Boardwalk slices, fried Oreos and Kohr Bros. custard in Wildwood are all well and good during the day, but in the evening brush off the sand, put on real shoes, and dine in style at Sax Prix at The Reeds at Shelter Haven in Stone Harbor or next door in Avalon at The Diving Horse.
The difference between running a restaurant in the city and one down the shore, according to Dan Clark, is everyone is lot happier at the beach.
“There’s a whole different vibe. Everyone is just in better spirits when they’re crossing the bridge,” says Clark, who co-owns The Diving Horse “sea-to-table” restaurant, a dinner-only BYOB in Avalon. Clark and business partner Ed Hackett also own the (deservedly) popular Pub & Kitchen and Filter Dining Room, both in Philly.
The Diving Horse opens just for the summer season — until a week after Labor Day — so you only have a few chances left to snag a seat at the prixfixe Summer Sunday supper, served family-style inside comfortably rustic dining room or on the communal tables out on the deck.
You won’t go wrong with the locally sourced nightly menu either, which emphasizes summer and seafood with dishes like the heirloom tomato and strawberry salad and the wedge salad with jumbo lump crab, both appetizers, or the Barnegat Light scallops with corn succotash and the catch of the day fish stew.
Boutique hotel Reeds at Shelter Haven turned its Sax restaurant into a summer-long prix fixe spot, with a décor makeover and a new menu. Eat there now, before it goes back to being a “regular” restaurant.
You can order individual dishes al la carte off the fixed-price menu, which has several options in each category. But unless you’re planning to be the one nibbling only on the opening focaccia and maybe a side of wild mushrooms, the best deal is sticking with the set $79/person. It includes an amuse bouche, an oversized appetizer (per person, though it’s easily enough for two or three to start their meal), a palate-cleansing intermezzo, an entrée, and dessert.
Dishes change; when we went the waiter wisely steered us toward the (large) grilled Spanish octopus appetizer, with a smear of piquillo pepper paste on the plate, and, for the vegan at the table, the toasted farro salad with beets, apple and marcona almonds. Main course options embraced both land and sea, ranging from the lighter seared Yellowfin sesame tuna to the heavier beef tenderloin, which can be upgraded to Snake River Farms American kobe.
For dessert, go with the ricotta beignets, of course.