One of the joys of living and visiting Cape May, along with the beach and the rich Victorian history, is the food. The diversity of culinary delights which Cape May has to offer is exceeded by few cities with a year-round population of under 5,000.
These creative people were looking for independence, small town life, and an audience appreciative of culinary daring. They found it all in Cape May.
“Creative freedom,” was the bait which lured Steve and Freda Howard to come to Cape May and become restaurateurs.
Freda’s Cafe, 210 Ocean Street, started out as a deli on Sunset Boulevard in West Cape May back in 1986. The couple still run a deli in the back of their cozy restaurant which they opened in 1991.
Offering both lunch and dinner with a menu varied in eclectic choices such as Crab and Spinach Wontons with raspberry dipping sauce for an appetizer ($7.50) and on a recent specials menu By Way of Steve, a pan seared breast of duck, Asian style, served on a bed of Himalayan red rice, finished with a blood orange, cranberry sauce, garnished with a coconut crab puff.
A culinary graduate of Johnson & Wales University, Providence, RI, Howard can’t imagine a scenario in which he would leave the cooking to someone else.
“Just from an economic point of view,” he told us, “it would take a major reason for me to stop cooking. I enjoy it! I enjoy the creative freedom that you have with food. People are so bored with the status quo, that they are looking for someone who takes a chance and tries something different.”
The Howards change the specials every two weeks to keep the menu diversified, but still keep the popular stand-bys like Baked Brie Lisa made in a puff pastry and served with fresh fruit for a dinner appetizer ($7.95) and the always tasty and enormously popular Rack of Lamb – eight chops stuffed with a thin layer of chopped pine nuts, spinach, and feta. Seasoned with a fresh rosemary and cracked peppercorns, served on a Dijon mustard sauce ($28.95)
Married 16 years, Steve and Freda now have two children, Samantha, who is in first grade, and Marcus, three years old. Their children are very much a part of the restaurant life, especially in the summertime when Freda spends much more time in the restaurant.
Howard sees the children’s familiarity with their work place a positive. “Unlike the corporate life,” said Howard, “when I’m retirement age, I won’t have to worry about not knowing my children and wanting them to spend more time with me at an age when they’re ready to spend less time at home.” The fact that they see what their parents do for a living, he feels, has only enhanced their family life.
If you go:
Dining area is bright but intimate
Located in the heart of town 210 Ocean Street
(The building was once Cape May’s post office)
Bring Your Own Bottle
Call ahead for hours and reservations 609-884-7887.