Saturday, July 23, 2016

Day trip to the Jersey shore: Viking Fresh seafood, a stop in Red Bank

This seafood shack is part of Viking Village, the name given to a lobster-fishing co-op Norwegians founded in the 1920s in Barnegat Light, on Long Beach Island. When the lobsters got scarce, the co-op evolved into today's scallop, gill-net and long-line fishing operation.

From the lunch menu at Viking Fresh Off the Hook, I ordered these beautifully fried wild-caught sea scallops with house-made coleslaw and a side salad instead of french fries ($14.95), above, and my wife chose a Fried Soft-Shell Crab Sandwich with a side salad ($12.95), below.


BARNEGAT LIGHT -- I've been in love with the Jersey shore since I was a kid growing up in Brooklyn who luckily got to spend every summer in Bradley Beach.

Now, one of my favorite places to visit is this fishing port on the Atlantic Ocean, where you can sample seafood fresh off the boats that dock at historic Viking Village.

We drove down on Friday for lunch under an umbrella at Viking Fresh Off the Hook, which is strictly takeout, but which serves those incredibly delicious sea scallops the fishery is best known for.

The informal setting at Viking Fresh Off the Hook didn't stop three women at another table from washing down their lunch with a bottle of prosecco, a sparkling wine from Italy.

Inside Viking Fresh Off the Hook, you can find prepared seafood, including a lobster salad for $36.95 a pound, right rear. The takeout shack is at 1905 Bayview Ave., Barnegat Light; 1-609-361-8900. Open until Labor Day.

Barnegat Light is one of New Jersey's biggest fishing ports, above and below.

Viking Village includes a fresh-fish market.

Jumbo crab cakes -- "made with love" -- were $8.50 each.

The best sea scallops are "dry," such as these in the Viking Village market. If you see scallops in liquid, avoid them and the preservative they are swimming in.

A sign of the times in Viking Village.

Viking Village is at 1801 Bayview Ave., Barnegat Light. Nearby, old fishing shacks have been converted into gift shops.

Even the tolls can't diminish the beauty of the Garden State Parkway.

Fridays during the summer are not the best time to visit the shore, as you can see from traffic on Route 72 heading for the bridge to Long Beach Island. This backup was caused by an accident, but on the way home Friday afternoon, we saw four lanes of bumper-to-bumper traffic on the southbound Garden State Parkway.
On the way home, we stopped at the Oyster Point Hotel in Red Bank, with vistas of the Navesink River, above and below.

At the hotel, Tesla Motors threw a reception for owners of the all-electric Model S, Model X SUV and Roadster, and their guests, and served Jersey specialties, including sausage-and-pepper hero sandwiches, pizza and salt water taffy.

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