Nauti Bar by David Burke, Sea Bright, NJ
Friday, November 30, 2:59 p.m.
Where I Sat
I arrived just as the hour struck 3 p.m. (opening time at Nauti). The bar was empty with the exception of two maintenance fellows working on the sliding glass door closure, the bartender who was busily decorating the newly placed Christmas tree with blue and white Hanukkah lights, and two kitchen masters—Francisco and Kristin—prepping behind the bar. So of course, I went straight for the sweetest seat in the house: corner spot, next to the window looking out to the great blue beyond.
Who Served Me
Michele, who introduced herself after having left her place at the tree to swing back around the bar. She joined Nauti after the reopening a couple of months back. Bright blue eyes matched only by her sparkly demeanor and big smile. Before long the bar was filling up, and Michele did her part to tuck everyone in one by one, like every great bartender should.
Bartender’s Favorite Bite
As always, I ask my bartender her favorite item on the menu. Without much provocation, Michele comes right out with it. “On the snack side,” she said, “oh, the clothesline bacon. It’s such a thick cut. It’s not the thin bacon you get at breakfast. And it’s just, the maple. I am such a bacon freak and this is just the best. It will single-handedly make me resize my wardrobe, at least one size up!” I loved the way she spoke as if meditating all the while. (And more on the bacon below.)
The Vibe and My Vantage Point
Easy, breezy, full exhale. What more could you want from a tiki bar? Simple, glass enclosed, and set out on the sand, facing the ocean. It’s a magical place off season. As a former member of the Driftwood Cabana Club (home of Drifthouse by David Burke), I loved the tiki, but it was no Nauti Bar then. The drinks were bar swill and the cups plastic. No food in sight and no vibe whatsoever. The new change is a complete breath of fresh air. Not because the decor is markedly different or even because the bar menu now includes really decent wine and beers. No longer just for summer lovin’, Nauti is now a real destination thanks to the simple-yet-poignant culinary magic only David Burke brings.
What Quenched My Thirst
Pisco Spiced Cookie, $12
Holiday goodness in a glass with a sprinkle of chocolate. I am really not your typical creamy, after-dinner-drink kinda woman, but the one cocktail I wanted was just removed from the menu for the season. So, with a limited specialty drink menu (and even though Michele will make anything), she recommended the “cookie” due to its irresistible appeal and customer compliments she’s received. Interestingly, it wasn’t syrupy sweet like I anticipated; it was straightforward yet potent. I can’t imagine having more than one but this one was an absolute delight!
What Fed My Soul
With pickle, lemon
Lord of the Wings, $12
Thai style, with shishito peppers, radishes, scallions, chili sauce
Grilled to perfection, this plentiful pile of chicken wings arrived unlike any before. Glistening with a gooey, colorful topping of Thai chili sauce, scallions, and razor-thin sliced radishes, the colors popping off the plate were only matched by the aroma wafting up. The shishito peppers wilted beneath the heft of the wings, adding another layer of gorgeous light green color and smoky mild peppery goodness. This was a really fresh take on the regular ol’ chicken wing.
Prosciutto and Arugula Pie, $13
With grapes, pine nuts, Parmesan
As you may know, I love a prosciutto-arugula combo. The pies are really cooked just right: a bit larger than a single-serve with generous amounts of gorgeous green arugula combined with ribbons of prosciutto. The “wow” came from the sweet pop of slightly roasted red grapes against the nutty charm of the tiny pignoli. A nice touch of contrast for a pizza combo that’s become so ubiquitous.
Located on the property of the Driftwood Cabana Club, Nauti Bar offers a true respite from the dreary days of winter with good vibes and a great view. Happy hours feature three-course tasting menus and 25% off wine selections. Of course, the bar is game-time ready, complete with multiple TV screens.
When to Show
Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday: 3:00 to 10:00 p.m.
Friday: 3:00 to 11:00 p.m.
Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Know Before You Go!
Happy hour takes place daily. Please check the website for more information.
Hours, prices, and menus are subject to change.