On Sunday Rachel and I had nothing to do. The weather had just cleared out, the day was gorgeous and my Mercedes mechanic recommended that I go drive around a hundred miles on a highway to clean out the fuel injection system in the 1987 560SEL with an engine treatment. We decided to head down to the shore to look at some nice scenery, go do some semi-touristy stuff, and take in some seafood.
Our first stop was the Mount Mitchill scenic overlook in the Atlantic Highlands, the highest point on the Atlantic seaboard.
The scenic overlook is on an ideal vantage point to see all five Boroughs of New York City simultaneously.
Click on the “Read the rest of this entry” link below to see what else we did down at the shore.
The park is also the site of the Monmouth County 9/11 Memorial. An American Eagle holds a piece of the World Trade Center and a granite pedestal lists the names of Monmouth County residents that died in the attacks.
These “cat tails” which are all over the park are very common to this part of central New Jersey.
200 Ocean Avenue (Rt 36)
North Long Branch, NJ
After enjoying the scenic overlook, we drove down RT 36 a bit until we encountered this curious structure in Long Branch:
Given that we were starting to get a little hungry, and my curiosity was piqued, we went inside. Rachel wasn’t crazy about going to eat hot dogs but my junk food Spidey sense was tingling, and from the size of the crowd inside, I could tell that this was a true find. Man were we glad we went in.
The original Windmill location is a legendary hot dog place that has been serving huge foot-long hot dogs since 1964.
The Windmill’s huge 1/4lb, foot long hot dogs are made by Sabrett (Marathon Enterprises) but are a pork and beef combo. Rather than being deep fried like many Jersey dogs, these are cooked on the griddle and burst open from the juices rupturing the natural casing.
The condiment bar is quite comprehensive.
We got ours with hot onions and put mustard and sauerkraut on it afterwards. I also put a bit of chili sauce on my half as well.
The fries are your standard fast food frozen crinkle cuts, but they are enhanced by the fact they are deep fried in lard. Yeah!!!!
The original Windmill location gets a lot of action during the summer.
Despite its small, cramped size, the place is really well staffed and service is speedy.
The original Windmill is the only one of the six locations that actually looks like a Windmill, and you can sit at the top overlooking Ocean Avenue.
After sharing a hot dog and fries, we went on our way, heading towards Deal and Belmar.
RT 36 spans several major water crossings, so its not unusual to get stuck at a drawbridge.
Belmar has a really nice beach area but because we just got hit with the remnants of Tropical Storm Ernesto the day before, the waters were really rough and not many people were actually swimming. There were a lot of surfers in wetsuits getting wiped out, though. Here’s some video I took of the serious surf.
Union Landing Restaurant
622 Green Ave, Brielle, NJ
After hanging out on the beach a bit, we headed on down to the Manasquan/Brielle area for dinner. After stopping into a local Weichert Realtors for recommendations, we ended up at Union Landing restaurant, a local favorite for fresh seafood since 1979 and run by the Schmidt family and a CIA trained chef. By all accounts it is the most serious seafood restaurant in the entire area.
Union Landing sits right on the water and is accessible right from the marina for hungry boaters looking for some serious seafood. It gets much of its fish supplied by local day boats.
Union Landing has a nice Koi pond area, although it was overflowed with lily pads that day.
The raw bar by the patio dining area.
The patio bar.
A view of the marina by the patio.
Patio dining area.
I had myself a nice Smithwick’s while Rachel had a Long Island Iced tea, which she pronounced good but very potent.
A spicy crab soup Rachel ordered on a second visit.
The patio dining menu is appetizer and sandwich focused, although you can get some of Union Landing’s more popular items there. Rachel and I started off with Clams Oreganata and Clams Casino before we went inside. The Clams Casino was a delicious but unusual preparation, using tomatoes, peppers and onions along with the usual bacon.
Clams Casino Close-Up.
It started to get chilly and looked like it was going to rain, so we headed into the main dining room. We shared another appetizer, the “Shrimp in a Blanket”, which was broiled jumbo shrimp wrapped with bacon, sitting in a vinegar/Worcestershire sauce dip.
We also shared a bowl of their Manhattan Clam Chowder which was also excellent.
I ordered another beer, Sol from Mexico.
A crab and spinach dip we ordered on a different visit.
I was most impressed with their Saffron Risotto, which had nice jumbo shrimps and fresh dry diver scallops, which were supplied by a day boat docked at the marina. Really nice seafood stock plus perfectly cooked Arborio rice and just the right amount of lemon juice and saffron really made the dish.
A wonderful seafood scampi pasta we had on a second visit.
Rachel got a cold seafood salad with mozzarella and artichokes on a second visit.
Rachel had the Grouper filet with Parmesan cheese crust. This was served with the house potatoes, which are large baked potatoes that are sliced up and then deep fried, leaving the most amazing crispy crust on them.
We were pretty stuffed so we didn’t get anything from this dessert tray, impressive though it was.
Ricky’s Candy Cones and Chaos
86 Broad St, Red Bank, NJ
After giving our stomachs a rest for about an hour, we ended up at Ricky’s in Red Bank, a local ice cream chain and candy store.
This is the part of the store that keeps dentists in business. If you don’t have a major dental plan I would strongly advise backing off.
The Pez and novelty section.
I had a small cup of the strawberry.
The main selling point of Ricky’s is the fact that it has an unlimited toppings bar, so you can keep coming back and try them all if you want. Like I did.
The toppings bar.