TASTY EATS ON THE SHORE

Be­fore the height of summer hits, coastal New Jer­sey is a wor­thy des­ti­na­tion for Philadel­phi­ans who crave a beach en­vi­ron­ment with­out the crowds.

Where Philadelphia - - FRONT PAGE - BY ADAM ERACE

Once upon a time in June, Philadel­phi­ans emp­tied out of the city like wa­ter from a bath­tub. But that is no longer the case. Though Philly’s ur­ban en­vi­ron­ment can get a bit sticky in the summer, it’s very much a year-round town with great ac­tiv­i­ties hap­pen­ing straight through Au­gust.

That said, it’s still nice to de­camp to the Jer­sey Shore—merely an hour to the east—es­pe­cially in the month be­fore the crowds in­vade the beaches af­ter schools let out.

From At­lantic City, the clos­est Shore point down to Philly, down to the tip of Cape May, there are many won­der­ful places to eat—and we’re not about talk­ing board­walk food.

While you’re on the road head to­ward the wave-lapped coast and have the urge to curb hunger pangs, make a pit stop at a stel­lar Shore restau­rant, and while there are many, these are our some­what sub­jec­tive top four se­lec­tions:

HOOKED UP SEAFOOD

With its straw­berry-red roof adorned with a cutout of a gi­ant crab and sign ad­ver­tis­ing, “We kill it, we grill it,” this sea­sonal seafood mar­ket/no-frills pop-up restau­rant isn’t ex­actly aim­ing for ob­scu­rity, but the place still feels like a de­light­ful un­der-the-radar dis­cov­ery. A dry-erase board lists what’s avail­able: mahi, tuna, sword­fish, fluke, once in a while John Dory. Choose grilled or black­ened, plus two sides, like sugar-bomb corn on the cob, sautéed summer squash or gar­licky Cae­sar salad, all served on pa­per plates. It’s sim­ple stuff.

OLÓN

Any sense of time or place fades as you wan­der from the park­ing lot of the Trop­i­cana in At­lantic City, into the Quar­ter, the ho­tel’s Cuban-themed en­ter­tain­ment com­plex. But when you round a bend into this new Jose Garces restau­rant, there’s no mis­tak­ing where you are—which is to say about a hun­dred feet from the At­lantic Ocean. An un­in­ter­rupted spread of floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows frames the din­ing room. It’s a star­tling mo- ment, ac­tu­ally. Garces reprises lots of his hits from Chifa, the Peru­vian restau­rant he closed in Philly years ago—start­ing with the pan­debono, cheesy Colom­bian yucca-flour rolls, served with sticky, hot-and-sweet guava but­ter.

THE DIV­ING HORSE

The blue bloods of Seven Mile Is­land, the bar­rier atoll that com­prises Avalon and Stone Har­bor, turn out in print-and-pas­tel droves to this beachy-chic bistro with a out­door pa­tio and citi­fied seafood menu. Summer 2017 chef is Steve Eck­erd, a vet­eran of Daniel in New York. His menu re­volves around Jer­sey’s finest: corn, scal­lops, peaches, toma­toes, oys­ters and clams.

CARDINAL BISTRO

Opened last summer in a for­mer gelato shop in Vent­nor, this is the work of young chef Michael Bren­nan and his fa­ther, Thomas Bren­nan, a casino food-and-bev­er­age vet­eran. This BYOB has a menu steeped in fine- din­ing am­bi­tion, with dishes chang­ing week to week and in­volv­ing in­gre­di­ents like roasted hare and sal­sify foam.

The catch of the day is sim­ple yet fresh at Hooked Up Seafood

For more in­for­ma­tion where­trav­eler.com Olon’s bar

Roasted car­rots at Cardinal Bistro

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