When a young golfer named Arnie Palmer was in the Coast Guard, stationed in Cape May, he frequently came to Atlantic City Country Club for his practice rounds. Even the term “birdie” was coined there during a heated game among a friendly foursome, when one golfer made an especially good shot.
The walls of the Atlantic City Country Club are lined with old photos of the members and the history of an award-winning golf course.
Now, the culinary team is looking to make some history of its own.
Ed Daggers, 52, of Galloway, is the executive chef of Atlantic City Country Club and a 1985 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. A member of the American Culinary Federation, Daggers is the recipient of numerous awards of his own, including several gold medals and “Best in Show” from culinary competitions.
Now that Caesars Entertainment is the owner of the club, Daggers’ job is to let everyone know Atlantic City Country Club is no longer a private club, a tough task since the club went public in 2006. Nonmembers are welcome to take advantage of all the club has to offer.
That includes the wide range of food service.
“Anyone can come any time, for any meal, whenever they want,” Daggers says.
With that in mind, Daggers has created several menus that offer many of the time-honored dishes folks expect at a country club, plus many new dishes to spark the interest of the local dining population.
Along with the traditional meals of lunch and dinner, and its many banquets, the club is famous for its Sunday brunch, and now, for its happy hour with reduced-price drinks and appetizers.
And the bar is the perfect place to stop by for an after-work libation, appetizer and to meet some friends, old and new.
“We try to change the menu at least three times each year, if not four,” Daggers says.
Daggers, a hunter and fisherman, likes to add seasonal items to the menu, based on what is available.
The Tap Room’s fall and winter dinner menus are scaled back in size from the busier summer menu.
Popular new appetizers include a twist on fried potato skins. Crisp sweet potato skins ($9.50) with goat cheese and bacon red onion jam sound basic, but as the chef says “are off the hook.”
After baking, they leave a little extra of the potato flesh on the skin, then deep-fry until crisp on the outside, creamy and sweet on the inside. The wedges are topped with goat cheese, broiled then finished with a jam made from crumbled bacon, red onion, garlic, Thai red chilies, brown sugar and rice wine vinegar to make a sweet and sour condiment that cooks down for three hours.
Combining all three ingredients together is what makes it so good.
Oysters Rockefeller ($10.50) is another of the signature dishes. The ACCC version has spinach and Pernod along with jumbo lump crabmeat stuffing and a smoked paprika Bearnaise.
The oysters are from local Cape May Salts.
Clams Casino ($9.50) also is available, along with two perennial favorites, jumbo shrimp cocktail ($16), jumbo lump crab cocktail ($18) or a combination of the two ($18), served with citrus cocktail sauce and wakame salad.
A frequent seasonal special is the fall harvest salad with green apple, poached pear, caramelized walnuts, and a vanilla vinaigrette.
The veal Milanaise ($29) is one of those entrees that will always be on the menu. Thin scallopine of breaded veal is sauteed and served with an arugula and Roma tomato salad and a balsamic and caramelized shallot dressing.
Long famous for its crab cakes ($29), the country club’s are made with jumbo lump meat and no filler, served with a Creole remoulade and crispy shoestring fries.
A new and hugely popular item is the miso-glazed Chilean sea bass ($27) served with pan-roasted vegetables, warm sesame noodles and a soy mustard butter.
Also, the pan-seared jumbo scallops ($27) have a fall-themed pumpkin risotto with shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and an oven-dried tomato compote.
Two of the best-selling desserts made in-house are the Southern Comfort bread pudding ($7.50) with a Southern Comfort vanilla sauce, along with the white chocolate banana cream pie ($7) with shaved white chocolate and white chocolate sauce.
Lunch offerings include classic dishes such as an open-face crab au gratin ($14) on an English muffin with Vermont cheddar cheese sauce, along with a selection of burgers and sandwiches.
Brunch is always special at ACCC, with a carving station, omelette station, assorted entrees, vegetables and starches and a dessert station.
The Tap Room Bar has a special menu of its own with everything from beer-battered giant onion rings ($8.95) and steamed Asian pot stickers ($10.95) to some dinner options that include a jumbo-fried shrimp platter ($25.95), a chargrilled, 10-ounce filet mignon ($29.95) and a crab cake platter ($28.95).
Happy Hour at ACCC is more than just reduced-price drinks. From 4 to 7 p.m. daily the restaurant offers $3 domestic draft pints; $5 cocktails and martinis; $5 select wine glasses. And $5 appetizer bar specials include Angus burger sliders, crispy fire wings, grilled jumbo shrimp on a stick and crisp sweet potato skins with goat cheese.
Beginning Friday, Nov. 16, ACCC will offer a new three-course Friday Night Wine & Dine menu which includes a glass of house select wine for the special price of $29 per person. Along with a selection of salads and desserts, entrees will include pan-fried crab cakes; a pepper-crusted, 8-ounce filet mignon; miso-glazed Chilean sea bass; or chicken saltimbuca, all served with garlic mashed potatoes and a seasonal vegetable.
Thanksgiving to go
Thanksgiving “to go” complete dinners include turkey (white and dark meat) or prime rib entree, a bread basket with butter, plus a large selection of sides: mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, stuffing, mixed green vegetables, cranberry sauce, gravy or au jus. Choice of pies include apple crumb, pumpkin, coconut custard, lemon meringue or banana cream. Prices for the meal are as follows: turkey dinner for four ($99); six to eight ($175); 10 to 12 ($275). Prime rib for four ($115); six to eight ($230); 10 to 12 ($315). Tax not included. Orders will be accepted through Monday, Nov. 19, for pickup on Wednesday, Nov. 21, between 1 and 6 p.m. All orders come with detailed heating instructions.