By Bob Sacks |
“Peace, love and grub” and a large wooden mermaid plaque on an outside wall declare as the mission statement for 2nd Jetty Seafood. But this three-month-old restaurant, sitting just off the Highlands Bridge in Sea Bright, is more aptly described as Funky, Festive, and Fresh! The menu offerings are much more ambitious and tastier than simple “grub,” and the vibe is “party.” The nautical décor and setting are archetypical, rustic Jersey Shore seafood house, with the river on one side, the ocean on the other, and casual outside tables adjacent to the overflowing parking lot. Adding to the cool factor the night of our visit was a singer/guitar player sitting outside with us, working through Clapton,
Dylan, and Tom Petty covers. The service is still a bit uneven at this point, albeit laid-back and friendly, but the food is clearly meant to make a statement, and it does. A fast-rising star dish from Hawaii, Ahi Poke Bowl ($15), showcased diced cubes of high-grade raw ahi tuna, marinated in a ginger-soy vinaigrette, served with spiralized carrots, radishes, avocado slices, wasabi aioli and crispy fried wontons. The contrast of cool, creamy, crunchy and mildly spicy, made this a real crowd pleaser, with the very generous portion almost being a meal in itself. Highly recommended. The tropical theme continued with a large bowl of Coconut-Lemon Grass Local Mussels ($16). The rich broth, fashioned from a vegetable reduction, and enriched with cream of coconut, coated the plump shellfish, and made for a satisfying appetizer. Crostini for dipping into the broth, as well as a soup spoon, allowed us to get to all of that savory liquid, so none was left behind.
A refreshing Jetty’s House Salad ($9), large enough for two, paired baby kale, roasted cauliflower, local hydro cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, beets, and mixed radishes, dressed with an orange cilantro vinaigrette.
Fish Tacos ($14) were offered with a choice of Grilled Wahoo or Crispy Fried Cod. Although tempted to order one of each preparation, we exhibited unusual restraint and went with the just the wahoo… this time! Three grilled flour tortillas each held a good- sized hunk of fish, shredded Napa cabbage, chopped tomato, cilantro, lime and Sriracha crema for some gentle heat. In a follow-up phone call we learned that the fish and seafood is supplied by Lusty Lobster, just over the bridge, so it is no surprise that the quality and freshness of all is impeccable.
Not always seen locally, Corvina ($26), a mild, sweet- tasting tropical fish resembling snapper, with firm, flaky flesh, was served with smoked bacon, stewed leek, apple, cubes of potato “Risotto-style,” truffle, a light touch of cream and fresh thyme. We thoroughly enjoyed this preparation, but would like to see the potato finely minced to more resemble its namesake, which would allow it to pair better with this elegant fish and sauce presentation.
Grilled Hanger Steak/ Frittes ($28), an ample cut of lean beef, served medium rare, sharing the plate with horseradish gremolata, heir- loom tomato salad, and wispy shoestring fries, was very good.
Happily, 2nd Jetty is BYO. For white wine, we opened a 2010 Domain Costal Premier Cru Chablis Vaillons, an under-the-radar producer worth seeking out. Nicely mineral, with good fruit and acid, but not sweet, it was an ideal match for the creamier fish dishes. For our red, it felt like a Cru Beaujolais night: 2010 Desjourney Chapelle du Bois Fleurie. Don’t let the name Beaujolais put you off. These age-worthy wines, made from the Gamay grape, bear no resemblance to that mass produced Beaujolais Nouveau which arrives every Thanksgiving. A silky mouth-feel, ripe fruit, and a good, acid backbone made for a very enjoyable glass of wine. This is the real deal.
With little room left for dessert, we shared a slice of homemade Key Lime Pie with fresh blueberries and raspberries. Light and just a bit tart, it was just enough to make a fine finish to the meal.
In addition to the extensive menu, there are also raw bar offerings, as well as a variety of sandwiches available to accommodate every appetite, from light bite, to a full meal.
In the short time it has been open, 2nd Jetty already appears to have become a very popular destination. If there are limitations, it would be the fact that on-site parking is skimpy, and that they do not take reservations, but the menu is interesting and the food quite good, so hopefully, those issues will be secondary ones for most folks.
Yes, there is the unmistakable feel of a Jersey Shore Summer party in progress; a fun atmosphere in a casual beach setting; a relaxing ambience, but with food that definitely wants to be taken seriously.
140 Ocean Ave.
Bob Sacks, longtime food and wine buff, reviews restaurants in this bimonthly column. Read his reviews here.
This article was first published in the Sept. 7-14, 2017 print edition of The Two River Times.
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