I decided to start numbering my reviews…
I have lived in this area most of my life and had not been to Ader’s Tavern until last night. I had wanted to go there ever since seeing their name pop up on several “Best Burgers in New Jersey” lists over the years (and some saying the best in Monmouth County). I was in no rush, because as I have discovered in three years of doing this food blog, everyone and their mother has the “Best Burger”. It was actually my mom who made it here before me, with her friends a couple of weeks ago. She wanted to take Justin and I out and suggested Ader’s. We were down. Upon walking in, we were met with a packed bar, but deathly silent. We then realized it was trivia night and people were filling out there answers in between bursts of name-that-tune songs and movie quotes.
The dining area was up a couple of steps overlooking the bar. We would be the only table in there that night. I cannot tell you how bizarre it was to be in a place so loaded with people yet so quiet. Justin and I started off with a pint each of Budweiser while my mom had a glass of wine. We mulled our choices on this rather large menu which included everything from onion rings to Irish bangers and even Italian dishes such as Chicken Francaise and Marsala. They knew they were getting burgers, but the cheesesteak was calling my name. For appetizers, we decided on the fried mushrooms as well as an order of “Lava Fries”.
They came to our table shortly after. The mushrooms were most likely frozen. There was not much flavor, but at least they were crispy. The horseradish sauce on the side was good. As for the fries, they were delicious—just the right amount of hot sauce and cheddar cheese to keep them from getting too soggy. The cheese was even layered throughout, not just melted on top. It was not too spicy, but hot enough that you knew you were eating something “Buffalo”. Ader’s has a section on the menu devoted entirely to fries with nine options in total.
As for meals, I thought my cheesesteak was great. This was real, sliced steak, not that thin steak-ums stuff. There were ample onions and cheese throughout. The size of the sandwich was large, and more importantly, the sub roll was quality bread. So many times a delicious steak sandwich can be ruined by awful bread. This would not be one of those cases. It was soft, yet sturdy enough to hold the contents. I have found it hard to get a simple dish such as this made correctly where we live, so this was a pleasant surprise. Being that we already had fries as an appetizer, I was content with the potato chips that came with it. I also stole a couple of bites from both of their burgers.
At this point, the answer was My Cousin Vinny. Mom had a plain cheeseburger. It was cooked perfectly to her specification of medium. Justin had the “Caliente” burger which contained pepperjack cheese, jalapeno peppers, and chipotle mayo. They too nailed his request of cooking the burger to well-done “hockey puck” form, as he likes it. Now, I enjoyed both of their burgers and they did too. Absolutely no complaints. By the same token, however, I did not necessarily think these were worthy of being the “best” in New Jersey (The Globe’s is better but gets no recognition). These had a good grill flavor, but were not exactly standout. I do commend them for going the handmade route and using 80/20 ground beef, though. I was tempted to order a burger, but I am glad I went with the cheesesteak.
Lastly, I need to mention that this seems a true locals/regulars-only bar. When we walked in, I would say half the patrons looked at us. Maybe it was because we walked right into a quiet trivia event? I wanted to think that, but later on when I went to the men’s room, no less than five people actually turned around on their bar stools to take a look at me. Toto, we’re not in Kansas anymore. Even as we sat eating, I saw random people looking up at us. I know we’re newbies, but sheesh! Not even at Vic’s Wayside Inn, a true biker bar with a rough-lookin’ crowd, did we get this treatment. It was so bad, that Justin even jokingly asked the waitress if they don’t get many outsiders. She responded saying that people are friendly and they get outsiders all the time. In any event, she was nice—a little quiet at first, but then warmed up and was very informational with us about the restaurant. She had many recommendations. I forgot her name or else I would give her a shout-out.
Overall, I would say I enjoyed my visit to Ader’s. Our beers were only $2.50, the wine was $5, and the food prices were on the cheaper side. This was good bang for your buck, and high quality for a noted bar. I left feeling stuffed. I would not consider this a dive, either. The interior was clean. It looked like it was once somebody’s house. The set-up was inviting, even with the stares! Misgivings of the “neighborhood” aspects of the bar aside, I would come back again. They supposedly have a great Sunday brunch along with a daily breakfast menu. I look forward to giving that a try. Set me up with a Jameson and some steak and eggs at 11 a.m., and I’ll probably be in a good mood the rest of the day…or just need a nap. 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Ader’s Tavern is located at 1321 Florence Avenue in Union Beach, NJ.