A Lady Walks into a Bar…Barnacle Bill’s

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Jersey Bites, Barnacle Bill's

Where I Was

Barnacle Bill’s, Rumson, NJ

When, Exactly

Wednesday, September 26, 7:52 p.m.

Where I Sat

I almost didn’t have a place to sit, as it was a packed house on this happy hump day! With a not-so-large space to begin with, the bar was crowded, with some spots two layers deep and it was rocking! Live music was just about to start when I arrived. The bar offers prime seating and was filled with local music and sports fans who came to enjoy the best of both worlds—a great menu and games showcased on multiple screens.

Who Served Me

Mike. And well before I learned the most astounding fact (that he’s worked there for 26 years), I watched as he drifted easily and effortlessly, floating throughout the back bar: taking orders, socializing and serving drinks. It was all perfectly blended into what presented like a single task—attending to you, and you alone. Twenty-six years! He hardly looked old enough—and this is only his side hustle.

Bartender’s Favorite Bite

Mike suggests the smoked trout. I ask why. He explains, “‘Cause it’s delicious!” I guess it’s just that simple.

The Vibe and My Vantage Point

Full-on party! As you open the sticky door, the crowd almost greets you at the entrance. The intimacy, warmth, and good vibes wash over you the moment you step inside. It’s loud, and there’s lots of movement with servers whisking by, crowds of people waiting for tables or a bar stool, people moving toward the groove of the live music. The bar crowd is boisterous and rowdy but not overbearing.

I took the only open seat by the corner, just down from the hostess station, looking out toward the Navesink. The talented Dave McCarthy was just taking the stage to thrill us with an awesome acoustic set. He started with “Darling Be Home Soon” and delivered classics from the ’60s right on through current day. A talented musician, he brought interesting arrangements and continued to beckon whoops and cheers from the crowd.

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Jersey Bites, Barnacle Bill's

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Jersey Bites, Barnacle Bill's

What Quenched My Thirst

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Jersey Bites, Barnacle Bill's
Hendricks and Tonic

Hendricks & Tonic, $10
Hendricks, tonic, and a lime

Sometimes a woman craves simplicity. I sat in the last seat at the bar, somewhat triumphant for the seat-score but a little wary from what already felt like a long work week. So I settled in to enjoy a few hours of adulting on this happy hump day and I wanted a simple, yet fully satisfying grown-up cocktail. So I ordered my fave. For those more interested in the specialty cocktail experience here at Barnacle’s it consists of daiquiris, the requisite mojito, and the Long Island iced tea. Enough said.

What Fed My Soul

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Jersey Bites, Barnacle Bill's
Shrimp and Vegetable Dumplings

Shrimp and vegetable dumplings, $10.95

You may ask, “Why would she order such as dish,” typically reserved for menus at continental or Asian-inspired spots? Here’s why: I’ve heard they are a must and indeed they were. Six lightly pan-fried dumplings presented on a simple plate with a small ramekin of dipping sauce. In spite of its “burger joint” feel, Barnacle’s has its foodie moments and this is for sure one of them. Delicate, finely minced shrimp and cabbage perhaps some shallot fill the delicate wonton wrapper. Each was tender with the lightest crisp from the one side that was pan seared just right. The dipping sauce, while presenting as plain soy, even had its own little something special that made it worth a double dip!

A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Jersey Bites, Barnacle Bill's

10 oz Hamburger, $9.95
Served with cheddar cheese and sautéed onions

Burgers at Barnacle’s are solid! On a plate with a pickle spear and potato chips, this burger delivers what most don’t. Great ground beef, cooked how you ordered it instead of well done which seems to be the lazy default setting of most bar burgers. The onions, to my delight, were red, so the caramelization added a super sweet element to the experience. (The burger can also be ordered on an English muffin with bacon and cheddar cheese sauce, which I promise I will be coming back for!) I ordered the fries—they a first love, And they were steak-cut fries: crispy on the outside and creamy steaming softness on the inside. So good!
A Lady Walks into a Bar, Gabrielle Garofalo, Jersey Bites, Barnacle Bill's
Fresh Sea Scallops

Fresh Sea Scallops, $22.95 (fried, baked or broiled)

Ordered broiled, these 10 plump and perfectly broiled scallops arrived in a steaming hot dish with a side of sweet potato fries. (They’re traditionally served with a baked potato). A large chunk of lemon on the side invited you to draw out the full flavor of the scallops. And indeed they were sweet and rich, with the essence of sea water gently touching the palate as I savored the full experience. The sweet potato fries offered an ideal crispness—a fully delightful and simple dish. So satisfyingly good. Sometimes simplicity just is.

Beyond the Bar

Located in the shadows of the Navesink-River-spanning Oceanic Bridge, Barnacle Bill’s is a staple of Rumson and offers private docking at its separate marina.

When to Show

Lunch served Friday to Sunday, starting at 11:30 a.m.
Dinner served daily, starting at 4:30 p.m.
Live music every Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday

Know Before You Go!
Barnacle Bill’s is open year-round. Please check the website for more information on specials, happy hours, and more. Hours, prices, and menus are subject to change.

Barnacle Bill’s
1 First Street
Rumson, NJ 07760

This article was not paid for, nor influenced by, the restaurant/bar featured in this column.

A Lady Walks into a Bar™ is owned and trademarked by Gabrielle Garofalo.