Red Rock Tap & Grill - Red Bank, NJ
Back in early 2015, when it was first announced that Paul Marcotte had purchased Brannigan's Bar & Grill and would look to update the place... I was very excited. For those who don't know, Brannigan's was a dive bar in Red Bank that seemingly had a very loyal crowd. Honestly, I might have only visited once or twice in the past 5 years, but it never really was my style. So to say that my anticipation was heightened for what was to come after is an understatement. What Marcotte has done with Red Rock is the result of a vision that Red Bank desperately needed. As time went on, plans were unveiled and the excitement further intensified. There's a whole rooftop area now and an outside bar as well as an outside seating area for those warmer spring/summer days. I've been there quite a few times since opening and still can't believe the transformation from Brannigan's to Red Rock.
Red Rock Tap & Grill has now been open for over 6 months and every time I've been there, it has always been quite crowded. This past weekend was no exception, as the temperatures soared to the mid 60's, I knew it'd be the perfect opportunity to have a fine beer while soaking up some Vitamin C and having one of their very many wonderful dishes.
Obviously, during the winter, the outside bar and area are closed. The inside bar and dining area retains the original shape of Brannigan's, except that the design is much smarter this time around. The bar used to be right in the middle forming a pseudo-triangle and taking up a lot of space that has now opened up for customers. There's a wide selection of alcohol and a nice little tap list. My only complaint about Red Rock is that once those colder months come around, it's much harder to get a seat at the bar or table because the space is reduced by a lot from just being an inside bar. But hey, these are essentially first world problems and a good one for the management team of Red Rock.
On this spectacularly beautiful February day, I was met by the ever so friendly face that is Kiersten. She's one of the bartenders at Red Rock whose smile will always be sure to provide you with warm service. Thankfully, Red Rock has a decent selection of craft beer to choose from. Kane Head High and Carton BOAT immediately jump off the list. It's great to have two flagship beers to choose from. I have seen Asbury Park Brewery beers on tap and am hoping that perhaps in the future, there will be at least 1 or 2 more local options. As of right now, though, it's nice to know that you could get a Carton BOAT and just relax at the rooftop, watching the sailboats in the Navesink River.
Everything that I've tried, so far, has been great. Whether it's on the regular menu or the specials, it's really difficult to find something that you won't enjoy. The pork belly tacos were part of a special and were fantastic. The pork was cooked to crispiness and the queso along with fresh vegetables just complete this dish. If you're also ever in the mood for something a little different, definitely order the short rib tacos.
The Ahi Tuna Wrap was an immediate winner as well. The sesamed crusted tuna is cooked to perfection and the combination of the mix greens along with avocado, blending in perfectly with the spicy mayo is a delicious assault on your taste buds. Add in some fresh fries, or substitute for some sweet potato fries, and you are golden. Sometimes I worry a bit with "seafood" wraps because not often is the flavored well represented and it tends to be a little muted. Here, the tuna really shines.
I've stated in previous reviews that I don't like pickles, but ever since I've had the Cuban from Johnny's Pork Roll Truck, I've now found a new appreciation for their use within specific sandwiches. It also really doesn't help that I'm not too fond of mustard either. Being a glutton for punishment, I decided to trust Kiersten who sold me on the pickles for this Red Rock special: Pork Cuban Sandwich. As you can see in the picture, it's chock full of meat. Mustard and cheese are easily visible on the top layer and the pickles are at the bottom. This whole plate was a culinary carnival of deliciousness. The bread is good but lets everything in between come out and take over your palate. I'm not ashamed to say that I took half of it home and panini-pressed it for breakfast, the very next day. You nailed it Kiersten, the pickles are awesome.
There are other things I'd recommend as well, like the Buffalo Balls as a shareable appetizer, the Grilled Chicken Sandwich, and especially the Short Rib Sandwich. There's a wide variety of winning dishes at this Red Bank restaurant. Even if you come here during a warmer day and just have a beer outside, you're sure to have an enjoyable experience. The bartenders and wait staff have been consistently great as well. For a native of Red Bank, I seeing them this busy, even during winter months, is a great thing - I want this place to thrive and prosper, especially given it's location. Red Bank has a severe lack of outside areas, and I'm glad Red Rock is one of the few places to begin to change that trend around.
I'd suggest an additional New Jersey tap as well, although as a Red Rock patron, I could very well be a silent minority. I'm still thankful for the options I do have and can enjoy. I'm absolutely ecstatic that I can enjoy the wonderful rooftop while having some of my local favorites. I look forward to coming here more as we march onto warmer weather and having a BOAT while watching boats on the Navesink. As much as I know some people miss Brannigan's, I'm glad Red Rock is here and hope that it is here to stay.