On the Waterfront

We’ve made our list of Shore newcomers and we’re checkin’ it twice. This week brought us to The Inlet in Somers Point, located in the bayside hangar that formerly harbored Sails. Moshulu owner Martin Grims adds to his portfolio of waterfront dining with this so-close-you-can-smell-the-salt spot. Sails’ stark modern interior has been softened with gauzy fabric, whitewashed wood, cork, and seashells that impart a casual, Nantucket vibe. The prices on the menu have also dropped precipitously. You can have a blowout feast here, rife with wine and chilled crustaceans, before sailing off on your yacht moored just feet from your table. But you could also grab a quick Kobe burger at the bar beneath plasmas hanging from the vaulted barnyard ceiling.

The summer help is college-bound but strong, the types of kids that honed their waiterly skills working the Shore’s restaurant circuit each season. Wearing khakis and striped peach Saltwater Taffy button-downs, they speed about the deck and dining room, bearing cute takes on warm-weather classics. Perfect pink shrimp
(pictured), big and chilled, rest on three sauces, including a sweet and sinus-singeing cocktail sauce. Mini crab cakes are treated to the same sauce trio. Chopped lobster, cheese, and tomato become a panini served alongside a shot glass of icy gazpacho, a summery play on grilled cheese and tomato soup, while lobster appears again, mayo-swathed and basil-sprinkled, in a pillowy potato roll crowed with a haystack of needle-thin frites.

The pick-your-fish, -sauce, -and side section of the menu yielded a stunning tuna steak seared to a rare dusky purple inside, and the iceberg wedge was sufficiently crisp, but the best thing on the menu might be the duo of short rib sliders (pictured). We made the slow-braised beef, lightly creamed kale, and fluffy roll disappear in two rich bites of lowbrow luxury. Ditto on dessert (pictured): a trio of haute Chipwiches filled with green apple, strawberry, and cookie-dough gelato. Mini sugar cones sprout from the sandwiches, bearing icy sorbet alms of lemon and raspberry. It sounds and looks better than it tastes, but we can appreciate the idea.

The Inlet is just what you want at the Shore: upscale enough that it’s a grown-up break from Boardwalk pizza but relaxed enough that you can go sporting little more than jeans, a golf shirt, and fresh tan.
Photo: blogalicious

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