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MIDDLETOWN: A RETRO CHINESE NEW YEAR

020216houseofchong6Shrimp lo mein, left, and shrimp in garlic sauce at House of  Chong. Edward Chong, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020216houseofchong1Chinese new year begins Monday, and diners with a yen for a little time travel along with well-made Asian cuisine might set their GPS for House of Chong in Middletown.

The restaurant, located in the Union Square Mall, has been serving Cantonese and Szechuan-style Chinese delicacies since 1976, owner Edward Chong tells us. His parents first opened House of Chong in Brick in 1969, and though that restaurant is now closed, the Middletown eatery remains a family affair — and something of throwback.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SMOOTHIE IN A BOWL

020316freshica4The Acai PB&J bowl from Freshica’s Juice Bar, owned by Jessica Dalmedo, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020316freshica3It might seem counter-intuitive to put a juice bar in the same building as a luncheonette known for its porkroll, egg, and cheese sandwiches, but Jessica Dalmedo, owner of Freshica’s Juice Bar says it works.

Sharing space with Fairwinds Deli on River Road in Fair Haven for almost four years, Freshica’s counter takes up a portion of the dining area. At lunchtime, you’re likely to see a construction worker downing a sub as you are a gray-flannel suit or someone coming from the gym. Less expected: the number of children from the preschool next door taking sippy-cup-sized swigs of kale- and spinach-infused juices.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SUMPTUOUS SOUP

011615kanji1Seafood soup served in a rustic bowl at Kanji. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

011616kanji3Shades of gray and black dominate the tables, slate flooring and walls of Kanji Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, a Japanese restaurant in the Tinton Falls strip mall that was once anchored by an A&P and is now an Acme at the intersection of Shrewsbury Avenue and Route 35.

In this cave-like setting, the well-lit sushi bar takes center stage. Maybe this was a tactical design, because we went in thinking of soup but wound up ordering sushi.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SOBA SALAD IN THE GROVE

010916d'jeet1A pretty, noodle-based salad from the jam-packed D’jeet in The Grove.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

010916d'jeet6The apres-holiday crowd at the Grove in Shrewsbury must have been putting their gift cards to use, because the parking lot was crazy-busy.

It’s nice to treat yourself to a relaxing, sit-down lunch every now and then, especially on the weekend. And apparently, many other people in the area had the same idea shortly after New Year’s, because D’jeet was packed with diners fueling up for an afternoon of serious shopping.

Our hostess handed us a buzzer and suggested we do a little shopping while we wait for the next available table.

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SEA BRIGHT: HARRY’S ENDS ERA ON HIGH NOTE

011016harrys4Lynne Perry-Szwede, behind the bar, reminisced with Mary Orr, above, while Feli Donato and Mike Sakowski took a last turn at the pool table at Harry’s Lobster House. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

011016harrys2In the end, it was more about the sounds than the food as musicians and music lovers jammed Harry’s Lobster House in Sea Bright Sunday night.

With no specific plans in the near future, longtime owner Lou Jacoubs said he’d decided to retire and close the Ocean Avenue restaurant, which had been in operation for 83 years.

“I’m 65 years old,” he said. “It’s been good, but it’s time to go.”

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SEA BRIGHT: HARRY’S LOBSTER CLOSING

082715harrys1082715harrys6After 82 years in business, Harry’s Lobster House in Sea Bright is closing Sunday, when owner/chef Lou Jacoubs and longtime manager Lynne Perry-Szwede will host a goodbye party.

Jacoubs declined immediate comment, except to say that he expects to lease the Ocean Avenue space to another restaurant under a new name. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

 

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? WHITEFISH ON BIG BAGEL

121715bagestation4A sesame-seed bagel teeming with whitefish salad, lettuce and tomato from the Bagel Station, seen below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

121715bagelstation2Red Bank has seen its fair share of restaurants come and go over the years. Loyal customers wax poetic about eateries long gone.

Bagel Station on Monmouth Street, across from the train station, has managed to keep its doors open for 28 years now. Rolling with the times, the breakfast and lunch spot is as relevant as any of the newcomers to town, and more affordable than many.

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NEW YEARS EVE: BARTENDERS HAVE YOUR BACK

110815ryanat the belmonteRyan Matthews, bartender at the Belmonte, has a non-alcoholic cocktail for you. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

morsels mediumSo, what’s the plan for New Years Eve? Will be ringing in 2016 at one or more bars and restaurants on the Greater Red Bank Green?

Your local bartender has some advice on how to stay safe while having an enjoyable celebration. It starts with a plan — and, possibly, a designated driver.

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RED BANK: 10TH AVE. BARMAN SMOKES ‘EM

dudley delhagen 080515 2Dudley Delhagen, bar manager at 10th Ave. Burrito Company in Red Bank, was named the winner of a national contest to come up with a new cocktail using DeKuyper’s-brand cordials Monday.

Launched in September, the contest invited bartenders across America to craft a signature cocktail; fans were then asked to vote for their favorite creation online. Delhagen’s employed the company’s JDK & Son Fleur Elderflower Liqueur. A press release announcing Delhagen as DeKuyper’s first-ever “cocktail master” described his concoction as “the perfect balance of sweet and smoky.”

The recipe for Delhagen’s creation, called the Smoked Blossom, is below. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? OLD-SCHOOL SPOT-HITTER

120915thespot1The grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup combo at The Spot, seen below with a window looking out on Broad Street. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

120915thespot4Those who seek simplicity in all things are going to love The Spot in Red Bank.

Rustic brick walls and industrial-modern decor beckon in the Broad Street space that’s been home in recent succession to  Zebu Forno, Boardwalk Burgers and, most recently Mac Attack. But trendiness in decor doesn’t mean the menu follows suit. Dining options here are strictly old-school.

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RED BANK: SMALL KITCHEN YIELDS BIG FLAVOR

112415jamians1Mixed green salad on the specials menu at Jamian’s Food and Drink is available for lunch or dinner. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

112415jamians3PieHole dipped a spoon into a bowl of black bean soup at Jamian’s Food and Drink in Red Bank while waiting for a recent weekly trivia game to begin, and swooned. Jalapeno heat and cumin-infused flavor told us that someone new was working in the kitchen.

Owner Jamian LaViola hired 46-year-old chef Andy Doelger to run the three-person kitchen two months ago, and customers are starting to notice the difference. We’ve been asked by more than one satisfied diner if we’ve tasted the braised short rib grilled cheese yet. Yes, we have and it’s seriously good.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? FAST FOOD, GREEK STYLE

112715greekeats1A plate of rotisserie chicken at Greek Eats comes with pita bread and a variety of  sides. A gyro, below, loaded with fillings, including french fries.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

112715greekeats6That old line about having fast food “your way” can definitely be applied to the newest restaurant on Newman Springs Road on the Shrewsbury-Red Bank border.

Greek Eats, located in a high-ceilinged, industrially-styled space on the former site of Memory Bowling, is the brainchild of George, Charlie and Taso Lyristis, brothers and owners of Teak and the Bistro in Red Bank.

But if decor and the fun, blue-eyed logo — a protector against the evil eye —  don’t pull you in, the opportunity to grab some authentic Greek grub certainly should.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? CRISPY FISH AND CHIPS

112515chowda1Fish and chips from Chowda House. Below, the always helpful Tish Mancia at the takeout counter.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

112515chowda4The Chowda House, just across Bridge Avenue from the Red Bank train station, makes some fantastic clam chowder, which also happens to be the hottest takeout item on the menu, waitress Tish Mancia tells PieHole.

But the fish and chips, we’re told, is the second-most ordered item — and according to many PieHole readers, the best fried fish in the area.

We take claims such as this seriously, and went to investigate for ourselves.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? MOJO IN A SANDWICH

111815chikyboomwfl1ChikyBoom’s Cuban sandwich comes on a platter loaded with fries, potato salad and mojo sauce. Belly up to the bar in the front of the restaurant.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

111815chikyboom3Grabbing a stool in the bar area of ChikyBoom on Broad Street in Red Bank, PieHole was eager to try its Cubano, or Cuban sandwich given a boost in popularity by ‘Chef,’ the movie starring Jon Favreau released last year.

Was chef Eduardo Bover up to making one?

“If you’re a Cuban and you don’t know how to make a Cuban sandwich, get out of the business,” says Bover, himself an import from the Caribbean isle, as noted in a PieHole profile.

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FAIR HAVEN: SCHOOLED ON MEATBALLS

102115aurichio3Meatballs and gnocchi in San Marzano tomato sauce with parmesan-ricotta crema made by chef Julie Aurichio, below.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

102115 aurichio1It takes courage to stand in front of a class full of gourmet-minded students and declare that your recipe for meatballs will be the best they’ve ever tasted.

Lifelong Fair Haven resident Julie Aurichio did just that. Chef, personal assistant and owner of Just Julie — a luncheonette that occupied the space now rented to Seed to Sprout in the Acme Shopping Center in Fair Haven from 2002 to 2004 — she’s now adding culinary instructor to her résumé.

PieHole caught up with Aurichio and her fiancé, Rob Candiotti, a chef at the Raven and the Peach, while they taught a cooking class at Taste and Technique Cooking Studio on River Road in Fair Haven recently. Read on to learn about “Meatballs and More,” their unique twists on the Italian mainstay.

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