Downbeach Duo

A 30-year veteran eatery and its much newer next-door neighbor 
have stressed quality, portion size and freshness.

By Frank Gabriel

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted May. 9, 2012

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NY-style deli sandwiches at Downbeach Deli

Since debuting in November 1982, Margate’s Downbeach Deli has cultivated, earned and maintained a sterling reputation for classic New York City-style delicatessen fare.

Owner and founder Robert Hammerschlag describes that fine tradition, telling us, “We seem to have a pretty good following” and “I don’t like bragging about our business, but we’ve been excellent for 30 years at just about everything we do.”

That includes full-service breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week, perhaps the most difficult trifecta to pull off successfully in the restaurant industry.

Downbeach provides those meals, exceptional in quality as well as portion size, alongside fine baked goods — most notable their bagels — plus rotisserie chicken and a wide array of smoked fish.

They also excel at the preparation of party trays and prepared foods for takeout.

In fact, their enormous menu offers pretty much anything you could desire under one roof: appetizers, soups, wraps, salads, burgers, subs and, of course, more than 40 different sandwiches.

While not a kosher restaurant, Hammerschlag allows that they do provide a number of kosher items, along with non-kosher versions of traditional ethnic specialties like blintzes and latkes.

He also is quick to point out the Downbeach offers a selection of cold fish delicacies, which is unparalleled locally. Customers choose from a selection including Nova and regular lox, kippered salmon and sable, pickled herring, Scotch kippers and whitefish.

Speaking of fish, or more accurately, “Fisch,” fans of last season’s breakout eatery Fisch Kitchen will be pleased to know that the ancillary food enterprise reopened just about two weeks ago.

Attached at the back end of Downbeach, fronting Ventnor Avenue, Fisch Kitchen was founded last year by Hammerschlag’s daughter Lauren and son-in-law Paul Erbacher. They’ve since opted not to return. Chosen to head the kitchen for the 2012 season is new chef Bob Tewell, a veteran of many years at the former Trump Marina.

Having worked in high-end rooms there like Portofino and Finestra, this graduate of Pennsylvania’s Institute of Culinary Arts in Pittsburgh brings a different, mainstream approach to the bill of fare.

Calling his charge at Fisch Kitchen “to keep things as fresh as possible,” Tewell seems well suited for the task at hand.

For starters, the prior concept of a daily series of blackboard offerings largely disseminated through the Internet has been eliminated. Replacing it is a set menu, broader, deeper and certainly a bit less daring. But probably also more marketable, with items like fish tacos and lobster rolls still holding over from last year.

This time, Fisch Kitchen’s vision appears to be more in line with traditional Jersey shore seafood house chow. Shellfish — clams, oysters, mussels and shrimp — in various styles from on the half shell to steamed or fried feature prominently.

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