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Filipino Food in Red Bank/Middletown

Hey all,
I feel cosmically compelled to plug this restaurant. It's called Bistro San Miguel and it's off 35 in Red Bank/Middletown (on the northbound side between the bridge and Whole Foods). I went there a couple 3 weeks ago (returning 2 times since) and had a great experience. The owner and her daughter are two of the most gracious people you'll meet. My friends and I sat down and told her that we wanted an authentic meal. She asked us what we couldn't/wouldn't eat (nothing), and then proceeded to make us a delicious 4 course meal (Cow's Foot Stew, Fried Milkfish with vinegar, Stir Fried Vermicelli Noodles, and some okra and pork dish). At the end, she gave us all a half mango and asked for 10 dollars per person, for a meal that would have probably rounded out to 15 at any other place (four dishes for 3 people).

Turns out she's rated in Zagat's but had no idea what that was. We called them and got them to send her the sticker. Also, she got a great write up in the Asbury Park Press that was copied here:

No, I don't work for the restaurant and I don't normally do this, but 2 out of the 3 times I went in there to eat, my party was the only one in the place. Central Jersey isn't the best place for adventurous eating. Check it out for yourself if you're feeling up for it. My only caveat is to get your bill from either the owner or her daughter, because some other schlub tried to charge us a 5 dollar a head cover charge one night, which I would normally be okay with, since there was a band playing, but it was sprung on us when the bill came. Spoke to the owner and got it taken off. Like I said, nicest people in the world.

Bistro San Miguel
273 Highway 35 North
Middletown NJ 07701

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  1. Thanks for posting your comments. I had been curious about this place. Must try it.

    1. Wow, I'm impressed. I've never had the guts to go in there even though I check it out every time I drive by. I've eaten in plenty of dives so I'm not sqeamish but that place looks awful from the outside. How is the interior? I was never even sure that it was a restaurant. They had a sign up for a while- upside down I think- but then it disappeared. I'll have to give it a try.

      4 Replies
      1. re: taste test

        Every time I drive by I can't figure out where the entrance is! Help me out here. Why am I'm not seeing it? ;)

        1. re: DJMarilyn

          Okay, so if you're heading up from Red Bank, after the bridge, it's RIGHT after the 2nd light. It's pretty much at the 2nd light. There's a laundromat, a deli a few paces away, and it says "Filipino Restaurant" on the board, though one of them says Filipino Market. You see Filipino, just turn in. Coming from the north, going south, it's like 1 or 2 lights after the whole foods (you need to make a jughandle).

        2. re: taste test

          I agree with you with the exterior, but the interior is actually really nice. They set out tables with candles on them (sometimes). It very much has a cantina feel to it. I talked to Rory (the owner) and she said that she gives it sort of a quirky (which isn't at all dingy looking) feel so as not to intimidate Filipino people, who would mistake it for a pricey joint. It makes sense, I guess. Given the economic state of the country and that the Filipino population (I suppose) don't demand restaurants. Still, it's very nice on the inside. A hell of a surprise, I promise you.

          1. re: BlueLineSwinger

            I too have passed bye daily and thought it was a Grocery store.I love the idea and un-pretentiousness behind her thinking (wouldn't it be great if she became so sucessfull that she could continue the concept and take over a store next door to Wholefoods / Starsucks ! ) sadly I don't care for Philipino so have never ventured in.We need more restaurants like this in Monmouth Co.!

        3. A group of us went there last night - I was unable to eat but brought back th eleftover pork knuckles. I'm eating it right now and it's friggin delicious! Who knew fried knuckle could be so delectable?

          1. and yes, the people there were so so nice!!! I can't wait to go back for a real meal.

            1. My wife and I decided to stop in here for lunch on Saturday based on the recommendations on this board, and we’re very glad we did! Rory immediately welcomed us and brought us to our seats. She didn’t give us menus, but rather asked if we had ever had Filipino food and if we could we eat pork. It was our first experience with Filipino food but we do love pork, so she promised to “bring us something special”.

              Rory then set off to the kitchen and later returned with a dish of Palm Boxes. Each small box contained a mixture of rice, broccoli, and shrimp. This was followed by a bowl of pork soup served with rice and then another appetizer of noodles, pork, and cabbage. We were already beginning to feel full when Rory brought out the Crispy Pata – deep fried meaty pork shank with the knuckle attached. It had a crispy exterior, but the meat inside was tender, juicy, and flavorful, not greasy at all. This was served with a tart garlic vinegar dip that perfectly matched the fried flavor. Each dish was expertly prepared, but the pata was especially good. We ended up eating much more than we had planned on, and still ended up taking home food. The bill was even less than I had expected, another pleasant surprise!

              We’ll be heading back for dinner in the very near future. I’m looking forward to trying some of the other dishes mentioned by other diners. Thanks to my fellow Chowhounds for bringing this gem to our attention!

              2 Replies
              1. re: Mumps

                Now I'm jealous. joonjoon and I had the same meal as Mumps, but we were not given the pork soup. We did, however, get tempura 'spinach'. Fantastic.

                1. re: aacharya

                  I guess that just means we'll have to go back for the pork soup!

              2. Looks like there's a website now:

                Well, at least it doesn't have animated gifs...

                7 Replies
                1. re: BlueLineSwinger

                  BLS...is it my tired eyes...or is a menu missing from this website?

                    1. re: bgut1

                      That's because there is no menu posted. In fact, if you click on "About the Bistro," that page contains instructions to the restaurant owner about what details should be included under various topics. That indicates to me that Bistro San Miguel is using a basic template though I don't see a heading for "Menu." In any event, the site appears to be a work in progress.

                      1. re: bgut1

                        thanks bgut1. we're going this week so I'll be sure to leave with a menu.
                        First timers, we tend to enjoy reading a menu when avail. Thanks BLS for the handy link.

                        1. re: HillJ

                          No problem. I think it's her daughter who always sets up the web stuff, because, for some reason, they have a myspace page also.

                          1. re: BlueLineSwinger

                            A myspace page for this restaurant is utterly hilarious. between the homey decor, plastic wrap covered sofa, band and karaoke, this place makes for some GREAT photo ops, especially if you're drunk and singing like a retard.

                            I can almost see this place evolving into some weird neighborhood hangout. Haha!

                            Anyway, i doubt a menu is useful anyway, since they'll just make you what they have at the time.

                            1. re: joonjoon

                              From what I know, they have a mypsace page because they produce shows/concerts at Bistro San Miguel. From Local talents to celebrity talents from their country the Philippines.

                  1. Mr C and I had lunch here on Wednesday. We were delighted with the food. When we arrived, there were no other customers and she didn't have lunch ready. (Apparently they'd been very busy with a catering order.) The owner asked us if we liked beef and told us to sit. She went in the back and cooked us a complete lunch!
                    It was well worth the wait. We had a tangy sour tamarind beef soup, pork egg rolls with sweet chili dipping sauce, a beef stew in a rich brown gravy with olives, and white rice. She is a skilled and soulful cook. She hastened to tell us they have a "real chef" who cooks on Thurs, Fri and Sat. But I can't imagine the food being even better!

                    Thanks to BlueLineSwinger for posting about this place on chowhound.

                    11 Replies
                    1. re: val ann c

                      I go by there some days and cannot wait to try it out. I wonder if there is lumpia on the menu?? it is philo dough stuffed with pork, raisins, and I cannot remember exactly what else. it is delicious and served with a dipping sauce.

                      1. re: val ann c

                        No problem Val! It's a pretty magical place, if I may say.

                        1. re: BlueLineSwinger

                          OK-I can't wait to go try this place. I have thought about going in and just haven't had a chance. I so miss this type of ethnic restaurant from where we used to live in Northern Virginia(right outside DC). We never went to chains down there, always hole in the wall local places and had the best food! I am so excited, I can hardly wait. One question, someone mentioned a band, is that on weekends, if so I might want to avoid that as I will probably go with my DH and DD(age3) and that would be a bit of system overload.

                          1. re: BlueLineSwinger

                            I don't know about magical, but it was definitely a surreal experience!

                            1. re: joonjoon

                              They didn't apear to be open last Saturday evening?Still in business?

                              1. re: xny556cip

                                Oh no! We love this place. Are you sure it was closed, or perhaps nobody was in there?

                                It is close to Chinese new year......

                                1. re: aacharya

                                  Why would a Filipino restaurant be closed for Chinese New Year? But maybe they're on vacation? Though one would think if that were the case, they'd a sign on the door to that effect.

                                  1. re: RGR

                                    Ahaah! Mystery solved!!! I just called their phone number, and was told that the number 530-8150 has been temporarily disconnected!!! Phooey, I work at the Fort and was planning on going for lunch one day soon....

                                2. re: xny556cip

                                  ahhh man - I just discovered this post and was about to send a link to the hubby for maybe this weekend - I was so excited!!! :(

                                  1. re: kashmirkat

                                    Drove bye yesterday and it still appears to be closed.

                                    1. re: xny556cip

                                      Bugger. We have been too chicken to try this place after driving past about a year ago. Now I find all these great reviews only to discover it is closed!

                          2. It is closed. Talked to the guy that owns the computer repair store next door today, and he said they left about two weeks ago. Didn't say why they left except that they were gone for good.

                            1. My Boss (Armenian descent) told me about this place. So me and my fiancée went there to see what they have. They were fantastic.

                              I spoke to one of my Filipino friend and he knew about this place and he told me they closed because Rory’s husband was diagnosed with cancer 

                              So yah, that’s why they closed.

                              There is one Filipino restaurant though by Eatontown right by a stripped mall close to Wendy’s. The price there is very reasonable and it seems to be a nice looking restaurant compared to that one in Middletown but I must say I like the food and hospitality of people in Middletown better.