Some things about Ocean City may change: The beach may get replenished, noise curfews be enforced and high rises multiply, but if I have my way, one thing will remain the same -- the Marina Deck.
With its cheerful checkered tablecloths, panoramic view of the bay and fine seafood, the restaurant manages to be both a hot spot for noisy families and romance-seeking couples.
Arriving on a bustling Thursday night, we were impressed with the service, especially since we had two toddlers in tow. The waiter made it a point to show us the children's menu, offered us Styrofoam cups for the little ones and didn't even complain when the kids decided to rip them up rather than use them.
It wasn't until the bread server arrived that we knew we were truly in the right place. Of the many traditions the restaurant has developed over the 14 years it's been in business, this is my favorite. As the young woman circled the table frequently with a wicker basket of warm bread and muffins, it was hard to avoid bTC overindulging on sweet coconut muffins and chewy rye.
For appetizers, we began with a plate of potato skins with crab imperial and Cheddar cheese ($7.95). The toppings were a welcome change from the more conventional cheese and bacon fillings (which the menu also offered), but the skins could have used another minute or two in the oven. Since the restaurant is known for steamed seafood, we sampled a half pound of shrimp ($6.95). Although small, they were tender and accompanied by a sauce that had the perfect blend of sweetness and spice.
If you like salads on the sweet side, you'll enjoy the tropical salad -- a blend of iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, pineapple, mandarin oranges and tomatoes, accompanied by a creamy honey dressing. The more conventional taste buds may prefer the spinach or Caesar salad.
All that, however, turned out to be just a prelude to our dinners, which were first-rate. The real stand-out was the surf and turf ($24.95), a succulent 4-ounce lobster tail paired with a New York strip steak. It proved too much of a good thing, but that was nothing a doggie bag couldn't fix. The shrimp scampi ($13.95) was also a hit, with the six medium-sized shrimp packing a garlicky punch that could be detected across the table.
As for dessert, the pecan pie a la mode ($4.25) was more successful than the hot fudge cake ($4.25). The latter seemed misnamed since all it amounted to was pound cake topped with ice cream, whipped cream and a dab of hot fudge. We wished we had passed on it and summoned the bread server for just one more coconut muffin.
306 Dorchester St., 289-4411.
Hours: Open daily from 11:30 a.m.
Credit cards: MasterCard, American Express and Visa.
Reservations: For parties of eight or more.
Features: Seafood, steak, veal and chicken.