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Red Sky Restaurant - Keyport

JenniS Jul 16, 2012 06:39 PM

Discovered another good ( but hard to find) restaurant in Keyport this weekend - it is a small place located in the Browns Point Marina parking lot. Stopped in for lunch - I had the grilled swordfish tacos, which consisted of two tacos filled with a nice size strip of grilled fish with a lightly dressed slaw and a mango salsa, thin crispy fries on the side. Husband had a salmon "BLT" - Served on focaccia with seared salmon and a dill flavored mayo. We also enjoyed a starter of 4 fried shrimp dumplings that came with a chili/marmalade sauce. They were crisp and tasty, and the perfect size for an appetizer, each being just a bite and not heavy.

Chef James came out for a quick chat midway through the meal. He seems to have a focus on local, seasonal ingredients.

I look forward to trying more of what the chef has to offer. If I recall correctly, they are open for dinner Wed-Sun, lunch Fri-Sat, and Sunday for brunch.


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  1. j
    Jerzeegirl RE: JenniS Jul 16, 2012 06:58 PM

    I live not far from there & the menu looks pretty good, so we may go check it out. Do they have a bar?

    6 Replies
    1. re: Jerzeegirl
      giacomod RE: Jerzeegirl Jul 20, 2012 05:47 PM

      Jerzeegirl, they don't have a bar, but it is BYOB!

      1. re: giacomod
        Jerzeegirl RE: giacomod Jul 21, 2012 06:23 AM

        Thanks for the response, giacomod. There was no mention of a bar on their website, but I didn't want to assume anything, cause you know what happens when you do that.

        1. re: Jerzeegirl
          equal_Mark RE: Jerzeegirl Jul 21, 2012 10:37 AM

          According to NJ ABC regulations dining establishments are not allowed to mention in their advertising or online presence that they are BYOB. If they have a bar they can mention it, but if they are BYOB they can't. Go figure...

          1. re: equal_Mark
            Jerzeegirl RE: equal_Mark Jul 21, 2012 12:42 PM

            That's NJ for ya.

            1. re: Jerzeegirl
              Mr. Bingley RE: Jerzeegirl Jul 25, 2012 04:41 AM

              So ridiculous

              1. re: Mr. Bingley
                Jerzeegirl RE: Mr. Bingley Jul 25, 2012 06:10 AM

                I rate it right up there with the South Carolina/North Carolina law that you can't have a rare burger unless the establishment grinds the meat for the burgers on the premises.

    2. h
      HillJ RE: JenniS Jul 19, 2012 05:59 AM

      Thank you for sharing your review. I was not aware of this place at all.
      I am always looking for new brunch places to check out.

      1 Reply
      1. re: HillJ
        HillJ RE: HillJ Sep 30, 2012 01:01 PM

        Dh & I enjoyed Red Sky for the 1st time for brunch. We ordered the Crab Cake Benedict and the Captain John's three egg omelet (which includes crabmeat, fontina cheese and onions). Both came with spicy "red sky" potatoes and a few pieces of fruit. The omelet also included toast and with the fresh biscuits literally in view of our table we asked to sub the toast (& the biscuit was delicious). Coffee could have been hotter but the service was excellent and both the benedict and omelete were prepared well. $36.00 with tip.

        We'll be back to try some of the other menus. No issue finding the place or parking.

        Hit the Fishery for some fresh to go items on our way home.

      2. g
        giacomod RE: JenniS Jul 20, 2012 05:49 PM

        Just drove past it...it's located at Keyport Marine Basin. Set back in the parking lot. If I remember correctly, it was once Rays and then Palate Pleasers. The tide comes in, so you have to park behind the building.

        1. angelo04 RE: JenniS Jul 24, 2012 05:57 PM

          Menu looks good. Will have to give it a go. The dessert menu looks a little lacking

          1. cleverwon RE: JenniS Aug 2, 2012 06:04 AM

            Came here last night. It's a little tough to find, but so worth it. This is what we had:

            Appetizers: Ginger shrimp dumplings and the clams..... AMAZING

            I have the swordfish tacos. My sister had the scallops and my mom had the salmon. My meal was incredible! I tried a scallop too and it was amazing. Everyone LOVED their meals and we will all be back soon. If you haven't been here yet, DO IT!!!!

            1 Reply
            1. re: cleverwon
              charmel RE: cleverwon Aug 7, 2012 09:36 PM

              I was just going to reply to a post that was here a day or so ago that read "Red Sky-Fantastic" and I now see that it was deleted. Anyway, hopefully you won’t delete my post since you know I am certainly not new to the boards and that I am a fellow “hounder”. Well, I was at Red Sky for dinner for the first time this past Saturday night. They have only been opened for a month. Actually this thread sparked my interest as I always check the Board for new dining options. I enjoy other restaurants in Keyport (Drew’s, Nemo) and was glad to see yet another addition to the area. Although I am from Marlboro, Keyport dining is worth the trip. As a “hounder” I always approach a new restaurant hopeful, yet looking to evaluate fairly and critically if need be. Honestly, I could not find a single fault at Red Sky. Yes, the location is a bit off the beaten path, but who cares. The meal was wonderful. Three of us enjoyed each and every morsel. IMHO Chef James, the owner (he came out to introduce himself) has remarkable talent- all he needs is a chance as a new restauranteur and a following. The place is small but if all goes well, Chef James has plans to build an outdoor deck. We started out with delicious, warm, perfectly browned home baked rolls that tasted like a soft pretzel without the salt and just the right chive butter compound to accompany them. We ordered the shrimp dumplings, in which you could actually taste whole shrimp. The dipping sauce was a tangy , sweet chile sauce. We also had the corn fritters, which were crisped up just right and accompanied by a creamy remoulade. So far so good. Next came a complimentary salad, which we expected to be blah, since complimentary salads usually are. This one, although simple, was so fresh and beautifully presented on the plate. The wedge of tomato was one of the best I tasted all summer and the house sherry vinagrette was amazing. At this point I really was searching hard to find fault, but couldn’t. Two of us had the sea scallops, which were I think six or seven beautiful specimens from the ocean, browned to perfection in a superb lemon sauce, accompanied with extremely tasty diced potatoes, julienne vegetables and topped with what tasted like frizzled sweet potato. The remaining entrée was the Red Sky chicken, of which my friend did not leave a morsel. Enough said. There were two dessert specials not on the menu, a chocolate lava cake and Cinnabon- Tons. We opted for the Cinnabon-Tons, which were crispy rectangular sort of wontons, filled with the outrageous flavor of Cinnabons and topped with vanilla ice cream. Yum, Yum, Yum. The meal for the three of us including the tip was $95- Unbelievable for such a top quality meal. We will definitely go back and try some of the other appetizers and entrees and I hope that Red Sky can make a go of it, as it would be a shame for this chef’s talent to be wasted.

            2. angelo04 RE: JenniS Aug 23, 2012 09:14 PM

              So we got around to trying this place last night and we were pretty pleased. After a day at the beach, we went home showered and back out to eat. We arrived around 7, with a bottle of wine as it is BYOB. For Apps we started with the corn fritters. Crunchy fried round and yummy served with some type of dipping sauce that was good but escapes me now. We also had the signature shrimp dumplings. Excellent. When I think of the dumplings I usually envision steamed. I would best describe these as stuffed wonton wrappers and deep fried. Then we also ordered the steamed clams with grilled baguette. My wife had to twist my arm to order these. She makes these at home so I really didn't want these, but she insisted. I am glad I listened. Clams were nice and fresh but ultimately any good steamed clam or mussel dish comes down to the broth. It was buttery, garlicky and delicious. We had to request more bread because there was no way I was sending any of that broth back to the kitchen. Probably my favorite dish of the night. Simple but well done

              Moving onto Entrees we had the signature blue sky ravioli and sword fish tacos. My wife is a sucker for homemade pasta. Raviolis were well filled and the pasta was nice and thin. I expected a brown brandy sauce but it was more like a tomato sauce with mushrooms and brandy, very nice. The fish tacos were good too. Grilled swordfish with a mango salsa, some lime wedges and avocado slices. With my 8 and 6 year old we opted to not order from the kids menu. Instead they shared the linguini with clam sauce. The sauce shared a similar sauce as the app but it was generously filled with both whole clams in the shell and fresh chopped clams. Not something I would normally order out since we make this at home but perfect for the kids and better than the dreaded chicken fingers, mac and cheese or grilled cheese that usaully are on a kids menu. Great dish and the kids finished it.

              Still room for dessert, (we have big appetites and we were swimming in the beach all day) We had the lava cake, the Cinnabontons, and the Coffee Milk Shake. The lava cake was what you would expect. It was good, a tad over done for my taste but still good. The real hit to me was the Cinnabontons, crispy wonton shells with a cinnamon filling and some vanilla ice cream. The shake rocked too, it was more a vanilla shake with a shot of real coffee.

              Also forgot to mention the house salad that comes with the entree, good and nice and fresh. My only critique here was I don't think they were local NJ tomatoes, more like the typical tomato but I could be spoiled as I have been picking awesome tomatoes from my yard since early July.

              All in a nice meal. 3 app's, 3 entrees, 3 desserts, $140 with a 20% tip.

              We will be back. I am curious to try breakfast as I hate going to your typical diner and this is a nice alternative.

              11 Replies
              1. re: angelo04
                rickster71 RE: angelo04 Aug 27, 2012 05:12 AM

                We went the other night for dinner, four in all.

                For starters we had the fried Shrimp Dumplings w/ sweet chili sauce and the Corn Fritters. Both were perfectly fried and crisp, not greasy at all.
                This was a great start, the fry station is handled by a pro.

                My friend and I both had the Grilled Swordfish Tacos w/ mango salsa, sesame slaw and avocado. Easily ranked among the top three tacos we've ever had.
                Our wives had the Linguine in Clam Sauce, and a Bayshore Cobb Salad. Both were very good; I can attest to the linguine & clams, as I helped finish it off.

                The only slight stumble was at desert. The Chocolate Lava Cake, the cake portion was very dry, while the Bananas Foster was excellent.
                Last, however not least, the service was very good.

                IMO Red Sky is head and shoulders above Drew's Bistro.

                1. re: rickster71
                  bgut1 RE: rickster71 Aug 27, 2012 09:39 AM

                  rickster71 - Thank you for your insightful review of Red Sky. While you obviously are entitled to your own opinion, I am bit shocked by your statement that you consider this restaurant to be "head and shoulders" above Drew's as it runs counter to the innumerable positive reviews on this board, Drew's three nominations as a James Beard Semi-Finalist, as well as his exemplary Zagat ratings, New York Times and NJ Monthly reviews.

                  1. re: bgut1
                    sockster RE: bgut1 Aug 27, 2012 10:22 AM

                    I actually went to Red Sky a few days ago. In all seriousness, this is a nice little restaurant with very decent food. But to compare it to Bayshore Bistro, seriously, it's not in the same league.

                    While the food is good, it's nothing spectacular, and the location is funky at best. In fact, the people we went with almost didn't go in because it was a "trailer" in a parking lot.

                    After reading a lot about RS on these boards, we decided to try it. The Fritters were ok, just nothing special. Same for the clams and the mussels...they were good, just nothing special. I had the crab cakes for dinner while my friends had the Red Sky chicken. Both were "fine", just not great. To all of us, dessert was the best course. We loved their version of bananas foster. It was out of this world.

                    We met Chef James, and we talked about the challenges of opening a new restaurant. I'll say this: This place is going to take some time to develop..the service is fine as is the food. Note the keyword is: fine.

                    Drew's is outstanding and getting better all the time. I think that over time, James's Red Sky will develop.

                    This place is worth a try....and let's hope this ambitious chef gets it better than fine...let's hope he gets it to wondeful...so he can live his dream in his own restaurant.

                    1. re: sockster
                      HillJ RE: sockster Aug 27, 2012 10:28 AM

                      sockster, glad to know you didn't let the "trailer" stop you. I recall that Drew started out in a musty old Keyport bldg with the oddest of restroom facilities and managed to develop into a stellar place and currently at a different Keyport location. I've even seen Drew shopping at the Korean market in Hazlet, a dank, musty grocer with inconsistent produce sold very cheaply...does that change his talents? Shouldn't.

                      Has anyone enjoyed the breakfast at Red Sky yet?

                      1. re: HillJ
                        charmel RE: HillJ Aug 27, 2012 02:19 PM

                        Went back a second time and was disappointed with my entree. I tried the swordfish tacos and honestly I could barely taste any swordfish. There was a thin strip of overcooked swordfish in each taco, so all I tasted was a mayonnaise based dressing and mango slaw- not happy at all. The mussels as an app were good, but think twice about the swordfish tacos. Even the house salad dressing was too thick and not as good as my first visit. My spouse's scallops were also unusually salty which was surprising since mine were superb the first time. In addition since opening a month ago, the prices jumped on some dishes by $5-$8. This was very poor planning and I was surprised to walk in and see everything increased in such a short time. The key to success is consistency and hopefully Chef James will make it.

                        1. re: charmel
                          HillJ RE: charmel Aug 27, 2012 02:26 PM

                          Not good, charmel.

                          I wish we had a review of the breakfast. Did the prices also change on the online menus?

                          1. re: HillJ
                            charmel RE: HillJ Aug 27, 2012 08:11 PM

                            Yes the on line menus reflect the higher prices- ie: the scallops were $18 the first month the restaurant was open. I went back and they were now $28 the next month. Steak was $20, now $28. Again, poor planning.

                            1. re: charmel
                              angelo04 RE: charmel Aug 28, 2012 08:37 AM

                              Rickster71 - I thoroughly enjoyed my dinner but this is no Drew's, 2 completely different leagues.

                              1. re: angelo04
                                Ed0652 RE: angelo04 Sep 1, 2012 05:08 PM

                                The restaurants are completely different styles.

                    2. re: bgut1
                      rickster71 RE: bgut1 Aug 27, 2012 04:39 PM

                      To bgut1

                      Well thank you for allowing me to be entitled to my own opinion.

                      My wife and I have had a very bad, and bazaar experience at Drew's, and will never return.
                      When I told of out experience in the original Drew's thread (a few years ago) the entire Drew's thread was deleted.
                      (Yes, it was that bad.)

                      Red Sky, at three weeks old, is Head and Shoulders above what Drew's was on our last visit. Sorry just our opinion.

                      1. re: rickster71
                        equal_Mark RE: rickster71 Sep 1, 2012 06:49 PM

                        Not sure I get the comparison between Red Sky and Drews Bistro. Red Sky has no Cajun or creole dishes on their menu at all. What is there to compare? One might just as well compare Red Sky To Nemo or Shanghai Bun.


                2. angelo04 RE: JenniS Sep 1, 2012 07:00 AM

                  Just attempted to try breakfast but they were closed. I way fairly certain they served breakfast on Saturday and brunch on Sunday.

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: angelo04
                    HillJ RE: angelo04 Sep 1, 2012 07:08 AM

                    Hours of Operation Fall and Winter
                    Monday: Closed
                    Tuesday: Closed
                    Wednesday: 4pm - 9pm Dinner
                    Thursday: 4pm - 9pm Dinner
                    Friday: 4pm - 9pm Dinner
                    Saturday: 4pm - 9pm Dinner
                    Sunday Brunch: 9am - 3pm Brunch

                    1. re: HillJ
                      angelo04 RE: HillJ Sep 1, 2012 10:52 AM

                      Thanks. We were the're this week and they said breakfast is served in Saturday's. It also said so on the website though I did not look at the hours

                      1. re: angelo04
                        HillJ RE: angelo04 Sep 1, 2012 10:52 AM

                        Judging by what I pulled up from their website this morning, the word breakfast has been removed and their Fall/Winter operating hours have changed.

                        1. re: HillJ
                          Ed0652 RE: HillJ Sep 1, 2012 05:07 PM

                          The fall hours went into effect today, I believe.

                          1. re: Ed0652
                            angelo04 RE: Ed0652 Sep 1, 2012 06:24 PM

                            New hours or not, under Menu's there is a link that says "breakfast" and under it says Saturday Only. I knew I wasn't crazy. It is still there too.

                            1. re: angelo04
                              HillJ RE: angelo04 Sep 2, 2012 04:27 AM

                              You are absolutely right, angelo04.

                  2. t
                    tom246 RE: JenniS Sep 2, 2012 04:43 AM

                    Met our North Jersey friends here for dinner yesterday and enjoyed a nice meal. Location is funky as has been noted. If you park "behind" the cinder block columns, no problem. If you don't you may need boots to get to your vehicle :). It's really not an issue as there is plenty of parking.

                    The food is solid, appetizers and mains were all nicely prepared and tasty. Apps were Steamed Mussels, Stuffed Mushrooms, Shrimp Dumplings and Corn Fritters. All were very good, the fritters were especially good. Nice blend of flavors and tangy sauce for dipping.

                    Entrees were Scallops, Crab Cakes, Salmon and NY Strip Steak. We shared everything and like the apps all were tasty and prepared as ordered. All entrees came with diced potatoes with a nice lemon thyme seasoning. Also some sliced zucchini.
                    Desserts were the Bananas Foster (excellent) and Berry Shortcake (good). Service was helpful and friendly throughout the meal.

                    Red Sky is a nice addition to the Keyport dining scene. Wish Chef James and crew the best in trying to make Red Sky a success.

                    1. f
                      Flexible1234 RE: JenniS Sep 9, 2012 06:06 AM

                      Four close friends that visit many local places set out for a new location, Red Sky!

                      The place is hard to find but we are from the area, so that was not an issue.

                      All the posts about flooding are true and you have to watch were you park. We checked the tide charts as this place is near the water, and I am sure full moon nights would be worse. You can always park on the high side of the property.

                      The food was good quality and taste, however to portions were tiny, almost like a sample. If your a hungry bunch, or used to eating a good portion, you will still be looking for more after this meal. The chef came out to say hello, nice guy and he has talent, however Im not sure if it can be displayed properly, in a sleeply town like Keyport.

                      Pricing is in line with the quality of the food and more in line with NYC prices. Desert prices are all 8 to 10 dollars for a piece of cake.

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