One does not have a website called Hops & Horns and then ignore the fact that a new BBQ place opened in Rumson. Owned by Victor Rallo (Undici & Birravino), this joint just opened a less than a week ago and seeks to already impress. Being from the Red Bank area, there was a definite lack of good BBQ places in the immediate area. If I wanted any I'd have to drive out to Neptune or to Belmar and sometimes even further. So it was a breath of fresh air to hear last year that Surf BBQ would be replacing Molly Maguire's.
I'd been to Molly Maguire's a few times since they usually had a great craft selection on tap. And yet, upon walking into Surf BBQ the first thing I noticed is how much they gutted everything about Molly Maguire's and made it their own. Gone is the bar in the very middle that took up almost half of the space. There's a sleek new bar in the left corner with 30 seats. The Surf BBQ bar boasts some very good bourbon selections as well to compliment the sweet heat of some of the sauces.
But onto the beer! And this is where I think this place will shine in addition to the food. They have some great choices to pair with the food which includes two local choices on tap. Kane's Head High and Carton's BDG are both on tap and pair wonderfully with a lot of the food choices here. And just in case you want to broaden your beer horizons, they have plenty of options when it comes to bottles and cans. I had a Ballast Point Even Keel to begin with. I wanted something a little lighter, and refreshing to go along with the appetizers.
We arrived at around 4:30 PM and it was still pretty empty so ordering appetizers was pretty easy. Keep this in mind, because we sat at the bar which means your "food" and "drink are separate. Surf BBQ has a counter-style ordering system. You don't actually order from a waiter or a bartender. You walk up to the counter and order your meats and your sides and walk back to your table with your food. Simple enough, right?
We ordered the Jalapeño Hush Puppies and the "Irish Nachos". The Jalapeño Hush Puppies were excellent. They came with a maple dipping sauce that was a match made in heaven for it. The "Irish Nachos" are french fries topped with their 10 hour chilli, scallions, red onion, bacon and fire roasted pepper. These fries were incredible. Everything about them was good. But unfortunately, four of us were so hungry that we ravaged both appetizers before I remembered that I had a camera that I was supposed to be using. So just take my word for it.
And then there were the main dishes.
We ordered the pulled pork sandwich, 1/2 lb of the spare rib, 1/2 of the brisket, and the cornbread. You get to add your own sauces and they have an assortment of them. My advice: Use the spicy BBQ sauce. It's the right amount of heat without being too sweet and really blends in well with a Kane Head High. Any IPA combined with that spicy BBQ sauce is going to really elevate the dish. That 1/2 of brisket is a real winner too. I liked the spare rib, but I feel like the pulled pork ($12) and the brisket ($16) are an amazing value. Three of us shared the rib and the brisket and it was more than enough. You COULD share, but I wouldn't blame you if you didn't.
I will say this, we waited too long after the appetizers to decide to order. A few people were now in line and we jumped in. The wait was still about 20 minutes. So, if you show up and there is a line, order your appetizers and dinner together. Hopefully, Surf BBQ will be able to maximize the time that it takes for each order and the lines can move a little faster. Once it was 6 PM, the line reached the door. The place does say that it opens from a certain time until they "run out of food", so I'd hate to be the person at the end of the line who waited for something that wasn't available. I did see there was a small board with "86'ed" items, but for anyone in the back of the line, I'm not too sure if they had some system in place to tell people what's still available or what isn't. If you want to avoid all this, just show up earlier. Even if you wait 20 minutes in line, it's worth it and no different than if you sat somewhere and had to wait 20 minutes anyway.
Surf BBQ has great food, a simple menu and they seem to do it pretty well. The bourbon selections are excellent. I'm very happy about the craft beer selections. I wish they had a few more local beers on tap but so far, I'm happy with what they did have. The combination of good BBQ and a great beer selection will help them out in the long run. The lines might be unpleasant for some people, but at least anyone I know can't say I didn't warn them. For now, they are in a location where they are pretty unrivaled and will look to capitalize on that. I will definitely be revisiting Surf BBQ in the future. Go, try the food, have a beer, make sure your pants won't fall down if you have to loosen up a button once you're done. Don't tell them beertoro sent you though, the staff would just look at you funny.