Sunday, July 12, 2009

My Shore Weekend

See those shoes? Cute, right? They are, but they are also blister makers. After walking all over Asbury Park on Friday night, my feet were so wrecked that I couldn't do the Belmar 5 on Saturday (and it was not because I had been drinking -- I was the DD on Friday and fit as a fiddle Saturday morning, except for the feet).

Pinchy shoes aside, Bill and I had a great time in what we consider the northern shores this weekend. Plus, we were celebrating. I met Bill right before his birthday. But his birthday isn't just one day -- it's celebrated over a week. Since my birthday is on July 19, we started celebrating my birthday on Friday night in Asbury Park.

Bill had never been to Long Branch, Asbury Park or Ocean Grove before. After he wound he way around shore traffic on Friday, we headed to right to Asbury. Bill brought his camera, so the pictures of AP are his (the one that lead off this post was taken at the photo booth in Asbury's arcade).

I had my heart set on dinner at Langosta Lounge, but that would have carried an hour and a half wait (an hour and a half!) I know, I know, I should have made a reservation. But the alternative was wonderful. We had tapas on the deck at the Watermark where we could sit outside and watch the boardwalk go by. We also watched as pirates stormed the bar.

It was a themed bar crawl birthday party. The gentleman in the above picture was celebrating his 27th. A big group, too, from Ocean Grove.

After our first course at Watermark, we headed to downtown Asbury for entrees at the Brickwall tavern. Big thumbs up to the mac and cheese (and no wait but a kick ass band playing).

Then we walked down Cookman Ave. to the Silverball Museum. I don't tend to exaggerate, but this is quite possibly the coolest thing I have seen on my shore travels.

It's a working museum. Pay $10, and for an hour, you have free play of pinball machines from the 1930s through 1980s. Bill and I walked around with our jaws open, like kids in a candy store. We both grew up playing pinball down the shore (me in Ocean City and he in Wildwood), and what a great way to re-live that past, and play what was the best of the best from the past. It was so worth $10, and even getting a little turned around in finding it (the museum is housed in the basement of a clothing store).

We had the whole place almost to ourselves, and I quickly learned that Bill is a much better pinball player than I am (he won six games, and I won one). It didn't feel like it mattered if you won or lost, though, because of that one $10 fee for an hour of play. Such a cool place. Such a cool idea.

After pinball, it was off to show Bill some of the places I liked from my last trip to Asbury Park. First, it was to the Annex for some sangria. Given my DD roll, I only had a few sips of Bill's drink, but it was enough to know that I like both the white and red sangria they serve.

We wrapped up the night at Asbury Lanes:

The tater tots? Out of this world.

Aside from the blistered feet that left me limping on the walk between Cookman Ave. and the boardwalk, we had a blast. I'm glad Bill liked it since I had talked up the town.

A few more notes from the weekend:

1. We stayed at Ocean Place in Long Branch. Great spot:

Nice views, nice service, great location. I realized after I booked the hotel that my dad and step mom stay there every year. The brunch buffet is fantastic. If you go, make sure to pick up what looks like orange juice with a raspberry in it -- it's actually a mango/yogurt/smoothie thing that was the perfect cap to my meal.

2. The beach in Ocean Grove is lovely. I spent Friday afternoon on that beach, and would do it again if I was in the area. Great beach day, too. Rough surf.

3. Thank you, Atlantic Books in Long Branch, for carrying my book:

4. I had dinner on Thursday night with Caren Cheser, a fantastic Jersey freelancer. We met up at Rooney's. Can we say yum?

That artichoke heart was out of this world.

5. On Friday, I had brunch with ANOTHER fabulous Jersey freelancer, Gwen Moran. She showed me Sunset Landing in Asbury, which was a great spot for a shady, quiet outdoor meal.

6. What genius scheduled road construction in Long Branch on a Saturday during the summer?

Aside from the blisters and the traffic snarl on Saturday, it was a great weekend. It's also a lot different than what I usually cover down at the South Jersey Shore. Sure, these are beach communities, but they seem to be more year round spots than barrier islands like Sea Isle and Avalon. It changes the dynamic. I've seen restaurants in Asbury busy in the off season and could easily see a place like Brickwall working where I live. It's by the shore, sure, but it's not tied to it.

I'll be heading back down to Sea Isle on Friday for my Saturday birthday brew ha ha. I've given it a vague sports theme since Bill insists that basketball jerseys are THE thing to wear to the OD. Anyone know why? I'm curious.

Digg this


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great time! I can't believe that wait at Langosta!! Guess I'm spoiled by walking in on a Friday night in the winter. Brickwall is a good alternative, and I completely agree about the mac and cheese. And Asbury Lanes? what a perfect night!

Jen A. Miller said...

I KNOW! I should have made a reservation, but I didn't expect 1.5 hours! Oh, well -- Brickwall was just fine. I had no idea Watermark did food, either, so that was a nice surprise/taste testing.

ShoreTweet said...

Jen - Great trip "Down The Shore!" My backyard.. I am so glad you included Sunset Landing.. Had Breakfast there on Sunday.. Really nice place and great people who run it..