Bistro 44 in Toms River

Having watched Toms River chef, Erik Weatherspool, dice the competition on The Food Network’s “Chopped,” I decided that I had to try his Washington Street restaurant, Bistro 44. My dining partner and I were not disappointed. The food was sublime, the upscale atmosphere relaxed and the service impeccable.

I’ll start with the most important part of the meal: dessert. Our curiosity was piqued. We ordered the Orange Tiramisu and the Citrus Basil Crème Brule. Our waitress was absolutely spot-on with her recommendation of the Tiramisu. The creamy filling and lady fingers were divine with a bright orange flavor that lingered on the palate, not overly sweet or creamy, perfectly balanced. We were a bit disappointed with the Citrus Basil Crème Brule.  The sugar was slightly overcooked so the burnt flavor overpowered the delicate basil custard.

For our lunch entrees, I ordered the Tilapia Salad with heirloom tomato, corn and sunflower seeds and vinaigrette dressing. The fish was perfectly seasoned, flaky and moist. The light vinaigrette didn’t overpower the delicate greens and accented the tomatoes (my first heirlooms of the season).

My dining partner had the Crab Cake Salad, which came with two small crab cakes on a bed of mixed greens, cucumbers and tomatoes with a vinaigrette dressing. The salad was enjoyed with a cup of corn and crab soup which had large chunks of crab and wasn’t overly creamy; light but filling and very tasty.

We left full, but not stuffed, having had a perfect summer lunch. We agreed to add this to our list of great places in the area and look forward to going back (hopefully the Tiramisu will still be on the dessert menu).

Bistro 44

44 Washington Street
Toms River, New Jersey

Victoria Hurley-Schubert, Regional Editor Ocean County, is a true Jersey girl. Raised in Marlboro,Vikki  has lived in the area her whole life. She loves to experiment in the kitchen and is happiest when feeding a houseful of friends and family. A journalist for 10 years, she now serves on the staff of the Princeton Packet. Vikki is happiest on the road, so it should be no Surprise she is a travel agent specializing in Disney destinations.   Follow her on Twitter @vikkihs.