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Fish! - Asbury Park

near-sighted: meaning one can see better close-up and not see distances well. Another way to put it would be to see only the things in front of you and not the big picture.

Jul 17, 2011
fvc496 in New Jersey

Fish! - Asbury Park

What is much better in Asbury Park is:
1) Taka;
2) Stella Marina;
3) Moonstruck (not one of my favs, but generally problem-free);
4) any of Marilyn Schlossbach's places;
5) La Tapatia;
6) Cubacan;
7) Bistro Ole;
8) Jimmy's;
9) Old Man Rafferty's.

If you think Fish is a good restaurant, that's your prerogative. But to think it is the best restaurant around is being extremely near-sighted IMHO. It is certainly the most expensive, and therefore should be held to a higher standard.

BTW, the restaurants listed above are not necessarily great restaurants, however I've found each of them to be better in patron service and in value than Fish has been.

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Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant
1200 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Bistro Ole
230 Main St, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Old Man Rafferty
531 Cookman Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

La Tapatia
707 Main St, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Jul 17, 2011
fvc496 in New Jersey

Pop's Garage and Dauphine Grille Asbury Park

True, I like Stella Marina, Langosta Lounge, and Watermark as well (for places on the boardwalk). I avoid McLoone's Asbury Grill (same goes for McLoone's upstairs), The Boards (now-closed), and the Beach Bar. I haven't been able to properly assess Aqua yet.

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Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant
1200 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Langosta Lounge
1000 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Apr 05, 2011
fvc496 in New Jersey

Pop's Garage and Dauphine Grille Asbury Park

Pop's Garage has been open for a couple of years--I think the tacos are very good, especially as a quick snack right off the beach. It's not really a restaurant though, more of a 5-seat lunch counter with about half a dozen tables outside on the boardwalk. It does not claim to serve 'authentic' Mexican food and therefore should really not be judged against ones that do.

Dauphine has only been open since the end of last summer. It was not impressive when it first opened, but it has since been settling info a nice groove.

Both place are owned by Marilynn Schlossbach, who is to be commended for raising the level of restaurants in Asbury Park. Her places are not the cheapest in town, but I find them generally to be fair and of decent value. Personally, I have no trouble paying a little bit more on the tab in order to support what she's doing.

Apr 03, 2011
fvc496 in New Jersey

El Monterrey Asbury Park

Closed. Go to La Tapatia (also on Main) instead...

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La Tapatia
707 Main St, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Apr 02, 2011
fvc496 in New Jersey

The Boards Restaurant-Asbury

The Boards is supposed to reopen by the summer. The owners are the same as Stella Marina...

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Stella Marina Bar & Restaurant
1200 Ocean Ave, Asbury Park, NJ 07712

Apr 02, 2011
fvc496 in New Jersey

Synaxis~Asbury Park

Alright; that could work as a description as well (if you lose the retro-cool factor)! Think closer to a really low-rent 'housewives of South Jersey'.

Feb 12, 2011
fvc496 in New Jersey

Synaxis at the Shore, Asbury Park: a disappointing restaurant experience

Isn't Synaxis a great place to hit on bored, suburban housewives? It certainly has that look and feel.

Feb 12, 2011
fvc496 in New Jersey

Synaxis~Asbury Park

Still open. Go if you get a kick out of checking out middle-aged, moneyed housewives dripping in gold and mascara. Alternatively, if you like checking out guys with mustaches, open-collared polyester shirts, gold wrist bracelets.

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a little, but you kind of get the idea...

Feb 12, 2011
fvc496 in New Jersey

Fish! - Asbury Park

This is not a formal review, but I can't help but weigh in on the discussion.

Four of us went to Fish last night and I can't say that it was a great experience. We'd all been there before--indeed we live in Asbury Park and are big supporters of the restaurants here. We are always pulling for the restaurants to succeed since it helps the town, yet many of them deliver too little for far too much money. I'm afraid Fish falls into this category.

Our party is a walk-in early on Friday night; we are greeted quickly (though the hostess was clueless about understanding one couple were already seated and that we were joining them). The beginning of the service went well; drink orders taken and delivered, specials recited, food orders taken, appetizers delivered. One weird thing is that of the two specials offered that night, none of them involved fish or seafood. Which didn't really bother me except that the name of the restaurant is "Fish"; seems like someone forgot what the restaurant is about.

The problems began with the entrees (we had 3 between 4 people). The surf & turf looked satisfactory--well plated and my companion enjoyed it; the black cod was also good, though it appeared to be scaled back (no veg, smaller portion) from when we had ordered it back in December. The tagliatelle with Peekytoe crab that I ordered had a faint metallic aftertaste that I attributed to a not-fully-rinsed dish plate. GF tastes it and agrees that something's off. I figure at least it's not the crab that tastes off, and the rest of it seems OK (again, not a full review here; if it were, I'd point out that the pasta was overcooked, the food was lukewarm, good ratio of crab to pasta, the flavours of the sauce were indescript...), and a little dishwater wouldn't kill me. On to dessert...

This is were everything falls apart. We order 2 desserts and an espresso; one dessert and the coffee come to the table in a reasonable amount of time, and after 10 minutes we realize that our 2nd dessert isn't on the order. Our waitress apologizes that she didn't hear us correctly about the order and says she'll rush the 2nd dessert and it'll be out shortly. Or at least that's what she should have said. 20 minutes later, we are still waiting for dessert #2 (which BTW, does not need to be caught, killed, OR cooked--it's a $10 banana split that merely needs to be assembled). By the time it finds it's way onto our table, dessert #1 is a melted puddle of what was probably delicious, dark chocolate.

I tell our our runner to let the waitress know that this plate took far too long to make it to the table, because from here on in, our waitress is MIA. The restaurant is only about half full at about 9:00 so being busy can't be an excuse. I stop to take a sip of water and the dishwater aftertaste comes back in full force. I pass my glass around for others to sample and the verdict is not a good one. At this point I begin looking around for someone who looks like management since it's clear the waitstaff cannot cope with anything approaching a problem. The trouble is neither I nor anyone in my party can see anyone who might be in charge. Our waitress has disappeared so we can't even ask her. Finally my GF goes over to the hostess to send over whoever might be managing the floor.

This last bit is a lesson in how to make a poor situation even worse: the manager comes over and I outline the problems that we've had. The off-taste on the pasta is acknowledged with an 'OK'; the poor timing with desserts is not even acknowledged; and the dirty water glass (which I've saved for him to taste) is combated with "that's what Asbury Park water tastes like". Which is so offensive, I can't begin to describe. I tell him that I live in AP and drink the water all the time and it doesn't taste like dishwater (all of which is true--there's nothing wrong with the water here). I tell him he's got a problem with a dishwasher (human or mechanical; I do not know nor do I care) and he gives me a look that reeks of 'mind your own business'. No apology, no thank you for bringing it to our attention, no offer of doing better next time.

Of course some of this might be acceptable in a hash house that didn't charge $30 for entrees / $12 for drinks / $10 for desserts. But in a restaurant that is expensive in any part of the U.S. (including NYC and LA), none of it is. If you want a decent restaurant in AP, go to Taka, go to (most of) Marilyn Schlossbach's places, go to Stella Marina, go to the Mexican joint on Main Street.

Feb 11, 2011
fvc496 in New Jersey

dinner recommendations Asbury Park or Long Branch

No kidding!!! (not mention other goodies in AP; Mex food on Main Street, subs from 4-Js, hot dogs from Windmill. Christ, those guys at the Beach Bar could serve hors d'oeurves from Costco and it would be better than the crap, oops I mean wrap, they serve.

Oct 30, 2008
fvc496 in Mid-Atlantic

dinner recommendations Asbury Park or Long Branch

bgut1 -- I understand and agree with your point in general. I did not mean to imply we should blindly support mediocrity or incompetence (which is why I end up at Carmines and Taka 80% of the time). By keeping standards high, I mean that we should let our dissatisfactions be known to give proprietors a chance to improve; and by keeping standards low, I mean that we should keep them reasonable and within the scope and scale of the establishment. You'll note that my posting does not blindly accept and/or excuse most of the places in AP. Let's just keep it in context.

Speaking of which, bgut1, I believe you started an excellent post of why there is such mediocrity in NJ restaurants. My two cents is that I couldn't agree more. It seems as if most of the people in this state are more concerned with how big the portions are than whether they are any good. They unfortunately, are no different from the rest of these United States.

Oct 30, 2008
fvc496 in Mid-Atlantic

HELP! Need a sexy bar/lounge in Northern NJ!

Thank you both. They were excellent suggestions.

PS: funny thing about Bistro En; if I'm not mistaken, I think I used to WORK there 30 years ago, though it was a fern bar back then.

Oct 30, 2008
fvc496 in General Tristate Archive

dinner recommendations Asbury Park or Long Branch

I did not put in the restaurants I have not been to: Sister Sue's, The Harrison, Plan B, Old Man Rafferty's, Moonstruck, Jimmy's, Posillipo, The Adriatic. There are a couple of places opening on the Boardwalk as well: Langosta Lounge and Stella Mare (not sure if this is the right name).

A postscript is that although I think the restaurant scene in AP is not where I think it should be (and that's subjective as hell), I do believe the only way for it to get there is for us to support the local businesses. My advice is to keep your standards high and your expectations low, and you'll have a good time!

Oct 29, 2008
fvc496 in Mid-Atlantic

BYO - Middlesex/Monmouth

Laila's in Asbury Park

Oct 28, 2008
fvc496 in Mid-Atlantic

dinner recommendations Asbury Park or Long Branch

I can't say any place in Asbury is great, but some of the restaurants are quite good--most of which depends on what you order:

Taka--pretty good across the board; reasonable cost (BYOB); good service.

Carmine's--personally I love this place. Maybe I've been lucky in my ordering, but it's been great every time I've been there (which is about once a month). Pastas are all quite good and I'm a fool for the veal chop parm. Skip every other dessert and order the chocolate souffle (in advance). The house wine is decent enough, and don't make the mistake of over ordering. Portions are ridiculously large. The service here is probably the best in AP (I don't know why but most service in AP restaurants is fair to poor; Carmine's is truly professional). The decor is wonderfully adult, perfect for a dirty martini or a sidecar; it also sports a true raw bar (with those fascinating pan roast contraptions that they have at the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station).

Bistro Ole--yes, I think the quality has gone downhill in the past year, but there are still some things on the menu that are quite tasty (the empanada for example). Value-wise, the portions are huge here as well, and it is BYOB. The service, atmosphere, and the owner's enthusiasm makes up for most or the quality loss.

Market in the Middle--I want to love this place and I'm always a little disappointed when I don't. That's not to say it isn't good; it just always seems that it's a touch of the mark. The mac & cheese special (which changes daily) can one day be oozing and perfect and the next day be oily and separated. The live music which is nice in theory is too loud for dining. The chairs are high enough to make you feel like a fourth grader. On the other hand, it has nice indoor and outdoor space, innovative and mainly successful dishes, and has a great vibe.

Brickwall Tavern--The food is better than it should be for what is mainly a bar (again, depending on what you order and what your expectations are). For example, my GF ordered the mini-burgers which were dry and plain and generally terrible, and I ordered the regular burger which was dressed well and juicy and quite good--this was in the same order! The meatloaf and pork chop were good, though I wouldn't feed the mozzarella sticks to my dog. But all in all, it's better than average bar food. It can be very loud and noisy, especially on the weekends.

Salt Water Beach Cafe--The service, which was AWFUL last year, has graduated to being spotty. Having dinner there back in August (08), my table's service was very good while table next to us were served their entire order late and wrong! The place is just down the street from me so I'd like to see them do well, but honestly, it's been a year and a half already. The food has improved however; it has gone from ho-hum trendy to being pretty good (again, depending on what you order--notice a theme here?). The fish--I can't remember if it was cod or black cod--was perfect. It is pricier than I'd like, but I'll still support it as a local business.

Laila's--cute little place with a limited menu (Latin, whatever that means?), which has more women running it than it has customers. They try so hard which makes you want it to succeed. The food overall is saltier than I'd like it to be (and I like salt on my food). The steak is probably the best thing on the menu. Also BYOB.

Chat & Nibble--Decent diner-type food and reasonably priced; more for breakfast/lunch than for dinner. It beats Franks by a landslide.

El Monterey & La Tapatia--I have to give these another shot since I either went on an off-night or I misordered (see caveat above). Given the Mexican population in the immediate vicinity and the lack of gringos, these two should be good. Mine was mediocre.

D&L BBQ--I am very picky about my BBQ--N. Carolina is the one and only--and this ain't it. I'm being harsh; the pulled pork is decent but I wouldn't go out of way for it. I'm not a ribs guy so I can't comment on that.

Beach Bar--All I have to say on this place is that if it weren't right on the ocean, NO ONE would go there. Stick with drinks. I went for lunch in June (08) around 1:30 expecting the old Tiki Bar, and was handed a menu which listed exactly 5 wraps. That's it. The three of us ordered 3 different ones; the waitress ran off, came back what seemed like 2 hours later only to tell us they only had 1 of the 3 wraps we ordered. So we ordered 2 of one type and the 4th one listed on the menu. The waitress runs off again, comes back way too much later to tell us that the 4th one is also not available. So out of FIVE items on the menu, they only have TWO! I mean, give me a break...

Isabella's--Some locals love this place; I was not impressed. It's not bad, but I'd rather go to Carmine's. Isabella's is not that much cheaper (though it is BYOB), but the menu is more limited, and the place looks like it belongs in a cheap strip mall on the outskirts of Cincinnati.

Mattison Park--Pizzas are rumoured to be good, though I'm usually too busy drinking the martinis here to waste my time (and food calories) with eating. It's really more of a bar/lounge/club than a restaurant. I do appreciate them doing something, and the dishes coming out of the kitchen do look good. But I can't really comment past that.

Biggie's Clam Bar--Good clam strips if you like them bready, which I do. Stay away from the chili dog, though.

Ketchup (in the Empress Motel)--An overpriced, me-too restaurant. Service is bad even for Asbury's standards. Walk the 4 blocks to Market in the Middle or Brick Wall.

Synaxis--I think it's supposed to be Greek cuisine, though it seemed awfully Mideastern to me. The appetizer platter (the usual stuffed grape leaves, hummus, spanikopita) was OK, but no better than a mid-level caterer might serve. Not that bad if you're drinking heavily, which I think is the way to go here. Watching the clientle is the real fun at this place. Let's just say Maybelline will never go out of business with this crowd. Service is spotty (as usual).

Oct 28, 2008
fvc496 in Mid-Atlantic

Mattison Park - Asbury Park

I can't really give this a review, but I have been a number of times; mainly for drinks. I mainly go for the atmosphere. It's in an old bank and is a glamorous space (for Asbury, that is). The crowd changes every time I've been in: lesbian, trendy, construction workers, empty, black; and is frequently closed for parties. The menu looks good and others love the (upscale) pizzas, but I'm usually too soused to eat there. I think you could do worse and is certainly worth a look-see.

Oct 27, 2008
fvc496 in Mid-Atlantic

Has anyone heard of Ketchup in Asbury Park?

Service was terrible; I went with my GF, maybe early September-ish. She had a completely weird lobster roll--it wasn't bad, but it wasn't good; and I had an OK crabcake. Maybe it was an OK crabcake because I had 3 rum & cokes as well. Certainly wasn't worth the $75 it cost--for lunch.

Oct 27, 2008
fvc496 in Mid-Atlantic

HELP! Need a sexy bar/lounge in Northern NJ!

I've been going crazy and I'm hoping for some help here! I'm looking for a place to take a date; something cool, sophisticated, dark and cozy, cocktail lounge are all good keywords. Some place with couches and/or banquettes for two would be ideal. Ideally, I'm looking for something in or around Paramus, Ridgewood, Westwood, Park Ridge areas.

I know where this may be in Manhattan, however that's not an option. It doesn't matter if it serves food or not; it could be in a hotel (though what I've seen of NJ hotels, that's unlikely); it could be a niteclub (though definitely NOT a dance club or music venue); piano bar is OK (think 50s chic). Please help!!!

Oct 27, 2008
fvc496 in General Tristate Archive