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Good evening, Kibitzers! moonstruck restaurant menu with cocktailLast weekend I took another little trip to the Jersey shore, but to a nearer and more famous place, Asbury Park. I went with a friend, and our purpose was to dine in a restaurant called Moonstruck (warning: autoplay piano at link). We first met Moonstruck years ago, when we used to go to concerts in the next town over, Ocean Grove. It was then a tiny storefront on Ocean Grove's main street, BYO wine, and a line started forming on the sidewalk in mid-afternoon, since all the show-goers wanted to be seated immediately when the doors opened at five. The food was well worth the wait!

When it moved across Wesley Lake to a big Victorian building in Asbury Park, we were delighted. Now the bar opens at 4, and you can wait in comfort (no reservations for parties of fewer than 12!) for the restaurant to open at 5. Come with me below the orange meringue and see more.

moonstruck exterior

moonstruck bar with mirror ballWe arrived at Moonstruck not long after 4, and sat down in their cheerful first-floor bar. I was wondering, What's up with the mirror ball and the colored lights? The clientele is all wrong for that!

That is because I only go there once a year or less, and I always forget. As five o'clock draws near, all the servers come downstairs and gather on the landing. On the stroke of five, the colored lights start flashing, the mirror ball starts spinning, and, in honor of the movie, Dean Martin's That's Amore is played over the sound system, just loud enough to be extremely festive without actually killing small flying insects. This is the signal for servers to begin finding the parties who have signed up, and conducting them to tables, inside and out, on the upper floors. We sat inside...

moonstruck interior

...but still had a good outside view.

view from moonstruck second floor

old postcard of swan boat on wesley lakeAsbury Park is separated from Ocean Grove by a narrow body of water called Wesley Lake. For years, starting in the late 19th century and still going on in at least the 1950s (because I remember them), Wesley Lake had boats decorated as large swans, on which one could ride. Like most nice things about Asbury Park, they went away for a while in the late 20th century. Now they're back in the form of individual paddle boats that rent by the half hour. I could see them from the table, and I was so glad! There are dragons and pirate ships too, and I understand also pelicans and flamingos. Now that I know they're operating, we really must rent one next time.

swan boats

dragon and pirate ship boats

This one made a little friend.  ;)

swan boat with real goose

Here are a few views looking down Wesley Lake, some from the table and others from the street. The Victorian buildings across the water are in Ocean Grove, which is a much more prosperous and well-preserved place than Asbury Park. The big cluster of buildings down the lake, along the ocean beach, were originally the site of a big amusement complex called the Casino, although there was never gambling there. The circular building held an elaborate carousel, and the original Casino building held a variety of games, rides, and amusements like a skating rink. There were various battles about landmark status, but the building was allowed to crumble to such an extent that it was eventually torn down, and what you can see there now is apparently a stalled condo development project. Now do you see why I was so glad to see swan boats? Man, the Asbury Park I knew when I was 5 has taken an awful economic beating.

wesley lake with old casino at end

old casino

ocean grove houses

ocean grove houses with swan boat

ocean grove houses

I know some of you are just here for the food pr0n, so here you go. From top: clam chowder with local sweet corn; broiled shrimp and local sea scallops with sweet-corn risotto; roast duck with chipotle-orange sauce; and dessert -- I don't remember what they called it, but it's a pecan meringue with coffee ice cream, drizzled with praline sauce.

clam chowder

scallops and shrimp

roast duck

praline meringue sundae

Thank you for joining me on my little excursion! The floor is open for whatever you'd like to talk about. If you have a diary, your own or another one you think is worth reading, by all means give us a link!

Welcome or welcome back to Kitchen Table Kibitzing, a community series that posts nightly at 8:00 Eastern. remembrance and nomandates came up with the idea for this series during Netroots Nation 2013.

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