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Dining with Draz: Anchor Tavern

By Lori Draz

As the seasons shift, we set sail to busy Belmar where our group dropped anchor at Anchor Tavern. Those who have been in the area a while will remember the restaurant is located in the former Patrick’s Pub, across from the former Freedman’s Bakery. While much has changed on that busy corner, that same local feeling still remains. Anchor Tavern has a great energy with a huge central bar, a line of booths on one side and tables on the other. 

They have several craft cocktails, like the minty Mango Mojito, served in a large glass, and a big selection of local and imported beers plus wine. 

We chose four selections from the big appetizer menu, and each one was quite tasty. Our first, and probably my pick for a repeat order, was the Bavarian Pretzel with a jack cheese dipping sauce. If stadium pretzels were as good as these three big, pillowy pretzel rods, I’d buy season tickets, even if it was the worst team in town. The five juicy Coconut Shrimp were a beautifully fried treat, and the mango-jalapeño jelly on the side was a pleasant, not-too-hot surprise. Next was the Spinach and Artichoke Dip, in a cheesy sauce with freshly fried, super thin tortilla chips. This is definitely one to share, and we three enjoyed it with some left over. We took a chance on our final selection, the Sweet and Spicy Cauliflower, and we were so glad we did. The blanched cauliflower is tender, and the pieces are enrobed in a well-balanced honey, Sriracha and sweet Thai chili sauce.

Next the entrées. All ours came served in these huge white bowls – I’m guessing to hold the portions which are equally huge. Diner one’s bowl was the Honey Ginger Salmon with chunks of mango, candied jalapeño and ginger over coconut ginger rice. It’s pretty, and the thick slices of candied jalapeño made this a little unusual. She thought the pepper was a little too prominent for this sweet-edged dish, and she enjoyed it much more after removing most of the peppers.

Diner two went with Pork Chop Milanese. It was a colorful and nicely plated salad of arugula, lemon, shaved parmesan and grape tomato on top of a breaded and fried pork chop. The chop, though cooked correctly, was a little tough, but he still enjoyed the clean, fresh flavors of the dish.   

I was feeling the fall energy and tried Meatloaf with Mushroom Gravy over mashed potatoes topped with frizzled onions. It was one big hunk of soft and tasty meatloaf. I was sold when I saw mushroom gravy (I like brown sauce over red on meatloaf), and it was a perfect marriage. The frizzled onions were a great topper. My only complaint was the mashed potatoes which, though creamy, were too garlicy. I know the garlic lovers will be upset with me, but you might ask if they can adjust it if you’re like me.  

Anchor Tavern doesn’t have a big dessert menu, but you will find favorites like Brownie ala Mode and Cheesecake. We chose the Molten Chocolate Chip Cookie which is one inch high of warm, gooey chocolate goodness served with vanilla ice cream, chocolate or caramel sauce and whipped cream. We also had a simple Sundae of with two scoops each of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream. If you like intricate, flamboyant desserts, this might be a skip as both are simple, but they’re good if you’re looking for a touch of sweet, and the kids will enjoy them as well. 

There is a huge outdoor dining section for enjoying the fall weather and the inside is lined with TVs for enjoying the fall sports fun. This looks like a great place for game watching, but it’s equally great for a quick lunch on the way to the beach, for a friendly get together for all ages, and there’s even for a party section. There is only street parking, so you may have to stroll. The building is handicapped accessible.   

Cost – low

What we liked- The relaxed, woody and warm interior, the big portions and great prices, the big TVs, the easy attitude, the large, well-made cocktails and the pocket-friendly prices make it a great value.   

Anchor Tavern is located at 713 Main St. in Belmar. 732-280-2266. It is open Sunday through Thursday 11:30 am to midnight, Friday and Saturday 11:30 am to 1 am.

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