The Block- Restaurant Review

August 29, 2023
picture of fridges in the block

The Block– Located in Long Branch, NJ

picture of fridges in the block

“A terrible plague descends upon my home every year from Memorial Day to Labor Day.”

I broke my cardinal rule of dining out. A sacred rule in existence for over 15 years. It’s basically inscribed in stone. I follow this rule diligently year after year, without fail. 2023 marks the year that I foolishly broke this rule. And I paid the price. I went out to eat at a Jersey Shore restaurant on a summer holiday weekend. In this case, it was Memorial Day; possibly the worst of the three major summer weekends because it marks the official start of summer at the Jersey Shore. And that means one thing. A terrible plague descends upon my home every year from Memorial Day to Labor Day. This black cloud of pestilence brings with it an aura of rudeness and an insatiable sense of unearned entitlement. They will often travel in packs and can be easily identified by their cheap cologne, fake designer accessories, and a general disregard for anyone other than themselves.

map of the block

“And that is where I made my fatal error this Memorial Day. “

These perennial creatures of the Hudson River are called Benny.

For those reading that are not from central Jersey, a Benny comes from New York, mostly Staten Island and Manhattan because they don’t have any beaches of their own, and also the northern counties of New Jersey; which are basically all NY transplants anyway. Every negative stereotype you’ve ever heard about New Yorkers is compounded and consolidated into a Benny, effectively leaving all of the reasonably pleasant New Yorkers at home for the summer and leaving us with the refuse.

goomba

“When Bennys occupy the Jersey Shore like France in 1942, they dine at two types of places;”

When Bennys occupy the Jersey Shore like France in 1942, they dine at two types of places; typical beach town eateries that usually are just acceptable and make 90% of their revenue in the summer and places that are trendy and overly hyped. The Block is the latter. And that is where I made my fatal error this Memorial Day.

We had dinner at The Block on Saturday night at 9 p.m. Going so late was the first mistake, but we were gifted this reservation by a friend. The Block is one viral meme away from becoming another Nusr Et. Overpriced. Overhyped. Douchey. The summer clientele is already a strong indication of that.

In all fairness, my friends and I have been there for lunch before in the fall, and it was a top-to-bottom wonderful experience. This summer vibe, however, is not palatable.

duck face

“If I was going out to a bar or club, this whole scene would have been much more acceptable.”

We were greeted by a chaotic scene outside as we walked up. Music that could be heard blasting down the street, itself barely audible over the incoherent cackling of caricature New York accents. A sea of Infinitis, souped-up Nissans, and other cars tailored to look more expensive than they actually are.

Every single man was dressed the same; a white button-up shirt with a subtle design, jeans with symmetrically placed holes meant to look haphazard, gaudy watches that sat on their wrists like dumbbells, and probably loafers with no socks. I knew what Staten Island central casting looked like by this point. Have you ever watched Jersey Shore? Every woman was dressed like that.

“If you want to scream across the table during dinner, then by all means this is the place for you. “

If I was going out to a bar or club, this whole scene would have been much more acceptable. But for a restaurant that claims so much in terms of the quality of its food and service, it felt the exact opposite. If you want to scream across the table during dinner, then by all means this is the place for you.

Our reservations were for 9, but we were told that the table wasn’t ready yet when we arrived at 8:50. We were offered to wait at the bar and grab a drink. That was the best offer we had all night. The bar was curiously small for such a large establishment, made even smaller by the fact that they had placed tables where they clearly were not meant to be; directly underneath one section of the bar. For whatever reason, the people at those tables didn’t seem to mind having drinks constantly made over their heads. But hey, you’re lucky enough to be eating at The Block!

yikes the block

“I just found it odd that they didn’t know the difference between a drink with vermouth and a drink without it.”

I ordered the Block Manhattan, which for some reason was an Old Fashioned. I’m not complaining; Old Fashioneds are my standard order and the drink itself was very good. I just found it odd that they didn’t know the difference between a drink with vermouth and a drink without it. My other half got something with bourbon and a homemade simple. I forget what it was called and I can’t even look at their menu online to refresh my memory because it’s so secret and exclusive that it can’t be shared with the general public. My point is that the drink tasted like syrup.

The bartender made us another Old Fashioned Manhattan. It was very good, though we had to make sure that we gave way for Gina (I’m assuming that was her name) to stage the photo on the bar with her vodka tonic and Balenciaga bag.

“The bread came out and, while basically just an elevated version of Domino’s cheesy bread”

After the text message the day before that threatened to cancel our reservation if we were more than 15 minutes late for it, finally at 9:25 we were seated for our 9 p.m. reservations.

We were seated in the back. The back back. Basically outside, overlooking the beautiful Long Branch train station. Honestly, I have to admit that we were very pleased with this because it kept us a fair distance from the Bennys, who made up 95% of the clientele that evening.

The bread came out and, while basically just an elevated version of Domino’s cheesy bread, it was still good. I was surprised that we weren’t charged for it.

fake italian at the block

“If you’ve eaten anywhere in the last few years with brussels sprouts on the menu, you can probably guess how these were prepared. “

The rest of the appetizers on the menu were uninspired, except for the bone marrow, which jumped off the page for me. The Block is known for its butcher’s shop, probably the best thing about them, so I assumed that the bone marrow listed on this menu would be from a freshly butchered cow. Bone marrow has a delicate but robust flavor. But when your function as an establishment is flare and show over substance, it only makes sense to mask the layered flavor of bone marrow for your simple clientele. The bone marrow was saturated in garlic and parmesan. Now don’t get me wrong, I live for things that can be covered in garlic and parmesan, but the bone marrow didn’t need that.

“Much to our surprise, and delight, the steak was cooked perfectly.”

Against our better judgment, we opted for the special bourbon dry-aged ribeye, at an outrageous price north of $200. We asked for it rare too, honestly just to test them as most places, even good steakhouses, will barely cook meat rare for fear of making a customer sick. Much to our surprise, and delight, the steak was cooked perfectly. It was delicious. Absolutely delicious. r. There was a subtle sweetness from the bourbon in there and it was clearly a good cut of meat, but at the end of the day, it was a piece of steak. Very well-cooked steak.

Do you even want to hear about the brussels sprouts at this point? If you’ve eaten anywhere in the last few years with brussels sprouts on the menu, you can probably guess how these were prepared. Carmelized. Basically charred. Even after all this time, people are still afraid of the actual wonderful flavor contained within these little cabbage-looking things.

We skipped dessert. Took a bath in Aqua Velva as we walked back out through the restaurant, and vowed never to go out to a Jersey Shore restaurant on a summer weekend ever again.

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We’re Matt and Melissa, and this is our food blog, though it may not be the food blog you are expecting. We are here to take you on a culinary adventure through our kitchen, our passions, our stories, and our liquor cabinet. Residing in Monmouth County, NJ (the best county in NJ) we love to cook and create in our kitchen. But we know we’re not the real experts and the only thing more fun than tasting our own creations are tasting others’. When we’re not cooking for you, we’re around town sampling all that New Jersey’s culinary scene has to offer. Let take A Couple Bites!

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