Knife and Fork Inn – Atlantic City, NJ
Atlantic City has changed numerous times since 1912, but one thing in this town has stood the test the time. The Knife and Fork Inn (KF) now owned by Frank Dougherty a fourth-generation co-owner of Dock’s Oyster House also in Atlantic City has KF primed to keep watching AC’s growth or decline first hand for the foreseeable future. KF embraces its past with painted portraits such as being an exclusive men’s drinking and dining club when it first opened housing illegal gambling and rumored prostitution, as well as getting a renewed spotlight due to the interest from the HBO show Boardwalk Empire staring Enoch “Nucky” Johnson a political hotshot of the time, who was a regular at KF and main character of the show. With KF’s purchase in 2005, Frank Dougherty has renovated KF into a pristine establishment that is just a joy to walk around and witness all of this buildings architecture just thinking how much fun it must have been to visit KF in the roaring twenties.
I arrived with a party of sixteen for this article, which KF handled with ease by sitting us on the third floor that was setup entirely just for us, with its own bathroom facilities and private server by the name of Casey. Now I wish I could give Casey a better title than server, because let me start by saying I hope KF and Mr. Dougherty recognize the talent they have in this man. The title of server extraordinaire, general manager to be, or future VP of hospitality management for some corporate conglomerate would be better suited for this individual. He was the most enthusiastic, knowable, and pleasant server I have encountered in quite some time and I hope his talent is recognized by those who matter. Having him take care of us made such a positive lasting impression this group will not soon forget.
Now lets talk about what we really came for, the food. The evening started out with a Thai infused soft shell crab that was to die for. The crab was cooked to perfection, having the sweet juicy crab meat squirt with each bite, while the Thai spices added an exotic and amazing take of a shore classic. A must order for any soft shell lover.
After a start like that, KF really had their work cut out for them to out perform themselves, but they did just that with the colossal sized shrimp cocktail. They served four shrimp that were literally the size of small lobster tails and so fresh I would not be surprised if Casey himself pulled them out of the Atlantic Ocean.
Could KF keep the momentum going? The crock of french onion soup was the wildcard of my order and they did not disappoint. With a broth strong with the essence of perfectly caramelized onions, with just the right out of cheese and toasted bread, KF really sent this dish from a wildcard in my mind to a must have for any fan of french onion soup.
Now the main course finally arrives. Ribeye filet with roasted long hot peppers and a side of sautéed wild mushrooms. Unfortunately KF had a slip up. The steak was overcooked, quite a bit of gristle, and the mushrooms had a strong bitter profile to them. Do not get me wrong, this was just slightly better than the average, but when you perform with such perfection in previous courses, nothing except greatness becomes the only option.
After all of that food could anyone possibly eat dessert? For Bluejeanfoodcritic the answer is YES! A vanilla bean creme brulee with an almond florentine cookie and fresh berries is delivered. The cookie was a tasty nice touch and the berries were again so fresh I think they must have a garden out back. A perfect ending to a great meal.
Atlantic City has had many changes throughout the years, but if KF’s performance is any indicator, I think KF may be standing longer than a lot of other things AC is famous for. They excelled in every portion of a meal a diner looks for with service that just is not seen these days. Maybe Casey is just a throwback to the roaring twenties type of service, but whatever school he came from, I hope other restaurants send their servers there as well. KF has a keeper in Casey, and the kitchen staff they currently have cooking for them.
To finish the night, AC’s latest catch phrase is DO AC, and the party of sixteen did just that after leaving KF. First a visit to Tropicana Casino’s Ri Ra Irish Pub and then ending the night at Harrah Casino’s hip The Pool After Dark Nightclub. No one in the crew hit for big money, or became famous, but we can always try again. You may never know how a night in AC will go, but what I can tell you is that if KF serves meals like they did the night I went, it is a guaranteed jackpot of an awesome meal out at least if you go to KF. Tell them Bluejeanfoodcritic sent you and ask for Casey.
Four out of Five Stars