By Sheree Bykofsky
“…Lock the door and turn the lights down low…” You know the song by Josh Turner, but you haven’t really heard “Your Man” in the intimate way it needs to be heard until you visit the St. George’s Pub in Brigantine, NJ on a Friday night in the summer. About once a month country singer Kevin Dale takes the stage with his guitar. Kevin’s sultry, wide-ranging voice might lure you in, but there are many more reasons to grab your honey and find a seat in this fun neighborhood hangout. Reason number one? The delicious fare prepared by Chef Ricardo.
Everyone needs a go-to place. For breakfast (on the weekend only), lunch or dinner, I’m often in the mood for a clean, relaxing comfortable, local place with friendly service and interesting and dependably tasty food. I’m lucky to live near the St. George’s Pub which is also a restaurant and package store. Some people go straight to the central island bar, relax with their beverages, hang out with the locals, watch TV and graze on great snacks. Many don’t realize that the pub is attached to a fine restaurant with its own entrance next door. Chef Ricardo, in his busy yet impeccably clean kitchen, can hold his head high with the best.
On any given day owner Jimmy Fowler can be found enjoying the establishment that he created with his wife Shirley. He will proudly tell you that everything is fresh, and he is especially proud of the seafood on his menu. Some of it, he caught himself. He explains, “I fish with my eyes. I fish with my senses; I look at the current. I don’t depend on the fish finder or GPS. I run my restaurant the same way. Everything is fresh – we do it the old-fashioned way; we make our own soups and sauces and we buy nothing pre-made.”
He wasn’t lying. This week alone I enjoyed several of the specials of the day, namely Scallops å la Maryland covered with crabmeat imperial and a lovely beurre blanc sauce, and Blackened Mahi with Pineapple Habanero Glaze. It tasted like the seafood had recently jumped out of the water. I also had a very homemade B.L.T that made me nostalgic for my Mom’s. My favorite thing on the daily menu is Fish and Chips, made with delicately fried fresh cod and served with perfectly sweet coleslaw, crispy french fries and tartar or cocktail sauce. Soft dinner rolls and butter complete the picture.
But wait. Mary’s homemade cheesecake with whipped cream, chocolate sauce and a side of cherry dipping sauce! That’s Mary right there, a talented pastry chef and a delightful waitress who, like everyone at St. George’s, seems actually to enjoy and take pride in her work.
During the week, the quaint restaurant at St. George’s is quiet and comforting. The pub side is open 24/7 with an all-day menu from 11:30 a.m until 1 a.m. and beverages and light bites around the clock. Breakfast has some interesting choices, and it is one of the few places I know that serves fresh-squeezed orange juice. I enjoy having business meetings there at lunch because my clients and I can sit with papers and hear each other clearly and never feel rushed.
Different performers appear each Friday in summer. Check St. George’s Pub calendar on Facebook for the dates or just stop by about 9:30 p.m. and be surprised. Or let’s meet up for trivia on a Wednesday night. Or karaoke on Saturday.
But the main thing that keeps me and many others going back to the St. George’s Pub is Jimmy. If you see Jimmy, ask him to tell you about the time he helped save an injured turtle along with his friend from the Marine Mammal Stranding Center. It’s an exciting and funny fisherman’s tale with an engine fire and a happy ending. He also hosts classic car shows to help raise money for the Brigantine Lions Club and their seeing eye dog program. Jimmy’s good heart and passion for food, fun, and people come through in every way. I probably will be there when you arrive, but if I’m not, say hi to Jimmy for me.
St. George’s Pub
4282 Harbour Beach Blvd.
Brigantine, NJ 08203