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Sandbar & Grille

REVIEW: Sandbar & Grille
Pizza, subs and ice cream coming in 2006

It's always a challenge to find open restaurants when we do our annual maintenance trip to Hatteras in late February/early March. Usually our choices are Toppers, Finegan's Dining Haul and Dolphin Den. This year we were pleasantly surprised to rediscover Sandbar & Grille in Buxton.

We first went to Sandbar & Grille in June 2004 while honeymooning in Avon. We were in the mood for live music and they were one of the only places around that had it. We remember having a good, but unremarkable, meal and then we were treated to the sounds of the Cashmere Jungle Lords from my hometown of Richmond, VA. The band was pretty good, but they weren't exactly catering to the crowd. They played self-proclaimed "Southernfried-salsa-surfabilly" to the crowd's Lynyrd Skynyrd's tastes. More than once we heard a cry of "Freeeeee Bird!" that was ignored.

We were ecstatic to find Sandbar & Grille open at 8:30 p.m. on a Sun. night in February. We had been painting all day and were starving. The sign said it was sushi night; we thought that sounded great, but were wondering what kind of sushi chef hangs out on Hatteras during the winter to work one night a week. We walked in and ordered mozzarella sticks, Hatteras clam chowder, seaweed salad and lots of sushi – California roll, Spider roll, Spicy Tuna roll and Blue Crab roll. All of it was delicious. Rick said the chowder was incredible; the clams were soft, but not overcooked. (And this from a man who hails from New England.) The Blue Crab roll, believe it or not, was the least interesting item of the bunch. Rick had a glass of white wine and Bailey's Bash for dessert, which of course I sampled. It was cheesecake-like with chocolate and a hint of Bailey's Irish Cream – very good. We spent about $58 and it was worth every penny.

We enjoyed the first visit so much we went back on Crab Leg night. You could get a pound and a half of Dungeness or Snow Crab Legs served with two sides for around $20. Rick got the special, but I was in a beef mood and ordered a French Dip with caramelized onions and Provolone cheese that was outstanding. We also ordered some calamari as an appetizer. Rick said it was the best he'd ever had – it was lightly breaded and crisp, but not rubbery. The marinara sauce had great flavor and was piping hot.

We very much enjoyed the food on both visits as well as the service. Both waitresses that served us were friendly and knowledgeable. They had each been working there for several years and answered a lot of questions we had about the food, the restaurant and Hatteras Island in general. One thing we learned is that they are adding a more casual place serving pizza, subs and ice cream downstairs in time for the 2006 rental season.

If you go, check out the photos and newspaper clippings on the wall downstairs of the damage done by Hurricane Isabel a few years ago. A huge 44-foot wave hit very nearby and the original Sandbar was destroyed. You can see a photo of the old place, what it looked like one day post-Isabel and the resulting rubble after the place was demolished.

Sandbar & Grille is well worth a visit on your next trip to Hatteras. The only negative thing we encountered was the smell of cigarette smoke; it is not a nonsmoking establishment. You can reach Sandbar & Grille at 252-995-3413.

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