Where to Eat in Stone Harbor, New Jersey
I'm sure there are a lot of great places to enjoy a terrific meal in Stone Harbor, New Jersey when on vacation, but there are two restaurants that are must visits for me whenever I'm next door in Avalon. One is Jay's On Third and the other is Quahog's. I went to both last year but didn't write about them and plan on going back to both this year. Purely for reporting purposes, of course.
One of my favorite Stone Harbor restaurants is Jay's On Third. I wrote about Chef Jason Hippen and Jay's On Third the first time I ate there a couple of years ago but didn't write about my amazing meal last year when Meg and I dined there without the kids.
What I remember most about our dinner experience that night was how much energy there was in the room. The crowd was lively and you could hear how excited people were about what they ordered and what they were being served.
Sometimes you go into a restaurant and there is no energy. People are eating but you can see they are not enthused by the menu. The night we were at Jay's On Third, the entire room was buzzing and you could see people sharing their food with each other. Granted, we were at the Jersey shore after an incredible day on the beach and most folks were in vacation mode, but there was something special going on this night.
For me, a great atmosphere can somewhat make up for less-than-wonderful food, and wonderful food can sometimes make up for a dull atmosphere. But, at Jason's on Third, they are the whole package. The atmosphere and excitement elevate the food, and vice versa.
What Did I Eat at Jay's On Third
I'm not a big fan of waiters telling you what they tried on the menu and offering suggestions on what to eat. It's usually the most expensive item and they don't even know what I like. But even so, I'm going to act like that waiter and try and tell you what I remember about what we ate and then whole-heartedly recommend all of it to you.
First up, the grilled scallops. I know I had the grilled scallops last year and they were served with some sort of emulsion. It could have been what's currently being served on the menu - Grilled Scallops - Smoked Bacon, Green Beans, Sweet Corn, and Oyster Emulsion. These may have been the most perfectly cooked scallops I've ever tried.
I also remember trying the Crisp Calamari and that, too, was cooked to perfection. Served with Chili Sea Salt, Napa Cabbage and Lime-Gin Aioli.
As for the fish I ordered, I can't remember but it may have been the Pacific Halibut served with mussels, potato crisps, Kaffir Lime and Coconut-Shellfish Emulsion that's now on the menu. It may have been some other dish entirely, but I can tell you that it was amazing, whatever it was. You can trust me about this: if the dish had been terrible, I surely would have remembered that, especially after having had the amazing scallops and calamari!
I do remember we planned on going a few blocks north to Springers for dessert where they serve the most delicious ice cream. This place deserves a post all by itself, and I will try to get around to it this trip. Fortunately, in this case, we didn't get the chance to go to Springers because Chef Jason sent out a couple of his own desserts that were new to me and totally outrageous.
One of them was Yogurt Panna Cotta and the other was a Raspberry & Blueberry Tart made with vanilla mascarpone and Nutella ice milk. Panna Cotta is an Italian dessert made by simmering milk, cream and sugar and then mixing this with gelatin. When it cools it sets into a soft custard like consistency.
There are many recipes to be found on the Internet combining a basic Panna Cotta with other ingredient, but at its heart, panna cotta is a simple dish that doesn't take too long to make. I'll post a recipe as soon as I find one I like and give it a try. If you have one you think I would enjoy, please send it along.
So Meg and I can't wait to get back to this impressive seaside resort restaurant and eat more of Chef Jason's cooking. If you are in south Jersey on vacation and looking for a great dinner in Stone Harbor, I recommend you give Jay's On Third a try. If you go, and you really should, please let me know about your experience.