RED BANK: AVOIDING THE CRUSH ON THE PATIO

Twilight on the back patio of Jamian’s Food and Drink finds bartender Rick Norman juicing oranges and pouring drinks. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Just down Monmouth Street in Red Bank from the Count Basie Theatre, Jamian’s Food and Drink  is packed before a show. Ticketholders dash in for a quick bite and something from the bar, and waitresses here know how to hustle, ensuring everyone gets in and out quickly.

Known for its varied live music scene, wall of locally produced artwork and surfer roots, it can be a little noisy and crowded inside. But out back, on Jamian’s patio, the vibe changes. Twinkling lights and background rock and roll make it easier to hold a conversation. This is where you’ll find a more relaxed scene. It’s also a good place to watch a game projected onto a big white wall.

A freshly squeezed orange crush with basil plucked from the kitchen herb garden. Below, it’s twinkling lights and an open rooftop.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

A curtain of bamboo screens the bar and tables from the street that runs behind the patio, where wooden benches wrap around the perimeter and tables accommodate two or more.

The dress code here is relaxed, blue jeans, vintage tee shirts and cargo shorts.

Bartender Rick Norman is squeezing oranges for a drink order. The Orange Crush ($10) is made with vodka, orange juice and and basil picked fresh from the small herb garden next to the kitchen.

“I like basil in a cocktail. It mellows out the acidity,” Norman says. “Have you ever tried a cosmo with basil in it? It changes the drink. Makes it fresher.”

He’s right. The basil adds an unexpected herbal twist while the sunshine-bright juice makes this an  a welcome treat on a sultry pre-summer evening.

Sitting at the bar, Bridgette Monahan and Jen Vitorino tell us that they come here for the friendly atmosphere and the food. “The bartenders know your name and the people who work here are personable. And the live music is great,” Monahan says.

“It’s a place where single women can come in and feel welcome without being hit on,” Vitorino adds.

Red Bank resident Kurt Schwartz tells us that he’s a “single man who eats out most nights of the week,” and makes this a regular stop. “I love the atmosphere. It’s just more comfortable,” he says.

Jamian’s back patio is open every evening and weekend afternoons, weather permitting.

SUSAN-ERICSON

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