September 18, 2014  Tautog – Virginia Beach VA

Sometimes things just all fall into place and everything works correctly. It’s even more pleasing when this happens in an unfamiliar environment. I had occasion to travel to Virginia Beach. I must tell you that the drive from central New Jersey is so boring that even the most sane might be found having a conversation with themselves. There is however, one fun distraction along the way. Tiki Murph is a roadside stop on the northbound side of Route 1 in Milford DE. This homage to Polynesia allows you to outfit yourself with an array of carved Tikis, Tiki Bars and huts-pretty cool stuff ………….    …………………………… Sorry my mind wandered, I must have taken a trip to tropics. Back to the subject at hand.

After checking into my hotel and admiring the beach from the balcony I set out to find a place for dinner. Searching the usual online sources I found what seemed like numerous options…hmmm, which one to choose? Actually the decision was quite easy. After six plus hours in the car the last thing I wanted to do was get back behind the wheel. Past the obligatory t- shirt shops, tourist focused eateries and Ben & Jerry-God help us if a tourist town doesn’t have one- I arrived at what looked a simple old beach house. Good, looks like place for the locals . My initial impression was not wrong. Although there was clearly a mix of locals and tourist this was truly an establishment with a sense of place. Comfortable, old and worn but in the best way. It was real. Nothing appeared to be there just to appeal to a preconceived concept of what the place should be. Whether it was the bumper stickers on the ice maker, the pictures on the wall or the semi-cramped  space itself, it all worked. After waiting about ten minutes I was able to find a seat at the bar and ordered a glass of Riesling from a reasonably priced wine list with enough selections to keep you happy.  On to the menu,  fish and seafood focused but offering a few meat and chicken selections as well. The food didn’t disappoint. Nothing unusual but they made the dishes a little more interesting than standard fare-a large Caesar salad and Mahi Mahi over a red pepper coulis with dill sour cream. This was really quite good.

While I left satisfied with my meal, it was the place that left the impression. Friendly and welcoming, good conversation with some regulars- based on the interaction among patrons and staff there seemed to be a lot of them-a restaurant not interested in trends or artificiality. Simply put it all just worked. I’m glad I found Tautog’s. The thought of eating at a themed restaurant with some clown dressed in a fish outfit singing to screaming kids is a nightmare I can’t imagine….kind of like a demonic Charlie the Tuna!