Located minutes away from the University campus, the Brick Wall Tavern in Asbury Park is a culinary diamond in the rough. To those unfamiliar with Asbury, many consider it home to some of the finest culture in our vicinity.
With several art galleries, famous concert venues, and phenomenal restaurants all located within walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean, Asbury has something to offer for everyone. The Brick Wall Tavern sits on Cookman Avenue, roughly considered the downtown strip of Asbury. Cookman offers eccentric consignment shops, paranormal stores, and lavish eating establishments, and above all a great scene of locals.
The Brick Wall Tavern sits adjacent to the Annex, a unique bar that resembles something out of The Shining but with friendly bartenders and no elevator doors. Unlike the majority of restaurants located on and around Cookman, which appeal to a ritzier, yuppie demographic, The Brick Wall Tavern distinguishes itself by serving American style comfort food with a modern and trendy twist. It’s perfect for the college aged youth looking to escape the dismal shackles of cloudy Long Branch.
Having gone out previously for a night of hard drinking on the town, I had visited the Brick Wall and thought it reminiscent of a restaurant/bar called “Silk City” located in Northern Liberties in Philadelphia, PA. When I asked a personal friend and University student Adam Slover what keeps him going back to the Brick Wall he said, “It’s the people. It’s all about who comes to the Brick Wall, there’s a real sense of community. And an awesome array of beers that are ever changing (literally monthly) so you’ll never get tired of the selection. And the girls are just plain hot.”
I had grown curious if their cuisine followed suite so I decided to stop by for a bite with my girlfriend. Upon entering, we were greeted by a friendly hostess who positioned us as at secluded table that offered a scenic view of the quirky artwork that surrounds the exposed brick walls. Finely dressed business men, starving artists, and women who looked to be professional dog groomers grabbed bites before carrying on with their evenings. “You can be beach front at a place like Langosta Lounge or the Watermark and five minutes away you have a grittier city vibe going on. Asbury Park is so eclectic,” said University graduate, James Hind.
We began with a perusing of the beer menu. I went with a Black Stone IPA (7% APV) at a measly five dollars and the misses enjoyed a cold Pumpkin Ale (5% APV) for the same price. For appetizers, we opted with a traditional spinach and artichoke dip, washed down with a few fresh oysters and clams from the raw bar. Their raw bar was strategically placed by the front door and priced a la carte at two dollars per. The food was fresh, exquisite, and well worth 200 pennies a bite.
The appetizers came out swiftly and we devoured them accordingly. The spinach dip was mediocre, but salty enough to encourage another round of beers and prime the taste buds for the entrees. I ordered the fried flounder ($14) with a side of two deviled eggs ($2) and she ordered the filet mignon ($15), cooked medium well with a side of grits (included). You’d be hard pressed to find deviled eggs and grits served a la carte unless you were seated next to strangers on an Amtrak train headed to South Carolina.
The entrees came out perfectly cooked, dressed, and plated. Like the Grinch, my pants felt a few sizes too tight but the portions were just right and the service was equally righteous. We would have stayed for a few more drinks but Ocean cops tend to patrol the route home with complete and utter vehemence.