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Firefly American Bistro, Manasquan NJ

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I had never heard of or visited this place before until this afternoon for my cousin's bridal shower. I always dread attending showers at restaurants because the food is always so bad. I am pleased to report that that was not the case today.

The full name of the place is Firefly: An American Bistro. There was a temporary sign on the sidewalk saying that they were now serving dinner so I got the impression that they do mostly catering and private events. I could be wrong but the shower took up half of the room today and there were no other people at the rest of the tables between 12 and 3 when I was there.

To start there was the Firefly Salad which was arugula, shallots, goat cheese, poached pears, grape tomatoes, candied walnuts, and a balsamic dressing drizzle. I'm not a fan of arugula (or pears or grape tomatoes or candied walnuts for that matter) but I ate every last bit of of the salad except the grape tomatoes because I reeeeeeeeeeally don't like them. Everyone at the table ate all or almost all of the salad.

For the main course we had a choice of champagne chicken, vegetarian tower, penne pomodoro, or wild salmon. Several of us chose the salmon while a couple had the chicken and one selected the vegetarian option.

I was back and forth between the salmon and penne but I ultimately chose salmon because my husband hates it so I never make it at home. I was afraid that I was going to get a dried hockey puck of salmon and I was soooo wrong. The salmon was seasoned with just salt and pepper and seared... it was so moist and juicy. I don't think I've ever called any kind of fish "juicy" before. It was served over risotto with slivers of steamed asparagus. I ate every last bit of food on the plate. It was outstanding.

The champagne chicken was served over potato puree with an artichoke heart and a sauce drizzled over top. Those who chose it said the chicken was moist and juicy as well and really enjoyed their meals. The vegetarian meal had red and white quinoa, squash, asparagus, and some other things that I couldn't see because the plate was at the other end of the table. I would have been happy to have received that plate of food and I'm a total meat-lover. It looked that good.

We finished with the cake which was made in-house. One of the servers said that the pastry chef is going to be on an upcoming episode of Chopped. The cake decoration was gorgeous. The flavor was great as well. We had yellow cake with a cannoli cream filling. I'm not a big dessert person but I ate more than half of my slice of cake so that's saying something.

Hands down the best food I've ever had at a shower or event. If it wasn't such a drive from where I live, I would definitely be returning there for dinner very soon. We are about 30 minutes away and I'm thinking we may very well be going there for dinner anyway. I was totally impressed!

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  1. Did you notice if they had a private room? I've eaten at Firefly and loved it. Trying to find a location for my daughter's bridal shower but want to do a wine pairing.

    3 Replies
    1. re: melkel

      I didn't see a private room but we were in half of the room and pretty contained while there were other tables on the other side of the room. It didn't look like they were serving lunch at the same time so it was really just us.

      The event I was at WAS a bridal shower and it was wonderful. Best one not in a private home that I've ever attended.

      1. re: Njchicaa

        thank you.

        1. re: Njchicaa

          There is a private room.

      2. Although they do private events, they are primarily a dinner restaurant.

        http://www.fireflymanasquan.com/

        1. I've posted about this place before, (See the links at: http://www.bing.com/search?q=MGZ%20ch...

          )

          They have certainly improved with time. I have grown to like it more and more. It's a BYO doing (somewhat) dumbed down New American cuisine (nothing like what ChefMd did at Trinity, but certainly about the best in the general area). I'd suggest that you try it again for dinner - it has a few dishes that are worth it. Try the "Chicken" and Waffles (which is really Quail) and/or the Shrimp and Grits (which should have more grits) and/or the Bone-in Steak for two (when available).

          Two other points worth mentioning. First, after the Storm, they were out there providing free food for locals that were affected. Second, they are about to open a steakhouse in Point Pleasant in what was (I think) the Blue Water Seafood restaurant (near Miletto's).

          7 Replies
          1. re: MGZ

            as I said, I was very pleasantly surprised by the delicious food that they served. I'm so used to gross food at showers and not-so-great food in general around here.

            I would definitely consider going to Firefly for dinner one weekend. I'm about 25 minutes south of Manasquan but I'm willing to venture out of my immediate area for some really delicious food. Heck, we've been trekking up to Maria's for years and years and that is just good comfort Italian food.

            I told all of the females of the family who were at the shower that Firefly is now the official venue for all bridal and baby showers, christenings, etc. They knocked it out of the park.

            1. re: Njchicaa

              Maria's? Do tell...........

              1. re: jrvedivici

                Maria's was an old school, red sauce, family owned* place that opened in 1969. Consequently, spending the vast majority of my life in this silly, little town, we've been there - A LOT. It was every Thursday night for my Dad. Every trip home from school or when I lived elsewhere for me. Every event was celebrated there for decades. In it's day, it was terrific - especially when you were someone who'd been going there for so long.

                It recently sold as Frank and his two remaining sisters had, like the rest of us, gotten a little old and tired of the grind. The new owners kept the staff and the menu, but I haven't been in since just before the closing when I had a less than usual meal there.

                They always made the best pizza in town - thin crust and coated with the sauce Maria used to make every morning. Frank was a solid guy, a solid chef, and a solid local - refusing to raise prices on his veal last year more than a buck, although his cost had doubled. ("I can't do that to the guys who'd been comin' in here so long") I'll go back and see how it's holding up, but, to be honest, unless you have a time machine and can set it to some point in the past, I can't recommend it with full force (but I'd welcome you're thoughts on the place if you're down in the area).

                *Three sisters and a brother

                1. re: MGZ

                  MGZ- by all means do give Maria's a try as they have upgraded the ambience in recent years but still serve the same basic dishes they have served forever. The husband and I have been going here off and on since the mid seventies and have never had a really bad meal. They will never be fine dining perhaps but none the less you could do worse...

                  1. re: CatLadyJan

                    As I said, Maria's has been my family's restaurant pretty much since they opened (close to my birth date). I have all intention of returning as that long of a relationship with a restaurant is terribly hard for a 'hound to break. Nonetheless, the new owners took over in the fall and I have not been back since having a meal that was not up to par the night before The Storm. If you have been there subsequently, please let me know your thoughts. I guess it's just weird to me to know that Frank will not make me something, or Maria will not being grouchy, or . . . .

                    1. re: MGZ

                      If being around someone grouchy would enhance your dining experience you can invite me and I will gladly oblige.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        We have been there 3 times since Sandy and enjoyed each meal. However keeping in mind that we rate them 3 stars meaning it is A-OK so we are not looking for fine dining at Maria's. As I said above they have made a few positive change to the ambience. White linen table cloths - who would have ever thought in the day...

            2. Major kudos to Njchicaa and MGZ for posting about Firefly. I tried the restaurant last night and found everything to be top notch; the food, service and decor were wonderful. If I had to find a criticism, I would say that the food was a little gimmicky though fun (Asian calamari coming out of a Chinese takeout container or the presentation of the ring ding for 2). Otherwise the food was well prepared and flavorful. Other dishes tried include the tuna poke, firefly salad, halibut and the big chop. Next time I will definitely try the tomahawk chop (a Flintstones sized steak with all the sides). This place will be added to my regular rotation of restaurants. Good Luck.

              3 Replies
              1. re: bgut1

                Hey bgut1, good to see you are still eating well. Firefly sounds really good. Normally I would get there after your post but it is a bit of a commute now :)

                Keep those reports coming, always good to hear your take on restaurants

                1. re: tom246

                  Thanks tom246. Hope to have you back real soon and looking forward to your posts on the other board.

                2. re: bgut1

                  Good to hear from you again, bgut, it seems like its been a while.

                  Funny to hear that Firefly is being gimmicky. When they first opened, I would have said that they were almost too stiff. In fact, I think they were timid about pushing anything too far this close to the land of pizza and big portions. I guess they're gettin' more comfortable and enjoying their success.

                3. It's funny how time and success can change a restaurant. The last two times we went to Firefly, we left disappointed - scratching our heads as we tried to put our fingers on what had changed so much. It simply seemed that everything we ate was just one or two degrees "less than" and cost a few dollars "more than". A friend noted turnover in the folks manning the stoves.

                  By way of further update, they have shuttered the Manasquan location and moved to Point Pleasant at the White Sands location. It seems the lure of the ATM that is a liquor license was too strong to permit them to remain true to the clientele that established and supported them.

                  I wish them luck and all the profits they dream of, but, given it's recent decline in quality, inevitably high drink prices, and the new, larger space, I find myself in accord with the prevailing sentiment in town: "I just don't think it's good enough to cross the bridge for."

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: MGZ

                    Interesting..........what was in the White Sands location prior? I have no recollection of anything memorable being there.

                    Taking my parents to the Commited Pig for breakfast about 6 mos. ago I drove their car. I pulled in the driveway between the Pig and the Fly, dropped them at the Pigs door and proceeded to park in the handicapped spot (with my parents permit). By the time I made it to the Pigs door a woman had chased me down to tell me that handicapped space was for Fly customers only and I had to move the car or she would have to have it towed. I can completely understand or respect that, but not at 9:30/10am on a Sat/Sun when the Fly wasn't even open for business. Kind of left a sour taste in my mouth and lessened my desire to ever give them a try.

                    So there is a vacancy in town?

                    1. re: jrvedivici

                      For what it's worth, there are no specifically allotted spaces on Main Street in Manasquan.

                      And, yes, it appears the restaurant space at the Inn on Main is available again.

                      1. re: MGZ

                        Is it an actual functioning Inn?

                        1. re: MGZ

                          Taken as of today! Don't know by who but I just spoke to a worker at the site who is said someone new is moving in!

                          Oh well guess I'll grab a cocktail at Shipwreck!

                      2. re: MGZ

                        I didn't think it was worth crossing 71 for so no way would I go OTB.

                        Missy

                        1. re: missybean

                          It appears that the space will be reopened as Blend: A Modern American Bistro, this March. Lou Smith, one of the chefs at Firefly and Prime 13,* will be the owner/chef . https://twitter.com/ChefJRSmith

                          That's all I know . . . .

                          *What I could find: http://www.app.com/viewart/20120829/N...