First opened in 1960, this old red house with a large deck overlooks Deal Lake and a large number of ducks of varying types and swans. Probably the most famous breakfast emporium in Asbury, the hours are 0500-1300. The breakfast menu is huge, with multiple exotic omelets and pancakes as well as the usual eggs, french toast, etc. Decor is minimal, service is brusquely efficient and hardly friendly. Prices are quite reasonable for a resort town, most breakfast entrees $5-7. The long lines testify to the popularity of this classic.
The assorted ducks, geese, and swans gather on the edge of the lake and wait for feeding, whereupon there is a mass charge for the streetside gate. Duck food is available at the counter in little bags for $1. Across the lake, there are several rather nice houses. The deck is definitely the place to be.
The food may be good and the portions large, but there are negatives here. Dining inside is crowded with little in the way of views and a great deal in the way of traffic. The hot open grill and the service counter and cash register share space with the tables. The inside is not air-conditioned, the outside tables have no umbrellas. Cash only, no reservations, long waits. Be forewarned.
Favorite Dish: Fresh-squeezed orange juice, surprisingly good coffee.
Cranberry pecan pancakes, inventive omelet specials often including shellfish.
Surrounding the ground level of the Convention Center is a narrow promenade. Overlooking the beach on the south side, The Beach Bar offers alcoholic beverages but apparently does not yet have a working kitchen. In front, lounging couches. In back, high small cocktail tables with bar stools. And in the middle, a bar with a few black clad servers with nothing to do. The promenade does attract photographers, like me, but paying customers seem few and far between. Perhaps the place is crowded on those rare occasions when there is a show at the Paramount or in the Convention Center, but basically this is a business venture waiting for customers who don't seem to be coming. Fortunately, their investment has only been in furniture as a quick look at the floor and left wall will make clear.
2008 Update - the Beach Bar has survived a year and actually acquired a real sign attached to the wall. More important, it has acquired some customers. (Images 3 and 5)
Many upscale and trendy restaurants open and close in Asbury Park, waiting in vain for the huge beach crowds and the rich condo buyers who never seem to materialize. Not so Bistro Ole which has reached critical mass. This Spanish Portuguese style restaurant is here to stay. Owner Rico visits every table, talks with every diner - he is engaging, obsessed with being on the Oprah show, a perfect showman. His service staff, also drawn from the art community, offer efficient knowledgeable and friendly service without rushing despite the waiting mobs outside and actually seem concerned that the diners have a good time and a good meal. Portions border on huge and the food - superb across the board. The Venezuelan chef has worked his way up from washing dishes and bussing in NYC and attended the New York Restaurant School. Decor in the four separate rooms varies, but is clearly Iberian. Our room was dark brown with wall murals, blankets, etc.
Huge appetizers run $12-20, even larger entrees $20-30. There is no liquor license, so the policy is BYOB. For a small charge, your bottle can be turned into sangria. For an appetizer, four of us shared sauteed scallops and shrimp in a garlic sauce over a delicious potato cake. Right, four of us - it was enough for a full meal, for $12. Other featured appetizers include a Portuguese bread soup and multiple stuffed plantain dishes. For entrees, we saw some great looking steaks going by unsurprisingly but stayed with the chef's specialty, seafood. Terrific. Dessert was out of the question.
Favorite Dish: The chef's specialty is a sea bass in a pesto sauce served over an avocado preparation. We enjoyed grilled salmon topped with portobello mushrooms and scallions over great Spanish rice. A spiced breaded tilapia was the best preparation of this bland fish I have ever tasted anywhere. One of our group went for a thick pork chop topped with sauteed onions. Every dish - artistically presented and perfectly prepared. This is a five star meal - highly recommended.
N.B. - there are no reservations, the waiting times can easily exceed one hour. The staff will take your cell phone number and call when your table is ready.
There used to be many nice restaurants in Asbury Park (30 years ago) and a lot of night life.
Now you have a couple fast food places out on route 35 (Papa John's Pizza and McDonald's) but right in Asbury Park there are only a few choices. You have to go farther outside the city for other restaurants.
Red Fusion is a Bistro at 600 Cookman Avenue which looks like a building in need of a face lift.
The specialties are Japanese Sushi, Chinese StirFry and an eclectic mix of American and Mexican. The Caesar Salad was good with chicken strips. They make a hearty French Onion soup which goes well with the Crab Cakes. I thought the prices were a bit high for the area but the food was delicious.
UPDATE 2007: I was just notified that a VT member visited the Asbury area and Red Fusion is out of business.
MoonStruck at 517 Lake Ave. is more inline with the ambiance of old Asbury Park. Dinner with nice piano music in the background; quiet surroundings; terrace table.
The Penne Escarole is done well and you can have Biscotti made just for you. Much of the menu is fine Italian food but they also have steak, seafood platters, pork chops and chicken dishes. The price is very very upscale... about $40 per person, but you only live once.
Although it's not in Asbury Park, it's only about 2 mi. outside city limits. Great food and great times are all at Redhead's!! Try the roasted garlic and olive oil on bread- it's free!
Favorite Dish: The Wisconson Cheddar Bisque soup is the best thing at this restauraunt and the best soup I've ever eaten.