My wife and I had a wonderful dinner at the Inn and Garden Café – a bit off the beaten track in Onancock, Virginia. We were able to have a dining experience that rarely occurs – an almost-private dinner prepared just for the two of us. Since we were eating early during the low season, for most of the meal we were the only diners in this cozy, yet bright, dining room. The gracious owners of the Inn (Sandra and Paul) were our waiter and host, plus we able to meet and talk to the charming and talented chef, Gary (he stopped by after the main course and the dessert to chat and get first-hand feedback).
We started the meal with a delightful lobster bisque that was loaded with crab meat. It was lightly creamy – not too thick – and, at the recommendation of our host, we added a bit of sherry to it, which really took the flavor to a new level. The homemade olive and cheese herb bread was fresh from the oven and lightly toasted. The simple, yet effective, transition to our main course was a salad of arugula, radicchio, scallions, kalamata olives, diced mushrooms, and grape tomatoes in a light, balsamic vinaigrette dressing. The main course was lump crab cakes served with bok choy and jasmine rice. The crab cakes were absolutely delicious.
You will note that we only discussed one appetizer, salad, and main course. That’s because my wife and I (both relatively light eaters) usually split all our selections so that we can enjoy all the courses offered. This has been handled in the past in many ways. Usually, we either trade the plate back and forth or are provided a second plate that we use to apportion the food provided. Here, each course came out already separately apportioned and perfectly presented on twin bowls (soup) or plates. One side benefit is that this sometimes allows room for two desserts for us to share, which we did this evening, to our delight. The desserts were a lifetime-best key lime pie and an out-of-this world crème caramel.
This was about as good as it gets - delightful service, wonderful food, and a very charming setting. The overall experience made us think that this must be the way the president eats with his own private, first-class chef! Definitely worth the trip if you are anywhere along the Virginia Eastern Shore.
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