What follows is a food opinion piece from one of our independent columnists –Ed.
As I’m sure a lot of you out there already know we’ve recently had a changing of the guard at one of Ocean City’s long standing favorite eateries. The former Captain’s Galley has been decommissioned. Its former building is now enjoying its 2016 inaugural voyage under new ownership as Ocean City Fish Co. Yes indeed, for many years the Captain’s Galley was a staple among locals and visitors alike, many of whom used their crab cakes as the bar to measure all others against. However, I must admit to you (the readers) that I was NEVER a part of this fan club for the former establishment. Truth is I stopped just short of campaigning against it.
Now don’t get me wrong I wanted to like The Captains Galley (that’s the hope I have every time I try a restaurant), however when I took my family there 16 years ago, we experienced some of the worst service that we’ve ever encountered anywhere EVER. I won’t bore all of you by going into detail by complaining about a now debunked establishment, but let me just say it was bad enough that my family and I agreed this was a “one and done” and I can tell you that even after decade and a half we could never get past it, so in the immortal words of Mr. Wonderful – They were “dead to me”!
When news broke of ownership changing hands, I yawned before I even finished reading the headlines. After all, when it comes to this resort, too often it can feel like a little seven family mafia town, all just swapping names, properties, managers, and chefs alike, only to end up with slightly different versions of the same old dog and pony shows. However, when I found out that the new owner would be none other than Joe White, from Joe’s Shrimp Boat it immediately got my attention. I said to myself, “This is good… this is VERY good.” I’ve been eating at Joe’s for years, and have had the pleasure of writing many positive reviews on his Route 611 establishment, and the fresh seafood that they’ve come to be known for.
Ring That Dinner Bell!
We rolled up on the Ocean City Fish Co. late in the afternoon one Saturday. We were greeted by a couple of friendly young ladies at the hostess station. When we requested a table outside on the upper deck, they smiled, said “absolutely!”, and then one of them kindly escorted us to our table. Our waitress arrived promptly to take our drink order, her hospitality went hand in hand with her knowledge as she didn’t hesitate to educate us on certain craft brews that they offer. She asked if we had ever been here before, and then proceeded to explain the specials, how the menu works in regards to the side dishes, and the salad bar – this is what I like to see in a restaurant. This shows me they have systems in place and that there are procedures for the staff to follow.
We ordered some appetizers for the table: a basket of wings and 1/2 dozen of oysters on the half shell. The sauce for the wings could’ve been a bit hotter for my liking, but probably hot enough for the average diner. The oysters were huge, not quite like Elk Horns or anything, but noticeably larger than most Eastern Shore varieties. We helped ourselves to the salad bar where I was pleased to find a large bowl of romaine upon which to build my foundation, along with plenty of other fresh items to choose from. When you think salad you should think color. Face it, we’ve all been there and nothing worse than being limited to some chopped up white iceberg that’s on the fast track to turning brown, and then having to turn around try to make a salad out of stuff that you’d throw out if it were in your own refrigerator.
We were able to finish both the appetizers and our salads before our entrees came out. My son’s burger had long crispy bacon strips hanging out over a generous sized patty that was cooked a perfect medium all the way through. My wife ordered the crab cakes that were the embodiment of what you’d want in this Eastern Shore classic. The cakes were large, cooked to a beautiful golden brown on the outside,and beneath the crusty exterior these babies are packed full of sweet jumbo lumps of white crab meat, with so very little filler that it leaves you wondering how they even get these spicy treats to hold together. The flounder that I ordered was one of the largest portions I’ve probably ever been served in my life. It was a nice thick filet that they cooked to perfection with lemon and butter so that the flavors of the fish were only enhanced, not masked. As good as this flounder was I did however encounter a few bones. Yes, this CAN happen. When I brought it to the waitresses attention, she immediately sent someone over, but not just “someone”, The owner himself came to the table, he has no idea who I am, but I of course recognized him. He apologized, and offered to personally cut me another piece himself. I’m 100 percent certain, this was an isolated event, and I would go back and order the flounder here 6 days a week and twice on Sundays, but by this time I had already stolen about 4-5 forks full of my wife’s crab cakes, so I explained to him that I’d sorta switched gears (and needed to replace what I took)… he didn’t even hesitate when I asked for another crab cake instead.
The Real Message Here
This level of service goes a long way with me. If you go out to eat and you think to yourself that there will never be issues I’ve got news for you, you’re wrong. Trust me, no matter where you go eventually something is going to go wrong. Sure, it’s no fun facing it when it happens, but you’ll learn real fast what kind of establishment your dealing with when you bring the problem to their attention. A reputable business with responsible management will stand behind their product, and make it right, just as was the case here. I’ll not only return, but I’ll go back playing at a higher confidence level because I know they take pride in what they do and they care about their business.
Last, but certainly not least, we ended our meal with some delicious desserts that they offer from Rita’s. The coconut cake is light and moist and it has a very authentic fresh coconut taste that you’d expect from a high end bakery like Rita’s. I’d have to say it runs a close 2nd to the coconut cake my wife makes, and this one doesn’t leave my kitchen a wreck, so I’d call that a victory!
One Final Thought
Normally this would be the end of my article, but before I sign off on this one, I’d just like to take a second to say that we had a great airshow weekend in Ocean City, Md. The weather was picture perfect, the United States Air Force Thunder birds never disappoint, and the rest of other performers kept those of us in attendance entertained from start to finish. And, since we’re handing out compliments I feel I must tip my hat to the town for taking the necessary steps to ensure the large crowds were accommodated for and well supervised in a comfortable family friendly way. The ability to pull off events such as this in a safe family friendly atmosphere is one of the reasons I love OC!