When you go to a rehearsal dinner, you are mostly praying for free-flowing wine, food that is thoroughly cooked, and not to be seated next to a creepy groomsman. It’s no use to pray for the food to actually be good, because that just never happens. Except at this wedding. Thank you, Jamie and Larry, for being totally and completely obsessed about food.
Bistro 14 is a globally inspired eatery on Long Beach Island that specializes in the fresh seafood and produce of the area. It is open year round, but in the off-season, only on weekends. The feel is beach elegant, with an airy, wood paneled room with many windows.
Whatever you do, whatever you order, GET THIS CLAM CHOWDER. For some reason, the folks on Long Beach Island make a fantastic clam chowder.. The clams are large and sweet, with a pleasant chew and a totally clean aftertaste. The broth is briny and acidic, brimming with fragrant celery, tangy tomatoes, and lots of sharp black pepper. This clam chowder isn’t anything new, but it is made so well that it seems like it is. If only every restaurant in NYC took such care with its clam chowder, I wouldn’t be so thrilled when I tried clam chowder here.
But, as fate would have it, I was.
A few salad leaves, some fresh cucumbers and Jersey tomatoes, and some tart, bright vinaigrette. Nothing special, but again, something done with care. The vegetables are crisp and fresh and crisp, the dressing is applied sparingly, and the crostini is spread with light, creamy goat cheese that is none too grassy or funky. It works for people who love goat cheese and people who are wary of it.
Seafood so good I would swear I was at a clam shack in Massachusetts or Maine. Succulent scallops, broiled until just cooked through, so rich that they required no butter. Large shrimp, expertly cleaned and absolutely as sweet as sugar. When I have shrimp like this, it reminds me why I’m not kosher. The crabcake is another winner, with large, mild hunks of crab combined with herbs and mayonnaise until they form a moist, satisfying cake. They don’t’ skimp on the crab here, and put enough seasoning in the mix to complement the crab, making it sweeter next to the savory garlic and herbs. The cocktail sauce is rather insipid, and the tartar sauce unmemorable, but the coleslaw was creamy, tangy, and perfectly crunchy. The French Fries are another winner – overtly garlicky and piping hot, but not too salty. I would have cleaned my plate if my boyfriend hadn’t “generously” offered to help me with my fries and crabcake…thank you?
Bistro 14 hosted a really great rehearsal dinner and I have no doubt that the food is just this delicious when you dine here a la carte. The chef was there at this dinner cooking, overseeing, coming out to chat with the bride and groom…it was a totally hands on situation. He is proud of all the food he puts out, and he should be. The price point is very reasonable, especially to someone coming from Manhattan, and if the service was like it was at this affair, it is more than competent. I mean, this restaurant did the impossible ..it made the rehearsal dinner part of the main event.