Normally, we eat out about once per beach trip, because meals are communal affairs, fun to fix and not too terrible to clean up. Many hands make light work, and all that jazz. This trip, however, we've been going out more, in twos and fours and sixes and one eleven. Since I really want to be a restaurant reviewer when I grow up, here's the scoop, in no particular order.
Top Dog Cafe, Rodanthe. Still a favorite. Chip, Guy, Ian, Jody, Hank and I hit this on Sunday night and were well pleased, as usual. Top Dog started as a microscopic beach bar, but has morphed into something more upscale. The tuna steaks were perfect -- medium rare and meltingly tasty. I had bacon-wrapped scallops over pasta. When I saw them, my heart sank, because they were very brown on the outside. Turns out, it was just the bacon; the scallops were perfectly tender and juicy. Yum. Chip had a monstrous hamburger that fed him for dinner, and Ian and Scott for lunch the next day. Yes, it was that big.
Atlantic Coast Cafe, Rodanthe. This one is so good, we keep going back. Ian and Jody went first, and reported that the fish tacos were delicious. Hugh, Susette, and I went for lunch on Wednesday, and found that not only were the fish tacos great, but the oyster po'boy wasn't bad, either. The taco construction really added to their flavor -- a corn taco shell inside a flour tortilla, with jalapeno cream cheese, flaky (not fishy) white fish, shredded sweet cabbage, more cheese, and topped with homemade pico de gallo. Even people who don't like fish love these tacos. AND they're not expensive at all. Ashley and Scott went there for breakfast today and reported that breakfast was just as yummy as lunch.
Penguin Isle/Pamlico Jack's, South Nags Head. When this was Penguin Isle, we ate there with Pam and Tye Kirkner. Now it's Pamlico Jack's, but it's weird -- same staff, same chef, same owners, but now they've got a pirate theme. Even the staff think it's stupid. Fortunately, the food is the same, just with ridiculous pirate names. Hugh's seafood medley had the perfect degree of doneness, and wasn't smothered in sauces or other things that obscured the flavors. I had a tuna steak that was, our waitress said, "unloaded off the boat and in the back door." Also wonderful were the Buffalo tuna bites, where the spicy, blue cheese flavor did not overwhelm the tuna. Side items at the Restaurant Formerly Known as Penguin Isle are overpriced and forgettable, particularly the cheese grits. Mine are better. Desserts are house made, which is good, but hit-or-miss, which is bad. The cheesecake wasn't great, but the creme brulee was delicious, and the cherry pie worth every calorie.
Jimmy's Seafood Buffet, Ocracoke. If you like crab legs, this is your place. The people in our party who like them were encfhanted. I wasn't as thrilled with everything else. It had all been on the steam tables too long, and scallops were in short supply. This is too expensive for overdone and hectic service. Skip it and go to Captain George's if you absolutely have to have a seafood buffet.
Our House. We had fun with food this week, from Brent's mom's spaghetti to spiral sliced ham, to shrimp with Outer Banks Crab Boil, to jambalaya. We're at the point where a restaurant has to be pretty awesome to beat what we can do ourselves. (I forgot to mention the Tennessee jam cake I made for Chip's birthday, the cherry brownies Chip made, and the iced gingersnaps that were Hank's brainchildren. We didn't starve.)