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“Opinion of an experienced server/bartender/manager for 15+ years”

Etta's Channel Side Restaurant
Certificate of Excellence
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Romantic, Child-friendly, Local cuisine
Dining options: Lunch, Dinner, Reservations
Gloucester, Virginia
Level Contributor
16 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 16 helpful votes
“Opinion of an experienced server/bartender/manager for 15+ years”
Reviewed 4 August 2014

I made a reservation to eat at Etta's, as it was highly recommended. When my family and I entered, the decor was charming, so we thought it would live up to the expectations. Boy, were we wrong! We checked in at the hostess' station and were greeted by Norma. She was not friendly during our initial encounter, but it would only get worse. She looked down her nose at my husband, who is visibly very tattooed. When I made the reservation, I mentioned there would be an infant with us. Accommodations were not initially made, but they altered the seating to be acceptable. When we sat at our table, my family member sat in a broken chair.
When we got our menus, we noticed for being a seafood restaurant, there weren't many options. Many of the entrees were fried and did not offer appealing descriptions. We inquired about any house-made dressings and the only option was a honey mustard that was not fit to put on a salad, but moreso for chicken fingers. The side salads were lack-luster and didn't have any tomato or croutons. They were mixed greens with some carrots and onion. Blah.
My family member wanted to share a plate and were told they would be charged a plating fee (understandable). The server gave them the impression this fee was because they would both get a salad, which they did not. I ordered a mojito, but it was sub par. I saw the server add Sprite to it (from a 2 liter bottle), and there is no Sprite in a mojito. Anyone behind a bar worth their salt knows that!
When the entrees came, it was all the worse. I ordered the Stuffed Flounder ($24). It was overcooked and the Crab Imperial it was stuffed with was extremely small. The side of mashed potatoes lacked flavor and needed seasoning. I actually ordered some horseradish to liven both the main and side dishes up. My family member ordered the steak ($25), which was a decent piece of meat, but lacked seasoning. My other family member ordered the Seafood Platter ($25) and that was the worst of all. Everything was fried and overcooked, with the exception of the piece of fish. The fish was still translucent, which indicates that it is raw. All of the flavors converged based on the heavy breading and if one was blindfolded, would not be able to tell a difference in the types of seafood.
When my family member attempted to send back the piece of undercooked fish, the server was as helpful as she could be. Norma was passing by the table and asked how everything was. My family member took this opportunity to tell her. Norma was told about the piece of fish being fried, and she balked as if she had no idea it was prepared that way. This demonstrated her lack of menu knowledge. Big mistake. Once she was convinced of the fried nature, she was argumentative and unapologetic about the fact that the fish was raw. She insisted that the kitchen knows what they were doing, insinuating that we do not know how fish is to be prepared. She offered no apology or compensation, but merely stormed off in a huff. Bad move, Norma.
After this poor experience, we asked for the bill and gathered our things and left. The kitchen staff needs training in how to prepare seafood properly. Anyone making drinks needs to have a manual behind the bar to help them. The hostesses could be more friendly (specifically Norma). Rumor has it that Norma is a manager, in which case, I am appalled. The only reason Etta's will continue to thrive is because of the location in a tourist vacation spot. Guests can go only one time and it will still attract new customers, based on the nature of the business.
One final caveat is if you have handicapped family members, do not take them here. There is one handicapped space and a ramp that is as slick as all get out. Talk about an insurance liability.
We will not ever go to Etta's again, despite our plans to return to the charming island of Chincoteague.

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
3 Thank Adrienne B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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389 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Cobbs Creek, Virginia
Level Contributor
5 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“If you love seafood, cooked well, go somewhere else!!!!”
Reviewed 4 August 2014

Booked reservation based on 3rd party recommendation. Atmosphere was nice inside and out. I ordered a seafood platter and it was so disappointing. The fish was undercooked and the oysters, scallops and crab cake were so overcooked that the flavors were completely hidden. The crab stuffed flounder ordered by another was so bland in flavor and the serving of crab that it was stuffed with was very small and equally bland. The steak ordered by another was cooked according to the request, by lacked flavor. When the undercooked fish was reported it was replaced with 3 shrimp that were actually cooked appropriately. "Norma" came to inquire of how the meal was and got quite defensive and confrontational towards me when was told the situation. Overall staff were polite but not personable. For an upper level priced restaurant, the experience was pitiful. Hire a new cook that has experience in preparing seafood appropriately and update the menu with additional seafood meals other than fried. Disappointed that for the area known for fresh seafood, the faire was very lack-luster!!! Sorry we spend funds here and would not recommend it to anyone. I feel I must speak to the lack of inappropriate handicapped parking spaces (only 1) and inappropriate handrail height and slippery ramp.

  • Visited August 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
4 Thank Martha B
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Texas
Level Contributor
31 reviews
5 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 26 helpful votes
“Untasty Crab Trio dish”
Reviewed 2 August 2014

We ordered the crab trio (crab cake, soft shell crab, Crab Imperial). The crab cake and the Crab Imperial had a very bitter taste to it, plus the Imperial seemed to be simply a scoop of crab cake plopped in a tin shell and baked. The soft shell crab was tough and was not cleaned properly.

The waitress was very pleasant.

We read the reviews and wanted to like the place, but will not eat here again.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
2 Thank Gypsy19
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Oshkosh, Wisconsin
Level Contributor
9 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 1 helpful vote
“Excellent food and view.”
Reviewed 31 July 2014

You will love Etta's. I have eaten here several times over the many years I have visited Chincoteague and become one our favorites. Great food, good service and excellent view.

Visited July 2014
Helpful?
Thank Paul S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Chester, New York
Level Contributor
36 reviews
24 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“best reservations-needed on the island”
Reviewed 30 July 2014

You can do woody's or Smokey's or other great roadside fixtures and go home satisfied. But if you want an island-elegant experience go to Ettas. We ate there last night and the hostess went out of her way to be sure to get us a window seat overlooking the channel. It was our first time at Ettas but we were treated as if we were that speacial couple they had been waiting all night for. They start you with rolls and hushpuppies that you want more and more of. I had crab corn chowder. Now, not only do I love corn chowder and who doesn't like crab but I also love to make soup. I have to say this in caps; THIS WAS THE BEST SOUP I HAVE EVER EATEN! Crab cakes were goodt and the crab combo was good. The overall experience was satisfying and worth the price.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
1 Thank vicHowHike
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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