Location: Ventnor, NJ
Rating: 5+ [see key]
One of the things I don't enjoy about the Jersey shore is the seasonal nature of many communities. Naturally summer boasts huge crowds, merriment and thriving beach islands full of life. Yet the fun ends in autumn when most shore businesses close up and the once-thriving towns become a place for polar bear plunges and boardwalk exercise. I do not deny that this might be the natural order of the universe, but I find no greater disappointment than knowing that I must wait until May for the next funnel cake or block of fudge.
Fortunately, there are a few operations along the coast that go year-round; one of my favorites is Ventnor's No. 7311. Especially since the sudden closing of Bloom Coffee and Tea in Northfield, this bakery and coffeehouse has stood as one of the only good coffee spots anywhere close to Atlantic City. Situated on Ventnor Ave right next to the Margate border, No. 7311 resides in a gorgeous storefront with a huge grey awning perfect for their outside seating. Inside, the shop boasts a spacious, elegant design that creates a serene atmosphere.
Aside from their many delicious baked goods, No. 7311 utilizes a fairly serious coffee operation for a bakery. Sporting two coffee roasters, George Howell Coffee and local entity Harry and Beans, they offer the gamut of espresso drinks as well as a few different coffees in their coffee dispensers. Strongly in favor of lighter roasts, I stuck with George Howell and ordered a single origin espresso of a Brazilian coffee and a filtered infusion of a Rwandan. The espresso, pulled short/medium with brown crema, smacked of bittersweet chocolate, lemon, buttered biscuit, ginger and spinach, proving overall balanced and flavorful. The Rwanda drip coffee also proved flavorful, with sweet, potent notes of chocolate, flan, blueberry, corn, fig and bib lettuce.
To put it simply, it thrills me substantially to have a shore establishment regularly slinging good coffee. Thus, the next time you're down in Ventnor for summer rays or a quick trip to Atlantic City, definitely make a stop at No. 7311 for some great coffee and a few quality creations from their bakery.