When we took on this crazy task of writing about what we eat, we found that one thing is always certain: there are no guarantees. And a few weeks ago, we were reminded of that when we had one of the most disappointing and depressing meals at what used to be one of our favorites, the Chelsea . However, the word was that Cape Resorts hired a company to take over the Fifth Floor operations, and the main restaurant was no longer the Chelsea Prime (it was now a casual concept known simply as “The 5th Floor”). We found that Chef Jason Hanin had left, the cocktails were undrinkable, and after picking around entrees like a bowlful of sandy, unseasoned clams and pasta (still just as gritty after sending the first one back to the kitchen) John and I left both half-hungry and half-queasy. We were in search of comfort, and strolled over to the Tropicana perhaps for a drink, a bite, something to soothe not only our stomachs but our souls. And after realizing we didn’t want to pay a cover simply to have a tasty mojito and conversation at the Cuba Libre bar (it was after 11:00 p.m.) , we began to despair. But once again, the Universe reminds us that there are always more surprises in store for us.
When we first walked past the newly-opened Broadway Burger Bar (located in the Quarter, in what was once Red Square) , we noted it dismissively: “Yes, yes, another burger place, big fat honkin’ deal.” And it was a chain, at that. But as we stood outside the Quarter’s restaurants, hemming and hawing over our next move, John noticed something…a blackboard list of local farms hanging at the entrance of this burger joint, mentioning nearby purveyors like Jah’s Creation Organic Farm in Egg Harbor Township. Huh? We had to go in and check out the menu. The hostess obliged us and we were told that all the produce was provided by local farms, and the menu included grass-fed beef and free range poultry. We knew we might be on to somethng, and decided to sit at the bar and unwind. We were given a prompt and friendly greeting by Greg, who got us comfortable and answered our questions about the menu with as much knowledge as a seasoned waitperson in the dining room. Nice. I knew was in the mood for a good cocktail that was refreshing, different, but not syrupy and sweet, and there were a lot of delicious-sounding Pre-Prohibition style drinks, like a Royal Sidecar (Crown Royal, lime, orange juice) or a Million Dollar Manhattan (Knob Creek Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, cherry juice, bitters, with an option to add dry vermouth to make it “perfect”). I went with the Cucumber Cosmo (Hendricks Cucumber Gin, Triple Sec, white cranberry juice, and lime), but was puzzled when it arrived. It was good, very good, perfectly refreshing, balanced, and not remotely nasty-sweet…could you really call it a Cosmo? Perhaps this bar didn’t want to further abuse the term “martini”, either…. We also noticed the bar list included “Adult Shakes”, such as the Cherry Chocolate (Jim Beam, Red Stag Bourbon, chocolate ice cream) or the Root Float (Root Organic Liquor , root beer and vanilla ice cream). John hesitated, but decided on a beer. There was a fabulous list to choose from, over 60 craft brews in fact. He settled himself in with a nice Samuel Smith Nut Brown Ale, and we were both much happier than we had been moments before.
Then Greg asked about how our evening was going, and we couldn’t help but unload the night’s culinary woes (after all, isn’t that what bartenders are for?). “The Chelsea? I used to work there, I loved that place!” Go figure, of all the places for us to sit down that night! We reminisced about the wonders of the place (only 6 months ago!), expressing our hopes that this was just a temporary glitch while they figure out what they want to be. After confessing our troubles, Greg graciously slipped away to help other customers and prepare for the inevitable late-night onslaught they receive when the nightclubs close. We sipped away at our drinks and found that our appetites started to return, albeit not at full force; we decided that sampling the beef sliders (with caramelized onions and cheddar , and a side of organic greens) would finish the job of curing what ailed us. Without missing a beat, Greg saw us conspiring over the menu again and came over to take our order. Of the two choices offered, we requested the patties to be cooked “pink” (the only other option is “not pink”). Were they the best sliders we ever had? Well, no, that honor of distinction goes to a friend of ours from Jersey Foodies. But these were pretty damn close. And the sweet and crisp local greens (the other choices included fries or slaw) worked for us that evening.
After relaxing and lingering for a while, we left feeling restored and well-taken care of, realizing we’d have to come back for a full meal. And unlike a usual trip to a chain, it was nice to know that we still managed to help support our local farms, too.
Broadway Burger Bar, 2801 Pacific Avenue, Atlantic City. (609) 317-4660.