Tuesday, August 06, 2013

TAKE OUT TUESDAY: The Maine Course

Lobster Roll
Our family spends a lot of time on Long Beach Island (LBI), NJ, especially during the glorious summer months. My wife spent most of her life there and I've been a faithful visitor since my buddy and I started heading there on Saturday afternoons after our weekly, intrusive swim meets were over. It usually takes about a day of running on its flat roads, soaking in the sun and sea air, and playing in the surf with my daughter for me to ponder selling everything we own and moving lock, stock and barrel to this 18-mile barrier island.

And after last fall's destructive visit from Super Storm Sandy I wasn't sure what would be left or re-opened once the summer rolled around. But LBI, like many other shore resorts, has been true to the "Restore the Shore" slogan. A far cry from the debris-strewn scene that greeted me as I drove over the causeway the first time after Sandy, favorites like Howard's Restaurant, Fantasy Island, Crust & Crumb Bakery, Marvel's and the trusty Wawa up the street have all returned in full force.

One place I figured might have been lost forever was The Maine Course, a seafood take-out joint that had opened up on the Boulevard a year or so ago. I'm a sucker for a lobster roll but I never got around to trying it last summer after I read about it in one of the local papers.

Despite fearing the worst, I was pleasantly surprised when someone informed me that while their original location had taken a beating due to Sandy, The Maine Course had relocated to Schooner's Wharf at Bay Village and was open for business.

So, on a recent Friday night with no desire to either cook or stand in a long line at a restaurant, we decided to give The Maine Course a try and see if it was worth adding to our list of nearby take-out.

If you're going to order from a place called The Maine Course – which bills itself as "Seafood New England Style with a Boardwalk Twist" – you had better try their Lobster Roll ($13.99 or $17.99 for the "Jumbo" version), which is served warm or cold on a New England-style, split top frankfurter roll. While I'm a fan of the cold style, my wife – for whom anything below 75 degrees is considered fleece weather – went with the warm version. I had a hunk and thought the salad was pretty tasty and appeared to be heavy on the lobster. I like a little more mayo with mine and the toasted roll probably suffered from the car ride, but a solid offering and not something you see at a lot of other area take-out joints.

We also sampled the Crabcake Sandwich ($10.99) and it was given the thumbs up, though not on par with some of our other LBI favorites in that category. The Sweet Potato Fries were a hit – thick and crinkle cut – and available for a $1 upcharge over the traditional french fries that come with all meals and sandwiches.

Fish N Chips
Being in a fish and chips mood I went with, well, the "Fish N Chips" meal ($14.99) which was pleasantly surprising. I was expecting the typical catcher's mitt-sized slab of fish caked in beer batter that tends to slide off after the first bite (and, honestly, would have been totally happy with that). What I got instead was like a kicked-up version of a fish stick, with thick, firm cod (?) in a textured coating that was more in the breadcrumb/panko family. Again, not what I was expecting but tasty and perfectly cooked with firm but moist fish dominating. My only disappointment? I asked for extra tartar sauce (preferably in the range of a vat or trough) and only got one measly container.

Appetizers were more hit or miss than the solid, albeit unspectacular, entrees. An order of Fried Green Tomatoes ($7.99) were mushy and devoid of any crunch from the coating but that again can probably be attributed to being transported a mile-and-a-half.

Fried Green Tomatoes (top)
and Cheeseteak Dumplings
The Cheesesteak Dumplings ($9.99 for an order of five) were far more polarizing, with two of us rating them the highlight of the meal while my wife thought they were terrible. I thought the filling actually tasted like a real cheesesteak – no small feat – but for $10 could probably just swing by Panzone's and grab an actual cheesesteak... or two. Still, I would have wolfed down about ten more.

I was glad to see that The Maine Course was able to relocate after the storm and a recent walk by on a gloomy Saturday showed a brisk business at their new location. Though it won't supplant any of our other take-out spots it's certainly a new addition to the list and I'm intrigued enough to give it another try next time I'm down by Bay Village.

The Maine Course is located at Schooner's Wharf, 325 9th Street in Beach Haven, NJ... 609-492-2328.

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