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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A READIE’S FISH FRY

The Buena Place fish fry combo platter, a recent addition to the menu at Readie’s Cafe. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Restaurants come and go in Red Bank, maybe more often than we like. But there are a few that can brag of longevity and customer loyalty.

Opened in 1957, Readie’s Café is celebrating a big anniversary this year. Tom Fishkin, owner since 2001, tells PieHole that the deli had its launch on Monmouth Street as the Village Pork Store the same year that Elsie’s Subs, another lunchtime institution, opened its doors. It became Readie’s Fine Foods under owner Jack Readie in the 1980s.
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CRAVINGS: A LIBRARIAN’S WEEKLY BENTO

Red Bank library director Elizabeth McDermott indulges her craving at Sogo Sushi. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

World traveler-turned-Red Bank Public Library director Elizabeth McDermott has a weekly itch that she scratches at Sogo Sushi on Monmouth Street: a bento box.

“It’s like comfort food to me,” says McDermott, whose previous job as a software consultant for Oracle took her all over the globe.

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RED BANK: APARTMENTS & EATERY ON DECK

Up for review at Monday night’s meeting of the Red Bank planning board: the Element, seen above, a 35-unit apartment complex proposed for a vacant lot at 55 West Front Street, opposite Riverside Gardens Park. The controversy-stirring plan could go to a final up-or-down vote.

Also scheduled: a proposed makeover for 26 West Front Street, right, last operated as Caliente Cantina, and not long before that, 10th Ave. Burrito Co. The plan calls for the addition of a 1,000-square-foot outdoor deck with views of the Navesink River. Here’s more info about the plan.

And here’s the full agenda for the meeting, scheduled for 7 p.m. at borough hall, 90 Monmouth Street. (Renderings by Rotwein + Blake, above, and Cahill Studio, right. Click to enlarge)

 

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A BITE AT BUBBAKOO’S

Customize your meal by mixing and matching ingredients in a bowl, burrito or taco at Bubbakoo’s Burritos. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

For this week’s What’s For Lunch, PieHole takes a a lighthearted romp through a menu of fun ingredients at the new Bubbakoo’s Burritos on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright.

Taking some of the best features from other fast food joints on the Greater Red Bank Green — such as the ordering system at Jersey Mike’s Subs, where you watch as your plate gets prepared conveyer-belt fashion— and Surf Taco, where light menu options offset the heavier ones, Bubbakoo’s creates quick meals prepared from fresh, made-in-house ingredients.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BEST OF 2016

091316redrock3Duck confit tater tots from Red Rock Tap + Grill. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Soul-satisfying soups, beefy burgers, crusty pizzas…

From a year’s worth of lunches good, bad and inedible, PieHole‘s What’s For Lunch? feature picks the Top 10 of 2016.

Click to restaurant names to see complete individual reviews.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? EUROPA GRILL TAPAS

111916europa3A hot sampler for two from the appetizer/tapas menu at Europa Grill. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?New to the Shrewsbury Village strip mall in Shrewsbury, Europa Grill fills in the storefront left empty by Rosina’s Ristorante. Like its predecessor, it serves Italian food, but that’s where the similarity ends.

Mediterranean-themed frescoes, including an attention-grabbing celestially painted ceiling, brighten the decor. Tables set with linens, comfortable seating, and friendly, helpful service add up to a more formal but lively atmosphere.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SLOW-PACED GRAZE

110816graze3Vegetarian choices on the lunch menu at Graze include bourbon-glazed carrot soup and a mac-and-cheese casserole.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?This past summer, Laercio “Chef Junior” Chamon finally fulfilled his goal of turning Zoe Bistro, which he acquired a year earlier, into Graze.

Now once again open for lunch, the Little Silver restaurant is luxuriously relaxed in pace, aesthetic and culinary concept, even as kitchen staffers thrive on challenging themselves to come up with dishes with a surprising twist.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? DREAMY O BISTRO CREPE

110116o-bistro4Shrimp, scallops and chopped clams swimming in a creamy herb-flecked sauce are folded into a tender crepe and served with a side salad at O Bistro Francais. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?A big old barn of a building on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank is now home to the much anticipated French restaurant, O Bistro Francais.

Following the arrows along the side of the building to a door crowned by a French flag, PieHole finds a new entrance, an interior whipped up in cloud-like shades of white and dove-gray, and familiar faces. Traditional French fare from the kitchen of chef Marc Fontaine is all the enticement we need to slide into a booth and indulge.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? ALL THE WAY ON A BAGEL

102016bageloven3An everything bagel with the works at Bagel Oven.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Occasionally, lunchtime decisions can be complicated, especially in Red Bank, where there are so many options.

Keeping it simple after a morning of too many decisions, PieHole heads to Bagel Oven on Monmouth Street, where the menu is so limited that lunch becomes a no-brainer.

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CRAVINGS: SCAMPI PIE NOT A TRIVIAL MATTER

101816rubinoPieHole catches Jen Rubino pre-bite at Jamian’s Food and Drink. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

piehole_cravingsJamian’s Food and Drink gets testy on Tuesday nights as brainiacs and know-it-alls vie for points at a trivia contest that fills the Red Bank bar to capacity.

Jen Rubino, a 43-year-old borough resident and Italian teacher, has been showing up with her team from the beginning of the weekly showdown two years ago. Is it the camaraderie, the challenge — or maybe a craving for her favorite pizza that brings her out every week?
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? LOBSTER CORN DOGS

101516b2bistro5A Lobster Corn Dog, served on a stick at B2 Bistro and Bar. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?PieHole doesn’t always plan in advance, so on more than one occasion, our desire for a bite and a drink at B2 Bistro and Bar on Shrewsbury Avenue didn’t work out.

The question of whether we had a reservation surprised us on one evening. We told the hostess that we were there for a cocktail and quick bite, but our lack of a reservation meant that even the empty high-top tables were not offered to us. Her blank stare told us we were expected to move on.
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RUMSON: DELI COUNTERMAN TO DISH HERE

The trailer for “The Sturgeon Queens,” a PBS documentary about Russ & Daughters released in 2014.

morsels smallWith luck, the Greater Red Bank Green will have a new, authentic Jewish deli by Thanksgiving, as reported last week by redbankgreen‘s Retail Churn.

Meantime, folks salivating for the arrival of Shapiro’s New York Style Delicatessen in Red Bank — or mourning the pending demise of New York’s Carnegie Deli —can nosh for an hour or two on the memories and insights of a counterman whose family knows from lox and herring.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? RED ROCK STANDS OUT

091316redrock2Ahi tuna salad served in a stainless steel pan at Red Rock Tap + Grill. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Step into the new Red Rock Tap + Grill  in Red Bank and the effect is instant: this isn’t the Brannigan’s we all knew and, ahem, shared a fondness for.

The single-story Wharf Avenue bar has been replaced by a rustic-contemporary structure offering stellar views of downtown Red Bank and the Navesink River from its multiple open-air decks. But PieHole was equally blown away by the menu. Could the food possibly be as tasty as the architectural eyecandy here?

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A TABLEFUL AT TEMPLE

082616temple1Chicken with broccoli and Kung Pao chicken, two dishes on the lunch menu at Temple Gourmet Chinese. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?Lunchtime seems to be a tough draw for Red Bank’s dine-in restaurants. While customers might find it difficult to get a table in the evening, some eateries do what they can in the form of specials to attract afternoon clients.

So when a member of the Red Bank Lunch Meet group suggested a meeting at Temple Gourmet Chinese on Broad Street, throwing in the incentive of an $11 price point, PieHole was intrigued.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BURGERS, FRIES & A VIEW

081216barnacles5Attentive diners can keep a watchful eye on the burgers as they’re grilled at the end of the bar. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?In the shadow of Rumson’s 75-year-old Navesink-River-spanning Oceanic Bridge, Barnacle Bill’s is packed on a Friday afternoon.

“You know it used to be on the pier?” an octogenarian customer who’s been coming to the Rumson perennial asks PieHole.

We do, and locals know also that the waterfront restaurant is the place to go when you’re craving a burger — and that it’s open for lunch from Friday through Sunday only.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SHRIMP, WITH BIG VIEWS

080916rumrunner5The roofed deck at McLoone’s Rum Runner. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?On a clear day, Tim McLoone‘s newly rebuilt Rum Runner restaurant in Sea Bright offers bird’s-eye views south along the Shrewsbury River past the Rumson-Sea Bright Bridge, north toward Sandy Hook Bay, and to the east, beach clubs, interspersed with peeks of the Atlantic Ocean.

Stunning eye-candy aside, PieHole finds another reason to appreciate this back-from-the dead Sandy survivor.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? SUSHI DELIGHTS

072616sakura3A specialty at Sakura Sushi is the Floating Island appetizer. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

WFL what's for lunch?In what might be the tiniest sushi bar on the Greater Red Bank Green, PieHole finds a lively, amusing, and loyal customer base.

And at Sakura Sushi, located in in the Acme shopping center on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, it’s easy to strike up conversation with fellow diners, with just four sushi bar seats and four small tables occupying the diminutive space.
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SEA BRIGHT: JERSEY GIRL’S SHORE FOOD TOUR

deb smith 033016 3Deborah Smith, author of “The Jersey Shore Cookbook,” outside Ama in Sea Bright last week. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

morsels mediumThe flavors of the Jersey shore really burst into fullness in the summer, helping to draw millions of visitors to our sun-splashed sands.

Somehow, though, it seems no one had thought to ask the most iconic beachfront restaurants for their top recipes, with the idea of sharing them in book form.

It took a Jersey Girl from Red Bank with an insatiable palate to finally tie it all together.  Read More »

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A TASTE OF NEW ENGLAND

032216navesinkfishery5A fried shrimp platter with coleslaw and crispy french fries. The corn chowder, below, was filled with bits of crab. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

032216navesinkfishery1Casting its net a bit beyond the usual limits of the Greater Red Bank Green, PieHole finds lots of fresh fish choices at the Navesink Fishery in Navesink.

With 40-plus years of fishmongering and cooking, 20 of which have been spent at this restaurant, owner Ruddy Field is serious about bringing his customers simple cuisine from briny depths and fresh water lakes. Landlubbers need not apply.

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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 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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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? 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

112515chowda4
The 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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CHIKYBOOM: COOKING WITH CUBAN ROOTS

eduardo bover 092415Though the signage still reads No Joe’s, chef Eduardo Bover is cooking authentic Cuban food in the kitchen of ChikyBoom, where the dining room features a Caribbean feel. (Photo above by John T. Ward; below by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON
092215chickyboom6

If you remember the song “Cuban Pete,” made famous by Desi Arnaz, you know the bongos and maracas playing to the rhumba beat: chick-chicka-boom.

The same might be said about ChikyBoom, the former No Joe’s coffee shop-and-luncheonette on Broad Street in Red Bank that’s now a Cuban-and-Spanish restaurant — when it’s not serving coffee and breakfast.

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