With a full summer under its belt, Philippe Chin French-Asian Bistro and Deck Bar is hitting its stride heading into fall.
“Bistro” just might be the overused, misunderstood word currently popularized in the gastronomic world. By original definition, the term refers to a French neighborhood place, casually offering hearty portions at modest prices in a comforting, home-like atmosphere.
Leave it to a native Parisian, chef Philippe Chin, to accurately redefine that term locally. The classically trained, much-traveled Chin is also about as multicultural as you can get, with a father from northern China and a French mere.
After years of honing his rep on the continent, the Caribbean and Philadelphia, he spent the last half-decade in the well-heeled resort community of Saratoga Springs, New York. But when offered an opportunity to reinvigorate the historic, waterfront Victorian Bay Avenue location in Somers Point owned by local surgeon Ira Trocki, Chin quickly seized it.
However, that turned out to be for only one day.
Opening late April just in time for Somers Point’s annual Bayfest event, Chin general manager John Wilson tells us, “We got through dinner service, sat the staff down and announced that we were closing for four weeks.”
Chin, ever the perfectionist, knew he required more time to bring the operation up to his standards. Reopened Memorial Day weekend, the establishment now seems to be humming along nicely as the end of their initial summer season approaches. During that four-week spring hiatus, employees were told to expect the new regime would have higher expectations and only those who truly wished to compete for positions should return.
Asked about the qualities he sought from staffers and the chef is quick to reply. “Passion, if you don’t have it you’re out.” Addressing the changes made since April, he adds, “We had to make it what we wanted it to be.”
This meant a menu addressing both casual and formal aspects of dining.
“You can eat here and have a $100 meal or a $12 burger. We wanted to make sure we had something for everybody, and we achieved that.”
Earnestly swimming upstream, this bucks a current industry menu trend toward brevity. With separate sections of the bill of fare devoted to small plates, seafood (fruits de mer), soup and salads, main plates and an inspired “plats du jour” section — more on that in a moment — diners are afforded close to 50 selections.
A few of his personal suggestions include green papaya salad, a Vietnamese specialty composed of that fleshy tropical fruit blended with peanuts, chile oil, aromatic Thai basil and lime juice.
Along with an Asian tuna nacho, accompanied by sesame spinach salad studded with wonton chips with a trio of aioli: wasabi, teriyaki and sriracha remoulade.
Or his unique chilled ratatouille combining tomatoes, eggplant, garlic and olive oil — all standard — plus quirky twists in the road delivered via sesame oil, pumpkin seeds, cilantro and Thai basil along with a dressing based on hoisin, Chinese bar-be-que sauce. But it’s those plats du jour, a daily rotating series of specials, which really got our attention.
“The location was the key. A beautiful backdrop of the bay, with all types of boats cruising past, and the Ocean City skyline [across the bay].”
Plus the Viking Cooking School's Hot Summer Line-up, Atlantic City's International Nights concert series and Drew Toonz
Can seafood and a waterfront atmosphere really conspire to create romance? Having met while working together at Somers Point's bayside Clam Bar (aka Smitty's) Peter and Patrice Popovic, sure think so...
If you’re a real food fan, ask to sit in the left rear section. Here you’ll be afforded a peek at the kitchen staff, through a screened service portal, as they prepare your meal.
You might be surprised to hear Andrew Latz refer to his new Somers Point restaurant as a “return to Bay Avenue.”
“Somers Point has missed him, all South Jersey has missed him. He’s an icon in our community and the music industry. He’s entertaining and fun, and will be helping to bring the Somers Point music scene back to where it belongs."
"I knew we had to do a reunion some day, and I just realized that it's been 25 years!" says Carmen Marotta, whose family owned the Tony Mart's club in Somers Point for decades. The Bay Avenue institu...
The crowds came out last Saturday for Bayfest along Bay Avenue in Somers Point. Chip Miller and daughter munching on funnel cake at Bayfest. Local boxer "Mighty" Mike...
As we all try to get back in the rhythm of life post-Sandy, I decided that instead of waiting until Friday, I would ignore the wet snow being dumped by last night’s storm and head out to one of Somers Point restaurants participating in this week’s Somers Point Restaurant Week.
28 West Opens at Borgata
Congrats to the McCauley Clan
Spring Dining Dish ’13
Taste of Revel Revisited
Jose Garces Truckin’ at Revel
Tropicana Seafood Week Coming Soon
Sal's Cafe: Pizza with Many Twists