I got the most incredible birthday gift from my cousin. I invited her up to us to have dinner and she had to decline because she was going to be on vacation. For three weeks. Instead, she offered me the use of her condo, which just happens to be practically ON the Jersey shore, in the area we happen to hang out in when it's just B, E, and me. Of course it took about a nanosecond for us to accept her and her husband's offer and just like that- we had a "shore house".
We can't really take typical vacations because of the store. Bryan has to be in our store on Saturdays. We haven't yet figured out a way not to have either one of us working on Saturday. But we're closed on Sundays. For three weekends in a row, he just left at four o'clock instead of five o'clock and we jetted down there. Normally we'd do our Cheesecake Factory thing here every Saturday night. Thanks to our borrowed digs, we were able to explore new dinner territory. And we did!
We tried out Bahr's Landing for my birthday. That's in Atlantic Highlands. It was good. I didn't love it or hate it. I actually liked their gift store more than I liked the food. It's a cool place though, right on the water in a marina. They have a dock & dine option if you're hungry on the boat. I had steamed lobster which was better than the last place I'd had it at. I didn't love the bread. They had biscuits which I'm not really fond of anywhere. Unless it's Pillsbury.
We also went to Rooney's for the first time in awhile, in Long Branch. Bryan LOVED his meal. I have to say, the shrimp cocktail was the best I've had. I also had the Chilean sea bass which was also very good. Only issue there was that it was definitely on the pricier side.
The real finds? One is Charley's Ocean Grill in Long Branch on Avenel Rd. It actually doesn't have the best reviews on Yelp- another reason why Yelp sucks and is unreliable. I didn't make a reservation because I couldn't do it online through Open Table. It was already after eleven o'clock on Friday so I figured we'd just take our chances.
We got there around 6p and they said it was a forty-five minute wait. We walked over to the skate park around the block. They took my phone number to call me when the table was five minutes from being ready. They called at 6:24p so I was thrilled.
We got seated outside which was nice. Their specials menu sounded great. I ordered mozzarella and tomato with balsamic and B got Brussels sprouts with Parmesan, bacon, and balsamic. Both were phenomenal. I haven't seen tomatoes that large in a long time. It was also a huge portion. We both took some of our appetizer home. I got a salmon encrusted with sesame seeds with mango sauce on top of rice. It was fantastic. Bryan got tuna steak with pineapple sauce and he was also very happy with his selection. It all came out really fast too. Of course, they also had the kind of bread I like as well, so it could've been a win on that alone.
After dinner there we walked across the way to Hoffman's Ice Cream in Long Branch. This was probably the most interesting part of our time. We'd never been there. The ice cream was awesome. I had black raspberry one night and s'mores another night. Very pleased. It was crazy in there though. You have to take a number like at a deli counter. They're THAT busy. But the interesting part was the girl behind us sitting down. All of a sudden she was served with a plate- eight scoops, eight toppings. All of a sudden she went to TOWN. We didn't know what was going on. An employee started yelling out how long she had. Apparently they have an "Octopus Contest"- eat all that in eight minutes and get a t-shirt. Well, she didn't make it in time. So she ate all that for nothing. I'd have just bought a t-shirt and called it a day, but that's me. We usually go to Crazies in Rumson, but this puts us on a much better path home.
I haven't been writing much because we've spent every free moment down the shore and/or at the town pool. We don't mind the drive there and back on Sunday. However, we were loving the use of my cousin's place. I can't thank her and her husband enough. I bought her quite a few goodies that I left for them to find when they come home. (Psst...Steve, I *PROMISE* I didn't throw anything away....) If only we'd win the lottery- we'd be neighbors!