107-113 Grant Street
Cape May, NJ 08204
609 884 5868 • 800 272 3004
609 884 8871
Critic's Choice: Take Time For Leisurely Meal at La Verandah
CRITIC'S CHOICE / TAKE TIME FOR LEISURELY MEAL AT LA VERANDAH
Author: C.C. HOYT For At The Shore
A soft summer breeze suggested we find a place to dine outside. And so it was on a warm Cape May evening we found ourselves walking up Grant Street past the hydrangea bushes and other assorted flowers, past the wooden rocking chairs to the screened-in porch of La Verandah.
The maitre'd offered us a choice of tables; inside an airconditioned dining room or outside where a sea breeze was just beginning to find its way inland. Point us toward the porch, we agreed.
La Verandah is the restaurant at the recently restored historic Hotel Alcott. The dining room was pretty enough with a large tapestry hanging on one wall, paintings and a large folding room divider. We had our hearts set on dining outside.
The scallops were slightly undercooked in the center, the way modern chefs prepare them, allowing the creamy center to contrast with the crisp flavorful exterior. The sauce was balanced and lightly coated the scallops, each of which sported a pasta strand reaching for the sky. An old-style dish lightly re-interpreted for today's diner. We liked it.
We also sampled a tomato and mozzarella salad ($10) served with balsamic vinegar, olive oil and fresh basil. It was a Jersey tomato cut into thick slices but it wasn't nearly ripe enough to release all of its flavor.
Entrees arrived as pretty as paintings. The broiled seafood combination ($26) was a special of the day and was composed of a split lobster tail, scallops, very large shrimp and a crab cake resting on a bed of sauteed spinach.
The sauce was very good, tasting mostly of lemon, butter and capers with some diced tomato for color. Vegetable garnish included a trio of asparagus spears with a baby carrot and a baby zucchini fan to finish. The seafood was fresh tasting and broiled perfectly.
Roasted duck ($26) was a boneless breast absolutely tender, thinly sliced and arranged around the plate like numbers on the face of a clock. A sauce of cherries and Grand Marnier was thin and light, pairing nicely with the medium rare slices of meat.
Our server wheeled a dessert gueridon up to the French doors and did a sleight of hand routine, whipping each cake under our noses for just long enough to anticipate what each would taste like.
We had a slice of a flourless chocolate torte ($6). Rich, dense and fudge-like it came covered with a chocolate ganache coating and was garnished with a strawberry fan and three crisscrossed sauces.
La Verandah Restaurant
WHERE: Hotel Alcott 107-113 Grant St.,Cape May
PHONE: (609) 884-5868
RATING: *** (out of four stars - excellent to extraordinary)
LIQUOR LICENSE: BYO
Come experience bygone grace, elegance and charm of Cape May's Hotel Alcott.