Spent the last two Saturdays on the beach in Asbury Park. After we had enough of the beach, we walked down Cookman Ave to check out the restaurant scene. The first Saturday we were a little tired and "settled" for Old Man Rafferty's. There was a table available outside so we jumped on it, having seen lines at most other restaurants on Cookman Ave and Mattison Ave.
Food at Old Man Rafferty's was way above expectations. We expected something like TGI Fridays, but quality of food was much better. We ended up splitting the Italian Country salad and a Grilled Veggie Pizza. Both were great. Not gourmet, but way above average for pub/sportbar type restaurant.
The second week we explored a little more and ended up at Restaurant Plan B. Everything we ate was excellent. The only thing missing was a nice glass of wine (we didn't realize it was BYOB until we sat down). I started with peach gazpacho and had seared coho salmon with an amazing butter-based sauce for main course. My husband also had the peach gazpacho, but opted for the Tagliatelle with mixed vegetables for his main course. Fabulous presentation, great mixture of tastes and textures. Restaurant has the perfect ambiance for a beach town--upscale but not too snooty. My only complaint was the service. A little spotty, but they can work that out over time. (One server actually was curious as to what the mysterious brown liquid was in our glasses--we both had ordered iced teas!) Also note that the prix fixe menu advertised on their menu board is only for Tues-Thurs.
For our next trip, we're curious if anyone has tried Market in the Middle or Mattison Park? We also saw Taka, a Japanese/sushi joint that was crowded but didn't seem appealing for some reason. Any other recommendations for next time, in Asbury Park or nearby? After a day on the beach we aren't in the mood for five star, but something with entrees in the $20-30 range (or less) would be OK. We like almost any type of food. Also, if there are any notable local joints (pizza, sandwiches/subs/hoagies/heros, etc), we'd be interested in trying some Jersey Shore cuisine as well for lunch or dinner.