120414 potpieChicken pot pie at the International Bar in the Molly Pitcher Hotel. Below, the pot pie scooped out of its baking dish. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)


120414 potpie3The days of the Mad Men-style two-martini lunch have been over for decades, but there is a staunch holdout in Red Bank where you can still enjoy this throwback indulgence if you have the luxury of time.

With wood-paneled walls, carpeted floor, and a beckoning fireplace creating a dark, masculine, club feeling, the International Bar at the Molly Pitcher Inn makes a terrific traditional martini. A sense of luxurious comfort abounds, and the bar’s menu of standard American choices adds to that feeling of well-being.

If you are looking for an exotic gourmet meal, this is not the place. You won’t find sun-drenched vegetables from the south of France, or anything Pan-Asian on the menu. Steak sandwiches, burgers with spiced fries, chowder and salads are among the familiar foods that complement the cozy armchairs and panoramic views of our beautiful Navesink River.

Served in a single-portion size ramekin, the chicken pot pie ($15.95) has been on the menu for years, and with good reason. It starts with the manner in which it is served. Your waiter presents the toque-like white ribbed crock with its inflated cap of buttery puff pastry, and then proceeds to disassemble the casserole in front of you. The cap is removed to the serving plate, and chunks of white meat chicken, corn, peas and carrots in a lightly seasoned cream sauce are spooned over the top.

The salt and pepper shakers are on the table for a reason. Slightly under-seasoned, most of the food at the Molly is on the bland side. Not without flavor or taste, just in need of a shake of oomph from those shakers. Once salted, the chicken pot pie is exactly what you want to fill you up, and filling it is. The pastry topping, now at the base of the dish, sops up all of the creamy goodness. The chicken is tender and the veggies add flavor and caloric merit.

The crowd dining at the bar tends to be on the mature side, which might explain why the standard menu options are so popular. But every now and then, everyone looks for a throwback to their youth. Lunchtime at the Molly is based in the snugness: food, mood and atmosphere.