My annual trip to Long Beach Island. I go with my friend Carol each August for just a couple of nights and we have a nice, relaxing time. The first night we eat casual, but the second night we go for fine dining, lately at the highly rated Blue Restaurant. That dinner is always wonderful, full of delicious surprises on our plates.
Our casual dining night has been more of a mixed bag, however, as we’ve tried different spots over the years. But this time I hit a home run with genuine fried belly clams at Boulevard Clams. (And, yes, those are hushpuppies on the side!!!)I had done my research online, as I really had a hankering for this increasingly elusive dish. Those tough clam strips most places have? Don’t even bother with those!
We lucked out and got the last of only about 6-8 tables set to one side of this bustling seafood market. Service was so pleasant and friendly, the clams so very, very, delicious, that I was a most happy camper by the end of dinner. I can also recommend the calamari (the real deal with tentacles), and Carol enjoyed her own broiled seafood platter, too, all washed down with a bottle of French white wine I’d brought along.
Our lunches on the beach are simple, as we stay on the quiet far south end of the island, at the homey Jolly Roger Motel. The only food place down there is a sub shop next door to the Motel that serves up tasty cheesesteaks along with the ever-essential Avon Skin-So-Soft which is the only thing we’ve found that repels the voracious black flies.
While we’d brought our own lunches this year, we still had to stop in at our favorite gourmet store, Pearl Street Market in Beach Haven, where there is always temptation in the extensive selection of beverages, sauces, marinades, fresh bread and top-knotch prepared foods. On the way off the Island, I stopped to check out a new place I’d noticed, Mason Jar (Beach Haven Gardens), with locations in Mahwah and on L.B.I., which bills itself as “Real Southern Bar-b-que.” Sadly, they were closed for lunch so we forged onto longtime favorite, DOM’s Drive-In, a hot dog (and more) place that whips up a mean malted shake.
Not quite done with the food thing, we made one last stop, once off the island, at Skippers Seafood Exchange on Route 72, just west of where 72 crosses Route 539. It’s worth the extra quarter-mile (or less), to stop in at this seafood market to take home seafood (fresh or prepared dishes), or their key lime pie which they are rather famous for. Good lobster bisque, too. Ahhhh, summer!