Trama’s at One Willow, Highlands, NJ
Sunday, September 1, 4:03 p.m.
Where I Sat
I headed straight to the outdoor bar, just steps from the small beach and Atlantic Ocean.
Who Served Me
Mike, who was super friendly and accommodating.
Bartender’s Favorite Bite
“I know it’s gonna sound weird, but have to say the shrimp cocktail,” Mike said. “It’s just the way they cook them. They skewer them so the shrimp stay straight, not curled. Just a nice presentation.” I wasn’t sold but maybe next time!
Truth be told, this was my third visit to One Willow in just under two weeks. I took girlfriends for a milestone birthday celebration, then my whole family when we celebrated our middle son Luca’s 15th birthday.
I walked through the inside space first to snap some pics and the bar was dotted with folks enjoying a late-afternoon cocktail. The restaurant was less crowded, with perhaps a table or two seated. As I headed outside, I could easily see both the restaurant seating and the entire bar space, which was absolutely packed.
However, like I am with parking spots (luckiest person ever) so too am I with bar seats. Sure enough there was one seat wide open in the sunshine. I grabbed it—facing the ocean and with a full view of the tables set up toward the marina side. I could also see the band setting up on the restaurant level, with the outside bar about a flight of short steps beneath it.
I had an ideal spot indeed, nestled next to the nicest couple, whom I came to chat with: Henry and Blanca (credit for my pic this week goes to Henry!).
What Quenched My Thirst
All Inclusive, $12
Rum, coconut, chartreuse, orange, and lemon served over crushed ice and garnished with an edible purple pansy
I cannot imagine a better way to celebrate a Sunday afternoon of Labor Day weekend than with a lovely, summery tropical delight of a drink. This one didn’t disappoint. The presentation was stunning—the contrast of the cocktail’s color with the delicate purple flower was magnificent. And it was cold, not overly coconut-y and just the right blend of citrus—it was hard to take it slow!
What Fed My Soul
Fish Tacos with the Fish of the Day, $21
Today the fish was mahi-mahi, lightly battered and pan fried, served in a corn tortilla with salsa verde, pico, and Cotija cheese served with fries
The mahi was lightly battered sauteed beautifully to the perfect cook. The fresh salsa verde and nice punch to the suppleness of the fish – the cheese a light, cool addition – super fresh and tasty. A nice light bite for sure! The fries were so good – lightly battered as well and fried to perfection, an airy interior to complement the crusty outside – mmmmmm.
Lobster Roll, $28
Fresh Maine lobster, chervil, fennel, and lemon aioli served with lightly battered fries
This lobster roll was really like none I’ve seen—even in Maine. This was not minced—not diced—not coarsely chopped. This was a mountainous pile of gorgeously whole pieces of lobster tail and claw, all pieces identifiable and voluptuously plump.
The taste was astonishing—a true balance between a Connecticut and Maine Lobster roll. It was super lightly dressed yet so flavorful, while allowing the lobster to shine through. The roll was too weak to sustain the heft of the lobster piled on but it was delicious and perfectly toasted.
Little Neck Clams, $18
Steamed, white wine, garlic, butter
Honestly, wasn’t going to order them. I always love clams made this way, and cook them myself quite well. I wanted something different but when Mike suggested the shrimp cocktail he could tell I wasn’t going for it so he asked Charlie, who was unequivocal. Done!
They arrived and I could tell right away these were not going to be ordinary. Aha! I could see why—thin slices of fennel sat within the buttery juice below the clams…and what’s more?! NO BREAD! I was really happy about this, as I would’ve eaten a loaf by dipping alone! The clams were exquisite and I don’t use that term lightly—DO get them when you go and I only hope yours are as good as these. Even as full as I felt, I kept going back for more—the more juice from the bottom, the better! They were so insanely good I had to share with Henry, Blanca, and their kids!
What’s on Tap
Troegs Sunshine Pils, PA , $7
Carton This Town Lager, NJ $6
Jug Handle Mosaic Pale Ale NJ, $7
Dogfish Head Namaste White, DE, $7
Victory Cloud Walker IPA, PA, $7
Selections may vary.
Moulin de Gassac Guilhem – Languedoc, France, $9
Elio Perrone Moscato d’Asti Sourgal – Piedmont, Italy, $8
LaLucca Prosecco – Veneto, Italy, $9
Foucher-Lebrun Sancerre Le Mont – Loire, France, $15
Babich Black Label Sauvignon Blanc – Marlborough, New Zealand, $10
Raeburn – Russian River, California, $14
Bleeker – Healdsburg,California, $10
Wyatt – California, $11
Left Coast Cellars – – Willamette Valley, Oregon, $14
Robert Hall Artisan Collection – Paso Robles, California, $12
Villa Pillo Super Tuscan Borgoforte – Tuscany, Italy, $11
Hitching Post Generation Red – Central Coast, California, $13
There are significantly more selections by the bottle. Please note that list and offerings may vary.
What Else to Know
Trama’s hosts happy hours Mondays through Thursdays. Click here for details on what’s featured.
When to Show
Closed on Mondays
Thursday through Sunday Noon to 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday through Sunday 5 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Tuesday through Friday, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m
Sundays 2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Know Before You Go!
Trama’s at One Willow
1 Willow Street
Highlands, NJ 07732
A Lady Walks into a Bar™ is owned and trademarked by Gabrielle Garofalo.