Should’ve Had The Crab Cakes

Saturday night, I was perusing the menu at Pier 101, a nice seafood restaurant in Lincoln City, Oregon. I was starting to get irritated, because there were too many delicious-sounding dishes to choose from. Don’t get me wrong, options are great; in school, multiple-choice quizzes were always my favorite. But when it comes to ordering in restaurants, there is just no pleasing me. Ever. Because no matter what I end up deciding on, I will always second guess my decision – no matter how satisfyingly delicious the entree turns out to be.

Take the other night, for instance. I was torn between two frontrunners, the peanut snapper and the sauteed scallops. The stuffed prawns were a wild card, and at the last minute the razor clams made a hail-mary pitch for attention. They all sounded wonderful. (Thankfully, we’d had pasta the night before, so at least the crab fettucini was eliminated from the race early. Otherwise, it would have been a real crowded field of contenders). With the waitress hovering on the periphery, my heart started beating faster. Must. Make. A. Choice. Oh, the pressure of it all. Don’t you hate that, when the final seconds are rapidly ticking away, and you know your server is going to appear at any moment, pad in hand, ready to wrest an answer out of you whether you are ready or not? In a desperate, last-ditch gambit, I looked to the accompanying side dishes for inspiration. The scallops promised rice pilaf, but the razor clams came with garlic mashed potatoes. Damn, no help there. And then the waitress appeared, but before I could buy myself a few extra seconds to mentally narrow the choices further, Tara turned to me, smiled sweetly, and pulled the dreaded “you go ahead and order first, dear” play from her book.


I hate when that happens. But once your dining companion has issued the you-go-first challenge, you can’t counter with the same proposal, because  that just turns into a silly tug-of-war game played in front of an anxious server who is smiling on the outside but secretly thinking for christ’s sake, you two, quit being so freakin’ indecisive already – I’ve got a million other tables to wait on.

So I reached into my own bag of tricks and asked the waitress what she would recommend. She had glowing reviews for the peanut snapper, so I went ahead and ordered that. I just didn’t have the energy for further contemplation at that point.

The fish was quite tasty. It was marinated in a hazelnut liqueur and included a topping of crushed macadamia nuts and a sweet/spicy peanut sauce. I was pleased with my choice.

Right up until the moment when the waitress put Tara’s plate down in front of her. Because the dungeness crab cakes (which hadn’t even been in the running), with a delectable side of asparagus spears drizzled in hollandaise sauce (be still, my wistful heart!) looked superb. And, of course, they were. I was wishing I had ordered that instead. But I guarantee you, had I gone with the crab cakes, I’d have been kicking myself for not trying the snapper.

It’s a sickness. I am just never completely satisfied with what I order, because there’s always something better. If I were a death row inmate choosing my last meal, I promise you that even if it was something succulent like steak and lobster, as they wheeled me into the execution chamber, strapped down to a gurney, I’d be second-guessing that decision. My last words would probably be, “I should have had pizza instead.”

There is just no pleasing me.

Though I’ve gotta admit, I was pretty pleased with the way this past weekend turned out. Tara and I were in Newport, on the Oregon coast, for an overdue celebration of our new jobs. So overdue, in fact, that my first new job came and went, and I was two weeks into my second new job, before we finally got around to celebrating. We booked an oceanfront suite at the Elizabeth Street Inn, heading out immediately after work on Friday, and arriving there – after a stop for dinner (the clam linguini was amazing, but Tara’s shrimp fettucini was SO DAMN GOOD, too! – here we go again) – about 9:30 PM. The scent of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies filled the lobby, so we helped ourselves, and the moment we stepped into the room, we knew we were going to have an amazing time. I don’t know which made us happier: the king-sized bed, the fireplace, the private balcony, or the constant roar of the ocean. Probably all four. The hotel pool and spa weren’t bad, either.

Saturday we lounged around the room until noon, drinking bloody marys and relaxing. We then ventured into town, through a driving rain, for lunch. I had the fish ‘n chips (which were good, but didn’t compare to Tara’s clam strips). We then walked around the Historic Bayfront District, getting drenched, but ended up killing an hour in Ripley’s Believe It Or Not before deciding that the weather had gotten the better of us and we’d be happier just kicking back in the room with wine and cheese and bruschetta and.

Well. Just “and.”

Saturday night we headed north for the aforementioned dinner, before returning for some relaxation in the pool and hot tub. Sunday morning we helped ourselves to the free hot breakfast buffet before regretfully checking out. We ended up at a sports bar in Lincoln City, where we watched most of the Broncos game before finally bidding the coast farewell and driving home. All in all, it was an incredible weekend, and neither of us wanted it to end. Damn you, reality, for intruding!

But we promised each other we’d be back, and are thinking of making this an annual winter tradition. A weekend getaway in the off season, when prices are low and crowds are sparse, is the perfect romantic interlude for the holidays.

Next year, though, I’m getting the scallops. For sure.

Then again, the razor clams do come with garlic mashed potatoes…

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Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

13 thoughts on “Should’ve Had The Crab Cakes

  1. Yay…I’m first!! Woohoo!!

    David and I always choose something different so we can sample different dishes. I never understood why some people order the exact same thing…c’mon people…live a little and explore other options!! Hello?!?!?!

    I’m so happy you guys had such a great time. It sounded amazeballs for sure. (Did I spell that right?) Anyway…anything you want to make into an annual tradition is always a great thing!

    Love how you did the pictures…snazzy!!


    1. I LOL’d seeing you use the word “amazeballs” (yes, you spelled it correctly) – but that DOES describe our trip to a T!

      I always look to the chef’s specials on the menu first. Some of my best meals have come from there. I figure, you’re usually guaranteed fresh and seasonal ingredients that way, and the chef will be pouring his or her heart into the food.


  2. I’m not even a huge fish fan, but your snapper sounds incredible. Sorry you wished you’d ordered the other. Next time, order both and take one home. Saw you photos on FB last weekend. God, I’m jealous. Looks incredible!!!!!!!!!!!!! Happy holidays to you and Tara.


  3. “Don’t you hate that, when the final seconds are rapidly ticking away, and you know your server is going to appear at any moment, pad in hand, ready to wrest an answer out of you whether you are ready or not?”

    Mark, I can’t tell you how many times that has happened to me. I can never decide what I want in a restaurant, so I make everyone else order first!

    I’m not a seafood lover, but I have to say that your meal sounded REALLY good!

    LOVED the slide show! AWESOME photos, buddy! Especially the one you shot through the raindrop window of the bridge. VERY nice!

    Hope you and Tara are enjoying this holiday season!



  4. You need to talk Tara into sharing. Order something different & then share some of your dish with your partner. Looks like you had a great time! Wish I was there, although I might have been a little down with all the rain.


    1. Oh, we share. Or at least help ourselves to bites of each other’s food. But sometimes what she orders is so good, I WANT IT ALL.

      With a fireplace in the room and the ocean right outside the window, the rain simply made it more romantic. 🙂


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