Here's the restaurant I chose for my first meal out and what my first dinner-out choices were :)

(Scallop Crudo was a special and an amazing, refreshing appetizer at Drifthouse)

I will try to never again take for granted how great it is to dine out. It has never felt better to go out for a drink and a meal than it did yesterday when restaurants in NJ were legally allowed to reopen for outdoor dining.

So I grabbed my friend Kathy (not literally, of course, due to social distancing) and we nabbed a reservation at a celebrity chef's restaurant on the ocean in Sea Bright: Drifthouse by David Burke where, when you sit on the second-story deck, you have perfect views of the ocean on one side and the Shrewsbury River on the other! I don't see how topping those views is even possible!

We were greeted by two of the best managers around (thanks for making us feel so welcome, Nick and Rich!) and, truly, all of the staff was so happy to be there and for us to arrive...because we were the very first customers to walk in and dine again!

(The hands-down, best appetizer on Planet Earth: Drifthouse's Clotheshanger Bacon!)

So with that early-evening view, some nice background music, and a fun girlfriend to dine with, it was wine for her and the perfect margarita for me (rocks and salt) to start.

For appetizers we chose the Scallop Crudo special and David Burke's famous, not-to-be-outdone Clothes Hanger Bacon. If you go to Drifthouse and don't get this dish, you are missing out on one of the best and most original dishes you will ever have the pleasure of eating. These thick hunks of maple and black pepper-glazed bacon are hanging by clothespins from a clothes hanger string and are literally torched at your table!!!!!

For my main course I chose the Ginger & Black Pepper Salmon with a swirl of Pesto which was amazing, with a side of Crispy Brussel Sprouts (in preserved lemon, rum raisins and maple bacon.)

(Ginger & Black Pepper Salmon at Drifthouse)

And for dessert, I had to go for David Burke's famous cheesecake lollipop tree with a side of fresh potted cream. And a cappuccino!

If tables weren't at a premium and if I didn't have to get home for yet another Zoom meeting, I would have stayed even longer to soak up the atmosphere and watch the sun set over an after-dinner drink, but I will most certainly be back!

But I must say I felt safe dining outside at Drifthouse. We wore masks to get to our table, and to use the bathroom, and took them off to dine, but the wait staff and management had masks and gloves on the entire time, and there was plenty of room between tables, plus we were outside so it didn't feel confining or as if we were in anyone's air space...even the wait staff kept a respectable distance when taking our orders.

(This Cheesecake Lollipop Tree is the ultimate Drifthouse dessert!)

Drifthouse by David Burke is located on Ocean Avenue in Sea Bright. Reservations are required. CLICK HERE for details or email Nicholas@drifthousedb.com.

Meanwhile, I already have my next restaurant picked out: 618 in Freehold! After Monmouth County residents chose that as #1 in their 12 Restaurants with Outdoor Seating You Want to Dine At  I must check it out!

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