Daddy O

Daddy O is a funky, trying-to-be-upscale hotel and restaurant in Brant Beach on Long Beach Island NJ. I really liked the bar, which was hopping at 6:00pm. It is large, rectangular shaped, with a nice steel top. The owners must be Yankees fans too (that is a plus); The flat-screen TV was tuned to the game. The bartenders move pretty fast to serve what seemed to be a hard-drinking crowd, with a mix of middle-aged folks like us, and a fair number of drinkers in their 20s. The bar menu is interesting, and it is clear that management encourages people to eat as well as drink at the bar.

The drinks are nicely sized and well made, and Happy Hour lasts until 7pm. The down side is the liberal use of the gun for mixers; they definitely don’t use fresh-squeezed lemon or lime juices for their drinks. I had hoped for a great margarita, but alas, it was not meant to be. But the martinis are nice and cold.

The owners made a good effort in trying to make the restaurant different, with art deco (I think. I am also not an art major) lamps, nice flatware and linen, and an interesting menu. The service was adequate; none of the waiters is taking the summer off from Per Se. But the food was the reason we were there. And they did not disappoint. The sesame crusted calamari was excellent, with just enough crunch but not over-fried. It was served with a nice sauce on the side; sort of a sweet and sour syrupy glop that was nevertheless pretty good. It had a bit of a bite from some chile peppers so it wasn’t cloyingly sweet. The Philly Cheese Steak was a very clever interpretation of a mostly boring sandwich. They used some short ribs that they shredded and placed on a triangle of non-descript toast. But they topped it with a very interesting goat cheese sauce that went surprisingly well with the rich short rib meat. Excellent!

We also had a mediocre Caesar Salad (mine is much better!), and an excellent chopped salad with some smoky bacon and blue cheese. Very nice. One of the specials was a black bean and corn soup that was well made and very pleasant, even on a hot summer evening.

The crab cakes were a cut above the typical bread crumb and egg filled standby. I actually saw some chunks of crab! But the winner was definitely the burger. The waitress said that they made it with Kobe beef, which I do not believe. But it doesn’t matter if they made it with cat meat, it was juicy and beefy, with a well chosen accompaniment of applewood smoked bacon and cheddar cheese. It was topped with a couple of mediocre onion rings that I ignored after tasting the perfectly cooked fries that came with the burger. I am not sure which was better, the burger or the fries, and that is a dilemma that I really enjoy.

The wine list was quite overpriced. I find it irritating to the point of offense when I see on a wine list bottles that are priced at 3-4 times retail. Am I the only one who thinks that if restaurants price their wines fairly they will sell more of them?


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