On a clear day, views from the deck of BeachWalk Tiki Bar include the Highlands-Sea Bright bridge. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
A neighbor’s recommendation sent PieHole in search of a well-hidden oasis in Sea Bright.
“You have to try the crabby patty and crabby fries,” Fair Haven native Jeanettje McManus insisted, and the views are spectacular.
You wouldn’t know it looking at the place from Ocean Avenue: you see a modernized motel and parking lot. But tucked behind the BeachWalk Motel is an eatery dubbed the Tiki Bar. And what you get here are jaw-dropping views of both the Navesink and Shrewsbury rivers that can go on for miles.
A plate-filling fish taco appetizer and an order of crabby fries (below) from the Tiki Bar. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
The property formerly housed the Fairbanks Motel and, several years ago, a run-down Portuguese restaurant. Chuck McQuillan and Robert Duckworth bought it shortly before Hurricane Sandy hit. Gutted and renovated, the motel is now up to date, with a large, inviting new swimming pool, a bar and a restaurant.
Susan Duckworth, a Rumsonite and third-grade teacher in Middletown, works at her father’s restaurant during her summer vacation. She points to some of the waitresses wearing pink T-shirts and says, “we’re all teachers working here right now.”
If you happen to be stay-cationing or shore-cationing even for the day this summer, spend some time on BeachWalk’s over-the-river deck with a rum bucket — a small pail filled with rum and tropical fruit juices — or a mango mojito made with mint grown in a garden on the side of the restaurant, Duckworth says.
The bar has four beer taps and a short list of beer in cans. It also has a limited wine list. The mixed tropical drinks are the main draw here.
Offering an alternative to our neighbor’s suggestion, Duckworth says, “have the fish tacos. I eat them when I’m working here. They’re really fresh.” So we compromise with an order of fish tacos and crabby fries.
The tacos ($10.95) are listed under appetizers but served in an enormous portion — more than enough for one person at lunch.
Three warm, soft flour tortillas are filled with batter-dipped fried cod, shredded red cabbage, diced red onion, tomatoes, and flat leaf parsley. It’s the accompanying little container of sriracha-infused mayonnaise that makes this special, though. The otherwise mild tacos take on a diabolically spicy tang when slathered with the sauce, and leave a much appreciated tingle on lips and tongue.
Crinkle-cut french fries are bedeviled with Old Bay Seasoning and served with a good-sized container of melted cheese sauce. The combination is a childhood favorite brought to adult flavor standards.
The same short menu is offered for lunch and dinner, and contains standard pub fare, such as hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, burgers, wings and salads.
“Everything is fresh here. The turkey burgers are made from scratch and the crab cakes are made from crab ordered from Lusty Lobster,” Duckworth says. “When we run out, it’s because we used up the days supply.’
On a final note Duckworth says, “come here for breakfast. The french toast with fresh blueberries is awesome. It’s my favorite.”
Breakfast is offered daily from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m., and the lunch/dinner menu is available from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. all week.