I have a freshly minted Medicare card in my wallet, so you can guess my age. As a kid growing up in Northern New Jersey, most of my memories are stored long term between my ears, and of course, with a bunch of old photographs, and a few home movies.
One of my old memories, I'm fortunate to say, is not just alive in my head., or on an old post card. It's alive and well in the real world, Bahrs Landing Restaurant in Highlands, NJ.
I have to take you back to the early fifties, when as a youngster barely able to see over the back seat to where my father was driving, quite often next to my maternal grandmother, Nana (see other stories). Some of my earliest thoughts were plunging down a steep hill before the Sandy Hook Bridge, and rolling into Bahrs parking lot, joyfully each time we went.
Here's the thing, when we moved back to the area four months ago, I took my now elderly parents back to Bahrs, entering through the front door like a time tunnel. As best I can recall, most, if not all the nautical artifacts were still in place, like my mental snapshot from the fifties, including a salty looking old sea captain (life size), and a diving suit which looked designed by Captain Nemo himself.
The effect on me is to feel like a kid again, as I told Jay, the great grand son of Jack Bahrs. He and his wife, Becky, have kept Bahrs riding on a perfect wave in every respect, and they bend over backwards to keep it that way. Aside from consistent, superb food, someone will even pick you up a the ferry from New York City a mile away is you like. Have a boat? Dock it at Bahrs pier.
We've been back several times the past few months, and this last time a few days ago we were treated to a show by the seagulls hanging around the fishing boats adjacent to Bahrs. One way to characterize seagulls is they're flying rats with good PR, but they sure aren't dumb. On one side of the boat dock is a flat roofed storage shack. The gulls were dropping clams onto the roof, which cracked them open, then the gulls would swoop down for and easy meal.
My grandfather used to tell me, if I wanted good seafood, the best chance was at a place where I could see the ocean, and I haven't found a place better than Bahrs.
As I said, FOUR generations riding atop that wave. So I have my two favorite restaurants: Berta's for Turf, and Bahrs for Surf.
Also, in case you're wondering, no apostrophes. Jack Bahrs is the founder's name.