Restaurants & Bars 3

Serenity Cafe, Toms River

tom246 | Feb 17, 201208:27 AM

Our good friends like this place a lot and invited us to join them on Valetines evening for dinner.
Sat down for dinner and started to look over the menu. The room is pleasant, tables spaced apart allowing for conversation. They recently added an adjoining room, mainly for parties but also for busy nights, holidays etc. Business is obviously good.

The menu changes often and while its not a huge menu, there is a good array of choices. Starters were a couple of salads and our friends shared the calamari.
The arugula salad was Baby Arugula tossed with a Lemon Poppy Vinaigrette topped with a Hummus Crustini and oven Roasted Grape Tomatoes. This was tasty and very good starter.
Other salad was Blacked Romaine which was Lightly Blackened Romaine Heart dressed with Creamy Salsa Dressing and garnished with Crispy Tortillas. Another excellent salad.
The menu changes often but the Calamari is always there as it is a "signature". While it is certainly flavorful, I'm not a fan of highly dressed calamari, for me the calamari loses its crispy texture and becomes soggy and less interesting. Probably more an individual thing as it is a popular item.

Three of the four entrees were very good. My pork shanks were Slowly Braised Shanks served with Rosemary and Cranberry, English Cheddar and Bacon Bread Pudding and sauteed Spinach. Fork tender, creative dish and a bargain at $18.00. This example is seen in most apps and entrees at Serenity. Did not taste the Chilean Sea Bass or Short Ribs but they both looked great and received a big thumbs up from our friends.
Only disappointing entree for me was the Sauteed Large Shrimp Fra Diablo style over Linguini. Had some reasonable heat but the flavors were muted and a bit simple.

No dessert as we were all pretty full. The place was jumping on this holiday evening but the service overall was good. Its BYO and the prices won't break the bank.

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