When you’re close enough to the Atlantic Ocean to smell the salt air and see the mast of shrimp boats where the eastern view isn’t obstructed by t-shirt shops, you should be able to get some good fresh local seafood. That’s exactly what I expected when we chose to eat at the Silver Hill Grill at Holden Beach, NC.
The place looks just like what a good seafood joint should. Housed in a refitted mobile home with a few picnic tables enclosed under a screened awning our hopes were high. Such was not to be, however. I ask the woman at the order window what the fish was and she said, “whiting.” In Florida, whiting is what they call sea mullet in North Carolina. The same thing is sold in the freezer at Kroger, labeled whiting, and imported from China. Something here sounded fishy. Next question, “Is it fresh?” Answer, “No, it comes frozen from, the truck.”
Armed with that bit of info my wife and I settled on a big Styrofoam clam shell full of French fries (ala frozen krinkle cut), fried shrimp, fried clam strips, fried scallops, and fried hush-puppies. The only thing that wasn’t fried was the Cole slaw and I’m sure they’re working on how to do that. Our food arrived promptly and hot. But, I’m bettin’ there wasn’t a morsel that ever swam in the Atlantic. If all this wasn’t raised in some Asian farm pond, I’ll kiss your dorsal fin.
The clam strips were like chewing on rubber and the flavor was too strong. I’d just had fresh local clams the day before and they were mild and sweet. Just the opposite of these. The shrimp and everything else was too heavily battered and the hush-puppies were not hot and crisp. I could see into the storeroom and discovered they were using House of Autry Extra Sweet hush-puppy mix and not making their own. HofA is good stuff though, and if these were fresher they would have been fine. The one thing that was exceptional was the Cole slaw. It was homemade, fresh, creamy, and contained some dill pickle that gave it a unique tartness.
Janet and I split the meal and we each had a soft drink. The bill, with tax and tip, came to almost $30 and I can say with some certainty it will be my only $30 spent at the Silver Hill Grill. If I want frozen Chinese sea creatures I can stay home and shop at the Kroger Ocean.