A Lady Walks into a Bar: 26 West on the Navesink

26 west signWhere I Was

26 West on the Navesink, in Red Bank, NJ

When, Exactly
Tuesday, January 9,  6:47 p.m.
Where I Sat

At the front, smaller, more intimate bar where only Rob serves you. Literally. When he’s off, the front bar is closed.

front bar at 26 West on the Navesink in Red Bank

Who Served Me

Rob, employed since December 2017

Bartender’s Favorite Bite

“I really, really like the buffalo cauliflower and the fried Brussels sprouts are also very good.”

The Vibe & My Vantage Point

Beachy elegance. White with navy blue, accented with wood and wicker. I loved the easy upscale feel without a trace of pretension. The restaurant featured two bars: the smaller, which I prefer, hugs the front of the space. On one end sits a petite raw bar and two TV screens sit atop but the center is beautifully adorned with proper top-shelf liquor bottles of all shapes and colors.

The back bar is larger, set inside the dining room and features multiple TV screens — more lively and tons of seats. The back of the dining room opens to the river with large glass garage doors, surely open in warmer weather.

What Quenched My Thirst
The Bramble

The glass, mounded with ice, was chilled perfectly—tart and sweet. Strong, clean, and crisp with a splash of blackberry juice from the fresh berries rose up one side of the glass; my photo doesn’t do the beauty of it justice. Muddled blackberries and fresh lemon juice rose above the strength of the gin. One was all I needed…

What Fed My Soul
The good news? I arrived during Appy Hour (yes, Appy Hour!) so got my first two choices into the kitchen before the strike of 7 p.m. when the Appy Hour menu disappears for the night.
Buffalo Cauliflower
Buffalo Cauliflower

This unexpected and delightful dish exploded with vinegar as my teeth sank into a lightly crisped cauliflower blossom which sat atop a bed of Buffalo sauce and in shallow pool of luscious, homemade, herby (thyme, to be exact) blue cheese with lovely chunks for texture but not to overwhelm. A surprisingly fresh choice—and trust me when I tell you I’m not a huge fan of Buffalo anything other than wings!

sliders from 26 West on the Navesink

A straightforward, if not totally original presentation of two lovely mini cheeseburgers with a silver cup of fries in wax paper. Simple yes and delightfully cooked medium rare complete with dripping juices…just scrumptious. Surprisingly, the rolls, while not homemade, were soft, airy and the perfect pillow to the heartiness of the burger and slice of American. The fries were simple perfection: well salted, not overdone and almost hollow they were so light. Really? The perfect fry to match the perfect slider.

octopus 26 west
Charred octopus, three-bean ragu, port wine syrup, and grilled lime
Now to say I have been eating octopus a long time is relative, right? Let’s just say I’m well over 30 and I’ve been eating octopus at virtually every Christmas Eve dinner since I was about 5 years old. Fair to say I know a thing or two about this wonderful delicacy. But let’s be honest. Octopus has become ubiquitous so it’s sorta hard to impress, wouldn’t you agree? Well look no further, as this dish delivers a stunning new rendition. The outrageously savory, robust bean ragu made of black, kidney, pintos, combined with the smoky, tender, perfectly grilled octopus topped off with the subtle sweetness of the port and the brightness of the grilled lime which I squeezed on top was simply spectacular. My taste buds did happy dances with every blissful bite.
risotto 26 west
Butternut Squash Risotto

Wow. Silky, with a nice balance of freshly ground black pepper and a slightly crisp shallot among the al dente risotto. The butternut squash was pureéd to perfection, rich in flavor, but not overpowering. Most often butternut squash risottos and pastas are served with the added protein or unnecessary crispy sage; but just as they did with their sliders, 26 West kept this simple and elegant. Generously portioned for a side dish, this was the perfect ending to a delicious culinary adventure.

Beyond the Bar
View of the Navesink river at 26 West on the Navesink
Gorgeous view of the Navesink River
Available to rent for private events.

Weekly Specials and Appy Hour Monday to Friday, click the link for details.
Appy Hour is hosted Monday through Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. at both our bars and high-top tables; featuring $2 off glasses of wine, half off draft and $5 house cocktail.

When to Show

Monday: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Tuesday and Wednesday: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Thursday: 12 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Friday and Saturday: 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Editor’s note: Prices and hours are subject to change.

Know Before You Go!

Restaurants change things all the time so please check 26 West on the Navesink’s website.

26 West on the Navesink
26 West Front Street
Red Bank

This article was not paid for, or influenced by, the restaurant/bar featured in this column.