May 02, 2018

26 West on the Navesink

By Lori Draz

26 West on the Navesink

If your special May lady likes waterfront locations, we found a dandy at 26 West on the Navesink in Red Bank. Located on West Street, the entire rear is dominated with a million dollar view of the Navesink River. The restaurant is shockingly huge on the inside. It just keeps opening up in all directions. You walk into the lobby with a small stylish bar to your left, then down an aisle lined with intimate nooks with upholstered easy chairs and private tables. To the right, there is another long bar, both which lead to the central dining area. The restaurant also has a downstairs, and there is a central staircase that leads to upstairs to a private dining area and party room. Right now, renovations are going on to open a rooftop bar. While the overall theme is a nautical blue and white, each of the areas has its own character and personality. The interior designer really worked overtime to pull off this stylish feat. We were very impressed and eager to begin our evening.

Our server Jason was very pleasant and quickly shared his suggestions for our courses and cocktails, which included a drink called the Sweetest Sin which he said was one of the most popular picks. The bartender did a really nice job and we thought the wine and beer list was extensive and offered lots of good and on-trend choices. The menu is not overly broad but has a solid variety of core favorites, and they also have a raw bar.

We chose three appetizers to start. Our first was big comforting bowl of cheesy polenta, which had a nice little kick, thanks to the diced peppers. Not too hot and very creamy and well-prepared. Our second choice was the Mussels in white wine and garlic sauce. Man, these mussels, the same ones on the Monday special, were as good as I’ve had in a very long while. They were sweet, plump, and the white wine garlic broth was not overpowering…and there we so many, we guessed at least two and a half dozen. Really, really good. Our third choice was the wild mushroom risotto, which was equally good. The risotto was done just right, creamy and full of mushroom flavor. They were all good but I would totally recommend those mussels if you choose only one.

We also split the Arugula and Beet Salad three ways. The expertly died chunks of beets are served on a bed of arugula, with crumbled feta cheese, dried cranberries and candied walnuts bathed in a tangy raspberry balsamic vinaigrette which was fantastic. It would make a terrific lunch – sweet, salty, tender and tasty.

Now for the entrees. Diner one selected Shrimp and Grits which are four large prawns, served over another serving of that pepper and cheese polenta, topped with crispy shoestring potatoes, shrimp jus, scallions, and cilantro. This was a perfect pick for her as the polenta was her favorite choice of the appetizers and the shrimp had a nice char. Diner two picked a traditional favorite, the Fish and Chips which is two large beer battered cod filets with French fries, and tartar sauce. It was golden and light and as good as any you would find in New England. This restaurant does nice things with fish. I chose the Short Ribs which comes with caramelized onions and apples, whipped potatoes, tri-color carrots and butterscotch BBQ sauce. I gotta tell you I was intrigued to try that sauce and while it doesn’t have a dessert topping taste, it does give the whole dish a sweetness without sacrificing the beefy taste of the ribs.  It was so soft you could eat it without chewing and very satisfying.

For dessert, we chose two, a warm crumb cake and a bread pudding, served with vanilla gelato and drizzled with a caramel sauce. They also offer three kinds of cheesecakes and ice cream, but we wanted to try the selections that were made in the restaurant. They were both good, but they had similar flavor profiles, so I would choose a different pairing for more variety. The crumb cake comes with a scoop of vanilla gelato and whipped cream. It goes great with coffee. The bread pudding is rather dense, chunkier rather than creamy. A big square cut into two triangles and drizzled with caramel sauce, it also comes with vanilla gelato. It has a homey taste that hints of French toast. Very nice and not too sweet.

This place has plenty of specials. There’s a Monday through Friday Appy Hour from 4 to 7 p.m. with a selection of appetizers and $5 alcoholic beverages at both of bars. Every Monday is Mussel Monday – all you can eat mussels in your choice of a red, white wine and garlic, or a lemongrass saffron cream with one free glass of wine or beer. On Tuesday its half off at the raw bar and specially priced rose wines. Wednesday is Burger and Beer night – two for $20 burgers and half off drafts. Thursday is a wine and cheese pairing night, and $3 off Fat Tires on Fridays.

Cost – Moderate

What we liked- The awesome riverfront views, the soothing blue and white décor with its clever, comfortable furniture and the numerous dining and congregating areas, the pleasant staff, the straightforward menu and all the different specials.

What could be better – Parking is a little tricky but there are many lots nearby. There are also lots of stairs, which may be difficult for those with mobility challenges.

We give it 4 and three J’s.

26 West on the Navesink is located at 26 West Front Street, Red Bank.  Contact: (732) 383-5664 or  26westonthenavesink.com. Open seven days a week. Monday from 4 to 10 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 12 to 10 p.m.; Thursday from 12 to 11 p.m.; Friday and Saturday from 12 p.m.to 12 a.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.