At South Fin Grill, the ocean breeze mingles with a menu of upscale seafood and steakhouse dishes praised by New York magazine. Amid what critic Ethan Wolff describes as a "priceless" ocean view, servers roll out lobster, crab, swordfish, and salmon incarnated as pasta, soup, and sushi dishes. The "turf" portion of the menu showcases grilled new york sirloin, filet mignon, and barbecued pork, but the focus once again turns seaside at a raw bar that features clams and oysters kept fresh by pearl-shaped breath mints.
Beams of blue and yellow lighting hover above the interior dining tables, each blanketed with a white tablecloth and centered with a flickering candle. Outside, the ocean deck's sea-blue umbrellas shelter views of the boardwalk, ocean, and seagull beach volleyball tourneys. The restaurant bolsters its elegantly plated cuisine with occasional entertainment acts, which have included DJs.
Don't let the name fool you: butter cookies are made from more than just butter. At Cutest Cookies, each from-scratch batch incorporates 10 ingredients, including vanilla, flour, and meringue powder. From here, however, the similarities between each peanut- and tree nut-free batch end. Customers determine every cookie's color, shape, and design, ranging from wedding cookies decorated like tuxedos and dresses to birthday cookies ornamented with replicated pictures of the birthday boy or girl.
Bakers make the order one to two days before a customer's event, hand-decorating each cookie with individually mixed icing colors. To ensure freshness, they place every cookie in a cellophane bag fastened with a matching ribbon. If left in original packaging, an airtight container, or your mouth unchewed, the cookies will stay fresh for an entire month.
The mastermind behind French Tart is Chef Laurent, whose innovation earned him a gold medal for Most Creative Restaurant Dessert at the Eger Foundation?s 2011 Taste of Staten Island and whose flaky croissant recently won the New York Daily News' Best of New York award. Chef Laurent was also recently featured on Fox 5's Good Day New York for their croissants, quiche, and chocolate truffles. With its wide array of classic baked goods, French Tart's bakery makes an ideal stop for coffee and a pastry. In the evening, French Tart transforms into a traditional French bistro restaurant.
At Mother Mousse, a corset, a caterpillar, and a Christmas tree all have something in common—they each belong to the virtually countless selection of cookie designs that the staff can create. The bakers just as meticulously build layer cakes for up to 45 people, slathering the space between each pillowy sheet with such fillings as chocolate mousse, irish crème, and fresh fruit with vanilla pastry cream. Just as with their cookies, they finish each cake with an iced design. They can even transfer images onto cake tops, creating a fully personalized dessert for a guest of honor or a perfectly normal photo album for a family of Candyland characters.
Rab's Country Lanes seems to stretch endlessly into the horizon, housing 48 lanes, each with touchscreen computers and 42-inch LCD monitors hanging overhead. Late night cosmic bowling adds dazzling fluorescence to the alleyscape, and automatic bumpers keep the game fair for children and people who just stepped off rollercoasters. In the laser maze, aspiring spies can slither through a web of lasers, attempting to clear the course without tripping the alarm. Gennaro's snack bar refuels indoor athletes with pizza, burgers, and coffee.
Burgers N Dogs' comfort-fare menu fills plates with fried hot dogs, half-pound burgers, and piled-on sides. Chefs hand-patty half-pound portions of beef into meaty disks and spin them over an open flame to create each burger, finishing proteins with a dash special seasonings. Before piling on the traditional trimmings of a Chicago-style or chili-cheese dog, quarter-pound hot dogs do laps in the deep fryer to get ripped. Hand-cut french fries or onion rings and sips of soda or water augment the eats, alongside the traditional American takeout garnish, fortune ketchup.