The Pier Cafe is only open during the Summer, is the more informal part of the Lynnhaven Fish House and is located on the Chesapeake Bay adjacent to the Fishhouse at the base of the Lynnhaven Fishing Pier. You get a taste of the informality by entering the Cafe from the fishing pier instead of through the restaurant, and you're normally immediately met by a hostess or server, and asked to choose between an inside table or seat at the bar (the enclosed and air conditioned part of the restaurant), or an outside table right on the covered and enclosed base of the pier. We always head for the outside tables (hey --- if you want to be air conditioned and formal, you'll eat in the Fishhouse itself - right?), and did so again last Saturday for a late lunch. The normal crowd had died down, and we got a table on the shady side and started enjoying the clear skies, 80 degree temps, great breeze and in-your-face views of all the people and boats on the beach. Some 10 minutes later (understaffed late in the afternoon?) our server arrived to take our orders --- the usual crab cake sandwich, coleslaw and iced tea --- and we were gobbling our food some 15 minutes after that. All the while, we couldn't help being relaxed and chilled by the great outdoor beach environment and views of the Bay. Hard to find a more picturesque spot in Va Beach to enjoy a crab cake.
Having said all this about the restaurant's great beach location, I think the Pier Cafe --- and maybe the Fishhouse itself, too --- has slipped a bit over the last year or so in its food offerings. The service at the Cafe also seems to be a bit more nonchalant, too, although I still find the Fishhouse service to be top-drawer. The food at both locations, while still good, seems to be a bit more institutional; the crab in the crab cake is no longer all lump and has the consistency of the canned pasteurized crab from China, and the cole slaw is pre-made and seems like it may have been purchased from the folks at Sysco Foods. I'm sure the fish fillet offerings are still fresh here, but I just get the sense that corners are being cut in the prepared menu offerings, like the crab cakes, when they can do it. And for we crab cake aficionados, who make a real study of comparative crab cake shopping in Va Beach, its definitely noticeable. Fortunately for us, there are just too many great crab cakes in this town to have to put up with one that's a little lacking --- no matter how great the view of the Bay from the restaurant.
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