, but seemingly a spot for the locals to hide from such people and prospects. The bar itself is enormous, wrapping around the entire center of what was a pretty large building. The cooking, interestingly enough, is done in the middle of the bar area. If you are seated at the bar, you can see the chefs preparing your meal. There are then two walls of booths and tables, and a popcorn machine to grab a light snack on your way in. It was a cozy feeling. No pretentiousness here. The atmosphere was casual and laid back.

Justin told me about the beer paddles they offer, which for $7.99, include your choice of any four beers they have on tap. This is not a bad deal, and is a great sampler for the person who cannot make up their mind. We both went with a Harpoon Irish Stout, Leinenkugel Summer Shandy, and Modelo Especial—I cannot remember the fourth one. They laid the paddles down on the table with a list for each person so you know which beer is which. At this time we put in an order for the fried calamari appetizer.

The menu is rather large. There are fair amounts of chicken, pork, beef, and seafood. There is barbecue and pasta. Sandwiches and entrees. It took me a long time to figure out what to order until I saw the Soft Shell Crab Po’Boy sandwich on the specials list. I knew this was what I needed because it had simply been too long since I had such a crab. Justin went with the half chicken and half rack of ribs combo. His was $19.99 and mine was a dollar more than that. The food that would later arrive would be well worth the price.

We did not realize the following: Justin’s meal came with a choice of soup or salad, while mine came with both. I was not crazy over the soup choices, so I just went with the salad. This came nicely prepared with raw broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, and sliced radishes, in addition to the usual. Justin upgraded his soup to the French Onion, which he gets every time. I took a few spoonfuls, and it was really unbelievable. I am not a soup guy, and never order it (unless I am at a diner on a Thursday for Split Pea Soup day), but what he ordered would make me re-think that. The broth was on the salty side, but had a tremendous beef flavor. The aroma and taste made me close my eyes and go, “Mmm”.

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There was melted cheese slathered across the top of the crock and browned so it was both stringy and slightly crunchy. It was sprinkled with crisp, fried onions. A chunk of bread was also placed in the crock to soak in that broth. As great as all this was, it created a dilemma: we certainly did not need the calamari at this point, but it was too late. Had we realized our meals came with all this additional food, we probably would have passed. Nothing against the appetizer—it was fine, on par with what you would find in your local Italian joint—but we just did not need it.

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Now it was time for the entrees to hit the table. Justin’s half chicken was so large than you could not even see the barbecued ribs underneath. He enjoyed his, though most of it left in a takeout container. It came with a choice of potato (he got mashed) and apple sauce. I wanted to try a piece, but my stomach was beginning to beg for mercy and I had to save room for my sandwich. Take a look at the picture below. Not one, but two gigantic soft shell crabs. These were fried to a crisp, not greasy whatsoever, and crackled with every bite. The crusty long roll contained lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce. There were additional tartar and cocktail sauces on the side, as well as cole slaw and fries. I did not even touch those because of how full I was.

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I made it my goal to finish this sandwich. The crabs were too large for the bread, so I cut the roll in half and made two mini sandwiches. I slathered some more tartar sauce on there for a heavenly seafood feast just a mile or so away from the Atlantic. Certainly if someone was watching their carb intake, they could have ditched the roll altogether and went to town on the crabs alone.

This was a perfect evening at The Sitting Duck. They left quite a first impression on me as I cannot really find one thing to complain about. I suppose the off-the-beaten-path location of this restaurant contributes to the lower prices of their meals. A $30 price tag for the soft shell crabs would have been more likely elsewhere. Move this place a mile or two down the road, and we have a whole different animal. I appreciate the relaxed atmosphere of the restaurant and did not mind the predominantly middle-aged crowd that it drew. I know some food bloggers comment on “target ages” of restaurants, but it never matters to me. Good food is good food. For all of that, I am giving a rare 4.5 out of 5 stars. I cannot wait to come back. Please keep those crabs on your menu as long as possible!

Original review and additional pictures can be found on my blog.


Best of Asbury [NJ]
#2

Great review, but I think this absolutely deserves it’s own thread!


Best of Asbury [NJ]
(Greg Caggiano) #3

Maybe someone can move it…


#4

@NotJrvedivici to the courtesy desk…


(Junior) #5

7 posts were merged into an existing topic: Best of Asbury [NJ]


(Junior) #6

General Note To Thread

I broke this off from the Best of Asbury thread as I do believe the Sitting Duck deserves the recognition of the review by Greg. In my creating this thread, I accidentally copied comments that should have remained in the original thread, so I placed them back there. In my back and forth if I scrambled the order of posts or interrupted any flow of either conversations I apologize. I’m not too good with my mod skills, I do the best I can.

Thank you,
Notjr


#7

I think you - and the other mods - do quite well. :grin:


#8

Also, if you’ve met him, you know he’s VERY mod. #fashionplate


#9

Glad you enjoyed it. Did you know the pour house is their sister restaurant?

Food is about the same but a little more money. Then again, long branch is a further drive for you.

They put out one of the best burgers around and I love the cheddar sauce there.

And yes, most dinners come with soup and salad. There are nightly specials too. I don’t eat prime rib much but I recall their version was pretty decent a long while back.


(Junior) #10

What prices are more, Pour or Duck? (I never knew there was a difference) The Grist Mill was always my favorite but now is just a memory…the prime rib is adequate you certainly won’t complain for the price. As you said it does come with soup and salad which both add value to the $19.95 (I think) price. Oh let’s not forget the vegetable and potato, it all adds up to a good meal.


#11

Yeah that place is a decent deal when you factor in the salad and soup. Nothing has ever blown me away, except for the burgers, but I can’t recall anything bad.

The Shrewsbury one is a little more money…at least last time I checked.


(Greg Caggiano) #12

I only found out they were related to Pour House this weekend. Their placemats bear both restaurants.

The travel to Shrewsbury is annoying, but it cannot be worse than trying to get to Long Branch on a Friday in the summer. Maybe I will check it out.


#13

Tell me this doesn’t sound good! I was checking out the special today.

Angry Butcher’s Blend Burger – ½ pound of freshly ground short ribs, chuck, & brisket on a brioche roll
with melted pepper jack cheese, chipotle mayo & hot cherry peppers. Served with french fries, coleslaw & pickle 13.99

I’ve had the regular butchers blend and those are awesome. This one looks tasty


(Greg Caggiano) #14

Sounds like something I would devour. Admittedly I am not a big burger guy (gasps) but anything with chipotle may and cherry peppers has my attention. Was that SD or PH?


#15

I found that on SD but pH may have it too. The menus are very similar and so are the specials.


(Mr met) #16

Not to be mr pedantic here but technically that side of the street is Tinton Falls. Lol. Def my fav burger in the area surpassing Barney’s lately for burger. Although you could grab a bagel masters pork roll egg and cheese on the way or hit up Albarino for a Shrewsbury review.

I’d love to see you do a review of cj mcloones practically next door to ph. Would be another one star review for your site I think. Was by far the worst meal I’ve experienced since moving here; price food, service all sucked. It was pretty inside though.


(Greg Caggiano) #17

I haven’t been to a McLoone’s in ages. Maybe with family for my 8th grade graduation. I don’t remember much except it was their Sea Bright location. We never went back. Maybe there was a reason.


#18

Just had a similar conversation with someone last night… Almost 3 years of living in AP and I’ve never set foot in McCloone’s/Robinson’s.


(Junior) #19

The shame is 20 years ago Mc Loon’s Rum Runner, was an excellent fine dining restaurant. Even it had lost most of its allure prior to Sandy knocking it out, but at one time that was the “go to” place.


(Greg Caggiano) #20

I’ve never been attracted to them, before or after I started the blog. I remember the Rum Runner (pre-Sandy; I must have been there in 2005 or so) as a fine dining experience. I’m just not a fan of it. I know food writers usually hit up those kind of places, and I do on occasion, but I am more of a fan of casual dining. Places like Portuguese Manor, I would say “upscale casual” are good, but fine dining has never been my thing. I feel like I have rambled in this post LOL but I hope y’all get my meaning.