House of Skip

Monday, February 20, 2012

Blue Pig Tavern, Cape May, NJ

When my companion and I found ourselves in the Cape May area with another couple and were in need of lunch we ventured to Congress Hall Hotel to eat at the Blue Pig Tavern. Being a lover of all types of pork, I was very excited, only to find that there isn't much pig on the menu.

I found the decor to be typical hotel restaurant and the crowd seemed to be mostly hotel guests. I did find it interesting that the hotel was bustling with guests at the end of January. Given that Congress Hall is a historic hotel, the whole building, including the Blue Big has an old feel too it. The wooden tables and framed photos added to that charm.

Since my party had been to several of the wonderful Cape May area wineries and would be hitting a couple more on the way back we needed a nice lunch to keep us going. The lunch menu had some good sounding burgers and sandwiches. There were a few entrees and salads on the menu as well.

We all set our sites on something filling, my companion being the only one to go for an entree with the steak frites, a grilled flat iron steak with mushrooms and "frites" otherwise known as french fries. My couldn't resist the burgers, and went with the Texas burger with bacon, cheddar, onions and barbecue sauce. The remaining members of our party also went with sandwiches, one with the very interesting, Chicken BLT a grilled chicken sandwich topped with bacon, lettuce and tomato, the other with the Reuben, which should need no description.

All of our lunches came with fries, they were crispy and tasty, but a little too salty. My burger was delicious, cooked perfectly, the onions were nice and caramelized, barbecue sauce was tangy and yummy. My companion thought the steak was great, also cooked exactly to his liking, medium rare. The Reuben looked amazing, bread nicely grilled and the smell of the kraut and dressing, so delicious. The Chicken BLT would have been my second choice if I hadn't gone the burger route, after all the bacon on it was one of the only pig related items on the menu.

Overall, I'd say that the Blue Pig Tavern is a great lunch spot and is in a very charming hotel. If I was staying there I'd probably give it a try for dinner, but the entree menu was not that exciting. The burger was good and it was a great spot for a group lunch pit stop on a winery tour.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Blue Claw Crab Eatery, Burlington, NJ

My dining companion and I have a few go to places. These are the kind of places that aren't too far from home and we know we'll get a good meal. One of those places in Blue Claw Crab Eatery in Burlington. This place is tiny, but they pack them in! Very casual, full of all kinds of ocean/crab/seafood bric-a-brac on the walls, hanging from the ceiling. You'll be seated at a table (you may have to wait) covered with that brown paper stuff that you use to wrap packages. There will be a roll of paper towels and a bucket on your table as well. 

Blue Claw is BYOB, so with a nice white wine in hand, my dining companion and I headed to off to eat some crabs! Now, there are several options at Blue Claw, they do have other seafood besides crab, like fish, shrimp, and even a seafood platter. We always come for crabs, there are also several options for crabs. You can order a single platter or a platter for two that's meant to share or you can go whole hog and get the All U Cant Eat (AUCE- that's their nickname for it). There is also choice in the type of crab- snow, king, dungeness, and blue claws. You cannot get king crab AUCE and according to the menu you cannot get dungeness AUCE right now due to high prices. Crabs aren't cheap and that is reflected in the prices you see on the menu, but well worth every penny. I have gotten AUCE before, but really usually the snow for one (1lb & 1/2) is enough for me. AUCE comes with fries or hush puppies (hush puppies are awesome).

On this occasion, I ordered the snow for one and my companion ordered the king for one. Both come with your choice of soup or salad and two sides. I chose salad and my sides were broccoli and cranberry applesauce. They have the usual cole slaw, macaroni salad, baked beans but I always go for the veg and applesauce. My dining companion had the same sides as I did, but he went with soup, their spicy Maryland crab soup is really good, tomato based broth, lots of crab and very spicy. Going to Blue Claw is all about the crab for us, it's all business when those giant wooden (picture your grandma's salad bowl) comes to the table. Oh, there are choices as to how you want your crab legs served too, garlic, old bay or just plain steamed, of course we go with just plain to let that beautiful crab shine. Crackers and little forks in hand, we don't do much talking, it's hard work to get into those shells.  Especially those kings with all the spikes on them, for those they even bring you scissors. We take a break here and there to eat some applesauce or drink some water (out of mason jars- adds to the charm of the place).

I think they have dessert, but I don't know, I've never had it! I just go for the crab legs. Just writing this has made me want them! If it made you want them too, then go visit the busy, but friendly staff at Blue Claw and get some NOW!

4494 Burlington Pike (Rt. 130 NB) Burlington Township, NJ 08016 (609) 387-3700

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Steakhouse 85- New Brunswick, NJ

So, my dining companion and I arrived in New Brunswick via Train and headed to Steakhouse 85 where we had a reservation. It is really an easy walk from the train station. We arrived and were immediately impressed with the steakhouse feel and charm of the place. The wood panelled walls (the good kind)  gave the place a feeling of history and sophistication. After checking our coats (classy) we were seated at a two seat booth. Our waitress came and introduced herself and offered us water. As we were looking over the menu, my companion decided it would be fun to have pre-dinner drinks, it took a little while to get the waitress back over, but he ordered a martini and I a sparkling grapefruit cocktail. As we continued to discuss the menu, I enjoyed my drink which was a sparkling white wine with grapefruit juice and a sugar cube in the bottom that fizzed as I drank it, it was so much fun! My dining companion was slowly sipping his "85" martini which featured Double Cross vodka and a truffle olive.
 Finally we were ready to order, we shared two appetizers, chipolte orange scallops and jumbo lump crab martini. The scallops were great, really unique and interesting flavors, the citrus was a welcome contrast to the slightly smoky chipolte. I know some say the crab martini is so 10 years ago, but I still love it. I think it's fun and Steakhouse 85 really puts a twist on it by covering the crab in lemon vodka. The crab was delicious and sweet and there was plenty of it (some places will skimp on the crab). The only complaint I have is that the lemon vodka was a bit strong at the bottom, so you couldn't really enjoy the greens that were at the bottom of the glass, if you got them on the fork with your crab it was way too strong. Perhaps just marinating the crab in the vodka would be good enough or maybe make a sauce with it instead of just pouring vodka on top? We still enjoyed it and the horseradish sauce was awesome.

On to the main event. Like any classic steakhouse the dinner menu is a la carte. My dining companion ordered the filet mignon and I the free range pork chop (do we need to review how much I love pork again?). We also ordered a side dish of sauteed spinach to share. Bot the filet and the pork had a beautiful crust on the outside, they were huge pieces of meat and looked so delicious. The plates were simple, with just a garnish of tomato and parsley. The spinach was a great side, it wasn't rich and didn't steal the spotlight from the steak or chop.
My dining companion was impressed with how perfect his steak was cooked, for such a think cut of meat, it was medium rare, just like he asked. We had also ordered a bottle of wine and were slowly enjoying our Cotes du Rhone with our dinner.

How do you finish off a meal like that? With peppermint ice of course! We decided to just take a peak at the dessert menu and when we saw that they had peppermint ice cream, we thought what a nice sweet treat to share at the end of our meal. It arrived in a traditional glass parfait style dish and was had two giant scoops of pink ice cream with red and green bits of peppermint candies in it! It was so much fun and really hit the spot, the coolness of the ice cream and the refreshing feel of the mint was perfect to soothe our stomachs after a big meal.

So, hop a train, head to New Brunswick, take a nice stroll to Steakhouse 85 and get ready to enjoy classic steakhouse atmosphere and food. The service can be a little slow, but if you are with someone you like, don't worry about it, just chat and drink and relax!

Steakhouse 85       
85 Church St.  New Brunswick, NJ      
(732) 247-8585