RUTGERS TO RED BANK: HANSEL ‘N GRIDDLE

011715 hansel3Casey Ruff, owner of the newly opened Hansel ‘n Griddle on West Front Street serves a chicken cobb salad. Below, French Toast from the breakfast menu offered throughout the day.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

011715 hansel4The newest eatery to open in Red Bank is described by its creator, the 33-year -old Nick Komandis, as “A mom-and-pop shop that has the appeal of a modern-day fast-food restaurant.”

The Rutgers grad came up with this foodery concept just out of college, and with backing from his parents opened his first Hansel ‘n Griddle in New Brunswick. A second restaurant, also in New Brunswick, and a third in Somerville quickly followed.

Now a franchise, the fourth Hansel ‘n Griddle – which opened this weekend at 38 West Front Street,  most recently home to 30 Burgers – is owned by 27-year-old Casey Ruff, who met Komandis while a student at Rutgers. An owner of two laundromats, Ruff says he “likes dealing with people. I love this environment, the customers and the people who work for Hansel, and I’m not sitting behind a desk.”

011715 hansel2The half-pound Angus beef bacon cheddar burger with a side of potato wedges and a pickle. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

Much like a diner, Hansel ‘n Griddle offers a full-on menu of breakfast, lunch and dinner options. Smoothies made with real fruit and juices are also a choice. You can eat in this corrugated-steel and wood-lined industrial styled restaurant, which reminds us of a shipping container; order your meal t0-go; or have it delivered at any time of day.

“We are very efficient at deliveries,” Komandis said, adding that online orders go “straight to the kitchen.” And 60 to 70 percent of orders are customized, as customers take advantage of the opportunity to tweak them to their preferences, he said.

According to the printed matter in the restaurant, the hours of operation are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., but Ruff says his restaurant will be open until 3 a.m. on weekends – and that includes delivery.

Being able to order mouth-watering French toast ($5) at 10 p.m. while our date is chowing down on a big, beefy, bacon cheese burger ($8.75) is downright exciting to PieHole. More routinely, as a lunch option, the chicken cobb salad ($7.99) – filled with crisp romaine lettuce, Swiss cheese, juicy tomatoes (surprising, in January), grilled chicken cut into strips, hard-boiled egg and cucumbers – was a big, satisfying dish. The buttermilk blue cheese dressing, made in-house, was thick, creamy and delicious.

Helping to fill what has become a breakfast wasteland in Red Bank with the demise of the Broadway Diner, pancakes and omelets may be ordered at any time of the day or night. Hansel ‘n Griddle also offers a specific vegetarian section on its menu.

With the 24-year-old yet experienced Isobel Cortes managing and training the newer people working in the kitchen, this restaurant didn’t exhibit any opening-weekend glitches or confusion. Eating in was a good experience. Next, we’ll try ordering online because staying up-to-date is what it’s all about.