Every summer since I was born, my family has trekked to the Jersey shore for a true taste of summer. As the years go by our annual eating indulgences have turned from sugary treats on the boards to something even richer. A couple of years back we started doing a girl’s night out. It’s the night when, after a day at the beach, we replace our flip-flops with heels and actually do our hair and make-up. This year the “us” included my mom, my two sisters, and my grandmother. Three generations of girls just glad to be together. As we headed out I thought this was sure to be a special night. However, in years past getting reservations at some of the shore’s hot spots has proven harder than scoring a table at Waverly Inn on a Friday night. At several spots we’ve encountered rude hostesses, intrusive wait staff, laughable wine lists, and mediocre food, but we always remain hopeful that we’ll find that one spot that will deliver it all, tied up with a tasteful seashore-inspired ribbon.
Most people don’t want fancy at the beach, and for the most part we’re happy with funnel cake and Kohr Bros. too. But this past year we lost my grandfather and watched our once close-knit family begin to fray at the seams. More than ever, we needed something that made us feel like putting on lip gloss and clinking glasses and a seafood shack just wasn’t gonna cut it. On a whim, we headed to Margate and managed to have a flawless evening at Steve and Cookie’s. Sans reservations, we called day of and they were welcoming, and when we showed up with five instead of four, they still seated us with a smile. The Maitre d’ was professional but far from stuffy, our servers made impeccable recommendations, and the wine list was breathtaking, and not because it listed dozens of cellar selections over $500 a pop. Au contraire—it had an eclectic ensemble of interesting varietals, lots of half bottles, and plenty of choices under $40! The food was phenomenal—perfectly seasoned roasted red pepper and fresh corn soup served tableside, decadent lobster mac-n-cheese, juicy veal Milanese, seared scallops with the freshest pesto, and real filler-free crab cakes. All topped off with blueberry pie that made me see stars!
At such great prices we were able to try two different Italian whites side-by-side. The well-trained waitstaff knew enough to bring two polished glasses to each of us (it really is all the little things that make a difference). We went for the Lange Arneis and the Vernaccia- both light whites that were perfect palate cleansers for sipping alongside all of the different tastes on the table.