Here at the Old Bay, we are known not just for Cajun and Creole food in New Jersey, we’re known for serving great craft beer in New Jersey. And we embrace every part of that, including the beer world’s tradition of seasonal beers.
The rich history of brewing teaches us that there is a beer for every season, and we agree. The idea of a rotating selection of seasonal beers is a spirit we like to embrace here at The Old Bay Restaurant in New Brunswick. The craft beer-loving patrons who spend time with us enjoy our ever-changing rotation of seasonal beers, and for good reason. Seasonal beers are an integral part of beer culture, the changing of the seasons, and enjoying life.
The cycle seems to start during the cold months. Winter’s chilly weather brings with it a tradition of strong, warming beers such as strong stouts and barleywines. Historically, these beers were often brewed a year in advance and stored until winter, giving them time to mature into hearty brews for when the chill hit the air. Modern brewers carry on that tradition with beers like Sierra Nevada’s Bigfoot and Founder’s Breakfast Stout.
In the spring and summer, we start seeing the lighter and more approachable beers now gracing our great tap selection. Warm weather drinks tend to be dominated by refreshing wheat beers and other easy-drinking brews that originated as a way to keep farmers’ thirst quenched while working in the fields. Styles such as saisons, farmhouse ales, witbiers and wheat beers spring directly from this tradition. So do fruity-forward beers like Dogfish Head Festina Peche.
For autumn, beers grow darker and maltier, suitable for pairing with autumn meals. The that are so popular in October were historically brewed in March and stored for October consumption. That’s where the actual name of the Oktoberfest style, Marzen, comes from. It which means “March beer.” These filling but approachable beers were perfect for the autumn months and were great for pairing with robust autumn foods like grilled sausage – and they still are!
At The Old Bay, we celebrate this long tradition of seasonal beers with our constantly rotating tap selection. Visit this June and you’ll a much different beer selection than you would in December.
Right now is an exciting time for lovers of Cajun and Creole cooking. It’s crawfish season! That means heaps and heaps of those tasty mudbugs.
If you’re from New Jersey, you may not be familiar with crawfish. Even if you are, you may not be aware of just how crazy folks from Louisiana and the surrounding states are for these tasty little critters.
So what are crawfish? Also known as crayfish, crawdads, or even “mudbugs,” are tiny freshwater crustaceans that resemble mini lobsters. There are many species, with the most packed into the southeast of the United States, though they can be found all over. You can even find them in streams throughout New Jersey!
While Louisiana is the state most attributed with eating crawfish, the fact is that they are eaten all over the world. Still, in the United States, a whopping 95% of the crawfish we eat comes from Louisiana, with 70% of them eaten right there in Louisiana!
Cooking crawfish the traditional way is pretty basic. A big ol’ pot of water, seasoning, veggies (potatoes, small onions, lemons), crawfish, and a mess of newspaper to dump them on once cooked. That’s how traditional Louisiana crawfish boils go, at least. And don’t forget the fresh corn on the cob!
Crawfish season typically runs from March to June, and at the Old Bay Restaurant, we take full advantage of it. We not only serve your traditional crawfish, but also fantastic Cajun/Creole dishes like Crawfish Etouffe.
As we prepare for our Spring Beer Garden Reopening Party on April 7, a time when we celebrate being able to once again enjoy beers outdoors, we thought we’d take a few moments to answer an important question: What the heck is a beer garden, anyway?
A beer garden is not a place where you grow beer, but it is where you grow good times.
The modern beer garden is essentially an outdoor drinking area. Sometimes they’re standalone locations and sometimes they are attached to pubs or restaurants. These outdoor areas are set up with group tables where people can enjoy beer, food, and group companionship.
Originally, beer gardens sprang up in the Bavaria section of Germany, where they are called biergartens. They were located outside the cellars of breweries. Tables would be set up under the trees, and beer stored in the cellars for the summer would be served. These were the first beer gardens.
By the 1900s, beer gardens had migrated to the United States, and now they are popular destinations for outdoor drinking. And so we find ourselves where we are today!
Here at the Old Bay Restaurant, we have embraced the beer garden tradition. We serve a widely-recognized array of craft beers to go along with our great food, and between April and October you can enjoy those beers in our outdoor beer garden.
Even better? Our beer garden is about to reopen! Join us Sunday, April 7 for our Spring Beer Garden Reopening Party. Starting at 8pm we’ll have live music, half price drinks, and loads more. Come join us!
As a quarter of a century birthday present to itself, The Old Bay has undergone an exciting facelift, enhancing the dining experience and more impressively showcasing a new musical performance area. Our live entertainment is better than ever before thanks to this!
Our Mardi Gras celebration on February 12 will be the perfect showcase for these changes. With the addition of the New Brunswick Jazz Project, who recreate the liveliness of downtown New Orleans, and Mardi Gras veterans ON7 Band on hand to keep the rock ‘n’ roll and blues pumping throughout the night, this is promising to be the most entertaining Mardi Gras yet!
But music isn’t the only thing that makes this everyone’s favorite party in New Jersey. Let’s not forget the best food and cocktails outside of New Orleans. The buffet menu includes Cajun/Creole classics like Shrimp Creole, Chicken & Sausage Jambalaya, Cajun Fried Chicken, Authentic Red Beans & Rice, Andouille Sausage w/ Garlic Bread Croutons, Jalapeno Cornbread, and Bread Pudding with a hot buttery bourbon glaze.
And yes, you can get your drink on, too. In addition to the draft beer list consisting of 24 craft beers from all over the world, a wide selection of The Old Bay’s signature NOLA classic cocktails will hit the spot, like the Hurricane, Pimms Cup, Sazerac, Swamp Water, Mint Julep, and Strawberry Mint Lemonade!
Doors will open at 5pm and the celebration will go on all night long! The $20 admission at the door, where beads and decorative masks will be provided, will give you full access to the buffet and entertainment! No reservations necessary.
You don’t want to miss Old Bay’s 25th Anniversary Mardi Gras celebration!
Making gumbo is as much an art as it is a science, but that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how. We can’t give away ALL our secrets – you can’t offer Cajun and Creole dining in New Jersey by telling everyone how you do it, after all – but we can help get you started on the road towards making great gumbo.
So what is gumbo? Gumbo is essentially a hearty soup with meat or shellfish (Creole style is generally shellfish, Cajun gumbo can vary wildly) and diced veggies, typically served on rice.
Making gumbo can be a lot of work and can take some time, but once you master it the results are out of this world. The secrets behind making a genuine, traditional gumbo are easy to remember:
1) Use okra. Traditional gumbo always uses okra! That doesn’t mean you have to use okra – it’s okay to be creative, we often are – but traditionalists will insist that okra must be part of the recipes. Many will say that if it doesn’t have okra, it’s not gumbo, it’s soup.
3) Use more than one variety of meat if possible, and steer clear of your basic, boring beef and pork. If you want to use beef or pork, use smoked meats. Poultry gumbo is also popular, even with duck and quail. Game meats are very desirable in gumbo, as are shellfish of all types. Use both when you can!
4) Be patient! A great gumbo can simmer for hours before it’s ready!
5) Be creative! Once you have the hang of making a good traditional gumbo, don’t be scared to Jersey it up with something that screams “Garden State.”
If you’ve made your own gumbo at home and have some fun New Jersey twists on the tradition, come visit us on Facebook and tell us about your dish!
In America, our Christmas traditions are as familiar as George Washington and Abe Lincoln.
Owning to its climate, there are few snow-covered cottages and candle-lit trees in the New Orleans version of Christmas. It can be bright and colorful, just like its cities.
And they liked to celebrate. The early French colonists made it a week-long celebration, with gifts typically being exchanged on New Year’s Eve. In New Orleans, it’s not unusual for Christmas celebrations to last beyond the holiday.
Food differs, too, dating back to the Colonial Era. Typically, a midnight mass was attended on Christmas Eve, then families would gather for a “Reveillon” dinner late in the evening, sleeping for just a few hours before attending an early morning mass. Those Reveillon dinners are still common in New Orleans, though they are no longer limited to just Midnight on Christmas Eve. Now they are enjoyed all December long.
Bonfires are also a part of New Orleans tradition. In the 1800s, the idea was to light the banks of the Mississippi with bonfires so Papa Noel, the Cajun Santa Claus, could find his way to the city. Those bonfires remain a part of New Orleans tradition.
Red and green are not the only traditional Christmas colors there, either. Splashes of orange and dashes of blue are nearly as common, a remnant of the city’s long and colorful history.
So as you can see, Christmas is something unique in New Orleans, just like The Old Bay is a unique Cajun / Creole restaurant in New Jersey! Merry Christmas, everyone!
You won’t find another place like New Orleans in the world. The reason lies way back in history.
There is no culture in the world like French Creole and Cajun culture because there is no place in the world where the unique elements that make them up came together in the way they did in and around New Orleans. Whether food, music, language or overall culture, what we now think of as “Cajun” is an amazing mix of 17th Century French, West African, and Native American, along with a dash of Spanish Caribbean from the Colonial Era, all of it stirred into a blender and turned into something new.
Cajuns, for example, speak a unique dialect that is essentially the French language all mixed up and turned around. Louisiana French Creole – despite some people using them interchangeably, “Cajun” and “Creole” are two distinct things – is similar in that it’s rooted in French, but it borrows grammatical rules from West Africa and local Native American tribes, then injects a bit of Spanish, to become a language of its own.
Cajun food is a similar blend of influences. Okra, for example, may be common in Louisiana dishes, but it is actually native to West Africa. It was introduced to the region by slaves brought to the New World by the French.
Gumbo is perhaps second only to crawfish as the dish people most associate with the region, but both the dish and the name have earlier roots in West Africa. Gumbo itself is a blend of culinary influences, with slaves learning how to mix ingredients they knew with ingredients introduced to them by the Native Americans, and then bringing French and Spanish culinary practices into the mix. The name “gumbo” sprang either from ki ngombo or quingombo, the name for okra in some regions of West Africa, or kombo, the Choctaw Indian name for file, another traditional ingredient.
With all these disparate elements coming together, is it any wonder that there is no place on Earth quite like New Orleans?
We are just a little more than two weeks away from the 23rd Annual Oktoberfest at the Old Bay Restaurant in New Brunswick! This year’s event will take place on Sunday, October 7 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.
You will also get a free Oktoberfest T-shirt if you’re one of the first 100 guests for the event.
The day will include a German food buffet, 24 draft beers on tap and Live German music performed by Alpine Express beginning at 1 p.m. and playing until 5 p.m..
This is one of our favorite events of the year, and we are counting down to sharing it with all of you.To get your read here are some Oktoberfest facts:
- The German Oktoberfest is held in Munich
- The festival begins on September 15 and continues until the first Sunday in October
- The beer during the festival is served in a glass called a Maß which holds 1 liter and is slightly stronger than is usually served in Munich!
- Oktoberfest goers go through great lengths to get the glasses as souvenirs. However, they are property of the respective landlord. Security guards at the entrance to each marquee to guard the glasses. Being caught with one often ends if a charge of theft. (It is possible to buy one, which is then labeled to show it has been paid for).
Celebrate Oktoberfest right here with us at the Old Bay! Would you try to get a glass if you were in Munich? Let us know on our Facebook page!
Do you love our Crawfish & Crab Cakes? It’s a great classic dish here, and that’s why it’s on our list of favorites! Today, we’re sharing the recipe with you, so the next time you’re craving it you can give it a whirl right in your own kitchen. Can you do it the way Old Bay does it? Here’s how:
The first thing you need to do is raid your cabinets and probably make a trip to the grocery store to make sure you have everything you need for this famous dish. Below is a list of ingredients necessary for the recipe.
1 lb. fresh crawfish tailmeat chopped coarsely (crawfish tailmeat is now readily available in most grocery stores)
1 lb. lump crab meat well picked of shells
2 medium size red bell peppers, chopped
2 medium size green bell peppers, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 Tbs. chopped fresh garlic
3 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbs. Creole mustard or other whole grain mustard
2 Tbs. seafood seasoning (Old Bay spice will do)
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp. each salt and pepper
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup bread crumbs
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup of olive oil
Tartar or Sherry Remoulade sauce
First, you want to sauté onions, peppers, and garlic in butter until tender and then let that cool.
Blend crawfish tail meat, crab meat, parsley, mustard, seafood seasoning, lemon juice, salt, and pepper thoroughly in a mixing bowl.
Add the cooled onion and pepper mixture and eggs, then fold in the bread crumbs.
Then form into four oz. cakes and dredge in flour.
Next, you will need to heat the oil in a frying pan and brown both sides of the cakes in a frying pan, cooking approximately two minutes per side.
Finally, finish the cakes by placing them in a baking pan and placing them in a 350 degree oven for ten minutes.
You can serve with tartar sauce or for a real New Orleans flavor Sherry Remoulade sauce. This recipe makes eight to ten 4 oz. cakes.
If you’re in the mood for some authentic crab cakes without the preparation, you know you can always come to your favorite New Brunswick restaurant and we’ll serve it up for you with your favorite drink! “Like” us on Facebook for our weekly trivia to win a free sharing plate when you dine in!
This summer at the Old Bay Restaurant, in New Brunswick, we’ve got some great events and specials to make sure all of our guests have a great summer with us! Not only can you dine with us any night of the week and pair out delicious Louisiana plates with your favorite drink, but you can join us for our specials!
Enjoy a summer happy hour special Monday through Friday 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. with 25% off our bar menu and 35% off drinks! Round up your coworkers, gather your friends and treat everyday like Friday this summer! Our summer happy hour specials are available from now until September at the bar only!
If that’s not enough we’ve also got the Shellfish Festival in August! From August 13 through August 18 we’re proud to be bringing back this week long celebration of seafood as requested by all of you! Enjoy delicious creations of Oysters, Clams, Crab, Lobster, King Crab Legs and Snow Crab Legs!
Of course, we always have plenty going on even without our happy hour summer specials and festivals! Friday Night is ladies night, so ladies, head on over and enjoy ½ price drinks! We also have great entertainment every Saturday night. As well as karaoke on Tuesdays and Game Night on Mondays!
Delicious food, your favorite drinks, delectable desserts and events that will knock your socks off! What could be a better summer than that? Don’t forget to “Like” us on Facebook for trivia to win a free sharing plate as well as event updates and specials!