Duck confit tater tots from Red Rock Tap + Grill. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
By SUSAN ERICSON
Soul-satisfying soups, beefy burgers, crusty pizzas…
From a year’s worth of lunches good, bad and inedible, PieHole‘s What’s For Lunch? feature picks the Top 10 of 2016.
Click to restaurant names to see complete individual reviews.
The braised short rib sandwich from Graze in Little Silver. Below, the innovative and delicious lobster tail corn dog from B2 Bistro. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)
10. Local Smoke takes the number 10 slot for firing up the cooker on a much anticipated and welcome barbecue joint to Red Bank. We especially like the consistently good chicken and sides.
9. We’ve got a tie here, based on the best and most comforting soups we tried over the pat year. In Red Bank, the Windward Deli‘s Rhode Island clam chowder is a lunch in a cup that we look forward to having again. And in Rumson, Butler’s Market served us a velvety mushroom soup that we also crave. We’ve been back to both places a few times now.
8. A perfect fried shrimp dish earned the Navesink Fishery, where the dishes are consistently fresh and reasonably price, a spot on the list.
7. Meaty duck confit over tater tots nab Red Rock Tap + Grill the number 7 spot. Interesting and innovative menu options have us wondering what will be coming out of the kitchen next. We just hope owner Paul Marcotte figures out a way to add more seating for his serious-dining fans.
6. Who makes the best pad Thai in the area? Temple Gourmet Chinese Restaurant wowed us at a Red Bank Lunch Meet gathering in September. The lunchtime specials are consistently good and a bargain to boot.
5. Again, we have a tie, this time for appetizers. If we’re in the mood for Italian, then we want the boli knots from the new Mangia Brick Oven Pizza in Shrewsbury. But if we’re feeling more of an Asian yearning, it’s the dumplings from China Moon in Red Bank.
4. A burger for lunch is a standard for many, and we found several worth lauding. But Harry’s in Sea Bright stood out with a perfect medium-rare burger made by former-owner-but-still-chef Lou Jacoubs.
3. B2 Bistro and Bar, at the corner of Herbert Street and Shrewsbury Avenue in Red Bank, is a no-brainer. A consistently evolving menu of unique options will bring our epi-curious selves back. The lobster tail corn dog and bahn mi sandwich are etched in our memory.
2. Lunch at chef Marc Fontaine’s new O Bistro in Red Bank simply wowed us. The traditional French fare had us wanting to try the specials of the day and all the desserts, but oh, that seafood crepe was particularly divine.
1. In the number one slot of restaurants we look forward to returning to next year is — drum roll — Graze in Little Silver. If you ask chef Junior Chamon where the ingredients in your lunch came from, chances are he’ll tell you it was a farm within 20 miles of the restaurant. Buying from local organic farms, breaking down the animals in their kitchen and preparing everything from scratch in-house is pretty exciting stuff. And from that come dishes such as the short-rib grilled cheese, which combine tart granny smith apples with melt-in-your-mouth tender beef.
PieHole could offer commentary on the many misses and failures that we tasted during the year, but we’ve decided to leave that to you. If you don’t agree with our list, let’s hear it. What were your favorites last year and what are you looking forward to tasting in 2017? What were your disappointing food moments last year?