I have a lot of fond memories of this place, going back to when it was the Marina Diner. When I coached in Atlantic Highlands, many a dinners with friends, coaches, and players were eaten here following hockey games and practices. It seemed almost as soon as I became a regular, the business switched over to the Kings Arms II. The hostess on my first visit there under new ownership said their first diner was in Staten Island, the place of my birth. But for as great as the food was under Marina, it seemed to lack with the new people. I only went back a few more times before a limp and soggy panini sent me packing. However, my opinion of this place changed with a visit two weeks ago.
Two friends were going apartment hunting with me and wanted to take me out to lunch. They are regulars at Kings Arms. The menu has a selection (albeit a smaller one) that I would describe as “upscale diner food”. There are many of the classics but enough differences from the myriad of other diners in the area to stand out.
Call me boring, but I went with the turkey BLT panini, despite the last meal I ever had in this place being a panini that I didn’t like. I was impressed. The sandwich was packed with thickly sliced carved turkey, plenty of bacon and cheese, and an interesting garlic ranch dressing. There was just enough sauce that you knew it was there without being soggy. This was a far cry from what I remembered. Something had definitely changed. The bread was pressed to a crisp. As far as diner paninis go, this was more than adequate.
My friends both had soup and sandwich combos. As regulars who pretty much have their own table and do not even ask for menus when they go in, I don’t have to tell you they enjoyed their food as well. I returned again a week later with my mom. She ordered the Eggplant Parmesan over pasta. It was a gigantic portion that she thought was good. It also happened to be a Thursday, which is “Split Pea Soup Day” in every diner that matters in the state of New Jersey. It was one of the better renditions I’ve had. Creamy, almost velvety smooth, and good flavor. A Cajun Chicken panini with that really hit the spot with some spice on a cold December afternoon. While the New Monmouth Diner has become my “home” in recent years, I will definitely be going back to Kings Arms. I’m giving them a 3.5 out of 5 stars, which is good for a diner in a state loaded with them.
Kings Arms II is located at 553 NJ-36 in Belford, New Jersey.