“I can’t imagine people coming here without finding something they like. They can’t go wrong because what’s on the menu are all of Chef Tee’s favorites.”
These are the words of Theresa McGlade, otherwise known as Chef Tee, who owns Backstreet Simply Delicious in West Cape May. The chef only serves what she likes at her restaurant. So if you’re looking for something she doesn’t care for, well, you’ve got to go someplace else.
Take beets, for example.
“Roasted beets are the new thing,” she says. “People are doing all sorts of things with them. But I think they taste like the ground. So I’m not doing them. That’s all. My restaurant, my rules.”
But her menu — with its signature lamb chops, cheddar-crusted grouper, roasted asparagus with jumbo lump crabmeat and made-to-order peach and blueberry cobbler — is sure to please anyone and everyone who comes to the 45-seat BYOB.
Simply Delicious is a casual place: You can come in shorts and a T-shirt. Or you can dress up with full makeup and heels. Anything goes, Chef Tee says, except when it comes to the flavor and taste of her food.
Chef Tee elevates the flavor of her food by crusting it, so there’s a crunch and a crisp with each bite. But there’s no frying because she doesn’t own a fryer. (Sorry, no fries served at Simply Delicious.)
“I like the flavor of things being breaded,” says Chef Tee. “I do a lot of crusting. I guess you can say I’m a cruster.”
Chef Tee, who graduated from the esteemed Culinary Institute of America in New York, also describes herself as quirky.
Well, she likes things juuust right. For example, she uses specific plates for specific food. Therefore, the lamb chops are served on a different plate from the filet, which is served on a different plate from the fish.
And she demands high-quality products. “If it’s not high quality, I don’t want it,” she says. A case in point is this year’s local flounder.
“It was mealy and inconsistent and I was paying $17.99 a pound and I wasn’t happy with it.” So she replaced all the flounder dishes with salmon. Chef Tee is now content; her patrons are getting the high-quality food they’re paying for.
She also likes the food to be hot. “I’m all about the temperature,” she says. “I can’t stand when I eat out, and the food is lukewarm. At my restaurant, the food goes from me to the plate to the customer.”
Chef Tee’s favorites, as you might have guessed, are anything and everything on the menu. A few standout starters, however, are the pecan-encrusted goat cheese atop fresh house green and drizzled with balsamic dressing ($9.95); grilled asparagus topped with jumbo lump crab meat, olive oil and parmesan ($13.95); and local Jersey tomatoes topped with mozzarella and basil, and dressed with balsamic and olive oil.
Signature dishes are the rack of baby lamb chops encrusted with Dijon mustard and bread crumbs ($33.95); cheddar crusted grouper, topped with roasted red pepper drizzle ($24.95); Caribbean jerked grouper topped with mango puree and sweet cream sauce ($26.95); and salmon with jumbo lump crab meat ($29.95).
The desserts, most of which are made in-house, measure a 10 on the dessert Richter scale. Of note are Chef Tee’s aforementioned peach and blueberry cobblers, which must be ordered 30 minutes before they appear hot out of the oven at your table. The cobblers are topped with vanilla ice cream ($9.95). Bananas foster is another delicious delight ($9.95), and bread pudding, Key lime pie and crunchy peanut butter pie ($8.95 each).
Chef Tee prides herself on her food and her restaurant. With her husband Tony Lombardi as her sous chef, she sets out to create a dining experience that’s simply delicious.
And she succeeds.