Jul 18, 2020

Outdoor Dining Doesn’t Just Mean Dinner – Let’s Brunch!

By Lori Draz

On June 15, a number of area restaurants reopened for outdoor dining, and you can bet I was one of the first people at the table. It was wonderful to sit in the company of eager diners, and there are a lot of them. At the time of this writing, things had not fully returned to normal, so be sure to call ahead for restrictions, reservations and weather updates. Dinner reservations were hard to come by, so this month we did brunch at one of the most popular places around, Turning Point.

There is an army of breakfast and brunch lovers out there who consider their first meal the highlight of their day.

Back in 1998, founder and CEO Kirk Ruoff, of Little Silver, created Turning Point to give those folks a place where they could enjoy high-quality breakfast, lunch and brunch offerings seven days a week. The restaurant took off quickly and developed a loyal legion of fans. It now has 16 locations, five in our area, and each of them is busy all the time. It has grown to become an area favorite, and every table was full on the day of our visit. We chose Turning Point of Long Branch, which is located in Pier Village because it has a large outdoor seating area and a terrific ocean view, although each of the other locations offers the same delicious options.

We assembled a group of five for this mid-day meal, and everyone really enjoyed their selections. The menu is not complicated – it is breakfast, lunch and brunch, but every meal is done consistently well.

The huge drink menu includes specialty concoctions like a Tropical Bliss or Banana Whip Smoothies, traditional, peppermint, S’mores and peanut butter hot chocolate, even a frozen hot chocolate. Add to that shakes, espressos, hot and cold teas, lemonade, lattes and cappuccino.

On the pure breakfast side, one of my favorite places to start is with fluffy pancakes. The varieties here include bourbon walnut banana, cinnamon roll, lemon blueberry, and there’s even a vegan pancake dish. Of course, there are waffles, including a tempting southern-inspired chicken and waffles dish, and they offer a cornbread French toast that comes with apples, honey walnuts and caramel.

Now for our brunch. Diner one went with the Classic Eggs Benedict with ham, tomato, hollandaise sauce and a big helping of cubed breakfast potatoes. He is a fan of the restaurant and this dish, and he said his favorite once again did not disappoint. The eggs were perfectly poached, and they happily substituted his choice of protein.

Diner two chose the savory El Fresco Quinoa Bowl. This big bowl of protein power is a mixture of quinoa, avocado, sautéed vegetables, black beans and a hint of chipotle, topped with fresh salsa. In general, the portions at Turning Point are large, and this was no exception. In fact, she brought home half the dish with her, commenting that the garden-fresh combination was a tasty blend of flavors you don’t see everywhere.

Diner three’s colorful selection was the Tuscany Omelette with roasted red peppers, baby spinach, spiced sausage and fresh mozzarella. He said his omelette was moist and well-seasoned with just a little touch of heat.

Diner four picked another healthy selection, the Martha’s Vineyard Salad, which was a hearty and beautiful combination of mixed greens, grilled chicken, strawberries, mango, blueberries, honey walnuts, all topped with a golden layer of toasted coconut. Part green salad, part fruit salad, and simply delightful to see and savor. She enjoyed every fresh bite.

I went with the Cranberry Walnut Chicken Salad Wrap that comes with chips and homemade salsa which tastes like it was just made, so good. This is a classic sandwich, wrapped in a whole wheat tortilla filled with baby spinach and chicken salad. I really loved its almost ambrosia-like taste. It’s a sweet and chunky choice.

There is no dessert, but ending the meal with a Salted Carmel Waffle with chopped bacon, vanilla mascarpone, brown sugar walnut crumble, caramel, coarse sea salt and a little whipped cream doesn’t sound like a bad idea at all – unless, of course, you would prefer a tropical crunch with bananas, strawberries, mangoes, granola and strawberry sauce.

Now let’s talk about the coffee. As you may recall, I am picky about my coffee and my review is simple: one more cup please! It is delicious, whether you order it straight up black, like I do, flavored, iced or whipped into a specialty drink. The secret is that the coffee is house-roasted. They also offer French press coffee for the real aficionados out there. No matter which you choose, you will be impressed by the full-bodied flavors.

Parking is different at each location.

 

COST – low

WHAT WE LIKED – the quality ingredients, the dependable menu, the generous portions and big variety of drinks. There is a big kids menu too. The coffee is just wonderful and the French press option is a real treat, not easy to come by in many places.

WHAT COULD BE BETTER – maybe a few more sandwiches

 

Turning Point has five locations in Holmdel, Little Silver, Long Branch, Manalapan and Sea Girt. 732-947-2400. TheTurningPoint.biz. Open seven days a week 7:30 am to 3 pm.

 

We give Turning Point four and three quarter Js