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Archive for the ‘Blogfinger restaurant review’ Category

Victorian Grill. Blogfinger photo. 3/13/20.

 

According to our reporter, opening day, last Sunday on March 6,  at the Victorian Grill, was really packed,and throughout the week there has been a steady flow of customers. The cook  said that their “custom blend short rib and Angus brisket burgers” are really their specialty.

A couple was just finishing their meal when the Blogfinger reporter showed up.  She had the chicken quesadillas and he had the Philly cheese steak with seasoned fries and they both told him that their meals including the fries were delicious.

Chicken tenders with seasoned fries to go. BF photo. 3/13/20.

For Blogfinger’s  take-out,  he had the chicken tenders with seasoned fries (shown in photo). The chicken was perfectly fried, all white meat and very tasty!  The seasoned fries, cut into small discs which pop perfectly into your mouth, were also quite delicious with just the right amount of seasoning and fried golden brown.

For those of you who try this new restaurant, please send us your brief review in our comments section.

Editor’s note:  Since Blogfinger’s inception, we have been hoping for a superior burger in the Grove.  Let us know what you think.  You can comment anonymously.

 

ZAC BROWN BAND.

 

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Nobody home at the Osteria.   Thursday,  3/8/18. Blogfinger photo. #50 Main Avenue. 7:45 pm.

By Paul and Eileen Goldfinger, food assessment team @Blogfinger.net

We received a mailer a few days ago from the new kid on the block:  Osteria Procaccini on Main Avenue.  They offered 10% off on any pizza/sandwich/salad from March 7 to March 31. Strangely, their flier did not mention their hours or their days working or anything about their menu.  The photograph shows a pizza, but it doesn’t identify what type or what the crumbly toppings are.

So tonight, Thursday,  (3/8/) we decided to go over for a pizza.  When we got there, the place was closed. It was 7:45 pm.

IMG_3984 (1)

The hours posted showed that they were to be open on Thursday nights till 9:00 pm

SeaGrass was happily serving dinner a short distance away, as some music drifted our way.  But we wanted pizza, so where did we go?  We went to our favorite restaurant.

In 5 minutes we arrived at Pagano’s Uva Italian Restaurant at 800  Main Street in Bradley Beach  (They have a parking lot) where we were greeted by Chef Tony Pagano. There was a busy and lively bar scene with live music.

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Uva Restaurant. Main dining room on a Thursday night when most of the action was at the bar. But this fine Italian restaurant was open.

But being the sedate (d) Grovers that we are, we sat in the quiet restaurant section where two other couples were enjoying dinner. We started with the small Caesar salad which was plenty for two and which was superb.  Tony suggested his Margherita pizza ($16.00 one size large) which was thin crusted with mozzarella, red sauce, and basil, and it was magnificent.—so good!  I had 3 slices, and Eileen had 2, and we had 3 left over for take-out.

And it all was accompanied by a fine David Bynum California Russian River Valley pinot noir red wine at $11.00 per glass. Finally  I had a one shot espresso which was authentic Italian and thus as good as at  a piazza in Rome.

Uva’s Margherita pizza. 3/8/18. Bradley Beach. © First we ate some, and then–the photo. Blogfinger.net

The Osteria has a reputation for good food, but it is worthless if it is closed and unreliable. Incidentally the new OG pizza joint does not deliver and it is strictly a pizza, salad, sandwich and dessert place. They have no entrees.  You can, however, do take-out, but you would never know that from their mailer.

If any of you get to eat there, please send us your review.

STEVE LAWRENCE:  “All or Nothing at All.”

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Café Volan. A.P. Paul Goldfinger photo. July 15, 2015.

Café Volan. A.P. Paul Goldfinger photo. Re-posted from July 15, 2015. Ocean Grove still lacks an authentic coffee shop, and that is a real missing link for our community. ©

 


Eileen Goldfinger at Volan sampling a scone from Balthazar’s * in SoHo. Paul Goldfinger ©

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger.  There are a few minor revisions in this 2015 re-post.

Some of you might wonder about the persistent search for a coffee shop near OG, since there are several places in the Grove where you can buy coffee.  The reason is, for some of us, we seek more than just coffee.  In our culture, and in Europe, the coffee shop is a comfortable gathering place where one can appreciate the best coffees from around the world.

Such shops are not general practitioners, they are specialists, and they know how to create a first rate cappuccino or latte.  Coffee is of primary interest in such places, not an afterthought.  The Barbaric Bean was beginning to be like that, but the Grove’s only true coffee shop has vanished.

A real coffee shop is a welcoming place which  has seating and where you can savor the barista’s drinks  while reading the paper, having a fascinating conversation, people watching,  or enjoying a special snack. It tends to be where the local characters go. Wi-Fi is often available for those who are working on the next great American novel.  After all, J.K. Rollings wrote Harry Potter while sipping some brew in a local coffee shop.

In Asbury Park today an Ocean Grove friend introduced me to a real coffee shop;  in fact, Café Volan  seems like a throwback to old Soho or Greenwich Village in the ’60’s.   Café Volan  on Bangs Avenue, just off Cookman near the Brick Wall, is so laid back that you can imagine Bob Dylan singing unamplified on a stool, or Lenny Bruce doing shtick.

It is a dumpy place, but that’s fine because it feels like home—–like cafés I visited when my friends and I would wander around Bleeker or Christopher Streets in “The Village.”   It is the sort of coffee house where the locals and regulars wander in.

My impression from the moment I walked in was:  “I am going to like this place.”  It resonated at a very personal level and felt like somewhere you might re-visit again and again.

A visit to Café Volan is  like time travel, but there is one thing that doesn’t spell nostalgia—it is the delicious high quality of their coffee.  They also serve some unique snacks and toasted exotic breads.  They get their coffee from North Carolina, and their breads and pastries are brought in from Brooklyn.  I haven’t been to Williamsburg for many years, but this entire place seems to have been shipped intact from there.

If you like places that seem authentic and live up to it, try Café Volan —within walking distance of the Grove.

 

*Link to our post about Balthazar’s from 2013:

Blogfinger post on Balthazar 2013

 

CHARLIE PARKER.  He got his start in New York, but this jazz great didn’t play in coffee houses. Mostly he was up in Harlem in jazz clubs.   The folk singers were in the Village coffee houses  in the ’60’s, but there were jazz venues in the Village which my friends and I visited often, growing up in a Jersey bedroom community, 20 minutes from downtown.

This is “All the Things You Are.” It was written by Jerome Kern (music) and Oscar Hammerstein II (lyrics)   We recently posted a Miles Davis version, and the song holds up even without those magnificent poetic lyrics.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

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The table behind us where a birthday was being celebrated. Children emerged carrying a cake and a sombrero for the birthday hombré.  Paul Goldfinger photograph,  December 2017. A. Park, NJ.  ©

We recently revisited Plaza Tapatia, Mexican restaurant in Asbury Park. It was as good as ever, but someone wrote in that they did not find the food to be authentic.  We have been to Mexico on a number of occasions, and in various locations including Mexico City, Guadalajara, Barra de Navidad and others, and we thought that Tapatia was excellent—the whole scene:  food, preparation, service, atmosphere and even the music.

Our recent visit a few weeks ago was on Fajita Night (Wednesday) where we got three dinners for half price. We looked around and discovered that we “gringoes” were in the minority.  The place was filled with Mexican-Americans.  There was a large group of men at a long table having a good old time; as well as several families and couples. They were a cheerful bunch, evidently happy with this restaurant.   We could have been in Mexico.

So, it seems to us that Plaza Tapatia is about as authentic  as one could hope for in the US, and the clientele seems to agree.

Tapatia review 2013.

 

MARIACHI MEXICO   “Canción  Mixteca.”

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Sitting in Eileen's car. By the time I had devoured the first half of my special bagel, I realized that I should snap a picture for BF.

Sitting in Eileen’s car. Bagels International has the blue awning.  By the time I had devoured the first half of my special bagel, I realized that I should snap a picture for BF. You can click to enlarge all photos.  Paul Goldfinger photography ©

Inside Bagel International. Bradley Beach. Blogfinger photo. Oct. 2015.

Inside Bagels International. Bradley Beach. Blogfinger photo. Oct. 2015.

By Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

We’re always on the lookout for a special bagel place (currently known by the smart crowd as a “bagelry”)  Actually, calling a bagel joint a “bagelry” is really designed to justify high prices, and I doubt that an authentic bagel bakery would ever use that moniker.

The most authentic bagel bakery around here is on Monmouth Road in Oakhurst. It is really the genuine article, right down to the kosher stamp and its authentic name :  “Hot Bagel Bakery”  It has been in business since 1979.  The bakery was picked by the Asbury Park Press as producing the best bagels in the region, and they have a banner to prove it.

In summer the line winds out the door, and a team of college bagel majors behind the counter keeps the customers moving.

I asked the baker if I could take his picture in the back where the rolling and  baking are done live.  We chatted a bit. He said that people walk in with cameras and start shooting.  I was the first to ever ask permission. He liked that.

Hot Bagel Bakery. Oakhurst, NJ. Bakers hand roll and bake their bagels in full view of the customers.

Hot Bagel Bakery. Oakhurst, NJ. Bakers hand roll and bake their bagels in full view of the customers.

They line up for the bagels in Oakhurst. Their toasted onion bagels are also delicious. Blogfinger photos ©

They line up for the bagels in Oakhurst. Their toasted onion bagels are also delicious. Blogfinger photos ©

But today I was near Bradley Beach and I craved a toasted onion bagel with the onions a little well done and crispy, with a schmeer of cream cheese (fielders’ choice as to what kind of cc) and a cup of fresh hot coffee. So, of all the bagel joints in all the towns in all the world, I happened to walk into Bagels International at 48 Main Street in BB.

The bagels there are huge, and that would usually be a turnoff for me, but toasting—that’s a bagel of a different color.  The place is welcoming, with tables, chairs, and a coffee station right in the middle. The crew there is busy scurrying around conducting all sorts of bagel and deli business.  They wear company T shirts that contain the entire menu—more words per square inch of shirt than any other bagel T shirt anywhere.

Finally my bagel came out from the kitchen, carried like precious cargo by a guy who evidently had prepared it out of sight, unlike Hot Bagels where everything is visible including the steamy production line in the back.

I took it “to go,” because I wanted to hear the radio while I consumed my culinary treasure.  My onion bagel was toasted twice, as I requested, producing crunchy onion heaven, and it was perfectly delicious. The pieces of onion clung to the surface, although some, as they’re wont to do, went flickering off into space—unfortunately in Eileen’s car.

When I picked her up from a Happy Fingers crocheting session, I saved her a piece, and although she will only allow herself one bite, she agreed that it was quite special….so she never noticed the little black flecks on the floor of her vehicle.. And, you should know, the coffee was good, but not great. However,  as part of the ensemble, it fit right in.

PAUL SIMON:  It really doesn’t matter what you call this restaurant—call it Al,  as long as it is delicious.  Paul should know bagels because he is a Jewish boy born in Newark, New Jersey.

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Reenie buzzes around her train station café, serving wondereful breakfasts to her lucky customers. Paul Goldfinger photo.

Reenie buzzes around her Back In Time Café at the Bradley Beach Train Station serving wonderful breakfasts and lunches to her lucky customers. She cooks and serves with swiftness, and that accounts for her slight blur above, but the results are always perfect.  Paul Goldfinger photo. 2017.

By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger, Editors @Blogfinger.

This past July, we wrote a piece about Reenie Van Buren’s delightful breakfast and lunch café at the Bradley Beach train station, behind the park. But we didn’t have a photo of her then because she had stepped out, no doubt to check on those special  hens quickly laying the organic eggs that she serves.

You can click on this link to get the “emmis.” (A word from the Blogfinger  “introduction to basic conversational Yiddish” —it means the bare truth and nothing but the truth)        BF Back in Time Café link

The café is right next to the train tracks, and you can see the Jersey Coast line whizzing by.  There is parking in the train station parking lot or on the street.

Reenie is a Grovarian who lives at the North End with her giant German Shepherd Zeus.  Don’t cross Zeus because he can bring down Apollo himself onto your head.

This morning I tried the Special “layered” delicious sandwich—– a breakfast  that is marvelous:  On a croissant Reenie layers  Applewood crisp bacon, an “over easy” egg, Swiss cheese, tomato and avocado.  It is really good as is her fresh brewed coffee.

Eileen had bacon and eggs with home made raspberry preserves, which she loved. It is a basic dish, but way above average.

Bacon and eggs, just right and made by Reenie.Eileen Goldfinger photo. ©

Bacon and eggs, just right and made by Reenie.  Eileen Goldfinger photo. ©

Reenie’s Café is in the former ticket office at the Bradley Beach Train Station.  There is plenty of parking. 732 776 9050

Now and throughout the season, she is open 7 days each week:  5 am to 2 pm Weekdays, and 7 am to 2 pm  Sat and Sun.

www.backintimecafecom

Drop in and say hello.  Reenie likes to chat, but when she is working, she is no nonsense, because she strives for perfection.

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Bonney Read. By Paul Goldfinger ©. November, 2016.

Bonney Read. By Paul Goldfinger ©. November, 2016.

Lovely surroundings at BR. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

Lovely surroundings at BR. Paul Goldfinger photo. ©

By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger, Editors at Blogfinger.

At The Bonney Read, 525 Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park, they say that the restaurant’s theme is about pirates. But you could have fooled us. This place feels like and looks like a Parisienne bistro complete with tiles on the walls and floors.  It is a lovely spacious place with high ceilings, a curvy bar, and gracious friendly service. They have about 40 rums to choose from at the bar, so I guess that’s the pirate gesture. Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum!

Bonney Read. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

Bonney Read bar and rum scene. Paul Goldfinger photo ©

The real point of it all is that The Bonney Read is a fine seafood restaurant. The menu is basic, but imaginative and appealing.   We went on a Tuesday night when you can get two lobster rolls for the price of one. The dish was served with excellent French fries and some cole slaw. The cole slaw missed the boat , but the lobster rolls were terrific with only a gentle nod to mayonnaise.

Lobster roll platter. Blogfinger photo. ©

Lobster roll platter. Blogfinger photo. ©

There is a raw bar out in the open facing Cookman Avenue, with a raw bartender there who looks the part:   tattoos, an outgoing personality, and a baseball hat turned backwards. I ordered a half dozen oysters, trying three different kinds. They superbly passed my test: fresh, cold and tasting of the ocean. On Wednesday nights you can get oysters for $1.00 each.

Oysters at Bonney Read. I ate 3 of my oysters before Eileen took the photo.They go down fast.  This presentation reminded us of Balthazar's French bistro in Lower Manhattan.

Oysters at Bonney Read. I ate 3 of my oysters before Eileen took the photo. They go down fast.  This presentation reminded us of Balthazar’s French bistro in Lower Manhattan.

Eileen opened with a Caesar salad which was excellent–we split it; she said that it was the best she ever had, and I must agree.

We each had a glass of fine wine—a good selection.

The menu is tempting with many creative  choices such as “Jersey Green” clam chowder, lobster bisque, mussels served three different ways, Spanish octopus, Alaskan snow crabs, and, of course, Maine lobsters.

You can get Cajun style shrimp by the pound and combo dishes such as 1 lb. shrimp and 1 lb. snow crab ($50.00) or 1.25 lb. lobster, dozen clams, dozen mussels ($80.00.)

Happy hour sounds great with a wide variety of “small dishes” such as mushrooms escabeche ($6.00) New England clam chowder ($7.5) and clams casino ($12.00). Other choices include Fisherman’s fry ($13), oyster po boy sliders ($17) and Ipswich steamers ($19.) You don’t have to sit at the bar for happy hour, and the happy time goes on all day on Wednesdays.

They also have sandwiches which include the Bonney Burger (Angus) which looked outstanding being devoured at the next table and buttermilk fried chicken among the selections.

And of course there is the fresh catch, linguine with clams, and fish & chips.

Since FISH closed, Bonney Read has become the go-to place in AP for sea food  (not withstanding TAKA which is a Japanese sea food restaurant that is in a class of its own.)  We give Bonney Read 4 of 5 Blogfingers.

SARAH VAUGHAN:  Live  at the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen (1963).  The music, of course, is from Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story.

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A birds eye view of part of the Wegman's fresh food section. Paul Goldfinger photo while seated in © the second floor café

A birds eye view of part of the Wegmans fresh food section. Paul Goldfinger photo while seated in the second floor café. ©  Click to make the portions bigger.

Blogfinger photo Jan 17, 2016 ©

Blogfinger photo Jan 17, 2016 ©

 

By Eileen Goldfinger (food editor) and Paul Goldfinger (Editor) @ Blogfinger’s Wegmans office where much of the editing goes on daily.

Wegmans is the go-to place for excellent food, both perishable and non. Many Ocean Grovers shop there. Each of their stores is tailor designed to match the location and clientele of each place. For example, with the large Jewish population in Manalapan, there is a huge Kosher section there, whereas in Ocean Twp, it is much smaller. The café, with table seating on two floors, is actually like a restaurant with many customers buying prepared meals, some as inexpensive as $8.00 and some as simple as a fresh sub.  I would bet that Wegmans serves more lunches than any restaurant in the area.

But the common denominator of all this is the company’s commitment to quality, variety, freshness and customer service. The values of the company originate at the Rochester, New York  headquarters, but each store has a degree of autonomy as to how they function, and the employees are remarkably knowledgeable, happy and helpful.

In recent years Wegmans Ocean has remodeled a number of sections including the produce department which is one of the best in the region. Their seafood, bakery, wine and prepared foods areas are incomparable and are delightful to visit.  In fact most every department is superior.

Tomorrow, January 18, they will embark on a remodeling of their non-perishable/grocery sections which begin north of produce and end at the personal health area by the pharmacy. The time frame for this project is Jan 18 to Feb. 12.   The main goal is to improve the shopping experience for their customers.

A Wegmans manager told Blogfinger that they will strive to complete this project without too much disruption from the perspective of shoppers. New, modern, adjustable shelving and displays will be featured. The end caps (at the ends of aisles) will be constructed to allow greater flexibility in featuring different items efficiently.  The placement of products will be improved such as moving the greeting cards over to the flower market. Dairy and frozen foods will be unchanged.

A new “may we help you team ” will be devoted to patrolling the aisles to assist customers.  In addition, to offer assistance locating specific items, the familiar paper store maps will be updated daily to include specials and other information.

We sat with Tony, an affable and knowledgeable store manager, as we discussed the project. We were sipping the excellent organic House Blend coffee from the Café while munching on fresh baked bagels with butter that is provided free. Our table was on the second floor, overlooking the spectacle of a typical Wegmans European-style food market where the colors, the hubbub, the people-watching and the sounds were  all  like viewing a floor show. Wegmans is entertainment and food.

Tony was enthused about the new project, and, like so many Wegmans employees and managers, he takes great pride in the store. He was there when the Ocean store opened 11 years ago. He was a full time regular worker then, but over the years he rose to become a store manager.

Among all the rest of its accomplishments, Wegmans is a place to forge a career, but you need to meet their high standards.

GRANT PHABAO   From the movie Chef:

 

 

 

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Rumor has it that the Barbaric Bean will be replaced by a Cuban restaurant.  But does that make sense?  We already have two in Asbury.  The best known is a fancy place on the boardwalk–Cubacan.  But there also is the lesser known Cuban Café  at 3rd Avenue and Memorial  Drive.  Address 1007 Memorial Drive.  We stopped by at an odd time mid-afternoon on Friday, so they were slow.

This place is authentic. The menu is in Spanish with English translation. You walk inside and place your order; then watch them cook. This eatery is spotless, and you can dine outside while listening to Cuban music.

Cuban Café. Blogfinger photo

Cuban Café. Blogfinger photo

A Grover who goes there regularly tells me that the oxtail stew is spectacular.  They serve breakfast and lunch, and there are daily specials. For example on Thurday they offer Fricassee de Pollo—-Chicken in sauce for $8.50. There are a wide variety of sandwiches plus an a la carte menu iincluding the famous Churrasco  (skirt steak) for $14.00 which is a great price for that tender speciality. They cater and they have a kid’s menu.

Follow them on Facebook.  Drive by and pick up a menu.  Hours are 6:30 am to 8:00 pm Sunday to Thursday.  Friday to Saturday is 6:30 am to 9:00 pm, and they deliver.   —-Paul Goldfinger, Editor @Blogfinger

JOHN COURTNEY   “Lucky Man” from the movie Chef

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From the Back In time Café website.

615 Main Street.      From the “Back In Time Café” website. www. backintimecafe.com   732 776 9050

By Eileen and Paul Goldfinger, Editors  @Blogfinger.

19 years ago Ocean Grover Reenie Van Buren opened her small restaurant  on Main Street at the train station in Bradley Beach for lunch and breakfast. Reenie and her assistant Denise use organic ingredients and home-made baked goods to create fine meals. The menu is simple, and the results are unusually good.

Blogfinger.net photo. July, 2015. ©

“A regular.”    Blogfinger.net photo. July, 2015. ©

The restaurant is in a former ticket building at the train station. It is a charming, old-fashioned space with delicious home-style cooking. You can look out onto the train platform. The organic eggs come from a nearby farm, the home-fries are spicy, the bacon crisp, and the orange juice is fresh squeezed.  The toast was served with wonderful strawberry preserves.

Everyday there are muffins and scones made on the premises including Reenie’s famous frittatas. She has rye bread and bagels. No detail is missed. This restaurant strives for perfection. They even make their own butter.

Made on the premises: frittatas, scones and muffins.

Made on the premises: frittatas, scones and muffins.

We went there for breakfast last week and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The service is friendly, and the T.M. Ward coffee is superb.   We tried her special cranberry muffins, and they are first rate.

Reenie doesn’t mind if customers drop in and just have coffee. She has quite a few regulars including a business man from Neptune who has been eating there since the shop opened. Another Grover we know goes there often.  Also, this café is “dog friendly”   (provided that your dog is friendly.)

Back in Time Café is open Monday through Friday from 5 am to 2 pm;  Saturday 7 am-noon.  Closed Sunday.

Simple but creativity menu with all fresh ingredients. ©

Simple but creativity menu with all fresh ingredients. ©  Click to read.

BENNY GOODMAN  From the Woody Allen movie Mighty Aphrodite.  The song is “Whispering.”

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