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Sep 7, 2010 07:42 PM

Jack Baker's on NJ33

Drove past the old Jack Baker's Lobster Shanty on NJ33 between Freehold and Hightstown, and was quite surprised to see that the establishment had been spruced up on the exterior [and presumably the interior as well]. I know that it had become rundown over the years.

The signs now say "Jack Baker's American Bar & Grille" or words to that effect.

Anyone tried it yet ? Same owners or new management ? Just curious.

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  1. I wonder if they know they are spelling "grill" incorrectly.

    Jack Baker restaurants were never any good. Hopefully they're stepping it up here.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tommy

      The Jack Baker restaurants got a large amount of their early funding from Robert Brennan of First Jersey Securities notoriety. I realize that's an ad hominem argument, but it is the reason why I will not patronize them nor recommend them.

      1. re: cantkick

        My family used to drive through his Christmas light extravaganza that he had at his ranch every year. After the news came out, I stopped talking to my parents and celebrating Christmas. :)

    2. Been there three times. First time for dinner with hubby. Went on a Thursday night and the place was packed. I had never been inside the former place, so have nothing to compare to, but it's more of a bar atmophere, with large bar in the middles and booths and tables around it. There is a back room too but we didn't eat in there. Food was good, service a bit slow, however they had just opened so we weren't too upset. He had ribs and I had Balsamic Chicken sandwich minus the cheese(lactose intolerant). Hubby said ribs were ok, nothing too special, nice portions though.Second time went with two girlfriends for lunch. Service was HORRIBLE!!! We waited to order and then waited for food to come. It was only two salads and a pizza, why the wait, don't understand. Salads again were fine, nothing too special.Third time was the best. Went with my two kids. I had told them that they were slow here so be prepared to wait, boy did I look silly. Ordered right away and served right away!! I ordered the chicken sandwich again, delicious. kids had pizza and a burger. The pizzas are pretty big, my daughter took more than half home and my son loved his burger and fries were pretty yummy too. This is by no means a fancy place, just a nice local place for families or girlfriends. Did find out that Wednesdays they have bottles of wine for half price. My advice is to definitely try it!!! Food is good and prices are low.

      12 Replies
      1. re: pamela4

        Thanks for the review. Its close to home. Will give it a try.

        1. re: jsfein

          Passed by this place yesterday @ 6:30PM.....there were lots of people waiting outside for a table. Both here and @ Luchento's, parking lots were filled to the brim with cars circling.......people waiting outside @ Luchento., as well.

          They both must be doing something right....

          1. re: fourunder

            Perhaps it's because they're about the only places around there? Not many choices in the vicinity. Recent reports on Luchento's are very negative. I wouldn't hold out hopes for Jack Baker's either. Since they're both only a month or so old in their new versions, maybe people are just going to try them out.

            If you could say the same thing about the crowds in six months, then I would be more impressed.

            1. re: cantkick

              Considering the negative reviews you mention (on chowhound) are from first time, and once only posters......I'm not convinced. of their credibility.

              1. re: fourunder

                Fair enough. But my own experience with the old Jack Baker was that it was mediocre at best.

                1. re: cantkick

                  I agree the old Jack Baker Lobster Shanty was so-so.
                  I think both Luchento and the new Jack Baker is doing well because of all the Adult Community down Perrineville Rd.

                  1. re: cantkick

                    I thought you didn't patronize them over the Brennan issue?

                    1. re: fourunder

                      Sometimes you don't have a choice. I didn't choose the place, and it was a long time ago.

              2. re: fourunder

                I've seen lots of people waiting outside of Red Lobster and Klein's in Belmar too; I don't always take that as a sign of good food...

                1. re: equal_Mark

                  That's a very intellectual argument......From what I've read, JB's is family friendly and focuses on Burgers, Sandwiches and Pizza with reasonable pricing.....How do you know all the people I saw outside were not repeat customers(at both JB's & Luchento's)? If you haven't been, why would you have a negative opinion? JB's has been on that corner for a long time and I bet he will be there for some time to come. If I recall, you touted your love for Boom. I'll give you the benefit of doubt they served a great burger, but they failed. Maybe the diners who go to JB's and Luchento's liked what they had and returned.....unlike the customers of Boom.

                  1. re: fourunder

                    I did not express any opinion of JB's. I simply stated that there being a line of people waiting to get inside an establishment is no guarantee of anything.

                    Boom started out making excellent burgers, but the owner devoted too much time and energy trying to please everyone (Even from some comments made here) instead of sticking to the original vision. Boom Gone.

                    1. re: equal_Mark

                      It’s a classically sound argument based upon refuting the fallacy know as “appeal to the masses” or “appeal to popularity.” Perhaps, best illustrated by the traditional Mother’s admonition, “If everyone were jumping off the Brooklyn Bridge . . . “

          2. The original comment has been removed
            1. We stopped by this past friday for dinner. We enjoyed it, and we'll be back. Service issues seem to have been solved - we had a great, attentive waitress named Erin.

              We had a burger, a pizza, and a soup (Lobster Bisque). Burger was well-seasoned and done medium-rare as ordered. Pizza was surprisingly good with a Neopolitan-style chewy/crispy crust, however the sauce was nothing special. The Bisque was a bit too thick, but had good flavor and a generous amount of Lobster meat. My 5-year-old daughter loved it.

              1. Well, it's been a little over a year since this post and last night I went here for dinner after playing golf in the area with a former business client.. We arrived around 7:30pm and the parking lot was 3/4 filled. No problem finding a space and getting seated right away.. I noticed immediately the place had a nice crowd with the bar filled and most all tables in the front bar area occupied. The rear dining room seemed half filled.

                I would like to start off by saying I had originally intended to only contact the restaurant via e-mail to mention a few concerns, but their website only allows for snail mail or telephone contact. .... two options I do not care for, or intend to pursue at this time, so I'm posting here instead. I'm not looking for compensation in any way, so the snail mail isn't necessary. I really do not feel like waiting on the telephone to speak to an appropriate manager....hence my posting here.

                The food was actually pretty good for what I would characterize as a family dining type place. The items I saw coming out of the kitchen all looked pretty good as they passed, including the pizzas......before arriving here, we first stopped at Pom Pom for a warm up and shared a six only soft drinks were ordered here. For our meal, we ordered the following. A fried combination sampler with two sliders, consisting of (4) chicken finger, (4) coconut shrimp, (4) mozzarella sticks, a burger slider and a pulled pork slider. All were pretty good, but the accompanying sauces were not very good at all. The marinara tasted of too much oregano and the jalapeno type plum/duck sauce was too watered down. We also ordered a Bayou Burger and Rib-Eye steak, both requested medium-rare. Both came out exactly as requested

                All in all, it could have been a very enjoyable dinner, but here were the miscues:

                The server was very pleasant, but she did not offer to refill any of the soft drinks or coffee, even though they were pushed to the edge of the table in full view of being empty in front of her each time she came to the table....we had to ask. Life could be worse, no biggie.

                The Bayou Burger was topped with bleu cheese, bacon and caramelized onions...and came out medium-rare exactly as orders......all good except for two things. The roll it came with , although toasted, was stale. More egregious though was the black square plate it was served on. From the overhead light, you could see it had a greasy film and fingerprints all over it.....had we not already chomped into the burger, I would have sent the burger back for this reason. I did not feel it was worth mentioning in front of my former business client.....btw, it came with fries which came out hot and crispy.

                As mentioned above, the Rib-Eye came out medium-rare as ordered and it was tender and topped with some type of compound butter. A solid choice, but it was described as being 16 ounces, served with sweet potato infused Yukon Gold mashed potatoes with roasted asparagus.....The steak was not 16 ounces, maybe 12 ounces at best at slightly over a 1/2 inch thick. The infused mashed potatoes were a little dry and thick. I did not understand the concept of infusing regular potatoes with sweet potatoes. Either serve/offer sweet mashed or mashed. What's the point? Mixed potatoes are not infused potatoes, are they? . Last, the roasted asparagus was actually a combination of sliced yellow and green squash.

                For under 50 bucks(pre-tip), the place is certainly reasonable and I can see why the place is enjoying their success.....but due to their lack of attention for details, I do not think I will be going back.

                9 Replies
                1. re: fourunder

                  An interesting report, fourunder. It's been ages since we last set foot inside that Jack Baker's (known then as JB's Lobster Shanty). We weren't the foodies we've since become, so we went for the "early bird" dinner. Decent enough food at a very reasonable cost. I recall noticing that they stopped using the Lobster Shanty name but have never had any inclination to try the new concept.

                  Btw, in one of my Pierre Franey cookbooks, there is a recipe for mashed potatoes using both white and sweet. Nothing about "infused." lol Just combined and really quite tasty.


                  1. re: RGR


                    always nice to hear from you......

                    with regards to the sweet potato, Yukon Gold thoughts are this. It was not that they were bad in any way, but they were not exceptional in any way either. It was presented just like a scoop of ice cream by using a disher, which is fine, but the concoction in it self was dry and thick, rather than smooth, light, creamy or buttery. Mixing the two types of potatoes together certainly cut the sweetness of the sweet potato, but I would say anyone who wanted sweet potatoes would already be prepared and expect the sweetness. For me, the concept of combining the two potatoes on the same plate would be better presented to include scoops of individually mashed Yukon Gold and Sweet Potatoes....the diner could then mix them together if they wished....or enjoy them separately.....and the presentation would be more visual and impressive.

                  2. re: fourunder

                    So they took a little liberty with the language by using "infused." Big deal. I think the concept is a smart move. I haven't had that mixture with mashed, but as a cold potato salad it works terrifically.

                    As for the dirty plate, I completely agree with your disgust.

                    They should have mentioned the veggie change. To me it would not be a big deal, but to some it might be,

                    All in all, I don't think the food issues, what you call attention to details, should keep you away, since you otherwise enjoyed the meal. However, given the condition of the plate, I too would be leery about returning.

                    1. re: cantkick

                      All in all, I don't think the food issues, what you call attention to details, should keep you away, since you otherwise enjoyed the meal.

                      Let me put it to you this way...

                      Soft Drinks.....not asking or simply refilling without asking is a training and service issue.

                      Accompanying Sauces....poor quality or quality control. I did not ave a problem with the plastic souffle cups they were served in, but I prefer ramekins be used instead.

                      Bayou Burger....I didn't order a chopped steak....the roll should be fresh or edible where it can be enjoyed.

                      Rib-Eye.....It was a good 12 ounce steak, but a terrible 16 ounce one......Being short-changed in weight is not nice and my perception is I was cheated. Considering the difference isn food cost between asparagus and squash....again I was cheated.

                      Four things ordered....four things had miscues....or I was cheated on every item in some way from a value stand point in quality or service.

                      The dirty black plate tells me this. The white plates, coffee mug, glassware and silverware probably get washed in the same manner. The dishwasher is not using soap or the proper rinsing chemicals.....just hot water or water not hot enough to meet code. Allowing the food and drink to leave the kitchen and be served on them tells me this: The chef or kitchen manager, the general manager, the front house manager and the owners do not care about how the food gets out....just that it gets out.

                      It's more than just about one dirty plate...and I never said any miscue was a big deal.

                      1. re: fourunder

                        we've been there a couple of times. First one or two times it was fine. Last time we went we were sitting at the bar & it seemed the bartenders were more interested in talking among themselves than actually bartending. At one point, we thought we'd have to go behind the bar to pour/mix our own drinks. Maybe if we're in the area & are hungry, we'll go there just for convenience sake, not a place we'd go out of our way for. I do have to admit they did a great job in remodeling compared to the old Lobster Shanty.

                        1. re: Jerzeegirl

                          I finally took the family here recently on a Sunday night. I tried their Prime Rib special, my wife had a burger and the kids had kids meals. We all enjoyed our meals very much. The place is cozy, prices were good and the food was enjoyable. Desserts were good also. Service was efficient and all of the staff seems very nice. They were flirting with my son (yet none flirted with me, but that's a story for Dr. Phil). I will be back soon. Wednesday is Yuengling and wing night, so may be back on Wednesday for this!

                          1. re: jethro

                            How's the prime rib special? They advertise it at $13 which would be a great deal if it is good considering Charlie Brown charges almost $20 for their queen cut now.

                            1. re: yCf

                              I thought it was pretty good, especially for the price. Charlie Brown's is very good and $20 isn't a bad price. I think you also get a bigger piece at Charlie Brown's.

                              1. re: jethro

                                Charile Browns has about the best Prime Rib you can find anymore....the kicker for me is it comes with the salad bar which is a good value included in the price of the meal if you ask me.