Seven Mile Island (location of Stone Harbor and Avalon) holds a special place in our family’s hearts. We spent many a family vacation week there when the kids were younger. Every time I go there, memories of skimmers on the shoreline, seagull conventions, sandcastles and sinful ice cream cones from Springers come flooding back.
We always went the “Shore house rental” route. While we knew there were hotels in the area, we never took the time to explore them. I’ve always been curious, so when we recently got the chance to check out the Golden Inn (on the border of Stone Harbor and Avalon), I jumped at the opportunity.
The Golden Inn is a happy and relaxing destination. It’s one of those places where every member of the staff that you encounter takes the time to say hello and asks if you need anything. It’s situated right on the ocean, so you can roll out of bed and on to the beach. What’s not to love about that? There is a pool with padded lounge chairs, and a casual area where there is live music in the late afternoons (but not too late). There, you will find everyone from fortysomethings to elementary school kids up and dancing.
Of course, the foodie in me needed to check out the restaurant scene. I was so glad we did. The Golden Inn’s signature dining room is called Seaglass. There, you will find a creative chef, wonderful food, and warm, caring service.
Executive Chef Brett Hulbert describes the cuisine as “global cuisine from beaches around the world.” He focuses on simple, unpretentious fare that is true to flavor. Locavores will be happy to learn that many of the items on the menu are locally sourced, including day boat scallops pulled onto the docks in Cape May; Jersey blueberries, cantaloupes and watermelons; local asparagus, and those Jersey July favorites sweet corn and tomatoes. There are tapas and a small, interesting wine list. For those following a gluten-free diet, there is a gluten free menu that has proven to be very popular. There is also child care available for hotel guests dining at Seaglass for a very reasonable price so that Mom and Dad can have a quieter meal if they choose. Since we’re all watching our wallets these days, you should know that no entrée price exceeds $30, and many are a lot less.
The atmosphere at Seaglass was the first thing that I noticed. There are welcoming candles in hurricane lamps, and you are free to dine inside or out. Even if you dine inside, you can sit by an open door and enjoy the fresh sea breezes. We lingered at our table for quite a while without feeling rushed.
We started our meal by ordering a cheese and fruit plate and a pork belly and mango appetizer from the menu of tasty tapas. The cheese and fruit platter had two great cheese selections, including a rich and slightly salty blue cheese and a goat cheese that was free of any graininess. We loved the plump Jersey blueberries that accompanied the cheese and other fruit selections. The pork belly was a new try for me- those plump little morsels aided and abetted my appetite and made me look forward to the main course.
Since I had heard that the scallops were locally sourced, I had to give them a try. They were incredible-if they had been any fresher, I would have been eating them down at the dock. Chef Brett keeps it simple by searing them in a Cointreau/butter/lemon thyme combination. This worked wonders at really letting the flavors of these babies shine through.
John ordered the spare ribs. When I talked to Chef Brett before the meal, he said that they had a Korean/Deep South influence. Sounds interesting, right? After being soaked in beer and OJ for several hours, they are given a Cajun/brown sugar rubdown and are finished with sweet chili sauce. I was not quite sure what to expect. John made a valiant effort to inhale the ribs-they were falling off the bone tender. However, the large portion size made that an impossible task. Guess who is looking forward to leftovers?
We both thought we would have no room for dessert, but I weakened when our server described the Chocolate Peanut Butter Bombe. My friends, it is indeed the bomb-an inside layer of creamy chocolate mousse and peanut butter coated with chocolate ganache and nuts.
I’ve never thought of hotel dining as a high point -but the cuisine at Seaglass changed my mind. It was that good. You don’t have to be a hotel guest to dine there, although there is something really great about being able to shower up after the beach and be a three minute stroll away from the dinner table. I also loved the fact that Chef Brett (who is a really nice guy) visited each table for feedback and that the servers were attentive and cheerful.
If your tastes run more to Italian food, Chef Brett has you covered. There is a separate dining area known as “Luigi’s Pasta and Vino,” which serves individual pizzas and straightforward Italian pasta dishes. We did not get to sample the food there-maybe next time. The restaurant is open year round and open to non-guests.
The Golden Inn is located at 7849 Dune Drive in Avalon, New Jersey. For more information: www.goldeninn.com.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary stay and meal at the Golden Inn, but all of the opinions contained above are completely my own. We had a great time and loved our meal!
Beth Christian subsisted primarily on cheeseburgers and liverwurst sandwiches during childhood and refused to try most new foods. Her culinary horizons were expanded during her college days in Schenectady, New York, where she learned the joys of trying slow-simmered Italian dishes, Szechuan cuisine, and everything in between. When not engaged in the practice of law in Monmouth County, Beth is busy scouting out interesting restaurants, farmer’s markets and food purveyors near her home in Burlington County. Beth’s primary dining sidekick is her husband John, but she also enjoys having her daughter Meghan, son Michael and her wonderful friends come along for the ride. Email Beth at BChristian@JerseyBites.com