Gaslight - Atlantic Highlands, NJ
Quite often when I make the trip to visit Carton Brewing, it usually ends up with me visiting Gaslight at Atlantic Highlands. Officially known as Mezze Cantina, people have taken to calling it Gaslight because of the titular fixture on the outside of the building above the front door. Since there really is no sign for it outside, it has just caught on and so behold - Gaslight. This small mecca of craft beer selections has been around since about December of 2014. If you look up reviews for this place, you might possibly find them under Mezze Cantina and Gaslight, but I guarantee to you that they are the same business.
Whatever the name is, they have some pretty good food selections, some of the best beers on tap and is quite the "hidden gem" in a area of New Jersey that has a special place in my heart. I had lived in Atlantic Highlands for about three years and had always wished that there would be a place where I could get more than just the macro options on tap. Sadly, I moved away in 2013 before this place would open. This was an empty building for quite a while and it always had the aesthetic of what could be a very trendy bar or a happening sports bar. Thankfully, the owners are taking advantage of this place now and making it work.
For any craft beer geek, snob, nerd, aficionado or connoisseur, Gaslight at Atlantic Highlands is a must visit, even if you go just once. To many people traveling to Carton Brewing for the first time, this definitely warrants a visit if you are looking for a place to eat with plenty of beer options. You will not be disappointed at all. Most of the beers here have two options for sizes in case you want to keep the serving sizes smaller so you can sample a lot more beer. Gaslight boasts 30 beers on tap, of which some are local options like Carton and Kane. The taps rotate regularly as well, so any option that is on the board may not be there the next time you visit.
For this visit, we started out with the Citra Pale Ale from Kane, because that beer is just incredible. It's been rare for me to find this particular beer on tap so it's always a treat and a must when I do find it. Sadly after this first round, the line kicked and it was promptly replace with something else. Still, the beer held up throughout the course of my dining experience until a Port Omna from Kane and a BDG from Carton were ordered. We liked our local options a little more plus the BDG from Carton (as mentioned in previous reviews) pairs way too well with food to not have. If you are ever in doubt of what you might like that is on tap, just ask for a sample.
On each visit, the restaurant will routinely have a small menu printed out with the specials for the day. This time, we saw "cheese lollipops" on the menu and were curious. The description read as a wonderful assortment of cheeses and ham with a sort of dipping sauce. We didn't really know what to expect and with the word "lollipop", we half-expected to see a stick... but weren't disappointed with the final product. To say that they were delicious would be an understatement. They were fried and perhaps a bit too greasy, but the flavor on the inside was preserved well and the sauce it came on top of really complimented it well. On the inside there was a sort of jalapeño cheese so there was also some heat to it.
It's almost impossible for me to not order the Bourbon BBQ wings at Gaslight. They are some of the best wings I've had in Monmouth County so far. I wouldn't say THE best, because I don't need that dark cloud hanging over my head, but to say that they are awesome and within my top five for the county is perfectly acceptable. I always have a problem of forgetting that I even have a beer in front of me while I'm eating these. They are definitely not a bad value for $10 and if you feel like you need something a little extra, just get a side order of their fries - they're worth it as well.
The mussels are visually stunning and there is quite a fair amount for a plate listed in the starters section for about $10-$12. It's pretty much a meal and there was plenty of the sauce at the bottom to dip the bread into. I'm not a fan of mussels, but this one was actually pretty good. If you're a fan, it's a really great choice to go with.
I have had other things here before, like the CBS Burger. It's made with Chuck, Brisket, and Sirloin and is one of my favorite burgers in this area. Order medium rare and enjoy the flavors. A point of contention in the past in some previous reviews I've read is the pricing. The CBS Burger is listed at $14. I've been to plenty of other places in Monmouth County and anything between $12 - $16 seems to be the norm. I've had no problem with paying the $14 here, it's well worth it versus a lower caliber of burger that might cost you $8 at a chain restaurant or at a local restaurant for a lower quality burger.
The one thing I do wish Gaslight/Mezze Cantina would have is an online presence. I know that they do have social media accounts on Facebook and Instagram (@gaslightah) but a main website with a menu seems to be almost lacking. This could help with increased visibility for a main menu and a lack of jarring responses to pricing. And to be fair, some of the dishes can get pretty pricey but there is quite the number of options within the starters in order to counter-balance the price point. If you're here for beer, you might as well pair some of the starters with the solid choice of beverage. For the most part, every time we've come here, this is the path we've taken when it comes to food.
Whether it's for a trip to have some food after visiting Carton Brewing or having been to the Atlantic Highlands movie theater or just because... Gaslight of Atlantic Highlands should be on the map for you. The starters are good, the service at the bar area has always been excellent, and the tap selections never disappoint. There's always great craft beer selections to behold here. The town is a cute, little town and this place adds to the overall mystique and charm of the town.
It might not have an online menu out there floating on the "interwebz" but I can tell you that anyone who knows craft beer in the area, knows about Gaslight. Try one of the specials, try a new beer, have the wings, sit at the bar and enjoy a football game or a basketball game - you're sure to have a great time.