In Freehold, things are heating up following the St. Patrick’s Day opening of the Loaded Spoon, a vibrant new gastronomic destination that blends bold fl avors, creative mixology, and lively late-night entertainment under one sophisticated roof. Whether planning a rollicking girl’s night out, weekend date night, or special occasion, the electric new dining concept is ready for action. Th e Loaded Spoon experience begins in the welcoming Garden Room, a vibrant space graced with dripping faux foliage and glittering chandeliers. A grand formal dining area with a marble-topped bar seats up to 275 people. Couples favor the novel bar-height settees and modern lighting motifs, surrounded by abstract art.

Behind the bar stands mixologist Ryan Loughran, who takes pride in creating cocktails that are as satisfying as they are aesthetically pleasing, an apt description for one of his signature drinks, the Blood of the Dragon. The rich, purple hued libation is topped with lush lavender foam and a slice of dragon fruit. Jalapeño tequila and mezcal dances with hibiscus tea syrup and pineapple juice for a delicate blend of spicy and sweet. The restaurant and bar industry are in this mixologist’s DNA. In fact, both of his parents were bartenders. “I spent a lot of time in bars drinking Shirley Temples,” he recalled. In the craft cocktail world, Loughran sharpened his skills over time. He spent 13 years at New Brunswick’s now-shuttered Old Bay Restaurant, and an additional six at Teak in Red Bank.

“In the past 15 years, creative cocktails have become fancy,” he said. “Certain things pair well with each other like mezcal and pineapple.” Just as a painter fi lls his palette with an array of hues, and the chef crafts plates of visual art through food, so does the spirits artist. “As a kitchen would prep, we prep at the bar, which is the evolution of the trade,” said Loughran. His ornate cocktails marry well with the inventive food menu. Standout appetizers include the surf-and-turf skewer with steak tips, shrimp, and fresh herbs, and the beggar’s purse, a fried wonton with sausage, salami, sweet bell pepper, ricotta, pecorino, pepperoni aioli, and fig glaze.

The chef ’s winning menu continues with crowd pleasers like chicken lollipops, polenta cacio e pepe, and burrata tartufa. Decadent desserts and loaded milk shakes are encores, and for brunch fanatics, there’s the Jersey benny, Dante’s inferno eggs made with chorizo, smoked chili, and pickled jalapeño, and tipsy pancakes brimming with “drunken berries.” For parties of four to six, the donut tower is a must. If nightlife is your fancy, there’s live entertainment on Friday and Saturday nights. As the Loaded Spoon’s clientele swells through word of mouth, patrons are in better hands with Loughran than they may realize. Th is bartender has a degree in psychology, obtained from Rutgers University in 2005. Although he began a career at Carrier Clinic, he eventually decided, “It wasn’t for me.” Instead, he’s doing what he loves with a staff of seven, who are ready to mix the To Kill a Rose cocktail, a bright strawberry margarita with a velvety rose petal fl oating on top. It’s refreshing and just ripe for warmer weather. Loughran is especially looking forward to this summer. He and his wife, Colleen, are expecting their fi rst child, a girl. “I can’t wait to meet her,” he said enthusiastically.


The Loaded Spoon 108 Schanck Road, Freehold / 732.813.8700 /