WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SALAD WITH RIVERSCAPE

Lunch salads and Navesink River views from the deck of the Pearl Restaurant at the Oyster Point Hotel. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

On a day of cacophonous gridlock, PieHole found respite at the Pearl Restaurant at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank.

Plans for lunch at another restaurant on the Greater Green went awry when we found it closed. Heading back to Red Bank with streets awash in late afternoon traffic, stomachs growling, we wondered if the Pearl would still be serving lunch.

It was, and an all but empty open-air deck gave us stellar water views on a clear, sunshine-blessed day, as well as a plethora of culinary choices.

 Sliding doors on the deck open to reveal river views.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Hotel restaurants generally cater to a wide variety of palates, and the Pearl is no exception. The lunch menu is filled with basics you’d expect to find at a seaside, or riverside eatery so close to the ocean. Seafood-based appetizers such as crab cakes, mussels, tuna tartare, grilled octopus and a ubiquitous raw bar make for tempting choices.

PieHole, still on the hunt for healthy dietary options, found under the “lite fare” section of the menu enticing edibles such as lobster rolls, curry chicken salad and cheesesteak panini. But three salads that happen to be gluten-free were just what we were looking for.

While waiting for our orders — a grilled shrimp and red quinoa salad ($16.95) and a blackened chicken cobb salad ($14.95) — we gazed out over the river. Stress levels dropped as we listened to the high-pitched squawk of seagulls and the purr of an approaching boat’s engine.

Portions here are generous. Our salad of romaine lettuce was topped with sliced hardboiled egg, sweet grape tomatoes, a halved and sliced avocado, crumbled bacon, and mild blue cheese capped off with strips of well-seasoned and grilled chicken breast. Beautifully composed, all of the components were fresh, tasty and exactly what we hoped to get.

We also discovered an artfully inventive approach in the grilled shrimp and red quinoa salad. Tossed together, romaine lettuce, red quinoa, tiny bits of fresh pineapple, slightly bitter snippets of radicchio, shredded pepper jack cheese, cucumbers and grape tomatoes arrived topped with four jumbo grilled shrimp. Every forkful carried a mixture of pungent-sweet crunch.

The Pearl is located at the Oyster Point Hotel at the foot of Bodman Place. In addition to breakfast, lunch and dinner menus, the restaurant offers has a “Social Hour” menu with discounted drinks and bar-bites from 4 p.m. until 6 p.m. daily.

SUSAN-ERICSON

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on Google+