This year My dining report is noticeably different from years past, with one son in the Army, another in the Coast Guard, and both daughters in college it leave only my 10 year old son, my wife, and myself for these trips. You'll notice that most of these reviews are not from places inside the ten mile confines of OC, this was not by design, just the way ift happened to fall this time around. Also I should mention that my parents came down and met us mid week, and we enjoyed taking them around to different establishments that we've been telling stories of for years. So without further ado I give you my 2013 Dining Report

June 29th - The Abbey Burger. Gourmet burgers joints have been all the rage in recent years, and while Abbey Burger may be brand new for the Ocean City scene - they've been getting the job done in Baltimore for years.True the menu offers other items, but the obvious choice here is of coarse a burger! The restaurant provides patrons with options to either select from a listed burger off the menu or to "build your own", done by filling out an order slip where you choose the meat, temperature, bun, and toppings. I chose the "meat of the month"~New Zealand Red Deer, out fitted with cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickle, onion, and herb yogurt to glue it all together. It came out a perfect medium/rare (cooking venison anything past medium should be a hanging offense!) The wife's burger was also quite good, but she played it safe and ordered a basic angus beef patty - My son on the other hand (chip off the ol block) built a Kangaroo burger on a pretzel bun the sweetness of the Kangaroo meat paired up nicely with the smokey bacon, and the American cheese & onion allowed the flavor of the meat to shine through while still keeping that classic burger taste your looking for.

Even though everybody was more than happy with food quality here, there were definitely some real issues here though - The biggest hurdle they have is location - in short it flat out sucks! They are hidden behind the Blue OX, you could ride past it a thousand times and never see it...The place boast about it's spiked milkshakes, but they were not set up to make them as of yet. They also were out of the alligator bites.... I can attribute these things to the fact that they just opened a week before, but after we placed our order the waitress came back out and told us the fryer was broken. This wouldn't have been an issue if we hadn't heard them tell her that they already shut down the fryer for the night (it was 10:15 when we got there). Again just be honest with me, I cut her tip directly in half for lying to our faces. If I wasn't strung out from a 6 hour ride, I'd have called her out on it, I find it insulting to lie to the customers. Aside from the aforementioned bugs (that I'm sure can be worked out) it was a positive experience.

June 30th - Hooked. No, not "Just Hooked"~ just "Hooked"! (sounds like the makings of a modern day Abbot and Costello skit) The restaurant is located at 81st street in the building that formerly was La Hacienda. The restaurant is a spin off of the Just Hooked restaurant located right up the road in Fenwick. They done some remodeling and the decor is simple but nice. The menu is similar if not the same as the other location staying true to their roots as a farm/ ocean to table restaurant. The style, the creativity, the presentation of all the dishes is unparallelled by anything else in town. It's truly in a class of it's own within the 10 mile strip of OC. I had the scallops which had perfect sear on the outside, ensuring an ultra sweet tasting outer layer that gave way to moist & tender inside. These plump mollusks were plentiful & placed on a bed of corn grits. Truly out of sight, it almost made me forget about the completely over dressed caesar salad from the previous coarse. The salad was a real let down especially since the appetizer of calamari came out virtually flawless - lightly breaded, seasoned just right and super tender. My wife's crab cake was also a home run, perfect meat to filler ratio, in other words - just enough to hold it together. My son had the fried fish fingers, which are basically cod, sliced into strips breaded and fried aka fish 101. We passed on dessert in favor of Dumser's after our meal.

July 1st - Kirby's. Located in the 94th st plaza, I first learned of this place a number of years ago via this forum, and it has continued to be one of our favorites. Nothing fancy here what so ever. A simple neighborhood tavern with a limited number of table tops running parallel to bar. We split an order of 20 wings. Anybody who's ever been here know you just got get em coated in their "old goat sauce", which I'd describe as a mix of buffalo & garlic sauces for lack of better description. I know it shouldn't be too difficult, but it's hard to find a place that really does wings right - No sweat for Kirby's though. This place cranks em out all day long and they've always been right on the money! Crispy skin on the outside seals the deal for the moist and tender meat underneath! ...and since were talking bar food ya know you got to get some nachos~ but not just any old run of the mill nachos, here they use their fresh cut potato chips for a one of a kind mountain of cheese & veggies that you just can't stop eating. This place is always a winner when we need a break from the seafood, and fill like putting on an extra 5 pounds or so!

July 2nd - The Shrimp Boat. (Forum member Flagger John turned me on to this place) located on rt 611, in West OC this little shack pumps out some killer seafood. Not much to look at, it's about one step above a dirt floor.... matter of fact I really didn't pay that much attention it very well might have been a dirt floor! They were super busy even during the middle of the day (late lunch 1:30) They gave us each a steamed (head on) shrimp, before we placed our order as a sample. We shared orders of coconut shrimp, steamed lil neck clams, and hush puppies. What a difference hand breading fresh shrimp can make! This set a whole new bar for coconut shrimp that I betting few will ever measure up too... The clams were outta sight as well, they toast up some bread for dipping. I could just order a bucket of this juice and a loaf of bread and call it a day!! This is a no frills kinda place, straight out of Ocean City's Yesteryear, and that suits me right down to the ground.

Sunset Grille. After our late lunch we grabbed a early dinner here because my parents had just arrived in town and were in need of food. Been here for drinks but this is the first time ordering food since the remodeling. Over the years I've wrote many flaming good reviews on this restaurant unfortunately this will not be another one... To there credit they sat us at a nice table outside, and the service was top notch from start to finish. We just ordered sandwiches because we literally (I hate that word because it's way over used today but...) just ate a few hours before. My son's burger was actually pretty good, and my wife's crab cake sandwich was ok as well. My father only finished 1/2 of his turkey sandwich, so I have no idea what that meant, BUT my mother and I both ordered the soft shell sandwiches. I've eaten many of soft shell in my day, and in my opinion these should only be lightly dusted in flour and fried, what we got here was a thick and I mean THICK hard breading that made the crab almost inedible! Also this rendered it virtually void of any flavor, other than the breading itself obviously.... This heavy breading on such a delicate piece of seafood is an egregious error! It would be one thing to have misstep such as this on a special, but the fact that this is a regular menu item floors me. without a doubt worst soft shell crab I've ever eaten hands down ---Should've went back to The Shrimp Boat and dinged the bell for Round 2!

July 3rd - Grove Market. Located in Bishopville, this place is neither anything great to look at on the outside or the inside. There's no written menu and the menu constantly changes. I won't go into much detail here because the menu DOES change, and getting in here for dinner is a process all onto itself. If you're willing to jump through hoops to get a reservation, don't mind other customers sitting on top of you, being served on mismatched plates,owners who are so quirky they are borderline rude, then you're in luck ~as the food is truly out of this world good. If you ever find yourself here and duck is on the menu, do yourself a favor and look past the tempting seafood entrees and go straight for the duck - best I've had anywhere! This is not a place if you're watching your vacation budget - you go, you order, you find out how much you've spent at the end... Our bill for the 5 of us was $300.00 before the tip. Not a problem as we knew this going in, and I was happy to finally be able to take my parents here.

July 4th - Mio Fratello. This restaurant sits back on rt 54 in Fenwick Island and has been a favorite of ours since it opened. Most of our food was well above average here this evening. I didn't care for the arrabbiata sauce I ordered as it had a smokey/red wine flavor that I was not a fan of... pasta was cooked to el dente, and the shrimp on top were plump and firm. Sauce preferences aside the big issue here was service, or rather - lack of.... We usually have outstanding service here, and we've come to expect it, the waiter we had this night was a first class jerk! Never told us the specials, when asked about em gave very generic answers, you could tell we were nothing but a bother to him from the get go. Reason being he obviously has his OWN business he's running inside of Mio's. I watched him suck up to different tables who obviously know him, he's giving them desserts "on him" ect. ect. all to rip off the establishment in order to line his own pockets with tip money. I felt I was on a job site, as I watched my wife through out the entire dinner have to direct this clown around the table, we need a refill here ect. Oh, and the best part was after we finished the soup& salads he said "your food will be right up". To which my wife said "and the calamari?" "oh right!" he said.... so you guessed it, calamari comes out, and 2 minutes later here comes the entrees "careful plates are hot" -- translation -- "I screwed up so you food got tossed in the oven to keep it warm for a few mins while I try and save face in front of you, and I'm sure you're too stupid to figure it out".... Wrong answer!, I've been around the block a time or two... Then of coarse when it comes time for dessert (and all his freebie customers have left) he adopts a whole new personality. Laying it on thick at the end get's you nowhere with me. He got about a 7% tip, and I wished I wouldn't have been even that generous. I'll be back but he will NEVER wait on me again.

July 5 - Fish Killers (lunch). Some of you might remember me reviewing this little stand up in Bethany a couple of years ago - about 5 miles inland on rt 26, same place, but they've move the trailer up the road about a mile closer to the shore. Same deal as before, the owner is a lobsterman/fisherman who goes out on the boat all week and opens his stand on the weekend. Awesome lobster rolls, hand breaded clam strips, hand cut fries, simple food but you simply can't get fresher seafood than this period. If your in OC and feel like taking a road trip, this is a nice easy drive, and well worth it.

JJ's Pizza (supper) located on rt 50, (west OC) you could easily pass this one by, but that would be a big mistake! This is definitely some of the best pizza you'll find in the area. This is a family run business, the owner takes pride is his craft making the dough fresh daily, and using only the finest of ingredients. His brick oven towards the end of the day get upwards around the 700 degree mark, he hand tosses each pizza making it paper thin, this combo ensures and evenly cooked crispy crust. I suggest the Old World Pizza, which has tomato, garlic, basil, and tomato sauce. You can order this with or without cheese. Just don't make the mistake and order it with FRESH mozzarella, the fresh made cheese has too much water, so that would be bad considering the water from the fresh tomatoes (unless you wanna eat YOURS with a spoon) the regular mozzarella is a high quality cheese and works perfect here. The fresh basil delivers a aromatic burst of flavor that balances that certain sweetness achieved when the fresh garlic gets roasted inside the firebricks, and that tang you get from the fresh tomatoes is seals the deal. I could probably eat myself into a coma with this particular pizza. Oh, and I almost forgot, here's the kicker they also serve up a caesar salad better than I've eaten in a lot of fine dining establishments! ...and the real rub is, at $16 for a large pizza, you won't break the bank either!

July 6th - Mermaid Cove. Time to head back to Pa, but not before grabbing some breakfast/lunch from this small family run bar/ restaurant located on rt 54 just past Harris Teeter. My wife wanted breakfast so she ordered a pile of pancakes the size if Frisbees! Light a fluffy all you could ask of pancakes really. My son had a bacon cheese burger that was too big for him to finish so of coarse the ol boy here bailed him out, but not before I tore into one of the best crab cake sandwiches! Made fresh right before we came in they served it up picture perfect light and golden very lil mumbo, and tons of jumbo. Spicy, they're not shy with the old bay here (just the way I like em!). Owners are friendly people running a quality business where they actually understand that customer service is every bit as important as the first class food their serving up! Winner all the way around!!