As I mentioned on the Craft Brewery/Alcohol Scene thread , WCP opened in Long Branch last month. Finally got over there last night, and I have to say that I was impressed by THE FOOD as much as the vibe/decor. The short version: B+ out of the gate. Food was VERY well done and the offerings a surprise, beer was good, bread is being made in-house, and the service needs work. I suspect this will be in semi-regular rotation with me/my friends during the off-season.
The long version:
Three of us went early, arriving around 6pm, and the place was already pushing half full (@gracieggg I thought of you as there were friends there with strollers over in the corner). Then it was the menu that shocked me. I’ve seen the Specials posted on their Instagram acct (which is still all they seem to use–their website still redirects to it–don’t get me started) and really expected that was the entire menu (or that maybe there were a handful of other regular items). Oh no–there’s a full selection of apps and sandwiches and entrees, and most of them read really well. If anything, I thought there would be a giant beer menu but that’s what’s limited. Since I’m not a big beer drinker (rarely if at all), I didn’t mind. They have a handful of cocktails available + a red and a white wine as well.
We shared two apps that I knew I had to try after seeing the list online–Ironbound Pigs in a Blanket and Bombay Duck Wings. Let’s just say you have me at chorizo AND at duck wings. The “piggies” were delicious and a perfect plate to share between three of us. Not what I imagined they’d be; they’ve taken the chorizo out of the casing and wrapped it in puff pastry, then sliced each pastry in to…6 pieces? The two full pastries on the plate were served with a kale and garlic dip on the side. All DELICIOUS, although I did comment that the texture/lack of casing was a surprise and it felt like a corned beef hash, and my friends agreed.
The duck wings were very tasty, but this is now the second time I’ve had a similar dish and I have the same problem–between having been confited (is that a word?) and hitting the fryer, they seem a little shrunken. They weren’t dried out, but there’s a difference between a meaty chicken wing and a duck wing prepped this way (leg-like portion of the wing only). The sweet/spicy sauce was very tasty, and the side of spiralized daikon and carrots were also consumed.
My friends ordered the HoJos Clam Roll and the Mississippi Roast sandwich, both of which came with hand-cut fries that were extra yummy in the aforementioned dip. I didn’t try either sandwich, but I’m DYING to get back there to try the lamb merguez sandwich (you also have me at lamb) just so I can eat that mini-baguette. This is Hoboken-quality bread (crusty exterior, big bubbles inside) but we confirmed with two members of the staff that IT’S MADE IN-HOUSE. Holy crap, I’m going to enjoy that.
As I mentioned in the other thread, the article about WCP (as they call it) referred to it as a “brewery, restaurant, arts and performance space” and I can see all of that. The decor is sparse, but nicely done; the Chapel space (where live music happens) is painted white and it’s inviting, with mostly communal tables + a handful of high-tops with chairs and pews with tables. Definitely the quieter of the two main spaces AT FIRST. The main room has a more industrial look to it, but it’s all clean/new. The only objection we had is there is NOTHING to absorb sound. I fully understand wanting a boisterous/fun vibe, but having to shout at people sitting next to and across a small table is just silly. Something under the tables/benches to absorb sound would go a long way. (Fwiw I have the same issue with the Biergarten here in AP.) The outdoor patio space that you walk through to get in to the brewery is lovely and it’s going to be PACKED in warmer weather (when I won’t go to Long Branch), just as the roof at the Festhalle is in AP).
Tap sharing is also happening at WPC…they posted about it today; tonight it’s Jug Handle Brewing (Tinton Falls) and Last Wave (Pt Pleasant). This MAY explain one of the odd service issues we encountered. They sell 3oz, 10oz, or 14oz pours (in VERY cool glasses that have textured measurement lines on the exterior). Our waitress told us up front “I can’t offer 14oz pours tonight” AND they were out of the Saison. My best guess is they didn’t’ expect to be as busy as they are this quickly and were concerned that they don’t have enough stock to get through the weekend. If that’s the case, it’s a good problem, no?
The other service issues were just that; issues—and they can all be resolved with some time and oversight. When we arrived, we were told to grab a seat wherever we wanted to and someone would come over (great). We were given menus but then sat for a good 7-8 minutes before someone came to ask if anyone had helped us yet. By then we knew what we wanted to eat AND drink, so we got it all in motion at once. My friends ended up with two different kinds of beer that they both were happy with. Apps started to arrive quickly (great!) and then suddenly we had everything on the table at once (not necessary). Separate of that, they’ve obviously all been instructed to clear things off the table ALL THE TIME. We had a series of people come by to take things away that we hadn’t finished, including my friend’s knife, which she later wished she had. Over-eager? Perhaps. But the thing that REALLY got us was that nobody EVER asked if we wanted another drink or even their one dessert. Lots of people bussing, but none of them were actually waiting on tables! We watched the same scenario all around us, so again, I think they just need some management/instructions. They obviously aren’t assigned to sections (or even rooms), which is great in terms of it being casual, but not great when you sit for (wait for it, we DID time it) 30+ minutes before flagging someone down to get a check. We were busy chatting and didn’t mind, but then it became a joke. The people at the next table had the same problem, and we were JOKING that it would be very easy to just leave. Not something we’d ever do, but I bet it will happen if they don’t start paying attention. In the end, someone other than our waitress had the mini-tablet on her wrist (really) and we paid the check. By the time we left, the place was just about full. This is going to be nuts once the Monmouth U kids are back in town AND during the summer, so I suggest going now and in to the spring while we can enjoy it!
ETA: Open Mic on Wednesday nights and if I have it correct, they’re closed on Sundays.