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2013 Red Bank Roundup

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Here is my 2013 roundup of the Red Bank restaurant scene, originally posted elsewhere:

We have lot's of mediocre Italian at high prices, some of it from the people who pave the Garden State Parkway. A new steak house, Char, that charges an arm and a leg for average boerf (Peter Lugers is cheaper). Nicholas, a pretentious yawn in recycled bank building with no view. The Fromagerie, which sux even when David Burke isn't chugging down the cellar and buggering the sous chefs. Blue Water Seafood, who torched my wife's diver scallops the last time out, underneath they looked like a Malibu hillside after a wild fire. Dublin House for Shepard's Pie that would choke an Irish famine victim. Lots of hipster bars: Red, Downtown, Jamians with indifferent food, stale beer and an obnoxious crowd. I particularly enjoy people playing poker at the table next to me as a part of the fine dining experience.

We do like the Brother's for thin crust pizza, North of the Border for tacos (if you can get past the hygiene), Pho Le for a quick Vietnamese lunch, Barnacle Bills for the ambiance, and Via 45. But that's about it.

Please chime in with your thoughts.

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  1. Barnacles is rumson and technically NIcholas is in middletown (even though they use an 07701 zip.) So we could now include bordering towns like rumson, fairhaven, middletown, shrewsbury, littlesilver, etc etc. LOL

    Anyway, nicholas is definitely not for everyone but it is a dining experience for me. I agree on the hipster bars...dont go to them. I do like basils. They have some decent specials if you are in the mug club but it is pricey otherwise.

    Have you actually been to char? I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts first hand.

    Does anyone have info on the new Triumph brewery that is being set up next to the galleria across the street? The one out in New Hope is really a cool place. I think this will dominate in red bank if it is anything like the one in PA. The food is decent, not great, but the ambiance and beer on tap make it a cool CASUAL spot to hang out.

    8 Replies
    1. re: corvette johnny

      Let's call it the Red Bank Area roundup. Geehaw!

      Char is overpriced for what you get, was not crazy about the steaks, which is supposed to be the the point. You can get better beef at Best Market in Holmdel, not to mention Monmouth Meats or Citarellas.

      I like some things at Basils, especially the meatballs with the home made pasta. But the vibe to me is totally blue hair Lincoln drivers.

      Oh, I forgot to dis on Salt Creek Grill. Sweaty tourists and bad service, the table was filthy even after they wiped it down. We got so scared we left before the food arrived. Talked to the manager who didn't even bother to apologize.

      1. re: corvette johnny

        Triumph Brew Pub is going into the new 2 acre site along with 90 lofts, 13,000 square feet of antique and retail space, a 221 car parking garage.
        Danny's will sit surrounded by the whole thing. Similarly to when they built the AC casinos and that one tiny house was left, because the women refused to sell.

        1. re: rickster71

          wow, sounds like quite a plan. I wonder what those lofts are going to sell for (or are they rentals only?)

          1. re: rickster71

            Which also bumps up against a fairly new TRT theater and their parking lot. Imagine walking out your RB loft to a crowd of departing theater goers, diners heading to Danny's and Galleria shoppers. I hope the living spaces are tucked way up and back of the street.

            1. re: HillJ

              I am sure people who are moving in there are accustom to "city" living, or know what it is like...hopefully.

              Anyway, Red bank for me doesn't really have any blockbuster restaurants but here are some notable mentions I like in RB...

              beer selection and wings at Tommys
              pizza at brothers
              chicken scarapiello and anti-pasto at basils
              tom kha gai at siam
              boneless buffalo wings at broadway grill
              cheese fries and a dog at windmill
              Fajitas at Senor peppers
              bagel station pork roll, egg and cheese.

              PS, I have been wanting to try Linos....love charcoal!

              http://www.exit109.com/~mstevens/Take...

              1. re: corvette johnny

                Ha, I wouldn't call RB "city" living, hence your quotes I take it.
                Mark's list is so handy!

                1. re: HillJ

                  Actually, for what it's worth, that menu is from a different listing that contains mainly scanned takeout menus from local places I frequent that don't have their own websites. I've not publicized it as I can be held responsible for keeping the menus up to date as opposed to the other listing that just links to establishments official websites. Glad folks find that listing helpful...

                  1. re: equal_Mark

                    No pressure, Mark. Just a handy guide, thanks.

        2. PS, went to Pho for the first time a few weeks ago. It was OK..nothing great but I'd try it again.

          I do like siam garden but its about 20% high in price compared to other Thai places.

          1. Have a nice weekend AJ. A suggestion. Try putting milk into your cornflakes the next time.

            Should you not care for the dining options here, there's always Brooklyn & Queens.

            1. Red Bank is not a great restaurant town.

              I'm not fancy and a lot of the bars are really tryin to be so. Jamian's, at least, has a pretty solid beer menu.

              Bienvenue closed and that was sad. It'll become a Thai place and that has promise.

              I think Pho Le has gone down in quality, but I doubt I'll return to find out for sure.

              The only places I normally recommend are North of the Border, Bagel Oven, and Elsie's.

              I've got a soft spot for Mr. Pizza Slice - fries, Italian hot dog, and a slice.

              If I'm waiting for a train, I'll sit at the bar at Tommy's, drink beer, and eat wings.

              If we're talkin' about the general area, I'll vote for Val's in Rumson. The lobster pie is a standout.

              3 Replies
              1. re: MGZ

                Would love to know what/where you consider a restaurant town. I would say Red Bank is a Restaurant town, sort of like Westfield and similar towns. There is a high concentration of various eateries and like anywhere else those towns will have places that knock your socks off, some you wish you never walked in to and some that cater to those who are fine with mediocre food. The same can be said of the city but as hounds we sniff out the good ones wherever we are.

                But back to my original question where is this culinary Mecca you speak of!?!

                1. re: angelo04

                  Red Bank has a lot of restaurants and thus is a "restaurant town". My point was that there is very little "great" about it. Sorry, I expressed the notion in an ineloquent manner.

                  1. re: MGZ

                    No worries, i was hoping you knew something i didn't!

              2. Seriously???

                Nicholas a pretentious yawn??

                I get that bashing Red Bank has become the "hip" thing to do again, but this whole thing sounds just nasty.

                NOTB, Beastie Burger, Cheese Cave, The Hot Dog Man, Readie's Deli and Zaitooni's are all excellent choices for good cheap food. I am picky as heck and I eat at all the above regularly.

                Via45 and Nicholas are my two favorite nice dinners even widening the circle of Red Bank out quite a bit. And I still love the filet mignon appy and pearl st roll at Red now and then. Also, Pho Le and Temple still manage to grab a portion of my asian food dining allowance.

                OK, so far Char has disappointed me, but they are new and I won't write them off with just the one visit. I have no love for Burke's version of my old favorite Fromagerie in nearby Rumson and I already miss Le Fandy in nearby Fair Haven.

                Give me one other local town besides Asbury Park that has as many good choices for food.

                8 Replies
                1. re: seal

                  I do like the Cheese Cave.

                  Oh, and I should note, I'm not hip - cool maybe, and kinda grungy, maybe even gruff, but not hip.

                  1. re: seal

                    "Nicholas a pretentious yawn??"

                    Yeah LOL, I didn't even bother commenting on that but it might as well ask him. If Nicholas is boring, please tell me where I can get some exciting food at that will rival nicholas. Seriously, food of that caliber and creativity is not that prevalent so I am wondering what places I am missing around here (not NYC, local NJ places)

                    1. re: seal

                      Char is the Grinch who stole Christmas for me. I have so anxiously awaited their opening only to read your review, and hear so many similar from other friends that I won't step foot in the place.

                      I've contemplated driving back up to Raritan to enjoy one of their steaks rather than try Red Bank and have them piss me off. (I decided to just drive into the city rather than Raritan so I'm back to schlepping to Manhattan instead of a 10 minute drive into Red Bank).

                      1. re: jrvedivici

                        Good to see you back, Big Man.

                        1. re: MGZ

                          Thank you.

                        2. re: jrvedivici

                          Srsly - with all the eateries in RB, shouldn't there be at least one joint offering perfectly seared steaks?

                          1. re: jrzcat

                            I've been going to the Raven and Peach in Fair Haven lately. They have a separate "Steak House" menu, and their steaks are as good as any in the area. That combined with what I find to be one of the best ambiances of any restaurant in the area, I've been finding myself there much more frequently of late.

                            Still have not stepped foot in Char, still have not heard one good solid review. I'm "friends" or a fan of their Facebook page, I emailed them to tell them the feedback, word on the street type thing, never received a response. {{sigh}} Oh well, I tried.

                            1. re: jrvedivici

                              5 years later and still no one does it like Manhattan Steakhouse used to...what a shame. :/

                      2. I was enjoying a lovely light, reasonably priced Danish breakfast at the Danish cafe just this morning. $10.50 for a spread of Danish patries, meats, cheeses, preserves, eggs and added a cup of joe. left a very happy camper. http://www.thedanishcafe.com/

                        have you checked out RB's west side of town?

                        enjoyed a cheese cave happy hour for $5.00. http://www.cheesecaveshop.com/

                        the soup or hot dogs in the dublin alley? http://soupmeister.com/

                        1. A second vote for North of the Border, and as for hygiene, if you saw what went on in the kitchens of a lot of restaurants, you wouldn"t worry as much.

                          1. I agree with your write-up vikingkaj. ALL of the places on your thumbs down list are overrated and overpriced. ALL of the places on your thumbs up list are recommended for price and food quality. The only place I would add would be Tommy's Pizzeria. The wife and I will enjoy a margarita pizza and chicken wings during happy hour there occassionally. Not the best in the world, but satisfying. Barnicle Bills is my goto place when I'm having a hamburger craving.

                            1. Call me pretentious, I love Nicholas. I don't get your beef with them. To each his own I guess.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: angelo04

                                The food at Nicholas is very, very good. Sometimes overdone, and priced accordingly.

                                I find the atmosphere stiff. The decor is weird and there is no view.

                                Also, in my book, service should be informal such that you do not notice it. At Nicholas you notice everything.

                                I guess that my taste runs more to bistros and trattorias with unpretentious local foods. Places where you are treated like family.

                                While I have had meals at 3 star Michelin restaurants in Europe, they would not generally be my first choice for a good meal out.

                                1. re: vikingkaj

                                  I tend to agree with you on Nicholas and I have stated that in prior threads. I certainly can't knock the place for quality of product delivered I just find fault with the environment/atmosphere.

                                  I wouldn't make the claims you do about DB however I can't say I disagree with you there either. Fromagerie was lost forever when he took over.

                              2. +1000 on Brother's. Adore their meatball pizza. And, yes, Barnacle Bills is great too - but in Rumson.

                                1. For those of you who like Neopolitan style, wood-burning pizza, give Biagio's in Red Bank a try. I've tried quite a bit of this stuff around NYC and NJ, and their take on this style of pizza is one of the better efforts I have tried. To me, their as good as other NJ offerings, such as Nomad (Hopewell), Arturo's (Maplewood) and A Mano (Ridgewood). I actually think I have a small preference for Biagio's, but it might be their proximity to where I live and the fact that I have been there about 10 times already! They are related to Mossuto's market in Wall, but I like this place better.

                                  Service can be spotty (both here and at Mossuto's), but I tend to look past those indiscretions if the food is worth it.

                                  Other places in Red Bank I frequent are Senor Pepper for cheap, seemingly authentic Mexican, and JR's.

                                  1. I am a bit more than concerned about the DB comments here, why is this acceptable chat - it is certainly in bad taste if not outrightly offensive

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: carlylecat

                                      What is a DB comment?

                                      1. re: HillJ

                                        DB=David Burke

                                    2. Couple things...

                                      Nicholas is still pumping out the best food in NJ.

                                      And Red and Downtown are as far from hipster as they come...I guess you can argue that Jamian's is hipster for Red Bank.

                                      1. OK, so I have a "free" dinner coming to me in RB. It has to be downtown as we will be on foot and I'm not walkin' to Middletown.* I know there are taxis and have used 'em to get across the River and down River Road, but we've agreed to stay in town and not incur the costs or inconvenience.

                                        I'm not payin' for this night. More than one stop is fair game - actually, it's probably preferred. I'm lookin' for votes for specific dishes at specific places. I eat everything, so no limits.

                                        Ultimately, I'm just lookin' to make the whole thing more fun for us by deciding in my own mind that I'm gonna limit my choices that night to the recommendations posted by my firends.

                                        *Did that a few times in high school when I couldn't hitch a ride. It's further than you think. Man, I used to create some foul combinations of words for people who would pass me by.

                                        14 Replies
                                        1. re: MGZ

                                          I would start with an order of the filet mignon appetizer and drinks at Red. Unless you go on a Friday. Then I would start at the Cheese Cave before heading to Red.
                                          Either way I would make the short walk after Red to Via 45 for my main course and salad. After dinner a few macarons at Cake Pops,

                                          1. re: seal

                                            .I was thinkin' about a cocktail at Red's to start. Never tried the filet app, so I guess tomorrow's gonna involve that.

                                            1. re: MGZ

                                              $5.00 Stoli Happy Hour @ Red 5-7 Mon - Fri all day Thurs! I just might be in the area...........

                                              1. re: jrvedivici

                                                To be clear they pay you five bucks to have a Stoli?

                                                1. re: MGZ

                                                  No Sir, I gladly pay them!!

                                                  Remember the original Aol when you signed on "You've got mail"?

                                                  1. re: jrvedivici

                                                    1200 baud rates? Dial up? Pay by the minute? Yeah, that used to suck alright.

                                          2. re: MGZ

                                            Well there could be quite a few combinations but to make things easy, I am a fan of Basils Ts. Some people rant and rave about the prices but we can leave that aside since you are not paying for it. An anti pasto appetizer, steak for dinner and a few glasses of Brunello will cost you a pretty penny but it will be an enjoyable night and a very short walk from the train. The steak is pretty good....not epic but a solid NY strip. Anti pasto is the best around IMO. Brunello di Montalcino is a fine wine that is pricey but not obnoxious (if you care for red wine.) Your bill will be at least a hundred for your part if you have a few glasses (plus tip)

                                            The "wineroom" is a neat room to reserve if you have a larger party 6 -10.

                                            Sorry...not a red or downtown guy. Lets see how long it takes for someone to come in and disagree by putting down basils.....shouldn't be long ; )

                                            PS, steak is served with pasta. You can ask for other sides which I normally do.

                                            1. re: corvette johnny

                                              You've got to be kidding! Way overpriced and WAY WAY underwhelming!! Eat elsewhere!

                                              1. re: sockster

                                                WE HAVE A WINNER FOLKS!! BINGO!

                                                congratulations sockster...well done. Let me think about your prize.

                                                JR, the steak there is good and if MGZ isn't paying for it, who cares if its ten dollars over priced. A good cut of meat is a good cut of meat....

                                              2. re: corvette johnny

                                                I just want to say that I intentionally waited for someone else to say it first out of respect for you CJ !! Yeah, Basile's is a rip off. lol

                                                Although the anti pasto is excellent.

                                                1. re: jrvedivici

                                                  Is anti pasto like antipasti? or is it like anti pesto?? Just askin.....

                                                  1. re: sockster

                                                    Those of us with vowels in our last names know that it is antipasto. Lol

                                                    1. re: angelo04

                                                      So it's a pasta dish? What kinda sauce? Does it have anchovies in it???

                                                      1. re: MGZ

                                                        I think it's pine nuts and basil, or something like that!!