Boondocks Fishery and Grill is located on the Navesink River in Red Bank at the Marina. They offer lobsters, platters and sandwiches served on a covered deck with a panoramic view stretching across the river to the mansions. The setting is as informal as can be with a walk up counter where customers place their orders, pick up a corkscrew and cups for any wine they brought. Orders are delivered to the table by a very attentive group of young servers.
The identity of Boondocks is dichotonic. If Kennebunkport meets Key West, I guess Red Bank would be a good place to meet. There is Jimmy Buffet radio playing with a couple of potted palms and ferns for décor. However, the menu is more like a New England Seafood Shack. Missing from the Key West cuisine are grouper fingers and conch fritters but yet the New England side is shy a few items like fresh clams and oysters and local fresh seafood like cod and swordfish.
The Tuesday and Wednesday twin lobster special for 24.95 is a big attraction at Boondocks and a great value. Add the BYOB factor to that and you really can’t beat it. At any other time a single lobster is the same price, so the deal is truly a twofer.
When looking at the rest of the menu, it is rather uninspired and lacking in many areas. They offer grouper but only blackened or Cajun style. Aside from that there are few fish choices, mostly deep fried. On our last visit we ordered the fish and chips. It consisted of three previously frozen processed fish fingers served with a handful of fast food style fries. It was described on the menu as “juicy cod’ but it was dry and salty like processed fish usually is. Whether or not it was cod is questionable. We asked for malt vinegar which is a staple accompaniment of fish and chips and not only was it not available, our server never heard of it. One of our friends had the shrimp cocktail. The six shrimp were a nice size and appeared to be gulf shrimp. Not a bad deal at 6.95 even though they must be peeled. A platter of fried calamari was light, tender and crisp but also tasted like a frozen product.
On another occasion I tried the fried flounder sandwich which tasted fresh, but that was late last season. On another visit they offered a soft shelled crab platter as a special. I really wanted a soft shelled crab sandwich, but they would not accommodate me. Why? They had the roll and the crab so why not offer it?
The impression I am left with, after visiting Boondocks a few times, is that they are selling the vibe and the view but the food is secondary. It appears to be more about the margins than to encourage returning guests with the quality of food. For example, a lobster roll is 16.95 here and is the same lobster meat with mayo on a hot dog roll as anywhere else. Not even a buttered and toasted New England hot dog roll. I can order that in a dozen other places along the shore for 11.00 to 15.00 and it will be as good or better. Will it be a BYOB with a great view? Maybe not. But that just reinforces what I believe.
Boondocks is a fun place to eat, without question. You can party like a Lob Star as their tag line says, but do it on lobster night for the best deal. If you live nearby it is worth a visit but do not travel far, just to eat here with great expectations. Bring cash. They do not accept anything else.
Boondocks is only opened for the season closing in September. It is BYOB. Parking is metered in a municipal lot, which is free after 6PM and on Sundays.