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April 19, 2009

Beach Week, Top 10 and the terrible twos

LonelyBeach.jpgI appreciate all the nice things people said yesterday about Dining@Large reaching its two-year mark. I don't know if you noticed, but the best part was that a lot of the praise was directed at the community at large (no pun intended), as opposed to the comments under last year's anniversary post. That's very gratifying to me.

But as Kimmer1850 so wisely pointed out, it is the terrible twos. I expect there will be some growing pains this next year. ...

Now on to the immediate problem, Tuesday's Top 10. If it's to be in honor of Earth Day, I think I better make it as broad as possible; otherwise it's going to be hard for me to come up with 10. I'm thinking "Top 10 Restaurants to Celebrate Earth Day." (The grammar is a little suspect, but I can't figure out how to fix it gracefully.) If you have any suggestions, please post below and tell us why you chose those places.

The general consensus seems to be that this year's themed week should be Beach Week. Thanks to Joyce W. for the idea.

We need to decide which would be the optimum week. Should it be at the beginning of the season, or during the summer when folks can talk about this summer's vacations? Much of the content is going to have to be reader-generated; it's been awhile since I've been across the Bay Bridge, and somehow I don't think Tribune is going to pay for a trip to Ocean City, even for Beach Week.

We also need to come up with a list of topics: Best boardwalk food, best beach restaurants, best... now I'm running out of ideas.  I need at least seven to carry a week. Of course, we could, I'm sure, do one whole post on Thrashers.

I'm thinking the territory should include Ocean City, Bethany and Rehoboth at the very least; and people can chime in and talk about whatever other beaches they want to. (PCB Rob, are you reading this?)

Anyway, please weigh in so we can decide whether it's really doable or not.

(David Hobby/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 8:40 AM | | Comments (57)
Categories: Beach Eats


I think Beach Week should be far enough into summer that commenters can be commenting on current experiences, but early enough so that if someone is moved to visit the beach, there is still time to do it.

This is a so much better idea than Beef Week I can hardly tell you. I'm playing Jimmy Buffet in celebration while I'm typing this.

I can give you a little peak at the Ocean City dining future (just a few things I noticed this week)....OC is getting a few new places. Old Mill Crabhouse, which currently is very popular in Delmar is taking over the Dough Roller at 125th Street. Bahama Mamas (crabs) is opening in the old Higgins restaurant at 132nd St. The Crab Bag at 130th Street is expanding. Smith Island Cakes is coming to the Ocean City Outlets. Boog's BBQ is getting ready to open in West Ocean City (a new location for them). Last but not least, The Atlantic Hotel in Berlin has renovated back to historic (thanks to John Fager!).

Great. Thanks! EL

Of course I'm reading this, and I'll chime in with what its like down here when Beach Week arrives.
Perhaps the area up there could include the Jersey shores of Wildwood and OC NJ as well.

Its good that this Beach Week topic comes up now, because Spring Break is officially over! yay! Now is one of the best times of year. Warm weather, clear blue water (no junegrass), no hurricanes, and no tourists.

I have a sneaking suspicion I don't want to know what Thrashers is.

I think a good time frame for Beach Week would be mid-June. How about best hotel restaurants.

I enjoyed the history behind your blog and enjoy it on a regular basis - congrats on your 2nd anniversary!

How about Best Outside Dining - or Best Waterfront Dining? There is both in the Baltimore metropolitan area - as well as in the Beach category of OC and Rehoboth. I think there has to be a separate category for the two beach locations, as they are pretty much two separate animals from a food standpoint, with Rehoboth far more sophisticated.

In the Beach category, you could sub-divide it by outside dining, boardwalk dining, waterfront (bay or ocean) and even divide it among food groups - seafood, crabs, pizza - or scene - best Happy Hour - best for singles, etc.

While I agree with a previous poster that doing this later in the season may draw upon recent experiences, I also think that at this point in the year, people are yearning for summer and it may give people heading for the beach some great places to try!

I know that the Penguin Diner in Bethany is a great beach breakfast (I think they're opened for the entire day but this is all I've had there). And, Philips by the Sea on 16th or 17th has a fantastic breakfast in OC has a great breakfast with a beautiful view of the ocean. I love their eggs chesapeake which is eggs benedict with crab meat instead of canadian bacon.

I'd like to know more places (preferably off the beaten path) for breakfasts. Especially if they are priced reasonably. For some reason trips to the ocean seem to be about the only time I eat a big breakfast. I feel like all the walking and bike riding burns it up (at least that's what I tell myself!)

Vicki, thanks for the sneak peek. I'm sad about W Ocean city - it used to be such a "secret" spot. Glad about anything taking over Higgins though. Blech. And very glad that The Atlantic has been restored.

Might as well keep going down to Chincoteague and Mr Kasper can comment.

Lissa -- see this link for more info on Thrasher's. (They had an outpost in Harborplace when it opened back on 1980, but that closed some time ago.)

Thrashers is a place that sells french fries cooked in peanut oil. And as far as I know, that is all they sell.

You can buy the french fries in buckets that are KFC-sized. The smallest size is about that of a 7-11 Big Gulp drink.
And people queue in quite a long line to buy them. They are pretty good, especially with salt and vinegar.

I forgot to mention earlier, thank you so much for the shout out EL!

I was thinking that people wouldn't want to hear much about life down here on the Emerald Coast/Forgotten Coast/World's Most Beautiful Beaches (pick your slogan), so I try to keep that to a minimum.

Its really neat that just a 10 minute drive and I'm on the sugar-white sands. Not today, big storms coming.

How long have you been commenting on D@L, by the way? My comments archives no longer go way back. I would have guessed more than a year at least until your comment yesterday. EL

Apple cider vinegar??!! No, malt vinegar is the proper vinegar for fries.

Thanks for the info, guys. I guess I'll get to find out what is the reason they deserve an entire day to themselves later.

The Bay Bridge scares me.

I think PCB Rob has been here at least since last June--I ran across a comment
from that time signed "Rob in PCB FL" earlier today.

@ Joyce W.-

My favorite breakfast place in OC is Happy Jack Pancake House on 25th. It's sort of a small, old fashioned place but (I think) the food is better than either Dough Roller or Laytons, and since it's not one of the main breakfast powers on the island, it's much smaller. The line is always really long in season, but they're good at getting it to move quickly.

Also they have bacon pancakes. Gack or Yum? I'm not sure.

Yes, that was my early sig line. I shortened it because other commenters were referring to me as PCB Rob, so I changed my "handle" to that.

EL, my first comment was on the "cheeseburger in a can" post that was at least a year or so ago. It caught my eye when I was venturing over to another blog that I visited regularly (Roch Around the Clock) and I decided to stop by D@L to see what the cheeseburger post was all about.

I am glad I did.

I kept that fact under wraps because some of the more profilic posters weren't quite keen on us sports fans; I didn't want to be lumped in with the "knuckle-draggers".

Its not posted yet, but I first commented on the "cheeseburger in a can" post.
I then tried the search function (it inhales sharply, to be polite) to find out when I first posted on this blog and then marched, post-by-post, from February 2008 to October 2007. I was unsuccessful but it was a neat trip down Memory Lane.
Back then, I posted rarely. But it was a good trip nonetheless.

I re-read some of the classic comments from the crowd. RtSO, then simply Robert, was in top form.

We haven't done weird food in awhile. Quick, someone go find the next cheeseburger in a can!

PCB Rob, if it makes you feel better, I'm a huge hockey fan. Go Red Wings!

How about kid friendly restaurant with decent food. That maybe a contradiction, but who knows.

How about 10 best places on the way to or from the beach? Holly's or the Narrows, etc.?

Hey, Sloth, thanks for the suggestion. I'd really like to find places, (ok I'm an idiot) that don't have long lines. I have no patience especially when I'm hungry! But, if the line really moves quickly, I guess that's better than General's Kitchen where you can wait til lunch for your breakfast seating!

A couple of breakfast recommendations from an OC regular (who isn't a fan of creamed chipped beef):

Leo's, up around 139th and Coastal Highway on the oceanside. Makes a roadside diner look fancy (you read that right), but cheap, fast and tasty.

Bayside Skillet, around 74th on the (d'oh) bayside has huge omelets with a wide variety of fillings, but they're not cheap (and be sure to tell your server if you don't like your omelet well done!). Breakfast is their specialty.

Satellite Cafe, down around 47th on the bayside. Good food (try the whole wheat French toast), quirky and interesting atmosphere and, for some reason, almost never crowded. (I haven't been this year yet, though so maybe it's been discovered by now, even though it's been around for years.)

And if anyone wants to rent a lovely 1BR oceanside condo, let me know. ;)

Bacon pancakes sound really good! No different than those pancake sausage thingys you can buy at the store.

Quick story - My one sister raised pigs for a number of years. When my neices were younger, they eventually made the connection between the pigs they helped raise and bacon. My other sister was making them breakfast one morning, and they told her "oh no, we don't eat bacon anymore". My sister responded "Well I guess sausage is out of the question". My neices "Oh, we still eat sausage".

I'm also thinking that mid-to-late June would be a pretty good time, since tender memories can mingle with current experiences. And, as noted above, if something really stands out, there's still plenty of time to take the initiative to see for ourselves.

I like Lyndyb's topic suggestions.

Wait...are you saying that OC is a good place to get chipped creamed beef?

Hmm...there is a way around this scary bridge thing, I think...

Lissa, you can go around the top of the Bay instead of across the bridge.

But there's no need to go to OC for creamed chipped beef. It's quite common in non-yuppie breakfast joints here in Baltimore.

Take I-95 North and go around. It takes about the same amount of time. And Delaware has built a bypass for Dover, so no slow down there.

Lissa, General's Kitchen has great creamed chipped beef. They might be known for it, I'm not sure. But, you will be on line for a long time unless you get there with the sunrise.

I don't know how but you can go up into De and thne down into OC.

Linda, thanks. I would like to try Leo's. It sounds perfect. I didn't know the Satellite cafe opened that early. I've had dinner there before.

Years ago, when my son was a baby we used to go to a place up near Fenwick called Libby's - they had a horse in front. Do you know if that place is gone?

Thanks, gang. Shows you how often I go out to breakfast that I haven't noticed cream chipped beef is common here.

Come to think of it, I had it at Blue Moon, the one time I've been out for breakfast here.

When you have an egg allergy, anything that isn't an egg for breakfast is good. Better if it isn't sweet.

Creamed chipped beef on toast is better than the sausage gravy and biscuits down here. Most times the gravy is too bland.

We always drive up 95 and over to get to RB/OC. It's lovely!

Lissa, I am always on the lookout for a savory breakfasts that isn't eggs. I find very few that aren't creamed chipped beef.

Stacy, I feel you. At home, I eat yogurt (plain, please), skyr or cottage cheese. In Europe, bread, cheese and meat usually is around (the German's do breakfast right!). India has a variety of savoury breakfasts, usually on the carb-heavy side (I want protein). In the Middle East, you've got various preparations involving ful (fava beans), all of which are tasty, savoury, filling and nutritious.

So, what is it with the egg and danish fetish in this country?

So, what is it with the egg and danish fetish in this country?

I don't know about the danish, but I'd blame the eggs on the English.

I'd blame the danish on the Danish.

I thought that danish had nothing to do with the Danish? Just like jelly donuts have nothing to do with Berlin.

Or is blaming the danish on the Danish a bit of racism?

No, blaming danish on the Danish is not racism.

Some people love leftover pizza for breakfast, me, not so much.

Some people love leftover pizza for breakfast, me, not so much.

I may have told this story once...forgive me if I have...

There was a point in Mrs. Bucky's career where she had to travel frequently. Before one trip, she told Bucky Jr. (pre-school age at the time) "I have to go on a business trip tomorrow."

Bucky Jr. said, "Whoo Hoo! Pizza for breakfast!!!"


I hope some animal never bores a hole in my head and lays its eggs in my brain, because later you might think you're having a good idea but it's just eggs hatching.

Good story, and it was new to me.

That was deep.

Bucky, I remember that story, but it's still funny!

Buck, I don't remember that story at all. It was funny.

If you cover Rehoboth, you may want to include Lewes restaurants, which are only 10-15 minutes away. I highly recommend Cafe Azafran there. Unpretentious cafe atmosphere, but the food is just so good! They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, tapas as well as entrees.

In Rehoboth, we frequent Grotto Pizza, Cultured Pearl, Go Fish! (English style fish and chips and mushy peas), and Espuma. I liked Pig & Fish, too.

I've heard that the Hobbit in OC, once one of our faves, is now totally worthless. Shame if it's true -- anyone know?

Lissa, Overlea Diner (Belair Rd. 1 block south of Northern Pkwy) makes creamed chipped beef and serves it all day. Theirs isn't as good as mine, but it's pretty tasty nevertheless.

I hear the Dogfish Head brewery in Lewes has pretty good food as well. And great beer too, but that is a topic for Rob Kasper's blog.

I don't know firsthand, but I've heard the same thing about the Hobbit, that the food quality has gone downhill.

The Hobbit has gone downhill. I'm sad about that. Probably old news to everybody here but Reflections in the Holiday Inn has really gotten pretty bad too.

Thanks, Dottie. I'll keep them in mind when I'm wanting creamed chipped beef.

The Hobbit has gone downhill.

The Hobbit is open again? I hadn't heard that. (The building burnt down a number of years ago).

The Hobbit has reopened, its up at 81st and bayside in a brand-new building.

The Hobbit

LEC, is Etta's still open in Chincoteague? After a long day of flounder fishing, I always went to Etta's for the seafood platter. Tom's Cove campground is where I cleaned and stored my flounder catch to take back home to Balto.

@PCB Rob, I haven't had the Dogfish Head beer, but I buy some of their spirits every time I go there. I've mixed their Blood Orange Vodka with Stirrings Pomegranate Martini mix, shaken with ice, strained, garnished with lemon.

The husband isn't one for loud eateries so we haven't tried them for dinner.

@Hal, the building burnt down? I thought they tore it down maybe two, three years ago, to build the super condos that the new restaurant is housed in. The view was spectacular. And then there was that TV with the hobbit diorama in it, and the train making its way around the rooms....

I haven't been to the Dogfish Head brewery myself, but my cousin who lives in West OC has been there and he loves the place. I didn't know it was a loud place.

And the Hobbit's new website makes me think that maybe they have reinvented themselves, so the place might be worth a visit?

In West OC, the Shark would be a good choice for some decent food.

La Bec Rouge in Hampton Beach, NH
is a fun restaurant
with great food, all kinds of music for every taste
on three floors overlooking the Atlantic.
Worth vistiting every summer.!!

I didn't think The Hobbit burned down, but was torn down. I heard they sold the property to a developer for a condo building with the agreement they would open the restaurant on the ground floor, bay front. Almost went there this weekend.

We like the "Ocean View" restaurant on the oceanfront of the Quality Inn on 17th Street for breakfast. Like Joyce W., we also love Phillips by the Sea for breakfast - their buffet is great too!

BJ's on the Water at 75th Street (bayfront) has been consistently good for lunch & dinner - open year round - through the years. We're talking regular, not gourmet food - and the desserts are great!

Up in Rehoboth, we like lunch at the Victorian Room in the Boardwalk Plaza Hotel.

Got nothing on the Hobbit ... the Facebook Middle Earth quiz makes me out to be a wizard (go figure!).

But Dogfish Head is our (my multiple generation family of brewers is speaking here) very best favorite brewery of all time. Even my Colorado brethren think so.

Love their Jin, can't wait to get hold of some of their rum.

Try the Grove Market in Bishopville, MD. It's right outside of Ocean City and the food is absolutely fantastic. It's a tiny place that feels family-run (don't know for certain) and that gets their food from local farmers. The menu changes reguarly and everything I've had there has been spectacular.

Unfortunately for us and fortunately for them, they are in such high demand that you need to make a reservation at least 2 weeks in advance. Oh, and cash only so go prepared!

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About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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