Agave Grill, W. Long Branch, NJ (Mexican)
Went to Agave Grill in W. Long Branch (or Oceanport). It's on Branchport Avenue, just north of 36 about a block before Casa Comida. It's a great new Mexican restaurant that ranks with the best in the area.
It's in a small, converted house. It has about 15 tables inside, and a handful outside. The decor is pleasing, appropriate decoration, many photos, and soft mariachi background music. We arrived a little before 7:00 and were the only ones there. That worried us a bit, but we were soon put at ease. The chips and salsa starter was great. Warm, crisp chips, and tasty salsas. The mild one was a little heavy on the cilantro, which is either a plus or minus, depending on your taste. The spicy sauce was green (tomatillos?) with just enough kick and a lot of flavor.
We got a chorizo nacho platter for an appetizer. We could have stopped there and been satisfied as the sausage was outstanding. Fortunately we didn't. DW had a pork quesidilla/chicken burrito combo. She enjoyed it. (And DD enjoyed enjoyed the leftovers.) I had a molijite (sp?) which was a combo of many meats and veggies cooked in the hot sauce, sizzling like a fajita, served in a stone bowl shaped like a small pig. (I think that's what the name means.) It was accompanied with warm tortillas, but I did not use them. One of the best Mexican dishes I've ever had. The only negative was the rice. We didn't enjoy it, but that might just be personal taste w.r.t. the spices used.
I highly recommend this place, and ask that fellow Chowhounds patronize it so we don't lose a promising new spot.
Tried Agave Grill tonight, and as reported it is a friendly place with nice decor and tasty food. The only problem was there was no option to spice it up. The salsa they serve with the chips (which were good) was made of tomatoes, onions and cilantro, no chiles. I then asked to just have a jalepeno sliced and brought out to the table, and was informed they had no jalepenos in the kitchen. "Any Chiles?" "No, sorry..."
A Mexican restaurant kitchen with *no* fresh chiles? (???!) It's akin to an Asian restaurant with no rice.
Granted, not everyone likes spicy food, but at a Mexican place it ought to at least be an option. Luckily I carry a bottle of Chipotle sauce in my car for just such emergencies...
That aside, the food and service were very good. I had the Cocktel de Camarones (shrimp coctail) which was done in true Mexican style (hold the ketchup and horseradish). It was medium shrimp, mixed with a tomato based sauce with diced avacado, red onion and cilantro. Sort of like a thick gazpacho with shrimp, served with saltine crackers.
I then had the soft tacos with spicy pork. They were also done well with onion and cilantro (a wedge or 3 of lime would have been nice). Flavorful without a trace of grease you sometimes get at other places. Each taco was served with 2 corn tortillas, but the second tortilla was not really necessary as there was not the likelihood of a grease induced tortilla blowout. The tacos are served with your choice of salsas, and I was told the spiciest one was the chipotle (which I had already decided on). Even this required some additional squirts from my emergency supply.
The service was friendly and the overall experience was good, though I hope to see the inclusion of some optional supplemental heat.