Fri 22 May 2009
It’s Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start to summer. If you’re still reading this, then you’re probably counting the hours to your three-day weekend. If not, you’re probably stuck in traffic on Route 50 heading toward Ocean City.
For most Washingtonians, summer beach excursions rarely end up further north than Dewey Beach and Rehoboth. But I grew up in New Jersey – ‘down the shore,’ as a matter of fact. For me, the beach means Seaside Heights, with all the Jersey stereotypes that come with it.
On a recent trip home, Elizabeth and I took advantage of the surprisingly warm weather to visit the boardwalk in Seaside with my family. Since we’re usually up there for holidays and other special occasions, I haven’t had much of a chance to show Elizabeth this quintessentially Jersey Shore experience before.
And while we were on the boardwalk, in between games of Skee-Ball (practice for when the H Street Country Club opens), we got to enjoy a Seaside classic: boardwalk hotdogs and fries at Midway Steak House.
The perfect Jersey shore meal after the jump.
Located smack in the middle of the boardwalk at Webster Avenue, Midway Steak House is an institution. The smoke that wafts out from their diner-style grilltops is redolent with the aromas of peppers, onions and meat, and it beckons from at least two blocks away. One whiff, and the various pizza places (most with names that include some combination of the words ‘brothers,’ ‘Italy’ and ‘pizza’) fade into the background.
The food at Midway is simple stuff – hot dogs, Italian sausage, hamburgers, cheesesteaks and fries (with or without cheez) are pretty much the extent of the menu. But Midway is a Jersey Shore landmark in much the same way that Ben’s Chili Bowl is here in DC. Walk up on either the beach side or the street side of the stand, place your order, and in no time you’ll be chowing down.
For our visit with my family, we ordered up a handful of hotdogs, an order of cheese fries, an order of regular fries, and a couple of lemonades (aka ‘lemon-flavored-sugar-waters’). True to boardwalk form everywhere, the hotdogs were long and thin, with a casing that provided a nice snap when biting into them. The fries were fat and glistening with oil; though they lack the crispiness that makes Belgian-style frites so appealing, their soft, creamy interiors are a real treat.
From past experience, I can also recommend the sausages. Now this is a Jersey delicacy – spiced with red pepper flakes and fennel seed, the sausages sit on a warm grilltop cooking slowly until they are called into action. At that point, they are transferred to a hot spot for a quick sear that releases those beautiful clouds of fragrant smoke. Top them with a handful (tongsful?) of seared peppers and onions, and you’ve got a meal fit for a [prom] king.
But what if your tastes run to the sweet after a long day of body-surfing, tanning, and – well – drinking? Forego the funnel cakes and fried Oreos if you can and head a few blocks down to Kohr’s. A beach tradition since the 1920′s, Kohr Brothers’ stands serve up classic frozen custard, orangeades and other frosty treats up and down the Jersey shore (and in 9 other states). To this day, my father’s eyes light up every time we pass one of the various locations in Seaside, Point Pleasant and elsewhere. Order up the soft-served custard in one of a few classic flavors: chocolate, vanilla and orange sherbet. Or, better yet, have the server pull your cone from that magical middle spigot, the one that swirls vanilla and chocolate or vanilla and orange together. Feeling especially decadent? Get the soft, melty ice cream in a hot waffle sandwich; just be ready for how rapidly it melts! If you’re not exactly hungry, a freshly squeezed orangeade can be a true thirst quencher. Something about the additional sugar in the mix makes the pulp from the oranges that much more palatable.
If your travels are taking you to the beach this summer – and you’re lucky enough to be heading to the Jersey Shore – keep these two in mind when you’re planning out your meals. They’re easy on the wallet and sure to leave you satisfied.