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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For those of us who remember the iconic (now closed) Ocean City Maryland eatery, Mad Hatter’s Café, it’s time to rejoice! Located just steps from the Boardwalk at 18th St, nestled street side, beneath the well known Spinnaker Motel, Mad Hatter’s has been reborn as MALIA’S CAFE!
Upon entering one finds a similar whimsical décor; however, large windows, colorful murals, and painted furnishings offer an airiness not found in the old location…this one offers a distinct taste of the nearby seaside – with mermaids and palm trees!
Yet, it was not the décor for which my companion and I rushed over just two weeks after the soft opening – it was the menu! Food offerings from Malia Ricks are well known for creativity, taste and value. I am happy to report it’s the same – perhaps even better. Generous servings, fresh ingredients, careful preparation and service are the hallmark here.
Arriving at a late breakfast/early lunch hour we were offered both menus – especially nice, since Ocean City is a resort whose visitors keep their own time. My companion decided on a ‘small’ breakfast…two large plates; one with light, fluffy pancakes, the other sporting tempting, creamed chipped beef on wheat toast with a side (large) of sizzling home fries. Coffee with free refill rounded out his meal. I opted for the Veggie Burger in a Pita…veggie burger, Muenster cheese, avocado and sprouts with dressing. This grocery list doesn’t begin to do justice to my choice – the burger was covered with really ‘melty’ Muenster (making strings when pulled), fresh, crunchy sprouts and a slice (slab) of perfectly ripe, creamy avocado all jam packed into a pita, warm from the grill! This was truly the kind of handcrafted sandwich for which I’ve hungered in these days of slap together ‘fast food’ style.
Later, more thoroughly reading over Malia’s menu, I was delighted to note that favorite choices such as her famous Veggie Wrap and the hot version – the Veggie Roll-up remain. For those still yearning for meat – its there, in the form of a King Kamehameha Cheesesteak and Tanner’s French Dip Au Jus with several turkey centered offerings available. Chicken, Tuna and Shrimp Salad (always fresh) along with Fish Tacos are listed…just haven’t had the opportunity to try them yet! There’s a kid’s menu too.
Currently the hours (though open every day) are varied although with breakfast service available to the Spinnaker’s visitors I suspect they will settle out during the coming high season. Eat-In or Carry-Out is offered and outdoor, patio service is available for the wet bathing suit crowd. The telephone number is 443-664-2420.
For up to the minute information, visit the ‘MALIA’S CAFÉ’ page on facebook.
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It was raining, really raining, and windy yesterday when we pulled onto the lot in front of SEASIDE DELI along Coastal Highway and 73nd Street in Ocean City MD! Only those familiar with our island know that a sudden downpour in OC turns the whole town into an, albeit temporary, ‘seaside’ location!!!
No matter, the warm greeting from Clint (one of the owner brothers), the rich, thick homemade split pea soup and the golden crunch of the hash browns on my delicious Brown Derby sandwich went a long way to immediately dispel the gloomy outdoor conditions!
First, the strip mall location in mid-town OC is ideal – not too far north or too far south, with easy accessibility from the Rt. 90 Bridge at 63rd street makes the Seaside Deli a great stot during anyone’s visit to the island. And, except for a brief, mid-winter hiatus, this eatery is open all year round. The hours do change with the season; in the summertime it is open from 7am until 2am.
Seaside is primarily a deli…it’s a place to get great quick, tasty homemade sandwiches with a large ‘side’ of convenience store and package goods. Along with a comfortable dining area there is a 5-seat bar. It’s all very cheerfully cluttered with almost anything anyone could need in a one-stop shop while vacationing; including groceries, ice, and Lottery!!!
Let’s talk about the food…the sandwich meats and cheeses are Dietz and Watson brand that make good quality stuff – and may be purchased by the pound! Anything else, from the ‘OC’s Best Chicken Salad’ to the much complimented egg salad and MAAAVELOUS Shrimp Salad, are scratch-made daily from fresh ingredient right in the very clean kitchen of Seaside. I peeked, and found several beautiful WondeRoast rotisserie chickens ready to be made into the Deli’s famed chicken salad.
The day we stopped there were a couple of lunch specials listed…split pea soup or chili with a Rachel (corned beef with slaw) or a Reuben (corned beef with kraut) sandwich. I chose the split pea – (understand that this is one of my very favorites – I make it often at home). It was wonderful, surely as good as mine: thick, rich and filled with chunks of sweet, pink ham! My companion selected the chili…lots of beef and beans, with a long, spicy after burn – as chili should! Perusing the extensive sandwich menu, including the Specialty items, I selected the Brown Derby – rare roast beef, cheese, and lettuce with horseradish mayo and as a surprise, a lovely hunk of crunchy hash brown potatoes – on seeded rye. Terrific! My fellow chose the Rachel – the corned beef sandwich with fresh, crunchy, house made slaw, Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing! Both sandwiches – on your choice of breads or roll, were fresh, tasty and offered a generous portion! So generous in fact, that we had remaining halves wrapped for take-home. Of note, even a selection of fresh, ripe, fruit (the original fast-food) is offered at Seaside!
Seaside also offers a wonderful selection of chilled beer, some craft. Also, a vast array of fine wines adorns the shelves behind the dining area.
There is more, much more…including fresh breakfast sandwiches, party platters and free WI-FI! To see the menu and get more info – visit the website at http://www.seasidedelioc.com
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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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At least that’s how they term themselves!
It’s true though…as we quickly learned during our impromptu visit the other day. As we entered through the single door from stark sunshine into a dimly lit interior we were immediately taken to another place; another time. A time when the neighborhood tavern was just that – an integral part of the neighborhood; serving good measure drinks and offering ‘superior’ bar food. And, you notice a man at the bar (nice selections on tap!), eating while reading a paper; the one beside him watching TV – one of many, and then a couple of guys in for a table-side lunch having a rousing conversation – politically oriented no doubt! It’s what a ‘locals’ bar’ should be!
Kirby’s Pub has been around for ten years now – taking the place of the old Mug and Mallet. Sandwiched between Liquid Assets and Candy Kitchen in the 94th Street Center, bayside, off Coastal Highway with off-street parking, it boasts a prime, uptown location.
Again citing those ten years, no doubt one reason for Kirby’s success is the waitress named Lisa; the best waitress that we’ve ever had good luck to ever encounter! Immediately upon seating (perching) oneself either barside or at one of the tables aligned along the wall opposite, this waitress is greeting you – heartily, menus in hand and with a genuine smile. Then giving you enough time (but not too much) to decide, she’s back, still smiling, taking your order! The food takes a bit of time (but not too long) – it’s cooked to order!
And, oh the food – of course I had to try the Pub special (listed back of the menu in a blue box)…Kirby’s Seafood Club! Served in a wrap or layered between your choice of rye/wheat or white, the jumbo-lump crab cake and generous scoop of house made, jumbo shrimp salad, crispy bacon, choice of cheese, lettuce, FRESH tomato and mayo- SING!!! Fresh, spicy, just what you’ve been craving. It’s huge, and accompanied by Kirby’s fresh chips, weighs in as a ‘real meal’! In my opinion, at $12.00 it’s a bargain! My companion opted for the house-made, jumbo-shrimp salad on wheat. Again, a more than satisfying portion of ‘real tasty’.
Feeling more than full, we asked for our check and after leaving a nice tip for our excellent service, departed.
We will return again to this wonderful ‘locals’ bar’ very soon, noting the special homemade soups on the menu. And, if you find yourself visiting in Ocean City MD, looking for the real deal, we hope to see you there!
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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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Marked with a small black and white sign roadside along Route 54, next door to ‘Catch 54’, across the bridge from Harpoon Hannah’s, in that long yellow building that formerly housed a furniture store resides a new café – West 54 Café! It is worth the search! To begin with, once discovered, we found the off street parking lot very accommodating! And, once entered, one finds the offerings herein pleasurable. After looking over the tempting variety of fresh baked goods (including lovely scones and flaky elephant ears) and studying the somewhat smallish menu my companion decided, being late morning, to try one of the breakfast items listed – French toast with fresh fruit. Out came a lovely and generous rendition of this tried and true favorite. He loved it! And too, remarkably – being a life-long coffee maven – commented that the coffee was very, very good! My selection, being almost lunchtime, was the jerk chicken salad wrap. Again generous, the herb seasoned wrap was delightful – filled with large chunks of jerk-roasted chicken and dried cranberries held together with a fresh tasting mayo!
We dined in a pleasant little room just off of the main bakery counter area and there met with other diners enjoying the day. We found that, although somewhat new, West Café 54 is already building a regular following; it’s a most congenial place. There is also a well-windowed lounge area with comfortable seating where customers, not wanting the more formal table seating, may enjoy one of the many inviting beverages offered and chat or read. The entire environment is low-pressure and seems a perfect place to quietly enjoy oneself while in the Ocean City MD – Fenwick Island DE area. A traditional café and again, worth the search!
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It does happen occasionally – that gray and cool-ish rainy day! However, a rainy day during the summertime while in Ocean City Maryland can be a welcome respite – offering that opportunity to see and do something other than lie in the sun or frolic in the surf! Our resort town and surrounds are filled with interesting and informative indoor activities to delight visitors of every age. First, there are the many local, small town museums, beginning with the famed and historic, Coast Guard Life-Saving Maritime Museum located at the inlet – south end of the Boardwalk, offering history. It’s a real ‘don’t miss’ for any visitor. And, then there’s the shopping…with the plethora of shops and stores on and surrounding the island, including the Ocean City Factory Outlets (including the White Marlin Mall), one may run out of time (or funds) very quickly. Also, combining history and shopping – there are the antiques shops, throughout southern Delaware (listed in the ‘Stormy Weather’ brochure available most anywhere) and over the bridge in Berlin – filled to overflowing with great-granny’s goodies, these shops elicit pleasant memories as well as curiosity of times past. Finally, there is dining, inclement weather seems to bring a more comfortable and leisurely pace while dining – more time to explore the fresh and diverse offerings from our local restaurants. Actually, any and all of the aforementioned activities may provide that more than welcome diversion until the sun shines again (as it ALWAYS does) here at the beach!
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Our destination last Saturday evening was the Cactus Café located in a small strip mall on Rt. 54 in Fenwick Island – really just a few short miles beyond the MD – DE line from Ocean City, Maryland. It is conveniently located just a block before the new Harris Teeter market traveling west. While there we discovered that this a father-son venture, father owns the other, sister Cactus Café restaurant located on Rt. 113 in Selbyville.
No matter, having previously tried the other, we found the Fenwick location superior in both color, style – and flavor!
This place is fun – once inside it is colorful and cozy yet strangely one didn’t feel crowded although it was a busy evening with a cheerful crowd. To begin, there is a tiny bar from which we were offered the almost Mexican national drink – a Margarita! And, although we declined the offer our other beverage selections appeared almost instantly. Throughout our visit the service was excellent.
For our meal, we began with the ubiquitous basket of tasty tortilla chips and freshly prepared salsa – no jarred version here! Bits of bright green fresh cilantro and minced onion showed throughout a spicy but mild tomato rough purée. We discovered an extensive menu – with many seafood-based choices however I was looking forward to the beef. Soon our entrees arrived and I was confronted with that ‘beef’ – a huge mound of tender steak, sautéed onion and green bell pepper…my fajita base! The traditional accompaniments consisted of warm, soft flour tortillas, sour cream, lettuce, and refried beans with a superior tasting, and large portion of fresh guacamole! My companion had chosen the lightly sauced, bacon-wrapped, grilled shrimp – there were 10 large and tender beauties! It was served with black beans and rice. Be warned – the portions are very generous! To finish our ‘south of the border’ feast and although they offer “fried ice cream”, we settled for sharing a nice serving of Chambord (raspberry) liqueur flavored cheesecake. Very nice! Choosing to dine early this night it was only when we were leaving that the evenings live entertainment began and so our exit was accompanied by the soft strumming of a guitar. We’ll be back – with a larger appetite and a plan to stay later! The exact address is 4 West Fenwick Station, Fenwick Island, DE 19944. For further information you may phone 302-436-4492.
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