Margate's Tomatoe's offers seasonal specials in addition to distinctive culinary creations
Tomatoe's restaurant, housed in a minimalist olive-shaded building along Margate's Amherst Avenue bayfront, has presented some of the Jersey shore's most distinctive, multifaceted cuisine since opening here in early 2001.
Husband and wife team Carmen Rone and Karen Sherman have developed a distinct, successful formula for their enterprise. According to Sherman their brand is based on dual concepts: "having a variety of things to offer our customers" and that "we sincerely care about everything we do."
With their kitchen now in the capable hands of chef Matt Ryan, Tomatoe's continues to explore new avenues of gastronomic invention.
Like seasonal specials -- a particular indicator of a creative mentality -- illustrated with panache by an evening's salad addition ($10). This pretty serving united jumbo lump crab, quartered persimmons and pomegranate seeds along with micro greens bathed in shiny sherry vinaigrette.
One area where Tomatoe's has always been far ahead of the culinary curve is their incorporation of Japanese fare, particularly sushi and related components, into the overall bill of fare.
From an extensive list of house-created rolls, we selected the Karen ($18), composed of shrimp tempura, spicy tuna and cucumber. The eight or so thick slices were pretty, presented with proper bias-cut technique in a wide, gentle arc across the plate.
What we liked best about this marvelous, fresh seafood product was its topside, a cool blend of shrimp, avocado and honey sauce. Not only were these visually striking, but the verdant avocado and golden-hued honey (a truly unusual ingredient) waltzed elegantly with the bolder tempura and fatty, assertive tuna.
My dining partner's selection on this evening is a longstanding menu option, lobster marguerita ($28.50). Chunks of the world's most expensive crustacean, probably steamed prior, are tossed with chilies and cilantro. Served atop a bed of thin spaghettini they took on a vibrant, reddish tone from the peppers and additional seasonings. Finished with tequila, the lobster absorbed just enough of that traditional Mexican liquor's intricate, earthy nature to add a deep resonant tone.
The large portion was presented with the pasta curled into a beehive-shaped mound. This turban of carbohydrate created a fine platform for the oceanic protein and its accompaniments.
Our best plate on this night was another addition, seared mahi-mahi ($27.50). The large, square fillet's presentation side had been nicely caramelized, while its interior remained a pleasing, moist medium.
Although the guilt-free seafood -- mahi is among our most sustainable oceanic resources -- was superb, what really made this entrée grand was its composition. Beneath the fish, a thick, piping barley risotto, prepared to a pleasant al dente, added a level of gravity and heartiness. Alongside, a simple, delicious triad of squashes -- butternut, acorn and pumpkin -- were cubed and sautéed with pancetta, Italy's smoky, upscale bacon.
We like to think that combining elements in this manner is the microsurgery of the culinary world, and in this case a resounding triumph.
Sweets, the original bailiwick of Ms. Sherman, are always worth saving room for here. Smores ($10) presented parfait-style, began with a graham cracker bottom and then, in succession, rich peanut butter mousse, light chocolate ganache, vanilla ice cream and marshmallow topping. These are not your standard-issue Girl-Scout camp Smores, folks, but a well-heeled, deeply satisfying dessert.
Now back to serving 60 wines by the glass and serving upward of 700 guests on busy weekend nights, you could almost believe nothing ever happened.
A nightly special roll, composed of shrimp, avocado and Asian pear, topped with spicy tuna, tempura crunchies and stripes of mango sauce, arrived looking like a museum exhibit.
You seemingly can’t throw a rock at a TV today without hitting a show dedicated to the terrors being foisted on the American south and Midwest by hoards of feral boar.
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
Roman Grill Blossoms in Linwood