Ok, that needs a little back story.
Before we got this website started, I frequented a soccer message board which eventually became known as BigSoccer. I know – that has all the makings of labeling me a loser on a number of levels, but work with me here. While being able to chat about all things footy, there were also boards that were not about soccer. In fact, one board was started that was on food and travel. Lisa and I had always been rather chatty about places we had been, so writing on this new board was a natural extension of what we did anyway.
And so – in honor of our little site hitting four years today, let me take you back to late summer 2006 (yes – all the way back to 2006) and for a recap I wrote about a weekend trip we took to Cape May. Enjoy!
God Bless the in-laws.
Having agreed to take our son off our hands for a few days, my wife and I took off down the Garden State Parkway to Cape May. The drive is about 90 minutes from our house in Forked River. The view down the Parkway is very pretty and varied, going from the Pine Barrens to the lowlands around the Mullica River and the Great Egg Harbor, then quickly catching the casinos of Atlantic City off in the distance.
We finally come to Mile 0 on the Parkway, then over a bridge to Cape May. We needed lunch, and decided to pay a visit to one of the food institutions of this town, The Lobster House (https://www.thelobsterhouse.com/shop/Lobsterhouse.htm). Short on pretty decor but long of fresh seafood done simply and well, not to mention a nice outdoor area to eat by the water, this place is always busy. Always. My fried scallops were yummy, and not a single grain of sand. My wife got a fried seafood combination that included flounder and shrimp as well as scallops. Price-wise, The Lobster House is very reasonable.
After lunch, we went to our home for next few days, The Star Inn (http://www.thestarinn.net/). Owned by the same folks who run Congress Hall across the street, The Star Inn is less Victorian and more funky. Unfortunately, budget constraints kept us from getting a hotel suite, but the inn room was very nice (a little on the small side, though).
One of the nice things about The Star Inn is that you get many of the same amenities you would get if you were staying at Congress Hall. We took advantage of that right away by getting free use of lounge chairs and towels while laying out on the beach. They were brought out to us by the ‘cabana boy’. Very schwanky.
For dinner, we decided to try The Cape Orient (http://www.capemaytimes.com/Restaura…ape-orient.htm) and sample their Chinese, Japanese and Thai dishes. And upon sampling their dishes, it confirmed my feelings that restaurants that try to do different styles of Asian cuisine will fail in at least one of them. In this case, it was their Thai food, which was mediocre at best. Next time, I think we’ll just stick to their Chinese menu.
After dinner, we decided to hit one of the bars at Congress Hall, The Boiler Room (http://www.congresshall.com/pages/boiler_new.html). Located where the boiler room used to be, it’s a fun night club that has live jazz on the weekend. BUT, if you want a drink, keep it simple. My wife ordered a mojito, and the drink they gave her was nothing short of putrid.
A nighttime walk along the beach ended Day 1.
Day 2: Saturday (9/23)
Sleeping in late is underrated.
After enjoying our complimentary Starbucks coffee and homemade muffin at The Star Inn’s cafe, Saturday became our ‘Sideways’ day; i.e. sampling the wineries in the area. But, before that, how can one start a wine tasting trip?
By hitting the local Texas-style BBQ place, that’s how!
Located 10 minutes outside Cape May proper, Boyd’s Texas-Style BBQ(http://www.villasbbq.com/Index.html) was a real find for us. I saw a small blurb about it in a local brochure the day before, and since it was near the wineries we gave it a shot. And we were soooooo glad. The owner/chef is originally from Jersey, but had lived in Texas for about 30 years. He brought his knowledge of BBQ back to Jersey, and we’re the better for it. The brisket was wonderful, and I didn’t need sauce. And Boyd is a nice, friendly guy who will chat your ear off.
Now, onto the drinking, erm, wine tasting.
The big boy on the block is Cape May Winery (http://www.capemaywinery.com/). We found their wines to be decent, and picked up a couple of bottles (including a semi sweet one for my MIL). You also had the option of having your bottle opened and enjoying your wine on a deck overlooking the vineyard, which is a nice little touch.
Smaller, newer, but more impressive were the wines from Turdo Vineyards (http://www.turdovineyards.com/). Focusing on Italian styles, we very much enjoyed their Sangiovese, which could stand up well to any red gravy you could find.
Now we get to dinner, and the star attraction of the weekend…410 Bank Street (http://www.capemaytimes.com/Restaura…y/410bank.htm). We’ve been wanting to go here for years, but being only open from May to October makes it tough.
It was sooooo worth the wait.
410 Bank Street offers a fusion of Caribbean, French, Creole and Asian flavors to the party. Unlike a lot of top notch places in Cape May, the atmosphere is relaxed and comfortable…like you’re having dinner on someone’s screened-in front porch. The two times tuna appetizer of ceviche and seared with wasabi sauce and a shot of sake was wonderful. My wife’s bisque-like seafood soup (complete with puff pastry shaped like a fish on top) was beyond description. Then the entrees: my seared yellow fin tuna in black bean sauce and my wife’s scallops in a basil tomato cream sauce with basil mashed potatoes…just wonderful. I can’t say enough good things about this place. If you can go, go.
We finished off the evening with a drink at The Brown Room (http://www.congresshall.com/pages/brownroom_new.html). Now, Cape May is known for its Victorian homes. but having a drink in The Brown Room is like stepping into the Gatsby era. You feel like you should be wearing a tuxedo and waiting for a Agatha Christie murder to break out. After enjoying our well-made martinis, we called it a night.
Day 3: Sunday (9/24)
I think everyone should have complimentary Starbucks coffee in the morning. Elect me as your President and…
Anyways, Sunday was a much more relaxed kind of day. We got up very late, and took a leisurely stroll on the beach towards our day at the Cape May Day Spa (http://www.capemaydayspa.com/). Our spa package included a soak in the whirlpool, a full body massage (which was oh so good) and a nice light lunch afterwards. After my Starbucks initiative, the second thing I would get on would be complimenatry massages on a weekly basis.
With plenty of time before dinner, we took our time and went shopping along the Washington Street Mall (http://www.washingtonstreetmall.com/). Open only to pedestrian traffic, the Mall has many little shops and eateries. We ended up at Love The Cook (a personal favorite for kitcheny stuff) and Up In Smoke for some cigars, just to name a few places.
For dinner, we took a very short drive over to West Cape May to try Moonfish Grill(http://www.moonfishgrill.com/Home.asp), a relatively new restaurant on the scene. Between its simple but funky decor and well-prepared meals (my wood-grilled salmon with a soy ginger glaze was yummy), it’s a nice place to have an ‘upscale’ dinner without all the pretentiousness. The funny thing was that, as we found out later, the head chef used to be at the Forked River House right down the street from us. Glad to see that he’s moved on to bigger and better things.
Stuffed from dinner, we ended the evening by smoking our cigars while sitting out in front of Congress Hall.
Day 4: Monday (9/25)
We so didn’t want to leave.
Before we headed for home, we still had some things we wanted to do. But first, a late breakfast at The Blue Pig Tavern (http://www.congresshall.com/pages/bluepig_new.html), located at Congress Hall. Not an exciting menu, but what they do offer is very well prepared. And sitting outside on a beautiful early fall day made the meal even better.
As many times as we have been to Cape May, we had never taken one of the tours. We decided to take a Historical Trolley Tour (http://www.capemaymac.org/). It’s 45 minutes of architecture, history and interesting little stories about the town. Although known for its Victorian homes, you can find examples of a number of older styles, including colonial, federalist, and colonial revival.
Our last meal before we headed home was at Gecko’s (http://www.capemaytimes.com/Restaura…ay/geckos.htm). Gecko’s is yet another example of how the food landscape is changing in Cape May, and for the better. Very laid back, Gecko’s is all about serving good homemade food from New Mexico. And the price tag was very reasonable as well.
Thus endeth el trip-o.