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Feb 9, 2014 01:53 PM

Red Bank Redux

Theres been a bunch of little blurbs on here lately, but I feel it really needs to be pointed out... There's some great things going on in Red Bank. To me, the restaurant scene here has gotten a pretty nice re start. The days of stale Italian, boring steaks and 1990s menus have finally given way to some quality spots in RB.

Here's an interesting article from the owner of dish speaking about what's happening in the red bank culinary scene.

If you haven't been to dish, you should. Great food, good portion size, fresh ingredients for a good price. Their short rib is heavenly.

In that article, the owner mentions the bakery whose praise I've been singing to anyone within earshot lately. Antoinette boulangerie... It's a little French bakery on Monmouth st. IMO, best macaroons I've ever had, best croissant outside of Paris and the strawberry shortcake I had yesterday was as stunning visually as it was on my taste buds. Wow, just wow.

Anyway, while Asbury keeps getting the "buzz" and considered to be the "scene", great things are happening in Red bank. The under construction Triumph brewing and Patrizias should only continue the upward trend.

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  1. Though I laud your optimism, I don't agree with your conclusions. Red Bank has some great spots for specific things - tacos at NOTB, Bagel Oven, etc., but there really isn't any place that's making much better than B or B+ food for dinner. Via 45 is better than most, but certainly not great. Dish isn't even as good as that - ditch the short ribs and challenge a palate.

    They'll all make money and are perfectly suited for the nouveau foodies in the area (just like AP), but none of them are really putting out chow worthy of a 'hound. Take Muong Thai for example. It's great to have a spot offering such fare, but the food lacks the extra-fresh spark and diverse spice associated with the cuisine. Same is pretty much true of Pho Le. I actually like both restaurants, but, at their best, they're only playing the game at the Triple A level.

    As to Triumph, if you've eaten at the Princeton location, you know that the new place doesn't deserve too much excitement.

    6 Replies
    1. re: MGZ

      I've eaten at triumph numerous times. While not amazing, i have certainly enjoyed my meals there.

      And I couldn't disagree more about dish and via

      1. re: MGZ

        It all depends on what you're looking for. Red Bank is certainly not a Chowhound's dream, but it's as good as it gets in Monmouth county. Not saying it's the *best* food town in the county, but it's certainly near the top.

        This speaks more to the general sad state of food around here than anything else I guess.

        I'm personally not interested in Triumph at all...their Princeton location has disappointed me one too many times. I do enjoy Dish and Via though. Pho Le is perfectly acceptable and the only Vietnamese joint in a 15-20 mile radius..And Nicholas is still the best thing in all of Jersey.

        Most of all, there's no better place to overpay for Italian food anywhere in the state!

        1. re: joonjoon

          we too have given up on all 3 Triumph locations. Especially Princeton.

          Beer's fine but food has never been more than mediocre at best. Have as much desire to dine here as either of the Salt Creek Grills. If Triumph hired a chef and put some care into what they were serving, we could be enticed to return.

          1. re: joonjoon

            I will certainly agree that if given a choice between meeting someone for dinner and drinks in RB or AP, I'd choose the former nine times outta ten.

            As to Nicholas, I really don't count that in my assessment as it's not in Red Bank. Food wise, it is definitely better than any place that is.

          2. re: MGZ

            MGZ is correct. There is a paucity of Asian cuisine whether properly spiced or not in our area. It is with great sadness we note the passing of KimchiSushi in Lincroft and the Asian Market on Route 35, which does not bode well for the future.

            I further agree that Via 45 is good, but in that neighborhood local restaurant kind of way. It is not a destination cuisine kind of place, but at least it is home cooked and not a chain.

            Dish has had the short ribs on their menu since they opened in 2008 along with most of the rest of what they serve. Don't see how a static menu equates to locally sourced fresh and seasonal.

            I think of Triumph as the outback steakhouse/chilis/applebees of brew pubs. Its ok if you like chain food produced in a central kitchen and "finished" at the franchise. Not my thing. Oh, and the beer is overhopped and usually not fresh. Either that, or they never clean the taps.

            It's a little bit sad when the most authentic local things we can offer is taqueria's that are periodically shut down by the health inspector, and dirty water water dogs down by the train station, but then there you have it.

            Oh, MGZ, do not forget your paeon to the mythical jersey shore slice...

            1. re: vikingkaj

              Does anyone ever truly forget their first true love?

          3. Triple decker I agree with everyone commenting on RB. I call the town one hit wonder eating. I'll order one dish, one take out item at many of the restaurants/eateries but unless planned by someone else wanting the "RB experience" rarely plan an entire meal.

            I tried Dish in 2011 and my experience was not anything near what other hounds raved about. Early Via left me hungry and when they moved from Lincroft to RB PhoLe changed.

            So many restaurants have come & gone or moved their locations to another spot. I can't keep track anymore.

            Cupcakes, pizza, burgers...over & over. Copycating Westfield NJ and other restaurant towns. Too much turnover at the RiverCenter oversight.

            I've been stopping in RB since high school and whatever magic I once enjoyed hasn't won me over yet.

            Staying hopeful.

            16 Replies
            1. re: HillJ

              HillJ stay hopeful. Sure there's a. Lot of bs in red bamk, but a lot of it is correcting itself. The restaurant turnover has pretty much been a case where the weak get eaten. The places that offer crap or simply try to follow a trend continue to open and quickly close.

              Apparently I've touched somewhat of a nerve here. All I'm saying is that for the first time since red bank became relevant again in the early 90s, legit things are starting to take shape. Is it where Montclair, New Bruns or Princeton are, no... But a good foundation has been laid and that foundation has finally upped the quality ante for those who do open in town.

              1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                I'm also aware of some of the landlord issues over the last few years and very familiar with the evolution that is RiverCenter. I have friends with ties to RB businesses and surrounding towns.

                My hope is that RB; old & new business owner start getting treated the same. But I'll say this, the focus and support for the food businesses far exceeds the non food businesses in town. And every business is expected to participate in the never-ending fundraisers and events the RCenter comes up with.

                1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                  Sorry, after living near Red Bank and now living closer to New Brunswick - there is NO Choice of which town I'd rather be close to - for good restaurants.
                  That would be Red Bank. And of course you can always get great ices at Strollo's - what could be better than that!!

                  Montclair thou - is an absolute stand out for good-great restaurants!

                  New Brunswick has one standout - Due Mari - but that's it

                  1. re: eatinman

                    Forget Red Bank New Brunswick or Montclair...IMO best restaurant town in NJ is Edison!

                    1. re: joonjoon

                      joonjoon, let's not forget Stanhope, although I only can think of one restaurant in the town. You guessed it, The Black Forest Inn.

                      1. re: Herm

                        Herm, you're holdin' "Ace High" and joon has "Two Ladies and a pair of Tens", and it's just before the cards have to be flipped. Go "all in", if you want, that way my friend will have to treat for all the dim sum I can eat.

                        1. re: MGZ

                          Oh c'mon, I mean when we talk Black Forest, we're always talkin' 'Full House"

                        2. re: Herm

                          I'm considering moving there just so I can be close to the Inn!

                        3. re: joonjoon

                          Care to mention your fav's in Edison?

                          1. re: eatinman

                            Honestly there are so many places in Edison and they're all great in their own's difficult to pick favorites. It's pretty rare that I'll go anywhere in that area and come away disappointed.

                            Having said that here are some of the places I've been to most recently:
                            Picnic Garden (BBQ)
                            China Star (Korean Chinese)
                            Sichuan Spring / Dragon Palace (Sichuan - ok, technically SS is in Highland Park)
                            Thumbs Up (Hot pot)
                            Baguette Delite (Banh Mi)
                            Spice Zone / Chopstick (Indian Chinese)

                            Places I've been meaning to check out:
                            Coco Asian Cuisine (Malaysian)
                            Noodelicious/Happy Noodle/Red Onion (Taiwanese noodle)
                            Noodles Plus (Ramen + Sushi)

                            Places I haven't been to in a while but have always been good:
                            Wonder Seafood
                            So Kong Dong Tofu House
                            Pho Anh Dao / Bien Hoa / Pho Thanh Do (Pho)
                            Keum Ho Jung / Chung Sol Bat (Korean)

                            I mean seriously they're pretty much all great..

                            1. re: joonjoon

                              Joonjoon nice list and some I haven't been to yet... I am on my way! Thanks!

                              1. re: EL7

                                I'm jealous! Wherever you back and let us know!

                              2. re: joonjoon

                                Hi Joonjoon...
                                Thanks! I'll report back as I make my way through your list.

                            2. re: joonjoon

                              Hello Joon,

                              Tell us if you would - what are your 7-10 favorite restaurants in Edison - the town you say is the best restaurant town in NJ.

                              I went back to read your posts and could not find one that described Edison - as this post did.

                              All types of food - accepted!!

                              1. re: eatinman

                                Hey eatinman, I thought you were going to eat through the list above? It's hard to pick favorites in Edison because they are so different. I'll add a couple places I missed to the list above though. Maybe others can chime in with their faves:

                                Little Sheep (Hot Pot)
                                H Mart Food Court (Random Korean things)
                                Dong Fang Chun Dian aka Lamb BBQ (Chinese BBQ)
                                Shanghai Noodle House (XLB, noodles)

                                It's easy to see what makes Edison the most diverse - if not greatest - food town in Jersey. And it barely scratches the surface when it comes to Indian options and doesn't even include the myriad of places slightly outside Edison. Anyway, eat and enjoy!

                        4. re: HillJ

                          I love the "one hit wonder" analogy. I do the same thing: NOTB for tacos, Bagel Oven, Tommy's for wings, and Brothers for pizza. And maybe 7-11 for coffee, because I can refill my travel mug for $1.

                        5. Red Bank to me seems like a cycle. I tend to hit the same spots and get the same things at each location that I like and most are "lower end" spots (ie not that expensive)

                          MGZ is spot on with the bagels and NOTB. Although I think the El Pastor tacos at Linos take the cake since you get that wood grilled flavor.

                          Gus' dirty water dogs
                          windmill dogs and cheese fries
                          tommy's wings and a decent Carton beer
                          Pho = superbowl
                          brothers pie
                          new corner cheesesteak (not the best but if you toss some extra cheese on and toast it up its ok...especially when wife brings one home after she gets out of work ; )
                          chowdahouse lobster rolls

                          I still have to get to via45

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: corvette johnny

                            Gus' is the truck behind the Galleria? If so...yeah love those dogs. I concur about the Windmill as well, one of my favorite dog spots.

                            I'm not a huge fan of Brother's pie, I don't like thin crust pizza so that's more a "me" than "them" type thing.

                            I would add Mr. Pizza Slice for as decent an Italian Hot Dog as you are going to get in the area.

                            FYI I noticed the Chowda house has a sign in the window now indicating they have the lobster rolls on any given day.

                            1. re: jrvedivici

                              Yeah gus is the hot dog nazi next to the galleria. (If you are a Seinfeld fan, and you know Gus, you will be laughing! lol)

                              My wife follows the chowdah house on Facebook so she gets the updates on when they have lobster rolls.

                              Yeah brothers is decent...not my favorite but sometimes I get in the mood for their pizza.

                            2. re: corvette johnny

                              Sh*t, I'd do it in a loop.

                              Warm up after the train at Tommy's with beer and wings.

                              Head up Monmouth with a taco in hand.

                              Pocket a couple bagels for later before grabbing a hot dog and walking across the street for beer and/or wine to take along.

                              Get to Pho le and relax while getting the chill out with some soup.

                              Stroll down Broad Street. Head west again on Front until finding oneself at the bar at Brothers. Pizza, beer, and whatever game's on the TV.

                              Stumble out and for another block or so to grab some cheese fries to eat while heading back to the Station.

                              Sounds like a decent Saturday (and honestly, not far at all from some trips I've taken to the Heart of Monmouth County). Other stops available upon request.

                              1. re: MGZ

                                Solid trip Mgz. Personally, I like they hot dog guy by the Dublin, but I've been ruined by biker jims dogs in Denver.

                                1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                                  Yeah, I think (even though Johnny & JR actually clarified who they were talking about) that was the place I had in mind geographically. Truth be told, given the charted course, I probably would go to Mr. Pizza Slice for the hot dog - primarily for sentimental/nostalgic reasons (and, while I'm speaking truthfully, I also would likely have made a pit stop in Jamian's for a beer and to sneak a bat hit in the downstairs bathroom).

                                  As to the guy by they Galleria, my only contact with him was one morning, a couple years ago, when I parked there to go to the Farmers' Market. He yelled at us, said we couldn't park there, even threatened to call the cops. I stifled the chuckle and sent Mrs. Z ahead. The vendor and I proceeded to 'discuss' the matter for a minute or so before I joined my wife. I never did try the dogs.

                                  1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                                    MGZ, that sounds like a serious loop LOL I don't know if I could keep up food wise...drinking you bet!

                                    LCD: On monday night some guy was hammering down a cheesedog at barnacles. Man that looked good! I always get cheddar burgers but might have to break down and try one next time.

                                    So if everyone had to pick "one dish" for your favorite red bank spots, what would they be?

                                    1. re: corvette johnny

                                      i also never deviate from the cheddar burger.

                              2. Dish is perfectly fine and I've always had very pleasant meals at Red; nothing super wow but I'm not looking for that most nights.

                                1. I love Red Bank. Give me a Friday night starting off with a tasting at The Cheese Cave and a good bottle of wine. Then tacos from NoTB or IMG, or the filet mignon app at Red, or a full meal at Via45 and I am happy.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: seal

                                    ... and a great concert at the Basie for dessert!

                                    1. re: seal

                                      The Cheese Cave deal is one of the best deals in Mon. County! By far! If people havent been there, I strongly suggest a visit. The owner & staff are super knowledgable about cheese and have a great selection of cheese and some damn good sandwiches!

                                      1. re: Lcdsoundsystem

                                        I too like the selection at the Cheese Cave, but have learned that ideally one wants to go there when the place is empty or close to it. Two reasons for such an assessment:

                                        First, the owner who, albeit quite knowledgeable, naturally moves with the rigidity and speed of someone drenched in quick drying cement. When the place is crowded, his movements suggest that the concrete has begun to harden at an increasing rate.

                                        Second, the clientele is predominantly comprised of the nouveau foodies that have multiplied exponentially in the area. Perhaps it is simply the fact that I have a Shore denizen's mindset, but being surrounded by that level of phoney really icks me out (I am allergic to the pretentious.).

                                        Now, I grant that it is not the fault of the Cheese Cave that they attract such a following, but with service that can be, shall we say, painfully methodical, I find it best for my personal well-being to shop there at off times (especially since Mrs. Z frowns upon me f*cking with strangers in such settings - "I'd be careful with too much sheep's milk cheese ma'am. There are recent studies suggesting it may lead to adverse reactions with Botox.").