Restaurant Review #253: The Pour House (Tinton Falls, NJ)

With a craving for soft shell crabs, we had our sights set on The Sitting Duck in Long Branch. After all, I had this beauty from this time last year calling my name. Something, however, made us call ahead to see if they had soft shell crabs on their specials menu. When they said they did not, we immediately thought to ask their sister-restaurant, The Pour House in Tinton Falls. Sure enough, they had them, so off we went. None of us had been to this location before. It is strange reviewing a restaurant so similar to its other location. Well, similar by way of menu. The actual interior is quite different.

It was a Thursday night and the place was packed. There was a half hour wait, so we grabbed some drinks at the bar. I had a chance to look around, and I found myself enjoying the atmosphere here a bit more. It was livelier. As for the actual construction, I felt like I was at an old English pub. The bar area has that cozy feeling. Exposed beams and stonework gave it an almost Tudor-like feel. We managed to order our drinks right at the tail-end of happy hour. I did not realize this at first, and was shocked to see such great prices for Justin’s beer, my mom’s wine, and my bourbon.

We were called for our table and were seated in the back dining room. Our sever, Lisa, introduced herself and noted that it was her first night working there (after several afternoon shifts and days of training). She was exceptionally pleasant, funny, and had a personality which will no-doubt endear her to customers. The managers of The Pour House should be made aware of the outstanding choice they made for a hire. Even the hostess who took our names went out of her way to be friendly, commenting on Justin’s Hawaiian shirt which was adorned with blue pineapples. It was a pleasure to be taken care of by Lisa for the evening. She was attentive without being pushy and we appreciate that.

For appetizers, we ordered the coconut shrimp and the pork and leek dumplings. At this time, with so many good choices on the regular and specials menus, we did not know what we wanted for entrees. Lisa said she would take our order after the appetizers arrived. This gave us plenty of time. Now, I came here for the soft shell crab sandwich, but still flip-flopped a few times in my mind. There was the burger, which several friends have ordered and raved about, a pulled pork sandwich, and a crab cake dinner having a tug-of-war. In the end, I got what I came for. My mom did the same, and Justin ordered the pulled pork which came in a pecan-whiskey barbecue sauce.

I switched over to the Thursday night drink special, which was the three-rum punch. It tasted identical to the Sitting Duck’s and was refreshing on this humid summer evening. The appetizers arrived and were each delicious—one better than the other. The shrimp were crispy, plump, and tender on the inside. The dish also kicked away one of my pet peeves which was not providing enough dipping sauce. There was an ample amount with plenty leftover. As for the dumplings, my only complaint was that there were not more of them. Frozen or homemade, I do not know, but they were better than offerings I’ve had at some Asian restaurants. Since we all had specials, this also meant a choice of soup or salad with our meals. Justin got the unbelievably hearty and rich French Onion soup (for a small added charge) while my mom and I had salads. Just like the Sitting Duck, it could be a house salad or one topped with baby shrimp and egg salad. We both went with the latter. Once again, this shows the incredible value you get at both of these restaurants.

About ten minutes later, our sandwiches hit the table. My mom and I both enjoyed our soft shell crab. It was light, crisped to perfection, and had just enough tartar sauce smeared on the bread. The fries on the side were coated and addictive. They give you a massive amount of those as well. Justin loved the pulled pork, and after taking several bites, I concurred that it was one of the best of such sandwiches I ever had. You could actually taste the pecan and the whiskey used in the sauce. There was a lot of meat and sauce (and an ungodly amount of cheese) yet somehow the roll held up. Even with me stealing a few bites, he could not finish it.

At this point, the right decision would have been to tap out and get the check. Then we were shown a dessert menu. Figuring, “How bad could splitting one chocolate peanut butter brownie between three people be?”, we ordered one of those to share. It ended up being ridiculously and unnecessarily large—a huge brownie with three scoops of ice cream. We needed a hoist to get us out of the booth after that.

Overall, I had an excellent first experience at The Pour House. There is nothing at all I would change. Between the food quality, portion size, atmosphere, and service, it was a homerun. I will always have a special place in my heart for The Sitting Duck, but with this location so much closer, I have to say I’ll be coming here more often. Because this was a first visit, I am starting them off with a 4 out of 5 stars, but I just know that will climb higher the more I go. Great job, everyone! And again, another shout-out to Lisa who was awesome!

The Pour House is located at 640 Shrewsbury Avenue in Tinton Falls, NJ.

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