A recent family event had me looking for a nice place for the entire family to dine that was on the water in VA Beach and had good food. Should be easy, I know, but there’s a lot of mediocre out there and the kicker was that my 7 year old was going to be on board too. Also, I don’t “do” lines. I simply will not stand in line waiting to eat. Take reservations or count me out. My original thought was Bubba’s. I haven’t been in years, but I used to like it. They don’t take reservations, which didn’t surprise me. The Bubba’s idea lead me around the corner to Dockside. Another place I have not been in about 10 years, but used to like. Ownership has changed, and I had no idea what to expect. They don’t take reservations, but do preferred seating for parties of 6 or more. What is preferred seating? If there is a wait, you go to the top of the list. That was good enough for me.
There is a lot going on at Dockside. Boat trips, retail fish market, restaurant. Unlike some other Shore Drive places (Croakers, Bubba’s, Chicks) they actually have a nice sized parking lot, where you can park you own car...for free. Other lots are too small (Croakers) or you have to pay valet (Chicks). Entering the restaurant takes you though the rustic fish market. Seriously, this section could be cleaned up just a tad to be more appealing. The restaurant restrooms are located in this section and are pretty disgusting. They still sell wine here too, but I didn't spend any time checking it out. Upon entering the main restaurant you see a big square bar to the left, a small dining area to the right, a larger room through the doors on the right, and a substantial deck. The deck is much larger that it used to be. The bar was packed. The decor is lackluster. The walls are golden colored wood ornamented with typical beach/fish/nautical junk. The view of the inlet is the scene stealer here.
|Large Dining Room to right. Home of the famous melted fan.|
We were seated and served promptly in the larger dining room on the right. Everyone commented on the fact that the tables were spaced out nicely. You are not jammed up next to your neighbor. The waitress was right there as soon as we sat down taking drink orders all around. She was very pleasant, and proficient. Foods orders were taken when the drinks were delivered, again this was done quickly. A couple of people ordered soup, salads and appetisers. These all came out in proper order and everyone dug in. I have to say that the quick arrival of our food surprised and amazed me. I was mentally prepared to wait as all tables were full and in the early stages of their meals. Everything was good. The She Crab soup was a big hit. The house salad was attractive with big red, ripe tomato chunks. Finally, a restaurant that serves a fresh sliced tomato (not grape tomatoes).
|She Crab Soub|
So far, so good. But I am still wary because it is the beach and it is the summer. Here come the entrees. They set down my mom’s flounder and I am deflated. It looks so good that I am afraid she out ordered me! It was about one inch thick, fluffy white meat, cooked to perfection. Then I see my stuffed flounder and I am happy. My husband ordered the Soft-shell Crab special. He is always a sucker for Soft-shells. These looked good too. The crabs were large for peelers and the portion was generous. Our Norwegian friend ordered a steak. I forgive him because I know he eats fish all the time. My daughter got the fried shrimp kids meal. Again, with my low expectations, I was thinking little, frozen shrimp. Not so! These were good sized, tail on, butterflied shrimp. This is my second time to be amazed and surprised! The best part of my stuffed flounder was the “stuff”. Big chunks of backfin, very minimal filler, lightly seasoned and buttered. When you have good crab meat there is no need to get fancy, just let the crab do the talking!
|Kids Fried Shrimp|
|Stuffed Flounder (I requested no potato or veg)|
|Soft-Shell Crab Special|
My daughter was dying to see what was going on outside with all the boats, and activity. My husband strolled her around the deck after eating, and reported back that there was a guitar player outside to entertain the deck dwellers. Nice little addition. On the downside he was singing Cheeseburger in Paradise, the obligatory summer-deck-guitar-playing-dude-song. We had to hear the 7 year old rendition the entire way home.... We received the check promptly, paid and were out of there in about 90 minutes, feeling pleasantly full, relaxed and happy. Success!
Dockside Restaurant and Marina
3311 Shore Drive, Virgina Beach, VA 23451