Thursday, September 28, 2006

Chincoteague Weekend

Fall finally arrived and my husband and I decided to get away for a weekend in Chincoteague. After some brief research we made reservations at the Anchor Inn ( located on Main St.. Our 2nd floor room sported a small private balcony overlooking the water and a mini-fridge. At $95 a night (including continental breakfast), we were pleased. We also enjoyed the breeze and the relative quiet – water lapping at the docks and the chattering of numerous ducks.

As we strolled down Main St. we discovered the usual seaside tourist retail establishments, but also came upon a couple of art galleries, used book stores (yes, more than one!), a decoy shop, and (isn’t it wonderful?) a wine shop ( Since we had a balcony overlooking the water and we had use of a mini-fridge, we purchased a 2004 Frog’s Leap Zinfandel from Napa and a Gruet Winery Sparkling Rose. The Frog’s Leap was very tasty as we watched the sun set over the water. The Gruet we saved for Saturday night.

For dinner we walked about two blocks up to Bill’s Seafood Restaurant. Of course, we had a hankering for some seafood. Bill’s tends to be a popular place and when we arrived around 7:15 PM, the place was hopping. All the other parties in line had made reservations. When we finally flagged down the somewhat harried host, we were told it would be an hour wait. Bill’s does not have a bar, so we made an 8:15 PM reservation and took another walk down the street. While many shops were closed, a few were open later to take advantage of weekend tourists. We happily browsed and then returned to be promptly seated in a much quieter setting. Now what to order? We looked around at some of the dishes. The seafood (especially the shrimp) looked tempting, but, whoa, the steaks looked out of this world as well. What to do? Well, we asked for the wine list. Bill’s carried a 2001 Stags Leap Petite Syrah for $49. Yes, it was the most expensive, but with The Fresh Market retailing the bottle for $39, the price seemed a bargain for a restaurant. And, thus, I ordered the Filet Mignon & Fried Jumbo Shrimp ($22.95). Hubby stuck with the Fried Jumbo Shrimp only ($15.95). The meal came with a mini loaf of whole wheat bread as well as crackers & a cheese spread (vaguely white cheddary) for starters as well as a choice of salads and a choice of sides. I ordered the Caesar Salad while my spouse had the Garden variety. Both had fresh lettuce, but mine came with shaved Parmesan cheese. Yummy. My Filet was indeed medium rare and had the requisite grill marks. What a great pairing with the wine. But the Shrimp stole the show. Butterflied with a light breading and oh so sweet! Sheer heaven. As for the sides, baked potato for me and fries for my other half, merely mediocre. Our waitress was pleasant and allowed us to take our time and enjoy the meal. Bill’s is open year round for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. And if the morning line to get in was any indication, Bill’s must serve a mean breakfast, too!

On Saturday we headed over to Assateague Island(oval stickers proclaim As Is). Assateague is a National Park complete with beach, marshlands, a lighthouse, and wild ponies. The entrance fee was $10 for vehicles which garnered you a seven day pass. Even though we were only around for a day we did appreciate the flexibility of going back to Chincoteague for lunch and returning. The lighthouse was our first stop. At the parking area signs warn visitors about mosquitoes. Heed the signs! We had to go back to the car for repellent. The lighthouse was open to climb for an additional $4 fee. I decided to trudge to the top and earned a congratulatory sticker for my efforts. Upon safely regaining solid ground we headed for the beach where we happened upon a wedding. After beachcombing we looked for lunch.

Maria’s Family Restaurant on Maddox Blvd. was the choice. The décor left a lot to be desired. Plastic covered chairs guarding plastic covered tables holding plastic plates and glasses. At least the silverware was not plastic. The special was the Shrimp Basket ($5.75) and it is what I ordered. My husband went with the Meatball Sub ($4.95). The shrimp were small yet tasty, fries just okay. But I had plenty of shrimp to keep me happy. The Meatball Sub was the real thing with a decent sauce. While Maria’s could use some assistance with interior design, the food was decent at a reasonable price.

The rest of our afternoon was spent on As Is walking the Woodland Trail and admiring the wild ponies and then driving around the marshy lake taking in the ducks, herons, and little Asian elk.

On the way back to Anchor Inn we stopped in at Mr. Whippy to enjoy a milkshake.

For dinner we made reservations at AJ’s…on the Creek ( And we were smart to reserve a table because this place was hopping as well. We ordered drinks to start – a Cosmopolitan and a Mojito Martini ($6 each). For appetizers – Clams Casino ($7) and Coconut Shrimp ($7). The 5 clams were baked in the half shell topped with chopped red bell peppers, onions, bacon, & herbs. It was served on a bed of rock salt. The clams were fantastic! The 6 shrimp were jumbo sized and served with an orange-mango sauce. While we enjoyed our appetizers we mulled over the wine list and the rest of the menu. Our waitress was fine with waiting a bit for us to order the rest of our meal. To be that flexible on a busy night without getting flustered is true talent. For wine we decided upon a 2005 Cline Zinfandel from California ($17). For dinner hubby ordered the Filet Mignon ($26) and I went for the Veal & Shrimp ($22) - sautéed veal & shrimp with artichokes, peppers, mushroom, & onions in a light sherry sauce. Both entrees were accompanied by great tasting French rolls, a salad, and roasted garlic mashed potatoes. Once again I had the Caesar Salad and hubby ordered the Garden Salad. For $2 extra I ordered Fried Asiago Buttons to top my salad. I liked the Buttons, but they were not necessarily worth the extra price. Both salads were small and served in tiny bowls making it hard to eat. While my Romaine lettuce was crisp and fresh, hubby’s Mesculin Mix was rather wilty. The entrees were delicious. The Filet, cooked to my husband’s liking, was accompanied by a couple of onion rings and garlic mashed potatoes. The potatoes were whipped so smooth that they could have been instant, so, even though the taste was decent, the texture made the side suspect. My veal scaloppini was lightly breaded and fairly tender. It was topped with 3 large, sweet, tasty shrimp. I also enjoyed the bell peppers and the artichokes. The onions were not sautéed enough for me so I skipped them along with the button mushrooms. The sauce which was advertised as light was not light in the least and there was so much of it that my meal was swimming. Cutting into the veal and de-tailing the shrimp became somewhat of an ordeal. Thank goodness my efforts were rewarded with good food. AJ’s is also open year round for lunch and dinner.

We had walked to AJ’s from the Anchor Inn (about a 45 minute stroll). We did not really want to walk back. And we did not have to thanks to the weekend Pony Express Trolley ( For a 25 cent fare we were picked up at AJ’s and deposited right in front of our motel. A bargain indeed!

Chincoteague was a great place to get away for a couple of days.

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