trip to crystal coast, nc
hi i went to the crystal coast, nc, and read your recs on here before i went. i made sure to avoid sanitary. however, the hotel recommended amos mosquito's in atlantic beach. it was crowded when we got there. we waited at the bar over 45 minutes for an outdoor table. we ordered chips with blue cheese which were very good. however, the food was bad. #1 it was way too expensive. #2 the fried fish didn't taste good, there was too much breading and too greasy. this was a medicore at best restaurant for people who are not foodies/chowhounds. in addition, the outdoor patio overlooked a short section of marsh with ugly condos in the back, hardly worth advertising as "waterfront." i DO NOT recommend this. in addition, we wanted a breakfast place so we tried brandy's in morehead city. this was a mediocre breakfast buffet. for about $7 a person you got scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, french toast and pancakes, fresh fruit. it is not the worst but ihop or cracker barrel is 100% better value. (said by a chowhound who doesn't eat at chains.) i didn't eat in beaufort but it appears to have nicer looking restaurants. the other cities tend to be typical beach towns. however, we ate at icehouse restaurant in swansboro, right on the waterfront and this was one of the best restaurants i've eaten at in north carolina. we got coconut shrimp, calamari and crabcakes for appetizers. the coconut shrimp was absolutely perfect--lightly coated and crispy. it came with a delectable raspberry dipping sauce and a citrus dipping sauce that was almost as good. the calamari was lightly breaded as well and you got nice large pieces of calamari and few tentacles. the crabcakes were mostly crab. for dinner, i got the lady brassey salad which was very sweet and tasty. the fried fish dinner with flounder, scallops and shrimp was absolutely wonderful. i think the key to good fried fish is the light breading (of course the flavor of it as well) but this was perfect. because the food was so good, we had dessert as well. choices included chocolate cake, cannoli, applie pie with ice cream. the cannoli was ok as the shell was crunchy as it should be but the filling wasn't paricularly tasty. the applie pie was good but not spectacular. however, the chocolate cake was out of this world. i think it's very hard to get a delicious chocolate cake and this one took the cake (pun intended). it had some kind of ganache/brownie layer on top that was out of this world. in all, this was an excellent restaurant. i highly recommend it. it is worth traveling the 20 miles out of atlantic beach/morehead city to get a good meal rather. in addition, it was the same cost as amos mosquito's but icehouse was actually worth $100.
i wasn't there that long and i also tend to eat healthy so i pack a lot of healthy things and like to splurge a little bit on trips so i didn't eat out often. i could've saved the money and calories on the brandy's and amos's...but i would totally gain weight if icehouse was near where i live....
The Icehouse in Swansboro is indeed a great place to go, so glad you were able to salvage at least part of your dining experience on the Crystal Coast; Clausons in Beaufort is fair at best, and the 1932 Restaurant in Morehead is supposed to be excellent, but not known for 'local' seafood. In fact, Morehead/Atlantic Beach really doesn't have much to offer in the way of good seafood......a reality I've never figured out.
You don't say where you live, but hope you manage to come back this way and try
Little River NC,/ Calabash NC right on the NC/SC line has some amazing little seafood shacks. Boats come in, fish/shell fish come off and after a brief trip thru the kitchen it's on your plate! Some are 'quaint', some are family fare, but I've never had a bad meal or snack in any of them; menu's are not consistent though as they truly rely on the daily catch. But I had the best conch sandwich I've ever had at one of them and it's an art to prepare Conch!
Too bad you didn't eat at Ella's in Calabash. Hate you spent a lot of $ for a poor experience.
BTW, if you go back and have a craving for steak, try the Watermark at Atlantic Beach. Charcoal grilled and some of the best you'll ever have. And, their seafood is some of the best on the CC. We eat there two or three times each time we're down.