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Birthday Dinner for Two- Any ideas?

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Hi all-

Hoping you can help me out. Am looking for somewhere to take my husband for his birthday in a week and a half. I prefer to stay in Monmouth County to limit the time we need a babysitter. Pricewise, I am willing to spend for a good meal, but would rather not break the bank. And am looking for something a little nicer than the average Asbury Park/Red Bank (where we have had some unfortunate over priced mediocre meals as of late) haunts that we tend to go to. We have already tried (and really liked) both Nicholas and Trinity. Moonstruck is a been there done that experience as well. I would like to try someplace new. I enjoy more simple food where the ingredients do the talking (Craft over WD-50). He likes big flavors. Not a big fan of most Italian but could be swayed...


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  1. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/612689

    Have you tried Greek? This particular restaurant comes highly recommended by CH's. My dh & I love the simple food and the fresh, authentic ingredients DO the talking here.

    Another lovely place for two celebrating an occasion is http://belfordbistro.com/


    2 Replies
    1. re: ejdb

      I can highly recommend Belford Bistro!

      1. re: rickster71

        Another nice one is Daniel's Bistro. Though it's just over the Monmouth / Ocean county line.

        Daniel's Bistro and Belford Bistro are both BYOB.

    2. http://www.havanatropicalcafe.com/

      It's getting a bit chilly for their outdoor dining area but if you crave Cuban, this restaurant is also quite nice for a celebration. Inside dining room is nice too. Killer Mojitos.

      1. Trinity and Nicholas are in their own class in the area. If your willing to come down to the bottom of the County, however, Shipwreck in Brielle might be worth considering. Like the other two restaurants mentioned, the kitchens utilize high quality ingredients and thoughtful preparations. Also, the menu provides choices that are complex (e.g. Seared Scallops w/ Foie Gras, etc.) or simple (e.g. Raw Malpaque Oysters). Moreover, the wood-covered interior creates a warmer, prettier environment than that of some of the other places suggested in this thread. Finally, they have a liquor license!

        1 Reply
        1. re: MGZ

          Excellent recommendation MGZ. Here's the link ejdb.

        2. I really like Trinity, but if you're looking to try something new and just as good, then I'm in agreement with some of the others here, Belford Bistro would be my pick. Wonderful food, great service and lovely decor.

          As already posted it's a BYO...here's the link:


          I would recommend you make reservations

          1. Thanks all, I think I have it narrowed down to either Shipwreck or Belford!

            1. I haven't been to Doris and ed's since the new chef arrived, but I've never had a bad meal there (famous last words, I know).

              2 Replies
              1. re: Mr. Bingley

                ejdb - Although you can't go wrong with either choice, Belford Bistro would be my suggestion.

                1. re: bgut1

                  Was leaning that way so now you have pushed me off the fence. Thanks all for your suggestions. The b-day dinner is next weekend so I will let you know how the meal went.

              2. Let me preface this by saying I like to eat good food, not necessarily review it, but will give it my best shot.

                Went to Belford Bistro fairly early on Sunday (6pm). Pulled up and was a bit hesitant as we were greeted by a pizza place on our left and a gang of teenagers on our right. But, once we were inside all doubts were gone. After much deliberation (we wanted to make sure we had all our bases covered) we ordered the Butchers Bacon and the Crabcake for apps. The Butchers bacon was fabulous. It was crispy fatty thick bacon on top of, what was akin, to a mildish sauerkraut with whipped sweet potatoes topped with tart apple matchsticks on the side. The mix of fatty goodness,sour and sweet was excellent. My husbadns crabcake was very good as well. It was probably the best crabcake I have ever eaten. It had a nice crispiness on the outside and a crunch on the inside. Not a whole heck of a lot of filler.

                Main courses were the sea scallops with risotto and the strip steak. The scallops were cooked almost perfectly (did notice that the underside was not as nicely seared as the top)and the risotto was flavorful and creamy. The steak was probably the low point of the night (if there had to be something considered "low"). It was cooked perfectly however, the cut of meat was a bit tough. I didn't order it or eat much of it, my husband did, and his tolerance for meat tenderness is a bit different than mine. In any case, it did taste delicious and he seemed to enjoy it.

                After that we were too full for any desert.

                I will say that the service was spectacular. There was one waitress for the entire restaurant. At one point she had six tables at various stages of their meals and not once did I feel that she was anything short of extremely attentive. Refilling water, answering questions, chit-chatting etc...And the chef came out to meet and greet as well.

                It was a most enjoyable meal so hats off to you all for your suggestion.

                2 Replies
                1. re: ejdb

                  ejdb - That was a great review. Thank you. You may want to add your review to the Belford thread as well. http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/491445

                  1. re: bgut1

                    great review!

                    it's scandalous that i live 4 miles away and haven't gone there yet....

                2. ignore all grammatical errors, too lazy to go back and edit.