In warmer months, diners can sit on the balcony, listening to waves lap the shore. Inside, patrons dance to Gershwin, Porter, and Sinatra tunes played by the owner’s band, Tim McLoone and the Shirleys. At tables circling this theater-in-the-round, people sip martinis, tap toes, or sing along.
With 360-degree views of the ocean and the city, Tim McLoone’s Supper Club has brought style and romance to what had been New Jersey’s last Howard Johnson restaurant, on the boardwalk near Asbury Park’s historic Convention Hall. The lights are low, the acoustics superb, and everyone appears to be in festive spirits.
“The world is full of places like this that are going out of business,” says McLoone, the 60-year-old Seton Hall basketball announcer who has become a Shore icon with his jazz band, three other restaurants, and annual Holiday Express charity drive. “Something predicated on music is risky, especially when it’s not youth oriented.”
I was thrilled to see that the $2 million renovation, financed with a combination of private and public money, retained the Jetsons-like pointed star roof and the orange-railed ramp that circles the glass-walled cylindrical structure. McLoone took over management of the downstairs café in March, and oversaw the design and renovation of the Supper Club, which opened in late June. He owns the liquor license for both, but is looking to buy his own place somewhere else in Asbury Park.
Alas, the Supper Club’s style comes at a steep price. With appetizers running $10 to $18 and most entrees $24 to $36, a diner should expect excellence. Executive chef Andrew Gruel, formerly at the Ritz Carlton in Boston, uses top-notch local and organic produce, meats, and fish, but the results were inconsistent, at times disappointing.
The beef tenderloin in the carpaccio appetizer was sliced so thin it appeared to be a smear of sauce rather than meat, and its flavor was overwhelmed by a sorrel and truffle vinaigrette sauce. An herb-crusted tuna appetizer and a sea scallop entrée offered little tuna or scallop flavor, though the accompaniments (like a corn pudding with the scallops) shined. Duck confit salad, on the other hand, presented a tasty combination of shredded duck, raisins, grapes, and goat cheese on romaine.
Between our first and second visits, a few prices were lowered. The newer menu included a $24 entrée—chicken breast cooked in balsamic vinegar and natural pan juices—and a drop in price of the most expensive entrée, a deliciously tender dry-aged beef tenderloin with wild mushroom sauce, from $42 to $37. Still, dinner for four came close to $300, with just two cocktails among us. The saving grace was the lobsters—the Jazz Lobsters, an irresistible big band.
The Supper Club is open year-round. For an entertaining night of grown-up music and dancing without breaking the bank, you can pay the entertainment charge ($10 to $20), sidle up to the bar, and order a cocktail ($7 to $8) or dessert ($6). These are delicious, especially the chocolate mousse cake and the flaky double napoleons. Between sets, step outside to drink in the music of the surf, which never takes a break.Click here to leave a comment