Moonfish Grill in Cape May
I was wondering if anyone has eaten at the new Moonfish Grill on Broadway in West Cape May? This was formerly the great Daniel's (with Harry Gleason). If you have dined there, posting a "review" and summary of menu choices would be great. We're going down in July and want to know if this new restaurant is worth a visit.
We were big Daniels fans and began dining at the Moonfish periodically since last fall. At first we it was great, and I've recommended it highly to many people. Our last two visits in June and August I'm sorry to say were not up to the standards we'd come to expect. I think the quality of the food and the service has slipped. I like the live music, and the atmosphere is nice, but with all the competition in the area I can't put it on my 'recommended' list any longer.
My wife and I just returned from Moonfish Grill, where we experienced a VERY disappointing evening ... bad enough to have nearly ruined an otherwise perfect day in Cape May.
We reserved our table about 3 weeks ago for a 7:30 dinner, after having heard wonderful recommendations for the restaurant. We arrived within 5 minutes of our schedule time, and were asked to wait a few minutes for a table. No problem ... happy to wait. While waiting we overheard the manager (owner?) telling someone on the phone that the restaurant was really busy, and that the earliest he would be able to seat them would be 9:00 or so. Sounded good, making us happy we had reserved so far in advance. We shouldn't have been ...
A few minutes later we were then shown through the main dining room, through a secondary dining room, to an outer patio. My first observation was that the room was empty (and not air conditioned). I asked my wife if she thought the table was ok, and we both rapidly decided that it would be fine considering how busy we understood the restaurant to be.
The waiter arrived promptly, opened and poured our first bottle (we brought both white and red to match the courses). He enthusiastically told us about the menu, made some recommendations, and allowed us a few minutes to peruse the menu.
We ordered the calamari (which we thought was delightfully lightly breaded with a nice, spicy dressing), followed by the Moonfish Roll (sushi, one of their specialties, which was OK but not special and not terribly inspired).
As we're eating our first courses, we noticed that nobody else was being seated on the porch with us. Bad sign ...
On to our entrees --- Moonfish Kettle (fish and shellfish in a supposed saffron and tomato broth ... far too much citris added to the mixture resulting in an overpowering set of flavors that masked the otherwise perfect seafood), and seared Ahi Tuna (perfectly prepared and rare, but nothing special).
Still the room was empty but for us ... It was becoming increasing surreal. We asked one of the wait staff whether there was going to be anyone else seated in the room; she replied that she didn't know, that the hostess was responsible for the seating, agreed that it was weird, but was sure that other guests would be seated in the room with us (hint --- she was wrong).
In the meantime, several waiters (and the manager / owner) came into the room to remove ice buckets and whisk them into the main dining rooms, but not to seat other guests there.
Let me interject that we were properly attired (my wife was wearing a skirt and top, I had on a button-down shirt and slacks). I was cleanly shaven. We both had showered and put on deodorant before going to dinner.
By the end of the main course, we were still seated alone on the back porch.
We eat out extensively, and over the past 30+ years have eaten together in many of the finest restaurants in the world. Our experience has been that a restaurant's food is only PART of the pleasure of dining out. Equally important is the ambiance, the service, and the sense of enjoying food while surrounded by other diners similarly engaged. Being alone in an uncomfortably warm room, while being within earshot of happy diners in the main (air conditioned) rooms, combined with less-than-stellar food, made for an unenjoyable evening.
But it got worse ...
When our waiter arrived with the dessert menus, we politely declined, asked for the check, but also asked to see the manager / owner.
When he arrived, we asked why we had been so poorly seated. He started to say something about there being no other tables available when we arrived. I corrected him to say that I had seen several empty "dueces" when we came in, one in the main dining room and at least one in the secondary dining room. He had no comment. I pointed out that we had reserved well in advance, and that we were properly dressed. Again, no comment. Just some mumbling of apology about that's just the way it worked out. No offer to reseat us. Just nothing.
We will never go back to this restaurant.
My wife and I ate at the Moonfish Grill Wednesday evening between Christmas and New Year's. We stopped in the afternoon to make reservations and my wife went in. We were able to secure reservations for 7:30, our preferred time. My wife said the man she spoke with was the chef and he questioned as to how we heard about Moonfish. She told him we were big fans of Daniel's and that her husband, me of course, read some encouraging reviews on Chowhound. Later that evening, the host said that they are very aware of Chowhound and do monitor the postings. Good to know.
Now the food.
We were seated promptly even as we were early. Our wine, BYOB, was opened and poured promptly. Did take quite some time and a request for water after about 30 minutes. I had creole dusted calamari and the wife had the duck quesadillas for apps. The calamari was light, perfect, and absolutely a huge portion, enough for at least two. The duck quesadilla was said to be excellent. By the way, the duck quesadilla also has chourico and goat cheese.
For our main meals, we chose one of the specials the Chilean Sea Bass over lobster risotto and wilted spinach. I has NY Strip with a horseradish bernaise, potoatoes, and asparagus. Both dishes did not dissapoint.
Dessert was split being an almond torte. Average, not great.
Now my two complaints. We were sat at a two top in the back(sushi) room at the bottom of stairs which obviously lead to an unheated upstairs. Several employees kept going up and down the stairs and everytime the door opened the draft was unbearable. Even when the doors were closed the constant flow of cold air was unpleasant. Avoid this spot at all costs. My second complaint is with specials/market price. This is not directed at Moonfish, but restaurants in general. I would like to know the prices ahead of time, not to get a big surprise on the final bill. My wife's sea bass was market price, and of course we did not ask. I was a little surprised by the $36 price tag. I can be pessimistic at times, but I do believe that restaurants sometimes jack up specials/market price because 99% of the time people don't ask the price and simply order.
Overall, a very positive experience. Our bill for two apps, two meals, one dessert, and tip $120. We would definetly return, just not at the bottom of the back stairs in the winter!
I'm curious as to why you didn't ask what the market price was that day. I have no problem asking for the price of waiter-recited specials or the market price on items so indicated on the menu. The server should be able to tell you the prices (or get them for you if he doesn't).
I ate at the Moonfish grill last evening and I couldn't disagree more with the previous posting. I own a bed & breakfast in town, so I live in Cape May and eat out frequently. I can honestly say that I have not had a better meal anywhere in town this year. I loved everything about both my visits this year. The food foremost, but also the ambiance and character and variety of the dining rooms, as well as the service.
Further, I've sent literally dozens of couples to Moonfish in the last few weeks and every one has raved about the experience. One couple ate there twice during a three night stay.
I can only assume that the person who posted previously caught them on one of their first few nights in business, where one might expect a few hiccups in the service.
I, too, live in Cape May, and I frequently go out to eat and have tried nearly all of the fine dining restaurants in the area. As such, I feel I'm a fairly good judge.
You wrote, "I can only assume that the person who posted previously caught them on one of their first few nights in business, where one might expect a few hiccups in the service."
Perhaps, but even if this was the case, what's your explanation for why the owner didn't respond to my complaint? The owner's failure to respond to my complaint has nothing to do with whether the restaurant is new or not. He dropped the ball on that one. Addiionally, when I go into a restaurant, I'm paying for a good meal and good service. The "hiccups" as you put it shouldn't be part of my experience. The prices at Moonfish Grille weren't any lower those first few days, so why should the food or service be? If anything, the owner should be MORE aware, not less, of what's going on during those first few days of opening.
Also, your experience has evidently been much different from mine in terms of what I've heard people saying. While I'll grant you I've heard some positive talk about MG, I've also heard several complaints.
In any case, I have no doubt that the restaurant will succeed mainly because there are very few places to choose from during off season, and during tourist season, the tourists alone will fill up the place whether it is mediocre or not.
I tried it a few weeks ago, and I'm sorry to say that it was a terrible experience. I could go into detail, but I'll just mention a few problems:
1) The servers are teenagers who would be more appropriate in an Applebees or Ruby Tuesday. They do not know how to serve. The entire night, our wine and water were not poured. Also, a helper dropped off our entrees and our waiter never stopped by to make sure everything was okay (which it was not).
2) My entree came with something different from what was indicated on the menu. My waiter's helper put it in front of me without comment or explanation. When I pointed out the mistake to him, he summoned our waiter. Our waiter went to the kitchen for an explanation and then came back and told me that they had run out of what I had ordered. Can you imagine just serving something to a customer that she didn't order and assuming that she will want it? He asked if I wanted another entree, but at that point, I said "no." If I had ordered another entree, my husband's food would have been cold by the time it arrived.
3) The day after this experience, I faxed a letter to the owner complaining about the above (as well as some other problems), and he never responded to me. I know the fax was received because my fax verifies receipt. I would have like the owner to call and apologize for my experience. The fact that he didn't even respond says a lot about how much he values the customer (very little).
If Moonfish Grill was billing itself as a really casual restaurant (e.g., a diner, Applebees, etc.) and had prices to reflect that, perhaps my expectations wouldn't be so high. However, I think the restaurant is putting itself on the same level as Black Duck or even Daniels (which it replaced). It is no way is anywhere near the quality of either of those restaurants, and I will never return or recommend it to anyone.