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Jun 20, 2007 02:24 PM

New Steakhouse Coming to Freehold + Other Discoveries

We had lunch yesterday at El Meson (excellent as usual). We hadn't been in town since last summer so, afterwards, we decided to take a little stroll around. Heading down South St., I stopped short when I realized that Portabello had closed. (What took so long?!) An awning now reads "South Street Steakhouse." There were curtains blocking the huge windows, but the door was unlocked, so I peeked inside. Sure enough, the place was in the midst of a refurbishment. I asked a woman who was doing some cleaning when the restaurant would be opening. Before she could answer, a man -- who I presume was an owner -- came out from the back and told me they hoped to be open by the end of the month. Or, now that I think about it, maybe he said in about a month.... Many of you might remember Eric's, the NY-style steakhouse. We tried it once. The food was decent but nothing special. It will be interesting to see how things go with South Street Steakhouse.

Another discovery, at least for us, was Cafe 360. We stopped in when we noticed they serve homemade gelato. Happily, the product is excellent! Now that our favorite gelato spot, Cold Cream, in Belmar, has shuttered, we're thrilled to have found this place. It's a sweet little spot (pun intended) with a wide-ranging menu of casual food.

I believe jsfein reported some time ago about a pretty positive experience at El Familiar. We passed it and picked up a menu. Quite a wide-ranging selection of Mexican and Columbian dishes. We're particularly interested in trying some of the Columbian items, so it's on our "go to" list.

As posted by wench31 on another thread, I saw that Lorenzo's, another very inconsistent Italian, has closed and in its place is Mi Lindo Mexico. I also noticed a small Mexican restaurant (not the take-out joint) on South St., but don't recall the name.

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  1. RGR - You never cease to amaze. I noticed the same thing driving through Freehold this afternoon on business. And like you I stopped into Cafe360 for a nice iced tea (I've been there before). Due to my during the week diet I couldn't partake in the sweets however. It must be kismet. :)

    17 Replies
    1. re: bgut1

      Wow, bgut1! In the face of that tempting display of wide-ranging gelato flavors, what willpower! lol But here's the good news. 360 has two gelati -- chocolate and capuccino -- that are sugar-free. We tried them and they're sensational! So, no need to deny yourself a treat during the week. :-)

      1. re: RGR

        I didn't see them ... maybe next time. I did have my eye on sugar free cookies however but realized they weren't worth the carbs or the calories.

        1. re: bgut1

          One of those gelati had a sign that said, "Low carb." Frankly, I don't put much stock in that low carb business. When it comes to weight issues, in my view, it's all about the calories.

          1. re: RGR

            Hi guys, did you also notice that Freedman Bakery is also sold and that La Parilla BBQ and bakery is coming soon?

            1. re: wench31

              Hey, wench31, I didn't even realize that Freedman's was still open. Should we presume that La Parilla would be Brazilian bbq?

              1. re: RGR

                Freedman's has been closed for a while. You could be right that La Parilla might be Brazilian. I never thought that because everything opening up in the neighborhood seems to be Mexican lately. Brazilian BBQ would be interesting.

              2. re: wench31

                Where is the La Parilla BBQ space (I'm not sure where the Freedman Bakery was)?

                I'm going to see if I can get some info on the soon to be opened "South Street Steakhouse." RGR, the spot had changed names from Portobello to something else in the past year. I believe the parents of one of my kid's friends were the owners and may be behind the new steakhouse. If I get info, I'll post.

                As for Cafe 360, gellato has been being served in that location for at least 2-3 years now, but the name "Cafe 360" is somewhat new. The gellato is pretty good, although there is not much variety of flavors.

                1. re: jsfein

                  La Parilla is next to or a couple of doors down from El Familiar and CVS.
                  It's across the street from El Meson.

                  1. re: jsfein


                    I saw a wide variety of gelato flavors though there were only 3 flavors of sorbet. Maybe that's what you were thinking of?

                    So, what restaurant was in the Portobello location between its closing and the in-coming South St. Steakhouse?

                    1. re: RGR

                      I guess I was hoping for some of the more unique flavors you find at places like Il Laboratorio in NYC, Capogiro in Philly, or even more locally The Bent Spoon in Princeton. But for Freehold, I suppose Cafe 360 is as good as it gets (and it is pretty good).

                      As for the successor to Portobello, it wasn't around long enough for me to commit the name to memory. Although I never dined there, it was an Italian restaurant (big surprise).

                2. re: RGR

                  RGR - Not to proselytize but I put a lot of stock in it (the low carb business). In fact I lost over 80 lbs this past year by cutting out carbs in my diet (and working out of course). Now that I'm "maintianing" I eat well during the week and cheat (eating bread and maybe dessert) on weekends. :)

                  1. re: bgut1

                    Congrats on the weight loss, bgut1! And if low carb worked for you, so be it. I just don't think that's a healthful way to diet. Although I've never had a weight problem, during the past few months, I've helped my husband lose a substantial amount of weight using my own program, which essentially boils down to "everything in moderation" = nothing is verboten + portion control + moderate exercise (walking).

                    1. re: bgut1

                      That's great, bgut!! Congratualtions! You must feel so much healthier. Very happy to hear :)

                      RGR, I am SO glad you posted about Cafe 360! I can't tell you how many times I drive by, and ask myself if I should stop or not! Sounds great. Do they also make pannini's? Has anyone tried them?

                      I think the space that was the former, "Portobello" is a doomed location. Every place that has been in there has gone under??

                      Perhaps the steakhouse will do well.

                      1. re: Angelina

                        Angelina, 360's menu lists 7 panini. All cost $5.99.

                        There are locations that are considered jinxed for restaurants. What other restaurants have been and failed in Portobello's space? It lasted -- what? -- 4-5 years? The first time I had dinner there with a group of women friends shortly after it opened, the food was delicious. I was almost in shock! However, when I went back with my husband a few weeks later, the food was barely mediocre. A different chef in the kitchen? Who knows? But it's that inconsistency thingy that I come across all too often in restaurants around here.

                        The space across the street where Solo is now located has seen many restaurants come and go. The last one I recall trying was a fish and seafood place.

                        The jinx would come off if the space were finally occupied by a really excellent restaurant. Unfortunately, as the expression goes: Easier said than done!

                        What beats me is how La Cipollina has managed to survive all these years, considering how sub-par the food is. There's also an Italian restaurant across the street from Federici's that has been there for ages. Can't recall the name now, but has anyone here ever tried it?

                        1. re: RGR

                          The place directly across the street from Federici's, well actually more like across from the American Hotel, is Stefano's. Nothing much more than a pizza joint (not a bad pie, but in Freehold Borough the place for a pizza is Federici's). They do have the required other stuff found at pie places like hot and cold subs, chicken parm, some pasta dishes, etc., but on the whole nothing special or really tasty.

                        2. re: Angelina

                          RGR and Angelina - Thank you both and yes I feel great. Buying new clothes every couple of months however has been crazy. The more interesting thing is still being able to enjoy food and dining out notwithstadning the change in life. RGR - If we ever get the chance to meet, I would be happy to explain that the diet is very healthy. I designed it myself after comparing and contrasting many diets out there. Know that I don't outlaw all carbs, just the bad ones. Also, excerscise is a key component of my "plan". I went from being only able to walk 5 minutes before becoming winded to running 5 miles twice a week. Okay, my "diet" goes back in the bottle never to be discussed on this board again. :)

                          1. re: Angelina

                            Believe it or not folks are actually afraid to wander to far down South Street (former Portobello location) from Main Street.

                3. Portabello's was Paco for a while. The Steak house is the same owner as Solo Trattoria, which is across the street. Solo is not a great place but not bad so this steak house should be interesting.
                  I live here but haven't been down town lately however I think la Familia, if that was where Dunkin Donuts was, closed. That's what I heard.
                  If we are getting Brazilian BBQ that would be great!

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: mbw1024

                    It's El Familiar. I just called and they are still very much open! I'm glad because we haven't managed to try it yet.

                    I decided to call Solo to ask if the South Street Steakhouse has opened yet. The gentleman I spoke with told me that Solo's owner is no longer affiliated with the owners of the steakhouse. I asked him if it was open yet, and he said he thought it had opened earlier this week.

                    1. re: RGR

                      HA. Things change fast in this town!
                      Sorry about the mis info on the other place. I'm glad to hear as I wanted to try it as well.

                      1. re: RGR

                        I believe this info is correct -- I passed by a couple of nights ago (on my way to El Meson), hours were posted and the front door was propped open.

                        1. re: RGR

                          Going to call now to make a reservation for tonight. Hope we get in.

                      2. Just searching to see if South St Steakhouse had a website, and came across this. My husband and I ate there earlier this week andthe food was amazing! Not to mention how much work was put into it. The place is beautiful. The wait-staff was very pleasant, an over all wonderful experience! We will def. be going back, we can't stop talking about it!

                        11 Replies
                        1. re: mmkb

                          Perhaps, you could give us some specifics about your particular dinner? Also, since there is no website, could you give us some idea of what's on the menu and what prices are like?

                          1. re: RGR

                            Went there tonight. Place is beautiful! They really decorated it nicely. The tree is gone. Everyone was very eager and friendly. Not crowded for a Saturday night.
                            Menu looked like a typical steakhouse place.
                            I had the salad with the goat cheese. Very good, although it could have used a little less vinegar. Hubby had the shrimp cocktail.
                            We got the special...Porterhouse for 2. Ordered medium. It came rare, so we sent it back for a little more cooking. Bad thing is they didn't serve the steak on those sizzling hot plates so you can sear your own. Steak was never warm enough. Side dishes came in a regular plate as well. The crocks would have been a better idea.
                            Dessert was delicious! We shared the apple crisp with the vanilla ice cream.
                            Now for the bill. Ugh! The steak alone was $120. Bill was expensive. It's kind of pricey for the neighborhood.
                            We shall see.
                            I'll go back. I just won't order any specials for 2.

                            1. re: Pink Pepper

                              Thanks for the details about your meal, Pink Pepper. Though you obviously have some positive things to say, food delivered to the table at an incorrect temperature, i.e., not hot enough, is one of my pet peeves -- especially when one is paying through the proverbial nose. So, that does put me off about trying South St. Steakhouse. Of course, it is early days and ensuing raves might prompt me to change my mind. We'll see....

                              1. re: Pink Pepper

                                Thanks for the review. Perhaps the kitchen will improve with more experience over time.
                                That does seem to be the trend. Places spend big bucks on the interior design and yet the food quality is lacking. Personally, I dont go to a restaurant for the tablecloths.

                                1. re: Pink Pepper

                                  $120 porterhouse for 2? In Freehold? Luger's only charges $80 for its porterhouse for 2 (and its perhaps the best $80 I've ever spent).

                                  1. re: jsfein

                                    I had meant to ask Pink Pepper if that $120 was just for the steak. It does sound outrageous considering that the best steakhouses in NYC don't charge that. Maybe that figure was for the whole meal?

                                    I was talking to my husband this afternoon about the fact that the problems Pepper encountered with the steak. He said that even if the restaurant is new, it is a *steakhouse*. And if the kitchen can't get a *steak* right, i.e., cooked as requested by the patron and served at the correct temperature, it's a bad sign. I have to agree....

                                    1. re: RGR

                                      Yes, that was just for the steak...since it was the special, we got 2 sides included. My salad was $10. Hubby's shrimp cocktail was $15. Add in dessert and our total bill with tip was $202.

                                      1. re: Pink Pepper

                                        $120 for a steak for 2 is crazy. Are you sure it wasn't kobe beef? For $120 it should have been the best steak ever. I mean perfectly seared with a nice seasoned crust and melt in your mouth tender. I'm sorry South Street Steakhouse but unless your giving something away I don't plan on dining at your establishment. Well. that was an easy way to cross one of my list. Sorry about your meal Pink. We appreciate you taking one for the team.

                                        1. re: bgut1

                                          We're thinking of calling to see if it was a mistake. Too many people have said it can't be right.

                                          1. re: Pink Pepper

                                            Was the steak for two not on the menu? If it was a special, did they mention the cost?

                                            It's no secret that too many restaurants insist on having servers list specials verbally *without* prices (and, of course, no printed insertion in the regular menu) and, if you don't ask the cost, you can easily end up with severe sticker shock!

                                            1. re: RGR

                                              Calling might not be a bad idea. I don't see how this could be right. That price is insane and they will be closed in a hurry! Maybe it was $60 and the charged you twice?

                            2. We went to South Street Steakhouse last night. The best I can say is it wasn't too bad. We made a reservation, but were subjected to a long to-do about where they would seat us in a 2/3 full restaurant. Caesar salad was OK, oddly sweet, cheese used was a bit waxy, No garlic or lemon flavor. Mine's better. Porterhouse was $48 for one, decent but not dry aged steak, done medium rare, not rare as requested, No char or crust. My wife's marinated hanger steak was better. Sides were non-descript. "wild mushrooms" were mostly white shrooms. Sauteed spinach was in need or some seasoning and was lukewarm. Not worth a return trip. $120 without dessert or coffee, excluding tip. Service was good.

                              I don't get what's so hard about the basic steakhouse formula. If you live in Freehold, buy a dry-aged prime steak at the Raintree foodtown and cook it yourself.