Monday, June 2, 2008

Oenophile at Large: Jekyll Island

Greetings, fellow oenophiles!

Did you miss me?

I just returned from the GPA Annual Meeting on Jekyll Island, which for those who don't know, is one of the little islands off the southeastern coast of Georgia. It's a national park with limited development and some interesting historical stuff. Here, in no particular order, are my complaints:

1. The island's national park status means that the restaurants close between 8:30 and 9 on weekdays and a little later on weekends. No one at the hotel told us this until we were actively seeking food on Wednesday evening.

2. Island time: the service was consistently slow and inattentive everywhere.

3. Island timing: the kitchens may have been a bit faster than the service. Cold food was not uncommon.

4. Not a decent wine list to be found anywhere. I drank beer most of the weekend.

I would have posted as I went, but the only place at my hotel with internet of any type was the pool area, where there was WiFi. I did take my computer out there on Thursday evening after dinner, and, well, there may have been some fruity drinks and karaoke. After that, I decided that it would be safer to just leave my computer in the room.

Here is the quick and dirty tour of food on Jekyll:

Latitude 31 bills itself as the island's "premier dining experience." I went with some colleagues on Wednesday night, and we barely made the cutoff for being seated at 8:57 p.m. The food and service were slow, and my seafood crepes, which tasted pretty good, came out cold. I gave Latitude 31 a second chance on Friday evening, when a friend and I went for fried oysters (random craving, and no, I'm not pregnant). This time, we were told that the wait would be an hour, so we went next door to the Rah Bar (yes, that's the right spelling, no doubt due to the fact that much of the island's population seems to come from the Northeast), where we ordered crab legs and beers. One hour ended up being fifteen minutes, and then the oysters were fast and the crab legs were slow, and we ended up with everything at once. At least it was all hot and tasted good.

Blackbeard's Seafood Restaurant (no web site, but a pdf menu on This place is right on the ocean and has pretty views. The food was average, and my hush puppies were sadly lukewarm. I heard from others that they felt a little ill after eating there.

SeaJay's was actually pretty good. I ate there on Thursday evening and had the special: barbecue bacon wrapped scallops. They "proudly served Sutter Home" on the wine list. I had a Corona with lime. They have a nice balcony overlooking the marina, and Rocky the friendly raccoon will hang out and beg, although not annoyingly.

You'll have to check out the Jekyll Island homepage for Saydee's Restaurant and Martini Bar, but it's worth looking for. I was surprised because it looks like a typical hotel restaurant, but the food was the best I'd had all weekend. The two really good Cosmos didn't hurt, either. This was the consensus opinion of the group I was with, and many of them had gone to the "fancy" restaurant at the Jekyll Island Club the night before.

If you're feeling adventurous and want to cross back over the bridge to the mainland, I recommend the Georgia Pig. By Friday, I was sick of seafood and ready for some meat, so my new karaoke friend and I headed back toward I-95 on Hwy 17 and found the Georgia Pig, which is in a little log cabin shoved off the road just before you reach the interstate. I asked if that's where Brunswick Stew was invented, but the server passed up the chance to put a definitive claim on it. Even if it wasn't invented there, it was really good, as was the barbecue pork and banana pudding. The coleslaw was average. My friend and I got the banana pudding to go and brought it to the beach. Banana pudding with a view - what more could you want?

Overall, it was a good trip. I got a bunch of CEU's and beach time, so I really can't complain. The tour of Historic Jekyll was really good and worth doing if you have 90 minutes to spare and want to see the inside of a couple of the old houses as well as learn the history of the island.

Coming up: Hubby and I are going to Virginia Wine Country on the way to Baltimore for yet another conference. I'll try to post updates as I go. However, if the only internet access is at the bar by the pool, I'll just wait til I get home.

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