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A MONTH OF MENU MADNESS ON THE GREEN

A month of elbow-to-elbow good eatin’ kicks off tonight at the Molly. (Click to enlarge)

By TOM CHESEK

It’s beginning to give way to Spring around the greater Green, and as our stocks of winter provisions dwindle down to the last few scraps of venison jerky and home-canned jars of okra, we emerge from our dwellings in search of our foodie fix.

Fortunately, March has traditionally sounded a call to action for local merchants of fine food and drink. This week, a go-getter group of restaurateurs around Red Bank and Rumson (as well as Middletown, Little Silver, Sea Bright and Shore points south) are roaring into gear with tonight’s return of the event known as A Taste of the Two Rivers, the continuation of Rumson Restaurant Month, and the kickoff to Red Bank Flavour Fixe.

• A fundraising smorgasbord benefitting the borough-based Community YMCA and its slate of Y’s Strong Kids Campaign programs, the fourth annual Taste of the Two Rivers brings together nearly a dozen of the area’s most proactive purveyors of delicious food, decadent desserts, wine and spirits — an elite group that includes host venue Molly Pitcher Inn and neighboring Oyster Point Hotel, as well as Anna’s Italian Kitchen, Cheese Cave, D’Jeet?, McLoone’s Rum Runner, Salt Creek Grille, Sickles Market and several other Monmouth County merchants.

It all happens this evening, March 5, between the hours of 6 to 9 pm at the Molly, with participating businesses vying for such guest-judged honors as Best Display and Best Dish, and attendees enjoying live jazz by Andy McDonough’s Trio as well as a chance to win some cuisine-related gift packages donated by some of the Green’s greatest. Information on available eleventh-hour tickets ($100 per person) can be had by calling (732) 671-5505, ext 20, or taking it to the Y’s web link above.

• Beginning tomorrow, March 6, and continuing Tuesdays and Wednesdays throughout the month of March, the promotional partnership known as Red Bank Flavour joins forces with Red Bank RiverCenter to present the latest in an ongoing series of “Dine Downtown” prix fixe campaigns — an event newly rebranded as Red Bank Flavour Fixe.

A cross-section of the borough’s bistros, boites, banquet rooms and before-show hangouts — a streetside smorgasbord spanning French, Italian, Thai, Chinese, seafood, sushi, contemporary American and Continental (in addition to some other flavorful fusions) — will be serving up special prix fixe menus that include appetizer, entrée and dessert for a lusciously low price (beverages, tax and gratuities not included).

As before, there are three distinct pricing levels ($15, $25, $30) — and, with more than 20 locations in the downtown, riverfront and theatre/antiques districts, it’s a great way to get acquainted with that place you’ve been meaning to try (or to reconnect with an old favorite before a movie or play). Take it here for a complete rundown of participating restaurants and other deep-dish details.

• Not to be outdone in the friendly competition for your culinary attentions, eight Rumson restaurants — an alliance that ranges from exciting new neighbors to legendary landmarks of local life — will be offering a variety of specials, discounts and other promotions on the midweek evenings of Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, straight through the lamb’s end of March.

It’s the fourth annual edition of Rumson Restaurant Month, and it picks up in earnest tomorrow, March 6 at Barnacle Bill’s, David Burke Fromagerie, Molly Maguire’s Black Point Inn (formerly Murray MacGregor’s Publik House), Ristorante GiorgiaSalt Creek Grille, Undici, Val’s Tavern and What’s Your Beef. In a press statement, Rumson Mayor John E. Ekdahl expressed pleasure with the fact that “we have 100-percent participation by our restaurants that have come together to show people that Rumson is a great dining destination.”

The promotion of the borough as dining destination is an important mission for the Rumson Endowment Fund, the nonprofit organization that joined with the borough’s restaurateurs to underwrite Restaurant Month as a way to “stimulate midweek business especially in light of the months-long closure of the Oceanic Bridge.”  A full rundown of each restaurant’s specials can be viewed right here.

Remember: Nothing makes a Red Bank friend happier than to hear "I saw you on Red Bank Green!"
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