Archive for Restaurant Reviews

Langosta Lounge, Asbury Park

This post is a long time coming. I first heard about Langosta Lounge in Asbury Park earlier this year. I’ve now been there several times and it has quickly become my new favorite place to dine. My first time was for an Oscars Night Dinner a few months ago. I wanted to check that out, especially since they were giving away swag bags to diners. So I headed there with my sister and one of her friends. I loved the decor as soon as I stepped in, kitschy (spelling?), warm and inviting. Great decor, comfy booths with a great ocean view.

We started with the fried olives appetizer. These were little balls of fried heaven. They were green olives with cheese fried and served with a delicious lemon basil mayo. The warm bread was also great. It had a different, almost sweet taste to it, can’t put my finger on it. That was accompanied by some olive oil with roasted garlic and red peppers.

My sister and her friend both had the Skirt Steak, “marinated and roasted –sliced and topped with spring onions . Served with rice and beans – Grilled asparagus and a side of spiced fruit salsa” It was actually served with a Spanish potato cake. I’m not sure know if it noted that change on the menu. I tried the steak and it was cooked and seasoned perfectly. And that potato cake? Luscious.

I had the Langosta Caldo Verde (the paella on the website menu): “In a not so traditional cilantro broth with mussels, shrimp and seafood mixed with chorizo and vegetables over Ruby’s special Mexican rice and spice roasted garlic aioli toast points.” It was more seafood than rice and it was great. Not too spicy, 3 large mussels, lots of shrimp, a few scallops, and other white fish.

For dessert, the two girls had the the pu pu platter, which was essentially smores. It had some fabulous dark chocolate, one with cranberries and one with pistachios, marshmallows, graham crackers, peanut butter cups, and strawberries.

Now for the slight negatives…Service was a bit shoddy. The waitress was overall friendly and nice but not on the ball. When first sat down I ordered a club soda with lime, it came out with lemon. She was no where in sight so I asked the busboy for lime. He brings me back a plate of lemons. OOOOkay….So I gave up on the limes. She also forgot to bring my sister’s friend’s tea. She wasn’t really around to get her attention much either for these two issues. Empty glasses were left on the table after new ones were brought as well.

And the kicker…During dessert I asked if we were getting our “swag bags” as noted in the email I received. She didn’t seem to know what the deal was and said the wait staff didn’t really know what was going on. Oh boy….Then we got ONE bag ONLY because I paid $10 to participate in the Asbury Park Film Initiative’s Oscar Raffle (swag bag was pretty cool though – mostly candy, but a candle, glass work, pottery, and the actual bag were neat). So I”m thinking I missed something in email. When I got home it says “Attendees receive swag bags….” So a bit misleading and unorganized.

But I loved the food so much I went back again (and again and again). After that first timer, service was always fabulous.  I’ve been back for lunch, breakfast, tapas and drinks. Each time was fabulous. I freakin love this place. The menu is different, creative, exciting. I absolutely love love love the decor. The vibe is chill and I feel right at home here. I noticed that as the Summer moves along, it’s getting more and more busy. I overheard a group say on Friday afternoon (while I was enjoying some tacos at Pop’s Garage next door, owned by Langosta) that they were completely booked for Friday night. Good for them. I want to see this place around for a long long time. Furthermore, they have some sort of special event going on every night!

Sundays – Jazzy Brunch and Lobster Bakes, Monday – Bistro Prixe Fix, Tapa Tuesdays, Mexican Wednesdays, Tiki Surf Nite Thursdays, Funky Fridays with DJ’s and Serenity Saturdays. They often have live music as well.

Langosta Lounge Website

On the Boardwalk across from The Stone Pony in Asbury Park


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Aaarrggghhh! Pirate’s Den, Brigantine, NJ


Last weekend my friend Agnes and I headed down to my favorite sinful place in NJ – Atlantic City, of course. These two broads hit up the casinos one night to celebrate my 21st birthday! Okay, who am I kidding, 34th. It’s all good. After having a disappointing dinner at Wolfgang Puck’s in the Borgata Friday night, Saturday morning we were desperate for a good breakfast. Now, for the most part, breakfast is limited to buffets and the such in AC and they typically, in my experience are not that good. I called my mom who suggested I head over the bridge into Brigantine to Pirate’s Den for breakfast.

Since she couldn’t tell us exactly where it was, and the fact it was pouring with low visibility, it took us a little while to find this charming little place. It’s so small and inconspicouous you can miss it. Despite the heavy rain and lack of beachgoers, there was still a wait to get a table. It’s not too small with a good amount of tables, but I can imagine on a sunny summer day, the wait would be more than our ten minutes.

They have your standard breakfast items but also offered up some unique ones as well, such as Bananas Foster French Toast, Eggs Benedict with Crabcakes, and a few smoked salmon choices. Agnes went with the traditional Eggs Benedict and I went with the Smoked Salmon, Tomato, and Red Onion Omelet. I ordered my home fries with onions as well. Portion sizes were huge! We both ended up taking half of our food home. Very good, down home food. Really good. My only complaint was there was tooo much onions in my home fries – the whole top layer was onions. Now I know. Service was quick, friendly, and attentive. Very kitchsy, beachy decor. Reasonable prices as well.

I would most definitely hit this place up again next time I’m in the area. Not sure if they are open in the off-season though. Definitely worth a trip away from the casinos for a great breakfast.

Pirate’s Den
1219 E Brigantine Ave
Brigantine, NJ 08203-3201
(609) 266-1927

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CUPCAKES! My journey on the Munchmobile….

As I mentioned in my last post, I was one of the fortunate few chosen to be a guest muncher on The Newark Star-Ledger’s Munchmobile! Recap: The Munchmobile is a weekly feature story that has been going on for the last 12 years. Pete Genovese, a food writer for the paper, takes a group of people, aka Munchers, on the BIG DOG – a vehicle with a hot dog on top. They go in search of the “Best Of” whatever in NJ, based on readers submitted answers.

All of the Munchers for this year (feature runs from May to September) were given a list of foods we would be trying out this season and you had to submit your top four choices. Well…if anyone knows me, they KNOW that I am a cupcake snob. I make, what I consider, freakin awesome cupcakes from scratch. I consider cupcakes one of my five major food groups (along with peanut butter, chocolate, salmon, and avocados). I dream of owning my own cupcakery. I know cupcakes.

I arrived at The Star-Ledger at 7:30 am this past Saturday morning and got all giddy when I saw the Big Dog! There were four readers, Pete, his camera guy Tim (one of the funniest dudes I may have ever met), and a feature writer from the paper. We had to sign some release forms, which I didn’t read, but maybe said something along the lines of they weren’t responsible if I became diabetic after today’s trip. Then we listened to the Munchmobile rules, such as NO eating the cupcakes until pics have been taken! Hmmm…I have that rule myself when eating out (my poor family and friends…). Then we were off! Where to? Well, we had no idea until we pretty much pulled into each destination!

First stop, C’mere Cupcake in Hackettstown. So is 9am too early for a cupcake? Oh HELL no. Cute little bakeshop in a strip mall. Has a great turquoise velour couch with a zebra striped pillow. I ordered the Red Velvet and Peanut Butter. The goal was to pace myself, just taste slivers and pass them around. So I had a system I was going to instill. Take pic, cut in half, check out the innards, take pic of the innards, taste cake, taste icing, taste icing/cake together. JUDGE. OK, first up, the peanut butter one. Cake (chocolate flavor) was airy and spongy, but a little dry. Icing definitely tasted like peanut butter but it was too peanut buttery for me. How could that be considering it’s one of my food groups? I want buttercream icing on my cupcake damnit! It was dense, it was more like just peanut butter on top of the cupcake, but hell it tasted good. The Red Velvet didn’t fare as well. As soon as I cut into it, I noticed the difference from the chocolate cake. It was too dense, not light and airy, and the chocolate flavor was too subtle for me, it was nice and red though. The icing was yummy too. C’mere Cupcake had a perfect icing to cake ratio as well. Nice atmosphere too. I tasted a few others, no standouts, but the rest of the Munchers really enjoyed the mint cupcake (dani doesn’t do mint cupcakes. or coconut. or lemon.).

Next stop – Clinton! River’s Edge Bakery. Ummm…have you ever been here?! This town is too freakin cute! And lots of antique stores. Oh you better believe I’m going back here. This place was super cute. They had a separate upstairs seating area overlooking the river. First up, Red Velvet. Again, red, but chocolate flavor? Hello? Where are you? Icing – yum. Also tried the Cookies and Cream. Now. I make awesome C&C cupcakes. I do a chocolate cake, this was vanilla. It was overall ok, but I needed more C&C flavor. Also tried the Espresso one (another one I make pretty damn delicious). This was just okay for me. The real winner here was the smaller chocolate ganache cupcake. Ding! This was fabulous. I wasn’t a fan of the icing design here. It was swirly as you can see from pics. It didn’t cover the entire cupcake. Slather that stuff on baby!

Now we start heading South. I see signs for Trenton. My heart starts to pitter patter. Could we possibly be going to my favorite cupcake place in NJ? The place I frequented weekly when I worked five minutes away? Oh yes. As we got closer, Pete says “Dani, I think you know where we are going!” SCORE! That’s right. We hit up Sugar & Sunshine Bakery in Plainsboro. Heaven on Earth. Pete was also familiar and a fan of this place. I tell the rest of the Munchers – trust me on this one. Here’s where my tummy ache came. At the other two places I was able to pace myself. Not here. I was borderline out of control. Stop! I’m turning into a cupcake. First of all, they win for presentation. They ice their cupcakes so beautifully and with such care. And then create this little indentation swirl on top and sprinkle in either crumbs or colored sugar. This place also had the best icing to cake ratio. Standouts here were everything. My favorite of the day here – strawberry. Strawberry cake with strawberry icing. FRESH strawberries in here. As one of the other munchers said – it tasted like Summer. Red Velvet here was the best of all the stops – despite it not really having the red color. ALL the cupcakes were light, airy, spongy, moist, and flavorful. This place is worth the drive for me. I heart you Sunshine and Sugar. And it seemed overall, the whole crew thought this place had set the bar. High. Real high.

Last stop of the day for half of us was Brownie Points in Summit. Super cute, but no seating, but there is a park across the street. We had your basic choc and vanilla ones here but another Red Velvet, a Banana Caramel, a Mint, and some other pastries in there for variety. Red Velvet fell into the mediocre category as the first two places. Everyone liked the mint one better in Hackettstown. The Banana Caramel had some pretty yummy icing on it and everyone enjoyed it. The standout here wasn’t cupcakes but the Duffin! A donut in the shape of a muffin. Damn that was fine.

After half of us departed, the remained three hit up two more places. You can read the teaser at the link in the first paragraph. The full article will be in the paper and online on May 29.  It was such an awesome experience. I thought I could never eat cupcakes again after that, but I’d love one right about now. Furthermore, this convinced me that I could totally open up my own rockin cupcake place. Thanks to Pete and his Munchmobile for this unique experience!

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Aki Sushi, Port Monmouth

I’ve been sad lately that my favorite sushi place, Oishi Sushi, closed down a few weeks ago. Since then I tried Osho in Hazlet, which was just not up to par. But then I saw another place, Aki Sushi, in Port Monmouth, that caught my eye. I had run in one day to grab a menu and gave it a quick glance and thought it looked nice inside.

As I took a look at the menu, the first thing that got me excited was that they had brown rice as an option. Now I know you die-hard sushi fans will turn up your nose, but being health-conscious, white carbs are not in my diet. And it’s rare to find a place (like Oishi) that offers brown rice.

What I also noticed on their take-out menu was that they have a Sunday Brunch for $15.95, all-you-can-eat. Well….I figured I try it out since that seemed like a good deal. And I was pleasantly surprised. There is no walk-up buffet with sushi rolls sitting out there for hours. In fact, it was the opposite, fresh rolls made upon your request.

There were about five appetizers, four soups and salads and about twenty rolls to choose from. And of course, two desserts.

You can keep ordering as much as you want and it’s made to order. We started with the fried calamari served with a soy teriyaki sauce, which was pretty good. Also, some beef gyoza and shrimp shumai. All good. Also, had the miso soup, which was pleasantly not as salty as most joints serve.

As for rolls, I had a tuna roll, orange dragon (salmon tempura and avocado inside, fresh salmon outside), and a sweet potato tempura roll. All very good. The husband had four rolls, can’t remember which kind, but he ate it all up. Additionally, for .25 cents per roll, I had them make my rolls with brown rice.

To finish it up, we order the cheesecake tempura, sinfully good. The other option was banana tempura.

All in all, it was a good experience. The ambiance was neat, clean, and inviting. The staff was friendly, quick, and accommodating. It was an extremely good value and I would definitely go back. Check out my friend Mel’s blog, SableMinded on my blogroll. She just did a review of Aki also.

How did it compare to Oishi? Oishi still was the better place, but since they are gone….sigh….I am ready to head back to Aki Sushi.

Aki Sushi, Route 36, Port Monmouth

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And I’m back…

Happy New Year everyone. Thank you for understanding the lack of posts and most especially for all of the kinds words. So an update. My brother is now in a rehab hospital. Slowly healing. Don’t want to go into much further details than that though.

Back to the food…As soon as I upload some pics off my camera, I have some recipe and restaurant reviews I had been meaning to post. But for now….

News Bits and Bites!

First the sad news…my favorite sushi place, Oishi Sushi has shut its doors. I’ve posted multiple times on here about how wonderful they were. I know they weren’t always busy but I guess I didn’t realize how unbusy they were. I had my last meal there on New Year’s Eve. We ordered some takeout and not only was every table taken but there was a line to get a table. That weekend they closed. No warning. I will truly miss them. And if Chef Mark plans on opening a new place or going somewhere he needs to tell me because I am going to miss his Mark Roll!!

I’ve tried another sushi place since then. Osho in Hazlet. It was pretty bad. I won’t be returning. Very fatty salmon sashimi. Tuna tartare that had an odd taste. Just not even comparable to Oishi. I’ve gotten some feedback on Aligado in Hazlet and Sono in Middletown as being very good. I’ve had Sono a few times and it is very good, but a bit far. I am trying Aki Sushi in Port Monmouth this weekend for their brunch buffet. Heard that was also very good.

I also had a pretty decent cheeseburger last night at Marina Diner in Belford. The ONLY diner near me open 24 hours.

Had another fabulous meal at Drew’s Bayshore Bistro a few weeks ago.  Thoroughly enjoyed his flatbread and his short ribs. Man. They just melted in your mouth. Also, had the Tomahawk Steak for Two at Trinity recently (not by myself!!). This very well might be the BEST steak I’ve ever had. PERIOD. It reminds me of a Fred Flinstone steak.  Both Drew’s and Trinity’s (which I’ve reviewed both here before) are in Keyport. Why aren’t you eating at my two favorite places?!?!

I have a kick-ass recipe for spaghetti carbonara to post soon as well. Can you believe I had never eaten that stuff until last year? Anything with pancetta in it pretty much wins me over.

That’s all for now folks!

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Farewell Summer…

It’s a sad, sad week…This week marks the end of Summer as we welcome Autumn. I love the Fall but living 15 minutes from the beach, I’m a beach bum at heart. I’m at my second week at my new job but the week before I started I took the entire week off from my last job and spent more or less the entire week at the beach.

I started off with a trip to Atlantic City and Cape May with my friend Mel. We started the day venturing down to Cape May where we immediately hit up my favorite spot, The Mad Batter, for breakfast. If you’ve been reading my blog, you’ll know every time I go there, I can’t stay away from the Croustade. But maybe it was a sign…they were out of it. I went Chesapeake Bay Benedict – poached eggs on toasted English muffin with super lump crabmeat & caper Hollandaise, home fries $12.00, which was delicious, not as delicious though as my Croustade. Mel went with the Country Breakfast which she enjoyed and a Peach Tea Cooler (booze). Mad Batter also has THE best coffee in Cape May, though the locals say the Wawa does. Never tried it though. I also had a Chambord Mimosa. Perfect way to start a beautiful day! After spending a lovely day at the beach, we hit up Washington Street Mall for some shopping and of course some fudge from Cape May Fudge Kitchen and we were off to Atlantic City where a heavenly room at Caesar’s awaited us…

Once in AC, we decided later that night to hit up The Tropicana Casino to head over to Cuba Libre for dinner. Now as a ballroom dance instructor/student I wanted to check this place out since on the weekend they have Latin dancing. But alas, on a Monday night, ain’t much going on. Very cool place to go dance, but eat? NEVER again. It started out alright. Mel had a fabulous Manjo Mojito and I had a refreshing Watermelon Mojito followed by some darn tasty Pappas Rellenos and some nice bread with a Mango Butter. Then the entrees came. Oh how terrible. One of the worst meals we both every had. Her Arroz Con Pollo was rubbery and my Vaca Frita (short rib steak) was fatty and burned. ugh….

After a long night of drinking and gaming we needed to fuel up. We headed over to Cafe Roma in Caesar’s for a breakfast overlooking the ocean. Mel ate from the buffet while I went with the ham and egg (hold the cheese) croissant sandwich with home fries. This was pretty tasty overall and since I had some comp dollars most of it was paid for!!

After spending a few more hours in the casino and boardwalk we packed it up and headed home. Not before stopping off at the legendary White House Subs. We got ours to go and Mel loved her’s while I thought it was good, it wasn’t the best I’ve had. It was definitely tasty and fresh but I like my lettuce shredded and I WANT to taste the olive oil, vinegar and spices on my sub. But definitely worth a trip any time.

The rest of the week I beached it. As you can see, one of my beach days I was the ONLY person on the beach. Kinda cool, kinda creepy. I was also able to really take in the beach, hence the floral picture.

After the beach one day, I hit up Red Bank for some window shopping and found a little treasure of a restaurant. I was starving but wanted something quick, healthy, and affordable. I found it at Sogo Sushi. This place is so small, it’s easy to miss. It is really a take-out place as it only has two small tables and enough room to seat four. And they only serve brown rice, which works for me as I favor brown over white. I ordered here a spider roll and a salmon roll. I was pleasantly surprised at the good taste and great value.

Overall, it was a relaxing week before getting back to the grind. With the new job I somewhat hesitantly welcome Fall. Good-bye summer, good-bye beach, I’m miss you, as will my bike…

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Food porn ala Flakey Tart

I challenge The Flakey Tart bakery in Atlantic Highlands, NJ to make something I don’t like. With that said, here’s some recent delicious treats from a recent excursion down to my favorite bakery.

In the first picture, we have a Monkey Muffin (croissant dough with sweet cream cheese and nuts baked in), a half eaten almond croissant, and a ginormous blueberry muffin.

In this pic, we have their luscious key lime tart.

And finally. a mini pound cake that was sweet and heavenly.

I also recently stopped there for breakfast last week on my way to the beach and had the most delicious little brioche topped with sweetened cranberries and filled with an orange curd. wow….

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