Long name, killer seafood
The charmingly named area of Rescue has an even more charmingly named seafood restaurant perched on the edge of Jones Creek in Isle of Wight County.
Captain Chuck-a-Muck’s Ship Store and Grill Secret Hideout #2 is the second incarnation of a restaurant that closed in 2002 due to a fire. Up and running since August 2006, the new location features a small bar and dining area, along with outside seating and views on the deck.
We walked into the open room, which was lined with paper-covered picnic tables. The single waitress was frantically running, so we camped out at an empty table until she made her way breathlessly over. Although the power was flickering and the tables quite full, she had a great sense of humor, and made us feel right at home. We placed our drink orders, then pored over the paper menus, which she had kindly supplemented with a printout of the day’s specials.
She returned with a bottle of the Sterling Vinter’s Reserve Chardonnay ($18.95), carefully tucked into an ice-packed bait bucket. With a quick pop, she opened the top and took the rest of our order, leaving us to sip and survey the surroundings.
Eye candy is in no short order here — nautical trinkets abound, fleshed out with parrots and other Jimmy Buffet-esque touches. It took a moment to realize that we were sitting directly in front of two adjacent garage doors. They were closed that night, but would open directly onto the waterside deck. You can bet I’m coming back for that on balmier days!
Even though the kitchen appeared to be in the weeds (that's kitchen slang for having fallen behind and struggling to catch up), our appetizer made a quick appearance. Fried calamari rings — and tentacles ($7.95) — arrived perfectly crispy and piled high. With a quick lemon twist, we dug in. The same incredulous smile crept across both of our mouths — this was some of the best calamari I’ve had in some time. The squid was tender and fresh, the bread coating was crisp and light, and the accompanying cocktail sauce provided just the right mix of spicy sweetness.
As we nibbled, the waitress came to Dave with an air of apology. They were down to one skimpy fillet of the fish he’d requested, but would be happy to supplement it with a goodly portion of fried grouper, also on special. Can you say the best of both worlds?
So it was that Dave’s platter came out with a not-so slight portion of fried flounder ($19.95). The breading-to-fish ratio was dead-on, allowing the fresh flavor to shine through this perfectly cooked fillet. The grouper was bookend perfect. Fresh and fat, this mild portion was perfect when kissed with a bright squirt of lemon.
The platter was rounded out with two sides and two hushpuppies. The hushpuppies were an excellent example of how simply fried dough can be transcendent when seasoned just right. He also tried out the coleslaw, which was mayo-based, but nonetheless light and refreshing.
I was unable to resist the lure of “THE BEST” crab cakes ($18.95). They weren’t lying! These little mounds were heavy with happy fresh crab, and just enough filler to make it all stick together. Although there were two, I was only able to finish one — the second one made for an incredible lunch the next day.
For my sides, I chose the fries and steamed broccoli. The fries were nicely crisp, not at all greasy and seasoned just right with a little shake of black pepper. The broccoli was vibrant and green, retaining just a touch of firmness to the tooth.
A reader turned me on to this place, and I couldn’t be more pleased — it’s now my go-to choice for local seafood. The family-friendly environment, coupled with pleasant service and killer seafood, is sure to make this one worth the trip.
Captain Chuck-a-Muck's Ship Store and Grill Secret Hideout #2
21088 Marina Road, Rescue
Phone: 356-1005 fax: 357-2538
Web site: www.captainchuck-a-mucks.com
Specialties: fresh seafood
Price range: starters: $2.95-market price; boats: $5.95-$9.95; entrees: $13.95-$19.95
Hours: (winter hours) Tuesday-Thursday: 12-2 p.m. and 5-8 p.m.; Friday-Saturday: 12-9 p.m.; Sunday 2-8 p.m.
Alcohol: beer, wine, full bar
Wheelchair accessible: yes
Payment: cash, credit cards, checks
Noise level: conversational to noisy
Additional Information: daily specials, dockage, outdoor dining
Star rating: food 4 1/2, atmosphere 4, service 3 1/2
(out of five stars)