Fager's charms the stomach and the eyes


There are no guarantees in life, but if I were the betting type, I wouldn't have any qualms about recommending Fager's for an enjoyable dining experience. The restaurant has been a mainstay on Ocean City's scene and its professionalism shows. The service is top-notch; the food, for the most part, well-prepared; and the sunsets glorious -- unless you go on a stormy night, as we did. But then, Fager's doesn't claim to be responsible for "lousy" sunsets.

Still, with its abundance of windows, the scene of Assawoman dTC Bay and assorted wildlife -- we saw a non-native peacock out front! -- is picturesque in any weather.

Inside, the main dining room is an eclectic mix of chandeliers, hanging plants, grandma-ish floral carpet and an unusual tin-looking ceiling. Nearby is the brighter, less fussy atrium. Wherever you hope to sit, it's a good idea to make reservations. You can request a window seat, but the restaurant won't promise it -- as we sadly found out. But we were close enough.

We started our meal with a wonderful chilled slice of mousse of duck liver pate ($4.95). This melt-in-your-mouth meatloaf was served with stone-ground crackers, slices of tart red onion and too pale tomatoes. Our other starter was slightly disappointing. The steamy crock of cream of crab soup was laden with crab lumps, but the broth was definitely missing some oomph -- as in seasoning of any kind. We could only taste milk.

The mostly lettuce salads on chilled plates were a welcome inclusion with dinner. They're served with a pleasant, light-tasting Italian dressing -- as opposed to one that screams garlic breath for the rest of the night. And for $1 extra, you can get crumbled blue cheese, a nice addition.

Save room for the honey-glazed bread, a Fager's signature. The sweet bread may seem like an odd choice at night, but the sticky loaf is heavenly. I wish I had had the nerve to ask for a doggy bag for the leftovers. I'm sure it would have been great the next day.

Entrees were simply superb. The prime rib ($21.95) was a huge slab of beef. You'll want to say you can't eat another bite but will find yourself succumbing to its flavorful tenderness. It's served au jus on the side and wicked fresh shaved horseradish.

The tuna fillet ($18.50, and plate-sized, really) wasn't to be outdone. The fish steak was coated with a tangy Dijon mustard sauce, and if that wasn't enough, more sauce was served in a little cup. Yum.

By the meal's end, desserts seemed an obstacle to overcome. How could we eat any more? Oh, the flesh is weak, and all it took was a warm Derby pie with lots and lots of whipped cream and a luscious citrusy concoction called lemon lust to lead us astray.

Fager's Island

60th Street and the bay, 524-5500.

Hours: Dinner, 5:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, Diner's Club.

Reservations: Accepted.

Features: Continental.

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