Surf BBQ, in Rumson, NJ

Mr. RBI and I went to Surf BBQ last night. We hadn’t realized that they’d opened just last Thursday, but obviously, the word was out because even though it was a Monday, we were surprised – shocked, actually – to find the joint jumpin’.

It’s a cafeteria-style set-up, and there was a fair-sized line to get food though we were told by staff members not anywhere close to the out-the-door lines this past weekend.

We shared the following: spare ribs, baked beans, creamy coleslaw, pickles, cornbread, and Key Lime pie. The ribs were delicious – meaty and moist with a very tasty rub. The baked beans were unlike any we’ve had before as they were mixed with a copious amount of shredded meat (not sure if it was beef or pork). I liked the slaw but would have preferred a bit more mayo. The pickles were crunchy. The cornbread was outstanding! The Key Lime pie had a nice Graham cracker crust and a puckery filling.

We did think getting the food could have been speedier if the same line didn’t accommodate both those eating in and those doing take-out. When we mentioned this to the two managers on our way out – both were extremely friendly (as is the entire staff) and very interested in feedback – they told us that they will soon be opening a separate take-out window. I should also mention that those of us on line were offered tastes of the short rib. And when there was a delay after our ribs were cut in getting our sides, the young man behind the counter gave us a taste of the brisket. Nice touches!

Surf BBQ’s food is, in my opinion, far superior to what we had the one time we went to Local Smoke, in Neptune (which, as many of you know, is opening a second location in Red Bank). We’re already plotting what we’re going to order the next time we go to Surf.

Surf BBQ photo set

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I posted a quick review on chowhound. I almost don’t want to hype this place up at all since it wont need it. However, I’ve learned a lot from the forums so folks…this place is turning out some good food. I urge you to try it. It won’t be the cheapest bbq spot around but if you want some food made with knowledge, patience and compassion, surf bbq will get the job done.

The wings are phenomenal…

Loading up the oyler


Great photos RGR. I drooled.

Thanks for the compliment, J.! Stop drooling and get yourself and your family down there!

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Took the family over to Surf BBQ. Timed our 3:30 arrival to miss any crowds and it worked, although there was a steady stream of customers. Vic Rallo greeted us on arrival and walked us through the entire menu (basically recommending that we order everything…which we came close to doing). Smoked chicken wings with the hot sauce. Very nice, crunchy, with just enough heat (could have been even spicier for our taste). Jalapeno hush puppies…solid version, not crazy about the mayonnaise heavy dipping sauce, so dipped in the bbq sauce. For meats we went with the brisket, st. louis ribs and pulled pork. The brisket was outstanding – smoky, juicy, tender, with just enough fat. The best thing we ate. The st. louis ribs were also very good, very meaty, and very large…I could barely finish one with all the other food. I didn’t have enough room for the pulled pork, but the little I tried seemed okay…wasn’t blown away. For sides we ordered the pickles (cut the richness of the meat), fries (very good), mac and cheese (finished before I could even try), and corn bread (excellent). We didn’t get to the bar on this visit, nor did we have room for dessert. For a place that’s open just one week, they are putting out a very nice product.

Glad you and your family liked Surf. It sounds as though they aren’t having consistency problems which often plague new restaurants. Your description of the brisket confirms what I thought of the small taste we were given. It’s on our agenda the next time we go as is the mac and cheese.

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I went for my second time last week and enjoyed it. they are definitely putting out great food. I had ribs and baked beans. They put the burnt ends in the beans and that really sets it off.

For 1.4lbs of ribs and two SMALL sides my bill was 43.xx and I split those 4 ribs with my cousin. That doesn’t include a drink or tip. I was drinking beer and you pay for that separately at the bar. So yes, this place is steep but the quality is there. Let’s face it, Rumson folks are going to make up the majority of customers and most aren’t hurting for money.

For me to eat like I want to, I calculate it would cost me around 55 without tax and tip (3 beers at 7 a clip, half pound of brisket, half pound of ribs, and a single medium side.) So for a decent meal I am looking at around 70 bucks (or more.) And this is a single side…not multiple sides and no cornbread. I compare this to a 3 meat platter at JSBBQ which I think is 25 and comes with 3 piles of meat, 2 sides, corn bread and complimentary chips. Nonetheless, rumson is around the corner from me so it is convenient.

We went back to Surf for the second time on Monday. What a difference a from when we were on the Monday a few days after they opened. This time we arrived at around 7:30 p.m. to find a nearly empty place. In the front room, some folks at the bar and one or two occupied tables. There were also a few people sitting in the back room. No line. We walked right up to the counter and placed our order: brisket, cornbread, Surf slaw, mac ‘n’ cheese, and pickles. A Boylan’s Crème Soda for me and fountain Diet Pepsi (refillable) for Mr. RBI.

To be honest, I’m not really keen on brisket because I usually find it to be too dry. The best smoked brisket I’ve had has been at Hill Country, in NYC, where you can choose between fatty or lean. I found the fatty there to be nicely juicy. Out of curiosity, I tried their lean. Not a bit of fat made it like eating shoe leather. The brisket at Surf has only a bit of fat on it, so even though the flavor was fine, it was too dry for me. I don’t like Surf’s sauces, so drowning the meat in sauce was not an option. Mr. RBI likes the hot sauce and the spicy bbq sauce, so he used them.

As for the sides, the cornbread was not quite as good as it was the first time. The Surf slaw has a vinaigrette-style dressing. Normally, I prefer a creamy slaw, but I actually liked this slaw better than the creamy slaw we had last time. The mac ‘n’ cheese was just o.k. The pickles remain great – crunchy and flavorful.

We were told they will soon be open 7 days a week (they’re now closed on Tuesdays). They’ve got tables with umbrellas set up outside on both sides of the front entrance and in the small outdoor area on the side of the building. Their take-out window is also now in operation.

We really liked the ribs we had the first time, so we’ll be back to have those again. Plus there are other things on the menu we want to try.

One last thing. When we ordered the brisket, I asked for half a pound. While we were eating, Mr. RBI noticed on the sales slip that we were charged $25. I was facing the menu board, so he asked me how much they were charging for the brisket. It’s $12 per half pound. Looking closer at the slip, we noted that the weight we were given was .8+, i.e., a tad over a pound. I had looked at the scale when the slicer put the meat on it and thought I’d seen .5 come up. But I guess I mistook the 8 for a 5. As we were discussing this, one of the owners was passing by, overheard, and stopped to ask what the problem was. He also said he remembered us from last time. When we explained the situation, he said it was the slicer’s mistake, and we should only be charged for what we ordered. Even though we said it wasn’t necessary since we’d eaten all the meat, he insisted and gave us a $15 refund. Very classy!

Surf BBQ Photo Set

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Ok thanks to everyone’s hype I made it over here tonight. I’m not a big BBQ person so I do not have a lot to compare it with, but here’s my impression. Arrived around 8pm and the bar was fairly full but the restaurant front room maybe half full back room only two tables.

Ordered brisket and the pork ribs, side of creamy slaw and sweet Mexican corn (special) as sides. Wife got the pulled pork, collard greens and some roasted peppers as sides.

The good; brisket was very good, collard greens excellent (reminds me how poorly I make them :rage:) and the Mexican corn.

The ok; pulled pork, tasty but a bit dry, slaw although billed as “creamy” really is not, the roasted peppers were “ok”.

The bad; unlike Roz I didn’t care for the ribs that much. Not fall off the bone tender and rather lacking in flavor. Price, all the above (half pound servings of each) was $70. With 2 ice teas. (Self serve fountain soda) Also they sprinkle everything (meat) with a coarse / sea salt, I don’t think this is necessary and was a unwelcome addition to the meats.

I won’t be going out of my way to go back, now I will have to try the red bank place for comparison. YMMV so please give it a try.

Properly coked ribs aren’t supposed to fall of the bone.

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Fall off the bone? That’s easy to do lol. Getting some slight pull and utmost tenderness is the tricky part.

I told you this place isn’t cheap ; )

Jr if you do like really tender ribs try Zachary in long branch or maybe it’s ocean port. I think it’s all you can eat on Tuesday for some low price. They obviously aren’t smoked but the price isn’t bad. They aren’t great but the value is there.

Thanks for the ribs tip, not really something I seek out, I just thought at a place like this they might be exceptional. Call it a case of setting too high expectations or of a novice rib eater, whichever you chose I just thought they were “ok”.

Most surprising was the crowd, or lack there of, for a Friday Night at 8pm.

I may be way off but I think waiting in a line is probably off-putting to the rumsonites. I personally hate it but I like the food. Plus I drink so having two checks is somewhat inconvenient.

The two checks is interesting…I’m not drinking so I didn’t realize this. That’s more common when the operator /license holder of the bar is different than the restaurant. I wonder if the owners of Molly retained the license and are leasing the kitchen and dining to (name of owner slipping my mind).

I completely agree with your assessment of the locaks and their tolerance for waiting and self serving and communal seating etc. You aren’t going to be getting many walk-in’s in that area, either locals or destination diners. It’s not an easy location for this type of establishment. Time will tell. I suspect of the place in Red Bank is any good it will cut Surf off at the knees. Even I would have to pass Red Bank to get there, and after my experience I won’t be going out of my way to return.

corvette_johnny, Via lurking at CH, I see you’ve posted a report there about the Red Bank Local Smoke. I’ve permanently stopped participating on CH but would love to comment. So, perhaps, you could start a new thread here and cross-post your review on it? Thanks!

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Yeah CJ you dirty trader!! Post here!!! (nice job Roz, don’t let them get away with this!!!)

Yes! Members here who post reports on CH should give HO equal time! And, btw, that should be “traitor.” :smile:

Yeah CJ you dirty, rotten, stinkin tratior!!! (and whatever else Roz has to say about you!!!) See Roz this is why you are the “leader”!!!

(fyi I hope you know I’m joking CJ, you might be a traitor but you arenot dirty, rotten or stinking to my personal knowledge)

hey now, take it easy on me! : )

So I hit LS for the second time. They ran out of half birds so I went with pulled chicken and chopped brisket as these were two of the remaining meats that I didn’t try yet. Both were solid and the pulled chicken was a lot better than I expected. I got the deep fried mac n cheese bites and they were fried to perfection…really crispy and blazing hot out of the fryer. they were low fat too lol. I’d think I would give the trophy to the chopped brisket for the best meat so far (with burnt ends included.) PS…the slaw was decent as well.

Overall, I think this place will do quite well. The quality of food is there, portions are healthy and the price is right. I like the seating arrangements. They have a “bar” …if you will. Where you can dine alone and not take up an table and look like a loaner lol.

Hopefully they will have some specials some nights. I would live to see some cool BBQ specials that maybe aren’t too mainstream in the BBQ circuit like duck, pork loin, chicharones, some interesting different rubs, etc. That is one thing I like about surf bbq is that they are little “outside the box” while still keeping it real.

next up are the jalapeno poppers, which are killer in neptune location, and the smoked wings.