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Restaurants & Bars

New Jersey Atlantic City

Atlantic City & Vicinity

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Restaurants & Bars

Atlantic City & Vicinity

Rachel Perlow | Sep 7, 1999 04:15 PM

So, to continue from the “best buffet” thread, Jason
and I went to Atlantic City over Labor Day weekend.
As promised, here are our comments on the restaurants
at which we ate. Only two of the places were
previously listed on this board, another is most
definitely worth going out of your way for, if you’re
looking to get the best crabs.

We arrived at the SEAVIEW MARRIOTT RESORT (Rt. 9,
Absecon, 609-652-1800) on Friday, September 3, 1999,
at 6 PM. As per my mother’s instructions I had called
ahead to make a reservation for their locally famous
(it is obviously a celebration destination, “Happy
Birthday” was sung several times by the live piano
player (grand piano in the center of the very large
dining room)), FRIDAY SEAFOOD BUFFET. Unfortunately,
I had not called early enough – prime times book a
week in advance – and our reservation was for 9:30
PM. We got up to the room, unpacked, relaxed, took a
nap, and were starving by 9. So, we headed
downstairs, checked in with the hostess, had a drink
in the hotel bar, and were seated by 9:15. I had been
concerned that, with such a late seating, they would
be out of the best items or they would have been
picked over. No need for such worries, everything was
great.

The star of the buffet is steamed 1 – 1¼ lb.
Lobsters. Many other items are worth your attention,
as well: very large shrimp with a nicely spicy
cocktail sauce and lemon wedges, a very fresh crab
salad (huge chunks of Maryland crab in a light
vinaigrette with diced vegetables), and my personal
favorite of the buffet: Grilled Chilean Sea Bass with
Beurre Blanc. Chilean Sea Bass is not usually my
favorite fish, however it was cooked perfectly and the
grill marks had a wonderful flavor. It was served at
the carving station with the sauce on the side, along
with prime rib and pork loin for those craving meat (I
had none, but Jason said the macadamia-encrusted pork
was good). Revelation: Beurre blanc is a wonderful
dipping sauce for lobster.

There were, of course, numerous other
dishes/stations. These included: a salad station,
cheese station, caviar (with all the trimmings, but I
don’t like caviar), smoked fish (salmon and
whitefish), fried shrimp, fried scallops, pasta
station with “Scallop Carbonara” (too much bacon
flavor for me and I didn’t want to fill up on pasta,
so just had a taste (the scallops were very good both
fried and in the pasta), clam chowder, some other
Italian dishes and Jambalaya which I skipped. There
were also steamed clams and mussels in a Pernod
sauce. The clams were a little overcooked and the
Pernod didn’t match well with the mussels. Also,
there were potatoes and asparagus available. The
asparagus looked a little overcooked, so I skipped it
at first, but on a second (third?) trip up, they had
replaced it with the most perfectly cooked, skinniest
asparagus I’d ever seen!

On to dessert: there was a huge array of desserts, but
I was too full of seafood to try many of them. I
chose a slice of chocolate iced rolled white cake,
which I mostly just picked the chocolate out of, and a
fruit tartlet. The latter was wonderful. A very
crisp cookie shell (coated in white chocolate to keep
it crisp) with pastry cream and berries.

All in all this was a wonderful start to our weekend.
If you are going to be in the area on a Friday it is
worth the $50 pp price tag (~$120 for two with tax &
tip). PS – I just realized I wrote so much about the
food I forgot to mention the service, which was
excellent and very friendly.

Some other notes about the Seaview Marriott:

The hotel bar was quite nice, with live music at
night. Room service was prompt (see Saturday Night),
although we only tried it once. We shared a very good
Häagen-Dazs sundae (vanilla, chocolate and strawberry)
with hot fudge, raspberry sauce, brownies and macaroon
cookies ($5.50 plus tax & tip). I’m still craving
more of the macaroon cookies, which were nothing like
the Passover Macaroons you get in cans.

For lunch on Saturday, we went to WHITE HOUSE SUB SHOP
(2301 Arctic Ave, AC, 609-345-1564, 345-8599) on
advice of this board. It is a very nondescript corner
establishment. Nondescript except for the line out the
door. We arrived around 2:30 PM (had a continental
breakfast at the hotel around 11), and had to wait
around 15 minutes for one of the 9 booths (there are 5
or 6 stools for single patrons). The most frustrating
part about waiting there is the aroma and the locals-
in-the-know who kept walking in past us to place or
pick up a take out order. Not being lucky enough to
have another place to eat our subs, we waited
patiently while chatting with the others on line.

When we made it past the exterior door, we occupied
ourselves by looking at the countless celebrity
photos, which line nearly every inch of wall space.
By the time the grandmotherly woman in the housecoat
who cleans the tables summoned us to our table
(“Next!” – G-d help you if you aren’t paying attention
when called), we were ready to order. We shared two
half subs (each half is about 10” long). The first
was a cheese-steak with fried onions, mushrooms and
hot peppers ($.50 extra each). I had meant sweet
peppers when I said peppers, but I learned for that
you must specify a Green Pepper Cheese-Steak. It also
had lettuce and tomatoes on it, which I would ask to
have left off in future. Anyway, the sandwich was
quite tasty, dripping juices, the beef lean, the
sandwich not overly stuffed.

The second sub was the White House Special. It is an
Italian sub with very good cold cuts, provolone, raw
onions, lettuce, tomato, hot peppers and oil &
vinegar. I realized, while trying to get my mouth
around this sub, that “special” refers to extra meat.
You can also get a White House Regular, which would be
my suggestion.

The staff was very friendly, but very busy and you are
obviously not encouraged to dawdle. The deserts
available were Tastykakes, and there are no french-
fries, just bags of chips. Soda is available as cans
for 85¢ or a can with a cup of ice for 95¢. You pay
at the counter, our total was about $18 for two half
subs with extras and two sodas, including tax and tip.

Jason was craving Alaskan king crab legs after all
that lobster and shrimp on Friday night. We had the
concierge call around to some of the casino buffets to
find out if anyone had them, none did. Everyone
seemed to have snow crab that night. So, on the advice
of a hotel employee, we headed to CRABBY’S (1 mile
south of Mays Landing on Rt. 50, Belcoville, 609-625-
CRAB (2722)). It is about a half hour west of AC, on
the left as you head south on Rt. 50, a little while
down from the small “Welcome to Belcoville” sign.
According to their ads they were voted Best Crabs of
the Shore for the past 9 years. I can believe it. We
did not have a reservation, but arrived around 8:15
and did not have to wait for a table. It is a very
casual, semi-raucous local bar/restaurant. The
waitresses shout out their drink orders to the
bartender. Instead of just the staff singing Happy
Birthday, the bartender gets the entire place’s
attention by shouting, “Excuse Me Everyone!!! It’s
Linda’s Birthday, let’s all sing for her!” and we all
did. He got the crowd’s attention again a little
later to present some gifts and bid farewell to one of
the waitresses and her husband, a marine who was being
transferred. They really make you feel you don’t need
to be a local to be part of the gang.

On to the food... We had several starters. Jason had
the seafood gumbo, which was nicely spicy and full of
crab bits. I had the steamed little neck clams,
yummy, and we shared a special appetizer, Shrimp
Jalapeño Poppers served with Remoulade sauce, double
yummy, though not too spicy. As main dishes, we
shared 4 Garlic Crabs (Maryland blues, $4.25 a piece)
and the Crab Sampler ($25), which consisted of two
Alaskan king crab legs, two Maryland blues with Bay
seasoning, a snow crab and half a Dungeness crab.

The Garlic crabs were completely cleaned, sautéed and
served with scampi sauce for dipping. They were
delectable and easy to eat since the underside shell
and “dead man’s fingers” were removed. The king crab
legs were particularly sweet, even better than those
we’d had at Steve’s Pier One on Long Island, NY
(search for one of Jason’s previous posts for more on
Steve’s). Although the blue crabs were caked with Bay
seasoning, they weren’t too spicy because it was just
on the body shell. You had to take off the exterior
shell and clean out the lungs yourself on these, just
as you would in Baltimore, but they were slightly
larger than the ones prepared with garlic and were
quite sweet. Of the four, the snow crab was my least
favorite. I found it too be very iodine/salty, except
for the largest claw, which was sweet and had a
texture very similar to the Dungeness.

My only complaint is that no side dishes are served.
About halfway through our crabs, I was longing for
something, anything, green. When asked I found they
have basically no vegetables available, not even
corn! We settled for some coleslaw and french-fries.
Which were both quite good. The fries had the peel
on, were not too thick and not too skinny and weren’t
salted, which was fine with me with all that crab.

Crabby’s has all you can eat specials during
weeknights from 6 – 9 PM. I know Monday is Dungeness,
but I can’t recall Tuesday – Thursday, call and ask
because it’s worth going out of your way for this
place! BTW – our bill totaled ~$85 with tax & tip.
We wanted ice cream for dessert, but the place we saw
on the way to Crabby’s (Scoops) was closed, so that’s
why we ordered the sundae from room service (see
above).

The Seaview is supposed to have a wonderful Sunday
Brunch, but as we were going to head into AC to see a
matinee show, the concierge recommended (and made us a
reservation) at CASA NICOLA at TRUMP TAJ MAHAL (609-
449-1000) for their Sunday Brunch. Although the
restaurant serves “regional Italian specialties” at
dinnertime, Sunday Brunch was representative of a
wonderful hotel Sunday brunch ($35 pp, ~$85 for two
with tax & tip).

Among the standard brunch stations such as omelets and
waffle (with bananas foster and vanilla ice cream
available) stations, there was perfectly ripe fresh
fruit, shrimp cocktail (with shrimp even fresher and
larger than at the Seaview and extra horseradish
available if the cocktail sauce was not spicy enough),
crab claws (a little watery, they were probably
previously frozen), smoked salmon (with all the
trimmings you usually find with caviar, but I didn’t
see any caviar), a display of terrines, cheeses and
meat pates, sushi (tuna, cucumber and California – all
made fresh in front of you, though not to order), dim
sum (hargow (shrimp dumplings) and scallion pancakes
(very crunchy)) and some other Chinese dishes (fried
rice, lo mein, chow fun, gailon (Chinese broccoli –
very impressive for a non-Chinese restaurant, heck its
even impressive when a Chinese restaurant has
gailon!)), chafing dishes with pasta, fish, risotto,
chicken, beef tenderloin. What also impressed me
(besides the gailon) was the other vegetables
available, the green beans (with the beef) and the
asparagus were both perfectly cooked, not overdone as
can happen when things sit too long in chafing dishes.

Desserts were a beautiful display of individually
portioned tartlets, cakes, cookies and wineglasses
layered with puddings/mousses and Jell-O and/or
whipped cream. My favorite was a chocolate enrobed
brownie topped with chocolate mouse (under the
chocolate dip). The one dessert that didn’t work was
chocolate croissant bread pudding. As I learned in
New Orleans, bread puddings need to be made with
regular bread. Sweet or extra rich breads end up
making mushy bread pudding, as this one was.

Dinner Sunday night was at the KNIFE & FORK INN
(intersection of Atlantic, Pacific and Albany Avenues,
609-344-1133). After all the seafood of the past few
days, Jason was longing for some red meat. Advertised
as “an Atlantic City tradition since 1927 [the windows
of the dining room were etched with “since 1912”
however] ... fine steaks and seafood”, it was really
more seafood than steaks. However, not to be daunted
we did order meat. But first the starters. It was
rather windy and chilly that evening so we both
ordered soup. I had the Manhattan clam chowder, good
but nothing special. The soup de jour was another
story, Cream of Asparagus with Crab, it was simply
sublime, no salty bits of crab, just the sweetest
lumps. We also shared a plate of fried Ipswich belly
clams, on the menu as Fried Soft Clams ($19 for an
entree portion, it was not available as an appetizer,
only as a main course, although the portion was about
the same as most plates of fried clams you’d get as an
appetizer). They were OK, but not great. I had been
craving them since people started talking about them
on this board, and none of the other seafood places
we’d been to had had them.

As for main courses, Jason ordered the Surf & Turf
($38). He was the one who was tired of seafood, but
the “regular” filet mignon was $29, so for an extra
$9, he figured he may as well get the lobster tail!
It was a spiny lobster tail, of course, but very
good. The filet was very good too, cooked to the rare
side of medium-rare. My entree was not so perfect. I
ordered the chopped steak ($19), medium. It came out
over-well-done. I rarely send things back, but this
was rather dry, so I did. The waitress was very nice
about it, Jason gave me some filet mignon to nibble
and I picked at my fries. However, when my
replacement came it was more than rare, it was browned
steak tartar! (I could just imagine the cook
thinking, “she wants it less cooked, I’ll show her
less cooked!”) So the very accommodating waitress
brought it back once again. This time it was cooked
perfectly. Apparently, the head chef had taken a
break, she said he was appropriately cross with the
cook when he came back and heard what happened. I
wouldn’t necessarily recommend it however, as it had a
few too many ingredients, more like a fancy individual
meatloaf. I prefer my chopped steak to be just that.
To its benefit, it was served with wonderful onion
rings.

Meanwhile, the potato side dish was interesting, very
skinny french-fries (practically potato sticks, but
not so hard), which they called Long Branch Potatoes.
We also ordered, ala carte, a side of asparagus, which
were perfectly steamed, and what was billed as corn
fritters, which was good, but was really a corn
pancake, similar to what I make for breakfast, not
deep-fried fritters. To make up for the first chopped
steak mishap she brought us another corn fritter
(which we ended up offering to the parking attendant
(too full)). After the second, we were offered an
after-dinner drink or dessert. Being that we were
totally stuffed and the last patrons in the upstairs
dining room, we thanked her anyway, but she offered to
wrap up dessert. So, we brought back a piece of lemon
pie, which we ate that night (good, but I prefer it
tarter), and an individual sized blueberry pie, which
was wonderful shared for breakfast Monday morning.
Our bill was about $100 before tax and tip, and I left
a nice tip, as it wasn’t her fault the kitchen screwed
up.

For lunch on Monday, we felt the need to eat something
healthy (after all that overindulging and I was
starting to feel a little sick with a cold), so we
headed for LITTLE SAIGON (corner of Arctic and Iowa
Avenues, 609-347-9119) for some Vietnamese soup and
summer rolls. As soon was we walked in the door we
knew it would be good, as it was packed with
Vietnamese families. Luckily there was one table for
two left in the corner so we were able to sit right
down. I knew I wanted beef pho, but there were
several variations to choose from. I stuck with what
was billed as Deluxe Beef Pho ($8). The broth was
mild and delicious, the noodles nicely firm, and the
beef plentiful, but rather fatty. The classic
condiments of bean sprouts, basil and lime wedges were
perfectly fresh. I think what made this “deluxe” was
the extra large cartilaginous fatty pieces in the
broth. I can imagine this being a delicacy to Asians,
but I just picked them out after the first try. Next
time I’ll either try the Pho with Beef Ball I saw a
kid at the next table enjoying, or the My-Tho Style,
which is shrimp & pork in a chicken broth pho.

Jason ordered Chicken Curry with Noodles ($8), which
was a soup, although not billed as one. He was warned
it was spicy when he ordered it and again when it was
delivered. That’s fine with him, he loves spicy
food. I gave it a little taste, too spicy for me, but
Jason loved it, sweat dripping down his brow all the
way! For appetizers we had ordered spring and summer
rolls ($4 per order). The spring rolls were perfect
versions of what I was familiar with (for those that
don’t know, they are not like Chinese spring rolls,
they are tiny and have noodles as well as veggies &
pork in them). I did not care for the shredded pork
summer rolls (I usually get shrimp summer rolls, but
even I was tired of seafood at this point), as they
were flavored quite differently, with lots of anise,
but Jason gobbled them up. We also shared an order of
Vietnamese fried rice, which was very similar to
Chinese Young Chow fried rice ($10), we took half of
that to go. Drinks were also interesting, Jason had
iced coffee with condensed milk (“very strong,” he
said) and I had coconut juice, which was rather sweet
and slightly tangy, and went nicely with the pho. Our
bill was around $40, plus tax & tip.

Well, I hope our little adventure is helpful for those
on their way to Atlantic City. We left for home right
after lunch. As the bathroom at Little Saigon was
temporarily out of order, we made a pit stop at the
Visitor Welcome Center along the Atlantic City
Expressway. The bathrooms were clean and they have
Salt Water Taffy out to sample at the information desk
(along with souvenirs to buy and lots of info on stuff
in and around town). Two nice older ladies staff it,
so stop by on your way into town. May Lady Luck smile
upon you so you can enjoy some of our extravagancies!

Giving credit where credit is due: all the addresses,
phone numbers and some quotes were from the September
1999, issue of “Shorecast” magazine, found in all
hotel rooms in AC.

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