I'd like to thank all the Foodie fans who made me feel guilty for not getting around to this tucked-away piece of the Caribbean. This season's openings, closings, reopenings, remodelings (and possible openings) on Wilmington Avenue have been keeping us busy. But we finally made it. And for the most part, we're better for it.
Like other "theme" places here at the beach, Zogg's is an experience. The various components add up to something greater than the sum of the parts. All in all, Zogg's pulls this off well, and everyone was pleasently surprised.
The award for appetizer Star of the Show is evenly split between the Fried Gator and the Coconut Shrimp. The gator nuggets [pictured, right] are tender white meat, a cross between chicken and perfectly fried calamari. Zogg's breading truly makes the dish. The Coconut Shrimp [pictured, left] are served in a little spiral cone. The key here is that they are not too sweet. I took a closeup photo so you can see the pieces of coconut that stand out nicely in the mild breading.
We were a bit disappointed in the Fried Oysters [pictured, right]. The texture was great, and they were properly fried (i.e., the breading stayed on), but they tasted "fishy." Oysters are not supposed to taste "fishy." They should be briney, like seawater. Interestingly enough, that taste was not consistent throughout the dish. We probably should have sent them back (though there were no ill effects whatsoever).
The Twice Fried Sweet Plantains [pictured, left] were so aggressively spiced (not "hot" spiced, but more of a cumin thing) that we could not taste the plantain. They were also tough, a problem that could be eliminated if they cut them a little thinner. The spice blend was OK, but it would have been enhanced by the sweetness of the fruit.
One of the many emails that scolded me for not Zogging made a point of recommending the Jerked Grouper Taco [pictured, lower right]. I like my fish tacos with fried fish, but our server told me I would not be dissappointed (actually, he used the word, "awesome"). He was right. The fish was snow white, flaky and deliciously seasoned. It's in a large shell (I got the "hard" shell, but it's not all that hard. It actually has a nice bite to it without shattering all over the place). It's topped with lettuce, tomato onions and an almost-too-mild chipotle mayo. I ordered the mac 'n' cheese side. It's cheesy and creamy and quite mild. (See it hiding behind the taco shell?)
An accompanying Foodie-at-Arms ordered the Andouille Sausage and Chicken Gumbo [pictured, left]. This dish bears a bit of explanation. I call it "deconstructed," in that the roux/gravy is at the bottom of the dish, the rice is on top, and the sausage/chicken/vegetable mix is perched on top. If you like a traditional gumbo, just stir it. It was quite tasty, with lots of nice slices of andouille. Unfortunately, both times we ordered it the rice was underdone and way too chewy. The longer it sat in the gravy, the more manageable it became. It was served with corn on the cob.
Another of our party ordered the half-pound burger with cheddar [pictured, right].The combination of melted white and yellow cheddar made for an attractive (and tasty) presentation. The beef patty was apparently grilled on a flat top at high heat. The outside was nicely seared, but it was perfectly medium on the inside. Of course, it came with all the fixins'. The waffle fries [pictured, left] were fresh and delicious. Add a little ketchup, and they were gone in no time.
One of the highlights of our visits was the steel drum/guitar/ukulele/vocal entertainment provided by none other than Jimmy Pontoon [pictured, lower right and above]. His friendly, easygoing manner made for a relaxing al fresco experience. When a little kid approached him when he was playing, he handled it perfectly, making for a cute and impromptu floor show.
I usually hate eating outside, but the outside temperature cooperated during our visits, and Zogg's has fans that keep the air moving. There is also indoor seating (air conditioned) with a pool table just for fun. The entertainment and the excellent service made for particularly delightful evenings.
Again, it's not all about the food at Zogg's. They have a huge selection of rums (over 100 varieties!) and offer some tasty frozen drinks. The outside bar is very Jimmy Buffett, there are surfboards everywhere with big shark bites out of them, the servers are enthusiastic and attentive and, at least during our visits, the entertainment added the perfect touch to the evening.
Fine dining? No. Lots of fun, with nice people and a definite Island flair? Yes.
Zogg's is at 1 Wilmington Avenue, sandwiched between Gus 'n' Gus' Place on the Boardwalk and Dave and Skippy's. Look for the blue awning. Check their off-season hours (if any) at (302) 227-7660. The lunch menu is basically the dinner menu without the Entrees section. Check out the menus by clicking here. (L., D., Bar) Price range: Moderate-.