In preparation for another summer season, Adelene — the Port-O-Call Hotel’s signature restaurant in Ocean City — is now sporting a new menu, courtesy of a new chef, Rich Cope.
The restaurant unveiled its nouveau menu for breakfast and lunch in March to test it out, and Cope is happy with the response.
“The feedback has been really good,” Cope says. “What I want to do is offer good food that people can’t get anywhere else on the boardwalk.”
But before creating even so much as an appetizer, Cope spent last summer and fall getting a feel for the Port-O-Call patrons’ preferences.
As he learned more about the people who visited the 98-room hotel, he drew inspiration for new dishes.
“Different times of year, different crowds eat different things,” Cope says. “In the fall, for example, people like reubens and turkey. In the summer, they like egg whites with spinach.”
What Cope came up with is a lunch menu with more than 20 new options including apps, soups, salads and sandwiches that are Port-O-Call originals or a twist on old favorites.
Among new offerings is the blue crab and sweet corn chowder.
“This is our own Port-O-Call recipe,” Cope says.
The salty-sweet of the blue crab pairs beautifully with the earthy corn for a delicious bowl of seafood goodness (cup, $6; bowl, $10).
Fried pickles ($7) are another Port-O-Call original. Drenched in cornmeal and deep fried, the crunchy pickles have a hint of a tang thanks to its sriracha-ranch sauce.
If you want a healthier app option, Cope created a bean salad ($4.50), with kidney, white, black and garbanzo beans in the mix, marinated in a delicate herb vinaigrette, making this protein-rich appetizer a great way to start a meal.
Salads at Port-O-Call also have Cope’s signature. With the Port-O-Caesar ($11), the romaine lettuce is cut length-wise, seasoned with salt and pepper, flash grilled, topped with grated Parmesan cheese and croutons and served with the chef’s homemade Caesar dressing.
The Port-O-Wedge ($10) is made with applewood-smoked bacon, shaved red onions, crumbled bleu cheese and homemade bleu cheese dressing. Add chicken or pulled pork for $4 or lump crabmeat, shrimp or scallops for $6 to either salad.
If you want something heartier than a salad, Cope serves build-your-own paninis.
“We will customize the paninis to your taste,” Cope says. “You pick and choose different things, depending on what you’re in the mood for.”
If you don’t feel like building your own grilled sandwich, Adelene’s has three options for you: turkey, oven roasted with Swiss cheese and Dijonaise sauce; ham, flame grilled with extra sharp cheese and mustard; and cheese, extra sharp white, provolone and American — all served on a baguette and priced at $11 with chips, pickles and Cope’s homemade cole slaw.
Sandwiches, too, lend themselves to Chef Cope’s creativity. The BLT ($8), for example, is a bacon lover’s dream. Crisp applewood-smoked bacon, as well as duck bacon, sit atop thick slices of tomato and lettuce with mayo, served on bacon-buttered toast.
“People who like bacon have quite the experience with this sandwich,” Cope laughs.
Among other sandwich options are a turkey club, pulled pork and fish and chips.
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“When you’re at the shore, you’ve got to have fish and chips,” Cope chuckles. “Our sandwich has a really big piece of fish on it.”
Cope can’t wait to see what the patrons think of the new menu, which will be instituted for the summer season. For him, the process of creating the menu was exciting, albeit exacting.
“It took a while to create,” he says. “I’d think of one dish and write it down, and my goal was to get different items to complement each other.”
“It’s exciting,” he adds. “I get to do the things I like and talk to people to see what they think. I’m excited to come to work every day.”