Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Off the Map: An Oliveless Shirley Temple and Other Assorted Problems

Crispy Calamari Salad – Continental, Atlantic City, NJ

Vodka and Ginger head down the shore for one reason and one reason alone.  Not to lay on the beach.  Not to gamble our food budgets away in Atlantic City.  Not even to become reacquainted with sunscreen.

We go down the shore to watch the royal wedding.
Memorabilia Much?
Vodka fancies herself a bit of a royalist, and by “a bit,” she means “a crazed wannabe Windsor.”

Ginger does not really care much about William and Harry et. al., but she’s always up for tea and a crumpet.

As previously mentioned, Vodka had purchased half of Tea and Sympathy’s wedding memorabilia a few weeks back, and she carts it down to the seaside for royal watching purposes.

Ginger, priorities intact, travels with two bottles of wine.

After an early morning of wedding watching, complete with English Hob Nobs and Ginger cookies, we take a long winter’s nap before using Vodka’s paraphernalia for its true purpose: to drink Skinnygirl margaritas.
The Queen Would Be So Proud
We toast to Her Royal Highness, Bethenny Frankel, Princess of Tequila before heading into Atlantic City.

Which is when Ginger walks into a door.

At this point, feeling very little pain due to the dulling effect of the gallon Skinnygirl margaritas we just consumed, Ginger insists she is fine, welted face or not.

And she acts fine all the way to Caesar’s Piers.  All the way through Vodka drunkenly dropping her Le Bernardin budget on Burberry sunglasses (which, by the way, make her look like Blanche Devereaux of Golden Girls fame).  All the way to our bar stools at Continental where we want to try Anne Burrell’s Best Thing I Ever Ate WITH CHOPSTICKS dish, crispy calamari salad, as our appetizer.
Poor Photography
The only hint that Ginger is possibly suffering from a concussion comes when she begins arguing with the Continental bartender about the lack of olives in her Dirty Shirley.

For those of you who aren’t in the know about spiking childhood drinks, a Dirty Shirley is a grown-up version of a Shirley Temple – you know, the pink drink with cherries on top that you used to order at T.G.I. Friday’s in your youth in order to sound mature.

Notice the Lack of Olives
Even though Ginger has ordered at least 27 Dirty Shirleys in her lifetime, she is suddenly convinced that it is an olive-based drink, and she wants her olives dammit.  While Vodka makes excuses to the befuddled bartender about the confusion, (“You have to forgive her – she just hit her head.”), Ginger finally establishes where her olive delusion came from: Continental’s Dirty Shirley contains “Three Olive Vodka.”



Vodka (for once not the troublemaker with the waitstaff) sips her Twizzle cocktail sheepishly as we await our crispy calamari salad and Ginger makes finger indentations on her growing head bump.
See the Licorice on Top? Delicious
Our salad arrives, and it is massive.  It is also sans chopsticks, a detail that we do not notice, but that therefore defeats the purpose of eating Anne Burrell’s go-to WITH CHOPSTICKS dish.  Instead, we ungraciously dive in with our forks and start eating like savages.
One Spoon Does Not Two Chopsticks Make
The first thing we notice (and clearly, we’re not noticing much, based on the lack of chopsticks), is that the salad is extremely vinegary.  So vinegary that it makes our lips tingle.  This vinegar has also seemed to make the salad extremely slippery, as the bean sprouts keep falling from our forks onto the floor (this is when chopsticks could have come in handy, Continental). The lettuce is also displeasingly soggy.

That said, we like vinegar well enough, so this overbearing ingredient does not completely turn us off.

What turns us off more is the sheer lack of crispy calamari.

Now, perhaps it’s just the proportion of the salad that is off – it comes in a humongous bowl.  This bowl could be cut in half, and the calamari would seem plentiful.  The way it stands, we have to fight through landfills of lettuce to find one solitary piece.  And the calamari itself is good, which makes it all the more disappointing that it is so scarce. However, the pool of vinegar dressing quickly abates the "crispy" part.
Let's Play Where's Waldo? with the Calamari
We both have loved Continental in the past, at the Philadelphia locations and this Atlantic City one.  But this salad is far from our favorite thing we have eaten here (the cheesesteak eggrolls come to mind as one of the best).  We do not even finish the salad, and we instead down our cocktails and stumble off of our stools, heading off in search of olives and an ice pack.

Continental’s Crispy Calamari Salad: 3 stars


  1. Love the cheese steak egg rolls, the rad-na Thai, and the shoestring fries...

  2. A twizzle cocktail...say what?!?! Do a booze blog next.