Judging from the posts on the Trip Reports page it seems that the whole Roadfood world was at the South Jersey Shore last week on separate trips. Me too. My wife was in Texas visiting her sister, my kids were at College, it was time for another solo Road Trip. Down the Parkway this time, to Atlantic City and the surrounding area.
I’m not big on gambling, so that was not the purpose of this trip. Instead I like AC for the old school eating, drinking, and bakery places. My old Brooklyn friends and I make a reunion trip down there every couple of years, usually I don’t spend more than an hour or two losing money and instead head out to explore. I am missing this year’s trip due to family obligations, so this was a make up trip.
I got an early start and by 9:30 AM I was doing the 8 mile driving loop at one of my favorite places in all of NJ, the Forsythe National Wildlife area. http://www.fws.gov/northeast/forsythe/
It was a cold cloudy windy day (just like it seems every day this month has been, what Spring??) and there wasn’t too much doing in the shorebird world, but it was nice and peaceful to be there. I made a few stops in the loop and then headed to AC.
My first stop for an early lunch was to be Gilchrist’s on North Maryland Avenue, but I should have checked the Web a little closer. Apparently after 50 years they have been bulldozed by Mr. Trump and his Marina, and have relocated to the mainland in Absecon. As happens all too often, I was a little late to visit a dining landmark.
I decided to head to my next stop, The Pic-a-Lilli Tavern on S. Tennessee Avenue.
There are actually 2 Pic-a-Lilli Taverns. The other is on Rt 206 in the Pine Barrens, and I’m not sure what the relationship of the two is, other than that they are both known for their wings and chicken strips. I had been to the Rt 206 location a few years ago and had some of the best wings I’ve ever had. However as it was only 11AM it was a little too early for a beer, I took a 45 minute walk on the Boardwalk instead.
The AC Pic-a-Lilli is on a deserted block in the shadow of the big Casinos. Perfectly seedy, just the way I like it. I entered at 11:45 AM (they are open 24/7, you gotta like that in a bar) and it was quite lively, with the type of clientele you usually don’t see in the promo brochures for the casinos. It was the kind of place that when I ordered a beer (Pabst on draft, of course) the barmaid suggested that for just an extra $2 I
could get a pitcher. Since it was before noon, I politely declined. Anyway, I ordered 10 chicken fingers ($10) and they were huge and terrific. I had 5 there with my beer and took out the rest.
Now it was time to head a few miles north to the old shore town of Brigantine, and way at the tip of that beach town is the Rod and Reel Tavern. I love places like this, right at the end of the road by the water. Very nice convivial place, seems like it would be quite lively with locals in the summertime. On a Wednesday afternoon in April there were still quite a few customers. I had another beer (usually on my day trips I will have no more than one or two bar/beer stops all day at the most, but here is was only 1:30 PM and I was already on beer #2). They have a good reasonably priced seafood (what else would you expect) menu. I ordered a dozen steamed clams in garlic broth ($7). The clams were fresh and tasty. The broth was a little watery, but OK. Oddly, no bread for dunking. Since the broth wasn’t all that great I didn’t bother to ask for any. Nice place, friendly barman.
I decided that I needed to walk off the 2nd
beer, so I took a ½ hour walk along the shorewalk and into town. I love sleepy NJ Shore towns in the off season. This was real nice and so close to AC.
OK, now I headed south for some unfinished business dating back to the early 70’s. While researching places for this trip I happened to notice that Maynard’s Tavern in Margate was still in business. On my only previous visit there, in about 1970, I got very drunk, got separated from my friends, couldn’t find their summer apartment, and somehow wound up spending the night on a couch in the summer house of 4 girls I did not know. Nothing apparently happened, and, 20 something boys being what they are, my friends had a field day kidding me about this for the next several days. In fact, a couple of them are same the guys I go to AC with, and once in a while I still hear about it.
Anyway, I’m not sure what my purpose was in going back to Maynard’s 39 years later, but in I went, and realized I did not remember anything about the place so I have no idea if it has changed at all. Surprisingly there were a few customers who looked like they were old enough to have been there that night 39 years ago. I ordered a beer and tried to listen in to their conversations to see if they were regulars back then. It was hard to tell, and I let it pass. I took a walk in the neighborhood to look around and to walk off my 3rd
beer of the day, but there was no way I could figure out which was the house where I spent that “interesting” night.
So, back to AC along Ventnor Avenue, the most unsynchronized traffic light avenue I have ever driven on. Ventnor becomes Atlantic Avenue (more unsynchronized lights) and soon I was at Tony’s Baltimore Grill. http://www.baltimoregrill.com/
I love Old School places like this, a real Red Sauce Italian Spaghetti House. They claim to have the best pizza in Atlantic City. That may be true, but overall I wouldn’t even put it in the Top 10 of New Jersey. A very small ½ sausage and ½ plan pizza was $10. I had once slice of each at the bar (with a soda, not a 4th
beer). It was OK, but not great. Still, I loved this place and would go back for a cozy Italian dinner in the dimly lit back room with my honey and a bottle of Red wine.
And that was that, a nice day all around.
<message edited by ken8038 on Wed, 04/15/09 12:43 PM>