Summertime is a great time to head to the beach. We decided to take a trip to Ocracoke Island recently. As soon as you get on the island, you slip into a more relaxed mood. The little village is very walkable, or you can rent a bike or a golf cart to get around most places. There were many great choices of restaurants to try, but we decided to check out the Flying Melon Cafe.
The Flying Melon has a pretty, sunny yellow exterior with an inviting front porch. As we entered the restaurant, I was immediately reminded of some of the cute little restaurants we dined in while traveling in the French countryside near the Loir Valley. Big wooden red roosters carved by local artist, Len Skinner, are scattered throughout the dining room. The tables have crisp, white linens over green melon-colored polka dot tablecloths and deep burgundy vases filled with Black-eyed Susans decorate the tables.
The menu is a wonderful combination of seafood, Southern food and New Orleans-influenced dishes, that reflect the style of executive chef and co-owner of the Flying Melon, Michael Schramel. The menu also has many items that change with what is seasonal and available locally.
Chef Schramel came to Ocracoke Island eight years ago and bought the restaurant with Suzie O’Neal. Schramel brings over 40 years of experience as a chef to this restaurant and it shows.
We decide to start off our meal with an appetizer, so we chose the mushroom cheesecake, which is like a pate, or almost like a mousse, but it’s cut into a pie shape form. It is served with a burgundy crème Anglaise sauce, which made the mushrooms taste even richer. We spread the mushroom spread on some toasted bread. It was truly a Heavenly dish!
I decided to order one of the specials, which was a grilled Cobia with crab meat and a lemon beurre blanc sauce. Our waiter told us the Cobia was in season for a very short time, so it was good timing on our part that we were there the night they were serving it. The Cobia is a thick piece of white fish, reminiscent of Mahi Mahi. The texture of the fish was much like a steak, but the taste was light and mild. The chopped crab on top of the fish added a bit of sweetness to the dish and was really decadent. The lemon sauce helped to cut the sweetness of the dish. The sides of zucchini and summer squash and the mashed sweet potatoes were also really good. This dish also came with a House salad, which consisted of mixed greens and shredded carrots. This is the kind of meal I am craving for when I come to the beach. Fresh seafood, probably caught just off the coast of Ocracoke, fresh vegetables and a relaxing, comfortable dining room.
My husband tried the Shrimp Creole dish. After all, the chef is from New Orleans, so we figured his Creole dish would be good. We were not disappointed. It was great! The shrimp were nice and plump and a good sized portion. The tomatoes, peppers, onions were cooked with basil, oregano and a little bit of lemon peel, and, of course, a kick of cayenne pepper, but just a bit, not too much. The stew was served with white rice. You could taste the richness of the tomatoes and the shrimp and only after a few minutes did our lips start to hum a little from the pepper.
I really wanted to try dessert, because the choices sounded amazing, such as the blackberry and mango cobbler and the New Orleans inspired bread pudding, but we were so full, we had to waddle out of the restaurant and take a walk up and down the main road of the village before returning to our room. We didn’t even have room to have a cocktail later that evening.
I know whenever I come back to Ocracoke Island, I’ll be returning to the Flying MelonCafe. Everyone on the island said we have to try their famous brunch. One of the recommended items is the French toast that is inspired by beignets. The sweet potato pancakes and the omelets are also supposed to be great.