This restaurant has had many incarnations over the last decade. For a while it was The Waterfront, then it tried to go upscale chic and was Sails. They changed their name to The Inlet last year but the menu stayed upscale chic and not very good. A new menu drew a return visit and I must say I was pleasantly surprised.
Waterfront dining in Somers Point is plentiful along the bay where thirsty alcoholics from the dry town of Ocean City across the bridge seek respite. Restaurants usually find their niche and have staying power along this stretch of the bay, but this location has inexplicably had problems. The new menu and food at The Inlet may change that legacy of mediocrity.
We started the evening with a few drinks at the expansive bar. While the bartenders could use a course in joviality (perhaps you have to pay extra to get a bartender with personality) they were attentive if you caught their eye. The well stocked bar is moderately priced, one of the first changes I noticed from it’s days as Sails and had daily Happy Hour specials from 3 to 7.
The large dining room (and equally large outdoor dining and Rum Runner outdoor bar when the weather is nicer) is pleasant and fits in well with the bayside views. The waitress greeted us quickly and was attentive without being annoying. I asked what kind of oysters they were serving from the raw bar, and after first being confused by my request, she returned to let me know they were Long Island Salts (fabulous).
I ordered a half dozen, but they served me a dozen at the half dozen price (which allowed me to share with my brother, an oyster virgin, who declared them “very good”). I also ordered 3 cocktail shrimp which were large without being huge and were seasoned with Old Bay (which is acceptable, but not my preference.
New England Clam Chowder was a pleasant surprise. The broth was creamy, almost buttery, but thin as opposed to the thick cream you’d normally expect. The soup had a healthy amount of potato and clam pieces and was very pleasant.
Cheesy Crab Dip was reported to be very good as well served with bread to dip. While there was horseradish and cocktail sauce on the table (which I appreciate having both at the ready) I was disappointed there were no oyster crackers or bread served with dinner.
The menu offered both sandwiches and dinners which is nice for a diverse dinner group. A French Dip looked and was reported to be delicious served on a toasted roll. The blackened Mahi Mahi sandwich was served on a fresh roll with lettuce, tomato and remoulade and was pronounced “excellent” more than once. The coleslaw, which they make in house, was not to our liking but after everyone tasted it we disagreed on whether it was bad or not. I do not think it was, I think it was just “different”.
I had the blackened tuna platter for dinner which was served with potato or rice and the vegetable of the day which was broccoli. The broccoli was steamed fresh with no seasoning. Not my favorite way to eat broccoli (butter or cheese usually make it better) but it was good. “Inlet Rice” was sticky chinese rice with a few bits of vegetables chopped inside. It was just ok (and I am a lover of rice, preferring it to potatoes most of the time).
The menu offered a half dozen fresh fish choices prepared your choice of ways, 2 specials (one meat, one seafood), a selection of “Jersey Shore Classics” (this is where you find your fried seafood, crab cakes, etc.), a dozen sandwiches and a dozen platters, plus a large selection of seafood feasts both warm and cold. It’s a moderately priced menu and there is something for everyone on there.
We did not opt for dessert but I would try it on a return a visit. I will return to The inlet this summer for the reasonably priced dinners (mid $20s) and sandwiches ($8-$16).
998 Bay Avenue
Somers Point, NJ 08244