Regular visitors to Freehold's quaint downtown probably are familiar with Main Street staple the Court Jester. Giving off a warm and laid-back vibe, the bar and restaurant sets itself apart from a couple of the more upscale establishments in the popular area of town.
Metromix Jersey Shore recently took a look inside the Court Jester to find out if this popular watering hole was worth its reputation, or if the joke was on us.
Décor: Forget any images of royal palaces that the Court Jester's name may conjure; the tone here is warm and welcoming. Surrounded by brick walls that are decked out with enough bookshelves to make a librarian jealous and movie posters from the golden age of Hollywood, a trip to the Court Jester feels like nothing if not a trip to the home of an older relative who has a fully stocked liquor cabinet.
However, if "spacious" is one of the adjectives you commonly look for when describing places to dine, you may feel a little cramped at the Court Jester. The sheer number of tables and people frequently in the long, narrow establishment mean the bar usually is resting on the line between intimate and confining.
Drinks: While nobody could dispute that downtown Freehold has its fair share of restaurants, owner Ryan Jones said it's the Court Jester's list of more than 30 beers on tap that helps set it apart from the competition.
True beer connoisseurs would be impressed by some of the brews that the bar has on draft, such as Kona ale from Hawaii and the strong-tasting and fantastically-named Arrogant Bastard Ale, which Jones admits can be an acquired taste.
Crowd: When asked what type of crowd the bar and restaurant usually draws, Jones said, "a little bit of everything," including people from the nearby Monmouth County Court House for lunch, a busy dinner rush and a very happening late-night bar crowd, which the Court Jester accommodates by staying open until 2 a.m. daily.
Entertainment: Along with a digital jukebox, the Court Jester also boats monthly performances by acoustic Jersey Shore duo the Half Brothers, who will next be playing there on Nov. 26, which also is "Black Wednesday."
Food: While it proudly serves up traditional bar-and-grill eats such as burgers, steaks and sandwiches, the Court Jester also features flourishes of Southwestern-style cooking on its menu, including fajitas, quesadillas and a dish known as the "super burrito." It's stuffed with spiced beef, rice, beans, roasted peppers and onions and topped with melted cheese and enchilada sauce.
The menu at the Court Jester also regularly features specials, such as the tasty and filling Tuscan shrimp salad, which comes with a tomato basil dressing.
Bottom Line: Sure, there are a lot of places to dine in downtown Freehold. But, if you're looking for a spot to sit back and relax while filling up on tasty eats and interesting brews without breaking your wallet (a typical check should come out to around $15 per person), give the Court Jester a try.
Photo by Alex Biese