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Jun 16, 2008 04:57 PM

Oyster Creek Inn - Leeds Point, NJ

The Oyster Creek Inn has had a few good mentions on the board recently (including from me) and I figured it was about time to get there for the first visit of the season. So it easily became the destination of choice for Father’s Day lunch. Our group included my dad and mom, my sister and brother-in-law, and their three kids (aged 7, 5, and 2). We arrived about 15 minutes after 1 PM, their Sunday opening time during summer hours, and there were already a few tables occupied in the Crab Room including a group of 10, which I think had arrived by boat.

We quickly settled into one of the picnic tables in the screened section of the Crab Room. Although there was a chance of thunderstorms, we saw partly cloudy skies and had a nice marine breeze.

There are several beers on tap and more by the bottle, and we chose the draft Flying Fish summer ale by the pitcher: light for the season, but still with some flavor that sets it apart from the typical mass-produced lager in the U.S.

To start, we ordered a dozen oysters, a dish of crab claws, and a basket of fried shrimp with french fries (for the kids). The oysters ($7 per half dozen) were very good: they’re mild NJ oysters, and served cold and clean (and no bits of shell!), with a great fresh taste. The tray comes with a small dipping cup of cocktail sauce and a couple of lemons. There’s ketchup and horseradish on the table, so you can freshen or mix up your own cocktail sauce if you want. My one nit here is that the horseradish is pretty weak; even without any ketchup added to smooth it out, it didn’t have any kick at all.

The fried shrimp and french fries were pretty darn good too. The shrimp were tasty and cooked to the right degree of done. The fries were crispy and held their own in the basket. The plate of crab claws, on the other hand, was disappointing. I like the concept: small claws with easy to eat crab meat. The claw is shelled except for the end of the pincer which you use to pick it up, but they were seasoned in garlic which overwhelmed any crab flavor.

Onto the main courses: lobsters for four of us (including the 7 year-old) and crab norfolk for two. The lobsters were one-pounders, for which they now charge $17, and come with a side of cole slaw. As hoped and expected, they were all done perfectly, and we all really enjoyed them. Something about eating lobster in the summertime while sitting near the water makes for a perfect afternoon. The cole slaw is the finely chopped kind and a little sweet. The crab norfolk is chunks of crab meat served in a light garlic butter sauce with Old Bay spice; perfect for the no-hassle eater. My father and brother-in-law were very pleased with it. The small sample of it that I tasted had good crab sweetness, with the meat cooked just right. We all had an ear of yellow corn on the cob, which is another summer food that I can’t get enough of.

Service is perfunctory (I've read others complain of rudeness in the past, but I've never had a problem), and twice we had a partial delivery of food (e.g., “I owe you one crab norfolk”). There’s one waitress serving the whole of the crab room, with help from the bar-tender. Although in the past I’ve seen the Oyster Creek Inn get very crowded (and honestly, I was a little concerned about the crowd we’d hit on Father’s Day Sunday), it wasn’t a problem this visit. We were there for almost 2 hours, and there was never a waiting line for tables in the Crab Room. It’s not fancy: you sit at picnic tables and your food comes on cafeteria trays and disposable plates, but it’s pretty good food, it’s good value for price, and the setting is summer-perfect.

41 N Oyster Creek Rd
Leeds Point, NJ 08220
(609) 652-8565

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  1. Nice review. When I'm in the area I hope to give them a try.

    1. I was there only once, many years ago. I remember on the way in we passed at least 6 or so deer standing in the driveway, completely unconcerned with our being there. I also remember there were many homeless cats under the restaurant. Are they still there? That's always a bit heartbreaking for me to see. It wasn't crowded while we were there, but I barely remember if it was good or not. I'd like to give it another try this summer, if I can convince anyone to leave LBI to take the ride. Do they serve liquor?
      Thanks for the review.

      2 Replies
      1. re: mschow

        Yes, they have full bar service both in the Crab Room as well as in the main dining room.

        I should have added above that the main dining room has a separate, more extensive menu than the Crab Room. However, I've never dined in the main room, so I can't speak to the selections or the service. When I go to Oyster Creek, I'm perfectly content to feast on the oysters, crabs, and lobster in the Crab Room.

        I haven't seen any deer or cats, but on Sunday we did see a turtle family making their way across the road, a typical sight I surmise given the "turtle crossing" signs...

        1. re: njfreqflyer

          We eat there about a year ago and it was so good. I can not remember what everyone had exactly but I do know that my husband had the salmon ( loved it) and I ordered the two whole lobster special. We eat in the Main Dining Room, which to say the least is a little rustic or in South Jersey lingo, Piney.
          we will be eating there again /

      2. My Dad suggested we go there about 10 years ago. At this time my son was only about 6. We had him convinced that the Jersey Devil was there. If you go there you will see all the items about the Jersey Devil. He was not eating and my Dad poked him under the table at which time he almost flew out of his seat. My Dad then had to sit with him in the back seat while we drove down that long road because he really thought the Jersey Devil was going to jump out. Now he will be turing 18 and wants to go back there for his birthday. I think he may be dissappointed I think he still believes that he lives there!!! I really don't remember the food but I know we all enjoyed our time there.

        1 Reply
        1. re: aimeekd

          What a funny story! That reminds me of my Jersey Devil story. Back in the ver late 70's, my brother, his girlfriend, her brother and 2 other friends drove from LBI to Great Adventure. We were all in high school. We were all in my mom's big Chrysler station wagon on a back road going back to LBI and it was dusk. My brother was driving and his girlfriends brother was in the front seat with my brother. The rest of us were sort of dozing. Suddenly my brother screeched the brakes on and we heard the other guy in the front seat shouting, "Holy S---, what the hell was that?". They pulled the car over, and honestly, my brother and this other kid were white. They were 2 top high school athletes, and they were completely terrified. They said they saw something large sort of hop on the roadway and they look at them and half fly away. They said the eyes glowed, and there were teeth showing. There were no other cars around, and the rest of us were too tired to see anything. We all got back in the car and those 2 could only talk about what they had seen. And, we could tell they were not making it up.
          The next morning they barely spoke and were quiet the rest of the day. My mom drilled them both for hours about what they saw and their stories never changed. Even now, my brother is a managing director of a very well known investment firm, he still sticks to his story. And, he hates to talk about it. Both guys think they saw the Jersey Devil...

        2. My friends and I took a leisurely ride down the shore this weekend and I convinced them to try to find this place. My GPS wouldn't accept the address so we just found the signs pointing to Leeds Point and turned right when we saw the seagulls. It was around 3 pm so we decided to sit out in the crab room and enjoy with warm weather with a few beers.

          We were all very happy with our meal selections: $15 lobster, fried shrimp in a basket, salad with lump crabmeat and the crab norfolk. One friend just was craving king crab legs and although they weren't on the limited bar menu, the waitress asked the chef to make it for her. My friend really enjoyed her $30 crab legs. Our appetizers were the buffalo shrimp which we all loved but the chef refused our casual request to reveal the recipe or ingredients. The other appetizer we had was fried mushrooms which were just ok. Desserts are not on the bar menu either but the chef allowed us to order: creme brulee and an eclair - good but not spectacular.

          We loved the casual ambiance and watching boats pulling up to the dock. At exactly 4 pm, the crowds starting coming in for the regular dining room so it seemed to get busy pretty fast. Next time I'd like to try the regular dining room and check out that menu.

          Our waitress was very friendly and amazingly, forgot to add the crab legs to the bill. When we pointed this out and added the right amount to the bill, she was quite grateful.

          1. Finally made it down to the Oyster Creek Inn over the weekend for the first time this summer. Reliable and enjoyable performance on the lobsters and oysters. There's a new weekend lunch menu available in the Crab Room offering appetizers (e.g., onion rings, jalepeno poppers, and bourbon shrimp), sandwiches (e.g., salmon BLT and crab cake) and several entrees (including a burger, chicken, and an alternative crab cake).

            We ordered a couple of items from the new menu, but I thought the salmon BLT sandwich was over-cooked and the burger was way past its requested rare and into well-done territory. The waitress agreed and took the burger off the bill. However, I'll stick with the usual fare anytime: lobsters were $17, oysters on the half shell were $7/half dozen.

            They now have a web-site:

            Oyster Creek Inn
            41 N Oyster Creek Rd, Leeds Point, NJ 08220