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RED BANK: COOLING OFF AT THE LIGHTHOUSE

Twilight at Strollo’s Lighthouse finds pint-sized customers getting their chill on. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Winding down the summer, PieHole seeks out a cooling oasis at the end of an oppressively hot and humid day and finds sweet reward at Strollo’s Lighthouse in Red Bank.

Wedged, literally, at the junction of Rector Place, Bridge Avenue and Riverside Avenue, the ice cream shop is a beacon to behold at the foot of Cooper’s Bridge.
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SEA BRIGHT: SNAPPY HOUR AT BEACHWALK

Bartender Erin O’Keefe makes a Long Island Ice Tea while customers, some still in beach garb, make themselves comfortable on the deck over the river. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Timing it just right, PieHole showed up for happy hour at BeachWalk’s Tiki Bar recently to find beers in hand and fishing poles in the Shrewsbury River for a snapper derby competition.

Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright has its fair share of bars, but this might be the only one where you’ll find children and adults competing for bragging rights and the prize of an overnight stay at the attached motel.
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RED BANK: MIDSUMMER NIGHTS AT TEMPLE BAR

The Temple Bar at the Dublin House is a lively spot for music lovers on a warm Sunday evening. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

[Correction: The original version of this post incorrectly reported that Dead Bank was scheduled to play at the Dublin House on Saturday, August 5. They’ll be at Jamian’s Food and Drink that night.]

By SUSAN ERICSON

It’s twilight on a warm summer evening when PieHole strolls over to the Dublin House in Red Bank, taking in the sight of customers finishing their meals in the courtyard out front.

But we’re not here for dinner. Making our way through the side alley from Monmouth Street to the rear of the restaurant, we hear the deep, raspy strain of rock music and the low chatter of customers surrounding the bar named for a famous street in Dublin, Ireland: Temple Bar.

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SEA BRIGHT: BREAKFAST AT RORY’S PUB

The courtyard of Rory’s Pub on a recent Sunday morning. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

A sandwich board on the sidewalk of Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright informs us that Rory’s Pub is open for breakfast at 8:15.

“8:15?” we ask the owner, Tony Maher. In a brogue rooted in his childhood in Waterford, Ireland, he tells PieHole, “Give or take, it could be 8:16 or 8:17.”
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RED BANK: BEER AND MORE AT BIRRAVINO

Customers enjoy pizza, salads, wine and beer on a breezy Sunday evening at Birravino’s new beer garden.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Basil T’s Brew Pub was ahead of it’s time when it came to brewing beer in-house in New Jersey. Three years ago, Vic Rallo and partners rebranded the Red Bank restaurant and bar, naming it Birravino and giving it an updated industrial look. But they continued to brew their own beer.

The recent addition of an outdoor beer garden, built off to one side of the original structure, allows customers to wet their whistles under star-studded skies while chilling to the cool breezes coming off the Navesink River. PieHole stepped up to the window for one of the 10 local brews on tap before settling into a cherry-red Adirondack-style chair on the patio.
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SEA BRIGHT: HAPPY HOUR AT EVENTIDE

Eventide Grille, tucked behind a marina, is a favorite of locals at happy hour. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Sea Bright is all hustle and bustle during the summer, so hungry and thirsty beachgoers zipping along Ocean Avenue might might not notice Eventide Grille, which isn’t even visible from the street. Locals, on the other hand, are well aware of this gem of riverside restaurant and watering hole tucked in behind the Navesink Marina.

PieHole stopped by on a breezy weeknight to rub elbows with a happy hour crowd that for the most part arrived on foot.
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RED BANK: COCKTAILS AT RED ROCK

The crowd at a recent happy hour at Red Rock Tap + Grill. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Picnic tables, high tops, bar stools: on warm, clear summer evenings, the seats fill up fast at Red Rock Tap + Grill in Red Bank, offering bird’s eye views of Marine Park from multiple tiers. PieHole finds a subdued after-work crowd at happy hour, which runs from 4 p.m. until 7 p.m.

“Happy hour is like this when it’s nice out,” bartender Jennifer Gambino tells us as she muddles lime for a Moscow Mule, the hour’s most popular cocktail, served in a proper copper mug.
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SEA BRIGHT: BACK TO THE BEACH @ DONOVAN’S

One of three bars at Donovan’s Reef is a thatched roof tiki bar.  (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Flip-flop wearing beachgoers can now drink their beverage of choice at any of three separate bars within the confines of the newly re-built Donovan’s Reef in Sea Bright. PieHole recently paid its first visit to the sprawling party palace since its resurrection from the devastation of Hurricane Sandy.

And is this the Jersey Shore? Swaying palm trees and ocean views could easily have your thinking you’re on a tropical vacation.
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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.

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RED BANK: CHILLING AND MINGLING AT TEAK

Socializing on the rooftop at Teak with a cool Yellow Fever #2 cocktail. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

Starting this week and for the rest of the summer, PieHole is giving its What’s For Lunch feature a rest. Instead, we’ll mingling and chilling out on the Greater Red Bank Green, visiting outdoor happy hours and ice cream stands, starting with today’s first stop:  the rooftop at Teak on Monmouth Street in Red Bank.
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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? BELLYING UP AT SURF BBQ

041616surfbbqsandwichesAbove, a smoked-brisket sandwich, left, and a pulled pork sandwich. Below, smoked maraschino cherries at the bar. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

041616surfbbqcherriesPieHole had been itching to try Surf BBQ in Rumson for lunch, but the newly opened East River Road restaurant and bar hasn’t yet expanded its hours and is only serving lunch on weekends.

Last Saturday, we finally made it there, and found the place not too busy at mid-afternoon, with no wait at the counter and plenty of available seating at the bar and picnic tables. Maybe everyone was attending their kids’ T-Ball games or working on landscaping, but we think we’ve found a sweet-spot in this smokin’ hot restaurant’s schedule.
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A STRAWBERRY KISS FOR YOUR VALENTINE

020916taste3A Strawberry Kiss, by Taste manager/bartender Meagan Davis. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

It’s Valentine’s Day, and you’re out to make an impression on a certain someone. A romantic cocktail is a good start, but first you have to figure out what that moving spirit is.

An experienced bartender and now manager at Taste, in the Galleria Red Bank, Meagan Davis has a few ideas about what might set hearts fluttering.

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WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A SMOOTHIE IN A BOWL

020316freshica4The Acai PB&J bowl from Freshica’s Juice Bar, owned by Jessica Dalmedo, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

020316freshica3It might seem counter-intuitive to put a juice bar in the same building as a luncheonette known for its porkroll, egg, and cheese sandwiches, but Jessica Dalmedo, owner of Freshica’s Juice Bar says it works.

Sharing space with Fairwinds Deli on River Road in Fair Haven for almost four years, Freshica’s counter takes up a portion of the dining area. At lunchtime, you’re likely to see a construction worker downing a sub as you are a gray-flannel suit or someone coming from the gym. Less expected: the number of children from the preschool next door taking sippy-cup-sized swigs of kale- and spinach-infused juices.
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ON THE GREEN: HOLIDAY WARMTH BY THE CUP

121715booskerdoo2Coffee beans in a Seinfeld-themed Festivus variety can be found at Booskerdoo. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

PIEHOLE-GIFT_MEDStill searching for the just-right Christmas gift? How about something that’s as quick a grab as a coffee-to-go for the coffee or tea drinker on your list?

Iconoclastic caffeine lovers might appreciate a jar of Festivus, a Columbian blend of coffee beans from Booskerdoo on River Road in Fair Haven ($12 for 12 ounces).

Named for the Seinfeld holiday parody, it’s both useful and whimsical. Pair it with a single-serve porcelain drip cone to make the gift extra special.

We’ve got suggestions for tea and cocoa lovers, too, just around the read more corner. Read More »

WHAT’S FOR LUNCH? A DIP IN THE OCEAN CAFÉ

090215oceancafe4Seared tuna in a rice-paper wrap and a mixed fruit smoothie for lunch, with a picture-window view of Monmouth Street thrown in, below. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

090215oceancafe5It’s the first week of September, but still hot as blazes outside. So the fun, beach-themed mural seen through the floor-to-ceiling front window of the Ocean Café in Red Bank beckoned us to chill out and take a little extra time for lunch.

Overindulging during the month of August, PieHole was looking for some dietary balance, and the menu here skews to healthier fare such as salads, wrap sandwiches, soups and sandwiches on reliably good French bread. Deciding to go all-in with a lighter, cooler, less-fattening lunch, we found a myriad of options at this Monmouth Street getaway.

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RED BANK: A FEW HAPPY HOURS

062915birravino2Happy hour choices at Birravino included organic house wine, beer and an appetizer, while at Robinson’s Ale House, below, a martini starred.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

063015robinsonsThough it’s ubiquitous in Red Bank, happy hour – that late-afternoon, discounted bar-tab menu option – should not be taken for granted. Many states, according to the National Center for State Courts, prohibit or limit what has become a traditional time of day to meet with friends and acquaintances in New Jersey.

Although most bars and restaurants offer special deals to lure customers, you might be surprised at how differently those two or three hours are interpreted. PieHole breaks down what can be considered an early bird special for the economically minded while others might call it a snack before dinner.

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RED BANK: ‘COCKTAILS’ AT THE COFFEE CORRAL

061715cofcorralCourtlyn Crosson makes a High Roller, seen below complete with grapefruit foam. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

061715cofcorral2Tired of getting the same old latte or mochaccino from your local coffee shop? Baristas, the mixologists of caffeinated beverages, are raising the bar by creating new and interesting coffee “cocktails.”

Twenty-four-year-old Courtlyn Crosson, barista at the Coffee Corral in Red Bank, brings PieHole up to date on some of the latest innovations.

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QUENCHING A CINCO DE MAYO THIRST

050315 downtown  butler3 Downtown bartender John Butler makes PieHole a fresh strawberry margarita.  (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

050315 downtown margarita4Maybe it was the sterling weather this past weekend, or maybe it was the swarm of happy folks packing the restaurants and bars in town that put us in a celebratory mood.

Remembering that Cinco de Mayo is this week, PieHole made its way to the Downtown in Red Bank with its enormous open front window view of Broad Street. Finding a couple of empty bar stools at the ready, we joined the already cheerful customers.

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SEA BRIGHT: DIVING INTO A BLOODY HOOK

040215 dive3Ashlyn Schmidt pours a spicy bloody Mary at Dive in Sea Bright. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

040215 dive2A sweet cocktail filled with tropical fruit is nice on a hot summer day, but with the strong spring winds still blowing sharp and cold in Sea Bright, only a hearty, spicy cocktail could quench PieHole‘s thirst.

Dive, a “coastal bar and food joint” on Ocean Avenue, offers a Sunday brunch and bloody Mary menu featuring a quaff called the Bloody Hook that makes the lips tingle and the throat burn with enjoyment.

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RED BANK: NEW OWNER AT BRANNIGAN’S

paul marcotte 040615Paul Marcotte hopes to retain Brannigan’s charming dive character while making small improvements. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallPaul Marcotte is thinking about hitting the ladies’ room.

Well, both restrooms, actually. But the one that matters most to the new owner of Brannigan’s Bar & Grill in Red Bank is the one that, to put it delicately, the ladies don’t find all that welcoming. Hence, they tend to stay out of the bar, too.

So fixing the facilities is a top priority as Marcotte figures out just how much tweaking the Wharf Avenue watering hole needs and can stand without losing its dive charm.

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ON THE GREEN: A BLUSTERY ST. PATRICK’S DAY

st. patrick 031715 7st. patrick 031715 25It’s a day of wearin’ of the green, donnin’ of the caudeen, and greenin’ of the hair when St. Patrick’s Day rolls around on the Greater Red Bank Green. The 2015 edition was accompanied by the usual revelry beginning Tuesday afternoon, as seen here in photos from the Dublin House Pub, Walt Street Pub, Molly Maguire’s Gastropub and Murphy’s Tavern. (Photos by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

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AT THE DUB: IRISH COFFEE THE IRISH WAY

022615 Dublin house1A traditional Irish Coffee at the Dublin House. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

dublin house 022013There was a time, not so long ago, when most restaurants would hand their customers a menu of coffee-based, alcohol-laced, sweetened beverages at the end of a meal. But food and drink styles are as susceptible to change as runway garb, and tend to be described in the same way. Does your taste go to something retro or classic? Or are you always looking for the next new thing?

Café mocha double lattes may come and go, but there are some classic drinks that are always in style. And with stores bedecked in shades of green reminding us that the Saint Patrick’s Day holiday is on its way, PieHole went in search of an old standard at the Dublin House Pub on Monmouth Street in Red Bank.

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