THIS NEW CONCEPT IN RED BANK BRINGS A MEMBERS ONLY SENSIBILITY TO THE BOROUGH
BY JESSICA JONES GORMAN • PHOTOS © AMESSÉ PHOTOGRAPHY
When Le Malt Lounge opened in Colonia in 2014, whiskey connoisseurs rejoiced. Here was a posh, dimly lit gathering space with a luxe ambience and a focus on barrel aged brown spirits (700 of them, to be exact). The cocktail bar/small plate restaurant quickly became a haven for enthusiasts of top shelf liquor people whose idea of a memorable evening includes savoring a good cognac. Its mixed “Billionaire” cocktail with edible gold flakes floating on top? Yes, please.
But after realizing that his regular clientele liked smoking a robust Cohiba cigar as they sipped their $315 glass of John Walker & Sons Odyssey scotch, owner Saurabh Abrol came up with another upmarket social concept. “We felt it was time to take the Le Malt concept to a new city with a slight variation,” he explained, noting that many of his Le Malt clients are cigar aficionados who lack a public space to gather and enjoy a smoke. “There’s a void there. So we decided to create a private environment where both smokers and nonsmokers could get together in a social context.”
Called Le Malt Royale and described by its owners as a “social club,” the newish Red Bank nightlife outpost garnered a rapid response when it opened last March.
“We had a number of founding members regular Le Malt customers who joined before we even opened,” Abrol said. “They liked the idea and jumped on board when we were still in the planning phase. But word spread quickly, and soon friends of members were joining. Guests who visited just once signed on, too. Currently, our membership is about 90 percent full, which is fantastic, of course.”
Located on a bustling strip of West Front Street in Red Bank, the space was gutted and renovated to complete Abrol’s vision.
“Before we took over, it was basically four walls…a square box,” he said. “We knew how we wanted the layout to look dining room, cigar lounge, lockers so we hired an interior design company to make it happen. We ordered wallpaper from Germany, custom sculptures from Italy, and plush furniture from Denmark. We had a custom quartz sushi counter designed from scratch.”
Abrol broke the building down into five parts: The Saloon, a cigar sampling room with robust ventilation system; The Parlor, a nonsmoking dining room; The Toro, an exotic Japanese sushi bar; The Cellar, where 100 varieties of rare cigars are available; and The Lockers, where members have access to their own humidified Spanish cedar storage area.
“In terms of alcohol, it’s a BYO concept sip from your own bottle of liquor or wine while you enjoy a cigar or gourmet meal,” Abrol said. And while there are no cocktails topped with bacon and a floating orchid like you’d find at Le Malt, there is Duke Estime, a James Beard Foundation featured chef.
“We have everything from prime steaks and sea bass to a whole roasted chicken with truffles and foie gras,” Abrol said. “It’s a very extensive menu. So while we have sushi, tapas, and other small plates for a sort of sharing experience, there is also a full gourmet restaurant, where clients can have a very extensive meal.”
The popularity of the lounge has inspired the owner to think about expanding, and he is now considering scouting locations in both northern and southern New Jersey.
“We’d love to offer more options to our members, in another city…even around the world,” he concluded. “But for now we are focusing on bringing perks to our current Le Malt Royale members, and are actively planning many tasting events and other VIP affairs.”
Le Malt Royale
22 West Front Street, Red Bank
732.852.4220 / lemaltroyale.com