Deeply rooted in history, Cape May is known for its preservation of its beautiful Victorian homes. However, the scenic streets aren’t the only reason to visit the southernmost point of the Jersey Shore. The Virginia, Congress Hall, and the Beach Shack are three hotels located in Cape May with some of the best dining in the city. The Blue Pig Tavern, The Ebbitt Room, and the Rusty Nail all have a different atmosphere and menu, but equally delicious fare. One thing you’ll find at these restaurants that you won’t find anywhere else in the city are seasonal ingredients straight from the Beach Plum Farm, a 62 acre farm located in West Cape May owned by Cape Resorts. Each of the chefs at the hotel restaurants spends a good amount of time there each week, picking out their vegetables and planning their menu based on what’s fresh.
The Ebbitt Room at The Virginia Hotel
Chef Matt Crist is executive chef at the Virginia, a 24 guest room luxury boutique hotel nestled in Cape May’s historic district. Originally from Linwood, PA, Chef Matt started working at the Virginia a year ago. The Ebbitt Room is the main dining room at the hotel and has a sophisticated, yet casual beach vibe. Much of his inspiration comes from what’s growing on the farm. For example, during the winter diners can expect to find fresh kale and carrots on their plates. The menu also has an emphasis on pork, due to the Berkshire pigs they raise on the farm.
In keeping with the local farm to table theme, locally caught fish also plays a key role on the menu. One of Chef Matt’s favorite dishes to prepare is the caramelized day boat Barnegat Light Scallops with English pea risotto and mint. The Steak and Cake is also a crowd pleaser and pairs a petite filet mignon with a delectable Lump Crab Cake. Finding seasonal produce from the farm to complement the seafood is something he enjoys most about working at the Virginia.
The Blue Pig Tavern at Congress Hall
The oldest seaside resort in America, Congress Hall, is another beautiful Cape Resorts establishment. The hotel offers both a cozy inside lounge and a gorgeous outside garden and veranda overlooking the main lawn. Executive Chef Jeremy Einhorn started working at Congress Hall in August of 2010. Before moving to Cape May he worked at Mohonk Mountain House, a historic family owned hotel in Mohonk, NY. Working in another independent hotel with a rich history seemed like a perfect fit for him.
Skate, Tuna, and Swordfish are all seafood options guests can expect to find at the Blue Pig Tavern, the main dining room at the hotel. The Chef’s favorite dish is the Barnegat Light Scallops with Smoked Turnip Puree, Napa Cabbage and Bacon. Just like the hotel, the menu is steeped in tradition. Sheppard’s Pie made with Beach Plum Farm Pork smoked in the hotel’s built-in Amish charcoal smoker is one traditional dish with a creative twist.
The Rusty Nail at The Beach Shack
The Rusty Nail at The Beach Shack has been named one of Zagat’s 10 hottest restaurants on the Jersey shore. An open fire pit right on the beach and a casual dining menu make it the perfect place to sit back and relax. Executive Chef Jim Burton started working at the Rusty Nail six years ago, but his reputation in the Cape May culinary scene extends far beyond that. He is part of a legacy of Cape May Chefs. His mother and aunt are both chefs at the Chalfonte Hotel, just like their mother before them. He grew up cooking in the kitchen with his grandmother and decided to follow in her footsteps.
Seafood plays a major role on the menu at the Rusty Nail. According to Chef Jim, the restaurant went through 12,000 Mahi Mahi fish tacos last year. A full raw bar, conch fritters, as well as clam strips are just some of the other seafood options on the menu. The restaurant is also famous for Jimmy’s Smokin’ Pig Roast, named after Chef Jim himself. The food alone makes guests return each year, but the lively warm atmosphere adds to the whole experience.
Cape May is certainly one of the most unique shore points on the New Jersey coast. Although worth visiting for its award winning beaches, year round events make it a city to be discovered even during the off season. No matter what time of year you visit, a dinner at any of these three Cape Resorts restaurants will make the trip that much more memorable. For more information on Cape Resorts hotels and restaurants visit www.caperesorts.com/.