By Don Wilno
HIGHLANDS — “The Ad Lady” and “Island Gal,” sales reps at this newspaper, quizzed me on my favorite restaurants of all time.
Hmm, I thought, that’s a difficult question to answer.
“Take your time,” The Ad Lady told me.
Best five she wanted to know.
I came up with a couple right away.
In two and a half decades at another newspaper I had visited many, many great restaurants, and some very bad ones, too.
When we finished dining at the Windansea in Highlands, I had to revise my all-time
For sure, the Windansea quickly moved to the top of the list.
Owned by Bobby Higgins and Danny Shields, the 10-year-old Windansea at 56 Shrewsbury Ave., serves up quite a fabulous array of appetizers, entrees and desserts. I had to admit, “I have never had such a fantastic meal.”
Accolades don’t come easily from me. I can be tough, very tough, on a menu if I don’t like what is served.
My reputation is well-known, I have found out. “That’s what I heard,’’ Higgins said at the end of an evening of delicious menu items created for The Ad Lady, Island Gal and “Camera Man Scott,” a 20-year employee of The Two River Times™.
Scott is such a frequent visitor to Windansea that bartender Bobby Lombardo of Highlands named Scott’s favorite drink “the Scot-tini.” It’s a mixture of Grey Goose Orange vodka shaken with muddle orange.
During my drinking days, and there were many, I would have enjoyed such a mixture. It looked wonderful and Scott enjoyed it – but just one.
I was content to have an unsweetened ice tea because I have lost 80 pounds since last September when I was ill.
Although I don’t drink any longer, nothing prevents me from enjoying a great dinner once a week, usually Thursday nights with Carmen Scharibone and sometimes Joe Digilio at what was my favorite restaurant, Due Amici, in Brielle.
After visiting the Windansea, I broke the news to my friends at Due Amici. While still a favorite, it’s one level below Windansea.
Brian Burton, the manager at Windansea, selected our appetizers:
Cajun Chicken Tenders ($6.99)
Sesame Encrusted Tuna ($12.99)
Grilled Shrimp Cocktail ($10.99)
BBQ Oysters ($12.99)
Each appetizer was outstanding, and not the usual pub fare of Buffalo wings, mozzarella sticks, and fried calamari. I loved the creativity, which is so, so rare in the industry.
We also let Burton select our entrees:
Pan Seared Sea Scallops ($22.99)
Sal’s Linguini with White Clam Sauce ($17.99)
Chicken Windansea ($18.79) – house special
Chicken Parmigiana ($18.99)
Lobster Stuffed with Lump Crab Meat ($52.95)
While each was delicious, and I mean delicious, the star of the evening was the 2 pound Broiled Lobster Stuffed with Lump Crab Meat.
Don’t be scared away by the price. It’s big enough for two and a magnificent presentation.
Wow, I thought. What a creation.
I’m a lobster lover and I know on my next trip I will order the lobster dish. You can write it down.
And there is always room for dessert, especially the new mini-parfaits ($1.99) (you can eat just one).
Again, I couldn’t help but praise the great meal. And thanks to our wonderful hosts: manager Brian Burton, bartender Bobby Lombardo and bar-back Bob Little, 18, who just graduated from Henry Hudson Regional High School and is heading to Brookdale Community College.
Nothing is better than Windansea.
DID YOU KNOW THAT…
Windansea has a Monday to Friday happy hour with half-price appetizers and drink specials…
The Tiki Bar is open for lunch and dinner…
You can dock-and-dine… Parties are welcome… There is live music seven days starting at 6 p.m.