Viewing a sunrise over the endless Atlantic Ocean skyline reveals the promise of another day in Ocean City MD! Quietly watching the black turn to shades of gray through the first visual definition of a seemingly endless horizon of sky over water is exhilarating. If you’re fortunate enough to be here during winter – with the progressive lengthening of the daylight hours, it’s easy to imagine the promise of the seasons to follow.
We tear off the calendar page – it’s February 2012! With the hmmm of January passed and the ‘threat’ of March looming (March can be a fearsome month weather-wise) we realize, though still cold, that summertime is just a few months away. A quick glance at the list of noteworthy annual events – especially the 29th Annual Seaside Boat Show coming in two short weeks!
Along Coastal Highway one sees a multitude of contractors’ panel vans and pick-up trucks filled with tools and supplies scurrying to locations throughout our island resort. Every hotelier and motel owner, every shopkeeper and restaurateur throughout OC is busy taking stock; planning upgrades to properties, inventories and menus. A mild winter (so far) has kept properties safe from any real weather damage; repairs are minimal and maintenance is ongoing.
Current OC island condo owners are beginning to visit to survey their properties, to plan for summertime occupancy. Many prospective owners are visiting on weekends too – hoping to find that ‘just right’, 2nd (vacation) home.
Whether for the romance of a mid-winter, getaway weekend or to survey a property, while here, many will wander over to the Boardwalk…bundling up for a nostalgic walk by the seaside beneath a steadily warming sun. Evenings will find most seeking a long anticipated reunion with their favorite restaurant for a warming dish…most all of the ‘best’ beach eateries are open all year round – though some are only open weekends until the season begins.
A mid-winter visit to Ocean City MD can be restorative in many ways… you’re invited!
Looking for some fine dining at a reasonable price while you’re in town…?
This is it – that semi-annual, Ocean City Maryland event where 20+, well-known area restaurants serve up their very best for bargain prices. Beginning this Sunday, June 5th through June 19th, well-known chefs will be vying for your approval. A well-priced, select menu, which includes ocean fresh seafood to superbly finished beef – it will be hard to choose…
Three course meals for $30, two courses for $20 – that’s the deal; a special prix fixe menu (tax, tip and alcohol not included). No passes, tickets or coupons are needed. However, it is recommended that advance reservations be made!
In addition, the folks in charge are holding a contest whereby diners may send in 2 receipts from their dining experiences (June 5-19) from participating restaurants and be entered into a drawing to win a $50 Gift Certificate – 3 winners will be drawn.
All of the details, including a list of participating eateries and where to send contest entries may be found online at http://oceancityrestaurantweek.com.
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The bright green tickets advertised, “Irish Christmas – Upscale Bull & Oyster Roast”, also “Buddy Trala for Mardi Gras King” along with a very tempting menu. But, the bottom edge of the ticket showed the real purpose…”Proceeds to benefit W.Y.F.C.S. (Worcester Youth and Family Counseling Service) & PJ Aldridge Foundation”.
Our greater Ocean City Maryland area is well known for having great restaurants and restaurateurs…however two local guys – Gary Beach of Micky Fins, and the other, Buddy Trala from Sunset Grille – today, stood out; both getting my vote and thanks for again staging this fine, annual charity event!
This roast was held at Micky Fin’s – located at the new OC Fishing Center just off Rt. 50 eastbound, just before crossing the Bridge into Ocean City; a lovely place indeed. However, on this day (mid March), we found the spacious parking area was to be shared with a large number of boats still in winter ‘dry dock’. Boats of all sizes; including one under cover – literally the size of an ARK! No matter, a space was easily found. We entered, presented our bright green tickets and got ‘stamped’. This stamp then entitled us to partake of the many buffet tables, porch-side, offering lots of, oh-so-tempting, victuals.
From earlier visits, we already knew that this restaurant could ‘cook’…however, this Sunday, with the early spring sunshine and soft breezes presiding over a large, happy crowd, everything tasted even better! A visit to the raw bar area found a most worthy Oyster Stew (which later demanded a second trip) and super large, fresh, really salty tasting oysters. The clams were also huge yet tender, also tasting of the nearby sea! Located nearby, another table produced the ‘bull’…and bird! The succulent pit beef and turkey, sliced to order, was conveniently located beside another table offering various condiments…freshly grated horseradish for me! Further on, another buffet area yielded up another selection of tempting goodies including huge bowls of steamed shrimp, spicy wings, assorted salads including pasta, fresh slaw and a mélange of fresh garden greens spiked with cranberries and walnuts. Forgot to mention the fine mess of sausage, peppers and onions…! Generous!
Inside and upstairs, we found some choice seating…quiet; enjoying a perfect panoramic view of the harbor with a view of the Ocean City skyline beyond. Downstairs the porch bar was packed…an even happier crowd (many wearing ‘the green’) being entertained by the band, James Gallagher and Off The Boat!
Great fun with good reason; an unbeatable combination! It is said that giving promotes more giving; it’s obvious these folks and all the good folks of the greater Ocean City area community/ have learned that lesson well…!
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Best Wishes and Merry Christmas to All from Lynn Bartlett – An ABR Realtor®!
Occasionally we find ourselves in other places, under unusual circumstances on those more traditionally thought of, ‘family and home’ holidays – particularly Christmas. This year, upon finding ourselves in those same ‘different circumstances’, we decided to do some research to answer those questions, – “What’s open on Christmas – where can we eat?” The results amazed, seems like, despite the cold weather, warm welcomes are everywhere in Ocean City. Won’t YOU share our tables…?
(Restaurants are listed alphabetically – with contact information. Many suggest reservations – so get busy!)
32 Palm (Hilton) – 32nd & Coastal, 410.289.2525, http://ocmdrestaurants.com
BJ’s on the Water – 75th St. & Coastal Hwy, 410.524.7575, http://bjsonthewater.com
Brew River – 502 West Main St., Salisbury MD, 410.677.6757, http://brewriver.com
Captain’s Table – 15th & Coastal Hwy, 410.289.7191, http://captainstableoc.com
Clarion (Fontainebleau) – 101 Coastal Hwy, 410.524.3535, http://clarionoc.com
Dunes Manor – 28th & Oceanfront, 410.289.1100 x5232, http://dunesmanor.com
Harpoon Hanna’s – Fenwick Island DE, 302.539.3095, http://harpoonhannasrestaurant.com
House of Welsh – Fenwick Island DE, 302.541.0728, http://houseofwelsh.org
Reflections (Holiday Inn) – 66th St. & Coastal, 410.524.5252, http://ocmdhotels.com/reflections
Sakura – Ocean Gateway (West OC), 410.213.7711, http://sakurasteakhouse.com
Note: Some restaurants may have been inadvertently omitted …please check with your favorite eatery for open hours.
Some years back we first visited Connoisseurs having read some local ‘new eatery, grand opening’ publicity. We liked what we saw (and tasted) and have continued to return through several incarnations, let’s say additions – though same owner, same good stuff with a different look!
To describe this eatery, however, first it’s important to mention that Connoisseurs/Bistro West is not easy to find… from U.S. Rt. 50 eastbound, hang a right at the Rt. 611 intersection, go south a short distance. On the right you’ll see a sign for the Teal Marsh Shopping Center. Snag another right in front of Elliott’s Hardware and then an immediate left. Go slowly. Turn into the center bearing right. On the right side row of units – the far one on the right will put you at the door. Despite the large, bright, red sign you may miss it and go too far into yet another area of the Teal Marsh complex. Turn around and look for that sign! It’s worth it!
Finally, you are there! Within the shop/restaurant to the right, you’ll see several well-appointed tables for dining with an extensive shelf display of fine wines for background. On the left you are met with a wine bar, somewhat petite, yet well accommodated…with comfortable seating. Beyond that is a deli case featuring cold items, filled with some really stupendous house-made salads, house–roasted meats and imported cheeses.
Let’s begin with the deli food. As mentioned previously, on my first visit, I tried the ‘curried chicken salad’…and, at least 8 years later still prefer that to all else. Large chunks of white meat chicken, a few raisins, celery, and slivered almonds – all sparingly sauced with a delicate curry dressing. My companion and I often order a sandwich – on a freshly baked, crispy, multi-grain baguette, a side or two (the orzo and pasta primavera salads are fantastic) and head to the beach at Assateague for an impromptu picnic! And, as a sandwich or atop greens, the Connoisseurs shrimp salad runs a close second to the chicken – it’s always fresh, tasty and boasts really LARGE shrimp – again lightly dressed. There is more, much more from which to select in the deli area – so much and so tasty in fact that Connoisseurs has become a popular, catering favorite for many locals! They do catering – fresh quality ingredients, perfectly prepared! Their motto is – ‘simple food – done well’. It is!
Last Friday evening, same location but vastly different menu, we decided to try another offered option…Dinner at Bistro West. Just dusk, upon our arrival we were greeted promptly and offered our choice of tables. Though the deli case remains, the quiet colors and softly lit evening ambiance quickly replaced the daytime feel. Our menus arrived soon after and we placed our drink order – after a brief discussion, ‘wine chat’, with our server I chose a glass of the suggested rose. NICE, very nice – soft, yet rich, with full body. The wine was French, “Bandol” domaine l’hermitage – my companion preferred beer.
Time for appetizers…my friend ordered the much touted ‘Connoisseurs cream of crab’. Shortly thereafter a large bowl (almost tureen sized) appeared. With a silky smooth, flavorful base, the soup, loaded with large lumps of ‘local’ crabmeat and served HOT this choice was found to deserve the ‘tout’! I ordered the grilled Portobello tower – another mammoth serving; butter grilled mushroom, baby spinach, scallion goat cheese with a never to be forgotten, perfect white, balsamic/grilled onion vinaigrette. Surely a variety of complimentary flavors!
Oh no! A glance revealed that our entrees were coming…! Having thoroughly enjoyed our generous appetizers and with waning appetite, my companion’s Crispy Fried Shrimp platter arrived. Eight – (yes, eight) JUMBO fried shrimp beside fresh slaw and Belguin style fries looked ominous! Think the size of ‘chicken tenders’ – these perfectly fried, shrimp were larger – the European definition of prawn comes to mind…? The fries, although lovely and brown quickly became an afterthought, and the slaw, while freshly shredded was nearly drowned in dressing. Tasty, yes…appealing, no!
My entrée choice was the Asian ahi salad…spiced, grilled tuna filet…served atop selected greens. With the perfectly finished fish as my goal, I found the virtual mountain of greens to be overkill. Instead, although a generous serving of tuna, one had to dig to unearth it. Yet, once found, the excellent fish was a winner. Again, the dressing, a Dijon vinaigrette was outstanding.
Currently, the dinner service at Bistro West is limited to Friday and Saturday evenings from 5 until 10pm. No matter, we learned long ago that we can enjoy the wonderful foods created from Connoisseurs/Bistro West most anytime…from the Connoisseurs deli, through the catering services offered to a special weekend dinner at Bistro West. It’s all – GOOD!
For more information, including current menus visit http://ocfinefoodandwine.com or to see the current specials, visit Connoisseurs Bistro West Ocean City MD on facebook.
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Last Sunday evening marked the beginning of Restaurant Week in Ocean City MD. Not wanting to miss out on this terrific annual event we decided to go to one of the newer eateries – The SHARK at the Harbor, one about which we’d heard many good things.
We arrived around 5:30; hoping to be early enough to enjoy the sunset views of the West Ocean City commercial fishing harbor and the Ocean City Inlet and beyond– leading out to the Atlantic Ocean. Only one other table was seated at this early hour however the nearby bar area was packed with football fans watching games on several strategically located TV’s. It’s to be noted that it was NOT a noisy bar. Nevertheless, as anticipated, the views were spectacular on this clear evening.
After selecting a choice table, our server arrived promptly with menus…showing the special ‘Restaurant Week’ items along with the regularly listed fare. It must be said that the RW, ‘3 for $30’ (three full courses for $30.00) listings looked mighty fine – fine enough so that my companion and I choose to partake. Shortly after our server had delivered our beverages (not included in the special price), she arrived again with a surprise from the kitchen – an Amuse-bouche.. Although not on the regular menu this gift from the chef to ‘amuse the mouth’ usually consists of a single bite-sized, hors d’oeuvre. That evening’s treat was a rich, house-made pate and spicy chutney spread atop a small toast. Good, very good indeed. Next came our appetizers – we had selected an interesting ‘jank’ soup and a small bowl of well-seasoned chili. Sampling each, we enjoyed both.
Next came the entrees; my selection was the Grilled Swordfish, which was served over butternut squash risotto, with sauteed ‘baby’ bok choy. The Sword, although thick, was perfectly cooked. Moist throughout! My companion had requested the ‘Steak and Shrimp’ – a grilled (med rare) Flat Iron cut of Certified Angus Beef and nicely cooked shrimp. Lobster-flavored, mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli, accompanied this dish. Wow, we were both very pleased – not only with the excellent flavor and the presentation but with the serving size – enough to put in a take-away box to enjoy later.
Dessert (part 3 of the Restaurant Week, 3 for $30) presented a dilemma. A choice of Crème Brulee or Mocha Tart – not a problem really – we ordered two pieces of the Mocha Tart…a nice slice of dense, flavorful pie accompanied with a serving of vanilla bean ice cream from a local dairy.
Enough! There are still two evenings remaining for this special event – tonight and Sunday. I’m pretty certain you won’t go wrong if you choose The SHARK or really any other of our fine, Ocean City Maryland listed restaurants – at ANY TIME!
For a complete listing of participating restaurants visit http://www.oceancityrestaurantweek.com/
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The Fall event calendar in Ocean City Maryland brings, what’s become our oft touted, much anticipated, annual culinary event – RESTAURANT WEEK! For many of us this activity offers the opportunity to sample dinners and lunches at several of the area’s finest dining ‘experiences’ at a reasonable cost. It’s a time when local eateries challenge their chef’s to create spectacular 2 or 3 course menus ($20 – 30) that will have participants coming back for more – often. (Businesses will also have their full menus available…)
To participate, no special coupons or passes are needed – or even reservations (however recommended). Just show up at any of the listed restaurants, which can be found online. (See below)
An Ocean City icon, and long-time, personal favorite for casual dining with a ‘waterfront experience’, is BJ’s on the Water… 75th Street, Bayside. For a more formal atmosphere there’s Jules Restaurant at 118th Street in the Food Lion Plaza – no view but great food!!! And, then there’s the relatively new, The SHARK on the Harbor in West Ocean City…a place we must try!
When you view the list of participating restaurants…alas, you will find that the eight days of Ocean City’s Fall Restaurant Week offers not enough time to sample all – however, you may be consoled remembering that Spring Restaurant Week is only six short months away…enjoy.
FOR COMPLETE INFORMATION VISIT – http://oceancityrestaurantweek.com. Under ‘Restaurants’ at the top of the page you will find a full list of participants – click on the name of your choice – you will find a listing of their menu offerings.
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There’s absolutely nothing disappointing about this particular annual event; each November this Ocean City Maryland icon restaurant, Harpoon Hanna’s, offers a special, month long special – a “Lobster Blowout”. Two evenings each week (Wednesday and Thursday) fresh, whole Maine lobsters are offered at half price! The other evening we decided to check out this well-advertised deal. First off, even at the early hour of 5 pm the large parking lot was full. However, upon entering, we discovered that much of that was due to the normal “Happy Hour” crowd; we were seated in the dining area immediately and very comfortably. Menus were provided although we already knew what this evening was all about. All that I can say is “WOW”! The ‘bugs’ served were perfectly prepared…steamed just right, and, with the addition of a couple of tiny slits in the claw we were able to dismember this tempting crustacean with ease and less mess (well almost – they do have the ubiquitous lobster bib available in case of a mishap)! And, melted butter does still drip from time to time! A choice of two sides is offered: Baked Potato, Cole Slaw, Mac & Cheese, Applesauce (the good kind) or Vegetable of the Day. After gobbling all these goodies we should have quit but the limited yet attractive selections on dessert menu proved too tempting; out came a slice of Key Lime pie to share. It was tasty but small; really all that we needed! Everything was good – really good! Attentive without being intrusive, our server, Chris was a real pro. Also, it appeared that by the time we left, many others were enjoying this special evening! This offering, as mentioned earlier is available Wednesdays and Thursdays throughout the month – except Thanksgiving Day, when another, more traditional special is offered!
Visit http://harpoonhannasrestaurant.com for information on all that this grand eatery has to offer!
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Captain’s Table Restaurant. From friends we had leaned that this Ocean City Maryland icon had returned after a nearly four year hiatus and was now better than ever! We had to investigate and see if it lived up to the slogan, “A locals favorite for over 55 years”!
We arrived early and had our choice of seating, though soon after, as the restaurant quickly filled we still felt as if we were ‘private’. The décor is lovely and spare yet surprisingly warm, giving one a sense of ‘instant peace’. Our waiter, Mark, after introducing himself, rapidly produced a couple of gigantic menus along with a recitation of the restaurant’s unique history – still family owned and operated; still the original attention to detail and of course, still great food! For the appetizer we decided to share the smoked fishplate – a lovely presentation of salmon and smoked trout on crackers topped with a dab of crème fraiche, caviar, minced red onion and capers! Delightful! Our entrée’s arrived soon after; my companion choosing the lamb chops with green beans and I, the fresh halibut topped with crab imperial accompanied by ‘a starch’; in my case a huge, well cooked sweet potato. Both excellent. Note here – the bread is house made and very good! If there is any critique at all – the lovely green beans were undercooked. We’ve found this method of preparation at quite a few fine dining establishments so it just must be our ‘plebian’ taste! The portions were huge – leaving room for only one dessert to share; a lovely trio of fresh fruit sorbet; including mango, raspberry and strawberry/watermelon. A perfect ending to an excellent meal!
The NEW, old Captain’s Table is now located in the very new Courtyard by Marriott hotel at 1500 Baltimore Avenue (15th Street to us locals) – just a half block off of the famed Boardwalk in Downtown Ocean City. It is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (The breakfast menu looked scrumptious with many old favorites including Eggs Chesapeake and Jumbo Lump Crab Hash. They even serve a Malted Belgian Waffle, one of my favorites!)
For an evening out with good food, in lovely surroundings with excellent service you may want to visit and see for yourself why it’s known as “A locals favorite for over 55 years” – the Captain’s Table.
For more information visit the website at http://www.captainstableoc.com.
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Several weeks ago we happened upon the CATCH 54 Restaurant located just off Rt. 54 in Fenwick Island. It was a serendipitous experience…we had been looking for another place – close in name but I believe offering a far different experience. After negotiating a somewhat hazardous (don’t try crossing against traffic on a holiday weekend) entrance we landed in a generous parking lot out side this true dockside eatery. The building itself is rambling but the doorways are well marked. In summertime some tables are truly located just steps from the water. Inside, a long, narrow room open to the dock with sliding doors presented our choice of inviting tables and stools. Upstairs, windows offering water view more tables were available. Our arrival right at opening time for lunch (11:30 am) gave us first pick. Our table view included pontoon boats bobbing as many gleeful, end-of-summer seafarers were boarding. Menus were presented promptly and after a quick view, presented a dilemma – what to select! Although abbreviated for lunch service the choice descriptions were out of the ordinary. Finally asking the server for a recommendation we chose to share an order of the fried oysters as an appetizer. OK, we love oysters and living here seaside we have them as often as possible. Frankly, this is the first time in our experience the beloved bivalve became a vehicle for three excellent sauces. The perfectly prepared nuggets were lightly sauced with new but complimentary flavors. It was hard to determine the exact sauce origins; I can only say they were terrific! Our sandwiches arrived shortly thereafter – although somewhat pricey the lobster roll accompanied by homemade potato chips was top notch – large chunks of lobster claw (the most flavorful) lightly bound together with FRESH mayo on a grilled, buttered roll! A generous serving! My companion had ordered the ‘fish of the day’ sandwich. Again, two thick fillets of lightly breaded, perfectly cooked fish made the sandwich more than just ‘lunch’. Amazingly, my companion claimed he had the courage to attempt dessert after this already luscious feast. The ‘three chocolate’ cake seemed to fill the bill. Although forgoing more than a bite I can attest that it was one of the best ever tasted – tender, bitter, rich, but with the exact degree of sweetness to end this wholly delightful luncheon experience.
It was learned that Catch 54 is also open for dinner year round and is but one of a series of five local eateries owned by the same folks. Visit http://www.sodelconcepts.com to learn more.
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