As that old English proverb goes, necessity is the mother of invention. With indoor dining in New Jersey still on the back burner (no pun intended), eating establishments are getting creative.
The wind was whipping Friday afternoon for the official ribbon cutting as Ocean Casino Resort took a swing at fine dining in a pandemic world. On the 11th floor of the tallest building in Atlantic City, just past the Olympian fire bowl, one can catch a whiff of char amongst the salt air. The view is your choice. Either the bustling of chefs working grills, or the breathtaking, unobstructed Atlantic Ocean. Sky Garden Grille is now open.
Ocean Casino's Sky Garden Grille opened to the public August, 7th.
There were two big winners for me ... 1. the service (everyone is kind and professional, but ask for Cheech and tell him I sent you) and, 2. the innovative cocktails. You can't go wrong enjoying a Spicy Mango Margarita with your dinner companion. This is one of the best drinks I have ever had. With Patron Silver, the Mexican seasonings Chamoy & Tajin, and garnished with an in-house made mango popsicle delicately melting and making a top layer of luscious foam, this cocktail had the perfect kick to cool you off. With the addition of a popsicle in each of the six signature drinks, you may find them a little sweet. But with the complexity of both presentation and taste, you'll forgive the extra sugar.
With all of the cooking done on outdoor grills, the menu has quite a few offerings that you wouldn't expect from a method synonymous with bbq. As Vince Turrano said in our interview "we tried to
diversify the menu a little bit so it's not hot dogs and hamburgers." The unique addition to the menu is pouches. Guests can select from shrimp, halibut, scallops or clams steamed on the grill and dramatically cut open tableside. Standard grill items like chicken and skirt steak are served with an apple cider slaw and fresh made kettle chips.
It goes without saying that all servers were masked and gloved. The tables were properly spaced for social distancing. Our entrees were served on papered metal trays and the lobster salad served in a disposable bowl. Takeout options are also available. Hours of operation are from 4pm - 11pm , weather permitting, so be sure to check your daily forecast from Meteorologist Matt Powell. Reservations are suggested.
With 360 degrees of fresh air and sunshine hundreds of feet above the boardwalk, the Sky Garden Grille may be exactly the summer break you have been waiting for.
Michelle Tomko is a comedian, poker player and Atlantic City Arts Commissioner. You can follow her here at TheThreadSJ and at @Tomkomedy across all social media. Have a story idea? Reach out at MTomko@TheThreadSJ.com