I haven't seen a dedicated Brandl post in some time. Paid a visit with another couple this past weekend after a very long time since my last visit some 5+ years ago. Seems like I was still paying off the tariff from last visit. Brandl remains very expensive for what it is, but boy did we have a truly terrific meal and a very good time. We were able to secure a prime time 7:45 pm reservation on Open Table for a Saturday night (every place we called in Asbury Park couldn't seat us until 9:45 or later). The restaurant was completely full upon our arrival and still a third full when we left around 10:15. Our server, who's name is now escaping me, was excellent. As for the food, we started with oysters, a crab meat martini, escargot (in the shell), and a special salad with a couple slabs of applewood smoked bacon. All the starters were delicious. For mains, the ladies had the lazy lobster (unbelievably sweet and the risotto was as good as I remember it). My friend had the scallops and I had the "halibut in a bag." The fish was literally cooked in some type of brown paper bag with a sticky rice that included grape tomatoes and andouille sausage. This dish just clicked on all levels (I really wanted to order the double cut veal chop special, but was trying to watch the diet). Of course, we ordered one each of the chocolate and vanilla souffles (so much for the diet). Both were out of this world good. The tab came to $135 per couple before tip (and that's without drinks..byob). There are plenty of places in the area where I can usually have a very good meal for that amount of money or less with drinks. I can't see returning with regularity at those prices, but for an occasional splurge, the food on this particular evening was well worth it.
I like Chris. I think his food is often quite good. I like the place and agree that it can be a bit pricey "in season". There are a lot of specials and Money Mailer coupons for locals all fall-winter-spring long. Most importantly, I think the Lazy Lobster is a great plate. Vanilla and butter with lobster is a fine, fine idea..
Mr. Fein. Review is right on the money and it's what it is - an occasional and very infrequent splurge, but oh Lordie, is the food well prepared and delicious.
As to your dilemma of finding a reservation, it's really amazing. I've stated many times before, that I give up dining at places like Brandl, Bay Ave, etc because of the crush of summer visitors and the competition for a dining slot. I do not want a 5pm slot nor a 9:30 slot. We will resume our dining at these spots after Labor Day, but for now will eat 'locally' at the dives and the hidden gems that the touristas don't know about - and even at that, it's a challenge anymore with so many people down here all the time.
Glad that you got in and enjoyed a fine dinner.