To say I’ve said “I have to try that place!” every time I’ve driven by the Sandbox Café & Bath House in Ship Bottom, NJ would be an understatement. So when my fiancé pulled me out the door to go there on a cloudy Sunday before I could crack any eggs, I shouldn’t have been surprised, obviously I had gone over my limit. I was a tad excited.
The Sandbox Café & Bath House has an entrance like the Secret Garden. Located on a corner on Long Beach Boulevard, the welcoming sign is surrounded by trees and flowers…mountains of flowers and trinkets galore. The hostess greeted us under her red umbrella and brought us into the “restaurant. “ I’m not sure what to call it. Like I said, it resembles my imagination’s memory of The Magic Garden. Everywhere I looked there were frogs, fairies, mermaids, and birds (you will have to see which ones are real when you go).
We were led to the “cove,” according to the sign on the tree that hovered over us, a little nook all to ourselves. There is no roof, only umbrellas, so when it started to rain we quickly moved to the table next to ours and hid under the umbrella. The café usually has a line out the garden gate due to the small capacity and the great food. Today there was no wait because the rainy weather had scared the beach goers home, leaving the place to us and a few other patrons.
Our hopes for breakfast were soon crushed when our waitress caught us looking at the breakfast menu and informed us that the grill had been flipped for lunch. Hesitant, we figured we would stay (just another excuse to come back for their Best of the Jersey Shore Breakfasts of 2010). I ordered a pineapple juice and delved into their lunch menu.
Out of many tempting choices including empanadas, the classic Puerto Rican wrap, and garden salads, I finally chose the Badda Bing wrap. The Sandbox’s signature creation of fresh mozzarella, fried eggplant, roasted red pepper, and fresh bruschetta in a sun dried tomato wrap. My dining partner chose the Fresh Mozzarella wrap with sun-dried tomatoes, roasted red peppers, and olives on a pesto wrap. If you didn’t guess, we are both mozzarella lovers.
While we waited for our food to arrive, we continued to look at all of the decorations including the sign right behind me that read “It’s been asked a million times, and the answer is YES! You may lick off your plate!” Definitely one of the greatest signs in a restaurant to date.
As the rain started to come down, the café announced we were their last patrons of the day and that they hoped we would enjoy the tropical rain forest effects, don’t worry it was at no extra charge. Then our food arrived much to the delight of my growling stomach. Our wraps were placed on tropical themed plates with chips, coleslaw, and a pickle. As I bit into my Badda Bing wrap, I could taste all of the flavors with the crunchiness of the fried eggplant standing up to the softness of the rest of the ingredients. The mozzarella wrap was equally delicious; I even enjoyed the olives.
Our plates empty and licked (hey the sign said it was okay!), we left the tropical rain forest version of The Sandbox Café & Bath House, and vowed we would return. Maybe next time we will enjoy the sunshine in the garden while eating breakfast from the other side of the grill and see where that bath house is located.
Sandbox Café & Bath House
Ship Bottom, NJ, 08008
Mon – Sun: 8:00 am – 3:00 pm
Melissa Beveridge was raised in Monmouth County, and has been hunting, gathering, and tasting different shore foods for as long as she could eat, while creating unique dishes in her home. She earned her Bachelors in Political Science and Masters in Public Policy at Monmouth University where she wrote her thesis on childhood obesity. She is an ESL professor, designer, cook, and editorial writer for the Greenwich Village Gazette (nycny.com). Traveling to various locales, Melissa has a taste for spicy foods and a flare for finding those hidden gems.