13188 Marina Way
Woodbridge, VA 22191
CUISINE Seafood, International
PRICE $$ ($13-$20)
HOURS Open for lunch, dinner and late-night dining daily.
NVM AWARDS None
NEARBY METRO None
By Warren Rojas
Gazing upon the lolling Occoquan from Waters Edge’s spacious deck can call to mind those lazy river rides popularized by water parks.
The atmosphere inside the sprawling dining/entertainment complex, however, is rarely that sedate.
Manager Ron Lipscomb says the new owners have been making all kinds of nips and tucks (broader menu offerings, sweeping renovations, updated events calendar) to the one-time Oasis on the Occoquan since taking possession of the place in February 2008. And Lipscomb suggests they’re not done yet (plans for an upper-deck expansion remain fluid).
“It’s very peaceful down on the river … [but also] a fun and inviting atmosphere,” Lipscomb says of the overall vibe management has strived to nurture over the past few years.
Still, peace and quiet seem to be in pretty short supply, given the wide-ranging welcome mat Waters Edge rolls out for nocturnal visitors.
A newish happy-hour buffet—offered from 4-7 p.m. on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursday and Fridays—keeps the after-work crowd happy with gratis nibbles that run the gamut from quesadillas to meatballs to tacos to crabs. “People have really taken a liking to it,” Lipscomb says of the near-nightly snack spread.
Come nightfall, the restaurant experiments with all manner of potentially crowd-pleasing activities, from poker nights to a sporadic “best legs” competitions—“It hasn’t taken off yet,” Lipscomb says of the gam appreciation show currently slotted for Tuesday nights—to DJs spinning whatever rapper is currently abusing Auto-Tune.
Lipscomb said management gambled on some more elaborate seafood dishes during the winter, but soon discovered that their core constituency could not be swayed from their first loves: crabs and burgers.
“Crabs generate a lot of excitement,” Lipscomb says, noting that as the mercury rises, locals tend to quickly come down with pickin’ fever.
Standard seafood offerings include she-crab soup, fisherman’s stew, chipotle barbecue salmon and whole Maryland rockfish; while daily specials of Monte Cristo-style cod (it’s really just a cheese-covered filet) and shrimp scampi help round out the marine munchies.
A basket brimming with deep-fried shrimp brushed with a zesty-sweet, Thai chili sauce is a share-worthy snack none of my companions could refuse. The well-spiced shrimp become even more magnetic after a squirt of fresh lime.
Jumbo-lump crab cakes unite pulled crab, egg, onion and breadcrumbs, all flanked by a so-so remoulade (adds a hint of spice).
A Cuban sandwich summons shredded pork (slow-cooked till requisitely tender), melted Swiss and tangy pickles packed into a plenty crusty loaf.
The lobster mac and cheese displays plenty of room for improvement, given that the kitchen seemingly drowns gemelli and most likely claw meat (not bad, but definitely not mouthwatering hunks of succulent of tail meat, either) in a rudimentary cheese sauce.
Then again, the dizzying array of beer specials (discount drafts, imports and bottles from 3-7 p.m. during the work week; rotating $1 beers every other Thursday) and comely servers (if I didn’t know better, I’d swear the house uniform was fishnet stockings, booty shorts and belly shirts) make the uneven cooking that much easier to take.