230 Main Street
Asbury Park, NJ 07712
One of my besties, Denise Ramirez, was premiering in an independent movie, Icegrill, USA, in Central Jersey. Although it was quite a distance from NYC, we had to support our girl, so a few friends and I took a road trip to the showing. We planned on eating along the way, but we unexpectedly got lost and only focused on making it to the film on time, which, thankfully, we did. After the movie we went on our next mission to find food pronto. Luckily, we ran into Bistro Ole, the cutest most unassuming Portuguese and Spanish infused eatery in Asbury Park.
The décor is very inviting, with navy blue walls and white borders decorated with Spanish flamenco murals and Spanish and Portuguese artifacts. It's cozy enough that it can get a bit loud in the room (but it's only because everyone seems to be having a great time!) and it’s spacious enough that you won't be bumping elbows with anyone. As we waited, we were served a basket of warm bread paired with an addicting parsley, garlic, and onion infused oil. Maybe it was our grumbling stomachs, but we couldn’t stop eating it. The tapas are much larger than the average dish; so don’t go crazy ordering tons of food. We had the Catalonia mussels that come in a spicy red sauce that were perfect for more bread dipping. The Platano Rellenos (sweet plantains topped with shredded beef) were a great sweet and savory combo and the shredded beef was tender and very juicy. If you’re looking for something light, the Latin Experience salad (avocado, greens, tomatoes, tortilla chips) was refreshing and light, yet the avocado and nachos make it a filling dish.
I can't recommend the soups as the Caldo Verde and the Portuguese bread soup were very watery. But, in their defense, the kitchen had closed 45 min before we arrived, so it may have not been the best time to start preparing a soup as soups can take some time of simmering before the flavors kick in. What made up for it was the BYOB policy--always makes for a cheaper meal--and my fave dish of the night, Just Crab (crab cakes, sautéed spinach, smoke cream sauce, and angel hair potatoes.) There were chunks of crabmeat instead of lots of breading, which I always appreciate. The spinach, sauce, and crunchy potatoes gave it great consistency and an amazing flavor.
I later found out that this popular resto has been open for 7 years. That is right around the time when Asbury Park started making a turn from a run down town to a more cultural destination. From the looks of it, Bistro Ole couldn’t be a better staple in this area for its revitalization.