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SEA BRIGHT: HEARTY FOOD, BY THE BOOK

120414-alices3-500x375-8559697The Gaelic omelet at Alice’s Kitchen contains a little bit of this and that, just like those Alice Gaffney, below, remembers from her native Ireland. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

120414-alices2-220x148-8857242When Arlo Guthrie penned his famous “Alice’s Restaurant,” he didn’t have Alice Gaffney in mind: she was an ocean away from the scene of the Thanksgiving Day “massacree.” But that line, “you can get anything you want…” pretty much applies to Alice’s Kitchen, Gaffney’s restaurant in Sea Bright.

In addition to enjoying her varied breakfast and lunch offerings at the Ocean Avenue eatery, you can now take a book home with you for free.

120414-alices1-500x375-5523328

“My friend built the bookcases for me so I could start a book swap,” she says of the rack next to the hearth she brought over from her native Ireland. The idea of the swap: “You bring one, you take one,” Gaffney said.

Gaffney noted that entire collections of books were lost in Hurricane Sandy, which decimated the town. Numerous homeowners remain displaced, and the bookcase, half-filled with contemporary novels, adds a homey touch to the already warm atmosphere at the 17-month old restaurant.

“We have a long way to go. Sixty percent of people are not back yet,” she said. “The mayor just moved back and the condos are full capacity, but the side streets are not.”

The restaurant offers a touch of home cooking to a stream of regulars.

“Every morning, I have my gentlemen in for breakfast,” she says. “I call them my boyfriends. We have a nice construction crowd coming in for a hot meal now.”

A different lunch special is offered for $5 every day. “The beef stew with Guinness is a favorite,” she says. “I sell out of that.”

The Gaelic omelet contains, in Gaffney’s words, a bit of this and that. “People love a little bit of everything. It’s a very Irish thing,” she says in her lilting brogue.

The “this and that” is actually corned beef, mushrooms, onions, cheese, and potatoes. Served with home fries and toast, at $7.50 it is hearty, delicious, and a good deal.

Since the summer crowds have thinned, it is easier to get a seat at the counter or a table, and the coffee is strong enough to keep one happy and awake.

Gaffney bakes all of the scones, muffins and breads she sells, as well as the Irish soda bread, which you can order in advance and take home with you.

She now has a catering menu now, too, and serves a special $25 dinner on Friday nights.

“Bring a bottle of wine,” she says, and check Facebook for the menu.

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