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“Bohemian atmosphere, plebian cuisine.” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Grove Market

Grove Market
12402 Saint Martins Neck Rd, Bishopville, MD 21813-1671
410-352-5055
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Cuisines: American, Seafood
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Local cuisine
Dining options: Dinner, Reservations
cornwall on hudson
Senior Reviewer
8 reviews 8 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
15 helpful votes 15 helpful votes
“Bohemian atmosphere, plebian cuisine.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 26, 2012

We knew by reputation that Grove Market on St Martin's neck road is highly in demand and so reservations are hard to come by, particularly in high season - July/August.

Still, I was on my way back from a rendezvous in Fenwick, took the inland route off of Ocean Highway, and this led me to a few spots. One, just before you reach Grove Market, is a prominent sign that advertises seafood. I went that way and ordered a half a bushel of crabs from the proprietor. Picked them up the next day. They were sweet and, we enjoyed them. At the opposite end of that road, and to the left just prior to the Grove, is a farm with fresh veggies, pickled relishes, and preserves. I got some nice tomatoes and a jar of the traditional pepper relish.

And then I made my way to the Grove for a reservation. The woman who handles the reservation book was polite and gracious and assured me that she would seat us for a Friday at five if she could. She made good on her word.

When we arrived that Friday evening, the restaurant was in an early full swing. Vintage signs and kitsch fill the walls and ceilings along with various sepia toned lacrosse posters and it's the sort of milieu that suggests a culinary adventure. Which in this case, was half true. Partly in a good way, and also partly not so good.

As other reviewers inform, there are no menus, save a wine list which seemed thoughtful. The waitress, in our case the amiable Amy, blurted specials which on our night seemed particularly weighted to foods embellished with Chorizo.

Indeed, we ordered the mussels with chorizo and were pleased by a bowl of moules drenched in a spicy, garlicky, and chorizo accented broth that was very good. However, a full quarter of the mussels were not opened. Disappointing. And, we are bread snobs. We don't eat wheat often, and when we do we like a solid bread experience. This was not the case at Grove. The various breads served were of a sort one might expect to get at Papa Ginos, not a fairly pricey local restaurant. But this is not unusual all over Ocean City in my experience, so clearly sourcing a good artisan bread vendor is not easy in that town.

Next up, a smoked fish platter. The sauce was very good, the seasonal fruits nice. I would say the fish was good, but on the dry side. Not terrible not terrific, acceptable. I have had excellent smoked fish elsewhere, for instance the Oyster Bar in NYC, so I suppose I could be called spoiled, but if that is a featured dish and you have your own smokehouse, as Grove does, it must raise the bar a bit.

On to the other appetizer. A crab meat goo is the best way I can describe what I think was called a dipsie? I have a wonderful Junior League cookbook called Charleston Receipts which features a plethora of crab dishes from that region. This appetizer was prepared in a similar vein, but unspectacularly. I think it needed a bit of sherry and morsels of mushrooms to give some punch. It was no more special than a standard dish brought by a lesser cook to a Super Bowl pre game party. And, served with saltines.

Finally, dinner. I ordered the flounder stuffed with Smith Island crab meat and identified as being Mexican in flavor. Because, you know, of the chorizo. What a disaster. I made dishes like this in college to dress up drab fare using canned cream of mushroom over cheap haddock blended with cheddar cheese, fine but umm..., well, anyway, that's what this tasted like. It was truly bad. And a shame, too, because it ruined beautiful crab meat and what under all the glop seemed to be fresh and tasty flounder. Cilantro in the stuffing did nothing to make what might have been an interesting dish compelling. I was hoping for something delicate and flavorful like the seafood tacos I fell in love with while in San Diego a few years back. You know, with that creamy dressing? But no. This too was altogether pedestrian and something a fifties housewife would have concocted with leftovers. Really, not good.

On the other hand, DH's duck was sublime. I mean about the best I have ever had. The reduction was perfect. The meat tender and flavorful, and what you would hope duck properly prepared could be.

Desert was provided for by a local vendor and we had the key lime which was excellent.

All in all an evening out for just under $200 with tip and I can honestly say I would not be inspired to go back. Emmings, just over the way in Bishopville will find you a delightful meal for far less money. It features tasty Delmarva fare that finds you walking away saying, "yum! that was really good!"

A night out on vacation for an average of $35 per entree should leave you saying at least that.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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123 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
1 review
“Fifty Shades has absolutely nothing over this place”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 20, 2012 via mobile

All the food is better than sex. Unbelievably delicious choices and huge portions. Wonderful relaxed atmosphere and hospitality. A must experience.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Westborough, Massachusetts
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
19 helpful votes 19 helpful votes
“The Grove”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2012

I have to say that I am puzzled over some of the reviews here. First of all, I don't see how anyone can say that Leslie is pretentious or rude. I have been there many times and she is always a delight - warm, friendly and gracious. Granted, I am a "local" (own a place in Ocean City and 2 of my 3 sons live there year-round), yet I know of NO ONE who has been treated poorly. I recommend The Grove to everyone and have never heard anything but glowing reviews. I used to own a catering business, have done personal chef work, and consider myself knowledgable re: good food. I have to say that I have NEVER had a meal that tops The Grove. I live outside of Boston now and have been to many great places, but The Grove is it for me. As far as the menu presentation and the eclectic decor, that is a big part of the experience for me. We had a party of 10 at the beginning of August to celebrate my son's 27th birthday - half had been there and the other half were "Grove virgins" - everyone was blown away and Leslie could not have been nicer or more accommodating to our somewhat raucous table. The duck is amazing and my boyfriend (who loves duck and always gets it if it's on the menu) thinks it's the best he ever had. Hey, even us locals sometimes have a hard time getting in - persevere and you WILL get a reservation.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Baltimore, Maryland
Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
24 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 14 cities Reviews in 14 cities
30 helpful votes 30 helpful votes
“A Very Quirky Place”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed August 16, 2012

This is the most difficult review I've written. If you accept the place on it's terms, it can be quite good. Yes, you must call two weeks out for a reservation. Yes, it's very casual and friendly, with clunky tables, mismatched chairs, plastic water glasses, and cheap tableware (which you must lick clean after your appetizer because they will not bring you fresh utensils). There is no menu; the waitstaff will recite the appetizers and entrees, but not give you the prices. The wine list is small and not very imaginative. Now for the food. Most of it is ordinary fare, done nicely, but there is nothing spectacular about the preparation to justify the prices, which are high, even for Ocean City high season. The scallops one of our party had were nicely done. The crab cakes were good, but not special. The rockfish was so encrusted and overdone is was almost inedible--I do not understand the need to take a lovely piece of fresh fish, and then ruin it). My twice-cooked half duck was actually spectacular, perfectly done with a wonderful reduction sauce--the best I've ever had. However, while potato salad and some chopped cucumber may be fine with crab cakes, it was horrible with the duck. They make what they make and you get the same sides with everything. I would go again to get the duck, but otherwise there's no particular reason to go, at those prices, when there are many other fine restaurants (especially Jules), where you can get the same food, much of it better, and cheaper, with lovely sunset views.

  • Visited August 2012
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 2 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Winston Salem NC
Top Contributor
111 reviews 111 reviews
81 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
52 helpful votes 52 helpful votes
“Unbelievable food, service and atmosphere.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2012 via mobile

O.M.G. It looks like a bait shop from the outside, but if you enjoy incredible food, and are near Ocean City: go! You call about two weeks in advance and they call you back IF they have a spot. 26 seat maximum... You'll get a choice of a bunch of appetizers, salads and soups. You'll order your wine. Then you'll hear the dinner options. Fabulous duck, scallops, fish, lamb, steak. Great side dishes. Then, when you can't imagine eating dessert, you'll hear that list. To die for: key lime chiffon, silk pie, berry pie, coconut cake, orange cake. Again: O.M.G. Go hungry!

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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