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Southern New Jersey


monavano
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My DH and I recently spent a few glorious days in Cape May, NJ. We stayed at the Sandpiper Resort instead of a BNB for the first time. Since it was equipped with a full kitchen, we were able to enjoy the local foods and do some cooking.

On the way there, we stopped at a roadside farm stand and picked up some Jersey tomatoes, corn, lima beans and nectarines. Everything was amazing, especially the Jersey tomatoes.

We had a few good meals out too. Union Park Café in the Hotel Macomber has a lovely old school hotel dining room, with very nice service. Our two meals were a bit of a dichotomy, however. I ordered the asparagus soup with crab, and the Chilean sea bass over sautéed spinach and a manchego cheese potato pancake. Both were delicious and plated nicely.

My DH was not as fortunate in his selections. His appetizer was shrimp served with a tamarind dipping sauce and pineapple. It was cold and skimpy. For the main, duck breast was complimented nicely with a red wine reduction sauce but was plated as if it were meatloaf with 2 sides. The sides, greens on one and corn on the other looked heaped onto the plate and did not make any rhyme or reason sitting next to the duck.

We shared a creme brulee with berries and it was a great way to end the meal.

Gecko did not disappoint once again. I'm so glad this restaurant has become a perennial figure in Cape May's dining scene. We shared an order of mussels vera cruz which came in white wine sauce with olives, capers, tomatoes and onions. It only needed crusty bread to sop up the delicious liquid.

Chile rellenos camerones came with homemade black beans, jicama, pumpkin seeds, cheese and a roasted tomato cascabel sauce. DH's fajitas came with a huge amount of perfectly medium rare skirt steak. It made for tasty huevos rancheros the next morning. My only regret is that there was no room for dessert, which they get from a local German bakery.

We visited the raw bar at The Lobster House a couple times as well. The shrimp cocktail was a good deal at $8 for a dozen large firm shrimp. The crab cake sandwich is a shredded wad of under seasoned crab, deep fried with Sysco fries so bad they reminded me of the "low grade but edible" specimens I ate in high school.

On the upswing again was the cream of crab soup, laden with crab in every spoonful. Oysters Rockefeller and a 2 1/2 lb. lobster (for $26) served with corn and a baked potato had us rolling out.

We also did a little pizza comparison. Blue Moon pizza serves very thin cracker like crust pizza, toped with dabs of a slightly sweet tomato sauce and cheese. Louie's pizza (apparently voted best) was also very good, with a more doughy thicker crust and sauce topped evenly with cheese. We preferred Blue Moon.

And my favorite is Fudge Kitchen's chocolate covered salt water taffies. Like little foil wrapped crack, they are!

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Our two meals were a bit of a dichotomy, however. I ordered the asparagus soup with crab, and the Chilean sea bass over sautéed spinach and a manchego cheese potato pancake.=

I live in Central NJ but just as a side note, that might not have been sea bass! NJ has some wacky laws regarding sea bass. We have to serve a striped bass hybrid to abide. I definitely recommend trying to get scallops (if they are sourced locally) when you go to the Jersey shore. You can get realllllly good day boat scallops from different points along the shore. We get all of ours daily from a dude in Point Pleasant. Great stuff.

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I live in Central NJ but just as a side note, that might not have been sea bass! NJ has some wacky laws regarding sea bass. We have to serve a striped bass hybrid to abide. I definitely recommend trying to get scallops (if they are sourced locally) when you go to the Jersey shore. You can get realllllly good day boat scallops from different points along the shore. We get all of ours daily from a dude in Point Pleasant. Great stuff.

That makes sense, thanks for the advice. I too was dubious as to the fish's pedigree (Chilean, we were explicitly told).

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This year's trip to Cape May had dining hits and misses. The one bright constant is the abundance of farms and roadside farms stands with tomatoes, lima beans, peppers and corn.

Dining highlights included Gecko's with Southwest/Santa Fe cooking. The chef makes excellent sauces and the food is fresh and plentiful. i had a chili rubbed ribeye with a cranberry and cherry glaze that was like buttah. Frank had Manchamanteles, a braised chicken mole. Both were excellent.

George's Place is a family owned and run restaurant since 1968. I had an 5 rib chop lamb dish that at $14, was an excellent value. Breakfast is a must there. Next door to George's is Blue Moon Pizza, which serves up thin crust slices, and makes a really good cheesesteak.

The Raw Bar at the Lobster House is a delightful place to sit outdoors, watch fishing and recreational boats go by, and enjoy value-priced seafood. I love their cream of crab soup with a big shot of sherry. Mr. MV claimed the clams casino the best ever, and we both enjoyed a 2 lb. lobster with drawn butter. If you go, skip the restaurant (and the perfunctory hour+ wait at dinner) and head in back to the Raw Bar.

Dining misses included a new restauran called Cape May Fish Market. If they survive it will be because of their location which has bountiful foot traffic. I had a pitiful turkey club sandwich the was offensively skimpy on all ingredients except bread.

Surprisingly, Mr. MV, my in-laws and I were dissappointed with lunch at The Mad Batter. The crab sandwich which is advertised as "lump" was more like shredded backfin, and an order of mussels was stingy, sandy and could have been somewhat redeemed by the nice broth, but alas, came with NO BREAD. Who serves mussels without bread? Once we flagged down a waitress, she could only offer us kaiser rolls, which we then saw again with our sandwiches.

Full report here.

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Cape May.  Peter Shields Inn is excellent.  Quality ingredients and perfect execution.  We had foie gras (small slices would be my only complaint), orrechiette with lobster, radiotori with rock shrimp, gnocchi with vegetables, wagyu strip steak, and seared duck breast. The pastas are all homemade.  They sell local wine but you can bring your own.

Also in Cape May is Sapore, a reasonably priced big portion Italian restaurant.  

I would not recommend Spiagetta in Stone Harbor - expensive and not all that good.

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Cape May.  

Restaurants to avoid:  C-View and Merion Inn.

Restaurants to visit:  Peter Shields Inn and Washington Inn.

Decent Breakfast:  Aleathea's.

All the above restaurants have outdoor dining.  In general, people aren't masked while outdoors and didn't do much to maintain social distancing.  I'm of the opinion it doesn't take a president to make us safe, it just takes diligence and common sense, which apparently most many Americans lack.  

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On 9/8/2020 at 2:00 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

Restaurants to avoid:  C-View

Hahahahah!  I'm heading up there next week to go birding (in case you didn't know Cape May is one the best places in the world to watch the fall migration), and I'm rereading the book, Season At The Point, which chronicles the birders, hawk watcher and bird branders at Cape May in the mid 80s.  Anyhow, apparently the C-View Inn was the bar of choice for these bird nerds.  I'm only 70 pages in, and the C-View has been mentioned a bunch of times, as a cheap hangout for tragically poor birders.

Thanks for the tip!

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