An imposing array of hostesses greet diners upon arrival at Busch's Seafood, making even the greenhead flies outside seem friendly. After receiving a reluctant nod of approval, diners are whisked off through a myriad of dining rooms to their seats. With low ceiling and little sunlight, the restaurant can give you the feel that you’re actually eating in a ship. The 1950’s style lounge d�cor with eerie colored lights and maritime furnishings would be cool if it was meant to be retro. Instead it appears to be original to the era and could use some updating. Colorful touches however, like jetty poles that anchor tables, family pictures lining the walls and a nautical mural enhance the mood.
As far as culinary strengths, Busch’s excels. The restaurant is famous for its legendary she crab soup ($6.25 for a cup/$7.50 for a bowl), served only on Sunday and Tuesday. You can’t go wrong with Busch’s fried seafood platters, such the baked deviled crab and fried shrimp combo ($25).
On more subtle dishes like tortellini with garlic sauce ($15) or broiled salmon ($21.50). The restaurant appears clumsy with gigantic portions and unbalanced presentation. The tortellini is smothered with an extra creamy sauce that competes with the cheese in the pasta and the salmon is served with a bowl of uneventful macaroni and cheese.
Be sure to carve out some time for your meal at Busch’s because even on the weekdays the restaurant fills up and dinner can take more than two hours. That’s due in part to the seemingly harried servers (the restaurant is understaffed) who are congenial but take a long time to fill orders and often make mistakes. The inexplicably small soda glasses that require constant requests for refills could be another reason for the delays.
Wednesday nights are a popular time at the restaurant. Kids 12 and under eat free with an accompanying adult. There’s also live entertainment Wednesday through Saturday, 9 p.m. to midnight.
Busch’s is one of those classic Jersey shore experiences that is worth at least one visit. If you like seafood you are in luck, just bring plenty of cash and be prepared to stay a while.