Modine, Asbury Park, NJ
Monday, June 3, 4:03 p.m.
Where I Sat
Smack middle of the bar…I was first there so chose a prime spot where I was able to observe some serious behind-the-scenes bartending training happening.
Who Served Me
Brent. The bar manager at Modine who dreams and concocts most of what appears on the amazing craft cocktail menu.
Bartender’s Favorite Bite
“The gulf shrimp that’s on the menu right now—with the crab fried rice—is for sure my favorite thing,” Brent said, before easing back to finish the training session with his newest hire.
The Vibe and My Vantage Point
Somewhere between Miami Vice and The Great Gatsby is Modine, in a stunning building with simple-yet-thrilling art deco design and hanging greenery. Exquisite design detail is easily found for those who need that fix and the baby grand toward the vault a nod to old-school swagger.
What Quenched My Thirst
The Jillbilly, $8 (happy hour price; regular price $12)
Espolon Reposado tequila, Aperol, lime, agave, mezcal rinse presented with grapefruit slice, lime, and a half-rimmed glass of homemade chili lime salt
The color alone took my breath away and the thoughtful half-rimmed glass almost threw me into cardiac arrest; this all before my first sip. The evidence of a great mixologist is often found in the restraint or delicate touch and mindful detail. This was clearly no exception. The taste was insanely refreshing for a tequila at 4 p.m. on a Monday and it was all because of the sexy Aperol, aka the X-factor in this latest iteration of sexy drinks. The Aperol smoothed out the intensity of the tequila; the mezcal rinse a lovely touch to soften the sweetness, with the showstopper being the half-rimmed chili lime salt. It made the cocktail complete. Period. Stoked to go back and sample more cocktail creations this summer!
What Fed My Soul
Local Diver Scallop Hushpuppies, $11
Served eight on a plate with comeback sauce
I was expecting to be blown away…when you make the point of mentioning a diver scallop, my expectation is set to well beyond a traditional hushpuppy. You know me. I love fried foods and if you fry a carb for me, we are friends for life. However, in this case I was hushpuppy stumped. Flavor was excellent and I enjoyed seeing the tiny fragment of scallop and what I’m guessing was pimento or finely diced red pepper. The fry? Amazingly light, leaving no grease on the fingers at all. The scallops scarce yet the texture unique. More airy like a popover than the traditional cornmeal style variety and worth a try for the hushpuppy lover, as truly not all hushpuppies are created equal. These are no exception.
Broiled Oysters, $7
Served as a pair with chipotle bourbon butter
Super yum. That’s it. The oysters uber fresh having been pulled from Barnegat Bay about 11 hours earlier. Supple, sweet and oh so damn good with that special bourbon butter! More, please!
Oysters on the Half Shell, $6 (Mondays: oysters on special for $1 each)
Half dozen fresh Barnegat Bay oysters served with homemade mignonette
What to say? Never fresher, the gorgeous, variant oyster sizes made for a lovely experience when only having six. Oysters are often served uniform in size, defying the nature of their variations. This was a delight to see. The tart mignonette delivered a perfect blend of fresh pepper, shallots, and excellent wine vinegar, making each oyster pop. I sort of loved that they didn’t even offer cocktail sauce, an intention of the chef for sure. I loved the texture, flavor, and zing that played between the saltwater mollusk, the acidity of the onion-vinegar combo, and the cushiness of the oysters themselves—slurp!
Fried Chicken Special, $10 ($19 on regular menu—with additional sides)
Buttermilk brined, cold smoked, hot honey drizzle, and served with a biscuit
I grew up with my grandmother Johanna’s homemade fried chicken. I remember her saving the bacon fat from morning breakfasts to add to her oil concoction for the deep frying and her chicken came out juicy inside and crispy outside.
The bar has remained high for my fried chicken experiences ever since. Yet when this mound of fried goodness arrived in front of me, I was riveted by the curls of fried homemade pickles. The glistening hot honey drizzle made me feel dizzy as the server poured it on in front of my comatose-looking expression. I dove in so quickly—with my bare hands—that I just missed scalding myself, clearly having lost all sense of time and place. I could see it was still steaming! The aroma; the pickles! I ate them quickly and begged Brent to bring me a sample of them fresh, which he kindly obliged. The fresh ones were zesty, fresh, and crunchy in all the best ways pickles should be. I’m always so impressed when restaurants are committed to homemade, even down to the pickle!
The fried counterpart was just frivolity, which was fine with me. The chicken was gut-warmingly good, even for someone who doesn’t love smoked meats. The chicken, raised in pasture and from local farms, had a juicy inside that allowed the crusty, crunchy, crazy-good skin to shine through as it should. My focus on the biscuit got a little hazy as I savored each bite of the chicken. I’ll do my best to conjure my focus back to the biscuit for a moment. Plentiful and fluffy, the top pulled off as expected, revealing the layers beneath. The taste was comfort embodied. How was that?!
What’s on Tap
Not a darn thing. All beer is available in cans only. Happy to mention they carry at least three local brands from NJ!
Pet-Nat Vermentino, Day Wines, Oregon 2017, $15
Luca Paretti, Veneto, Italy 2016, $10
G.H. Mumm, Grand Cordon Brut, NV, Champagne, France, $22
Riesling Boundary Breaks, Finger Lakes, NY 2017, $13
Sauvignon Blanc / Chardonnay Domaine Francois, Loire, France 2017, $12
Vinho Verde, Quinta do Regueiro, Minho, Portugal 2017, $9
Chardonnay, Domaine Michel Barraud, Burgundy, France 2017, $12
Grenache, Vina Zorzal, Navarra, Spain 2017, $9
Tempranillo, Placeres Sensiorales, Rioja, Spain 2016 $10
Cabernet Sauvignon, Bull by the Horns, Paso Robles, CA 2016, $15
Ask about the specialty and rare wine selections featured regularly on the menu.
What Else to Know
Check out the cool private dining area inside the former vault of this historic bank building. Weekend brunch is available, as well as killer weekly specials. Visit Modine for more details.
When to Show
Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays:
4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
4:00 p.m. to midnight
Brunch 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Bar Menu 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Dinner 5:00 p.m. to midnight
Brunch 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Bar Menu 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Dinner 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Know Before You Go!
Closed Tuesdays. Available for private parties and events. Please check the website for latest information.
601 Mattison Avenue
Asbury Park, NJ 07712
A Lady Walks into a Bar™ is owned and trademarked by Gabrielle Garofalo.