On Saturday, April 1, my wife Cindy and I headed over to Herrington Harbour North Marina and Resort, where we keep our boat. The restaurant on the property used to be called Calypso Bay — it is now Dockside Restaurant & Sports Bar. We we visited its previous incarnation many times, but had stopped going to it due uneven service and food (see Repetition worthwhile from last December). Fortunately, it shut down and new management was found, bringing in the folks who used to run Petie Greens over on Drum Point Rd., not far from Skipper’s Pier Restaurant and Dock Bar.
The new incarnation of this dining establishment is called Dockside Restaurant & Sports Bar (click here to see their listing in our Food & Drink Business Directory, with their address, opening times, and driving directions). Gone are the sandy beach and palm trees (yes, they brought in sand and palm trees [the palm trees pretty much died every winter, so new ones were brought in every spring]) outside the dining room in front of Rockhold Creek and the many boats docked there. Gone too are the outdoor Tiki decorations and bar, with a new, more tasteful outdoor bar along with seating on a grassy area, and a small, covered stage for performances.
A new look
This was our first visit to Dockside since the change in management. They serve lunch and dinner every day, and offer breakfast on the weekends, when the marinas in the neighborhood are at their busiest. When we entered we were quickly seated by the hostess. We noticed that the small bar in the front of the restaurant (that is, the side facing Deale Rd.; the sports bar is on the opposite side of the building, with a large parking lot in back and another entrance) had some remodeling done, and the high-top tables that used to occupy the space are now gone.
The dining room has been redecorated, too. While the walls remain a pale yellow or beige, there are now black banquettes along the walls and simple white table-cloths and black chairs. The flatware is already on the table, wrapped in paper napkins. With the fence around the outdoor dining area now gone, you get a much better view of the creek and boats.
Our waitress quickly appeared, handed us menus (click here to see the menus online), and asked for our drink order. Cindy got iced tea and I asked for a root beer. Since I’d already looked at the menu online, I knew what I wanted: onion rings (as an appetizer) and fried clams (served with french fries and coleslaw; usually they serve this dish with cocktail sauce, but I asked them to substitute tartar sauce, and a double order at that, as I prefer to use tartar sauce for dipping my french fries). Cindy ordered the Corned-Beef Reuben, with chips and a pickle (not the Turkey “Reuben’ — can you really call it a Reuben if it’s made with turkey?).
Food & Drink
Drinks were quickly brought to the table, and the onion rings soon followed. They were quite hot and obviously fresh from the fryer. Their coating appeared to be of the beer-batter type, and it was a good sign that it didn’t just fall off when the rings were handled. Although we both tend to eat onion rings with our fingers, these were so hot that for the first few minutes, it was definitely better to eat them with a fork. They were quite good.
Then we waited for our food. Free refills of our drinks were provided in the meantime. We continued to nibble at the onion rings, as the food seemed to take a bit of time to arrive, but we were careful not to over-indulge, as we didn’t want to totally spoil our appetites (and the serving of onion rings was probably an appetizer large enough for a table of four).
Finally, our main courses were delivered, and both looked quite good. Also, like the appetizer, the portions where on the large size. I was first introduced to fried clams as a child in the classic version that was served at Howard Johnson’s restaurants (see My tastes in food — Part I, the early years), and have loved them ever since. My plate came with not one, not two, but three plastic ramekins of tartar sauce (Nice job! I much prefer not having to ask for more tartar sauce, which has happened more times than I can recall). The fried clams I was served definitely had that distinctive clam taste, although the entire batch had spent probably just about a minute too long in the fryer, making the coating on some of them a bit too hard. But the clams themselves were not rubbery and chewy, which I’ve seen happen all too often in other restaurants. The number of fries was more than enough.
Cindy reported that her Reuben was quite good, and it was nice that they added a ramekin of Thousand Island dressing on the side. There was a generous portion of chips, too, of the ripple variety that didn’t look to have been made in-house. That didn’t mean they were bad, just not original to the restaurant. She also reported that “it was a good dill pickle” that came with the sandwich.
At the end of the meal, we had quite a few leftovers and asked for go-boxes to take things home. Cindy put half her sandwich and about half her chips in one, and I put the remaining onion rings (about a third of the original order) and about half of my original complement of french fries into mine (I’m thinking of chopping both of them up to make something like home fries for breakfast).
Today’s experience was a great improvement over the last time we had been to this site, under the previous management. We look forward to trying Dockside again. Let’s hope they not only keep up the good work, but even improve! ♦