Yeah, sometimes this job is just plain brutal. Poor, pitiful me. I’m writing this post while sitting in the sun and sipping a Rumrunner that’s strong enough to strip paint at Fish Tales, with the dark blue waters of Assawoman bay so close I can taste the marine diesel. Woeful.
This is the first of many quickie runs downy ocean that we’ll make this warm season. It’s one of the main reasons we moved to the Eastern Shore in the first place (sure ain’t the sushi or hi-tech movie theater options), and we love to take full advantage of it.
Here’s today’s report card:
Amazing sunshine, cloudless sky the color of the royal crest, warm offshore breeze. Mid-Atlantic June is the poster child for perfect weather.
WATER: C (for c-c-cold)
65 degrees of cold, to be precise, which is too chilled to do much of anything, really, besides kick back on the beach Pacific-style and turn brain off.
Not sure what possessed us to believe that Big Pecker’s (7301 Coastal Hwy) was worth another shot after our last debacle, but we were hungry (& lazy), and there it was. And yep…still sucks. It’s expensive, it’s dirty, and our waitress had all the warmth of Siberian steel (she was visibly annoyed when we ordered iced teas instead of adult bevs). When our lunch arrived (listen to this), we were served chips even though we’d both ordered fries instead. But when we pointed this out, she became defensive and said that she “didn’t hear us” and that we’d now have to order a $4 basket of fries if we wanted them because she “couldn’t make the change in the computer now”. Er….wha? So we ordered the $4 basket of fries, and deducted the $4 from her tip. (Sorry. Wonder if she heard THAT?)
In all, nearly $50 for two sandwiches, a shared app of forgettable wings, the infamous fry basket, and a couple of iced teas. Our advice: Pick something else. There’s over 250 restaurant choices in OC; you’re almost certain to find a better one, even if you’re blind, drunk, and don’t speak English.
HAPPY HOUR: B+
So, after a few hours of vegging on the beach, exposing pasty body parts to sun rays and lulling to the sound of waves crashing, we felt that we’d earned some proper nourishment. (Plus, we still had the stink of Big Peckers on us). So we slipped on over to the back deck at Fish Tales (22nd St on the bay) and said hello to a Rumrunner or two. On in-season weekend afternoons this place is more over the top than a WWE bachelor party, which is just fine by us on the right occasion. But it was easygoing and un-busy this time, which was just fine too.
For munchies, we gave their conch fritters a shot. About on-par with other fritters we’ve had outside the keys: 90% breading 10% chopped conch meat, didn’t touch the cocktail sauce, adequate for the moment, especially given the Rumrunners (side note: best conch fritters we’ve ever had were at the always amazing Seafood Festival in Marathon Key, held every March. Served by the Florida Watermen Association, loaded with fresh conch, and fry-kissed by the gods).
Where Fish Tales really shined was in the service dept. Our waitress was fun, funny, and a tad clairvoyant, which is always a monster 1-2-3 combo in our book. She was quick on refills, had an amazing laugh, and even sat with us for a bit to shoot the you-know-what. On the way out, my wife wanted to go back to Big Peckers, grab that server by the hand, bring her back to the Fish Tales waitress, and say “watch her and learn!” Instead, we grabbed a couple of waters and headed home.
CROWDED FACTOR: A+
Yes, the weather was amazing, but weekday afternoons in June are sublimely devoid of mass personnel. We drove freely, parked easily, and sat wherever we wanted, wherever we went. Where July 4th in OC feels like a football team shoved into a tool shed, today felt more like a a golf foursome shoved into….let’s say….Montana.
Overall, a fine and decent start to the beach run season. After all these years, Ocean City is still Ocean City, just like Ozzy Osbourne is still Ozzy Osbourne. It’s got its speed bumps, and it’s never gonna be accused of being too sophisticated, but the rock-steady consistency hasn’t wavered for generations. And in travel, that’s a definite selling point.