Soup’s On at Monmouth County’s Hidden Gem [REVIEW]
Having lived in Red Bank for a couple months now, Duzzy and I have our go-to spots for shopping, hanging out, and of course, eating.
There's one restaurant we visit time and time again, and it's time to let the secret out.
It's called The Chowda House, a fairly small place on Bridge Ave. across from the Red Bank train station.
This nautically-themed restaurant specializes in seafood, (They do offer some dishes for the non-fish eaters, but I'll admit, I haven't given any of them a try.) and as the name suggests, there's always clam chowder at the ready.
Duzzy orders New England clam chowder at every possible opportunity, so of course that's always what he starts with. I have to be very in the mood for the New England-style, and I find this one to be a little thinner than most I've had, but the boy loves it.
I'm more into the Manhattan chowder, which is flavorful and I think nicely seasoned. Both styles are full of vegetables, potatoes, and nice, big chunks of fresh clams which are always well-cooked -- never rubbery.
For me, Manhattan clam chowder from The Chowda House never disappoints.
If you don't want to start with soup, I'd skip the clam cakes (eh), but definitely try the whole belly fried clams. Again, well cooked, with nice fresh flavor. I recommend either the cocktail sauce or their Tabasco aioli (a kicked-up tartar sauce) to go with it.
There is also a raw bar available with clams, oysters, and shrimp cocktail.
As for a main course, I've enjoyed the pan sauteed ('dry') scallops, which were also nicely-seasoned and served with rice pilaf and steamed veggies.
If you're not looking for a health-conscious meal, the fish and chips is quite good. The batter comes out crispy and the hand-cut fries are awesome.
They offer daily specialswhich have featured items like grilled mahi mahi, smoked whiting, and grilled shrimp with Provencal sauce.
My favorite entree so far has definitely been the steamed mussels cooked in a white wine garlic sauce. You can get it with or without linguine. I ordered it without, and it was still more than enough. The best part is absolutely the sauce at the bottom. I asked for extra bread to sop it up, it was that good. Deliciously salty with a good amount of spicy kick from the fresh garlic (that's heaven for an Italian girl!) and just an overall nice balance of acidity and flavor.
The mussels were all perfectly cooked, and much to my delight, I didn't find a grain of sand. Awesome awesome dish.
The menu is small, but what they offer is done well. The staff is all really friendly too, which totally adds to the experience.
If you can make it to dessert, give the sand dollars a try. It's basically a bag of fried dough balls (like zeppoles) covered in cinnamon sugar. You get a ton of them, so you can definitely share them with a couple people. I'd recommend them with some vanilla ice cream for sure.
Bonus: it's BYOB.
If you're in downtown Red Bank for a meal, walk down Monmouth St. towards the train station and give The Chowda House a try.