A plate of baby back ribs from Salt Creek Grille’s happy hour menu. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
Timing is everything, especially when it comes to grabbing a good meal. Sometimes, the afternoon just gets away from us and before we know it, lunch is an unfulfilled yearning. What to do?
Salt Creek Grille, the craftsman-style restaurant at the foot of the Oceanic Bridge in Rumson, shows a 5 p.m. opening on its website. But happy hour is served from 4 p.m. to 6:30, and it’s a terrific bargain.
Salt Creek’s house salad comes with a view of the Navesink River and Oceanic Bridge. The bar bustles at happy hour, below. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
The first hour finds locals-in-the-know showing up for an early bite and half-price drinks. After 5 p.m., the bar and surrounding hi-top booths and tables lining the windows fill up fast.
While the dining room tends to be more upscale, beverage manager Rob Habel says the bar at happy hour has a more relaxed vibe.
Beer on tap and house wines are half-price, and the menu of small plates offers options to sate carnivores, vegetarians, and those following a gluten-free regimen. Mesquite-scented aromas from the open kitchen add an outdoorsy feel to the stellar riverviews from almost every seat in the bar and lounge.
Grabbing one of the coveted hi-top tables in the back, we gaze out at lights twinkling from cars on the bridge and estates across the Navesink. A glass of Stone Cellars Cabernet ($4) and a beer on tap ($3.50) keep us occupied while perusing the menu.
Bar-sized pizzas $5), with pepperoni ($6), or the “CBT” ($6) version topped with grilled chicken, basil and sun-dried tomatoes catch our eye. The Creek Sliders ($8) and bacon-wrapped shrimp ($9) are also appealing, but we opt to start with the house salad ($4).
The salad has been on the menu here for the entire 20 years that this restaurant has existed, and we look forward to ordering it every time we stop in. Fresh baby greens are topped with juicy chunks of tomato, thin slices of tart Granny Smith apples, candied walnuts, crumbled gorgonzola cheese and a light vinaigrette dressing.
An appetizer portion of baby back ribs ($9) consists of a mesquite-grilled half-rack of, fall-off-the-bone tender ribs smothered in a sticky, not-too-sweet sauce. The accompanying crispy, garlic parmesan fries are shoe string cut and addictive.
Salt Creek Grille serves happy hour in the bar and lounge area Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. and the full dinner menu is also an option at this time.