Restaurant Rewind: Phillips Seafood in AC

On May 19th (bear with me, folks! I just started a new job!), I had the pleasure of attending a food blogger dinner hosted by Breslow Partners and Phillips Seafood. I have yet to share my personal philosophy on sharing my restaurant dining experiences, so what better time than the present. It pretty much boils down to a commitment to post only about positive encounters (gratis meal, as in this case, or not) and our evening at Phillips definitely fits that criteria.

Dre & I rushed to AC after work that Wednesday, checked into our amazing room in the new Chairman Tower at the Taj Mahal (thanks, Mike!), and hurried over to the Pier at Caesars. We arrived at Phillips first and were greeted with smiles from Tina & Jennifer, the dynamic mother-daughter duo behind Breslow Partners. Our server, Mike, took drink orders as we got to know our hostesses and perused the amazing menu of food coming our way. How could you not be excited for this?

Phillips Seafood Blogger Dinner Menu

Cocktails arrived and so did 5 other new friends. It was so great to meet the people behind the local food blogs I enjoy, let alone dive into an indulgent seafood feast with them. Lisa & Lisa joined us first, from Jersey Girl Cooks and John and Lisa are Eating in South Jersey, respectively (har-har!). We then welcomed Allie of A Food Coma and her guest Mikey with Elaine of Elle Eats rounding out the group. No sooner did we finish our introductions when our first course arrived, Steamed Mojito Clams.

The GM, Brian Fountain, and Executive Chef Paul Drew were nothing short of hospitable, informative, & accommodating through out the meal. They joined us between each course to explain the history & philosophy of Phillips along with all the juicy ingredient and prep details that really  make foodies like us drool.

Steamed Mojito Clams from Phillips

We all had already dove into the tender clams while Chef Drew recapped the Mojito-inspired ingredients that flavored the dish. Phillips excels in freshness when it comes to their seafood and these middle necks fit the bill. They were cooked in butter, rum, mint (which I believed is mis-mentioned on the menu), slivers of garlic, & anaheim peppers and served with a ramekin of extra Mojito butter on the side. We happily sopped up the remaining butter with the warm bread we were served. I appreciated learning that Phillips strives to maintain the option for sustainable seafood by returning all clam shells to the Chesapeake.

Next up was a raw bar lovers dream, The Chilled Plateau. Its top tier featured fresh Maine Lobster and Alaskan King Crab Legs, each steamed with cinnamon, cloves, lemon, Phillips seasoning, pickling spice, & orange and served chilled. Melpac & Blue Point Oysters and Middle Neck Clams on the half shell outlined the bottom tier with fresh lemon wedges and a red wine, shallot, & garlic mignonette. Bowled in the middle, were Tuna Tartar (ahi poke style), U15 Shrimp, and Jumbo Lump Crab Meat with sides of cocktail sauce & mustard sauce for dipping. It was a tower of raw seafood indulgence and I loved every bite (and swallow in the case of the oysters) of it!

The Chilled Plateau from Phillips

The penultimate course for our dinner were the famous Phillips Chesapeake Crab Cakes,  packed with their own pasteurized crab meat, a process first developed by Phillips. 300 million tons of their crab meat are canned each year with 1/3 of that coming from our Gulf. The effects of the current outrageous oil leak saddens me beyond words and I’m sure this will have a grave effect, short & long term, on Phillips crab meat distribution. Let’s all hope for the best that can come out of this unimaginable disaster. But, this afternoon, it’s back to the crab cakes…

Chef Paul Drew explained that Phillips variety includes jumbo lump, back fin, & special lump crab meat for a variety of taste & texture. The whole chunks of crab are seasoned and bound with Phillips seasoning, lemon, mustard, Worcestershire, egg, & mayo. They’re formed into mounds and chilled at 40degrees until broiling them at 450degrees. Dre inquired about their cooking approach, as growing up in Maryland he was used to the deep-fried variety. Without solicitation, the Chef was happy to whip up a batch of fried crab cakes for comparison.  Their table was split on their cooking preference, but I think Lisa (of John & Lisa) summed it up perfectly – “They’re really good baked, but ethereal fried!”

Chesapeake Crab Cakes, Potato Gratinée, & Broccolini

The crab cake entree was well-rounded with sides of Potato Gratinées with Swiss cheese and tender Broccolini. We discussed our final thoughts on the meal over a palate-cleansing dish of mango sorbet. Overall, it was a great experience to try a restaurant I normally would not have with great fellow food bloggers. It was a refreshing experience, as sometimes a classic presentation of a seafood indulgence truly hits the spot. I couldn’t ask for a better meal that this beachside feast to kick off my Spring/Summer!

Blogger Dinner Contacts

Breslow Partners

Phillips Seafood AC

Jersey Girl Cooks

John and Lisa are Eating in South Jersey

A Food Coma

Ell Eats

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Quickie: Grilled Somen Tuna Steak & Chili Oil Bok Chok

Waiting on the new external, so here’s a quick little treat to hold you over! I defrosted an individual tuna steak, marinated it in Somen dressing, & seared it on each side. While my grill marks set, I tossed baby bok choy in my wok with Somen dressing, chili-infused macadamia nut oil, minced garlic, chicken stock, & a splash of fish sauce until wilted and flavorful.  In under 15 minutes, I had a perfect, healthy dinner for 1.

Grilled Somen Tuna & Chili Oil Bok Choy

Restaurant Rewind: Hawai’ian “‘Ono Grinds” Flashback

‘Ono = Hawai’ian for “delicious”

Grinds = Hawai’ian for “food”

Every January I have the pleasure of visiting my Mama in Waikiki, Hawai’i. She lives right in the thick of things and only 2 blocks from the beach. What more could you ask for?!? I just returned last week from my 3rd annual visit, but was on a tight budget for this trip. I spent my days kicking back at the beach or by the pool while Mama cooked me up yummy seafood-focused dinners each night. I ate sweet pineapple every day and made my usual snorkel trip to Sharks Cove on the North Shore.

SNORK!

During my first 2 visits, I had the pleasure of exploring the cuisine of this tropical paradise.   Unfortunately, I couldn’t escape Philly as Ono Cheesesteaks is right on the main strip of Waikiki. They may ship in Amaroso Rolls, but the sandwich as a whole was utter blasphemy! OH NO, is right! I made sure to stick to the amazing seafood Oahu has to offer.

The North Shore is scattered with shrimp ponds & shrimp trucks where you can enjoy the freshest variety of these crustaceans.We decided to stop at Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp Truck (which is actually quite popular on Yelp!).

Fumi's Kahuku Shrimp Truck on the North Shore

For a tourist rate of $8, we enjoyed plates of Spicy Garlic Shrimp complete with White Rice, Green Salad, & a Pineapple Wedge. Things get a bit messy as you hand-peel your saucy shrimp at tented picnic tables, so all the trucks make sure to offer a handwash station for clean-up.

Spicy Garlic Shrimp Plate

On one of my many lazy days relaxing on Waikiki Beach, I decided to pop into Beard Papa for my first taste of their famous Cream Puffs. Not only are they just splendidly delicious, they fill them fresh with your choice of cream flavor. I went with their Classic Vanilla in an Eclair Puff, however they offer Chocolate, Strawberry, Coffee, Green Tea, & Earl Grey. They also make sammies on their puffs, but who wants that when you can have dessert? And, why have I never heard of these amazing cream puffs before? And, why isn’t there a franchise in Philly?? I hear there’s one in NYC. Could it be true? So many questions…

Beard Papa Eclair Puff w/ Vanilla Creme

Of course, no trip to Hawai’i is complete without a super sushi indulgence. My first visit, I had a blast pulling all sorts of varieties off a conveyor belt at Genki Sushi. Last year, however, we tried somewhere new and thank goodness! Unfortunately, the name of the restaurant eludes me (Mom?). I was treated to the best (and forever my favorite) Ahi tuna dish I could ever imagine – a fresh hunk of Ahi, wrapped in Arugula, Tempura-battered & flash fried in a delicious sea of Wasabi-Soy Butter. Heaven.

Ahi Tuna & Arugula Tempura w/ Wasabi-Soy Butter

Hawai’i, I love you. See you next January with an empty belly (or hopefully sooner)!