Breakers Heats Up Dining Scene in Ocean County

Bar eats and more at a new tap house and restaurant in Waretown.

“Is there a waiting list for tonight?”

I am calling to see if I can get a table at Breakers Kitchen & Tap in Waretown. It’s a Tuesday night. It’s early spring.

“No, you’re OK for now. But after 6 it starts to get pretty busy,” came the reply over the phone.

Let me give you some perspective. To be blunt, Waretown is the destination where restaurants go to die. Despite the fanfare of New Jersey’s first Sonic opening here, it would go dark only a few years later. So for an eatery to be busy on a weeknight in the off-season, there must be something going on.

With menu in hand, I scanned through the usual options of burgers, sandwiches and fried fish items—and was drawn immediately to the flatbread with mushroom, pancetta and fig. It is usually in the small plates and appetizers where kitchens show creativity these days, and this dish follows that narrative. Sweet, salty and meaty—the overall effect is a happy dance that narrowly misses becoming a mosh pit.

Hot wings give the fire-grilled treatment

Admittedly, I am a sucker for wings. At Breakers, the choices of wing options are limited: mild, hot or with a dry rub. But have the kitchen throw your sauced wings back onto the grill, and you get some caramelization for an added layer of flavor.

A pleasant surprise for me was the grilled Berkshire pork chop. The rich cherry sauce with just a twang of sweetness played nicely with the pig. It may not be the first thing you think of when it’s a hot day in July, but could soothe the soul on a cool evening.

Grilled pork chop with dark cherry glaze

Other menu items were solidly executed. The Guinness Bacon Burger was sufficiently messy and decadent. And the fried calamari and fish and chips were on point.

The clearest statement Breakers makes is in its beer offerings, where local craft beers (Ocean County in particular) get a fair share of the tap space. In fact, it is one of the first establishments to have Forked River’s Backward Flag Brewing on tap.

Not everything on the menu clicked, though. I couldn’t help but feel bad for the poor morsels of ahi tuna in wonton taco shells that were drowned in sauce. And the hand-crafted cocktails were hit and miss—the bourbon-and-gingery Henry Hudson was on the plus side, while the Rail Trail Refresher was light on flavor.

Missteps aside, I see good things for the future of Breakers. Since it opened in early February, Breakers has quickly become a dining destination for a part of Ocean County that needed a food upgrade. And with Oyster Creek Brewing soon to open in the same shopping area, there is optimism that food and drink destinations in Waretown may be trending upward.

Breakers Kitchen & Tap—537 Route 9, Waretown. 609-622-2963. Open Monday through Sunday from 11:30 am to 12 am. Serves alcohol. On Brewers Appreciation Nights, brewery employees get fifteen percent off their bill. breakerskitchenandtap.com.

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