Quest for seafood leads to quest just to see food

Photo: This is definitely what I had in mind for a seafood dinner

A couple weeks ago, I noted that we had chosen to spend Thanksgiving at the beach. We wound up having a delicious Thanksgiving Day lunch on Saint Simons Island and then spent the next few nights on Jekyll Island, one of Georgia’s true treasures.

We usually prefer to stay in condos so that we can cook a few meals of our own. But this was a short trip with just the two of us, so we decided to stay in a hotel for a change. It was a nice hotel, but it didn’t even have microwaves in the rooms — only a mini-fridge. I’m sure the idea was to keep us from microwaving a fancy meal of mac-and-cheese or soup so that we would spend money at the hotel restaurant instead.

And, to be fair, this hotel had a very good restaurant. The hotel just opened in June of this year, so it’s still in that mode of trying to do everything right — including the food and drinks.

Any trip to the ocean, though, has to include at least one visit to a seafood restaurant. We’ve collected a list of favorites over the years, mostly on Saint Simons. But we really weren’t interested in driving all the way back to Saint Simons. Not only does that require going back toward Brunswick on the Jekyll Causeway with its ridiculously low speed limits and another charge for a daily entry, but it also would require going over that crazy-high, 7,779-foot suspension bridge, the Sidney Lanier Bridge.

I’m not a big fan of heights, and I’ve had a couple of scary encounters on top of that bridge, including a close call with a water spout that decided to drop down next to our vehicle.

So we decided to stay on the island and eat at the highest-rated seafood joint there, one that came highly recommended by folks we know. They had a couple of specials posted outside, including the fish tacos my wife wanted, and a great atmosphere near the water. They said the wait would be a half-hour. No problem.

We were finally seated by a table with about five kids high on Coca-Cola and probably amphetamines. The adults at the table did not seem to acknowledge the kids’ existence as they ran around the table, so I’m going to assume they were not their parents but merely kidnappers who were considering letting the kids go.

I ordered a margarita, and, to my shock, they actually had frozen ones — something that’s not common in many restaurants, but we were at the beach. My wife ordered first, the fish tacos.

“Is that still on the board out there?” the waitress asked. “We’re out of the fish for tacos.”

“OK,” my wife said. “I’ll just take the mahi-mahi sandwich.”

“Well, it’s the mahi-mahi we’re out of. I think the truck didn’t come.”

“What’s the catch of the day?” I asked. Fortunately, I like almost every kind of fish except swordfish.

“Swordfish.”

“We’re gonna need a few minutes.” At least I had a margarita to sip on as we pondered other menu items. I took a sip and winced. I told my wife, “Try this.”

“Ugh!” I can only assume we were taking some sort of Tik Tok frozen formaldehyde challenge. “Guess we should’ve ordered the Tide Pod appetizer with this,” I said.

I wound up just ordering wings with a side of red potatoes. She came back and said they were out of wings. “How bout a burger?”

“Sure.”

Five minutes later, “Um, we’re out of red potatoes. How about fries?”

“Can I see a menu with the food you DO have?” I asked with a smile to let her know I wasn’t blaming her. “Sure, fries.”

My wife settled for the shrimp, which were the worst she’s ever had. She had a side of soupy cheese grits. She asked for a spoon. Go figure. They were out.

“The spoon truck didn’t come in,” I told my wife.

So, I went to the nicest seafood place on the island to have a pricey burger and fries with all the ambiance of Chuck-E-Cheese. And folks wonder why I’m so cheap.

Except when I tip — I tipped the waitress well, as always. She was put in a bad position on a night that we can only hope was a total anomaly for this restaurant. She only made one real mistake — asking me if I wanted another drink.

“No thank you. One formaldehyde-arita should do me.”

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