Stingray and Bill's
Wed, 02/23/05 2:56 PM
We stopped at Stingray (Chez Exxon), Chesapeake, Va ( by the north end of the Bay Bridge tunnel) which has been reviewed on these pages before. It was very good. My flounder was fresh and perfectly cooked. The place was very busy at lunchtime with both locals and travelers. When you order your meal at the counter they ask for your first name and say you will be called to the counter to pick it up when itis ready. It turned out there were three "Johns" waiting for their meals. Hint: If you go to Stingray tell them your name is Malachai or Adolf or something besides John, Bill, or Bob. I have a problem with having to walk thru a gift shop to get to the restaurant,but I did purchase a very good loking country ham at a fair price there.
Bill's, Main Street, Chincotague Va. Bill's used to be a local hangout for oldtimers and was always a great place for simple
fresh seafood dishes. A couple of years ago they went upscale.
The old timers no longer hangout there. When you see the Bmw's, Jaguars, and Mercedes parked outside instead of the old pickup trucks you know something is going in the wrong direction. Trouble is, Bill's only went upscale in a tentative sort of way - they softened the lighting, made the booths and tables a litle more comfortable, hired young and pretty waitresses, carpeted the floor, gave new and slightly pretentuous names to the old dishes, and raised the prices a bit.
You can still get a plate of fried oysters with a thick slab of ham, you can still get fresh Chincoteague oysters on the halfshell (but they are likely to be freshly opened only at lunch- they're kind of tired by dinner time), the soups, chowders, and bisques are still very good, I had a mediocre crab cake, but the place was never famous for its crabcake, the fish is still fresh and well cooked, but is more likely to be served with a fancy sauce than in the past, and they have an excellent "jumbleberry pie". for dessert.
Bill's is still worth a visit, the food is good, the service is good, the ambience is pleasant (but I miss the duck prints that used to adorn the walls), and the prices are still pretty fair. It's just that it makes me sad to see such a "roadfoody" place try to become something it probably should not be.