By Karen Irvine ~
We spend most of the year waiting and waiting for the deliciously warm Jersey Shore summer days to arrive. Then just three short months later, poof, it’s all gone! That’s why locals are so inventive when it comes to stretching each precious summer day out to its fullest. And they know a thing or two about stretching hard-earned recreational dollars too – without sacrificing quality. The trick? Choose westerly facing restaurants and non-peak time Happy Hours and Midweek Deals. We have assembled three of the locals’ most favorite restaurants with sunsets and deals.
The Salt Creek Grille, Rumson, with its spectacular location at the foot of the Oceanic Bridge offers unobstructed views of sunsets over the Navesink River. Fans point to co-owner, Steve Bidgood’s hands-on approach to the restaurant’s continued popularity throughout a successful 20-year history. In fact, Bidgood personally greets many of his customers by name and is also known for his very generous philanthropic endeavors within the community. Salt Creek Grille is one of the Jersey Shore’s most popular locations for enjoying beautiful sunsets with its panoramic views.
The ski-lodge like restaurant with its Craftsman-style architecture is gorgeous complete with outdoor fire pit. The delicious American grill menu centers around an authentic mesquite wood grill. On most nights complementary valet parking is available for convenient parking even on the busiest of nights. Even boaters get a break here at Salt Creek Grille and can arrive by boat and tie up at the restaurant’s exclusive dock.
Inside there is a large bar with comfortable leather bar chairs, which is the perfect place to enjoy a refreshing cocktail, craft beer or freshly made artisan cocktail after a day on the beach or boating. Every seat has a beautiful waterfront view. A long banquette has several tables that make a great place for a crowd of friends to gather. Several high-top tables are available throughout the lounge area for a more intimate experience and there are four super-popular tables with floor-to-ceiling views at the riverfront windows. The restaurant’s award-winning Happy Hour leading up to sunset is served from 4 – 6:30 p.m. every Monday – Friday. All wines by the glass are ½ off and there is a special bar menu with hearty nibbles to share from a Caesar Salad for $4 to the famous Baby Back Ribs for $10. Salt Creek Grille offers a daily special Monday – Thursday from open to closing throughout the restaurant. The specials include: Mondays – ½ Off Wines by Bottle; Tuesdays – ½ off all beers on tap; Wednesdays – ½ off wines by the glass; and Thursdays 1/2 off all specialty menu martinis.
Salt Creek Grille
4 Bingham Avenue
Rumson (732) 933-9272 www.saltcreekgrille.com
Across the river from Rumson is Sea Bright, which has made an amazing comeback after Superstorm Sandy struck the tiny, narrow strip of sandy land in 2012. In fact it has rebounded into a dining destination with internationally acclaimed chefs, veteran restaurateurs and small mom and pop eateries. Two of the restaurants favored by locals for sunsets, food, drinks and value are Drifthouse, and Rum Runner, both offer super deals throughout the year including the entire summer season. Drifthouse is owned by celebrity chef and New Jersey native David Burke and Rum Runner is owned by local musician and philanthropist Tim McLoone.
Drifthouse is David Burke’s latest culinary adventure located at the former site of Ama Ristorante at Driftwood Cabana Club. While the seasonal beach club is private, the restaurant located on the second level remains open to the public year-round. The restaurant’s interior received a total makeover and now embraces a chic beach vibe. Throughout Drifthouse are many original works of art by current urban artists on loan from Detour Gallery, Red Bank. The artwork along with the stunning views provide the perfect backdrop to Chef Burke’s very creative and delicious New American menu. From its lofty perch, Drifthouse provides stunning bird’s eye views of the ocean to the east and ever-changing sunset views over the Shrewsbury River to the west and an outdoor dining deck for those who can’t get enough of the ocean breezes.
Happy Hour is available Tuesday – Friday from 4-6 p.m. It includes drink and food specials in the bar room only. Nightly specials include Chef Burke’s original Tuesday Burger Night, which was introduced and made incredibly popular at his former restaurant, Fromagerie in Rumson. But now it is back and is better than ever before! Burger Night can be enjoyed throughout the restaurant and on the outdoor dining deck. It includes a burger made from Chef Burke’s dry-aged beef or a house-made veggie burger, or weekly sandwich selections such as lobster roll or chicken Milanese. The $29 deal includes the burger/sandwich, soup or salad and glass of wine or beer. Live music by favorite local musicians is also available on Burger Night. Wednesdays feature a special, hand-selected list of bottles of wine at 40% off. Sundays it’s Sundays, Sunsets & Sauvignon with a special wine list at 40%, BYO and no corkage fee.
Drifthouse by David Burke
1485 Ocean Avenue
Sea Bright (732) 530-9760 www.drifthousedb.com
On December 31, 1986 local entertainer Tim McLoone and a group of his friends purchased the original Rum Runner from the Egidio family. The following October, after considerable reconstruction, McLoone’s Rum Runner finally opened to much fanfare. The excitement surrounding this new eatery was only amplified by the arrival of Bruce Springsteen on a nearly daily basis as he used the banquet room to rehearse his upcoming “Tunnel of Love” tour. Thus began a 25-year run, interrupted occasionally by some vicious storms, but then concluded with Superstorm Sandy’s destruction of this beloved landmark in 2012.
Tim and Beth McLoone decided to rebuild in spite of numerous complications and financial realties, but in the end, their desire to return to Sea Bright and be part of the rebirth of that great little town won out. The newly reconstructed building is now an stunning architectural landmark the that rises above the Shrewsbury River with drop-dead gorgeous sunset views. The bar features wrap-around windows that open up to let the refreshing ocean and river breezes waft in and around guests seeking thirst-quenching libations and those final rays of sunshine. Today the Rum Runner is once again the home away from home that so many found it to be before Sandy struck.
Rum Runner offers a Happy Hour Monday – Friday from 4-6:30 p.m. and Saturdays from 3-5 p.m. in the bar and cocktail area only. Specials include $5 house wines by the glass; $4 Coors Light draft; $5 house martinis and well drinks; and of course, ½ off the legendary Rum Runner cocktail! And special priced bar menu available during Happy Hour with all items $7 and under. Live Entertainment starts on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
816 Ocean Avenue
Sea Bright (732) 842-2894