Friday, November 7, 2008


This is a picture of the sidewalk on which people would wait for the grandest seafood buffet that ever existed.

Taylor’s Restaurant, over in nearby Deltaville, used to be The Place to eat when I was coming along, or at least the Chesapeake Bay Family deemed it so. Of course, when you come from a family where serving up partially-cooked pork sausage and D-con rat poison is known to occur, just about anything that isn’t deadly sounds good.

Anyway, Taylor’s had a seafood buffet that was out of this world. Shrimp, fish, crab legs, clams, oysters—you name it, they had it. On weekends there would be a line coming out the door. People couldn’t wait to sink their chops into steamed shrimp, fried shrimp, fried fish, fried clams or fried chicken. Nobody was particularly concerned about their triglycerides or their cholesterol count or their HDL or LDL numbers or their Weight Watchers points. Such concerns were for another day. And quite possibly another decade.

The crowning glory of the seafood buffet, the piece de resistance, the crème de la crème, the cherry on the sundae of that buffet was a very small, often overlooked and widely misunderstood fried ball of cornmeal known as the hush puppy.

If there were such a thing as a hush puppy connoisseur, I’d be one. (By the way, use of the word “connoisseur” marks the third time I’ve mentioned something that is derived from French, and I have no idea why or where it’s coming from. Maybe I'm channeling Brigitt Bardot. Or Jacques Cousteau.)

Taylor's had the perfect hush puppy: corn meal, a delicate hint of onion, and a splash of sugar all deep fried a golden brown. I’ve had bad hush puppies before (no onion, no sugar, white flour instead of corn meal), and there is no comparison. Taylor's had the best.

Taylor's has been an institution around these parts for decades. Alas, the restaurant has changed hands a few times and the seafood buffet died a quick and sudden death. People still mourn the loss, where people equals me.

To this day, there remains a huge seafood buffet void. If anyone out there wants to come here and start a new business, the seafood buffet is the ticket. You’ll have every one over the age of 40 drooling at your doorstep. (Because we all know the older crowd loves a buffet. Just ask Chesapeake Bay Mother and Father. They know the location, operating hours and senior citizen discount rate of every buffet establishment on the Eastern Seaboard.)

If someone out there does come here and opens another seafood buffet, I’ll be the first in line. Don’t forget the onions in the hush puppies. Thank you.


Grandma J said...

oh dear, I can't be much help here. I'm alergic to shell fish, and I won't eat any seafood since leaving CA. because I have to be within 5 miles of an ocean to eat fish....unless it's Mrs. Pauls or Gordons bear battered cod filets in the frozen food aisle.

Now, here's another shocker....please don't hate me but things like hush puppies and grits are off limits. I'm sure it's a regional, cultural thing.

I will be willing to "sling hash" (wait tables) for you, no matter what's on the menu so is that good enough?

Bear Naked said...

So that is what a hush puppy is.
Silly me! All these years I thought that is what you say to your noisy dog.

Monsieur Bear, my hubby, has graciously suggested that perhaps what we should do is visit CBW's geographic area so he could give one-on-one French lessons to anyone (female) who might possibly be interested.

Bear((( )))

Anonymous said...

Mmmmm. Hush. Puppies. Must. Have. NOW.

Sadly, I became allergic to shrimp all of a sudden, about 7 years ago. Not throat-closing-up allergic, but bad-gastric-reaction-from-both-ends allergic. Shrimp was my most favoritest food in the entire world. Sigh.

But I can still put back some steamed clams and get out of my way of there are a pile of #1 Male crabs on a brown paper covered table.

Mental P Mama said...

I'm with you! Give me a good hush puppy, and I'll follow you anywhere.

nativedevil said...

Taylor's was a great buffet for many years. The last time I went, about 10 years ago, it had gone down quite a bit.
I like the spread at Captain George's, but at that price, it's hard to go as a family, and my wife does NOT like seafood. Still love her anyway HAHA!

big hair envy said...

I hadn't thought about Taylor's in YEARS!!! It was a popular dining destination for people in Stinky Town. The last time I ate there was probably in 1983, when the football team and cheerleaders held their banquet there - BECAUSE of the buffet!!! Good times:)

I may be asked to return my Official Northern Neck Card after telling you this, BUT, I really don't like hush puppies. The consistency of the corn meal makes me sort of gag. I know. I'm a freak of nature.

Sorry for the long message, but I have just been told that one of the guys that works with us used to go to Taylor's on Friday nights with his family. They lived in GLEN ALLEN!!!

Anonymous said...

And if you want to know how people around here ENJOIN(see the "isms" in previous post) their buffets...just rent THE NUTTY PROFESSOR 2: THE KLUMPS and fast forward to the dinner scene.( Or maybe that's just how WE enjoyed it!)
Baby Sis
P.S. Last time I participated in a family style seafood buffet, unbeknownst to me I was mocked and ridiculed for the rest of the family vacation. CBChildren and CBW said all they saw was " a tornado of crab legs" going down the gullet. I take my seafood very seriously and I don't like to waste time, thank you.

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Baby Sister - I do recall that seafood buffet experience, however I don't remember us calling you a crab leg tornado...maybe that'll be my new nickname for you: CLT.

Native Devil - Captain Georges is definitely the place, but it's too far to drive. Now that I'm over 40, I don't cross the Coleman unless it's for work. It's pitiful.

MPM - They make 'em good around here.

Soup - I understand completely. For the very same reason I can no longer eat the Bay crabs.

BN - The guest room awaits, although I cannot guarantee it will be clean. And there may be an ant or two running around. The views are great, though.

GJ - Yes, it's good enough. Come on down. Or over. And I won't hate you because you don't do hush puppies. That's all the more for me.

BHE - I understand completely about the hush puppy thing. It's a very specific and perhaps acquired taste, much like Scrapple. You either love it or you cringe and gag. Hope to see you at the Oyster Fest this weekend.

Happy Friday to all.

Anonymous said...

Have not thought about Taylors is a many day. My grandparents used to take us there. Im 29 so I know that was 20 or so years ago. Taylors was really a family affair.
I live in Texas and have been out of Va for 11 yrs but your blog really took me back to a diffrent place and time! Thanks

Chesapeake Bay Woman said...

Anonymous - Thank you, I'm glad I can help bring back good memories.

MommyTime said...

Ahhh, I love and ADORE hush puppies and haven't had a really good one since I was in Atlanta at a little restaurant that's out in the country (or used to be 20-odd years ago) in an old shack. If Taylor's ever comes back to the glory days, do let us know. I'll be there to visit and eat seafood and hush puppies with you in about 12 hours. :)

Karen Deborah said...

yeah I understand, and I love my food. Some people will never know how grieved we can be when they quit business. I've got some long lost favorites too. I make killer cornbread, you can cook your own you know.

Life with Kaishon said...

I like hush puppies too! They are my most favorite fattening things. Well, now that I typed that sentence out, I am sure there are TONS more fattening things I love, but they are definitely one of my favorite fattening things!

Auds at Barking Mad said...

I WISH I liked seafood or shellfish. I know, I know, living in Maine and I can't stand lobster or even crab for that matter.

I'm OK with fried shrimp but that's about it. ALthough, you make it sound so good.

What's this hush puppie thing? Does it have seafood in it? If not, I'm down with trying it.

Yours fondly - totally Omega-3 free!