House of Skip

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Red's Lobster Pot, Point Pleasant Beach

When looking for a great place to eat fresh seafood, outdoors, "down the shore", I kept coming across reviews for Red's Lobster Pot in Point Pleasant Beach. Between all my usual "research" sites I found there were mixed reviews, but I know from experience, there is only one way to know the truth and that is to check it out for myself.

So, on a Friday night, I gathered up my dining companion and traveled to Point Pleasant. We winded down Inlet Drive, along the dock where all the fishing boats come in and out of and across from the Coast Guard Station is little Red's Lobster Pot. It is pretty small and has a small lot, but there is plenty of parking nearby (that you have to pay for at the pay stations). Usually there is someone outside to help direct the parking in their tiny lot, but he just happened to not be there when we drove by, so we parked in a nearby public lot.

Red's is pretty much a shack. You walk onto the patio and can go up the stairs and into the indoor dining room or you can step into the line for the outside patio order window and place your order and find a seat at one of the tables on the patio. If you are smart like my dining companion and I are, you look at the menu, then divide and conquer. I stayed in line to order our food and my companion got us a good table by the water and scouted out cups for us to drink our wine from. Red's is BYOB which is always a plus for us. I am not sure there is a better way to spend a summer night than drinking white wine outside while eating fresh seafood and looking out over the water that said seafood came from. Red's will also make your wine into sangria for $10, we just drank ours as is.

Now, I mentioned finding mixed reviews online. So, some of the reviews claimed the patio was dirty, not so, it was very clean for an outdoor seating area and we saw several workers who constantly scrambled to wipe down tables and chairs and clear garbage as soon as a table opened up. Many of the poor reviews talked about the indoor dining experience, now I cannot comment on that directly since we were outside, but I have friends who dined inside once and to quote them directly, they were "underwhelmed". The dining room is very small, so I can imagine the atmosphere is much different, also the inside and outside have different menus.

I thought the outdoor menu was great. Upon stepping up to the order window, the kitchen was visible and clean and smelled phenomenal. We ordered 1 dozen pick and peel shrimp, a 1/2 dozen steamed clams and two entrees from the special of the day menu. I had grilled swordfish with a fruit salsa and my companion had soft shell crab. Both entrees come with fries and coleslaw. After ordering at the window you give them your name and they call you when your order is ready. So my companion and I sat, sipped wine and admired the view and in a short while they called my name and he went to retrieve the first part of our order. Not long after that the rest of our order was ready. Your food is handed to you on a plastic, cafeteria type tray. The shrimp were amazing! They were large and fresh and tasted so good, we easily devoured the dozen. The clams were OK, my companion liked them a lot but I was on the fence, they were rather large and that made them kind of chewy, it may just be my personal preference for smaller clams as they are not my favorite shellfish. The entrees were great. The swordfish was grilled perfectly, nice grill marks and flavor, the fresh fruit salsa was great, mango, pineapple, cilantro, a little spice went great with the fish. They give you a mound of fries and if you love fries like we do, you'll love the fries at Red's they are hand cut and fresh. My companion despises all things with mayo, so no coleslaw for him, but I thought it was good, how can you mess that up?

They also serve whole steamed lobsters which we did not order, but saw other people getting and they looked really good. Menu lists market price, but I am sure it is cheaper than ordering at any other place, they come right off the boats docked next to Red's. I think it's worth a return visit to check that out, oh what I do in the name of research.... :)

The other complaint I saw in other online reviews was the price. Let's talk about a couple things here, is this five star fine dining? No. It's picnic tables and plastic chairs on a patio next to the fishing dock. You will not be served by a waiter or drink out of glasses, you will order at a window wait for your food and drink your wine out of plastic cups. Do I like fine dining, yes on occasion. But I also love great food and adventure, Red's has both. We got two fresh seafood appetizers and two great, fresh, seafood entrees for just under $80, I don't think that is unreasonable. If you ordered the same food in a high end establishment where you had a waiter, sommelier, bus boys, etc and could not bring your own wine you'd pay double that at least.

To me, Red's defines summer in Jersey, simple, fresh seafood, outdoors, drinking and enjoying the summer breeze at the shore.

If you want to check out Red's I suggest eating outside, but as usual, I always say judge for yourself so if you want to check out the indoor dining, please do and let me know how it was, or if you've dined indoors at Red's and had a good experience, please share that too!

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