Monday, August 23, 2010

The (Crabcake) Situation on the Jersey Shore

The Surfrider Restaurant
Virginia Beach, Virginia

Ok, I know Virginia Beach isn't really located in New Jersey.

Big deal.

MTV's hit TV show The Jersey Shore is located in Miami this year.  And the reality show stars are New Yorkers -- not New Jerseyans.

So what about REAL New Jerseyans?

They're the extremely drunk people on the Virginia Beach boardwalk every summer from about Memorial Day to Labor Day.

In fact, it's this influx of New Jerseyans that many believe led the local authorities to have bicycle cops hand out $10 tickets for saying bad words.

After all, at $10 per four letter word, that works out to roughly $500 per paragraph from the pockets of the average mid-Atlantic tourist!

Of course, weaving your way through the throng of cops on wheels and drunken New Jerseyans can make finding a place to eat a little difficult in place like the Virginia Beach oceanfront.

Like other tourist traps, often all the food you'll find is lame and the prices are high because everyone knows tourists aren't going to leave the strip.

So I headed just off the strip by a block or two to the Surfrider Restaurant.

Even at mid-day, the Surfrider was almost empty.

There were a couple of folks in the rather stylish separate bar area, but the only other table was a middle-aged couple having a "couple" of drinks with an 80-year old woman who was pounding bottled Budweisers.

My guess is the old woman was definitely on vacation.

Either that or she was still celebrating the end of prohibition.

The decor was pretty much what you would expect.  There were lots of fish replicas on the walls.

Looking at the menu, the prices weren't terrible.  Most of the options were seafood, but they had a decent selection of other items for land-lubbers.

They didn't have the beer selection listed, but I'd be surprised if there were good microbrews.

Going in, I had imagined ordering a nice plate of either fried shrimp or oysters, but I settled on the "world famous" crabcake sandwich with fries and a sweet tea to drink.

"We only have unsweet."


Traveling as a I do, I'm certainly used to hearing that waitstaff is too lazy to mix sugar and tea together in other parts of the country.

As more and more Americans are moving into the South and contributing to it's lame-ification, I'm even used to hearing that occasionally below the Mason-Dixon line.

But come on.  This is SEAFOOD.

I'm pretty sure the main reason God created seafood was so folks could eat it while drinking sweet tea.

I bit the bullet and ordered unsweet and just sweetened it at my my table.

Or I tried to.

Despite my incessant stirring, I ended up just hopelessly watching the sugar crystals sink slowly to the bottom of my glass and stay there -- refusing to flavor my beverage all the while -- like sugar ALWAYS does when you mix it with tea cold.

Not a good start, Surfrider.

When the waitress brought my food out, I examined the broiled crabcake.

One tell-tale sign of broiled or fried crabcake is that if they have any radioactive orange tint or deep mustard hue, they aren't fresh.  They've been sitting around while.

Not this one.  It was fresh.  I could also tell it didn't have much filler.  Nice.

I took a bite expecting good, and I got it.  The biggest surprise was the quality of the bun.

Suit 757 has talked much about "Structural Burger Integrity," but the truth is, "Structural Crabcake Integrity" -- or SCI -- is every bit as important.

Despite the moist quality of the crabcake, the whole thing held together like a charm.

The only complaint about the crabcake was it was a tad on the bland side.  This is an easy mistake to make for a cook.

Crabmeat absorbs outside flavor incredibly easily, so if you make any sort of slight error with the Old Bay, it could ruin it.

I added a touch of Tabasco and a little salt.

The star of the show however were the fries.  They were awesome and came out brown and crispy -- like a 60-year old New Jerseyan.
The only way you get fries to look like this is to cook them for an extended period of time in grease that hasn't been changed in a few days.  

They were perfect and stayed crispy throughout the whole meal.

Surfrider wasn't perfect.

There was the absence of sweet tea, and despite the overwhelming waitress to customer ratio, the service was very slow.

But it wasn't too @#$#@ bad, all in all.  Especially for a place near the Virginia Beach Oceanfront.

Rating:  Would Wear the Shirt if it Were Free

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