The Sitting Duck in Long Branch and Pour House in Tinton Falls are sister dining establishments. They boast similar if not identical menus. While I have not yet been to the latter, the first place mentioned has become one of my recent favorites. The deal was sealed this summer, when I ordered a soft shell crab sandwich. It was priced at $21.99, and when it arrived, it came with not one but two enormous crabs. This made it nearly impossible to eat it as a sandwich, but I was not complaining at all. The meal was massive and delicious, and I marveled at the value of such an order. It certainly would have been more expensive elsewhere. But that wasn’t all; it came with soup and salad since it was on the specials menu (a large selection which changes regularly). Such an inclusion is all but forgotten in this day and age of up-selling and charging for everything. If you want the “complete dinner”, you would have to go to a diner nowadays, and even they usually only give you a choice of one, not both.
I was at the Sitting Duck yet again the other day. It was a Thursday night, and their featured special was a NY Strip Steak and crab cakes combo for $19.99. I figured the steak would be decent while the cakes would just be there, but I was wrong—it was all fantastic. The steak was cooked perfectly at medium-rare. It was juicy, flavorful, and well-seasoned. You could taste the grill. The crab cakes, meanwhile, were filled with lumps of real crab meat and were crispy. They had to be placed on top of my steak because there was no room in the plate with a baked potato and every necessary condiment for such a meal: butter, sour cream with chives, tartar sauce, cocktail sauce, and a lemon. It was massive in its own right, but speaking of no room, once again it came with soup and salad.
I chose the Manhattan Clam Chowder. Normally, I don’t like such a soup and have always preferred New England. I figured I would give it a try. It was delicious. With his meal, Justin chose the Beef Stroganoff Soup which he said was great and tasted similar to the base used for the Sitting’s Duck near-famous French Onion, which is the best I’ve ever had anywhere. Justin had that last time and made me try it. Had they not given you so much food, I would have ordered a crock myself on this night.
Even their salads are impressive. We were given choices of either a garden salad or shrimp and egg salad. He didn’t want his, so he had my mom choose and gave it to her. She went with the shrimp and egg choice. It was a large bed of lettuce covered with egg salad and probably ten or so baby shrimp with a choice of dressing. Mine had a plethora of vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, and radishes.
For meals, he had the rack of ribs while she went with the grilled Reuben. Both portions were so large that they practically hung off the plate. To cap off the night, the drink special for the evening was a three-rum punch for $3.99. It could have passed for a Mai Tai at any upscale Asian restaurant—you could actually taste the rum. They have similar specials during the week which range from margaritas to Bloody Mary’s depending on the day. Justin also had beer while my mom had a glass of wine. The bill for four alcoholic beverages, an appetizer (fried calamari), two special entrees, and a sandwich was under $100 (excluding tax and tip). For anywhere, that is an unbelievable bargain, especially in this area.
I still want to get over to the Pour House (my friends on the Hungry Onion say they have the best burgers in Monmouth County), but for now, the Sitting Duck is becoming one of my favorite places. The set-up of the restaurant features a large wrap-around bar which is accessible from all sides. The cooking is done in the bar area, so you can actually watch the chefs at work. It is a neat little feature which adds to the atmosphere. Give one or both of these places a chance and try not to leave with leftovers. Excellent food, good drinks, friendly service, and a cool atmosphere all for prices very much not reflective of the Jersey Shore. With so much attention in this area on haute cuisine, pricey craft cocktails, and turning restaurants into “scenes”, more businesses should follow their lead. Congratulations and please never change!
The Sitting Duck is located at 104 Myrtle Avenue in Long Branch, NJ, while the Pour House is situated at 640 Shrewsbury Avenue in Tinton Falls.