Open Thurs • FRISAT • SUN from 5pm   | 9510 Pacific Ave, Wildwood Crest, NJ 08260 |  609-522-5425  
Marie Nicole's
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Marie Nicole's is Reason to drive to Wildwood crest
By C.C. Hoyt
Press Restaurant Critic

Back in the 50's, we thought nothing of jumping in the car at night to drive through this shore resort gazing at the neon lights, fake palm trees and lighted swimming pools.  There was no other reason to visit unless you were planning to enlist in the Coast Guard.  But now there is Marie Nicole's. Just next door to the other Crest landmark - the Crest Tavern – Marie Nicole's is a shining light on southern New Jersey's shore, the kind you would expect to find farther south in Cape May.  In it's second season, the restaurant is better than many better-known restaurants that have been sitting comfortably on their laurels. 

Modern American probably best describes both the décor and the menu.  White walls, dark woods, burgundy carpets, over-stuffed chairs and wooden shelves lined with bric-a-brac make it as comfortable as sitting in a friend's dining room.  The friendly staff is nicely dressed, knowledgeable and, best of all, confident that they are serving great products.  It shows. 

A young man arrived at our table with a bread basket and tongs, offering warm pumpkin seed bread, olive breads and a hot-from-the-oven French roll served with fresh butter.  Marie Nicole's understands the importance of first impressions.

We agreed to pass around our appetizers so we could taste as much as possible. Ancho-chili crisp-fried calamari ($9) arrived with red cherry peppers, capers and kalamata olives.  Some like it hot; I do, but many companions don't.  Oh well, too bad, more for me.  The calamari was tasty but could have been crisper

Tuna tartare ($8) was fresh cubes of tuna, capers and red onion in a round collar.  A base of cucumber encircled the bottom, a sesame crisp and some micro greens were pinched up on top.  A nice presentation and a very good dish, but it depended only on the salty capers for it's seasoning.

Braised New Zealand cockle clams ($10) were a large bistro bowl over flowing with tender tasting bivalves. Garnishes included arugula, pancetta, oven-roasted tomato and a flavorful wine and clam broth.  We asked for more of the olive bread to soak up the remaining liquid from the bowl.

We chose the special of the day, veal Larousse ($29) sautéed veal and jumbo lump crabmeat served in a rich cream sauce.  It was as good as it sounds.  Flavorful mashed potatoes and asparagus finished off a wonderful plate.  The applewood bacon-wrapped filet mignon ($29) was medium as ordered, meaty, tender and served with a roasted garlic zinfandel reduction sauce, more mashed, grilled Portobello mushroom and Roquefort cheese.  The large portion didn't prevent my dining partner from attempting to keep it all for herself.

Save room for dessert.

The Horseradish-crusted swordfish ($22) was perfect.  The crisp panko breadcrumbs and grated fresh horseradish crust was crunchy and kept the very fresh-tasting swordfish moist inside.  Chive oil drizzled around the plate was the only sauce needed but the crispy leeks and Yukon gold mashed didn't hurt.

 We wrapped some of our entrees only because we all wanted to order dessert.  Crème brulee ($7) came with a wild berry compote and was a creamy, crunchy, great version. The new classic chocolate lava cake ($8) was knifed open by our server to allow the molten chocolate inside to run out over the plate and meld with a raspberry puree.

 The chocolate brownie sundae ($8) was a rich, moist brownie, scoops of ice cream and a homemade-tasting chocolate sauce.  After dining at Marie Nicole's, we consider ourselves the newest members of the clean the plate club.

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9510 Pacific Ave, Wildwood Crest, NJ 08260 |  609-522-5425  

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