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  1. #1
    smwpgh
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    2012 Dining Report

    My experiences from last week

    Sat - We wanted to start of our vacation with a classic taste of the beach - so off to the Crabcake Factory we went. Arrived around 5:30 and were told it would be a 45 minute wait....not a good thing with a 10 and 8 yr old, but there were seats outside and the kids were excited to be in Ocean City, so I ordered a Blueberry Crush and two virgin strawberry margarita's for the boys and settled in for the wait. We were surprised they called us within 5 minutes and basically squeezed us in with a folding chair at a traditional table for two. Some may have an issue with this but I was grateful to get a seat as quickly as possible. I ordered the Jumbo Lump Crabcake, which, as stated, I believe to be the best in OC....and once again it didnt disappoint. Large chunks of crab, minimal filler, great taste! Son 1 got the mussels (an appetizer but definitely enough for an entree. A huge plate of expertly prepared fresh mussels.....steamed in white wine, butter and a wealth of vegetables for added flavor. I stole a couple when he wasnt looking and they were fantastic, perfectly cooked...tender and flavorful. Son 2 has a shellfish allergy so he is our beef eater. He ordered the NY Strip steak. They steak was a bit disappointing...at least to me. I found it to be tough. Part of the reason was that it was cooked a bit past the desired medium, but I also think that they are not a steakhouse. There are few non-seafood related items on the menu and maybe that is for a reason. One other observation....the side salads are very uninspiring. Iceberg lettuce, a slice of cucumber and red onion, and a cherry tomatoe. Blue cheese dressing was more cream than chunk of blue cheese. I wish they would put a bit more effort into this. Overall rating B.....but I will stress the crabcakes and mussels were both exceptional and dragged down by the leathery steak, and bland side salad..

    Sun - Lobster Shanty. We debated long and hard about trying Off the Hook, but Lobster Shanty won out. We arrived around 5:30 and were seated outdoors on the deck immediately. To my dismay, my oldest son wanted to try the lobster feast - 1 1/4 pound lobster with corn on the cob and 8 steamed shrimp. Since he never had lobster before, I was worried that he would not like it and that I, then, would be the beneficiary. I say dismay becuase the above was only $27.00 which I thought was a tremendous deal, and I was going to go for it myself! Since I wasnt sure he would like it, I chose something else. As luck would have it, he loved it....again it was perfectly cooked so it was tender though some leg work was necessary, it was already somewhat pre-cracked. The corn on the cob and steamed shrimp were also tender and flavorful. Isettled for the lobster roll, which, while loaded with tender lobster and not much mayo or filler, didnt seem to be big enough for dinner....but I was supposing I would eat some of my sons meals and that basically didnt happen. I also ordered the shrimp coctail and got 4 medium tender shrimps. I especially liked the cocktail sauce as it had a bit of bite from the horseradish that was grated fresh upon the top. My youngest son had the filet mignon and this was a much better cut of meat. Tender and cooked a perfect medium. Nice char crust on the top. He ate every last bit. Overall rating - B+.....just dont order a sandwich for dinner if you have a hearty appetite.
    Monday -Started with a bike ride on the boards in the morning to build up an appetite....and I have been dying to try the Pirates Den as I have heard raves about their breakfast. Got there about 9:15 and was immediately seated....restaurant was only about 75% full. They had a number of enticing specials but I took the recommendation of the server and tried the blue crab and avacado omellete. The portions were huge and I was surprised how much blue crab they actually put into it. In fact, they may have put too much in as the center of the blue crab "pouch" in the omellete was still a bit cold. I would have preferred a more balanced temperature throughout....but, really, how many are going to complain about too much crab?!!!! The avocado perfectly balanced and mellowed the bachumel sauce that complimented the omellete. Accompanying potatoes were uninspiring. Son 1 had western omellete....again huge portion and cooked appropriately. I was trying to talk him into the capt crunch french toast, which sounds absolutely awesome to me, but, I guess, not so much to him. Son 2 also ordered an omellete...I think it was called the Pirate Omellete....In hindsight, we could have comfortably split an omellete for both boys as they left plenty on the plate....not due to lack of quality, but due to the enormous side. They seemed to like them but were not overly enthused....I mean I guess an omelette is an omelette. I should also mention we ordered a side of sausage links and we got two big, meaty links that had some real bite to them....both in texture and in spice. I liked them alot. Overall rating B -, we definitely got our moneys worth!
    After that big breakfast and a long day at the beach and a busy evening of miniature golf and go-carting planned, the kids simply wanted something quick for dinner....so Anthony's on 17th was the choice. Got there around 7:00 and got food within a minimal wait. We each got a roast beef sandwich and split a medium fries...and there were more than enough fries for each of us from that one order. While I would have preferred the meat done a bit more rare, I had no problem devouring the sandwich, dipping each bite into a delicious but slightly a bit overly salty au jus. The horseradish was obviously jarred and, as such, lacked a bit of bite....but for the price....hey....we were satisfied. Overall rating B. Remember, this is a sandwich place with plenty of outside dining....complete with annoying flies....so it is not fine dining....and the B rating here doesnt mean that this is interachangeable with, say, The Shark which also gets a B from me....This is a B for a sandwich shop.....but the sandwiches are big and flavorful....just know that it is what it is.
    Tues - a highlight....our much anticipated trip to Sunset Grille. We made reservations for 6:30, got there around 5:50 and walked around the docks and saw all the boats and fishermen preparing for the next days outing. Kids had a blast doing that. Went in about 6:20 and were immediately seated upstairs and outside as it was a great night. We were kind of all alone, and it did take the waitress about 10 minutes to discover us, but service was fine after that. I had a coupon for a free crab dip....served with warm crusty bagette points, it was a perfect start. Son 2 got the fresh guacamole dip...and when I say fresh, I mean it. I think they mashed an avocado and made this serving especially for us. I like that it was not totally smooth and had big chunks of avocado to enjoy. The chips were prepackaged....kind of surpised these were not made fresh. I had the sesame crusted tuna. Sushi grade and seared so that it remained raw in the middle, it is spectacular. A little soy and wasabi to clear the sinuses and this was a total winner! Had a side dish of chorizo baked beans that really didnt compliment the tuna all that much, but was delicious nonetheless. Spicy, meaty, flavorful. Also got the tomato/cucumber salad that is served in a relatively bland pesto sauce...OK. Son 1 had the Salmon, which I believe was on special. A generous portion grilled as directed and with an asian BBQ sauce that added flavor and not necessarily heat. He loved it. Son 2 had the lamb chop appetizer as his entree and he received 3, two ribbed chops, grilled perfectly and coated with a tasty demiglace. There was some sort of plum based dipping sauce but I dont remember him really trying it. He was more than satified with the lamb chops and the portion. Overall Grade A-...definitely a quality restaurant but a few minor things kept them from bei
    ng perfect.
    Wed - Son 2 talked me into carry out crabs to eat in the condo (remember, son 2 has a shellfish allergy and there is no way an 8 yr old will sit still for an hour and half of crab picking), so the carry out was the way to go! We noticed On The Bay was constantly jammed and we ate lunch there before and were more than satisfied by the so that was our 1st choice. I pulled out the trusty IPad and found the website and contact info and called.....only to be greeted by an "online attendent" to help guide our call. Hmmm....ever see On The Bay? Does it look like a really complex operation? Not a good sign and my impression proved an omen. I dialed the appropriately options....and never talked to anyone. I dialed it again and again...same thing. I dialed again and chose a "wrong" option, just hoping that I would get a different result. Nope, still caught in the endless attendant loop. Seriously, I must have called at least 10 different times trying to get through. Finally, I decided to go with Higgins which is within walking distance of our condo. I am glad I did. I called and the phone was immediately answered. Being from PA, I did have questions about what to order and, while she was patient, I am not sure she was as helpful as she could have been. We ended up with a dozen Jumbo blue crabs which were going for $85. It turned out that this was probably more than my son and I needed....as he ate about 2 and I was able to handle about 6-7 and that was forcing the last one down. I picked the remaining, however, and had a scrumptious crab salad for lunch the next day! Anyway, I think we could have got by with a half dozen of the Jumbo, or went with a smaller size dozen. The Jumbo crabs were quite full and to use the efficianado's terminology "heavy". I was pleased with the quality, size and flavor. They added a small fee for wax paper and mallets. Son 2 had a frozen pizza I had in the freezer. Poor kid! Overall Rating A-, and only gets the minus as I was searching for advice on how much to order and, while I guess that is quite subjective, I dont think I got as knowledgeable a response as I would have expected from someone who works at a crab house. On the Bay.....probably still too busy to answer their phone. I was more than pleased to send my business to Higgins and will probably do so in the future too.
    Thurs - Son 2 wanted his choice...and he wanted Italian. Since I forced him to eat a frozen pizza while we gorged on delectable blue crab the day before, I couldnt refuse. We heard good things about Ristaurante Antipasti, and, again, since it was within walking distance of our condo and our plans to get shirts at Buxy's and spend some time at the Jolly Roger, it seemed like a no brainer. We called at lunch time to see about a reservation. We wanted 7:00 but were told 6:30. After a somewhat hair-raising crossing of coastal highway, we got there about 6:20 and were immediately seated. Son 1 has quite the appetite for Italian so he ordered an appetizer portion of a pasta dish. Not sure the exact name but it was like a lasagna and it was absolutely terrific. Very tasty combination of ground veal, tender pasta, and buffalo mozzerella. It was smaller portion and, minus a taste from me and his brother, he ate it all. I had the radiccio and pear salad with gorgonzola and it was a great choice. The sweetness of the pear countered the bitterness of the radiccio...and the saltiness of the gorgonzola was a perfect finish. Relatively speaking, this was a big portion. Son 1 had the spinach/chicken soup....kind of like an Italian wedding soup and instead of the expected cup size portion, came in a full size bowl. He didnt share but ate every last drop, so safe to say he enjoyed it. The premeal experience was added to with a nice loaf of warm, crusty italian bread to dip into a high quality olive oil enhanced with fresh roasted garlic cloves. They brought refills of both! I am glad we ordered the appetizers and partook in the bread as the portions of the entrees was a bit small...they both ordered the veal picatta. I ordered the veal masala. Both dishes game with 3 average to smaller size pieces of veal cutlets. In other words, not the biggest of portions, but what it lacked in size it more than made up for in flavor. The picatta lightly breaded and enhanced with a light white wine, butter, and lemon sauce. The masala with a rustic marsala wine and mushroom sauce. The waitress alerted us that the kitchen made a mistake and made two masala dishes and that it would be a moment for them to make a new picatta for Son 2. I am not sure if this is a testament to how small the cutlets were or how good it was, but Son 1 was just about finished with his meal when Son 2's meal arrived moments later. A side dish of pasta not with a pink sauce added to the meal. while I am usually not a big fan of pink sauces, this was very well done and the cream balanced the acidity of the tomato sauce exceedingly well. All dishes were cleaned.....again a testament to the quality of the meal as well as a bit of an indictment on the serving size. Even though we were going to Dumsers for ice cream, too, Son 1 talked me into a slice of Tiramisu for us all to split. It was well done....maybe a bit drier than most but also with a more subtle coffee flavor that made it a complete winner. In short, this is an exceptional restaurant.....I am not sure it is top 3 in east coast or however the advertise it, but it is now expected to be a "must" in our yearly visit. Just be aware that it is a bit pricey for the quantity of food you get....but, wow, the quality is there! Overall Rating - A-, and the minus is just because of the serving size, We will be back at this restaurant!
    Friday - The Shark. Had reservation at 6:30 but were able to be seated by 6:20. Greeted with complimentary cucumber slices with sushimi grade tuna tartare enhanced with soy sauce and also with a bread plate of warm crusty bread. The cheese spread that comes with it is not to my taste....I dont know, it has a tartness that i just dont care for. Use the buttter instead. Son 1 ordered the Mako Shark bites appetizer and got 5 large chunks of grilled shark, meaty and buttery on the inside and crusty on the grill marks...a wonderful texture and flavor. Not sure the rasberry sauce really adds much to the dish. The portion was quite large and easily could have pleased a table of 4. Son 1 ordered the panko crusted shark and it was a large portion on a bed of gnocchi that I believe had a hearty pesto sauce. As shown above, this son has a hearty appetite, but he left half the shark and barely touched the gnocchi. Not sure if the combination of the size of the appetizer with the excitement of our plans for go-carting afterwards distracted him a bit, or if he didnt quite care for it. Son 2 had the childs portion Filet Mignon. Perfectly grilled to medium and the 6 oz portion for $15 was pleasing both to his palate and my wallet. Side of fries came with it and were good if not non-descript. I had the macademia nut crusted hawaiian tilefish. This fish has a similar consistency to mahi mahi...not too dense and definitely mild. It had a BBQ sauce that was asian influenced and quite tasty. Overall rating - B. I appreciate that they try to use local ingredients and while I would never tell anyone not to go there, I am not sure how it gets it fanatical following. We have eaten here three years in a row....and its always just been all right.
    Hope this helps some who are on the fence about certain restaurants, or choices therein. Already looking forward to next years trip!>

  2. #2
    OCBeachBob OCBeachBob's Avatar
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    Re: 2012 Dining Report

    Damn Son. Nice report. A lot of my favorites on your list. Thanks.

  3. #3
    mmazz22
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    Re: 2012 Dining Report

    Great report. Getting me psyched for my trip to OC coming up not that I need any psyching. ha

    But I do love reading the dining reports,there all awesome. I eat like crap in Oc thats why I never do one. HAHA

  4. #4
    Senior Member DeanM's Avatar
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    Re: 2012 Dining Report

    Good review, my attorney will be in touch w/you over the copy right infringement regarding the the subject title....

  5. #5
    smwpgh
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    Re: 2012 Dining Report

    If I am gonna infringe, I am gonna infringe from the best, Dean!

  6. #6
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    Re: 2012 Dining Report

    I am jelly over the advanced palates of your sons...my crew never ate enuff to keep a bilge rat alive! My gripe is the same as yours on Anthony's...the days of rare RB there are over. If they insist on welldone, they should abandon the carving knife and get (cough, gag) a slicer to get it paper thin. Mooer tender!!

  7. #7
    Senior Member DeanM's Avatar
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    Re: 2012 Dining Report

    Quote Originally Posted by smwpgh

    If I am gonna infringe, I am gonna infringe from the best, Dean!
    yeah.... go big or go home I guess.... good write up regardless.

    I'll be waiting to read your "west mifflin" dining report next.

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