My first view of the majestic Chalfonte
SATURDAY AFTERNOON MAY 29TH Sometimes it's more fun to start at the end of a journey. I am kicking off my first post at The City Pulse, with the final stop of my nearly month-long Doo Wop Hotel/Motel Hop across the Wildwoods and Cape May. This last stop is a post-war hotel on the Cape. But it's not a post-WWII mid-20th century motel; no, this is a different war. Which one? Try the Civil War. Yeah, this is real old-school.
Entrance to the Magnolia Room, the plentiful screen doors around the building add to the relaxed feel of the Chalfonte.
Built in 1876, the Chalfonte Hotel is the oldest original hotel in the Cape of May (at least according to its website, and really who am I to argue with that declaration). It really is like stepping back in time. There is an authentic New Orleans/Savannah/Charleston-like vibe here.
The facade that has welcomed Cape Mayans and Vacationers for145 summers
Although I'm typing this blog in a sitting room with a piano on the first floor, I feel like I should be writing with a quill by the light of an oil lamp.
Music is a large part of the Chalfonte's past and present. Live music nightly on the porch draws large summer crowds and guests are welcome to tinkle the ivories on the two pianos in the hotel.
There is so much history here, and the website spells it out very succinctly: https://www.chalfonte.com/history.html. I could write descriptions and my impressions, but really, it's the images and videos that will tell the story at a historic place like this, dear reader.
East Wing Sitting room front of hotel
West Wing Sitting Room
To rewind a moment: My late Spring Cape May two night wind-up to my nearly month on the road was to conclude Saturday night and then back to Wildwood to move into my summer rental. However, last Friday's early evening walk found me taking photos of the various Victorian inns and B&Bs when I chanced upon the Chalfonte.I came for the coffee and stayed for the live music performed by the singer-songwriter chanteuse Toni Teschner and her talented guitarist comrade.
How my Chalfonte adventure began: while sitting on the porch,"where is that music coming ftom?," I wondered, and then wandered off to find out.
Needless to say, I was enchanted by both the music and environs. It just didn't seem right to put the plugin for my epic lodging adventure just yet.
So I went to the front desk and was pleasantly surprised that there was availability during this Memorial Day weekend when I inquired about rooms. When I heard the price, it was difficult to resist the pull of staying at a 19th-century hotel. The weather is awful this weekend-more St. Patrick Day than Memorial Day but what better place to hunker down during a grey, blustery rain-streaked day in Cape May?
I am looking forward to my dinner in the Magnolia Room and drinks later at the King Edward Bar. Here's more information on each: https://www.chalfonte.com/the-magnolia-room.html https://www.chalfonte.com/king-edward-bar.html Post dinner follow-up: Now, I sit in the lobby on a couch in front of a roaring fire with a coffee (many thanks to Ellen at the front desk who eagerly procured it for me.) The Alexa on the fireplace mantel is playing Paul Simon singing about hanging out in the schoolyard with Julio, and I feel like a time traveler of sorts listening to music nearly half-century-old in a 19th-century hotel typing away on my 2021 MacBook.
Time traveling back to my dinner: I had an existential crisis about whether to get the cornmeal dipped fried oysters appetizer, but after googling, "Are fried oysters healthy?" I received enough positive feedback to tip the scales. I was glad I did because they were delicious, and the remoulade sauce accompanied them perfectly. That out of the way, I chose the broiled scallops over the crab cake because "breading."
Delectable fried oyster appetizer
Sumptuous broiled scallop main course
Meanwhille back in real time I'm sitting in front of the fireplace as the Alexa music is now The Beach Boys asking wouldn't it be nice? Why yes, it would be nice to be more than 50 freaking degrees on the Saturday night of Memorial Day.
But I digress, back to my earlier menu ordering dilemma. Although the scallops came with mashed potatoes, I instead doubled my broccoli fun and happy I did, with the garlic they were cooked in. I dug into the scallops, and they were juicy, giant soft pillows of mollusk deliciousness on my plate (as you can see above.)
As I recount my earlier meal Carole King is playing on the Alexa now and though "It's Too Late" for Ms. King the timing is just right for me. Oh, "Peg" made a brief appearance earlier on the Alexa too with her friends Walter and Donald, a duo better known as Steely Dan.
Halfway through the scallops, I asked the kindly newbie waiter, Jack, for olive oil and chili pepper flakes because I am all about getting some fiery Capsaicin in my belly. The music took a turn into country with a live recording of the Zac Brown Band, then took a quick left into Zac going into the mystic with Van the Man before darting back into their own Free As We'll Ever Be. Now Queen is trying to find somebody to love on this Saturday night (maybe they should hit the bar, which I'm about to do because The King Edward is calling, and who am I to deny the orders of a monarch? I'm sure going to miss the fireplace and this comfortable couch though.
After an arduous journey of a few feet across the hall, I arrived at the King's place, greeted by Satchmo Armstrong playing on the radio. I decided to treat myself to a Cabernet (thank you, Dr. Li!) and really love the completely chill and dim candlelit smooth of King Edward. Last night it was like a packed coffee house with live music, and tonight it's a cozy little conversation bar. As much as I liked sitting by the fireplace in the lobby, this is more my style. I really wish I had my velvet sport coat with me. (I think it may be wadded up somewhere in the menagerie of clothes in my back seat I've been hauling along since I abdicated my winter rental.)
King Edward's reminds me of a secret bar hidden away for only those in the know or intrepid enough to discover it. My time travel has led me to a 1930s club thankfully minus the cigarette smoke. Some great conversations are happening around me though I'm not necessarily following the narrative more the vibe. Once again, it's the pictures that will tell the story of this room more than my typed words.
King Edward Bar
The King Edward Lounge
Cool lighting fit for a 20s Speakeasy
Here are a couple minutes of video I shot of the King Edward with some brief conversation with the bartender and an appearance from Rhinegold beer. I don't believe words can do justice to the King Edward experience so I'll shut up for now.
Now a post-wedding party has wholly engulfed the King's quarters, and the chill jazz vibe has transformed into a chatter and clatter of voices and faces. Though I had a brief conversation with a young lady named Emily, and we discussed the beauty of Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest. Pro tip: It's the best place to see the solar orb set in the western sky if you are in Wildwoods. But I am weary of the interruptions, so I'll leave the festive wedding attendees to their post-nuptials revelry and return to the fireplace to complete my writing for the night.
The wedding party crashers enjoying the King Edward