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Sting Ray's

26507 Lankford Highway, Cape Charles, VA - (757) 331-1541
Posted By Michael Stern on 3/6/2010 12:12:00 AM
There is a whole lot of Sting Ray's menu I still want to sample, including crab cakes, pulled pork barbecue and an apple dumpling; but what I did eat for lunch on a trip down Virginia's Eastern Shore was stirringly good. I was clued in to this Roadfood find by Lorraine Eaton of the Virginian-Pilot newspaper, who joined me for what began as a meal of fried oysters, catfish and a shrimp sandwich. Lorraine explained the difference between these succulent seaside oysters and bayside oysters (less salty) as proprietor Kim Tann decided to give us tastes of a few other kitchen specialties. Out came a pair of sweet potato biscuits stuffed with country ham. The biscuits are a house specialty, made from a recipe that is decades-old; and their gentle sweetness provided marvelous balance for the ham which, being Virginia ham, isn't all that brackish. We also dug into plates of ultra-luxurious crab imperial and flounder stuffed with crab imperial as well as a creamed crab dish that isn't really a stew but is too thick to pass as soup.

Deluxe though some dishes may be, service at Sting Ray's is downhome. Place your order at the counter and pay. Find a seat (which can be difficult on weekends) and your food will be brought out by one of a staff of professional waitresses accustomed to customers going ga-ga at the food. One named Etta turned out to be a fount of Sting Ray history as well as a top-notch advisor when it came to ordering, steering us towards sweet potato pie for dessert (sweet potatoes are a local crop). Its creamy goodness was accented by a dollop of bright-flavored damson plum preserves.

Now for the fun part. This prodigious restaurant is located in a gas station, sharing real estate with fuel pumps, a pottery shop and a boat storage facility. Locals know it as Chez Exxon, and while it is entirely possible to come for ordinary breakfast sandwiches and hamburgers. the distinctly regional nature of the menu – as well as the expertise of the kitchen staff – make Sting Ray's a Roadfood treasure.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Sweet Potato Biscuit Stuffed with Ham
Stuffed Flounder
Sweet Potato Pie
Cabbage
Marinated Shrimp
Cream of Crab
Crab Imperial
Catfish Platter
Fried Oyster Sandwich
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

Sting Ray's sweet potato ham biscuit: what a brilliant way to start the day!
"Sting Ray's sweet potato ham biscuit: what a brilliant way to start the day!"
Michael Stern





Signs along the road on Virginia's Eastern Shore advertise locally grown sweet potatoes. One of the finest fruits of the crop is Sting Ray's sweet potato pie, topped with damson plum preserves.
"Signs along the road on Virginia's Eastern Shore advertise locally grown sweet potatoes. One of the finest fruits of the crop is Sting Ray's sweet potato pie, topped with damson plum preserves."
Michael Stern


Not your typical regional eatery, 'Chez Exxon,' formally known as Sting Ray's, is a must-visit destination for Roadfood travelers.
"Not your typical regional eatery, 'Chez Exxon,' formally known as Sting Ray's, is a must-visit destination for Roadfood travelers."
Michael Stern


Marinated shrimp are big, muscular fellas that snap when bitten. That sauce in the background seemed irrelevant.
"Marinated shrimp are big, muscular fellas that snap when bitten. That sauce in the background seemed irrelevant."
Michael Stern


Evidence of soulful talent in the kitchen, this inconspicuous side dish of cabbage was conspicuously delicious, loaded with porky-good flavor.
"Evidence of soulful talent in the kitchen, this inconspicuous side dish of cabbage was conspicuously delicious, loaded with porky-good flavor."
Michael Stern


Seafood gets no richer than crab imperial, which is both cream-rich and pepper hot.
"Seafood gets no richer than crab imperial, which is both cream-rich and pepper hot."
Michael Stern


Flounder is a treasure of local waters. Here it is served enveloping a mound of crab imperial.
"Flounder is a treasure of local waters. Here it is served enveloping a mound of crab imperial."
Michael Stern


Virginian-Pilot writer Lorraine Eaton explained to me that seaside oysters (shown here) tend to be saltier than bayside ones. I'll sure order more of these next time I visit.
"Virginian-Pilot writer Lorraine Eaton explained to me that seaside oysters (shown here) tend to be saltier than bayside ones. I'll sure order more of these next time I visit."
Michael Stern


Normally, waitresses bring food to your table. But when things get hectic, you may have to pick it up at the counter yourself.
"Normally, waitresses bring food to your table. But when things get hectic, you may have to pick it up at the counter yourself."
Michael Stern



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