not all who wander are lost.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

the Diving Horse.

Last night, LP and I had one of our epic nights out. We headed into Avalon, stopped at Fred's and picked up a nice bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, then we strolled across the street to The Diving Horse. I ate there once last year with Mom and remembered it being good, but last nights experience was outstanding. Let me begin by saying that the service was really spectacular, which to me is just as important as the food itself. Our waiter's name was Nick, and he was able to answer every question I had to ask (and there were many questions). The atmosphere in the Diving Horse is super's one of the only restaurants in all of South Jersey that has a comfortable ambiance. No cheesy shore decorations, no stuffy 80's-esque decor...just sturdy wooden tables, clean lines, pews for seating along the walls, and super hip graphic design {their logo, menu and website are amazing}.

The Diving Horse


Avalon, NJ / 2109 Dune Drive / 609.368.5000

Dinner Served Nightly 5pm-10pm

**Reservations are highly recommended.

The dinner began with the most delicious dinner rolls ever: a hybrid between a soft pretzel and a really yummy, moist bun. Along with the warmed rolls was a red pepper whipped butter, topped with sea salt. Boom! Paulie and I agreed that we have never enjoyed the complimentary bread anywhere as much as this!

LP had the Watermelon, Tomato and Feta salad. I didn't order this because it's something that I make at home. But lucky for me LP doesn't like olives or tomatoes.... :) This was pretty good, but the one I make is better. I'm glad that I didn't order it, saving room for the divine plates that were yet to come...

Holy Good God Almighty. I have never like oysters on the 1/2. I'll eat a thousand raw clams, but oysters just never vibed with me. That was UNTIL I had them at La Bete, a fabulous french restaurant in Seattle. They were tiny, juicy, salty raw bits sent from heaven. Nick, our server, assured me that this were the perfect size (not too big), and he told us that the oysters from the west coast {if you're looking at the above photo, they are the 3 on the left} were creamy, smooth and a bit less salty. The ones on the right, from the cold waters of the North East were a bit more acidic and salty. Though they came with cocktail, freshly made horseradish, and vinegar - none of this was necessary....these were best enjoyed au-naturale. Pardon my language for a moment, but fucking fuck holy hell -- this put a smile on my face that lasted throughout the evening. Though LP and I both agreed that the East AND West Coast oysters were delicious, the best were the ones from the NE. I could have eaten about 30 more and called it a night, but $22 for 6, this extravagance was simply not in the budget. I'm telling you, these were so good, I would buy them again if they were DOUBLE this price (but please diving horse, don't do that to me...).

Thursday nights they have a double cut porkchop, but this evening for special there was a Seared Pork Loin done with a chipotle watermelon sauce and accompanied with a cucumber slaw. Again, profanities are the only way that I can imagine to do this dinner justice: HOLY SHIT! The pork loin was done TO PERFECTION {unlike most places that cook it too much and send it out dry}. You can tell that after it was seared it was given enough time to rest and absorb the juices. Then this buttery pork goodness was finished off with a just-the-right-amount sprinkling of sea salt. The chipotle watermelon sauce was outstanding - the perfect combination of sweet, salty, tangy, and spicy. And the icing on the cake was the cucumber slaw! When most sides are just some thoughtless vegetable or starch thrown on the plate, this MADE the dish. The fresh acidity cut through the heaviness of the pork and just made me want to do backflips through the restaurant. I won, hands down. LP got the tuna (boring), which he enjoyed...but I've never ever ever been one to order tuna out at a restaurant - again it's one of those things that I make really well, and growing up with a fisherman father it seems silly to order something that we constantly have in the fridge. Well, we also are pig farmers - raising, butchering, processing and eating our delicious organic piggies, so I usually don't order much pork out - but this dish was calling my name, and I'm glad that I answered.

My CLEAN plate.

Dessert was....alright. We had the key lime panna cotta with toasted coconut. The panna cotta itself was absolutely delicious...not too sweet, not too tart - just right. But the toasted coconut was chewy, which wasn't a nice texture when combined with the panna cotta. Oh well, just pushed the coconut to the side and dove into the yummy dome of deliciousness. And not to be forgotten was their perfectly brewed espresso. Yum!

All in all, the Diving Horse is NOT TO BE MISSED ...whether you live here, or your on vacation - make a point to have dinner at this Jersey gem. The prices are super affordable, especially for the quality of the food that you're getting. Better yet is that it's a BYO, which saves heaps of cash. The menu isn't pretentious, but it's still exciting -- not your average Spaghetti and Meatballs or Prime Rib with french fries that you get at every other half-assed restaurant we have here in South Jers. The staff is professional and well-educated about all that's on the menu, which makes your dining experience all the better. Be sure though to make a reservation for your next visit here, because they fill up quick. Go goddamnit, go already! You will not be disappointed.

I've already planned my next meal there:

oysters on the 1/2

ratatouille (poached hudson canyon lobster, farm stand vegetables, saffron + zucchini dressing)

fried willapa bay oysters

and whatever pork they have on special!!!!

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