Pick your pleasure at this low-key waterfront resort
THE NEIGHBORHOOD: Flanked by the Rappahannock and Potomac rivers, tiny Irvington (population 650) on Virginia’s Northern Neck offers a front row seat to the unspoiled beauty and bounty of the lower Chesapeake Bay and its environs.
THE VIBE: Long a stop on the yachting circuit, the Tides has a clubby feel with a full-service marina, PGA golf course, and walnut- and cypress-paneled public spaces. But the warmth of the staff, like a cheery welcome from bellman Earl Baker—the inn’s longest-serving employee—makes first-time visitors feel right at home.
THE DIGS: When guests aren’t participating in the jam-packed roster of activities, from fishing excursions and golf clinics to mixology classes and beekeeping lessons, there’s opportunities aplenty to relax. Chill at the waterfront swimming pool or on your private patio or balcony with a local Devil’s Backbone IPA from the mini bar. Frette linens and down duvets warm up the 106 guestrooms and 22 suites.
The inn is committed to a tide-to-table menu throughout its restaurants. The waterfront Chesapeake Terrace focuses on light fare and snacks—try the bourbon-glazed fish bites, nuggets of sweet, tender fish bathed in a glossy, boozy sauce. They’re served with crisp and briny pickled vegetables and best washed down with a ginger mint julep. Inside, the uniformed wait staff at Chesapeake Restaurant is evidence of a more formal past. And while jackets are no longer required, chef TV Flynn’s food still could be called fancy.
Start with Rappahannock oysters, of course, and the tuna nachos—cubes of sushi-grade tuna, seaweed salad and wasabi cream on crisp wontons. For an entrée, there’s always local fish and a filler-free and generous crab cake with bacon-studded succotash and pickled watermelon. Save room for the inn’s signature key lime pie or a scoop of Virginia-made peanut butter fudge ice cream from Homestead Creamery. Warm weather means dining options include the Golden Eagle Grill at the golf club for sandwiches (hello, oyster po’ boy) and salads. At the pool, Commodores offers casual lunch fare, like fried flounder and fries.
Insider’s Tip: Don’t miss the s’mores, toasted nightly on the terrace.
WHAT TO ORDER
This is oyster country. Eat them on the half shell, fried, roasted with gremolata, or buffalo-style “angry oysters,” served with pickled cabbage, radish, and watermelon rind.
Brown-butter basted Virginia sea scallops with sunchoke puree and octopus chips keeps it local.
Don’t go home without a piece of the inn’s tangy key lime pie, served with a tart raspberry coulis under a cloud of whipped cream.
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