Lured to the Beach House by a claim that a family of four can eat for about $40, we found out there is some truth in advertising.
We also found some pleasant surprises and just one disappointment at this bright restaurant at 125th Street and the Coastal Highway.
First, the Beach House is about as casual as they come in Ocean City; more casual, perhaps, than any of the establishments on the Boardwalk.
Waitresses wear cut-off jeans and T-shirts. Some customers -- at least I think they were patrons -- were bare-chested and barefoot. But then this is a beach house, right?
The same advertisement mentioned ribs as one of the Beach House's specialties. Of course, that's what we ordered and that was one of the pleasant surprises. The ribs, served with french fries for $5.95, were terrific. The barbecue sauce was spicy and the meat was tender. While we've had plenty of ribs with great sauce, we've had few with meat as tender as that at the Beach House.
We later learned that the owners, Tod Turner and Patrick Parks, formerly were cooks at J R's the Place for Ribs. They opened the Beach House two months ago.
Also surprising was the pizza. The crust was doughy, the sauce tangy and the cheese just right. It was probably the best pizza my family and I have had in Ocean City.
The Beach House does not have a children's menu. But a 9-inch pizza ($3.95) and a grilled cheese sandwich served with potato chips ($2.95) seemed to serve my kids well.
For an appetizer, we ordered Buffalo chicken wings with bleu cheese sauce ($4.25). The wings were meaty and the sauce, again, was spicy. No complaints here.
One of the more interesting appetizers on the menu was shark bites ($4.25) -- nuggets of black tip shark, deep-fried in a batter and served with a honey-mustard sauce. Though we didn't order it, it sounded good.
What turned out to be disappointing was the beach salad, described as a fresh fruit salad on a bed of greens ($4.25). It turned out to be nothing more than lettuce and some melon pieces.
We fared better with the super salad, a garden salad with fresh vegetables, including tomatoes, green peppers, onions and carrots ($2.75). The portion was generous.
The atmosphere, of course, is casual. There are the usual hanging plants and some pictures of sailboats. The table and chairs are white plastic patio furniture.
Adding to the casualness were open sliding glass doors, allowing a nice breeze to filter in on a warm, spring day. It was almost like eating at home on your own deck, but with someone else doing the work.
Lastly, the Beach House also is one of the few places in Ocean City that serves beer at happy-hour prices to its dinner clientele. That was a bonus.
Oh, our bill came to $30.
Coastal Highway and 125th Street, bay side, (410) 250-2223.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. daily.
Credit cards: MC, V, DC.
Features: ribs, steamed crabs. Non-smoking section? No.