Sea Salt (Avalon / Stone Harbor)
This post is to highly recommend Sea Salt (in Avalon / Stone Harbor). My husband and I ate there twice this past week (we enjoyed it so much that we went back). We eat out frequently and these were 2 of the best meals that we have had in the past year! The ingredients are all local farm fresh and you can really taste the difference. The chef is an artist at blending flavors and textures. An example is a wild boar dish that we ate twice. It had a sauce made from home-made sausage and blueberries. I would have thought that would taste weird but it was sensational! Other wonderful dishes were a fisherman's stew (with almost no liquid - spicy fish and sausage - yummy!), grilled endive with ham and toasted gruyere cheese.
The place is physically very small (just about 10 tables), and does not advertise. They have a website but it does not have much info there. I highly recommend it for an extraordinary meal.
I think they are open every night except Tuesdays through October (I am not sure what nights they are open after October). Prices were $30-$35 for main dishes (called "thirds") and $15-$25 for "firsts" and "seconds" (these are appetizers, soups, and salads - all large portions). There is also a $58 price fix "tastings" with smaller portions of one first, one second, and one third. It's a BYO.
In the opinion of my wife and myself, Sea Salt is hands down the best restaurant of it's type (gourmet BYO that is) in the Atlantic City/Cape May area. We've been regulars there for the last two years and can't recommend it highly enough. Their menu is constantly changing, the chef is indeed a talented artist and his wife who is the front of the house is charming and gracious.
If this year is like last year they will close during the off season.
Lucas Manteca makes gorgeous plates with great flavors, got a nice write-up from the Philly Inquirer, and had one heckuva sous-chef a year ago or so (a former classmate of mine :) ) Rumor had it they might expand their calender, but who knows? Let us know if you hear anything - I'd love to get back down there when I get a night off.....
In additon to Sea Salt, I've heard some very good things about Jay's on Third (where FishTales) used to be. Also, Blackfish has opened in Avalon. I've been to Blackfish in Conshohocken and it is wonderful. Both Jay's on Third and Blackfish are byob. We'll be down in July and will certainly be going to all three.