Something for everyone at the new Beachcomber
It’s no secret that I wasn’t particularly fond of Timothy’s Tap House on Coastal Highway across from Tanger Seaside Outlets. Though I did speak highly of their tavern fare and the sports bar motif, I apparently got a few sets of knickers in a twist when I suggested that their kitchen needed to figure out “what it wants to be when it grows up.” And of course I meant that in the most loving way.
That centrally located space is now home to Beachcomber Restaurant and Club. The original chef remains at the helm, but he and the new owners appear to have a very good idea of what they want to be when they grow up. And whatever they’re doing seems to be working. Chef Jared Martin, along with right-hand-man Drew Williams (his shiny new degree from culinary school proudly displayed on the wall) and sous chef Steve Keyek are working hard to make Beachcomber’s menu more accessible to their bar, live music and dance-oriented clientele.
Martin was born in West Virginia, but he grew up right here in Sussex County. One of his first jobs was at the iconic Royal Treat on Wilmington Avenue. He spent six seasons there. “I cooked everything on the menu - except for the eggs,” says Jared. “Scott [Fornwalt] kept those for himself. They had to be perfect!” After a tour of duty at Jakes Seafood and various spots in Myrtle Beach, he expanded his cheffing skills at Bru’s Room Sports Grill in Deerfield Beach, Fla., owned by Rob Brudzinski, linebacker for the Miami Dolphins. Jared would probably still be there if he hadn’t had a desire to, in his words, “be the best uncle ever” to his sister’s new baby, Aliyah. So back to Sussex he trekked. “It was the best decision I ever made,” he smiles.
He took over the kitchen just a few weeks after Timothy’s opened, and is now helping the new owners mold Beachcomber into exactly what they want it to be. Taking their cue from leading-edge drinkeries both here and in other cities, Martin and his merry band of spatula-wielding warriors have come up with a cleverly conceived menu designed for casual noshing between innings, quarters and band sets. Jared could have saved himself a lot of trouble by selecting from the pretty good frozen appetizer products out there, but he’s doing it the hard way by making everything from scratch. It’s all fresh, and each item offers a little signature kick that Beachcomber can call its own.
Small to moderate plates are particularly popular at lunch. Some of the stars of the show include the Southwestern Egg Rolls, the Buffalo Chicken Sliders and the Pork Quesadilla. And most of them fall squarely into the $5 lunch specials.
That close-in location is ready for a home run. Partners Tim Gouvas (Louie’s Home of the Grinder), Fran Murphy and Randall Smith (Long Neck’s Sand Bar and Sparkie’s Seafood Shanty, respectively) are planning an interior facelift that will take place after this year’s Super Bowl. Thanks to Jared and his boys, they’ve certainly hit the ground running, earning first place two years in a row and Best Restaurant in the Mountaire Chicken Wing competition at Peppers; coming back to win first place for Best Presentation after placing third in the Most Original category. They also walked away with the 2012 judge’s choice first prize in the Rusty Rudder Chili Cookoff and third place in Delaware’s Best Burger competition at 16 Mile Brewery. In fact, one of the judges that day was none other than yours truly.
As Gouvas, Smith and Murphy make Beachcomber a little less of a sports bar and more of an entertainment-centered complex appealing to a wider range of customers, Jared, Williams, Keyek and the rest of the kitchen crew are streamlining the new menu to be more in tune with national trends.
Give the new Beachcomber Restaurant and Club a try. With a fun bar, a family-friendly entertainment venue and a glittering dance floor, it’s not at all what it was. It’s better.