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Norfolk & Virginia Beach, Virginia


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Good luck on your exam.  The recommendation of One Fish - Two Fish is a good one, but there are also some others to consider.

http://www.tautogs.com/

http://www.rudees.com/

http://www.cobaltgrille.com/

http://www.toddjurichsbistro.com/

This restaurant is located in downtown Norfolk, but is my favorite restaurant in the entire State of Virginia.

Wow, thanks on both fronts. Luckily I have 3 lunches and 2 dinners in the area so I should get to a few of there. Gotta love the Rockwellians.

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Ag! Didn't see this in time, I'm afraid. Last Sunday night I had a lovely, simple-but-not-boring Italian at Sirena on Granby St. Chef Brian makes all his own pastas and they are spot-on. Perfect for that pasta jones we all get. Wine list could be less pedestrian--or maybe it's just 'cos they were out of the Vajra Dolcetto that night. Mmmmmmmmmmm, Vajra.

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Were you able to visit any of the recommended restaurants, and if so, how were your meals?

Booo, it was so sad and stressful that I stayed in and studied the whole time. But all the suggestions were so good I think we are going to back and try some of the places and see the beach.

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Just a couple of miles from the oceanfront is a place called the: No Frill Bar and Grill. Good food, and a fun atmosphere.

http://nofrillgrill.com/locations.asp

In the same location is another place called: Baker's Crust which is always good.

http://www.bakerscrust.com/site/

If you want to eat at the oceanfront, please see my earlier comment above and add Catch 31 and Big Sam's to the list. Big Sam's is a locals place located at Rudee Inlet.

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I'm heading down there for a conference next week pre-Memorial Day, and i was wondering if anybody had any particular suggestions. Since my two young boys will be coming as well, we'll be looking mostly at the good beach-bar/marina dining options as opposed to haute cuisine. We've enjoyed Bubba's for the water/boat proximity (less so for the food/drink), Croaker's for pretty good seafood and Rockfish for freezer food with good people watching. I've heard some good things about Tautog's. Any other ideas?

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One Fish Two Fish is nice and has counter seats at the kitchen which might be fun.

The Jewish Mother in the heart of the strip is a surprising oasis of good deli food. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and have entertainment at night.

Rockafellers's on Rudy Inlet has nice views and specials. I don't know if they still have it, but I had previously gone early on Thursdays for the two lobster for $19.99 dinner. This place is very family friendly and wallet friendly. Not haute cuisine, but it's your seashore type of place.

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If you are at Rudy Inlet, the best restaurant to eat at is Big Sam's. This is the locals spot, but is no frills dining (paper plates, plastic cups). That is not to say that Rockefellers and Rudee's is bad - they are good. Big Sam's is just a lot better.

The Jewish Mother is fun, but isn't what it was ten or fifteen years ago. Across the street from JM on the ocean is a trendy place called Catch 31. It might be a little too much for young children depending on what time you are going, but is worth stopping by.

Tautogs is a must as well, and DocWalkers next door is a fun place to hit for breakfast.

If you are in the Chick's Beach area of Virginia Beach, Chick's restaurant is around the corner from Bubba's but is good seafood.

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One Fish Two Fish is nice and has counter seats at the kitchen which might be fun.

The Jewish Mother in the heart of the strip is a surprising oasis of good deli food. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and have entertainment at night.

Rockafellers's on Rudy Inlet has nice views and specials. I don't know if they still have it, but I had previously gone early on Thursdays for the two lobster for $19.99 dinner. This place is very family friendly and wallet friendly. Not haute cuisine, but it's your seashore type of place.

Funny about the Jewish Mother. We had one of those here in Charlottesville established on the Downtown Mall in the late 90's. Hanging out at the bar during happy hour, it was evident to even me that this had to be one of the most mis-managed places ever. Cooks coming out during service at the bar filling up on top shelf liquor, bartenders running dummy check scams and many "managers" who appeared to be hired on their ability to look good, this place hemmorhaged money. No one was that surprised when it tanked despite pretty good deli which Cville is still missing.

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I'm heading down there for a conference next week pre-Memorial Day, and i was wondering if anybody had any particular suggestions. Since my two young boys will be coming as well, we'll be looking mostly at the good beach-bar/marina dining options as opposed to haute cuisine. We've enjoyed Bubba's for the water/boat proximity (less so for the food/drink), Croaker's for pretty good seafood and Rockfish for freezer food with good people watching. I've heard some good things about Tautog's. Any other ideas?

Tautog's is a generally good seafood restaurant and located in an old-style beach cottage. A relatively new place that does tapas with a good mix of beers and whiskies is Pacifica, located approximately at 36th and Pacific in a small strip shopping center. The owner also owns Crackers and Empire in Norfolk, Six in Hampton, and Metropolis on the Outer Banks, and each of those locations is quite successful. In addition to the other suggestions along or just off Shore Drive, I'd suggest Dockside--roughly the same area as Bubba's, with both screened and unscreened decks that overlook the boat docks and Lynnhaven, and Zia Marie, an Italian restaurant located in the neighborhood that borders the south side of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Zia Marie is not fancy Italian, but the food is good, the portions are generous, and your boys might enjoy the pizza they do there (by the way, even if you don't see pizza on the menu, ask for it).

Quick suggestions if you change your mind about haute cuisine: Cobalt (fusion-type cuisine with an emphasis on seafood), located about three miles from the Oceanfront in a strip shopping center along Laskin Road (cheap alternative in same shopping center: No Frill Grill--a branch of a Norfolk operation--lots of good sandwiches and libations)), the previously mentioned One Fish, Two Fish (seafood obviously and if you're lucky, the weather will be good and you can score a table in a sheltered area outside the main area of the restaurant where large garage-style doors may be opened to give you a beautiful view of the Lynnhaven River), Terrapin's (seafood) in a shopping center located behind the intersection of Laskin and Holly Road (drive up Laskin from the Oceanfront, take a right at Holly Road, which is located about four to five blocks off the Oceanfront; Terrapin's in the first shopping center on the left), and Zoe's (American with an emphasis on beef) near the VB Convention Center.

A good sports bar possibility is CP Shuckers with one location at roughly 24th and Pacific in the middle of the tourist area and another further down Shore Drive about a mile from the Lesner Bridge at Lynnhaven.

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I am headed down this weekend for the half marathon. I am planning a return visit to Tautog's but also looking for a few good lunch, breakfast, or inexpensive dinner spots that are easily accessible from the boardwalk. A lot of the suggestions above are good but also seem like they are a little bit off of the main strip. We are staying on the beach and I am trying to avoid getting in the car all weekend.

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I am headed down this weekend for the half marathon. I am planning a return visit to Tautog's but also looking for a few good lunch, breakfast, or inexpensive dinner spots that are easily accessible from the boardwalk. A lot of the suggestions above are good but also seem like they are a little bit off of the main strip. We are staying on the beach and I am trying to avoid getting in the car all weekend.

I've had some good sandwiches at Tastes Unlimited.

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I've had some good sandwiches at Tastes Unlimited.
Definitely going to try and stop by there. What about cool places to get drinks on the oceanfront? We have a few young singles in our mix so I am trying to find out where there is some nightlife. I am really new to the whole area, I went down once but I was staying close to Norfolk so I didn't really get to try out any restaurants or go out at all.
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I used to live down in the Norfolk/VA beach area. I'm friends with the former owners of the Jewish Mother (one of whom is Jewish, the other is probably jewish via osmosis) I second No Frills and Baker's crust for good lunch/brunch type places.

My favorite Pizza joint is Primo's down in VA beach, they make a very satisfying new york style pizza pie.

I don't know much about drinking though, sorry!

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My wife and I traveled down to Virginia Beach this past weekend to drop off our girls at camp grandparents, and to also celebrate our fourth wedding anniversary.

For the past couple of years, we have celebrated by having dinner at a restaurant called: The Lucky Star. Each visit has been memorable, and immediately begin the countdown to our next meal the following year.

If you are ever in the area, please reward yourself and loved ones by visiting. Personally, I recommend the Pomegranate Pinot Lamb.

http://www.theluckystarrestaurant.net/

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And I thought of myself only as a minor player on this board because of my remote location.

Until this:

Don's Hassles in Norfolk

Apparently the Empire stretches much further than I thought.

Cue music from Star Wars as Darth Vader enters for the first time. . .

Yes, those alcohol sales until 2 a.m. will doom you around here.

:P

BTW, to be fair to my hometown, Ocean View is a problem area, and there is some justification for the restrictive rules. Just sayin', if you're ever down here, and your local contact wants to hang out late in OV, maybe you've got the wrong local contact.

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And I thought of myself only as a minor player on this board because of my remote location.

Until this:

Don's Hassles in Norfolk

Apparently the Empire stretches much further than I thought.

Cue music from Star Wars as Darth Vader enters for the first time. . .

Yes, those alcohol sales until 2 a.m. will doom you around here.

:P

BTW, to be fair to my hometown, Ocean View is a problem area, and there is some justification for the restrictive rules. Just sayin', if you're ever down here, and your local contact wants to hang out late in OV, maybe you've got the wrong local contact.

shhhhh...

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Will be spending a week at Virginia Beach at the end of May. We're staying at 23rd and Atlantic. Never been there before so could use some suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner joints. In addition, what restaurants are not to be missed within a 20 minute drive? Gots a new baby so we're gonna eat early and forego coat and tie joints.

My hometown! Good for you, a beautiful visit is in store.

One not-to-be-missed, casual, locals-only place is Chick's Oyster Bar. It's on the water, gets PACKED in prime time. But if you're going early, you'll do fine.

Not food-related, but First Landing State Park (the Narrows entrance on 64th street; after you park follow the wooden bridge trail to the left that takes you over the swamp) and the Edgar Cayce Foundation (further up on Shore Drive) are fun excursions.

I'll try to think of a couple other great options for you, but I've kind of fallen out of touch. My parents and a lot of friends still live there, but I don't go back often enough to have a finger on the pulse of the new-comer favorites.

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First impression, this is like Atlantic City without the fancy casinos and half decent restaurants.

First meal was at Luna Sea - the best thing is being able to eat outdoors on a nice late spring evening. The menu said the fish bites were battered and fried but our waiter said the fish of the day again is tuna, how would you like it cooked? I said, what do you mean, I thought it's fried? He replied it's seared, and we can have it from rare to well done. We asked for medium rare but it came out medium well done, with a soy dipping sauce and sriracha. The Lunasea salad was okay, if you don't mind slightly firm avocados. The steam clams were tiny - thumbnail sized ($11 per dozen - rip off!). My wife did eat her chicken sandwich but she added that she was starving. Lunacy indeed.

Umm....it's either buffet or barfood around here....

Second night. A little farther from the boardwalk is One Fish Two Fish. This restaurant is actually in a marina, thus giving you a nice water view. The interior is modern and airy - exuding a sense of fine dining. We started with some smoked salmon and smoked trout. The menu does't specify whether the fish is hot or cold smoked - and I was a little disappointed that it was hot smoked. Fortunately both the salmon and the trout were tasty, especially with the horseradish cream sauce. My Caesar salad was nothing special - lots of flavorless dressing. My fried calamari tasted of uncooked dough. My wife's Greek salad was a work of art - layers of tomato, cucumber, feta cheese and olive paste topped the greens. Her seared ahi tuna was also nicely done. This was much better than the night before.

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Third Night. Was taken in by Pi-zzeria's rotating brick stone oven. I was wondering how the oven rotates but it doesn't really rotate. There's a spinner inside the oven, like a microwave - the oven itself is stationary. The crust turned out thick, as did the layer of cheese and sauce. It wasn't all that bad for a quick bite to eat on Memorial Day. Any other day I'd say this place is pitiful - Domino's like in quality.

Fourth afternoon. After a morning of golfing, I was famished. We went a few blocks north to the Hilton Hotel and ate at Catch 31 (on 31st St.). This place is swanky, with seating right on the boardwalk. Incidentally, the beach is much less busy on weekdays. Sitting on the patio and looking out at a wide expanse of sand, it almost felt like the Caribbean. Started with a dozen clams, big and juicy (twice the size of the ones at Lunacy). Then we had a pound of steamed King Crabs and a crab-cake sandwich. I like the crab legs sheared vertically - easy to get to the meat. The crab-cake was lump crab - good (but pales in comparison to the freshly steamed crab legs). We didn't try anything extraordinary but what we had were really good.

At this point, we've already decided to head home a day early. No reason to spend Friday night here when we know it's a zoo on weekends

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Pi

Catch 31

Lunch today was at Chick's Oyster Bar. They had fresh jimmies. We didn't know what jimmies are so we asked. They're crabs. Should've guessed since the table had all kinds of caked on crab parts. Unfortunately, the place doesn't have hush puppies. I spent a chunk of my youth in Atlanta - not having hush puppies just ain't right! We ordered simply - dozen steamed clams and Caesar salad to start. Nice big clams (same size as Catch 31) steamed just long enough to open the shells. I tried the cocktail sauce and the drawn butter but fresh clams don't really need any adornment. The Caesar salad was okay - no table-side dressing making and no anchovies. My entrée was a combo platter of fried shrimp, fried oysters and fried fresh catch. Lightly battered and lightly fried - loved the oysters and the fish. The shrimps were fine but honestly the only fried shrimp I like are tempura fried shrimp. My wife had a pulled pork sandwich which she said was good - I don't eat pulled pork so you'll have to take her word for it.

Dinner was at Ammos on 14th st. They advertised authentic Greek cuisine but we just wanted gyro sandwiches. The fried zucchini tasted good but they look suspiciously factory made. The gyro meat were all the same width - like they were pre-cut and then heated in a pan. At least it was relatively inexpensive for a meal on the boardwalk.

In the last few days, we did a dolphin watching tour, the aquarium, and today the botanical garden. We wanted to check out the Cape Henry lighthouse but when they wanted to body cavity search us, including the baby, to enter Fort Henry, we told the lighthouse, no matter how magical it is, to kiss our asses.

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For our last meal in VA Beach, we went to Pacifica. This place is off the beach, 1 block past where the boardwalk ends but it has the most interesting menu of any place we've been. So we ordered (i) Smoked salmon on bagel crisps w/ caramelized onion & fresh horseradish - $7, (ii) Cumin spiced black bean dip w/ roasted corn, tomato salsa, & pita chips - $5, (iii) Cardamom spiced pulled leg of lamb on pepito w/ chipotle apple chutney - $9, (iv) Confit chicken adobado w/ soft polenta & avocado salsa - $7, (v) Grilled chimichurri flank steak w/ plantain mash - $8, (vi) Grilled ahi ssam w/ bibb lettuce & mustard seed sauce - $9, and (vii) Grill squid piri-piri (a special of the day). The bean dip came with deliciously fried pita chips that were crunchy on the outside but chewy on the inside. One can't go wrong with cold smoked salmon, onions and some form of bagel. The lamb was a bit gamy and I have no idea what pepito is (the lamb came with a pita-like bread) but definitely worth trying. Similarly I have no idea what adobado means but in this case it was a rather bland tomato sauce that topped the flavorless chicken - they struck out on this dish. The ahi was nicely seared. I didn't get to taste the chimichurri while it was fresh because the baby upchucked during dinner and we had to take that to go - but it was nicely marinated and thus flavorful. The grilled squid were a couple of slabs of squid generous coated with hot sauce - they weren't kidding around with the piri-piri. They were a little tough - would've been nicer if they scored the squid first but certainly worth trying.

ETA - cheap drinks. 1/2 bottle of Gruet was $18. Xingu Black beer was $4 per bottle.

(feel free to combine all these into one post)

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I will be down in Virginia Beach next month with kids for a week. There will be three kids 7 - 11. We will be staying in a condo on the boardwalk (around 6th Street) so we will probably only be doing dinners out. Any current recs for family friendly but not fast food.

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Virginia Beach is about as close as you can get to being a culinary wasteland while still having restaurants.

I did find one decent place, but it took a lot of looking. A lady at the Va. Beach farmers market gave me a list of the "Buy Fresh Buy Local" places in the area. I found one that seemed to focus on fresh seafood. That was Burton's Grill, the southern-most outpost of a small New England chain. This wasn't up to the level of Kinkead's in DC, but it wasn't bad. The wine list is somewhat well chosen, although their one Virginia white is from the Eastern Shore, and is a regrettable selection. Glad I asked for a sample first.

For the most part everything was fine. They can make a martini cold enough, the scallops are almost cooked perfectly (30 seconds too long) and the crabcake likewise (30 seconds too little). But the cucumber salad was remarkable.

We were here checking Virginia Beach as a retirement possibility. As my wife said, we've been spoiled. Virginia Beach is off the list.

Wayne Rash

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Well, I had a lengthy and detailed review written for One Fish Two Fish but I lost it somehow so here is the abridged version.

Had the calamari and onion starter. It had a horseradish sauce poured over the top that made everything soggy. Crab cake main. Worst crab cake I have ever had. Remoulade sauce was overpowering. And it wasn't just finished with the sauce, the crab was tossed in it. Terrible. Wife had shrimp and crab scampi. Was excellent. Daughter had crispy fried parmesan flounder. Was not crispy at all. Barely had any color to it, slightly brown. Fish was done however, not sure how they screwed that up.

Overall, I think this place could be excellent. Right now they are only getting 95% right.

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Super casual, an order-at-the-counter-in-a-strip-mall kinda place, and I might get the Locals Only mob coming after me, but visitors to the Virginia Beach oceanfront should not miss the MexiCali finds at Pelon's on Pacific Avenue.

Each trip to my hometown includes a dash to inhale the mother of all things fresh and fabulous: Pelon's shrimp tacos. With pineapple salsa, creamy chipotle kick, impossibly thin-sliced cabbage, perfectly briny (and smartly deveined) fried shrimp, all tucked away into soft, utmost quality white corn tortillas, there is a lot to love in three tacos for $8.75. No table service, but several types of bottled beer are available to wash down your treasured morsels. Ingredient quality is top notch across the entire menu board, with breakfast burritos on weekends as another success. Fish tacos are their claim to fame, but aim for shrimp to experience something even more special.

I often prod the owner about how soon he plans to come to DC. And every time, he quotes local neighborhoods where they have been looking, mostly in the Northern Virginia 'burbs. Keeping my fingers crossed the Baja stars align and Pelon's arrives here soon.

(spanish speakers will know)

(and laugh)

(at the aptly named establishment)

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On 1/3/2020 at 9:05 PM, Ericandblueboy said:

Becca in the Cavalier is actual fine dining with warm service and well executed food.  Probably the best restaurant in VA Beach.  Reservation on Opentable.

came for whale watching- saw a pair of humpbacks that we followed closely.

Eric, I've dithered about where to go to GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE for a few days - I think I've leaned away from Ocean City and the Outer Banks, and have settled on Virginia Beach, where I haven't been in nearly 50 years!

Does anyone have any input about places to stay (paramount importance) or restaurants?

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1 hour ago, Ericandblueboy said:

I’ve only stayed in low rises since the pandemic started.  Bavarian Inn, Boar’s Head Resort, Wylder Tilghman Island, and Periwinkle Inn (Cape May).  We stayed at the Hyatt House in VA Beach.  It was quiet during the off-season.

Was Hyatt House somewhere you'd consider decent? And (since there's a strip of hotels), can you think of anyplace else that might be a comparable, or even a step up?

(Did you enjoy Virginia Beach? I know shockingly little about it - last time I was there, my dad had to come out into the ocean and save me from an undertow (while incurring a nasty cut on his leg which required a hospital visit and stitches - he was a hero to me for having done that ... I was on my way out to sea if he hadn't come and fetched me.)

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Years ago we went to VA Beach and found there's not much to see.  We went back during the winter only for whale watching, which is fun for the kids.  There's also an aquarium there.  We also spent a night in Colonial Williamsburg.  I personally don't care for beaches.  The Hyatt House is pretty nice.

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16 hours ago, DonRocks said:

Eric, I've dithered about where to go to GET THE HELL OUT OF HERE for a few days - I think I've leaned away from Ocean City and the Outer Banks, and have settled on Virginia Beach, where I haven't been in nearly 50 years!

Does anyone have any input about places to stay (paramount importance) or restaurants?

100% stay at the Cavalier. Gorgeous renovation.

I was there last summer with a group for USTA sectionals and then again for regionals (in Norfolk, but no chance we were staying there). Not cheap, but really a wonderful property. Agreed with Eric on Becca - the indoor pool is lovely and the more casual restaurant got the job done as well. Having the beach club was also very nice, and would make it easier to distance.

That said, we went to VA Beach because we had to - I'd point you in this direction instead:

https://www.donrockwell.com/topic/14342-bar-harbor-and-down-east-maine/

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2 hours ago, Keithstg said:

That said, we went to VA Beach because we had to - I'd point you in this direction instead:

https://www.donrockwell.com/topic/14342-bar-harbor-and-down-east-maine/

I was considering Hilton Head (too far) and Martha's Vineyard (too far north), and realized there is almost nothing in between them, so ....

About 25-30 years ago, I had been to nearly all of the restaurants in the country that had simultaneous Mobil 5-Star and AAA 5-Diamond ratings (this is all there was back then!)

Anyway, one of them was in Bar Harbor, and I'm struggling to remember the name, but it was on this occasion when I realized that "rating systems" were full of BS. This restaurant was "okay," but certainly not worthy of anyone's highest accolades, much less the only two ranking services' in the United States. 

While dining here, I noticed that everytime a customer (male or female) came back from the restroom, a server would walk over and go *into* the restroom. I was bemused at first, but when I finally visited the restroom myself, I discovered why: Floating on top of the water of each toilet were red rose petals. server.jpg

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12 minutes ago, DonRocks said:

I was considering Hilton Head (too far) and Martha's Vineyard (too far north), and realized there is almost nothing in between them, so ....

About 25-30 years ago, I had been to nearly all of the restaurants in the country that had simultaneous Mobil 5-Star and AAA 5-Diamond ratings (this is all there was back then!)

Anyway, one of them was in Bar Harbor, and I'm struggling to remember the name, but it was on this occasion when I realized that "rating systems" were full of BS. This restaurant was "okay," but certainly not worthy of anyone's highest accolades, much less the only two ranking services' in the United States. 

While dining here, I noticed that everytime a customer (male or female) came back from the restroom, a server would walk over and go *into* the restroom. I was bemused at first, but when I finally visited the restroom myself, I discovered why: Floating on top of the water of each toilet were red rose petals. server.jpg

Oof. Can’t imagine that job. Anyway, I think you would really enjoy the Cavalier.

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4 hours ago, DonRocks said:

I was considering Hilton Head (too far) and Martha's Vineyard (too far north), and realized there is almost nothing in between them, so ....

No pushback against this statement?

I was hoping to get some, cuz I really don't want to go to Virginia Beach.

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11 hours ago, DonRocks said:

No pushback against this statement?

I was hoping to get some, cuz I really don't want to go to Virginia Beach.

I hear that. The common refrain among our group about the Cavalier was - "This place is great - too bad it's here, though".

Fishers Island in Long Island Sound is very nice. Block Island could also be fun.

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57 minutes ago, Ericandblueboy said:

I thought about going back to Portland, ME for Labor Day weekend (stopping and picking up my bro in NJ on the way to and fro).  The trip failed to materialize because my SIL couldn't get time off.  I wouldn't drive straight to Portland (8.5 hrs is too long).

The last time we drove to Maine it took 17 hours.  We decided we were never going to do that again.

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2 hours ago, zgast said:

The last time we drove to Maine it took 17 hours.  We decided we were never going to do that again.

Flying to Boston and renting a car is (normally) a great way to get to Maine and beyond into the Canadian Maritime Provinces.

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7 hours ago, zgast said:

The last time we drove to Maine it took 17 hours.  We decided we were never going to do that again.

From where and to where in Maine? That's wild unless you are headed to Aroostoock County. I've been driving from DC or VA to ME for the past 19ish years, save for when we fly or leave from NY. Never taken more than 13 to NE Harbor. Of course, now I've jinxed myself...

There was a direct flight on United from Dulles to Portland, and Dulles to Bangor, but fear it's a casualty of the pandemic. 

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