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This Spring Lake Restaurant Serves Up Fresh Seafood + Wine

by Diana Cooper
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Spring Lake Seafood has become the talk of Spring Lake ever since opening its doors in May 2021. In fact, it’s the main restaurant open late in the quiet beach town where locals and visitors can grab late-night food and socialize with friends at the bar. The delectable ocean-to-table menu, which of course features lots of fresh seafood, is what gets customers to keep coming back. There are even wine lockers where guests can leave unfinished bottles for a return trip. Read on to learn more about Spring Lake Seafood in New Jersey.

A Fresh Start

Owned by Chef Bradley Rodriguez, Spring Lake Seafood was an idea that came up during the pandemic — thanks to his wife, Lula, who also helps run and operate the eatery. “I told Bradley, ‘You have to open your own place with your own signature dishes and your personality. It has to be loud,’” Lula told The Asbury Girl. “He had this vision: ‘We’re going to have a mural and we’re going to bring this artist that does just lines and it’s going to have touches of colors.’”

Read More: A Guide to Top-Notch Seafood at the Jersey Shore

Lula, a Peruvian native, said that the restaurant opened in May 2021 just being a small breakfast and lunch spot, but then it shut down for a month and a half to undergo renovation. What is now seen on the entire back wall of the restaurant is a white and black mural — with touches of blue and yellow paint — that represents fishermen working hard to catch fish. Throughout the restaurant, there is also a beach theme, such as a wall made out of ropes, handmade wood tables, and blue and white chairs.

^ Photographed: Chef Bradley Rodriguez, owner + founder of Spring Lake Seafood

Photo Credit: @springlakeseafood

Seafood Galore

The original idea was to have a fish market inside the restaurant, but since that didn’t work out, Spring Lake Seafood offers an online fish market where guests can order the night before and it will be ready the following day so that it remains fresh. What’s in the place of the fish market is an open kitchen where guests can see sushi being made by the chefs.

The most popular sushi item, the Ora King Salmon, is amusing to see being made because it has to be lit with fire to achieve the smokey taste (see below). Lula described it as: “It just melts in your mouth. It’s unbelievable. It’s one of my favorites. When I try it, it always blows me away.”

Lula said all their seafood is fresh fish that’s caught “every day.” Some of the fish can be seen hanging so that it can be dry-aged. “People love the mahi mahi, the tuna pizza. The sushi has been booming, and then there is the Ahi Tuna and Shrimp + Grits that everyone loves,” she quipped. The menu also includes Mussels + Fries, grilled oysters, lobster roll, Wagyu Steak Bavette, fluke and chicken Milanese, day boat scallops, and lobster mac + cheese.

Bradley, who has nearly 25 years of experience in the food industry, drew inspiration from working at restaurants in New Orleans. He also recently opened a sushi bar at the Deal Casino Beach Club in Deal, NJ. The owners work with local fishing boats, farms, and purveyors to provide fresh, sustainable, and high-quality products while supporting the local economy.

Photo Credit: @springlakeseafood

Wine Tasting

Although the restaurant is BYOB, the owners teamed up with Ripe Life Wines in which bottles are sold at the bar. Ripe Life Wines also hosts a tasting where guests can try four different wines: Clambake Chardonnay, Fisherman’s Red (Pinot Noir), Clambake Rose and Moules (champagne). Two more wines will be launched next year.

Ripe Life Wines owner and founder Mary McAuley hosts tastings exclusively at SLS and Dock and Claw in Beach Haven. A third location at Willow and Whisk in Wyckoff will be launching this fall. The four wines, established in 2013 and produced in California, are available to order directly from Mary for New Jersey customers while others can order from various websites.  Diners can purchase a wine locker at the restaurant to keep unfinished wines on site for the next visit.

It wasn’t until June 2022 when Mary, a sommelier, partnered with Bradley to host tastings at Spring Lake. “Everything here is really sustainable and so are our wines. We care about sourcing our ingredients and chasing good flavor. We’re never cutting corners. And when we just met, I just knew this was kismet, it was meant to be,” Mary told The Asbury Girl, while adding her wine labels also have ocean designs which made it a perfect fit. “I couldn’t have gotten back on my feet after the pandemic without this partnership here. So, it’s really near and dear to my heart.”

Mary described the tasting: “You can come in and do our basic tasting and you’ll get a sip of each wine. If you want a premium tasting, I’ll fire off a couple of bites of food to go with each one. So, with our champagne, you’ll get a raw oyster. For our chardonnay, you get a grilled oyster. With the rose, you get a mini panzanella salad. And then with the red, you can get like a tuna dish.”

Photo Credit: @ripelifewines

Check It Out

Spring Lake Seafood is open for lunch Friday to Sunday from 11:30AM to 3:30PM and for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 4:30PM to 9PM and Friday and Saturday from 4:30PM to 10PM. The bar and restaurant, however, stays open later — until midnight some weekends — if there is still a crowd.

See More: A Visit to Scale Fish Market in Jersey City

When asked what sets Spring Lake Seafood apart from other restaurants in the area, Lula said, “Well, I think we are the only restaurant in Spring Lake. People don’t see Spring Lake as a destination to go eat. Fortunately, I can say that people are driving here, even in the off-season, to eat our dishes. They love the ambiance, the liveliness, the vibe.”

Spring Lake Seafood’s address is 1300 3rd Avenue, Spring Lake, NJ. For more information, visit the website.

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