Last week R and I both had a day off in the middle of the week and the weather was relatively warm and non-rainy. Obviously the only thing to do was to go to Merroir.

A little background. Merroir is kind of our happy place as a couple. For our one year dating anniversary I surprised R with a trip to the Tides Inn with a chartered boat to Merroir for dinner. It was kind of a legendary night. First of all our boat captain was this perfect character. He was weathered and pot bellied and appeared to be the kind of man who had spent his life on boats, along with a marbles in his mouth, bourbon and cigarette hewn drawl. But he had a teeny, tiny poodle dog that appeared to be the great love of his life and came with us on the trip. R and I were expecting to have a romantic, intimate night, but when we got to Merroir our Captain had put us down for a table for five (us, him, the other couple on the boat, and of course, the dog). We waited for two HOURS (if we had been put down for a table for 2, as we assumed, we probably would have been sat in half the time). But because the only thing to do while waiting was drink we had a rip roaring time. We ended up spending a boisterous evening with our Captain and the older couple and by the time we got seated we were so drunk and hungry that we literally ordered the entire menu.

We’ve made multiple day trips since then. We stayed at the Tides Inn again and of course had dinner there. We’ve gone in the winter when we’re the only ones there. We’ve gone in warm weather when the whole place is packed with vacationers. It’s sort of our go to when the weather is nice and we have nothing else to do. Because almost all of the seating is outside we can bring the dogs. We served their oysters at our wedding. Like I said, happy place.

So we spent a lovely day last week at our happy place. On the way we stopped in Gloucester to let the dogs walk on the beach and swim. They enjoyed the car ride together in the back. (we took my new Highlander and by goodness does this car work perfectly with two big (and one getting bigger by the day) dogs.

It was actually the first time for both walks to see a costal body of water. They were curious followed by intrigued followed by flipped out excited (kind of their reaction to every new thing). And George swam! I think his ancestry and heritage kicked in and he was in his element.

We loaded back up the sandy and wet dogs and headed to Topping, VA to Merroir. It’s hard to put into words what it is about this place. I just feel myself relax as soon as I get there. There’s a magic created by water, cold draft beer, and fresh seafood when each of those elements are just right. You sit down at one of their picnic tables on a shell strewn patio, take a deep breath of briny air, look out over the coastal river, and feel everything from the “real” world melt away. I love it so. 
I had a tangerine wheat beer which was absolutely perfect. R had his typical IPA (he really, really wants me to like IPAs, and I have tried so many, and well, I just will always prefer a mild, wheaty, citrusy beer to hoppy). 

We got the shrimp which is my favorite thing in the entire world. I could eat 10 pounds of these single handedly. There is something about peel and eat shrimp that just to me is everything I love about the south and the coast melded together. It reminds me of so many summers throughout my life, of lazy evening at the beach, of hot nights in Charleston, of newspapers laid out on porch tables, of lemon wedges and roll after roll of paper towels, of hands that smell like Old Bay for days.

And of course oysters. Now I love Rappahanock oysters. Again we served them at our wedding. They are briny and delicious and I love that they have brought so much attention to oysters from this region of Virginia. But because I learned to love oysters in Charleston, I will always be partial to the big, ugly, barnacle oysters of the Lowcountry, oysters that are cheap and small but still salty and delicious and made for putting on saltines with cocktail sauce. However, these are still pretty darn fantastic (even if they are pricier than I think an oyster should be, again in Charleston you don’t buy local oysters for $1.50 each, you buy them for $10 a bucket that comes with a few dozen).
We also got barbecue bourbon grilled oysters (I know, I am salivating just typing this) and R got something called a Stuffin Muffin which I can’t really describe but took a bite and it was also amazing.
Full and happy and smelling like salt and seafood we piled into the car, our little mixed human and fur family of four, and headed back to Richmond. I wish I could go to Merroir on a daily basis (my wallet does not wish this), but even though I can’t, it gives me comfort to know it’s there, a short drive away, a little pocket of peace and calm and good food and salty air.

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