Where I Was
B2 Bistro + Bar, Red Bank, NJ
Monday, November 5, 1:01 p.m.
Where I Sat
As I approached the bar, the only two gentlemen sitting about midway down stood and left. On this dreary Monday it wasn’t a shock to see the bar area quiet. Fine by me! I walked the long length of the bar to the front window, where I settled in and hung my bag on the ever-so-lovely bag hook, a fan fave and, frankly, a pertinent piece of hardware for the exceptional bar experience. I had a nice full-line view of the bar and open kitchen, and watched the actions and expressions of the creators coming in and out of frame. A constant view of the flames fluttering inside the brick pizza oven brought on a certain kind of zen.
Who Served Me
Raul, a young, energetic bartender appeared happy to have another patron to serve. After we chatted briefly, I learned that he holds a business degree and after spending a little time debating a career path in that area gravitated back to his happy place: behind the bar.
Bartender’s Favorite Bite
When I asked, Raul first says, “The burger,” but I question him further by opening up my question to beyond just lunch offerings. He takes a beat or two, then says, “Oh the roasted pig. They take pulled pork and,” he starts to move his hands like he’s forming a meatball, “…they press it together and then bake it in a pan.”
I jump in, “Like a crab cake?”
“Yeah, sort of. They form it into almost a patty and serve it with almonds and herbs, mmmm.” He proceeds to read the description from the menu, rolling his Rs in a way that made the dish sound even more delectable. The slow-cooked pig is featured on the dinner menu and its accoutrements include cassoulet of beans, feta, herb salad, and Marcona almonds.
The Vibe and My Vantage Point
B2 Bistro’s decor is fresh with a nice mix textures and mediums. Exposed brick, light and dark woods; a visibly open kitchen and a mix of hanging bare-Edison-bulb fixtures. I had a clear shot of the whole bar looking back toward the entrance, host station, and open kitchen, which, by the way, has bar stools pulled right up to the counter looking in. Next time I come, that’s where I’ll perch!
What Quenched My Thirst
3 Guys Walk into a Bar, $12
Great Kings scotch, Meletti Amaro, Licor 43, Angostura bitters, orange bitters
Seriously? Do we even have to discuss why I ordered this fantastic aperitif? I didn’t think so, nor did I even read the ingredients, I just said, “I’ll have the 3 Guys,” almost shouting it with exuberance. Who cared what was in it? They understood me already! This fierce tour de force presented as a sweet little cocktail in a martini glass, with a gorgeous curl of orange rind. Then WHACK. Right to the kisser: the lusty, caramel punch of the scotch against the sweet and citrus tanginess of the orange was seductive. The whole thing was fantastic: potent and punchy. And that’s just how a cocktail should be.
What Fed My Soul
Charcuterie + Cheese, $22 (selection of 3)
Served with homemade garlic croutons
I love me some antipasti, charcuterie, tapas—a delicious snack board in any language! I asked the chef to select some faves, asking for two cheeses and one meat. Holy gorgeousness of gorgeousness! I marveled at the mix of texture and color and viscosity before me. The grainy mustard was bright golden yellow, with the green popping from the pistachios plastered into the country paté, and the heaviness of golden honey dripping off the blue-veined tip of this triangle of Bayley Hazen Blue (Jasper Hill, VT). Absolute visual delight. And the taste? Mmmmmmmmm for days. Just the bread—that gorgeous herby crusty and smoky bread—could be eaten alone. But when it’s touched with a slight dollop of mustard and topped with a perfectly proportioned hunk of paté? It was almost too good to be true.
The Cremont (Vermont Creamery, VT) was a mix of goat and cow’s milk and was perfectly creamy with a touch of tang and went well with the fig paste. Now, let me spend a few moments on the pickle situation. If you don’t like pickles, please skip to the next section (I will NOT hold it against you!). If you do, take a seat. The homemade sweet gherkin, a pickle with which I have had a deep and long relationship for the past 45 years (so not kidding), had me really sort of frothy. And they were really impressive: sweet, a tiny bit tart, not overwhelming in either space, and with just the right crisp. I ate every one of them before moving onto the bread and butter pickles in their little pool of gorgeous brine speckled with seeds. Come hither my darlings—sliced thinner than their jarred counterparts—these precious pickles also hit the mark. Bullseye. The rest was all cake. The platter allows for so much enjoyment through experimentation of tastes, textures, and simple goodness of every kind! The platters are available at varying price points based on selections, from one to five choices or you can taste it all for $52.
Fall Pear Salad, $15
Goat cheese soufflé, red endive, pear cognac, vanilla vinaigrette
Presentation perfection once again. A gorgeous combo of reds filled the plate, the endive so finely sliced it wilted at the bottom of the plate with heavy, yet thinly sliced, expertly ripened pear topped with what presented like a mini wheel of Brie. On that was a dollop of dark, glistening compote. Whoa! I dove in, making sure I had a little of each component on the fork. Wait, what? My mouth hesitated in slight shock, but delight nonetheless. The soufflé was surprisingly (and somewhat disappointingly) cold. I expected the warm, fluffy experience that only a soufflé delivers to offset of the cold compote and salad base. Once I recovered from this sensory shockwave, I settled into the tastebuds and re-centered my focus on the spectacular flavor. The salad was pretty fantastic: the bitterness of the endive offset the sweetness of the compote and vinaigrette. I had a hard time finding the vanilla I was promised and while it was not what I had imagined, overall I enjoyed it.
Mushroom Pizza, $15
Truffle vin, fontina, herbs, créme fraiche
The pizza arrived on a hefty, wooden block with the perfect circle indentation where the pizza sat snuggly. I always giggle at the concept of a single-serve pizza. I guess maybe I’ve never put one away because I eat a ton before I even get to the pizza, but I digress.
Fontina wafting fragrantly off the wood, herbs and glistening mushrooms abundantly layered on top with the most gorgeous green herbs smattered about under drizzles of créme fraiche. Crunchy, silky, hearty, woody, creamy: all lingering on the palate as I breathe in the experience through every sense. Absolutely divine.
Beyond the Bar
Located away from the showiness of what everyone thinks when Red Bank comes to mind. Off the beaten path on Shrewsbury Avenue, B2 offers a great location with easy parking and ample space. A wonderful private room allows for some intimacy and celebrations away from the crowd. Daily happy hours.
When to Show
Monday through Friday: 3:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Saturday: Noon to 7:00 p.m.
Sunday: Noon to 9:00 p.m.
Monday through Saturday: Noon to 3:00 p.m.
Sunday and Monday: 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday to Saturday: 5:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Thursday through Saturday: 10:00 p.m. tomMidnight
Know Before You Go!
B2 promotes the fact that 91% of its menu is sustainable. The staff is deeply committed to working with NJ-based farms, purveyors, and fisheries to offer their customers the freshest and most authentic dining experience. B2 is open year-round.
Please check the website for more information. Hours, prices, and menus are subject to change.
B2 Bistro + Bar
141 Shrewsbury Avenue
Red Bank, NJ 07701
B2 has another location in Point Pleasant Beach.