The Old Bay

The Old BayThe Old Bay
The Old BayThe Old Bay
Bar, Eatery

61 Church St
New Brunswick, New Jersey, 08901-1242
United States

// CLOSED //

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Reviews: 27 | Ratings: 33 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Reviews by Jmamay22:
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Jmamay22 from New York

3.85/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The atmosphere shifts depending upon the day of the week and time of the day. Earlier in the day its a great place for Cajun styled food. Later at night it turns into more of a college bar and often features a DJ and at times a band. I could do without the DJ who can make it difficult to hold a conversation. The even feature a heated outdoor patio that makes it near bearable to endure the outdoors in the dead of winter.

Quality of the food and beer is top notch.

Service is not the greatest due in part to the larger crowds in the evening, but in my visits the food was often slow to come out. The staff is not very knowledgeable about the beer they serve.

Selection is great for the area and they have 18 taps without the typical BMC domestic swill. Still some are taken up by uninspiring imports such as Guinness and others. Last visit they had Flying Fish Espresso Porter, Sierra Nevada ESB, Smuttynose Very Old Brown Dog, Hairy Eyeball and several others of interest. Smashing selection for a college bar. Bottled selection is pretty good including Chimay, Rogue and others.

Food is great, but the portions could be larger or the prices less. I like the unique and out of place spin on Cajun cuisine in a NJ restaurant.

Value is difficult to determine. Drink specials can be great with $2 drafts on Wednesday (excluding certain beers from time to time), and half price on Thursday. Food is overpriced a little in my opinion, but this is a website for beer so I rated accordingly. Highly recommended and just around the corner from the Harvest Moon Brewpub, which can make for a great evening.

Jan 31, 2008
More User Reviews:
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dbattey from New Jersey

4.09/5  rDev +1.2%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

May 09, 2016
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MacMalt from New Jersey

3.94/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.75 | food: 4

This is a longstanding, well-known, and very good restaurant in downtown New Brunswick. The food has always been good with an interesting menu. The selection of craft beers on draught has really improved recently. It's not just the "usual suspects" any more. This place is definitely worth a try.

Jan 30, 2016
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Dustin_Sallitt from New Jersey

4.4/5  rDev +8.9%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

May 30, 2015
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spycow from Illinois

3.75/5  rDev -7.2%

Nov 08, 2014
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EnthusedAboutBeer from New Jersey

3.84/5  rDev -5%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Sep 09, 2014
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tkdchampxi from New Jersey

3.5/5  rDev -13.4%

Nov 25, 2013
Photo of djrn2
djrn2 from New Jersey

3.75/5  rDev -7.2%

Oct 22, 2013
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iwanturgrlfrnd from New Jersey

4.3/5  rDev +6.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 5

Old Bay has been a part of my stomping grounds since it became legal for me to walk in. The menu has a southern style/ New Orleans theme to it, but the rest of the place really doesnt reflect that much. The food is very good. I especially enjoy the alligator balls. The kitchen serves until 11 pm too, so don't be afraid to stop in for late night eats.

What first attracted me here were the weeknight specials. Monday and Tuesday have their own stories but my nights were Wednesday and Thursday. Wednesday was once $2 pint night of anything on tap. Its now $3 pints, but still a pretty good way to try new things when you consider the 23 regularly rotated taps behind the bar. Thursdays are as good or better, depending on your perspective. A $2 dollar cover is a small price to pay for half price everything. All the taps and throw in a bottle selection on the small side, leaves plenty of options.

The downsides- unnecessary/bad djs and bands, crowds and a terrible setup in a relatively small space. The DJs are nothing special and with the size of the place, the music is always too loud. Its not like there is even a dance floor inside. Again, a small space does not lend itself to accommodating crowds trying to get to the single bar. The space between the bar and wall might as well be a movie theater isle. If you can get around these things, and for $3 pints, I sure can, Old Bay can be a pretty enjoyable experience.

Oct 12, 2010
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Gavage from Nevada

3.33/5  rDev -17.6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 3

Located in New Brunswick NJ across the street from the Hyatt. The bar area is a bit larger than what is was in the past and gets quite crowed during happy hour and on the weekend. There are some outside tables that are located under a canopy which is nice but somewhat loud with the street traffic right there. 2 floors of tables for sit down dining. Bright purple walls and plenty of Mardi Gras mask pictures adorn the walls.

The beer selection is nowhere close to what they had in the 90's. They used to offer some more unique and harder to get brews, but now it is loaded with beers you can find in any restaurant with a few taps that have some average micros. I think they are trying to attract the college crowd instead of being a leader. The only interesting beers were Rogue Dry Hopped Red and Hennepin. The bottle selection is much smaller than years ago and very average. When beers like Stella, Yuengling, Guinness, Hoegaarden, and Smithwicks pack the tap beer menu I know the glory days are over.

The food was overpriced and was pretty average in the flavor department. Old time classics I used to enjoy like crawfish etouffe now have plenty of rice filler with few crawfish. The gumbo was pretty thin and runny. Jambalaya had very little andouille and chicken, mostly pepper and onions in big slices.

There are plenty of good restaurants in New Brunswick so eat elsewhere. You may find a few beers to enjoy but I would recommend the Harvest Moon around the block as a better choice. This place will always be in my memory for being the place to go for unique and constantly changing beers, but no more.

May 06, 2009
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magnj from New Jersey

3.88/5  rDev -4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

I've been here twice now and I've enjoyed it both times. The beer selection is good, they always have something new and usually limited on tap. I have not been there on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night so I'm not sure what it's like then. I imagine it gets crazy. The wait staff and bar tenders are friendly, helpful and willing to chat assuming it's not packed. Happy hour white collar crowd.

The food is ok, we did the "sharing plates" recently. They weren't bad but they were more or less appetizers. The food was ok but not great considering the price. 4 of those sharing plates, and a pint for the two of us came near 60 with a tip. The beer is priced reasonably the food is a little higher, but it comes with the location I think.

Mar 11, 2009
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BirdFlu from New Jersey

4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Old Bay certainly has a good selection and it rotates often. This was, in fact, where my taste for craft beer really developed. The best part, though is the atomsphere. It probably has the best atomosphere of any bar I've been in... Sure, it can get crowded and loud, but I mean come on, its Rutgers. Its also a pretty big place, so even when its crowded it doesn't have to be cramped. I ate there once (baked chicken and stuffed bree, back when I ate meat) and it was very tasty. Back to the beers though, its also really nice that most draught beers (and there are many) are half price on thursdays!

Nov 27, 2008
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Reagan1984 from Massachusetts

3.94/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Was recently on business in New Jersey and headed to this watering hole for a couple of pints with co-workers. On a busy corner in New Brunswick this bar is located near some colleges and is filled with students. It does not have a college dive bar atmosphere but I can see it getting a bit immature if you know what I mean. There was a parking garage right around the corner that was convenient.

A bit tight around the bar. Wierd set-up. But it seemed to work.

The beer selection was decent and featured some local brews from the New Jersey/Pennsylvania area. The beer tasted fresh so I didn't detect any issues with cleaning the tap lines.

Wait staff was moderately helpful and attentive.

Did not try the food.

If I'm in the area I'll try it again.

Oct 12, 2008
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bonbini26 from New Jersey

4.36/5  rDev +7.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Went here on a Saturday night. There was a live band playing (jam band genre), $4 cover. Mostly 21-40age crowd I can see this place getting very crowded, but it is spaced out with an upstairs section and outside area. As far as the beer, some that stood out were: Founders Red Rye, Dogfish 60min, victory hop devil, chimay, and sixpoint rye all on tap. I had the sixpoint and founders, both around $4.75 each for a pint. Overall excellent tap and bottle selection for New Brunswick. I would def check it out, went to stuff yer face the same night, and this place def is way better as far as selection

Aug 04, 2008
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marcpal from New Jersey

4.53/5  rDev +12.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 4

Just realized- how the hell have I not reviewed this place. I think this is a real hidden gem that I am at virtually weekly.

Atmosphere is solid with a few good tvs to catch a game but it can get a little crowded late on weekends if there's a band. The clientelle has a lot of BMC drinkers but a lot that are open to trying out some of the crafts on tap.

They would do a great thing, hint hint Harvest moon as well, by ditching the dj thing and making use of their great beers.

The beer taps are always always on rotation and have a remarkable variety each and every visit.

Being a regular, Im a huge fan of the service. They admittedly dont know the most about the beers but will usually let you sample what you need. They treat you well and let you test a few and give some recommendations while admitting not to be experts.

Selection is flat out awesome for the location and the taps are ALWAYS rotating. I go each week and am always in for a good surprise- they have a lot of stuff that is atypical and rare including Victory, Weyerbacher, Troegs hard to finds among many many others. Latest trip had Brooklyn Extra Brune and Aprihop. Bottle menu has all the necessary belgians as well as some Rogue, Stone, Oskar Blues.

Food is not my style, but the snacks you can get at the bar are upscale and pretty darn good. New Orleans style food. Bananas foster is very good.

The prices are relatively steep but you pay for good craft beers. The food is also a bit upscale but they do offer specials during the week that can bring cost down. Otherwise, I feel its worth what they offer.

Highest of recommendations for both locals and for those visiting the NB area.

Apr 05, 2008
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dsa7783 from New Jersey

4.03/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 2.5 | food: 4.5

Being a former Rutgers of New Brunswick undergraduate student, I had the opportunity to sample this joint once while on campus... located on Church Street, which is pretty much in the center of this bustling college town, this was a place that was frequented by young and old alike, with many younger college kids enjoying the place as well as some of the older regulars and local businessmen who worked in the nearby vicinity... Atmosphere was very down-to-earth and casual with a nice hometown feel... The quality of the food was great, good choices to choose from and something for everyone... The service was really exceptional, our waitress was really friendly and attentive, kept checking up on me and my friends to make sure everything was alright and had a pretty good hold on the menu items and what drinks were available... food was great and the value was pretty reasonable... Recommended if you're in the area...

Dec 26, 2007
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RutgersBeerGuy from New York

3.96/5  rDev -2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

The Old Bay is located on Church St next to a pretty old graveyard, nice ambiance for a Cajun, New Orleans style restaurant.

The bar itself is to the right of the entrance and it 2 levels, with a few steps in between levels. The bottom level leads to outdoor seating.

There are 18 taps, and none of them are eaten up by American domestics. No Coors. No Budweiser. No Miller. Good start.

At the time of my visit there were a few less than exciting foreign imports.(Peroni, Guinness, Old Speckled Hen)

Next up were the expected American microbrews for this time of year .(Sierra Nevada Summerfest, Sam Adams Summer Ale, Long Trails Blackbeary Wheat, Abita Turbodog)

Finally there were some really nice brews on tap. (Dogfish Head Festina Peche, Troegs Sunshine Pils, Weihenstephaner Hefe)

There was a pretty good bottle selection with a few really nice pieces (all of the Chimay line, Rodenbach)

The food, which I did not partake in, was Cajun inspired with some classic American dishes as well.

Good, if not great bar, and a hell of a lot better than the average New Brunswick establishment.

Jun 25, 2007
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kevinhulit from New Jersey

3.98/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

my hang out for when i want to be close to RU but not remember the easton ave bars. twelve taps or so of better beers, mixed with Woodpecker Cider. Nice bottle selection (Duvel, Chimay). The bar area itself is too small, but the restaurant yields many tables and the upstairs is great for dinners. The food is AMAZING! There is an outdoor patio for the smokers, and they do great live music. The New Orleans theme is not matched anywhere in NJ.

There bottle selection is printed and acessble and is about 4 to 5 pages long. They definitely have enough to meet any possible desire.

Feb 14, 2007
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jwc215 from Arizona

4.14/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This is the place to be if you like craft beer on-tap. When I went there last night, there were 18 beers on-tap (and one cider). No macros - 6 were European, the others micros. It included some real goodies, such as La Gnomette, Smuttynose Wheat Wine, Victory Harvest Pils, and Weyerbacher Simcoe Double IPA.
The bottle selection was not as good, but still decent - including a line of Samuel Smith and a few nice Belgians.

When my friends and I entered, we were greeted by a bartender who immediately gave us a beer list, which included descriptions of each beer.

The atmosphere is nice. It has a well-lit, festive Mardi-Gras decor. Looks French Quarter. There are several floors and a small out-door area.

I haven't had the food there in awhile, so I won't comment on it, but will check back when I go there again.

It's well-worth the trip if you are in Central NJ and looking for a nice variety of tap beers.

Nov 12, 2006
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BillyB from New Jersey

4.08/5  rDev +1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

This place is hit or miss. I've been there when it wasn't very crowded and they had some great beers on tap. Other times it's so crowded and you can't move and the tap selection isn't as good. It definitely qualifies as an above average beer bar, even at it's worst. But they rotate the keg selection a lot and sometimes I'm just surprised at what they get rid of and bring in. Sometimes the bottle selection, although huge, can get a little old. You can't have that many bottle choices and have them sitting in the cooler forever. I sound a little critical but it's just because sometimes this place is awesome and other times it's just above average. Go there on a summer afternoon during the week and sit in the beer garden. Very nice.

Feb 26, 2006
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Loki from North Carolina

3.6/5  rDev -10.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Latest Review from 11-30-05
Atmosphere is still the same. The quality and selection have gone down IMO. Maybe I just hit them at a bad time. But I was really excited to go there, have a good meal with my boss and have some great beer. Their bottle selection is still good, but not great. Their draft selection was much weaker than I remembered. The only two beers that I saw that peaked my interest were the Lake Placid 46'er and the Brooklyn Smoked Porter. Both very good, but I was disappointed with the Guiness, Yeungling, and the likes that made up at least half of the draft list. Again, maybe I hit a bad night. Hopefully I'll be back soon.

Old Review 06-24-03
A beautiful building across from the Hyatt Regency in a very nice area of New Brunswick. You enter the restaurant and make the first turn to find a neon "BAR" sign pointing down to the small bar. About twelve bar stools in small, cozy bar.

They had twenty beers on tap and a new printed beer menu for that week with the new rotations. The menu also had descriptions of all the beers.

There is a great selection of regional NJ and PA brews like Stoudt's, Victory, and Flying Fish plus a Rogue, some Abita, and Magic Hat. However they also had Jersey Gold (which I was warned to stay away from), Guiness, Amstel Light, and Hoegaarden with aren't bad but very much more mainstream.

The food was good, decent Cajun/New Orleans cuisine for New Jersey. But I'm originally from Louisiana so I might be judging a bit harshly. Still good, just not great.

Definate must stop for any BA in the New Brunswick area, even if the prices are a bit high, but not outrageous.

Dec 02, 2005
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EStreet20 from New Jersey

4.25/5  rDev +5.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

What a great bar. Went out in New Brunswick last night for my birthday and we spent a few hours there. A great selection on draft of some American crafts as well as a Belgian selection (it was N'ice Chouffe last night. A few nice bottles with a beer menu that lists brews by country of origin. Definitely a plus that they use the proper type of glassware for everything. Some was branded, some wasn't. At first I thought the service was a little week but then later on in the night I got a more experienced bartender and when we got to talking he told me it was the other guy's first weekend and he's still getting used to the place. The more experienced bartender excellent. Very helpful, made recommendation etc etc.

A great touch is the outdoor patio area. the have a few tables and overhead space heaters so it's nice to sit outside, even in November.

I didn't eat there but I'd like to get back sometime soon for lunch or dinner. Overall definitely a bar worth a stop if you're in the area.

Nov 13, 2005
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thetachibro from New Jersey

4.22/5  rDev +4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

i stopped by here the other night and had a great time. it has a nice atmosphere with a decent sized bar and there is an outside seating area that has heaters so even in november it was comfortable outside. the selection on tap was nice, about 18 or 19 taps. Heavyweight baltic porter, dogfish 60 min, victory golden monkey, rogue chiolte ale, stoudts blonde double mai-bock and a couple other nice ones. the bottles were ok a bunch of sam smiths,(imperial, nutbrown, pure lager and a couple more), a couple belgians, and three german bottles. the only downfall that i had all night was when i ordered a bottle of sam smith imperial stout. it was way too cold and the bar tender first tried to give it to me in a frozen mug but luckly another bartender stopped him and i got a nice sam smith pint glass. overall it was a nice experience with good brews and good service. i'll be back soon

Nov 05, 2005
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arguemaniac from Virginia

4.05/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Seeing that this place was an “Honorable Mention” on the Top American Beer Bars list, I was really excited to finally grab a brew and bite to eat from this restaurant. Plus, I went to their web site to see the beer list they had and it was AMAZING. But sad to say, I was very disappointed when I finally got there, as the actual list available beers was not only different from that on the web-site, but a bit smaller too. Nevertheless, the really did have a great selection of beers, especially on-tap. About two dozen taps or so (I don’t remember exactly how many) and, excluding Heineken, they were all good; Avery, Dogfish Head, Wolaver’s, Copper Creek, Brooklyn, Magic Hat, just to name a few. Plus, a pretty decent bottled selection; a couple of blended lambics (which aren’t really that common in bars here in New Brunswick), a couple of Trappist ales (Chimay, for sure, but maybe one other), some decent wheat beers (Aventinus was probably my favorite), and in general a pretty good selection of foreign and domestic brews (with a handful of the usual American macros though). The atmosphere was nice, just active enough to be lively but not too unruly that you can’t have a pleasant conversation with a pal. The general décor was rustic but not run down. The one other complaint I had (besides the disappointing, though still above-average beer selection) was that the bar was TINY; my friend and I went there with the intent of sitting at the bar, but it was way too crowded so we got a table. I had the shrimp creole and it was quite good, though just a bit pricey. The one area in which this place really excelled was the service: it was prompt and the waitress was very courteous and helpful (when I asked, she explained that the beer menu changes just about everyday, while the menu online never changes, hence why they are so different). This really was a pretty nice place, just not the “beer-bar” I expected. Recommended.

Apr 23, 2005
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NiceGuyMike from New Jersey

3.81/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 5

After visiting Harvest Moon, some office friends and I made our way to The Old Bay. I was very impressed with selection on tap, I think I remember over 30 (impressive). I have to admit that I had a few in me already, so I couldn't fully enjoy the tastes, but the atmosphere is good. Later in the evening on a Friday night it draws more of a younger (read college chicks), club crowd. Good eye candy for a married fellow.

I cannot say I'm interested in trying the food, but looking forward to a revisit.

Feb 25, 2005
The Old Bay in New Brunswick, NJ
Place rating: 4.04 out of 5 with 33 ratings