Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Klein’s – Belmar, NJ

If you’re so in-Klein-ed

Swimming with the fishes: It’s like the mob…mobbed with enough wise-guy tourists (aka Bennies*) to force you out, but trumped by endless waterfront views and freshly cleaned fish to keep pulling you back in.

*Bennies = Guidos, Ronnies, Joey-bag-o-doughnuts…pretty much the cast of Jersey Shore

Klein's sea scallop sandwich = Jersey Shore summer.

Sushi sleuth: But I was eyeing the lobster sushi rolls. And by eyeing, I mean private eyeing. I’ve become so suspicious when it comes to lobster since I’ve lived on the west coast (Pacific lobster = no claws, tough and tasteless) and was relieved that I was back where Maine lobster is the main player.

So I went for the Belmar roll (represent, locals!) with lobster and spicy tuna wrapped in a thin sheet of edaname, but there wasn’t much lobster to get excited about and I realized that I’d dropped the ball when scoring my favorite east coast eats…why didn’t I get a whole lobster or the soft shell crab sandwich?!

And my dad’s fried shrimp, plump and lightly breaded with a healthy, pink sheen beneath, only made my ferocious case of food envy worse…at least I had the foresight to get my own order of waffle fries - possibly the best on the Shore.

But fish was the real lure here. Klein’s couldn’t be denied as one of the freshest fish stops in town (due to their own on-premise fish market) and though they weren’t cheap, quality seafood like this was worth paying a few extra clams.

P.S. I love you: Why I love my dad, Scooter = the personality of Joe Pesci + Rodney Dangerfield. We had a server that was training a girl and my dad was really worried that the trainee wasn’t getting tips, so he grabbed our waiter (literally) and made him find the trainee to slip her a $10.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Toast - Absury Park, NJ

Toast of the Town
You had me at red velvet pancakes. And Irish Benedict = corned beef hash instead of Canadian bacon.

Peace. Love. Pancakes. - Toast's mantra, carried over to the friendly and willing, yet somewhat forgetful wait staff. Forgetful, but not forgettable, especially since they owned up to any mistakes and clearly communicated about delays.

Plus, I was already distracted by my lobster roll (breakfast and lunch are available all day). Oh, Maine lobster how I love thee! West Coast living means giving up claw meat (and taste), since Pacific/Mexican Lobster is a pincher-less mutant whose tail is tougher than nails.

And although there were only about 4 bites, it was ALL LOBSTER (only a touch of mayo and lemon), served with a mini-pitcher of melted butter. But how could I justify the $16.95 price tag for an almost-amuse-bouche?

I was reminded of Julia Roberts in Steel Magnolias when she told Sally Field, “I’d rather have one moment of wonderful, than a lifetime of nothing special.” Same went for lobster rolls – I’d rather have four bites of luxury, than a hoagie full of mayo and celery.

Toast earned another “A” in seafood with the shrimp BLT, where we switched out the Old Bay mayo for the refreshing cleanse of wasabi/cucumber sauce - perfection. Sides showed off sweet potato fries, but they didn’t hold a candle to the crisp class(ic)-act of Toast’s traditional version.

But tradition was bucked at breakfast, flaunting present day designs like Bananas Foster French toast (made with Challah bread) and Will's Firebird (gluten-free) pancakes. Homemade hash was salty and tender with enough sodium-filled protein to last me all day. And isn’t that what breakfast is about? That warm hug to your tummy that keeps you going? Toast spread on the edible love, thick, spinning homespun into a home-run.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

McLoone's - Asbury Park, NJ

One Hot (summer) Mess
You know you’re in trouble when the best part of the meal is the curdled “she-crab soup”. I put that in quotes because the real she-crab soup is supposed to have crab roe - this didn’t. Just clumps of clotted cream...the only cream of this (rotten) crop.

Drinks, I think? - I ordered the $10 mojito that came in one of those plastic cups you get at the dentist - swish and spit was exactly what came to mind.

No one’s hailing this Caesar = Lettuce, a sprinkle of grated parmesan (from a green can?) and drab, flat dressing. Where were my croutons, damn it?! The waiter told us, “I’ll try to muster some up.” By the sound of it I thought the chef would actually make us some fresh croutons, since they didn’t have any. Nope – he brought back box-cut squares that made me wonder why they weren’t in this $12 salad in the first place.

Clammy No-Neck - Little neck clams should be the size of a dime and sweet morsels of the sea. Instead we got gorilla necks...the kind of neck that would ruin a turtleneck it was so big. Gross. Even grosser was they were also rough necks = no one separated the clam from the shell. I guess that was our job, you lazy mother shuckers.

Fried green beans – How do you ruin a fried treat? Leave it to McCloone's. I’d envisioned the crisp snap of green bean beneath a tempura-esque shell, but instead I realized this glue-based-batter only housed the limp carnage of a canned “used to be” vegetable - the final insult.

Killing me softly - McLoone's is like a guy that looks like he has it all (beachfront seating, low candlelight), an amazing catch, "How could he be single?!"...and then you find a body in his basement. But even the dead would try to escape, as would the summer tourists that might get caught in this trap once, but not again, especially at these prices. McLoone's became a sad stop at what could have easily been the belle of the boardwalk.