We just had to find out for ourselves.
Lisa and I finally went to Shut Up And Eat off of Route 37 in Toms River for lunch. We had heard and read so much about the place: waitresses in pajamas, customers being encouraged to shout “hello” when someone new came through the door…and very good food that wouldn’t hurt your wallet. Well, we can confirm all of these rumors. Yes, the waitstaff were all wearing pajamas. And yes, they did all say “Hello!” to us when we came through the door. And yes again, the food was very good and not very inexpensive. But there’s more to the story.
When we walked into the place, and after we get our “Hello!”, we couldn’t help but notice the plethora of pictures and chachkies all over the walls; recent family photos, old post cards, toys, nostalgic ads…the works. Plenty of places do this, of course, but Shut Up And Eat goes the extra mile. In fact, there’s very little wall left to see. If you’re going the kitschy route, you might as well go all the way, right?
We then sat down at our table, and noticed that the silverware was mismatched. I looked around, and saw that every table had mismatched silverware. Clearly, this was intentional. And it made me laugh a little; not out of ‘How pathetic is this?’ but out of ‘I love the sense of humor.’ I was in a good mood and ready to…well, maybe not shut up, but certainly to eat.
After looking over the menu, I wished I was in the mood for breakfast. The pancake, waffle and french toast options looked yummy. But, we were looking for lunch, and that’s where our focus was. Lisa, who is now past the food aversion stage of pregnancy and is loving food again, decided to get the Day After Thanksgiving sandwich. As you’d expect, the sandwich consisted of turkey, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, and it is served on (heehee) white bread. I went with the retro-sounding Hawaii 5-0 sandwich, which consisted of chicken salad on banana bread with a pineapple slice.
Both sandwiches were very tasty. The Day After Thanksgiving sandwich had all the comfort of Turkey Day leftovers with the whimsical touch of white bread. And every part, even the cranberry sauce, tasted homemade. As for my Hawaii 5-0…while I don’t ever remember McGarrett asking Dan-o to get him a chicken salad sandwich, the odd combination of chicken salad, pineapple and banana bread worked for me. Well, flavor-wise, anyway. Banana bread, as I found out, does not work very well as sandwich bread structurally. The sandwich was literally crumbling in my hands. So as a public service, I offer this advice: eat your Hawaii 5-0 sandwich with a fork and knife.
Towards the end of our meal, we got to experience the heart and soul of Shut Up And Eat, Ann Gauthier. She sat down at the table next to us, holding a grandchild, chatting up the little cutie. Being in full baby mode ourselves, we ended up chatting with her and one of the waitstaff. The concept of Shut Up And Eat is supposed to be as if you’re being served food from your mother, and sitting there chatting with Ann while she held the little baby…it did feel a bit like being at a family gathering.
We left Shut Up And Eat with a very positive impression. It’s not fine dining by any stretch, but honestly it doesn’t need to be. Like The Pop Shop in Collingswood, it’s kitschy fun that doesn’t forget that the food is still the star of the show. During our meal, I had a partial view of the kitchen and was watching a lunch salad getting put together. I was happy to see the level of care the salad was getting. To me, there was definitely motherly love going on in the kitchen.
Shut Up And Eat – K-Mart Shopping Center, 213 Route 37 East, Toms River. 732.349.4544.
And now, a choice of reading…
Is it possible to have even MORE Festivals of Food? But of course! Check out the All-American Burger Smack-Down happening this weekend in Wildwood. And in August, our town of Forked River is having Crabfest (same day as the Night of Lights), while Waretown will have its annual Clamapalooza.
Here’s a write-up of the Whitesbog Blueberry Festival from last Saturday.
It looks like this year’s Jersey peach crop is going to be a good one.
And my cousin Margo is back out in water again, paddling to help protect the oceans. She’s off to Washington, bringing ‘messages in a bottle’ about peoples’ concerns to Congress, hoping that HR 21 (Oceans 21) will get passed. Read about her newest journey here and here.