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