Thursday Restaurant Pick: The Sand Bar
Brielle Yacht Club Marina, 201 Union Lane, Brielle NJ (732) 528-7750
The Sand Bar Restaurant sits peacefully on the waterfront of the Manasquan River, overlooking the Brielle Yacht Club. On the February evening we visited, the waters were calm and the empty docks awaiting the arrival of boats that signals summer at the Jersey Shore. But it wasn’t always this peaceful. During Hurricane Sandy the massive boat docks were under water, while wind driven waves battered the sides of the restaurant. The train tracks, clearly visible from the upstairs bar, disappeared. The river completely surrounded the small structure, filling the lower storage level and flooding the surrounding streets with debris filled storm waters. When the storm abated and the staff returned to assess the damage they counted themselves among the lucky.
As we ate, our bartender, Jessica, told us what happened in the days following Hurricane Sandy. The building was still standing, the bar and restaurant intact, and while the lower level contents were destroyed, the building itself was not greatly damaged.
Unfortunately, the neighborhood all around them lay in shambles. Many of the Sand Bar’s regular customer's homes were heavily damaged – an all too familiar sight along the Jersey Shore. And so the staff of the Sand Bar began cooking. They set up grills and propane stoves in the parking lot and emptied the contents of their freezers into large pots of shrimp, scallops, penne and lobster. From dawn till dusk, everything on the menu was prepared and given away free to whomever needed it. Like a little oasis in all of the post storm chaos, the parking lot of the Sand Bar served as a makeshift distribution center for food, clothing, and water.
After the roads were cleared and the power eventually restored, the Sand Bar was back in business.
"The old memories may have been washed away, but you’ll leave with new ones here at the Sand Bar."
On this Friday night in February we were in the mood for some scenic river views and so we headed over for what turned out to be a delightful evening. There is a formal dining room, but we were in the mood for something more casual and sat at the bar overlooking the river in the pub room.
Jessica filled us in on the specials and offered some menu recommendations. They offer a full service menu, in addition to a bar specials menu with very reasonable prices with appetizers from $5 - $12. The Spicy Blackened Tuna & Atlantic Cod Bites were delicious as were the Sirloin Bites, stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese, wrapped in bacon and served with a spicy Cajun cream sauce.
The menu has something for everyone, delicious salads ($8 - $12), burgers, sandwiches (all under $12), and full course dinners. My particular sandwich favorites are the French Onion Sandwich and the 1/2 lb. Sirloin Burger. The entrées are equally diverse, with steak, seafood, chicken, and pasta dishes, all very well prepared and reasonably priced. Click here for the full menu
In the summer, the Sand Bar is a favorite for boaters. Come as you are and enjoy lunch on the outside deck. TheManasquan Water Taxi makes its berth here and is available for sightseeing, fireworks cruises, or general barhopping among the waterfront bars.
Winter or summer, you'll find the staff of the Sand Bar friendly and the food delicious. Food and drink specials are plentiful, with live music on the weekends. If you go, there is plenty of parking, plus you can also come by boat or water taxi. Reservations are not required but it does fill up quickly in the summer so plan accordingly. The bar is geared toward adults but families will have plenty of room and the same sweeping waterfront views in the upstairs dining room. Dress is casual, shirts and shoes required, and the atmosphere is typical of a friendly seaside restaurant.