Beach Week 2020

In spite of efforts by COVID-19 to destroy this year my family still got together in Surf City for our Beach Week vacation. Dining out, however took a big hit and instead of eating both breakfast and lunch out most days I only ventured forth 4 times and 3 were to places covered in other blog posts but I’m going to revisit 2 of them in this entry because I got something new at both places. The first place, Hot Diggity Dogz, was just a short walk from the house.

My brother-in-law and I strolled over and grabbed a couple of dogs each and wolfed them down at one of the picnic tables. I got the Carolina dog that had mustard, chili & coleslaw plus a Hawaiian dog that had cheese sauce, jalapenos and crushed pineapple. The grilled all-beef hot dogs were served on potato buns with toppings that were fresh(ish). I say ish because some of it came out of a can but it seemed like the can was recently opened so I’ll take it. I’m sure somebody is going, “back up there big kahuna and explain what was up with that Hawaiian dog” so I’ll tell you. It’s pretty obvious the only thing remotely Hawaiian was the pineapple but that was weird enough to get me to try it. It never occurred to me that pineapple and jalapenos would be a great pairing much less throwing in some cheese but it turned out to be a successful three way. The sweetness of the pineapple took some sting out of the jalapenos but left enough to let you know this wasn’t a wienie for weenies and cheese goes with anything. I might get it again but they have a handful of other dogs I need to try before another repeat.

One day a subset of the family headed to the Riverview Cafe. Another repeat but on this trip I got the scallops with two sides special.

That plate full of fried scallops was down right dee-licious. A quick word about the restaurant. It’s in Snead’s Ferry, NC, has a nice view of the New River and they make better than passable pies. As for lunch they have a multitude of options and change specials daily but I’ve only ever gotten seafood and after this trip I see no reason to change that up. The scallops were beautifully fried tender morsels of seafood goodness. The cheesy, garlic potatoes had no choice but to be good just based on the ingredients and the broccoli casserole offered redemption to broccoli for being broccoli. Between the lot of us we wound up taking home a box of seafood and a box of sides to be consumed later because the portions were so generous.

The last place I wanted to cover was a new (to me) place I checked out on the last full day we were there. It was also within walking distance, just a few steps past the hot dog joint actually. I was solo this trip but I think next year I’ll be able to talk some folks into going to The Fast Fish with me.

The Fast Fish is a Poke place with some other stuff too as you can see from the menu board.

I’d never done the poke thing before (stop laughing) so I decided to get a bowl. I started with one of the daily specials, spicy soy salmon, as the protein with rice for the base and kept it relatively simple with pickled vegetables and green onions for add-ins.

This was a very tasty lunch. In case you can’t tell from the picture the salmon was not cooked but the spicy soy sauce it was marinated in dressed it up just fine. The pickled vegetables were mostly cabbage and carrots but there were some onions, cucumbers and a jalapeno or two floating around. The whole thing was topped with toasted black and white sesame seeds. Stirring up the bed of white rice into this mix made for an excellent lunch that was filling but not heavy. Would very much recommend this place if you’re ever visiting Surf City, NC.

Now I’m just going to throw in a gratuitous food pic and let it speak for itself.

Beach Week pt 2

More Surf City Cuisine

This week we continue with the restaurants visited during family vacation week and since it covers five places it’s longer that normal.  The first was breakfast at Batson’s Galley with my nephew.  I selected this place because they have country links sausage which are harder to find than they should be.

The place looks to have been around for awhile and has the appearance of a typical diner when you go in except it has a huge beach mural on one wall and a copy of the 10 commandments hanging behind the register.  We got seated as soon as we walked in and drinks provided in a jiffy.  I went with a simple breakfast seen in the picture and my nephew went for the chocolate chip pancakes.  They were definitely on beach time and it took longer than I thought it should have based on the number of customers and the lack of complexity in our orders.  Fortunately the food made up for the wait.  The eggs were scrambled firm and not overcooked.  The sausage was mildly spicy with a good amount of sage.  The potatoes were a surprise hit, lightly crisp outside, evenly distributed seasoning generously applied made them a great accompaniment to the sausage and eggs.  Per my nephew the chocolate chip pancakes were outstanding and the chocolate chip quantity and distribution were spot on.

Next up was lunch at Daddy Mac’s Beach Grille with my sister, brother-in-law and niece.  Daddy Mac’s is a second floor restaurant so you’re climbing stairs or waiting on an elevator that is slower than taking the stairs from what we observed since we took the stairs and beat the elevator.  They have a nice ocean view from inside as well as seating outside on a deck.  We decided to sit inside as it was a bit warm even with the breeze.

I got their shrimp and grits which were different from any of the myriad of others I’ve had over the years.  As a side note shrimp and grits is one of those dishes that no two places or people seem to make the same and has more variation from place to place than just about any dish I’ve seen.  As long as it has the two titular ingredients anything else is fair game and these folks threw me a curve ball with theirs.


When the server placed the bowl in front of me my first thought was, “These are some thin ass grits and what’s with the toast in the middle.”  Turns out that wasn’t toast but a grit cake fried or toasted brown with a plentiful helping of shrimp and mushrooms in a savory gravy that was delicious if unexpected.  I had a Mother Earth Brewing Endless River Kolsch style ale to wash it down.  It was light and paired well with the meal.  The other’s enjoyed their meals as well see below for the bonus pics.  This was another place on beach time when it came to time between ordering and receiving food.

The following day saw a trip to Surf City BBQ which had great reviews from the nieces & future nephew-in-law.  This was one of the rare spots that wasn’t within easy walking distance but still very close to the house so a sister & two brothers-in-law jumped in the car and off we went.  The restaurant is in a little strip center and doesn’t look that much like a good BBQ place from the outside but inside the atmosphere is BBQ joint.  I got a combo plate with pulled pork and chicken.

One thing to mention is they bring a basket of hush puppies to keep you going until the food arrives and are quality hush puppies.  The chicken was tender and tasty but no thrill ride.  The pulled pork was eastern NC style vinegar & pepper lightly sauced with more at hand on the table if you needed more.  Very enjoyable.  The fried cornbread square was different but good.  The Brunswick stew was good but Georgia hash is better and the green beans were cooked to perfection, tender but not mushy, with just the right amount of salt.  There was a lot of food and no room for the banana pudding the server was pushing hard.

Last breakfast outing was not the best.  I was walking to Spudee’s when I passed Beach Bunny Subs and Grill and saw they were serving breakfast and since I hadn’t been there I figured I might as well.  I should have kept walking.  Not that the food was bad but no busier than they were it took way too long to get my food.  I got seated right away but it took a while before the server came over to get my order for coffee.  When that got to me I decided to try the Tidal Wave Scrambler.

Then started the epic wait for my breakfast.  I don’t know what they were doing besides cooking back there but they must have been squeezing the eggs out of the chickens and milling the wheat for the gravy flour.  Anyway I finally got my scrambler which I’ll tell you about since you can’t see much beyond the gravy.  Two eggs, sausage, onions, peppers, hashbrowns, corned beef hash, cheese, stray tomato, smothered in sausage gravy.  That sounds like a ton of food and it was plenty but the hashbrowns weren’t well represented and in spite of the overly long wait the onions and peppers were essentially raw.  This was the worst experience of the week and I couldn’t recommend them at all.

On a happier note lunch was a family event to a restaurant recommended by the owner of the house we rented.  The Riverview Cafe in Snead’s Ferry has been around for a bunch of years and is locally known for their fresh seafood and pies.  They have a changing roster of specials each day as well as the menu to order from.  Just about everyone ordered something from the specials board.  I got the tilapia, shrimp & deviled crab and a Dogfish SeaQuench Ale.


The ale came first and it was quite the experience.  It is a combination of styles but the prevailing flavors are the lime and sea salt.  It’s light and refreshing and a great summer beer to enjoy with your seafood.  We also got a couple of baskets of hush puppies here to keep us from getting surly while waiting for the food.  When it came the tilapia was lightly breaded, fried and tasty.  The deviled crab was on par with those you’d get at a chain.  The shrimp though was the star of the trio.  It had a light batter that you could see the orange stripes of the perfectly cooked shrimp through.  The seasoning in the batter was outstanding and made for the best fried shrimp I’ve had in a long time and maybe ever.  The sides of mac & cheese and green limas were both above average.  I traded a shrimp for a scallop from another family member and it was a toss up which was better so suffice to say you couldn’t lose with either.  I was told the ribs were well worth considering too.

We ordered pies to take home for later; a chocolate, a coconut cream, and a lemon.  I don’t have pics because they didn’t travel well and the meringue stuck to the box top on two of them which was ok with me because I find meringue on a pie to be just an obstacle to overcome to get to the good stuff.  All three pies were quality, not as good as mama’s pies but pretty good.

Overall the week’s dining experiences were positive and most were enjoyed with various family members so that just made them a bit better.  Already looking forward to next year.

Beach Week pt 1

Surf City Cuisine

I did a lot of dining out during the family week at the beach so I’m splitting the blog into two parts rather than turning it into picture laden novella.  Our tradition is breakfasts and lunches are “on your own” events and we tend to split up into loners or small groups.  Suppers are everyone at the table family events where we take turns cooking for the whole group.  This year we added the grown kids to the rotation and it was a joy watching them working together, playing music and having a great time cooking for all of us.

Sentiment out of the way let’s talk about the food scene in Surf City.  The house we rented was located such that over half the places I visited were within walking distance including the first place I hit with my sister and brother-in-law for breakfast, Fractured Prune.  This is a doughnut shop where they make the doughnuts to order and you pick a glaze flavor, a drizzle & topping.  They have some pre-named combo like the Peach Pie which has peach glaze, powdered sugar & pastry crumbles.  There are hundreds of combos.  The kids they had working here were all really friendly and willing, nay eager, to explain how it worked and help you pick the flavor combo that fit your want.  So many calories, so little time.

For lunch we walked to the end of the road to the Hot Diggity Dogz stand.  The weather was pleasant and there was a nice breeze blowing so dining outdoors was not a problem.  At first I couldn’t tell if the young guy working the order window was fake enthusiastic or really that dang happy with his job.  Turns out he was that dang happy.  After we got served and no one else was at the window he came out to check out how liked the dogs and chat for a bit.  Nice kid.  For my part I got a Beach Dog & a Surfer Dog.

The dogs are all beef and served on a potato bun.  The Beach Dog is further dressed with chili, mustard, onion & slaw and quite tasty.  The Surfer Dog was decked out with mustard, melted cheese and bacon and as you no doubt assumed it was worth the walk.

The next morning after a cup of coffee and wave watching therapy on the deck I strolled down to the New York Corner Deli for some breakfast.  It has the New York deli at the beach feel I’m sure they were going for.  They have a deli set up where you can get meats, cheeses, salads, etc that you’d expect and they have a simple but something for everyone breakfast menu.  I didn’t spend much time looking at it though because I knew what I wanted; a toasted sesame bagel acting as a delivery vehicle for sausage, egg & cheese.

The bagel was nice and chewy with toasted sesame seeds on the exterior.  I very much like toasted sesame seeds and when you throw in the breakfast ingredients it was delicious.  I was surprised to find the sausage was sliced up links rather than a patty.  I just assumed they’d use patties since they are roundish like the bagel but the substitution did not hurt the overall experience at all.  The coffee was nothing special but it was coffee so it served its purpose.  I did get a dozen bagels to take back for the others and discovered at that point the bagels are not necessarily made on site since a couple of the types I selected were still frozen.  In fairness they did let me know up front that was the case in case I wanted to change my mind.  I didn’t and when toasted back at the house and smeared with cream cheese they did the job.

After some beach time and reading lunch was courtesy of Spudees a few blocks away.  Another outside dining experience but the tables & picnic tables had umbrellas to provide some shade from the sun so it was pleasing.  I checked them out online before heading there and they had me at poutine.

This was likely the most Canadian poutine of the several I’ve had.  It consisted of french fries topped with a generous serving of cheese curd and both of those covered with hot beef gravy.  The fries were well cooked but not crispy.  The cheese curd initially had the consistency of mozzarella but softened and melted under the heat of the beef gravy which also had a hearty flavor profile.  I got the medium size and brothers & sisters let me tell you I needed the walk back to the house because it was a boatload of food and good enough I ate every single bite.  They had several other types of poutine as well but I had to try the original.

The next day after another grueling regimen of wave watching and a stroll to the beach some of us headed to The Shuckin Shack for some shuckin seafood.

It would have been wrong to go to a place called the Shuckin Shack without trying the oysters so I had a half dozen steamed.  They were ok if you baptized them in butter and added some of the provided horseradish.  I’ve honestly had better served up by my grandfather & cousin but as I said they weren’t bad.  For my real food I got the crab cake sliders.  They had good crab flavor and held together reasonably well considering they got a bit squeezed being a sandwich and all.  The tartar sauce they brought was tasty as well and unlike most was laced with horseradish.  There was no hurry up in the game of our waiter but about half way through we picked up a second server who was helping things along and she was great.  She had some pep in her step, a smile on her face and a pleasantly professional demeanor.  It didn’t change the flavor of the food but I liked the metal serving trays they used and of course there was a bucket recessed into the table to toss your various shells and detritus into.  Overall it was a better than average lunch.

That’s a wrap on part 1.  In summary the first half of the trip was loaded with great to good service and delicious food.