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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 SUB WITH A SIDE OF JOY

012716butlers6The honey maple turkey sandwich on a roll from Butlers. Below, owner Paul Stout. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

012716butlersmkt1It doesn’t matter if your mood is not so bright when you walk through the doors of Butler’s Market in Rumson. Owner Paul Stout has a warm and friendly smile to greet you and make you feel better.

Reopened last June after two-plus years of unsatisfying retirement for its proprietor, the deli’s food is in some ways as good as it used to be, and in many ways, much better.

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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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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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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? CHICKEN FROM PAT’S

121215patsmkt2A  festive holiday display of stuffed breads at Pat’s Market, above, and the chicken parm, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

121215patsmkt3 Pat’s Market, a butcher shop and deli on Newman Springs Road in Lincroft, sells only Bell and Evans chickens.

Because they’re raised organically, and antibiotic-free, on farms in Pennsylvania, that was all the bait PieHole needed for a quick and, maybe, healthier lunch option.

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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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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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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? TOAST TOSSED SALAD

110515toastsaladA Chopped Greek salad with grilled shrimp, above, and a plate of hash and eggs, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

103115toast1Peace, Love and Pancakes: How can you go wrong with a slogan like that?

The newest foodie haven in Red Bank, Toast is slinging all three, along with hash and other comfort foods, in a glossy retro-American-meets-Scandinavian style luncheonette in the former home of the Broadway Diner on Monmouth Street.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A 10TH AVE. BURRITO

10291510thave4The burrito comes with how-to-eat directions. Below, the chips and salsa dip. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

10291510thave2From Broad Street to Bridge Avenue, burritos have become a ubiquitous menu staple in Red Bank. Interpretations of the Mexican-style tortilla-wrapped meal are becoming increasingly competitive, with hungry fans reaping the rewards.

Jumping into the scrimmage is the much-anticipated 10th Ave. Burrito Company, open since August on West Front Street. PieHole popped by for lunch this week.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BIG MENU AT TOMMY’S

101715tommystavern3A Hickory-Bacon Burger and an order of oven-roasted wings at Tommy’s Tavern + Tap in Sea Bright. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

101715tommystavern2Trying to enter Tommy’s Tavern + Tap in Sea Bright last Saturday was a challenge.

Pushing an empty stroller out the door, a woman sporting a Gucci diaper bag on her shoulder heard a screech from her toddler. At issue: a cup of lollipops spied on the hostess desk.

Stroller, Mom, Dad and child — now clutching a fistful of pops —  finally made their way out the door, and we entered to see that the place was packed. Tables, bar stools—  all taken, but a raised booth against the far wall that could have fit a party of six was available.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SUGGESTION IN FRENCH

101415frenchmktwfl1Perhaps lured by the aroma of baked pastries, below, customers took advantage of a crisp autumn day for lunch at the French Market this week. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

101415frenchmktwfl4

Open the door to the French Market on East River Road in Rumson, and the aroma of fresh baked pastry overwhelms your senses. PieHole tells you this as a favor. It’s easy to lose control and forget that you are there for a reason.

Since July, chef Laurent Chavenet has been filling the shelves of this market with his butter-enhanced flaky creations. But it’s not just pastries: a six-page takeout menu offers French specialties such as quiche, crepes and croissant sandwiches, as well as salads and a charcuterie plate.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? DANISH PANINI

092915danishcafe2Chicken Douglas, a panini-style sandwich from the Danish Café, a flag-festooned coffee shop. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

092915danishcafe3On any given day at Loni and Claudi Kofod’s Danish Café on Bridge Avenue in Red Bank, you’ll find customers in deep discussion, their open laptops sharing table space with large cups of coffee.

But the wifi, full-bodied, European-style java and original pastries are only part of what brings customers to this light-filled, red-and-white-flag-festooned Galleria space. The lunch menu offers simple, healthy choices, as PieHole rediscovered on a recent business meeting-slash-What’s For Lunch outing.

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