20 February 2007

Good Eats

My wife and I recently celebrated our eighth anniversary with dinner at the elegant Peter Shields Inn in Cape May, New Jersey.

It is a beautiful, fairly imposing restaurant right across from the beach. We've been aware of the place for years but never had a previous opportunity to dine there before. My wife's family has been vacationing there for decades, and through meeting her I've been introduced to the pulchritude and history that is Cape May.

While redoubtable in appearance from the outside, inside is as warm and friendly an atmosphere as you could wish for: the hostess was pleasant; the owners were milling about and were congenial without being obtrusive; the waitress was knowledgeable, friendly and helpful without hovering, pushing or overtly up-selling--which can be tricky, but she did it nicely.

My wife started with Crabmeat in a Tomato Broth, which was just amazing. Not a single spoonful did she take that wasn't teeming with crabmeat, almost all of it lump; the broth was sublime. I had the Parma & Pasta appetizer; the flavors of the ham and cheese were balanced perfectly with the sauce and texture of the tortellini. "Amazing" and "balanced" were recurrent themes for the entire experience.

For entrées, my wife had the Halibut, which was seared to perfection with a light crust. The tartness of the saffron-caper cream sauce was balanced with the sweet of the grape-tomato and cucumber slaw. I had the Lobster Crab Cake which, with the application of just the hint of pressure from my fork, split to offer an abundance of lobster and lump crabmeat. The cake was served on a bed of rice and topped with a lobster stock cognac sauce. As with everything else, the flavors and textures of the dish melded together seamlessly in my mouth.

For dessert, my wife had the Crème Brulée whose appearance was second only to the flavor and texture. I had a warm fudge brownie á la mode which was decadent beyond belief.

If I had one quibble, it was with the decaffeinated coffee. It had the taste of sand without any of the personality.

Otherwise, it was an exquisite evening and I can't recommend the Peter Shields Inn highly enough. It is in the top five meals of my life, included with such establishments as il Tulipano, the Bernards Inn, the Monte Carlo Living Room and Louie's Backyard.

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