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Feb 28, 2013 04:35 PM

Char - Red Bank

Char supposedly opened to the general public on Wednesday, February 27th and I was wondering whether anyone has an early review. Thanks in advance.

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  1. You are correct! I have not been there however I have heard it is a sight to be seen and the cocktails are good. I will report a review by next week.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jrvedivici

      Summary: Average beorf at best, miserable sides extra, crowd noisy and obnockshuss, decor dark and tacky, prices stratospheric!

    2. I wonder what the prices will look like here. I know they won't be cheap but i wonder if they will add the "trendy red bank" tax onto the meals.

      JR, any idea what the 20oz bone-in strip runs at the original?

      7 Replies
      1. re: corvette johnny

        Hard to say until someone actually goes there. I tend to avoid establishments that don't include prices in their online menus.

        1. re: corvette johnny

          Without trying to come across the wrong way by saying this but I never really look(ed) at the prices. I would say on the bone would be around the $40/42 range but as equal Mark pointed out I can't confirm that on the menu. That is the appropriate range for that cut and quality at a place like Char. (In my experience)

          1. re: jrvedivici

            That sounds about right and would be a fair cost.

            I'd like to chow down on the big 30oz ribeye

            "The Gotham (30) Ribeye, dry aged"

            1. re: corvette johnny

              Went on Friday (3/1) night and ate at the bar. First impression is that it's a great new spot. Maybe over the top for Red Bank but that's not the worst thing in the world. But subtle, it's not.

              Well, if not over, staffed. Bartenders are friendly and make a good gin martini. Good wine list and many available by the glass. Two flat screen tv's had basketball on, no sound.

              Had the dry aged NY strip (14 oz.) along with a wedge salad. Temp (medium rare) was cooked perfectly. Great steak and I'm thrilled to have this place down the street. Prices for steak are between $30-$44.

              Had creamed spinach and mashed potatoes. Both were good, but nothing to rave about.

              Looking forward to going back and getting a table. But I'll give the place two big thumbs up. Great for Red Bank.

              1. re: whg4

                Nice to hear this good review. I tried to make a reservation but they were packed. I hope they do well in this location.

                  1. re: whg4

                    I have been to the Char near the Somerville Circle a few times. I thought the steaks and the drinks were good, although very pricey. Not so great that I'd go to the one In Red Bank, even though I live only one town away. Better dining options in the area.

            2. scrappy - how do you know that there are better options if you haven't been there?

              11 Replies
              1. re: Papa Bing

                Papa Bing,

                I'm assuming the Char's near the Somerville Circle is similar to the new one in Red Bank. Do you agree ?

                1. re: scrappyone

                  We can't compare the two on paper. I would expect it to be similar but we need to go to see what it is all about. Staff will be different, most likely different management, and even different decor/seating arrangements. There are a lot of variables.

                  I could expect James to be nearly as funny as John Belushi but it just didn't happen LOL

                  1. re: corvette johnny

                    The feedback I have received is the decor is actually very similar to the Raritan location complete with the rain fountain and glass encased flames. The menu is identical as is the quality from what I'm told.

                    It's amazing that I was so excited for them to open and now that they have I loath Red Bank so much I still haven't gotten there.

                    One interesting thing I have been told is they will only accept 8 reservations per hour. They are strictly controlling the dinner flow to make sure they don't inundate their kitchen. While I can respect their desire to keep the flow going it seems rather amateurish for this organization to open like that.

                    1. re: jrvedivici

                      Its a chain restaurant so I wouldn't expect the food and drinks to be any different in Red Bank than what they are serving in Somerville. I thought it was good, not great, but very pricey.

                      1. re: scrappyone

                        It's not a chain at all, Red Bank is just their second location. The Raritan location is the original and the owners have been at that location for years previous to Char they were a seafood based restaurant called Aqua(?) for many years.

                  2. re: scrappyone

                    scrappy - you know what they say about assume.

                    1. re: Papa Bing


                      I had no idea that Red Bank is their only other location. Hey, maybe I should go after all and keep an open mind about it.

                      On second thought I'll wait until I read more reviews before deciding to take the plunge in Red Bank.

                      1. re: scrappyone

                        I wouldn't waste my time if I were you why let Papa Bing bully you! You already said it wasn't worth the money despite being very good. It sounds like you can expect this one to be even more upscale, at least good and also expensive.

                  3. re: Papa Bing

                    Really? You can't tell if a restaurant is worth going to if you haven't been there?

                    1. re: AC Captain

                      "I can get a good look at a steak by sticking my head up a bull's ass, but I'd rather take the butchers word for it."

                      I know this really doesn't fit here but it's one of my favorite food related movie quotes so I couldn't help myself. lol

                      1. re: jrvedivici

                        "No wait, it's gotta be your bull" lol

                  4. I stopped in for a drink last night. Nice space - a bit too fancy for the likes of me, but I could see why others might flock there. The place was pretty crowded by half past five on a Saturday night. Only about ten bucks for a Negroni seemed fair.

                    I may stop back in to have a steak someday, but the place is a little more "Red Banky" than this Shore guy will ever be drawn to.

                    1. I have a reservation for an early dinner at Char tonight and I will report back afterwards.

                      But I wanted to comment on the negative attitudes expressed by my fellow respected hounds about Red Bank. I make no secret of the fact that I love this town. Growing up in Lincroft in the 1970s, Red Bank was always a destination town for me. Many a happy night of my youth was spent after my parents dropped me off in Red Bank.

                      And now, 40 years later I still feel the same way. With the possible exception of Asbury Park, this town is still my favorite spot in which to eat and then walk around. If I were to open an eatery myself this is where I would want it to be. My kids still ask to be dropped off here to meet up with and hang out with their friends.

                      Am I missing something?

                      16 Replies
                      1. re: seal

                        What can I say, man? I date to the "Dead Bank" era of the 80s. I still love goin' to Mr. Pizza Slice or the Bagel Oven, but I'm just not the fancy type. As I said, I'm a Shore guy and RB ain't the Shore. Gimme flip flops and a baseball cap, not high top, suede sneakers and a pork pie.

                        I once followed up a dozen McDonald's twenty-five cent cheeseburgers with a sub at Elsie's before going down to Marine Park to get drunk on a bottle of Wild Turkey, but RB has none of that gritty soul left in it. I remember missing my train home because I was listening to the E-Street Band rehearse at Big Man's West - Isn't it a gym now? Doesn't that say anything?

                        Enjoy your dinner. The place is very Twenty Thirteen Red Bank, but I'm sure the steaks are great. The calamari was decent, but I wouldn't recommend it. Best bet would be to save room for a coupla tacos at North of the Border when you're done.

                        1. re: seal

                          I still enjoy going to Red Bank and walking around or spending the day at one of the summer fairs etc. I'm very local to the area and have 2 kids in RBC (both St James graduates) so I spend plenty of time in the area.

                          The problem for me is with the popularity of places like Beuno Sera, Teak, Red, Blue Water, Ashes/Char the Red Bank scene has become being seen.

                          While from my exterior view of Char (passed last night at 6:30 on my way to Raven and Peach) the interior looks the exact same as their other location. However the shoulder to shoulder standing room only Red Bank wanna be seen in the scener's is enough to have kept me away since its opening. I'm planning on going tomorrow night figuring most of those whom annoy me should be nursing themselves from the weekend.

                          1. re: seal

                            I still love Red Bank, too. I went to RBC. I loved 1/2 days when we got to walk around town. Now I love when my kids have 1/2 days so we can go walk around town. And, of course, stop at Mr. Pizza slice. It's a good place for a date with the hubs... drinks at one spot, dinner at another, and then a nice walk to end the eve. We will try Char, not to "be seen" but to get a steak, once the hullaballoo dies down. I look forward to your review.

                            1. re: seal

                              Seal - Looking forward to your review.

                              1. re: bgut1

                                Love Red Bank. Char not so much. I remember watching a tv sitcom once where the main character said that the best way to give bad news was to sandwich it in between two good things.

                                Let me start off with the good. Everyone enjoyed their salads and appetizers very much. The seafood tower was well sourced, and well presented - fresh and flavorful. Both the wedge and caeser salads were crisp and fresh, and the crabcake and stuffed mushrooms were thoroughly enjoyed.

                                As for the bad. Steak. They use a very nice piece of beef to start with, but then they drop the ball. My daughter's large filet was ordered medium rare and the server who dropped it off repeated "filet medium rare" as he set it down but it was clearly medium well with no pink much less red. To be fair, the other 4 steaks were properly cooked to order, but bland, almost to the point of completely unseasoned. As a long time cook I know the age old formula, salt+high heat=flavorful crust. And I have enjoyed many a steak simply seasoned with salt and nothing else, but you have to at least use salt! This same blandness was also in evidence in the side of au poive sauce (watery and bland) and the side of Char steak sauce (sweet and bland). Also, why put jalapenos on the fries if you don't describe them as such on the menu? Service. We were seated promptly for our 6:30 reservation by one of at least 4 very attractive young hostesses. But we ended up finishing our steaks more than 2 hours later. It took such a long time to get them it was bordering on ridiculous. Then we sat with our dirty plates for more than 15 minutes until our waiter finally cleared our table himself. Get some bus staff!

                                The other good. The managers are both on the ball. The upstairs manager was pitching in himself to help out the staff. They also took my daughter's steak off the bill and comped us a couple of desserts. Also the space is beautiful, as nice inside as any restaurant anywhere.

                                I will likely be back to give them another chance, but not that soon. Maybe early summer if I hear that these issues have been fixed. For their prices we all left saying we should have gone to Nicholas.

                                1. re: seal


                                  I am not really a filet guy, but the wife eats them sometimes. Normally steakhouses realize the filet is the most bland/mild cut of beef and in turn a lot of them offer something to jazz it up (garlic butter, bluecheese, reduction, etc)

                                  Does char have any such accoutrements?

                                  MGZ, any decent craft beers on tap?

                                  Apparently this place is doing really well. You can't even get a table there without reservations.

                                  Do they use any wood by chance?

                                  1. re: corvette johnny

                                    I had their big ribeye and it was bland/saltless as well. As mentioned, I tried two of their a la carte sauces and didn't care for either. I was/am kinda upset at paying $45 for my steak.

                                    1. re: seal

                                      I've never tried the rib eye and as a rule I rarely order that out. I have either the porterhouse for 2 or strip on the bone. (generally cut off the bone).

                                      I'm surprised to hear of your experience......however much of it goes along with what I've been hearing, especially regarding the service. I've been told they are very strict with their seating as not wanting to inundate the kitchen which really surprises me.

                                      I'm going tonight and will report tomorrow. I'm going fairly early...around 5:30/6pm as I don't want it to be a late night and I will be sitting at the bar. (assuming I find a spot).

                                      Anyone reading this feel free to stop by and buy me a post-birthday drink!! lol (don't worry I will reciprocate!)

                                      1. re: seal

                                        Oh so you can order different sauces for any cuts? I know some steak houses will only offer certain sauces with certain cuts, kind of like how some steak houses will not offer ketchup (I don't eat ketchup on steak but I have seen people at work dinners get rejected when they ask for kethcup LOL.) Anyway , thanks for the review. I will post something up once I get there.

                                        Did you have the "Gotham" ribeye? If so, it is hard to imagine a prime and dry aged ribeye to be bland. That's too great factors on top of an already great cut of meat. : )

                                      2. re: corvette johnny

                                        They got my buddy Carton's Boat Beer on tap and an IPA that I was interested in. The focus seems to be more on wine and cocktails.

                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          Nice, do you go to the brewery at all? I used to go all the time but have slowed down recently. I run the boat beer on tap at my house. life is good...great session beer!

                                          Are you friend's with Chris and/or Augie? They are some real cool and down to earth guys.

                                          I can see the wine push there...much higher margins over beer.

                                          1. re: corvette johnny

                                            I had posted a response to your inquiry yesterday, but apparently, I somehow crossed a line and it was deleted. Simply stated, I knew Chris in my lowercase days at RBC. We kinda learned to drink beer together and it was cool to see him makin' beer at the Shore nowadays.

                                            1. re: corvette johnny


                                              I live in the Atlantic Highlands area and have been to Carton brewery a number of times. It was a novelty when it first came out but the quality of beers has not kept up with others in the area like Kane Brewing in Ocean Township as well as Flying Fish and River Horse.

                                              I know a number of craft beer bars that don't carry Carton anymore. Most of their beers are too hoppy and there are much better true craft beers available in the area. You should look into them when you have the time.

                                              1. re: scrappyone

                                                I've only had their boat beer but it's excellent. Light, hoppy, fully developed flavor while maintaining a low ABV. Super drinkable and still interesting after a few.

                                                1. re: scrappyone

                                                  yes I am well aware of all those other brewers and visit breweries too. I LOVE the boat beer and its what I run at my bar at home. It's a great session beer. And yes, I am a big Kane fan too. I go through bottles of malus like they are going out of style LOL

                                                  On the char topic, do they cook with wood at all by chance?

                                          2. re: seal

                                            Sounds exactly like the other Char...