DINING REVIEW #6: PETER SHIELDS INN

Having lived most of my life near Cape May, there are very few established restaurants that I haven't visited yet, but for whatever reason, this was one of them. Last night I finally gave it a go, and I am disappointed in myself for not having eaten here sooner. Located on the ground floor of a stately, old mansion, the dining rooms are elegantly appointed and many tables have spectacular views of the ocean. The staff was very pleasant and helpful, and was more than happy to let each table enjoy their meal at their own pace. That all certainly contributes to a great evening, but what about the most important part, the food?

It could easily be described in one word: perfect. I started things off with the jumbo lump crab salad, which was served with a slice of smoked salmon and topped with mache, a wonderful blend of flavors ideal for Spring. Patrick's 1st course was the seared Hudson Valley foie gras with cherry purée, fruit compote and brioche. This was such a masterfully conceived and executed dish, it may be worth visiting this restaurant just to try it. Each ingredient played off the other so well that you were taken on a journey with each bite. Next, we each had a serving of the charred steak tartare, served with a quail egg, dijon, haricot vert and Grana Padano. This was another impressive dish, and was easily the best tartare preparation I've ever had. Perfectly seasoned and all-around delicious. Patrick's entree was the seared Yellowfin tuna, served over parsnip purée with Brussels sprouts and smoked bacon. Admittedly I haven't ever liked parsnips, but in this presentation it worked. Everything was fresh and perfectly cooked and combined to make another stunning dish. For my main, I selected the Alaskan day boat halibut, with an English pea purée, potato chive gnocchi, asparagus, morels and a truffle nage. Given that many of the ingredients included in it were among my general favorites I fully expected to be happy with this dish, and my expectations were still blown away. Every part was flawless and worked in beautiful harmony with each other, with the cook of the fish itself and the pea purée especially being highlights. Each bite of this spectacular dish brought a smile to my face. For dessert Patrick enjoyed a deliciously creamy Vanilla Crème Brûlée, and I opted for a cheese plate of Mrs. Quicke's Cheddar, Tete de Moine and Shropshire Blue served with slightly sweet toast points and diced figs. Both were exactly what we wanted and were excellent caps to an already stellar meal. 

Everything about this meal was exceptional, and we are both eager to get back and try some other items that caught our attention. Everyone who visits Cape May should make it a point to try this restaurant, as on the basis of this dinner alone, it is easily our new favorite.

GRADE: A+

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