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On Friday night my husband walks in from his 12 hour shift and casually asks if I had given any thought to going out to eat. We usually aren’t able to do this on Friday nights because of his work schedule so I really hadn’t given it much thought. My head was swirling with pathogens, antigens, and caring for an active four year old while simultaneously trying to understand Bacilli and Cocci. I had to run the phrase through my mind a few times to comprehend. I mumbled something along the lines of I would think about it and walked upstairs. I decided quickly after glancing at my notebook again that life was short and I was going to drag my tired mind and body out to eat with my two boys! Sometime later after a mental pep talk, we finally got two humans and a mini human showered and out the door ( I skipped the 2-3 tantrums that occurred in the interim- you are welcome).
We debated where we should go. I know this is the same debate being had in most homes on a Friday night. No one wants to pick. “What should I wear? What are you in the mood for? Well should we or should we not take kids to xyz place? I know let’s play the pick three game where I name three and you pick from those… ” The list goes on. We had almost decided on Zachary’s, a lovely regular of ours not too far from our house. We have been eating there and loving it for almost five years now since we moved to this particular part of Brunswick. I was almost about to head there when I remembered that Zachary’s had just opened a new ( March of this year I believe) location over on Jekyll, Zachary’s Riverhouse. Neither of us had tried it yet so we begin to head that way.
If you haven’t had the pleasure to drive across the Jekyll Island causeway at dusk, it is glorious!! The marsh and the water is so beautiful at that time of day. I mean it is seriously something off of a postcard. As we are stopped at the toll booth I am fumbling with my phone trying to get directions. As I take a right off of the causeway my husband declares he thinks we are lost because there is not a restaurant down that direction on Jekyll. I am thinking the same thing but assure him the GPS is right even though I know in my mind it has led me astray before. I diligently follow my GPS until I see a sign for the marina and Zachary’s Riverhouse. It seems sort of off the beaten path but we roll with it. Suddenly we turn the corner and I see the restaurant perched right near the water under a huge blanket of oak trees sort of hidden. Before we even step foot out of the car I am loving it already.
As we get out I notice the wonderful red, white, and blue flags and banners draped on the outside of the building. Even though the fourth has passed I love that they were still up! As we walked closer to the front porch I felt just like I had pulled up at a quaint fishing camp. The building itself is darling and the patriotism added that something extra special. In the distance I could see the water and the marina flanked by the gorgeous horizon. So far so good! We went inside and spoke with the hostess where we were immediately taken to a lovely bistro type table on the back porch! We had an absolutely breathtaking view of the causeway, the marina, and my personal favorite, the water. We sat on a large open air, but covered, porch with a huge screened in porch area off to our right. I think ya’ll know by now that outdoor dining is my favorite! The outdoor screened dining room was surprising large and full of tables. It was also PACKED ( good sign)!
Once we sat down at our table I couldn’t help myself but to immediately walk down to the water! It was just.so.beautiful! My pictures or description of this view can’t do the scene justice. As I turned around to walk back to the porch where our table was I looked up and the restaurant was glowing warm with light in the darkness and I could hear the southern rock drifting down to the water mingled with the happy chatter of everyone celebrating Friday night. There is no way to say this that it will not sound cheesy, but again- just being honest. I felt like I had walked onto the set of a Nicholas Sparks movie. You know the scene, the guy and the girl at some local seafood joint where it is very casual and laid back but there is good music and even better food?! And of course it is on the water! If you have seen Nicholas Spark’s movies you will be able to relate. I am telling you I don’t know if it was elation to be out of the house and away from microbiology, if it was the water, the lighting or what but just the atmosphere alone made me feel like I was 300 miles from home and the micro stress in the first five minutes I was there.
The menu was not enormous but more than sufficient. I always interpret that to mean they have items that they do really well and they focus on those! All of the “coastal staples” were there. Except I noticed a lot of them were very similar to what you normally see but with a twist. I was intrigued! We quickly decided and I chose the crab cakes with lima beans and asian slaw. The had regular slaw but the asian slaw sounded interesting. And as far as the lima beans go, I am not normally a huge lima bean fan ( remember this part) but I was trying to stay away from my usual fries so I took a a chance. My husband ordered the shrimp and grits and you can never go wrong with shrimp and grits. Pierce, being an official grilled cheese aficionado, stuck with his usual choice of grilled cheese with fries. While we waited on our food we enjoyed the music and the wonderful view! Pierce seemed very interested in the boats and the water and it was a great distraction while we waited on our food. He got little nosey but between the music and chatter from other guests dining outside we were covered. He even danced some around the table and I don’t think anyone batted an eyelash. I am telling you, outdoor dining is where it is at with a four year old.
It wasn’t long at all and our super sweet and attentive waitress brought our food. The two crab cakes were HUGE! They brought a remoulade sauce that smelled amazing! The asian slaw sounded so interesting to me that I had to start there. It. Was To.Die.For. Oh my gosh ya’ll!! I ate every single piece. It was this wonderful purple and green cabbage concoction with a hint of soy sauce, and may some hot sauce. It had a very mild, sweet heat and it was crispy not at all soggy like cole slaw can be. I have never had any slaw like that to date and I loved it!!! Like, “I will go back for the slaw” loved it. Next came the lima beans, again not usually my fav. I could see lots of pieces of bacon in them so that was promising. If you put bacon on anything its delicious is sort of my personal mantra. They were the best lima beans I have ever put in my mouth by far. I couldn’t believe it. I kept telling my husband in between mouthfuls how it was crazy because I don’t like lima beans. They had a really good bacon-y taste and so they were right up my alley. You could actually taste the bacon unlike lesser limas I had tried in the past! Whoever cooked those lima beans KNEW what they were doing. I think they had Paula Deen back there in the kitchen making those limas ya’ll -seriously.
There were also two hushpuppies. My weakness. I gave one to Pierce, and really didn’t need the other but in fairness to ya’ll I had to try everything and that’s the only reason why I MADE myself try the hushpuppy- yea right! It was just as amazing as the previously mentioned items. I can pretty much tell a place by the hushpuppies. It can be a 10 but if their hushpuppies are lame that’s a game changer for me. Warm, buttery, perfect fry job- WINNING. Last but certainly not least, the crab cakes. I am as much of a crab cake aficionado as my little one is for grilled cheese. Let’s be real. I have had them all. I think I have tried the crab cakes almost everywhere in this area that serves them. For the longest time when I went anywhere with seafood I got crab cakes. So, the bar was set kinda high for Zachary’s Riverhouse in the crab cake department. 10. 10 all day! They were filled with huge pieces of lump crab meat and hardly any filler. Perfect sear job and the remoulade sauce really set them off. Their crab cakes top several places in the area known for their crab cakes and I am not kidding. Get the crab cakes! This is how good mine was, I had a small piece of the second crab cake left and a few spoonfuls of lima beans ( the ones I was sure I wouldn’t like remember) and I asked for a to go box because I didn’t want to waste one morsel.
Brandon’s shrimp and grits looked like something right off of food network. He said very little and his plate was totally clean, so while I did not personally taste them I am taking all of the above as a stamp of approval. The mini human happily noshed on the ” meatballs” aka hushpuppies, fries, and grilled cheese and seemed stoked with his selection. We watched Pierce dance a little more and lingered just a bit enjoying the view! I can not think of a better choice for a Friday night! I definitely give them a 10 out of 10! I will back very soon and I will not wait long. From the location, to the service, to the food, to the music and atmosphere Zachary’s Riverhouse has the winning combination. This will be the place the locals go regularly and that every visitor needs to try. I personally can not wait to go back and get some more slaw! And for goodness sakes someone call Mr. Spark’s production crew and let them know I found a great spot for their next movie!!