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Visiting Cape May in June

Any restaurant recommendations?

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  1. The Ebbitt Room - The Virginia Hotel on Jackson St.

    Breakfast next door in the Madd Batter

    1. http://www.capemaytimes.com/Restauran...
      The Peter Shields Inn.
      Just enjoyed another fabulous dinner. Fish preparation to die for!

      1. blue pig in congress hall

        1. Not a recommendation, but a warning. When I dined at 410 Bank Street, they charged me $2.50 per person for ice......to store a bottle of non-alcoholic wine in an old sour cream bucket...........on the floor.

          5 Replies
          1. re: fourunder

            Mad Batter for breakfast, Ugly Mug for sammies and ligher fare/lunch, Tisha's for dinner

            1. re: shesallthat

              Agree with Mad Batter for breakfast - It's been years but probably the best I've erver had, period...

            2. re: fourunder

              Fourunder: Harrumph! And here I was about to post that 410 Bank served us overpriced crap in cramped quarters. We walked out scratching our heads wondering why in heaven anyone made a fuss about the place. Maybe it was an off night but given their prices, I wasn't going to risk a second disappointment.

              Speaking of prices, for my money, (assuming they'll be around in June) some great home-cooked style eats are to be had at Louisa's cafe. http://www.artfuldiner.com/louisascaf...
              As best I recall (it's been a year) unless they know you, you can't make a reservation except from 4 PM on, and only on the very day you're dining there. Even then, it's best to show up in person at 4 since their phone line is as busy as if they were selling Springsteen tickets, and it's tough to get through. Tight seating, but good food at a reasonable price. Worth a visit, we think.

              1. re: mmgpsych


                This happened a few years back. We travel with three families and I make frequent golf trips to the area. Inevitably someone new joins the group and they want to go to 410 Bank because they heard it was good. The regulars know my disdain for the place, so it's a non-issue. Any one wishing to go there goes, I do not. The last couple of years the excursions by the others came back saying it was fair at best. Just last year, both the other families said never again. They had an 8:00PM reservation and did not get seated until after 9:30. Let's just say nothing went right, and they were rushed out after dinner without being offered dessert or coffee. The check was dropped on the table and it was announced the kitchen was closed.

                1. re: fourunder

                  Yes indeed. Another over-rated, overblown, under-critiqued disaster. When it comes to food, question everything and trust in nothing but your own palate, I say. There are more 'naked emperors' in New Jersey than in the sum total of every printed edition of the Hans Christian Anderson story. :-))))

            3. The Grand Hotel has a place called Ballyhoo's. The decor is a bit retro, but the food is great if your looking for fresh seafood and good steaks. It's not fancy smancy, but a hidden secret the locals know about.

              1. Washington Inn. Peter Shields. The Ebbitt Room.

                Mad Batter for breakfast and the Sudsy Mug for lunch and a beer.

                1. The Washington Inn for a romantic dinner. Tables are a bit too close for my comfort, but food is very good.

                  The Lobster House. Standard "fisherman's wharf" deco, but good seafood, fish, steaks/chops, etc.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Gwendolen

                    I was to the Washington Inn this past November and had a horrible meal. Both my app and entree were swimming in oil - and they shouldn't have been. Plus after accepting the wine I realized that what we had been served was not what we had ordered. Ratzenberger Riesling Kabinett Halbtrocken 1998. Right vineyard, right year, but I had ordered the Kabinet Halbtrocken and the wine we were served was not. In addition, the courses were served too fast. We barely had our app plates taken away before the entrees were landed on our table. There was definite sense of being rushed – and this was in November. They must push people out the door in the summer to turn the tables over fast as they can.

                  2. Hi Steflink,

                    Always have breakfast at McGlades off the boardwalk, nothing fancy, but on the beach, Great Omelets!! And also like Oyster Bay Steak & Seafood and The Mad Batter.


                    1. Blue Pig Tavern at Congress Hall is great -- good food, a little more casual than the Ebbitt Room, and the atomsphere of Congress hall is fun. You can also eat at the bar at the Brown Room. They don't advertise it, but just ask for a menu.

                      Hot Dog Tommy's is fun. It's a guy in a hot dog hat, and he's only open in the summer. He puts anything you could imagine on a hot dog. Fun.

                      The Lobster House is a great place to eat, but be warned that they don't take reservations and the wait can be a long one. My advice is to plan an early dinner if you're going on a weekend. Get there at 4:45 and you'll be seated right away. Otherwise, you might have to wait for over an hour.

                      Lucky Bones, which you'll see right when you come into town, is a newer restaurant and has excellent wood fired pizzas. It's busy even in the off season.

                      I wrote a book about the Jersey shore that's coming out in May: www.downtheshorewithjen.com. Check it out!

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: jenmiller

                        The longer the wait, the better for The Lobster House. The last couple times we went there, the food was horrible and the service worse. If you hit the Lobster House, stick to the outside casual dining or the market for take out - stay out of the "dining" room.

                        1. re: fpatrick

                          Agreed fpatrick. The only way to 'hit' the lobster house is with a cruise missile!

                          1. re: fpatrick

                            Felt unhappy with the vague blanket dissing I gave The Lobster House. Here's some more specifics from a post lfrom June 2007 - http://www.chowhound.com/topics/41096...

                            1. re: fpatrick

                              To add insult to agreed upon injury, the damned dining room smelled like Pine-Sol! If you must, get the stuff outdoors or get it for take-out.

                          2. re: jenmiller

                            jen, I just read your article, The Green House & Las Bite, in the Spring issue of Edible Jersey. Great job!

                            1. re: HillJ

                              Well written, Jen, but frankly, with all due respect, even the least encomium to The Lobster House (a great restaurant, you called it) at least in my eyes, has me biting back sarcasm. If you'll note some of the other recent postings about Cape May vis a vis The Lobster House, they've been nearly unanimously and appallingly negative. Perhaps you haven't been there in awhile? Or maybe you're thinking of a different Lobster House, like maybe the Lobster House in Kittery, Maine or South Yarmouth?

                              1. re: mmgpsych

                                She didn't write that it was a "great restaurant" but a "great place to eat." She actually writes nothing about the food at all. Maybe she liked the room. I haven't been to the Lobster House in about 40 years, so I can't comment. I ate across Lafayette St. last weekend at the Copper Fish, which I believe has changed hands since the various existing web sites were put up. It was a mixed experience, but I might try it again if I was staying in Cape May for a while. Keep away from the "old fashioned" portion of their menu.

                                1. re: carl555

                                  So . . .er . . . uh . . . A "great place to eat" implies . . . er . . . uh . . . what, exactly? Still, I might be persuaded to agree that the Lobster House is a great place to eat given the following conditions:

                                  1- Eat outdoors so your senses aren't assaulted to the point of tears by industrial strength cleaning odors.
                                  2- Bring food from elsewhere! :-)))


                            2. re: jenmiller

                              Just had an excellent meal at the Lobster House. Per other postings, it is much better to eat outside then in the dark, over air conditioned dining room. We got our food from the "Raw Bar" window: steamed lobster, clams and oysters, crab soup. Very reasonably priced and superb. We ate on the dock, which is a working pier/fish market. A fishing boat came in and moored. The Vietnamese crew got off and joined a table of diner who were sitting right next to us. Not possible to have a better seafood dining experience!

                            3. The Cape May dining scene has gyrated up and down over the years. Some places that used to be good are not any longer. That said, if you don't want to BYO, then go to Washington Inn or the Ebbitt Room. Both are expensive and hightly regarded by locals and tourists alike. However, the Ebbitt Room has a very nice selection of small plates that they serve in the early evening that you might want to try along with a glass of wine or you can go with a dinner of shared appetizers. They have excellent ones and don't seem to mind if you do that. Two BYOs that you should try are the Black Duck in West Cape May and the Union Park in the Macomber Hotel. Both are excellent. Peter Shields went seriously downhill a few years ago and after several tries I gave up. Another poster indicates that that may have changed. I hope so. I never was wowed by 410 Bank Street as others have been. I found it loud, crowded, rushed and overpriced. Don't recall if I was charged for ice since I didn't pick up the tab that evening. For a real southern style buffet, try the Chalfonte Hotel (it opens on Memorial Day for the season). Not fancy but old-world resort atmosphere and solid comfort food. They also offer a nice happy hour (weekends only) featuring Dibruno Brothers cheeses. For great half price wings and good beer on tap, try the C-View Inn on a Wednesday. The Blue Pig in Congress hall is fine for lunch, but I'd spend my money elsewhere for dinner. I like the Pier House for brunch, right on the beach in La Mer hotel. Plus they have good bloody marys. Mad Batter is a bit too touristy and crowded for me, plus I haven't been back since a really bad lunch I had there a few years ago. Avoid the Lobster House at all costs. It's awful. Even the carryout, which used to be good, has gone seriously down hill. I will buy fresh fish at their market to cook myself but that's it. One of these years I'll make it to Tishas, another BYO on the boardwalk. Their menu always looks fantastic.

                              1. I've always enjoyed breakfast at the Mad Batter, although in June, it would be very crowded. A nice, little casual place for breakfast or lunch would be Bella Vida in Cape May.
                                For dinner, I've had great meals at Union Park and Copper Fish. I've heard Lucky Bones is very good as well, haven't tried it yet though.

                                1. The Ugly Mug at the outdoor shopping mall is a nice, relaxing place, not fancy. I don't have the name (will get it for you), but there's a good seafood place in Wildwood, right over a long bridge that costs .50 cents (unless Corzine's increased the price already) that's much better than the Lobster House. They have a spot where you can open a beer or buy a drink there as the sun sets behind you. Every year we get great shots......and it beats the Lobster House! I'll get the name for you.

                                  1. Well, I know it's been two years, but the 410 Bank Street described here was not the 410 Bank Street where we dined. We actually enjoyed it very much. We expected it to be expensive, and did not find it riddiculously so.

                                    The Blue Pig is fine. Nothing exceptional, but fine. If you can sit outside, it's better.

                                    We did go to Louisa's last year, and that was very good. It is small, and we must have just hit it right because we were able to basically walk in and get seated.

                                    We used to absolutely love The Ebbitt Room. The dining room is quite elegant. I do have to say, though, the last time we ate there the food didn't wow us like it used to do.

                                    Always enjoy a breakfast at The Mad Batter. Never disappoints.

                                    One place I'd definitely skip is Cape Orient. Nothing special, and their Thai was not very good at all. And The Ugly Mug is nothing very special, either.

                                    If you do go to The Lobster House, eat outside. I would definitely avoid the dining room. We found the seafood there to be simple but good. It does get very crowded, though. (A missile?)

                                    We also liked a little place called Gecko's, which is southwesten-based. Pretty reasonable, price-wise.

                                    If you venture out of Cape May, Boyd's BBQ in Villas is pretty good.

                                    1. I've got to add my voice to those who cannot understand why anyone would eat at the Lobster House. The waiter there told me that they serve 2300 dinners each evening... duh? How much time and care goes into each one?

                                      Also, it's wait, wait , wait to get in and rush, rush, rush getting you out (how else can you serve 2300 dinners?) With so many other choices in Cape May, why bother? If you decide to go anyway (despite all the bad press here), wait (and you WILL wait) at the upstairs bar. There's no one there and you get a view; downstairs is PACKED and, yes as others have reported, the aroma is less than pleasing.

                                      One place I never see mentioned on this board where we have had a really nice dining experience (which we will try again this summer) is Aleathea's on the corner of Ocean Street and Beach Drive. I've seen mixed reviews (http://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserRe...) but we really enjoyed it last summer. I'm sitting in Cape May right now and we will be trying it again in a day or two.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: woodys

                                        Just north of Cape May on Ocean Drive (before you get to Wildwood) are two places, Harbor View and Axelsson's Blue Claw. I've only ever done light fare at Harbor View, but if you want an enjoyable evening sitting on the water sipping a cocktail, it's here. Axelsson's served the best aged steak and a great copper kettle seafood dish. The Pilot House on the mall has always been good, and I do have to agree with Cucina Rosa for Italian. It was superb.

                                        1. re: woodys

                                          Oh, and I agree, avoid the Lobster House, try Two Mile Landing just over the bridge into Wildwood.

                                          1. re: shellbellc

                                            Two Mile Landing is closed this year for renovations.

                                        2. Just back from a short trip to Cape May and three very nice dining experiences:

                                          1. Freda's Cafe at the corner of Carpenter and Ocean (BYOB). This is a small place and the tables are very close but the food is really good - you will need reservations. I had heard that the seafood bisque was very good, and it was. My wife had a chicken special that was nicely presented and delicious. I had the shrimp and scallops with fresh pesto sauce over pasta and it was excellent. Service was good, the atmosphere friendly. I understand the desserts are very good too but we are not dessert people so we didn't try them.

                                          2. Cucino Rosa at the Perry Street end of the Washington Street Mall (BYOB) - never mentioned on Chowhound before. Tried to get in here twice last year with no reservation without luck, but were able to do so on a Tuesday night this year. Everything in this Italian Restaurant is home made. I grew up in an Italian home with a grandmother who was a really good cook. This food was good. My wife had a seafood special and I had linguine with clams in white sauce (lots of clams). Both dishes were very good. Service was very good.

                                          You can get a feel for both of these restaurants at the Cape May Times web site ( http://www.capemaytimes.com/Restauran...


                                          3. Ristorante Luciano in Stone Harbor on 3rd Avenue between 98th and 99th (BYOB) - nice atmosphere, friendly service, good food. My wife had a salmon dish served with spinach that was very good and I had bacon wrapped diver scallops, excellent. I like scallops wherever I go and I know when they are prepared properly; these were. Unfortunately they don't have a web site. We discovered it last year. While standing in front of the place reading the menu, a couple who had just eaten there stopped to recommend it in passing and we talked a while. He said to us that the place was packed but they were regulars and he would go in an talk to the owner to get us in. We did; we went back this year. (Some day we will try Sea Salt)

                                          My wife and I like to try new places before going back to those at which we have eaten but I can tell you that we will be back to these three. We eat out a lot. We know the difference between fine dining and junk food. None of the three above will tempt you in a choice between going to one of them or Per Se in New York City but you should have a very nice dining experience at any of them.