Highlands Eatery Earns High Marks For Location and Decor, Food Falls Short

Joe Amiel's Bay Pointe Inn opens in time for the summer rush, but with culinary misses in need of resolution.

It’s a landmark location, square on the spot where the beloved Original Oyster once stood on Sandy Hook Bay in Highlands. Joe Amiel’s Bay Pointe Inn took hold here last month just in time for the summer season, primed by its design (windows, windows everywhere, overlooking the water) and attitude (not one bar, but two, indoors and out) to capture the beach crowd, as well as anyone fancying a night to cap a day in the sun.

Joe Amiel’s Bay Pointe Inn, which physically shows the handiwork of the veteran restaurateur it is named for, does not reflect his decades in the business when it comes to operations. A first-look dinner at the expansive restaurant saw it falling short on food, service and, frankly, basic functions.

We struck out with our first three wine choices, which was embarrassing for the inexperienced, but kindly service crew tending to our table. Apparently, they were not informed that the lone wine from Spain, an albarino, was out of stock as well as the only choice from Alsace, a gewurztraminer. We then tried to nab a Loire Valley Pouilly-Fume, but that, too, wasn’t in the wine larder. A member of the management team then brought us a Sancerre from the Loire, a good alternative to the Pouilly-Fume, for sure. But that bottle was $10 higher than the one we’d selected. Only after a query was there an offer to reduce the price.

Food was grossly overcooked and presented without flourish or, seemingly, much care for appeal. A crab cake starter was pasty, its breading plain and arid and its sideshow of corn-pepper hash was charred in unflattering ways.


Roasted chicken, offered on the served-all-day-cafe menu, proved tasteless and texturally parched, its crust lacking seasoning or spark. The chicken parts sat atop mealy, soulless mashed potatoes that didn’t benefit from plain, brown gravy.

Roasted chicken

Roasted cod, a special on the night of our visit, was the most seriously overcooked. Burned in spots and served with also-burned-in-spots cauliflower florets and potato wedges, it came with a couple of schmears of indistinct orange sauce. The plate was so obviously substandard that I wondered if any trained chef bothered to take a look at it before it left the kitchen.

Cod entree

Bay Pointe’s “signature” coconut shrimp, listed in three places on the menu—as a starter, a shellfish entree and under the cafe dining section—was the best of the savory lot. It’s got too much shredded coconut coating, but the shrimp weren’t bone dry and the accompanying marmalade of orange and horseradish had a nice tang to it.

Coconut shrimp

To be honest, we were grateful for a slice of good Key lime pie.

The failures at Bay Pointe Inn are beyond the scope of a new restaurant working out kinks in the operation; they are fundamental, both in the kitchen and on the floor of the dining spaces, and they need to be addressed promptly.

Joe Amiel’s Bay Pointe Inn, 1 Willow Street, Highlands. Currently open Wednesday through Sunday for dinner; the staff notes that lunch and brunch are planned to start this month. 732-629-8000, www.joesbaypointeinn.com.

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