Wednesday, May 12, 2010
For our final night in Ocean City, Morgan and I decided to treat ourselves to one of the area's famous all-you-can-eat buffets. We had a tough time deciding which place to go to, with our choices including The Bonfire Restaurant, The Embers Restaurant, Hall's Restaurant & Buffet, Phillip's, and many more. All the restaurants were similarly priced, and most of them had comparable menus, but after reading over a few (dozen) reviews, we finally set The Embers Restaurant as our destination.
The Embers Restaurant is conveniently located on Philadelphia Avenue, by 24th Street, and is open a majority of the week during the off-season, and daily during the on-season. Prices might seem a bit high for both their buffet and à la carte menus, but in truth, the prices are competitive to similar restaurants in the area, with a $20 buffet special available every weekend. The Embers is kept clean, well-lit, and is staffed with friendly, helpful employees. The buffet offers an almost overwhelming variety of food, from typical seafood fare, to American diner-style dishes, to freshly-made Italian pizza and pasta, and even Asian-inspired cuisine; one thing is for sure when you dine at The Embers Restaurant - you will get your money's worth. There's even a carving station that offers up prime rib, top round of beef, and ham. For those who still have room in their stomachs after all that food, The Embers also sports a full dessert bar. All the essential food groups, of course.
Me? Well, I couldn't help but sample a little bit of everything. And by "little bit," I mean I tackled this meal with the mindset of a death row inmate.
Let me start off by saying that I have eaten at my fair share of all-you-can-eat buffets: some good, some bad, some so foul that I can only imagine that the chef was attempting to capture the flavor of a make-out session with Satan's armpit; however, after trying the food offered at The Embers Restaurant, I can easily say that it ranks among my favorite buffets of all time. While not every dish was a masterpiece, the food was clearly of a higher caliber than your average smorgasbord. The pastas I tried (including one of my favorites, tortellini alfredo) were cooked to perfection, and served with a variety of bold, flavorful sauces. The fried foods I ate were not suffocating in batter, nor did they taste like they had spent too much time in the oil. The meat from the carving station practically melted in my mouth, each slice served fresh, after being cooked in its own juices. All the crab meat I tried (including some excellent Crab Imperial) embodied that perfect blend of salty-sweet seafood flavor that has established crab as one of my favorite meals of all time.
I could go on and on about the high-quality food, the great staff, and the wonderful atmosphere, but the true reason Morgan and I loved The Embers Restaurant so much was the fact that it felt like it truly represented our time in Ocean City: an eclectic collection of some of the brightest laughter and experiences life has to offer. If you're ever in the area and want an excellent way to wrap up your evening by the ocean, The Embers Restaurant is guaranteed to leave you feeling warm from head to toe - especially your stomach.
Score (out of 10): 9
Location: 2305 Philadelphia Avenue, Ocean City, MD 21842
Phone Number: (410) 289-3322
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
I realize it's an incredibly late review, but my life has recently been quite busy: I'm constantly working, and I try to find time to pursue personal hobbies as well, such as the video game review blog I manage. I apologize that this is the case; I will try to write more frequently. With this being said, it's time to start the review.
While the off-season nightlife of Ocean City was somewhat lacking, Morgan and I frequently took twilight walks through the city's empty streets and along the deserted boardwalk. Not only was this incredibly relaxing and fun, but informative as well; during one of our aforementioned walks, Morgan and I stumbled across a small, quiet-looking place known as Adolfo's Italian Restaurant, tucked away at the end of South Baltimore Avenue by the boardwalk. Since we were in the mood for some local Italian, we chose to eat there the next evening.
Family-owned and run, Adolfo's is open year-round, and provides some excellent, personal service. Their menu is pretty extensive, offering standard Italian fare, as well as some original recipes, and while the prices might seem a little high (in truth, they're pretty comparable to other boardwalk businesses), the quality you get in return is well worth it. The inside of the restaurant itself is dimly-lit and modestly-decorated, adding a somewhat romantic ambiance to the whole place; unfortunately, this same dim lighting made taking pictures impossible (at least impossible to take without being rude to the other patrons).
Since it was the off-season when Morgan and I visited Adolfo's, we got to take advantage of their limited time, off-season specials: every Wednesday and Thursday, certain entrees on their menu are half price, and all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatballs is offered every Thursday as well; we just so happened to be there Thursday, and ordered ourselves some all-you-can-eat spaghetti. Our meals came with fresh-baked bread with slices of warm pepperoni on the side, and garden salads with homemade Italian dressing.
I apologize ahead of time for the picture, since it's not mine; as I stated before, the lighting within Adolfo's was pretty low, and due to this I had to take a picture from the internet. Fortunately, the picture I chose looks very similar to the meal I ordered.
The bread that came out before the main course was soft, fluffy, and still warm from the ovens. The sliced pepperoni that came with it added a little extra kick to what many consider a boring, old starter.
Our salads were crisp, fresh, and interestingly enough, lacking croutons. There was also ricotta cheese crumbled on top of the greens. The homemade Italian dressing was delicious - not too oily, although the portion was a little meager; I really would've liked more of it on the salad to help balance out the bold flavor of the ricotta, and to make the salad a little less dry. Overall, it was a nice appetizer though.
Next came the all-you-can-eat spaghetti and meatballs. Served in big, heaping portions, Adolfo's was more than generous in quantity. The spaghetti was tender, the sauce was salty-sweet and seasoned with basil, and the meatballs were large, hand-packed, and hot. The meat used wasn't quite as rich as I originally hoped, but was still flavorful enough to satisfy my taste buds. Unfortunately, this slight lack in bold flavor made the huge serving size grow a bit bland by the end; regardless, I enjoyed the meal enough to ask for a second plate.
While I can't rank Adolfo's among my favorite Italian restaurants of all time, I can certainly recommend it to anyone in the Ocean City area looking for a good deal on all-you-can-eat Italian. The price might initially put off some, but as I stated before, it's pretty standard for a restaurant by the beach. If you enjoy nighttime walks through deserted city streets like Morgan and I, take a stroll by Adolfo's Italian Restaurant: you might just like what you find inside.
Score (out of 10): 8
Location: 806 South Baltimore Avenue, Ocean City, MD 21842
Phone Number: (410) 289-4001