Cape May Winter of Our Contentment

Cape May Winter of Our Contentment

People cautioned me about winter when I moved to Cape May nearly fifteen years ago . It’s the wind they said. Watch the wind. The wind in January can be brutal. This January, it’s the winds of change. Change, making the Cape May winter of our contentment, a challenge.

Like tourists, we locals have our comfort zones. Places we visit regularly, for comfort and contentment. With the Brown Room at Congress Hall under construction, we visited the Ebbitt Room at The Virginia Hotel on Jackson Street. This January, for the first time that I can recall, The Ebbitt Room is open seven days a week. An antidote to the Congress Hall shutdown.

The Virginia porch in summer is inviting. In January, just beyond the big red doors, in Cape May’s other living room, the crackling fireplace beckons. A glass of wine, a cocktail, contentment. Lucky for us, we picked the night Chef rolled out his new winter menu. Experiencing the newest creations by Chef Jason Hanin, indulgent.

No Deviled Eggs Please

Surprisingly, Chef and I have something in common, aside from the love of gastronomical experiences, neither of us cares much for deviled eggs. But, give me Brussel Sprouts with honey and bacon chunks and I’m in heaven. I never liked Brussel Sprouts as a kid, rather bland. In contrast, today I love them.

Before the sprouts though, give me oysters! I love oysters. If you followed me last week from Rehoboth, counting Friday night, I’ve had oysters 5 out of 6 nights. These Delaware Bay Oysters with classic mignonette were tender, sweet with just a hint of salinity.

I write about what I know, what I am passionate about. I don’t pretend to be a food critic. With more than 30 years in hospitality, half of that in food & beverage in hotels, I know a thing or two. When I see local employees, providing exceptional service it motivates me to write.

The Ebbitt Room delivered last night. Our server Jordan, was attentive, professional but not invasive. The bussers and runners were also polished. Leo at the bar, started us out on the right foot.

I’ll admit, I was a little underwhelmed by the presentation on my Scallops with winter root veggies. Insert conditional understanding of now full dining room. However, the flavors coming out of my entree was so intensely delicious, I actually asked Jordan to confirm my suspicion that paper thin turnips were in the mix. I was right. Hakurei Turnips, most likely from Beach Plum Farm.

I will leave the food styling (something else in my toolbox) to the marketing department. Suzanne’s Braised Short Rib with pickled vegetables was fork tender and just the right portion size.
Previously I considered the Ebbitt Room a destination dining spot. In the wake of Congress Hall shutting down, popping into the Virginia has become more natural.

Friends have reported similar experiences, including dinner at the bar with Leo. The 7-days-a-week schedule will make visiting The Ebbitt Room a regular occurrence. Instead of discontentment we can make this a Cape May winter of our contentment.

Featured photo courtesy of Jessica Orlwicz

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  1. David Greene
    January 17, 2019 / 10:47 am

    Thank you, Mr. Cooke, for your Cape May lifeline, including this article. Wonderful to read this and your other recent article on Cape May in winter. Your love for and attitude towards Cape May seem to match mine, and I am so grateful to have your blog. You are very fortunate to be in Cape May year round.

    • January 17, 2019 / 11:15 am

      Mr. Green thank you for the kind words. They really mean a ton of encouragement. An yes I truly do feel fortunate to live in such a special place.