Just because you are at the Jersey shore doesn't mean you can't find innovating food and be stuck eating sausage and peppers, overcooked fried flounder or any of the other foods we equate with beach resorts. Last night we had a fabulous meal at a relatively new restaurant called Jay's On Third in Stone Harbor, NJ and a few nights ago we dined at Quahog's Seafood Shack for one of my favorite entrees, Grilled Barbecue Pacu Fish Ribs.
Jay's opened last year and we heard about it from some friends who dined there last week. Don, from Texas and a big steak fan, described the Hanger Steak with BBQ butter sauce as one of the top 5 hanger steaks he has ever eaten and his wife Kim loved the Tuna Tartare & Sashimi.
Chef-Owner Jason Hippen, whom I met after the meal and found very personable, put together a great culinary resume before opening Jay's On Third. He graduated culinary school at the Academy of Culinary Arts in Mays Landing and over the years worked with some of the top chefs at some of the most esteemed restaurants including Jeffery Chodorow's Red Square, Stephen Starr's Buddakan, Morimoto, Sumile and Aureole in New York City.
I read a 2008 review of Jay's On Third in the Shore News Today that said,
"After graduation, he found a job in Philadelphia that changed the course of his career, but it didn't come without some humbling advice from celebrity chef Morimoto, of Iron Chef fame.
"Boy, did he ever kill me. "˜Get rid of your bad habits right now,' he would tell me. "˜This is a five-star restaurant. I don't care what you think you've learned so far.' But that job really boosted my career," Hippen said.
Chef Jason, who grew up in Wildwood, NJ, told me his mom is from Thailand and his sous chef, who also graduated from the Academy of Culinary Arts, is from the Philippines and their menu really brings out the cultural heritage from both regions. I enjoyed a delicious Red Snapper with long beans, aromatic Jasmine rice, toasted cashew nuts and a Thai coconut Langoustine sauce that was incredible. I'm hoping to interview Chef Jason and get him to share this recipe with me.
The kids split the Grilled Hanger Steak Medallions that were served with fresh local fingerling potatoes, green asparagus and a BBQ butter and there was nothing left to share with their dad. Lucky for me someone else ordered the steak and I was able to glom a bite. My wife ordered the salmon special, which was served with a pureed pesto and asparagus. I didn't get much of that either!
We started out table sharing the Crisp Calamari appetizer served with Japanese Chile salt, Napa cabbage & lime aoli as well as the "Tempura" Gulf Shrimp with asparagus & Japanese seaweed. I only wish there were more of them, they were so delicious.
Because Jay's On Third is BYOB, we enjoyed his "fresh and fragrant" food with a Ferrari Carrano fume blanc and a Burgess Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines worked well with everything on the table.
We never got to the desserts because everyone wanted to go to Springer's Homemade Ice Cream but I'm sure they would have been delicious. A few of us enjoyed wonderfully prepared espressos after dinner before the march to Springer's.
And one last thing I would like to mention is the service was impeccable. You may have heard me say this in other posts, but to me I don't care how good the food is at a restaurant if the service is off, the meal is ruined.
Here at Jay's, the 66 seat dining room was run like clockwork. Granted the room wasn't full because it was late on a Monday night, but you got the sense the staff knew what they were doing and were professional. Really makes a difference in the dining experience.
I hope to interview Chef Jason soon and share with you some of his thoughts on cooking and maybe a few of his secrets for those amazing sauces. You can learn more about Chef Jason and Jay's On Third at his web site.