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Dining with Draz: The Atlantic House

By Lori Draz

With the start of the summer season just days away and a crystal clear evening sky, we thought we’d get into the mood a little early, so we went to enjoy the great views of Atlantic Highlands and the food at The Atlantic House. 

The Atlantic House is a two-story eatery with a big bar on both levels and several big screen TVs. Each seat was filled by Mets fans enjoying the game. Our server, Matt, was friendly, and he quickly brought us a round of strong and well-made cocktails, a wonderful Friday night kick-off. 

We really dove into the appetizers, ordering four different choices. They were all so good and distinctly different. It would be easy to make a meal of appetizers, which we noticed was popular with the full crowd at the bar. Our first was the House Kettle Chips which were addictive and far exceeded my expectations. The chips were not oily, and they were coated in a sharply pungent blue cheese fondue with chives and sea salt – kind of like a spin on nachos. The Pot of Local Middleneck Clams is a showy and savory selection, swimming in a rich tomato broth with bacon, shallot, garlic, white wine, roasted peppers and gnocchi. The clams were tender, and that broth was so tasty I wished I had a ladle to finish every drop. Our third choice was the Crispy Brussels Sprouts, with a maple Sriracha glaze and a coconut sweet potato puree. The sprouts were well cooked but a little large, and that puree was a sweetly surprising companion. Finally, we had the Wisconsin Cheese Curds – no, make that two of the Wisconsin Cheese Curds. You may have guessed we really liked these lightly breaded and fried chunks of chewy cheese. It’s a drier cheese, not gooey like mozzarella sticks, and a perfect pop-in-your-mouth size. That chipotle dipping sauce on the side had quite a kick, so go easy on your first dip to see how much heat you can take. 

 

 

Now for the entrées. In general, we found the entrées to be straightforward and timidly seasoned, especially after the more powerfully flavored appetizers. Diner one chose the Grilled Marinated Salmon, which is served with Swiss chard, roasted red peppers, toasted cauliflower and drizzled with a carrot ginger puree. She liked the salmon, and though she likes Swiss chard, she found this to be a bit bitter. Not her top pick of a side, but overall she enjoyed her dinner. 

Diner two is a fish and chips fan and so he ordered the New England-style Crisp Cod with hand-cut fries, cole slaw, lemon and tartar sauce. He is a bit of a pro on this dish, and though he though he liked the plating style, he was a little underwhelmed by the dish, which he said lacked seasoning. He did really enjoy the cole slaw, but the portion of fish was a little light for its $25 price tag. 

Diner three was pretty full from all those tasty appetizers and changed her order from the Robust Burger to the Fish Tacos found on the app menu. They are three soft corn tacos stuffed with chunks of the same beer-battered cod from the fish and chips. It’s topped with a kicky chipotle mayo, shaved cabbage, cilantro and lime. She ate all three and enjoyed her lighter choice. 

I had the grilled bone-in pork chop which sits on a bed of mildly flavored turnip mashed potatoes and is topped with spiced apple chutney. We all agreed that I picked the winner that night. The pork chop was juicy, and after a sprinkle of salt and pepper, the snowy white mash was a nice side.   

They have three simple items on the dessert menu, and we tried them all. There’s a warm brownie served with espresso mascarpone gelato and whipped cream, a housemade cookie sandwich with vanilla gelato, and a New York cheesecake with a strawberry drizzle. The best of the three was the cheesecake which was super creamy. Unless you have a real sweet tooth, you may want to splurge on an extra appetizer or dessert cocktail instead. 

I took the long way home after dinner, climbing to the highest point of town to enjoy that twinkling view of the New York skyline. If the weather is nice, I suggest you do the same. It’s just lovely. 

The Atlantic House has some choices for kids, and it’s handicap accessible. There is a small municipal parking lot in the back and street parking, but remember First Avenue is home to several restaurants and two theaters. 

Cost – Low to moderate

What we liked – The airy design; the big TVs at the bar; the friendly, unhurried service; the well-made cocktails; the handy elevator; and the fun energy of Atlantic Highlands complete with a short drive to see the terrific view of the New York skyline. We give it 4 and a quarter Js 

The Atlantic House is located at 67 First Ave. in Atlantic Highlands. 848-300-2408. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 10 pm. Closed Sundays and Mondays. TheAtlanticHouseNJ.com 

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