Restaurant Review #247: Katz’s Grill (Highlands, NJ)

I have been to this place three times. The first two have been in the mornings on our way to the beach. Justin and I have both enjoyed their coffee and breakfast sandwiches—a toasted, buttered roll for me, in particular. It was actually after the second visit a few months ago that I wanted to write a humorous tribute to the glory of the Katz’s Grill buttered roll, because it was just that good. There was something about throwing it on the flat top and letting it slowly toast that set it apart from the usual. Well, unfortunately for them, it slipped my mind and I did not get a chance to write something. Our third visit last week would be the ringer I needed.

On the same day we went to Bay Avenue Bakery and Cafe for a quick lunch, our first stop was actually Katz’s. We originally wanted to grab sandwiches to-go and then hit Popamora Point. We walked in and I placed my order of a simple turkey sub. The lady behind the counter was wreaking of cigarettes (and had two open packs on the prep counter right next to ingredients). She was not mean, but looked like a tough cookie who could kick anyone’s ass in a street fight. She also looked as if she wanted to be anywhere else. I thought, perhaps, I had walked into the DMV. She had just finished ringing someone up before I ordered. Having handled the money with her hands, she then proceeded to make my sandwich. She turned and grabbed the bread without ever putting on gloves (located in close proximity to her Marlboro Reds). She cut it open, squeezed about a pint of mayo onto the bread (a nauseating amount) and then added each ingredient by digging her hands into the bins of the turkey (which she sliced), lettuce, tomato, etc, and quite literally threw them onto the roll as if she was mad at it.

Photo from Google Maps. I did not take any pictures on this visit and I am searching for one from earlier visits.

I was so shocked that I didn’t say anything. Justin, who works in the food industry himself, was disgusted. For me, it wasn’t even about the gloves—just wash your damn hands for 10 seconds! Even if only to give the illusion of cleanliness! When it came time to order, he wanted nothing. I paid and we walked out. Having gotten about ten feet out of the deli and still debating internally on if I even wanted the sandwich, something just did not sit right with me. I should have spoken up and just canceled the order, but it was too late now. In one of my personal worst moments of wasting money (and food, for what it was worth), I headed for the garbage can and lofted this $6.99 boat anchor into the trash. I had a few minutes to look around as she prepared, and given the cleanliness of the place, her dirty, tobacco-infused hands may be the least of their problems.

A buttered roll or an egg sandwich, they do well. But this experience was enough to ensure that I will never visit again. Justin is usually more vocal than me, and admits that either him or I should have said something. The fact that I wasted the money is on me entirely. The fact that I had to sit down and write this is on them. 1.5 out of 5 stars, and that is only because of the two positive visits before this one.

Katz’s Grill and Convenience Store is located at 208 Bay Avenue in Highlands, NJ.

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