I hadn’t been to Long Beach Island in several years, not since before Sandy wreaked havoc on the island, so I took a drive down with a friend on Friday, and we had such fun during our brief day. There were still signs of rebuilding, especially in the southern LBI communities, but by far most places were open for business. With all the cleaning up and re-furbishing that’s taken place, everything seemed especially sparkling clean and fresh on the gorgeous sunny day we enjoyed. I’m kind of glad I didn’t see the destruction in person right after the storm, I do think it would have been traumatic to see that and think of all the good times my family, most of us gone now, enjoyed there. Now LBI is ready to be enjoyed anew.
First we stopped at The Pottery Barge, where my mother and I always loved to browse the extensive collection of kitchen wares, dishes, glassware, etc. It’s the kind of place where you’ll discover things you never knew you needed, or had despaired of finding. You can see my haul here, and I’m especially excited by the long-handled perforated spoon, which is labeled as an olive spoon. We each bought one, my friend for olives, me thinking more of fishing capers out of the jar, so hopefully it’ll fit when I try it. I also found a couple things that had been on my mental list, the plastic holder for that last slice of pie and coiled metal scrubbies (they had the copper ones too). I also grabbed a cookie spatula that I just know will be handy for all sorts of things (brownies? shortbread?), and little writeable cheese flags (that I’m hoping might be wet-erasable). The Pottery Barge lost all their inventory during the hurricane, but they have restocked most items and are working on the rest. The space is all freshly painted and refurbished, and wonderfully bright and appealing.
AND…it’s for sale, as the family of the most recent owner, who passed a few years ago, does not want to continue to run it. Hmmm, I do have a background in retail…
Next stop, for lunch (or brunch) was at another family favorite, The Chicken or the Egg. They are now open 24 hours per day during the summer season – wow!! This is the place for breakfast served all day, and they’re also known for their wings – with 15 sauces to choose from. The menu is huge and very colorful, with those wild graphics repeated on their table tops. During Sandy several feet of water came in (marked by a piece of tape on an interior wall, but the crazy collection of memorabilia on the higher walls appears to have survived, or has been amply replaced. I’d hate to think those “treasures” were lost.
Your kids – and the kid in you – will love this place. I highly recommend the Goshdarnwich I had (cheese, egg, bacon between 2 slices of French toast), and my friend took half of her special Crabby Omelet home, because it was so huge. We also took home containers of their unusual mixed clam chowder, an inspired combination of New England and Manhattan styles (you can have them separate too, of course). I loved this, as I’d given up on the Manhattan style since I got tired of too much thyme in many versions. This was the perfect combination of creaminess, tomato, veggies, clams, and bacon.
The motto here is surely “everything in excess,” but I love them for it, and the food is always tasty. Expect a wait during busy periods, they are very popular.
After that, we drove down to the southern tip of the Island to visit another old haunt, Holgate, where I took a few photos of the water at the entry to the Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, which is closed much of the year to protect the piping plovers. The water was as blue and gorgeous as ever. Did I mention that the weather was fantastic? We could see the buildings of Atlantic City in the distance, and I remembered how much I used to enjoy walking all the way to the southernmost tip of LBI, making my way past surf fishermen in trucks, and having a picnic lunch along the way.
Right by the entrance to the refuge is the dear Jolly Roger Motel, which appears to have weathered the storm well. The women of my family (my father was never a beach lover) have all enjoyed our stays there over the years, after my parents sold the old house on the Island (now rebuilt as a mini-McMansion).
Then we drove all the way to the northern tip of the Island to wave hello to Barnegat Light and the marina from which my father and his buddies went day fishing (that’s what he loved), before heading back over the causeway (quick stop at Country Kitchen for strawberries) to home.
It was just a perfect day, and it was so reassuring to see Long Beach Island as beautiful as ever. Go, please go, and see for yourself.