By Donald Wittkowski
The Port-O-Call Hotel, the pink-hued grande dame towering over the Ocean City Boardwalk since 1966, decided to rebrand its traditional restaurant three years ago to give it some contemporary flair.
What emerged was Adelene Restaurant, whose striking décor now serves as a model for other seashore-inspired architectural updates throughout the hotel, explained Glenn Losch, the general manager of the property.
For instance, the restaurant features what Losch calls a one-of-a-kind rippled ceiling that is reminiscent of the waves lapping the shoreline.
But if Adelene’s diners want to see the real thing, they need only peer out of the restaurant windows for expansive views of the beach and ocean.
The spectacular oceanfront location is just one of the things that distinguish Adelene, Losch noted. The Port-O-Call touts the restaurant’s “casual, chic” atmosphere and a menu that blends right in with the Jersey Shore.
“First of all, I think it’s basically the view,” Losch said. “I also think it’s our exceptional service, our top-notch chef and our food.”
Head Chef Rich Cope came to Adelene in May 2016 from Elizabethtown College near Hershey, Pa. At Elizabethtown, Cope prepared the meals for the college president and board of trustees and also oversaw the catering for students.
Cope explained that the meals at a Pennsylvania college aren’t exactly compatible for an Ocean City restaurant, so it was clear to him that he had to give Adelene’s menu more of a seashore vibe.
“Coming from different areas, I know that people eat different things. I wanted to get a feel for what would work here,” said Cope, whose family had once lived in Ocean City.
Cope has tweaked Adelene’s menu to emphasize more traditional seashore fare, such as crabcakes, burgers and panini sandwiches.
He also has added a new twist to Adelene’s Caesars salad, the old favorite of romaine lettuce and croutons dressed in Parmesan cheese. The lettuce in this salad is “flash grilled” to give it a bit of a smoky taste. Diners can top their Caesars salad with chicken, shrimp or scallops.
“That’s probably our biggest seller right now,” Cope said of the grilled salad.
In the summer, the menu reflects the tastes of the young families vacationing in Ocean City. In fall, the menu selections lean more toward the retirees who visit town during the quieter off-season months, Cope explained.
The Port-O-Call says Adelene is the “perfect location” for special events or celebrations, including rehearsal dinners, bridal or baby showers, birthdays, anniversaries, retirement parties and intimate weddings (all with a 25-person minimum).
At this time of year, Adelene is open Wednesday through Sunday for breakfast and lunch. The restaurant will be closed in January and February, but reopen in March.
During the summer months on Friday and Saturday nights, the restaurant hosts private, upscale dinners called the Epicurean Dinner Club by membership only. For information on the club and membership call (609) 323-1499 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For anyone who might have a question about where to find Adelene, they need only look for the iconic, pink Port-O-Call Hotel at 15th Street and the Boardwalk.
“A lot of people call it the big, pink hotel,” Losch said. “When people call us and say they’re coming to Ocean City, we just tell them to look for the big, pink hotel.”