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[Belford] Belford Bistro

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Dee and I had lunch today with my parents in Belford, Monmouth county. Belford is a section of Middletown, running from the NY ferry slip / fish dealer on Raritan Bay, south for about two miles or so.


Belford Bistro is a delightful little BYO place on Main Street, tucked into a strip mall. Warm, peach wall colors, probably 60 seats all in. Prep kitchen was open to view in the rear of the single large room.


Several lunch specials, recited without prices. Roasted tomato and red pepper soup, hanger steak on a baguette. Grilled lemon shrimp served with arugula over soba noodles, etc.


I ordered the hanger steak, Dee got the shrimp, my dad got the rueben, my mother ordered the 10 oz Gorgonzola burger.


Link to menu


The steak was pretty good. Medium rare, thin sliced, nicely stacked, caramelized onions, baguette pressed just before serving. Nice stack of hot french fries nicely dusted with herbal salt. My dad liked his corned beef rueben, and thought the bread was a good example of soft Jewish rye. I didn't think the corned beef was exceptional, but it was certainly OK. Moist, well scented, nicely piled. Mustard had a decent kick to it, as did the sauerkraut.


My mother's burger had a crisp exterior, reddish to pink centers, nice and juicy. Big burger, advertised as 10 oz. I liked that example. Nice character to the meat. Dee was less pleased with her shrimp. Three modest pieces, perfectly cooked, sitting on a bed of mini-arugula and soba noodles. We both agreed that the shrimp serving was too few, and that the dish needed more kick. Maybe a jazzy citrus dressing, or some cheese, spicy nuts, pepper shreds, etc. Nothing really popped in it.


I was impressed that the place continued to attract people into the early afternoon, some for full lunches, others for cake and pie slices. When we left about 230, people were still arriving, some with bottles of wine.


This is a really nice restaurant, with careful and precise cooking, creativity in the menu design, and attentive staff. Most lunch items are in the $8 to $15 range, our bill for 4 people came to $52, before a nice tip.


Belford Bistro


Belford Bistro is on Main Street, south of highway 36. If you head north on Main Street, cross 36, and follow the signs for the NY Ferry, you end up at the Belford Seafood Cooperative. There were 10 trawlers and fishing boats tied up near the wharf, and one fellow was wheeling a hand truck of fish from his boat to the back door of the retail store attached to the cooperative.


Great prices at retail. $3.99 for flounder, $5.49 for striped bass are two I remember. There's a huge board with 30 - 40 kinds of fish, lobster, several kinds of oysters, etc, listed, maybe 8 or 10 have prices next to them, indicating availability. There are several trucks, and I understand the co-op has a network of commercial and market accounts. There's also a restaurant attached to the cooperative building.


Belford Seafood


Back in Atlantic Highlands is a wonderful little patisserie called The Flaky Tart. An eye catching display of pastries is the first thing you see. The counter is past that. Marie Jackson is the proprietress and baker. I believe she received nominations for the James Beard pastry award last year.


Mini-carrot cake, a fifty cent piece sized carrot cake topped with a carrot infused swirled chocolate kiss topping. I believe it's called a carrot kiss. A macaroon kiss was similar, and equally delightful. The raspberry sandie was wonderful. A deck of shortbread, a thin layer of not too sweet raspberry jam, and a crumb cake like top. This was wonderful. Nothing tasted overly sweet, and there was a distinct taste of the fruit or vegetable.


One remarkable aspect of the place, beyond the great food, was how cheap everything was. The 3x3 inch sandies were $2 each, the kisses were $1.50, etc. I noticed baguettes, but I didn't think to buy any of these. Next time, perhaps. I'm glad I don't live too close, this place could become very addictive.


Closed on Mondays.



145 1st Ave (just north of NJ 36, on the left)

Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716

(732) 291-2555

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  • 2 years later...

Nice write up for the Belford Bistro in the NY Times today...


And the potato gnocchi — whether accompanied by artichokes, asparagus, peas, pine nuts and seasonal mushrooms as an appetizer, or complementing the generous rack of lamb — shimmered in caramelized brown butter.


A parsnip purée, finished with truffle oil, undergirds the pan-seared Atlantic salmon, even before it is dressed with béarnaise sauce and accessorized with sautéed asparagus, artichoke, mushroom and leek. And the tuna tartare, with tobiko caviar, wasabi and roasted beet, is given a lift by a lime-chili aioli.


The chefs, Crista Trovato and Kurt Bomberger, met and fell in love at Windows on the World; they were in the Napa Valley on a tasting trip when the 9/11 attacks obliterated their workplace. She made stops at Aquavit and Gramercy Tavern, he at Ocean Grill, before they reunited at the Marina Cafe in Staten Island. But they had dreams: their own place, their own menu.


They envisioned a high-level neighborhood spot — a Balthazar or an Odeon — when they opened their high-ceilinged, open-kitchen bistro in January 2008. Yet they started drawing more affluent customers from nearby Rumson, Little Silver and beyond. (Those who are leery of entree prices ranging up to $29 can opt for the weeknight three-course prix fixe, with slightly smaller portions, for $24.95.)


Belford Bistro

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  • 2 years later...

Have to get back to the Belford Bistro. Nice write up from Teresa Politano in the Ledger. Three stars. My experience is her taste is close to mine, and I've rarely been surprised with a major deviation from expectations




Pan-roasted chicken ($24) with oyster mushrooms in a sherry wine sauce is tender and elegant — surely, you think, someone in the south of France is having this very meal. (Except, of course, for the Vermont cheddar whipped potato accompaniment, a mostly forgivable American excursion). The chicken, too, is crusted with a few bits of charred onion, adding just enough texture to delight.

Mahi mahi ($28), a special for the evening, was sweet and light, with another medley of spring vegetables and the restaurant’s signature miso lemon beurre blanc, a citrusy interpretation of the classic French sauce.

Sauces are a forgotten art — they’re too old-fashioned, perhaps — but the Belford Bistro modernizes the classics with skill and care.


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