Pascal & Sabine, Asbury Park, NJ
Monday, December 17, 5:07 p.m.
Where I Sat
I arrived on a blustery evening during the beginning of the week before Christmas. It being barely into happy hour during this pre-holiday crunch, I anticipated an empty space. To my pleasant surprise, however, the bar was just under a bustle. I wandered into the “big” bar inside the doorway to the left, passing other super-chic bar-in-the-round just beyond the the hostess station. I sat toward the far end—deep inside the bar—lined with gray leather semicircular booths, each built around a gorgeous white marble table.
Who Served Me
Ally, eager to confirm the proper spelling, “that’s two l’s and a y!” Joe, her barback, was busy passing her back and forth, wiping down glassware, placing ‘setups’ for guests ordering food, and grabbing waters for those in need. They skated by each other as if in an intricate dance; Ally definitely the lead.
Bartender’s Favorite Bite
Ally was not the kind of bartender to hang and chat. Attentive and—like a shark—always on the move. Keeping busy between customers, setup, supporting floor staff, and more. So when I caught her eye for a fleeting moment, I blurted out, “What’s your favorite menu item?” She paused for a quick sec then said, “I’d have to say the drumsticks.” She went on, “They are really good and there are a lot of them. They are just so big and juicy. I mean there are only three but they are really meaty and filling.”
“I totally agree,” Joe chimes in, thrilled to contribute his deep knowledge of a good wing. The reference was a happy-hour feature: chicken drumsticks with black pepper barbecue glaze.
The Vibe and My Vantage Point
Sexy. Chic. Swanky. French. Pascal & Sabine offers all the ingredients for guests to create a fun night out. Dark lighting, pops of red, a great blend of tables, bar seating, banquettes, and long tables. Two gorgeous bars and floor-to-ceiling windows. It’s a great spot for a girls’ night out, a romantic date, or celebratory group dinner. I’ve been lucky enough to be here for two of those three scenarios and both were quite memorable.
Today, I loved it just the same, and the cool thing? About midway through my experience, my phone was dying so I had to move my bar seat. Ally directed me toward the front of the bar and said to Joe, “Can you please reseat her at the booth?” The booth? What did she mean? So as I arrived at the front, short side of the bar, just beyond the hostess station, was a double booth seat replacing the expected last two bar stools. This cozied-up-against-the-bar location would be the perfect spot for a tryst.
What Quenched My Thirst
Hemingway Daiquiri, $7 (same price as all happy hour cocktails)
White rum, lime juice, grapefruit juice, Luxardo Maraschino
Sultry and refreshing, this daiquiri contradicts the usual expectation of a frozen drink that’s conjured when the word is uttered or read on a cocktail menu (think curvy glass with an umbrella). This wonderful bevvy served in a sexy coup glass lived up to its namesake’s bravado and swagger, as it was at once captivating and easy. The tart finish kept me going back for another sip and the deep, dark Luxardo cherry sorta made the final sip the very best one. Said cherry offered dreamy punch to the final swirl of grapefruity deliciousness.
What Fed My Soul
Smoked paprika, pickled red onion (pictured at top)
I am a sucker for the simplicity of a good deviled egg so was super jazzed to see this on the menu. The dish arrived in grand splendor–two lovely eggs halved, filled with the subtle yellow filling sprinkled with golden red paprika and green chives. The first bite revealed a firm white, the center reminiscent of a horseradish overtone. I quickly changed my opinion and determined it was perhaps more dijon. When I went back for a second bite, I realized what was missing for me: the texture was aqueous, missing the depth and creamy consistency I’m used to in a deviled egg. The yolky center was hefty enough to stay on a spoon if tested. The eggs were indeed cooked as promised and the flavor profile lovely, however, I don’t think I’d rush to order this again.
Beer-Braised Berkshire Pork Vol-au-Vent, $7
Three pork-topped mini pastry puffs
No matter how old I get, the truth is, expectation is tricky business. I read the description and on this chilly night felt drawn to what I anticipated being a sumptuous single puff filled with braised pulled pork deeply steeped in beer and other flavors. There is not one part of that expectation that delivered. Shame. On. Me. Arriving like open-faced mini pot pies, the pork was finely minced, making it almost impossible to discern the seasoning. The dish was simple and well flavored. I was wishing for a larger mound. The puff pastry’s buttery goodness overwhelmed the amount of pork that sat atop the puff.
Escargot, $10 for 6 (or 12 $15)
Six served on an escargot plate drenched in herb butter
Just before the escargot arrived, Joe dropped off a basket of bread that was sliced super thin and served with a mini puck of butter topped with coarse sea salt. The plump snails were barely visible beneath the luscious pool of herby butter, which was just waiting to welcome every piece of that fresh bread.
Beyond the Bar
Right on Cookman in Asbury Park, Pascal & Sabine is the creation of the Smith,which also owns Porta, Little Buddy Hideaway, and more. The people at Smith know how to create a truly atmospheric experience. Pascal & Sabine is located close to other great spots and it’s worth building a full night around your dinner there.
When to Show
Monday through Thursday: 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. (kitchen serves until 10:00 p.m.)
Friday and Saturday: 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. (kitchen serves until 1:00 a.m.)
Sunday: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.; kitchen serves until 10:00 p.m.
Open New Year’s Eve 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. on January 1 (kitchen serves until 11:00 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.
Pascal & Sabine
601 Bangs Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712