Skratch - Asbury Park, NJ
Skratch is a newly relaunched restaurant with a focus on a fresh menu and aimed at targeting the nighttime crowd in Asbury Park. I was skeptical since I had seen this place be Bank on Mattison in 2014 and Redemption in 2015, but decided to give it a shot simply because... why not? It features a pretty big bar, has some fresh local craft beer, and I had heard some pretty decent things about the food as well. We decided to come to brunch on a beautiful Sunday afternoon - and as you can see above, there is outdoor seating.
Stepping into the bar area, for those who have never been inside the building before is a bright and vibrant bar/dining area. The setup is still essentially the same as it used to be in the past. There's a bar/dining area, a separate dining area, a top floor, and a speakeasy called Off the Record. To say that Skratch has a huge footprint within Asbury Park is an understatement. It can seat as many as 100+ people comfortably. This is certainly good news for most patrons not willing to wait lengthy amounts of time at other places in Asbury Park that are way smaller.
The bar is set up beautifully and is well stocked. The beers on tap are in two different locations within the bar and easily displayed. They do feature at least two local taps with Carton Brewing and Kane Brewing being the two main representatives. You can't go wrong here with either grabbing a BOAT or a Head High from either brewery - which is in fact, what we did because of what we were going to order once we browsed the brunch menu.
There are two separate menus: one specifically for brunch and one specifically for their normal service. We were pleasantly surprised at the offerings on both menus and as much as we wanted to try the much talked about Tuna Pizza, we decided to leave that for another day. What I did learn during my time being here was that the executive chef is formerly of Gaslight in Atlantic Highlands which got me even more excited about the menu. I was sure that whatever I had would probably be good just for that reason alone.
We did try the peach mimosa as well and it was well worth it for a brunch. You definitely need to try it, but the moment of truth was near so a Carton BOAT and a Kane Head High were ordered. We knew that the freshness of the hops in each beer would further enhance what we were about to dine on.
We first ordered the "Sam I Am", a visually appealing pizza with hot sopressata, oregano, honey, pomodoro and ricotta. Now I've had a similar pizza at a different restaurant but this one stands out on its own as well. The fresh oregano and the ricotta add a different dimension to this pizza. The crust was burnt a tad too much for me, but the overall product is definitely recommended. I took some home and had it for lunch the next day and it only got better with an extra day of "aging". The balance of the sweetness from the honey and the heat from the sopressata were mixing along quite well the the hoppiness of my beer.
Next up came the monster that I was most certainly waiting for... the chicken and waffles. Not only is it big enough for two, but it has BACON. Just in case, you missed it the first time, it's chicken and waffles and maple glaze and BACON. It's listed as a "starter" but it's definitely a meal shareable by two people. The waffle is golden and made to perfection. The chicken is a fried deboned thigh that is extra crunchy. The maple glaze ties the two elements together and then the bacon just punts the whole thing into the stratosphere. Once I started eating this colossal piece of magnificence, I completely ignored my beer. You need to order this. You need to experience this in your life. You need to come to Skratch and try this out.
I'm excited to come back to Skratch and try their Tuna Pizza and some of the other things they have to offer. As a craft beer drinker, you won't be disappointed. Skratch has enough options to keep you enticed and good options to compliment your meal. The cocktail list looks robust and well within the normal price range for Asbury Park. As far as nightlife is concerned, there's a little bit of everything for everyone here, but if at some point you are also trying to decide where to find fresh craft beer and a delicious brunch, give Skratch a fair chance.